eli5 Are the enzymes in our saliva strong enough to “digest/dissolves” foods in our mouth , only by themselves over a long period of time ?


Sorry if i’m not clear enough , english is my second language , my question is , for example : i I took a bite , and never swallowed , would the enzyme in my saliva be strong enough to dissolve the bite (over a long periode of time ) ?

In: 3

No. The concentration of enzymes in saliva is very low and it’s mostly amylase; amylase helps with digestion of starches, which is helped by the neutral pH in your mouth. Other things like fats, complex carbohydrates and proteins will not get broken down in your mouth simply due to the action of your saliva.

No, the amylase enzymes in saliva only helps to initiate digestion of carbohydrates into sugars. The sugars produced by salivary amylase action is detected by the tongue and the resultant sweet taste helps our brain interpret that what we are chewing is in fact edible.

They only break down starches, but they do that fairly well.

If you spit into a starch-thickened sauce (or less grossly, use the same tasting spoon twice) the sauce will slowly break down and become runny.

There were old traditions, in South America, Japan, and old Norse at least, of chewing and spitting grains to break down the starch so it could be fermented. Malting (sprouting grains so they make starch-dissolving enzymes) has, perhaps happily, replaced that tradition.