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Enzymes and Longevity

Posted May 01 2009 10:11pm

Tomato in the Sunshine

Text by Omid

What are Enzymes?

Enzymes are proteins produced by all living organisms, and, like all proteins, they consist of amino acids. What makes these proteins different from other proteins is how they behave in the body. By definition, enzymes are catalysts that make many essential biochemical reactions ‘happen’ and are not used up or chemically altered in the process. As a catalyst, they help a chemical reaction take place quickly and efficiently. Some reactions would either happen very slowly or not occur at all without enzymes. So a few little enzymes can make a big difference!

The same varieties of amino acids that occur in all living things make up enzymes. The amino acids connect in particular sequences to form protein chains. The amino acids in the chain often bond together creating folding patterns and twisting into certain shapes. The particular folding pattern of each enzyme gives it distinct characteristics and functions. When anything disrupts the specific folding pattern, the enzyme often loses its ability to function, becoming inactivated or destroyed.

Enzymes exist in our foods and our bodies. In foods, they add value to nutrients and minerals that we need to fulfill easy and efficient digestion. In our bodies, we have enzymes for the purpose of carrying forth the efficient digestion of filtering the wastes, nutrients, and energy reserves for the body’s optimum health and function.

Lately, there has been talk regarding a connection between the health of our body’s enzymes and that of our life’s longevity. Below, we take a look at everything we know about enzymes, enzymes in relation to our bodies, and enzymes in connection to our longevity in life.

Food Enzymes

There are many foods that incorporate enzymes in the body. For our purposes, vegetables and fruits, if left uncooked and raw, contain scores of enzymes. These food enzymes help in the overall digestive processes that your body goes through. They also contribute to the overall nutritional value of your foods. A good example of enzymes in food and how they work is the way a banana might ripen and brown. Food enzymes break down the structure of the food itself.

In stark contrast to healthy food enzymes and how they work is processed foods. Processed foods came about during the war when the transport of food overseas called for a way in which foods could be preserved for longer periods of time. Enter the preservative or processed food.

The way that they were able to do this is to cut out the enzymes. By doing so, they of course, cut out all nutritional value, but as far as their needs of getting foods to keep while traveling overseas-they had found a workable solution, if not ideal. Unfortunately, once food manufacturers saw how easy it was to cut out the enzymes from their foods while saving themselves time and precious money, they took this same idea and used it for mass production to our food supply. Good news for them, bad news for us!

Digestive Enzymes

Central to the proper health of your digestion is your digestive enzymes. Enzymes in our bodies work much the same way as they do in our foods-such as the banana. There are enzymes in your liver, pancreas, intestine, stomach, and mouth; and they all have the same purpose and work towards the same end: to break down your foods and use or eliminate them as necessary.

Some foods are easy to break down, use for energy, and store nutrients and minerals while others are much more difficult for the digestive tract to handle. The foods that are easier to break down of course are the ones that have not been modified by processing or cooking. The foods that are difficult to break down and consequently lead to health problems are cooked foods, processed foods, etc.

Enzymes and Longevity

So now that we have a better understanding of enzymes-both in our bodies and in our foods-how are enzymes connected to the length of our lives? Basically, enzymes have been studied in detail and each one of us is said to start with a certain fixed amount of enzyme usage. The food that we choose to consume determines how hard our digestive system will work each time.

Enzyme rich foods such as raw vegetables and fruits offer the easiest means of digestion; and consequently, the more easy to digest the foods, the less energy your digestive system uses and the longer it maintains the life of your digestion. Since most all of chronic conditions and illnesses common in today’s world, stem from digestive issues, the less digestion used, the better.

Enzyme depraved foods such as processed foods cause difficulty for your digestive system. Your digestive system doesn’t know what to make of these foods as they are enzyme and vitamin-free, and therefore must expend tireless energy trying to learn how to process these foods accordingly. This, in turn, uses up your enzyme energy and decreases the longevity of your digestive and overall health.

In The Long Run

What happens when your body can’t digest a particular food-because it is processed or enzyme-free through cooking? If you can believe it, your body stores all of that undigested foods as poison in your system. Not only does it stay undigested in your system, but typically enters the bloodstream and then finds a location of choice to work its poisonous magic.

What is this poisonous magic we speak of? Typically, undigested food manifests itself in your blood stream as inflammation in different areas of your body. It has long been thought of being closely tied to the onset of allergies and other conditions that may spring up all of a sudden in our systems, such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, Arthritis, Colitis, etc. Our stored undigested foods are the cause for more conditions, illnesses, and chronic issues than you would think.

The connection between the enzymes we ingest and the enzymes already within our bodily systems is very significant for a number of reasons listed above. Enzymes exist for the purpose for digesting our foods and not only eliminating wastes, but also using precious nutrients and minerals for whatever our body’s needs may be. This, in turn, prepares our immune system for protection against viruses and illness. Without a proper relationship between your body’s digestion and the food it seeks to process, the processed and modified foods will stay undigested in your body until its existence in your bloodstream offers you some sort of negative condition.

This is why it is so necessary to at least consider assimilating more organic raw foods into your diet. The less good quality raw foods you eat, the more foods are being stored as poison in your system- making your organs and body functions work overtime and decline in overall health. The more work and strain you put on your digestive system leads to more work for your entire body, which in turn, will have a much shorter lifespan. By incorporating more organic raw foods that are easy to digest, you are helping your body to function more adeptly and live longer.

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Other Articles by Omid

Effects of Cooking on Vitamins and Minerals

Recipes by Omid

Stricky Date Lovers with Upside Down Sugar Cane Whipped Cream

Visit Omid’s blog Shiitakeblog or Tried Tasted and Served

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