What digestive enzyme does saliva contain?

Saliva is more than just a substance that keeps your mouth moist. Did you know? It also plays an important role in the digestive system. Its enzymes help break down food and prepare it for further digestion and absorption.

So, what digestive enzyme does saliva contain? Let’s take a closer look.

What is saliva?

Before we dive into enzymes, let’s talk about what exactly saliva is. Saliva is a clear liquid made by salivary glands situated in our mouths. These glands produce up to 1-2 liters of saliva per day!

That might seem like a lot, but without this essential fluid, we wouldn’t be able to chew or swallow properly.

The three types of salivary glands

Ever wonder why your mouth waters at the sight or smell of delicious food? You can thank your salivary glands for that sensation! There are three types of them:

1) Parotid Glands
2) Submandibular Glands
3) Sublingual Glands

Each type produces its own unique mixture of enzymes which work together to begin the process of digestion before food even enters our stomachs!

Parotid Glands

The parotid gland produces serous fluid which mixes with ingested food while chatting with other secretory fluids from different organs especially coming from ‘stacking-extra-good-body-spices’ wink. This action aids smooth swallowing.

Fun fact: Inflammation on this gland medically known as Sialadenitis tends to affect frequent smokers😬!

Submandibular Glands

Submandibular glad almost sounds like “submechanical.” That doesn’t mean robots have sublingual variants operating somewhere in their mechanics 🤖🙄 rather they secrete mucinous secretion straight after eating 😋and contains both alpha amylase and mucin which helps in swallowing food.

Fun fact: Any time this gland fails to function properly would lead to a rare autoimmune disease called Sjogren Syndrome😯.

Sublingual Glands

The sublingual glad is located under the tongue 🤫 such that it secretes its enzyme primarily at the beginning of chewing. Saliva from this gland contains lipase👄, mucin🤏and amylase💪🏾which breaks down sugars at an early stage during digestion.

Fun fact: It moistens our mouth thereby giving it some level of pH stability thus prevents tooth decay 😁!

The enzymes present in saliva

Saliva has several enzymes that play vital roles in breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins before they even reach your stomach!

Here’s a list of digestive enzymes found in human saliva:

  • Amylase
  • Lingual Lipase
  • Mucin
  • Lysozyme
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Defensins

Let’s dive deeper into each one!


Amylase is probably the most well-known enzyme present in saliva. Its primary role is to break down starches into simpler sugars like glucose and maltose.

Fun Fact: Every gramme of carbohydrate generates about three grams water upon breakdown hence dehydration can result if too much carbohydrate intake😱.

This chemical action makes carbohydrates not just more accessible for absorption by cells but also more easily recognizable for other digestive processes along the GI tract💡. That means sweeties are chemically identical no matter where you decide to put’em!

Lingual lipASE

Lingual lipAsE sounds almost as confusing as tax regulations; however, simply think animal B.I.T.E.S… Although they do bite but only on fat-related molecules otherwise known as Triglycerides (the ‘T’ in B.I.T.E.S 👀).

Fun fact: If a patient were to lose saliva due to gag reflex while feeding, ensuring that the daily intake of unsaturated fats and increased water would be helpful for body metabolism. Love your food, chew slowly & enjoy wisecracks😂!

Oh! Did we mention this enzyme is named after its origin which is the tongue? 🤭


Mucin structures promote tooth stability; it also serves as protection against bacterial growth and infection🦷.

This protein found in saliva lubricates food such that it aids easy passage down along oesophagus while preventing any dryness occurring on our delicate oral tissues during mastication💯!.


The dental hygienist’s under-the-radar hero here. This antimicrobial salivary secretion has been known to help destroy bacteria associated with periodontitis 😱!!!

Lysozomes aid greatly by latching unto weak parts of bacteria cell wall thereby dissolving them via osmotic processes. Humans got no time for evil germs wink

Immunoglobulin A (IgA)

Could have been called “Immunigloba-lina” but hey IgA isn’t so bad right?… A predominant immunoglobin class present on most bodily secretory fluids specifically tears, breast milk, GI and Respiratory tracts.

Like all soldiers they fight infections by first identifying- ‘You are one of us or not?’🕵️‍♀️ through antigen recognition thus directing T-cell mediated responses against intruders into the body!!! Although IgA can protect us kindly like all other things capable of leading double lives functionally beyond digestive tendencies,circumstances also matter e.g personal active lifestyle habits😜.


Saliva may seem like an ordinary moisture-providing fluid, but it plays a critical role in digestion. Salivary glands’ enzymes break down food into simpler compounds that the body can easily absorb and use.

Whether we’re munching on snacks or indulging in our favorite foods. Our saliva is always hard at work ensuring that our digestive tracts won’t have to do everything alone😉!

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