I am a master distiller at a distillery and I am about to make some whiskey. First adding corn, cooking it and releasing it's starches. After that, will add in some malt, packed with enzymes to break down those starch molecules into sugars. My question is, what happens to the enzyme after it breaks down the starch? can 1 enzyme breakdown multiple starch molecules?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Pretty much nothing - that's the point of catalysis. Enzymes are molecular machines doing reactions. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 22:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ So yes, multiple starch molecules $\endgroup$
    – Karsten
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


Enzymes are a form of catalyst. Catalysts do not get consumed in a chemical reaction. I believe in reality, enzymes do degrade overtime and you need to replenish them overtime to keep the reaction efficient.

Can one (1) enzyme break down multiple starches? Sure.

I did not find specific literature on fermentation, but I found one (1) carbonic anhydrase in our tissues and bloodstream can hydrate 1,000,000 carbon dioxide molecules per second. So your enzyme probably has a similar magnitude of catalytic rate.


Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry. 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002. Section 8.1, Enzymes Are Powerful and Highly Specific Catalysts. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22380/

  • $\begingroup$ So the enzymes in our GI tract get reabsorbed and reused? They won't be used up like a chemical reactant or get excreted? Am I right? $\endgroup$
    – Desai
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 7:16
  • $\begingroup$ Little clarification may needed. When you say enzymes in our GI get reabsorbed, you mean the enzymes are reabsorbed by intestinal lining? Enzymes do degrade eventually, so the body needs nutrients to make new ones. $\endgroup$
    – L. Cang
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I meant anywhere in our alimentary canal. I always thought that enzymes get used up completely everytime like reactants in a chemical reaction. It's useful to know that they are almost like catalysts which practically decompose after reasonable number of use. $\endgroup$
    – Desai
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 14:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So far I only find evidence for protein and hormone absorption by the gut lumen. Given digestive enzymes are proteins themselves, they should be reabsorbed into the epithelial cell too. I reference this article. $\endgroup$
    – L. Cang
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 14:33

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