Effects Of PH On Enzyme Activity

Everything in the human body has an effect on something else. Often, this is for good reasons, like how the membrane of a cell keeps out almost all things that could damage it but lets through hormones and other necessary components.

Effects of PH on enzyme activity

Sometimes, though, these effects can be bad or can affect the recipient in ways that aren’t beneficial. This can especially happen in environments that are changed suddenly, rapidly, or become far different from what they were before.

One of the most fascinating examples of this is the change in PH levels. If you want to see PH in action, you only need to look at soil that is more acidic or alkaline than necessary to see its effects on plants.

But what are the effects of PH on the human body? More precisely, what are the effects of PH on enzymes? In this article, we seek to find this out.

What Are PH levels?

So, PH stands for the ‘potential of hydrogen’ and is used to denote the concentration of hydrogen ions in a substance.

Hydrogen ions are something that is created when a hydrogen atom loses or gains an electron, and their activity in a certain area greatly affects that area.

What this means is that something with a higher PH is a basic or alkaline substance and has a greater concentration of hydrogen ion activity. These substances are normally things like Lye or Bleach.

When something has a lower PH, it is acidic and has a lower concentration of hydrogen ion activity. The more acidic substances are things like vinegar or gastric acid.

There is also a true neutral part of the PH scale, which is denoted by the number 7.

Any substance that is a 7 on the PH scale is neither acidic nor alkaline, it is just neutral. Pure water is the most well known member of this part of the PH scale.

The reason this scale is so important is that almost every reaction to a substance in your daily life is affected by them.

Soil can be too alkaline or acidic for crops to grow, too much of a certain PH dominant food can upset your stomach, even too much of a PH dominant food can rot your teeth.

Our actions can also change the PH of an environment or area as well, say if we use too many pollutants or pesticides, and leave it barren and unusable.

This extends to laboratory settings as well, as such it is vitally important that we understand PH and what it can do to certain objects.

What Is An Enzyme?

Basically, Enzymes act as little triggers that begin a chemical reaction in your body.

In this regard, they are known as catalysts, and their entire job is to basically begin or speed up the chemical reactions your body needs to survive.

This seems like a bit of an unnecessary role, but it is deeply important as without them, you would be dead.

You see, biological reactions can take a bit longer without enzyme giving them a push, which is not ideal for life, as without enzymes most metabolic processes (almost all of your metabolism) would occur at rates of speed that are simply not quick enough to sustain life.

There are thousands of enzyme molecules in a single cell, with all of them being for a specific reaction that is necessary for life.

When a chemical reaction occurs, a substrate will be produced and an enzyme will bind to it and catalyze it, producing individual products from it.

The properties of these products then determine what the chemical reaction will be and continuing the necessary sequences that sustain life.

Enzymes don’t degenerate when used, remaining available and ready to be continuously used for this work.

What Effects Does PH Have On Enzymes?

The effect of PH levels on enzymes is quite significant. Enzymes require a specific PH level to work properly and to catalyze the substrates and chemical reaction of the cell properly as well.

If the PH is different from the one necessary to the enzyme’s continued function, then it can have disastrous consequences on that cell.

In this scenario, the enzyme will change shape. While this doesn’t seem that bad, it effectively stops the enzyme working, as each enzyme needs its specific shape to engage with the necessary substrate.

With a different shape, the enzyme and the substrate don’t fit together, and the chemical reaction cannot continue.

Without enzymes catalyzing chemical reactions, the cell will stop functioning and begin to die.

Of course, this is bad news for whatever animal or living thing this cell belongs to as well. Unfortunately, this effect can be permanent on the enzyme and is irreversible a lot of the time.

Do Different Enzymes Need Different PH Levels?

Yes, there are some enzymes that only work in a specific range of PH levels.

For example, the stomach and intestinal PH is lower (1.5 to 3.5 PH level) than the blood PH (7.34 to 7.45 PH level), so enzymes in the intestines and stomach only work in the lower PH of the intestines and stomach.

The body has a range of different PH levels, and so the enzymes of these different areas are adapted to their certain environments. This is necessary, as some parts of the body need to have lower or higher PH levels.

A good example, once again, is the stomach. It needs a lower PH to digest food properly, but if you had a lower PH in your blood, then you are going to start causing problems for the rest of your body.

Conclusion

PH has a deep and profound effect on enzymes, because they are specifically designed for a set purpose of catalyzing chemical reactions.

Since chemical reactions are deeply influenced by changes in the PH scale, then so too will enzymes be. However, by studying enzymes, PH, and chemical reactions together, we can work out a lot about the human body.

Jennifer Dawkins

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