Contents of this article:
What are Enzymes?
on Taking Enzymes
Sources of Enzymes
What are Enzymes?
Living cells and tissues require basic nutrients
and essential substances to divide, grow and perform their normal
activities. Most of these substances are synthesized from components of
ingested food, water, and other nutritional supplements, or from
breakdown products of tissues. The biochemical reactions to synthesize
the basic elements required by living cells depend on a steady supply of
energy from these sources. Ordinarily, this energy is supplied by a
step-by-step oxidation of food components. In addition, the biochemical
reactions themselves sometimes release energy. During times of stress or
disease, there is am increased demand for the nutrients and essential
supplies required by cells. Without very special helpers and at normal
body temperature, it would be impossible for the cells and tissues to
perform all the essential biochemical reactions required fast enough to
meet the basic needs of the body. Fortunately, very specific and
remarkable helpers initiate, accelerate and terminate these biochemical
reactions. The helpers are highly specific organic substances which have
evolved in living organisms and developed the capacity of performing
these accelerated tasks to perfection via remarkable and specific
catalytic actions. These remarkable substances are called enzymes.
Enzymes are catalysts. They make things work faster. For example, the
chemistry of the body is all about utilizing one substance to produce
another. Let us call it turning chemical A into chemical B. The
biochemical reaction to do this may require energy or release energy,
depending on whether molecules A or B contain their own energy.
Regardless of whether energy is required or released, the reaction time
is shortened by its specific enzyme, without the enzyme being used up.
The reaction is accelerated through the use of enzymes. This
acceleration without consumption is the nature of a catalyst. For
practical purposes, most biochemical reactions require enzymes since the
reaction A to B might take hundreds of years without them.
that enzymes are the fountain of life. Enzymes serve as the labor force
to perform every single function required for our daily activities and
are required to keep us alive. Digestive enzymes are only a part of the
total amount of enzymes in the body. There are about 3000 known enzymes.
They are responsible for all the functions of every organ system in our
bodies. At the same time they are most important in supporting our body
defenses and immune system to protect us from harmful forces and
specific dangers to our health. The immune system depends heavily on
enzymes to conduct its protective function. In addition we require
enzymes not only to eat, digest and absorb our nutrients, but also to
see, hear, smell, taste, breathe and move. Enzymes are required for our
blood and coagulation system, cardiovascular functions, kidneys, liver,
elimination of toxic products, excretion, reproduction, etc. They are
required even to think, dream or for sexual excitement. When enzyme
activity stops, life stops and the person or organism dies!
two major enzyme systems in the human body. One is digestive and the
other is metabolic. The digestive enzymes help break down all of the
food that we eat so that it can be absorbed by the body. The metabolic
enzymes help to run all of the systems of the body from respiratory
system to the nervous system.
The seven categories of food
(digestive) enzymes and their activities are:
Amylase: breaks down
Cellulase: breaks down fibers.
Lactase: breaks down
Lipase: breaks down fats.
Maltase: breaks down
Protease: breaks down proteins.
Sucrase: breaks down
Enzymes are extremely important to our health.
When enzymes are short in supply, or become inactive, the body will
suffer. As the body is built from the food we eat, paying attention to
what we eat is one of the most important things we can do. Unfortunately
we do not eat what our instinct and common sense tells us to do. We do
not eat the right quantities of the right foods at the right times and
in the proper manner. The results can include digestive disturbances,
deposition of fat, and becoming overweight. These findings can be
associated with further health problems including disorders of the
circulation which lead to more severe cardiovascular disease and
disorders of the heart. The reducing diets often recommend generally
provide only temporary weight loss and many of them may be even more
detrimental to health in the long run.
We should all eat properly
and follow a balanced diet containing a substantial amount of fresh
foods in each meal. We should also avoid highly processed foods and high
levels of preservatives, additives or chemicals. We can also take
natural digestive enzymes in order to support the digestion of processed
or cooked foods. Every food that has been cooked, boiled, heated,
grilled, baked has lost its enzymes and is a burden to our organs which
have to supply the digestive enzymes. As almost nobody in our modern age
is willing to eat everything raw, you can take digestive enzymes with
your cooked, etc., food. (An informative site about raw food is Living
and Raw Foods) It is also good to stay away from processed foods as they
often contain enzyme inhibitors (to prolong shelf life), chemicals, and
sugar (white sugar is destructive to our bodies, and contributes big
time to obesity).
Information about Enzymes
The European scientific community has generated
great excitement in the field of enzymes, which can be used preventively
to prevent illness and give us a longer, healthier life. However in the
United States the average person does not know much about enzymes and
their importance. Read a well written book that focuses on the
therapeutic oral enzymes, but also has a wealth of information about
what enzymes are and how they keep us healthy: Enzymes, The Fountain of
Life, written by D.A. Lopez, M.D.; R.M. Willians, M.D. and Pg.D., and K.
Miehlke, M.D.; published by The Neville Press, Inc.; isbn 1-884303-00-5
. At present I have a copy of Enzymes, The Fountain of Life for sale,
look at the end of this article.
After you have read all about enzymes and why
they are so important to our health, the next question is "what can I do
about it? We will focus here only on digestive enzymes. Ideally you
should eat everything raw. As raw food contains all the necessary
enzymes to digest the food, our body does not have to deplete its organs
of their necessary enzymes. And thus our body stays healthy. But in this
modern age, who can eat everything raw? Make sure you eat enough raw
food, but for the rest, supply your cooked or baked food with enzyme
There are several enzyme supplements on the market, but
one of the best supplements is Dr. Howell's N-Zymes, the enzyme
supplement we ourselves are using. Dr Edward Howell was an enzyme
pioneer who questioned the use of cooked, processed food for human
consumption. He found that heating food to 118°F (47.78°C) for more than
15 minutes destroyed all the enzymes. Obviously then, heating foods at
higher temperatures for shorter periods also destroys enzymes. Dr Howell
wrote two books reporting his life's work: Food Enzymes for Health and
Longevity and Enzyme Nutrition.
N-Zymes is made by the National
Enzyme Company, and distributed by Enzymes Inc, Parkville, Missouri. The
digestive enzyme supplement we are using is called "Genuine N-zymes, Dr.
Howell's Original Formula". The capsules contain the enzymes protease,
amylase, lipase and cellulase). N-Zymes is available through health food
stores. For their other enzymes products, visit Genuine N-Zymes.
Advice on Taking Enzymes
When taking enzyme supplements, remember to
open the capsules and sprinkle the enzymes on your food (not too hot
please). This way they can start working. Otherwise it will take time
for the capsule to dissolve in your stomach.
also drink water with
your food, as enzymes are only active when water is present.
needs to chew one's food well because the digestive enzyme cellulase is
trapped inside the fiber itself and must be liberated in the chewing
process—otherwise, one experiences the gas and bloating.
of fresh raw fruits and vegetables to maximize your enzyme intake.
Raw seeds or raw nuts, contain enzyme inhibitors which will neutralize
some of the enzymes your body produces. In fact, eating foods with
enzyme inhibitors causes a swelling of the pancreas. All nuts and seeds
contain these inhibitors. Raw peanuts, for example, contain an
especially large amount. Raw wheat germ is also one of the worst
offenders. In addition, all peas, beans and lentils contain some.
Potatoes also have enzyme inhibitors (concentrated in the eyes of the
potato). In eggs the inhibitor is contained mainly in the egg white.
There are two ways to destroy enzyme inhibitors. The first is cooking;
however, this also destroys the enzymes. The second way, which is
preferable, is soaking, rinsing and germinating or sprouting. This
destroys the enzyme inhibitors and also increases the enzyme content
from a factor of 3 to 6. Taking extra enzymes is the third way to
neutralize the enzyme inhibitors in ungerminated or unsprouted seeds and
Fermentation also removes the enzyme inhibitors and it has
other benefits too. Fermentation neutralizes unhealthy chemicals found
in grains and beans. Second, it adds a host of beneficial
micro-organisms to food, making them more digestible and increasing the
healthy flora in our intestinal tracts. Grains and beans all contain an
acid, myoinositol-hexa, or phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks the
absorption of calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. A diet high in
unfermented whole grains can lead to mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
Fermenting grains and beans before eating them neutralizes phytic acid.
It also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and breaks down gluten, sugars,
and other difficult to digest elements in grains and beans. The simplest
way to lacto-ferment grains and beans is by adding whey and water, and
letting them stand for at least seven hours. Beans should ideally stand
for twelve hours or more. Yogurt can be added instead of whey, which is
a by-product of cheese-making and is commercially available as a powder
(sold in health food stores).
Make sure you also read our article
about Kefir, a special culture used in the fermentation of milk that
adds a lot of enzymes in the process. It is very easy to make kefired
milk and it is very healthy! It also is a way of making excellent whey
for fermenting your grains and cooked veggies.
Salt is an indirect
enzyme inhibitor, so use it sparingly.
Other Sources of Enzymes
There are four major types of proteolytic
enzymes: trypsin, chymotrypsin, papain, and bromelain.
is a proteolytic enzyme crystallized from an extract of the pancreas
gland of the ox.
Trypsin is a proteolytic enzyme also crystallized
from an extract of the pancreas gland of the ox.
Papain is derived
from the green papaya fruit.
Bromelain is extracted from the
pineapple. Because of the relative value of the fruit, the difficulty of
processing the juice, and the improvements of methods to extract
bromelain from pineapple stems, the source of most bromelain is the
Proteolytic enzymes are enzymes that help you digest the
proteins in food. Although your body produces these enzymes in the
pancreas, certain foods also contain proteolytic enzymes. Papaya (the
unripe fruit) and pineapple are two of the richest plant sources. Papain
and bromelain are the respective names for the proteolytic enzymes found
in these fruits.
The primary use of proteolytic enzymes is as a
digestive aid for people who have trouble digesting proteins. However,
proteolytic enzymes also appear to reduce pain and inflammation, which
has made them popular in Europe as a treatment for sports injuries and
as an aid in recovery from surgery. Supplemental proteolytic
(protein-digesting) enzymes also enhance immune function, helping to
destroy pathogens; and proteolytic enzymes seems to be good for people
with pancreas problems. Digestive enzymes are classified as a food by
the FDA., but if you want to take proteolytic enzymes you should discuss
this with your doctor.
Another source of enzymes is brewer's yeast
which stimulates enzyme activity in the intestines. There are also
enzyme preparations available from the pharmacy for digestive disorders.
Fermented foods are full of enzymes, like yogurt, sauerkraut, soy sauce
and kefir. Check out our kefir page, as kefir is very easy to make and
makes you very healthy.
The material in this site is
provided for educational and informational purposes only, and is not
intended to be a substitute for consultation by a healthcare provider.
Please consult your own physician or appropriate healthcare provider
about the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect
to your own symptoms or medical conditions.