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Antinutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Nutrition studies focus on those antinutrients commonly found in food sources and beverages.
Protease inhibitors are substances that inhibit the actions of trypsin, pepsin and other proteases in the gut, preventing the digestion and subsequent absorption of protein. For example, Bowman-Birk trypsin inhibitor is found in soybeans.
Lipase inhibitors interfere with enzymes, such as human pancreatic lipase, that catalyze the hydrolysis of some lipids, including fats. For example, the anti-obesity drug orlistat causes a percentage of fat to pass through the digestive tract undigested.
Amylase inhibitors prevent the action of enzymes that break the glycosidic bonds of starches and other complex carbohydrates, preventing the release of simple sugars and absorption by the body. Amylase inhibitors, like lipase inhibitors, have been used as a diet aid and obesity treatment. Amylase inhibitors are present in many types of beans; commercially available amylase inhibitors are extracted from white kidney beans.
Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. This results in precipitation, making the minerals unavailable for absorption in the intestines. Phytic acids are common in the hulls of nuts, seeds and grains.
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