Charles T. Copeland wrote - To eat is human; to digest, divine. This is so true. Our body needs enzymes to function properly. Not only do we need them for healthy digestion, but we also need them to live as without them we wouldn’t be able to breathe, swallow, drink, eat and digest our food.
As we age we are dealing with more stress, environmental pollution, chemicals, and our emotional issues. All of these deplete our body’s natural ability to make enough enzymes to meet the demands of daily life.
So what are enzymes and how important are they to us? They help the body digest food and assimilate nutrients from proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and plant fibers. In addition, enzymes assist in all chemical reactions taking place in our body; including the regeneration of cells/tissues and the elimination of waste products/toxins as well as supporting our immune system. In short, enzymes make things happen!
Proper and complete digestion is essential for good health. Digestive enzymes, used properly, can provide a substantial benefit to most everyone, especially those consuming a great deal of cooked or processed food. Enzymes may ease bloating, gas and heaviness with meals. Proteases may be beneficial between meals if you have an autoimmune condition or are recovering from an injury or illness.
Do we have an infinite supply of enzymes? No. Researchers have learned we lose digestive enzymes through sweat, body waste and the natural ageing process of the organs that produce our digestive enzymes.
Our current fast-paced society with its preoccupation with convenience has resulted in more chemical pollution, overly processed foods and microwave cooking, all of which create a lot of free-radical damage in our body, also known as a process of accelerated ageing. This process of free-radicals lowers the body's natural ability to produce enzymes and meet its demands to function well.
The three main categories of Enzymes are:
1. Digestive Enzymes, secreted by the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, and the small intestine help break down food into simple components.
2. Food Enzymes exist naturally in raw food. If the food is cooked above 116 degrees, the high temperature involved in the cooking process destroys the enzymes. Digestive enzymes and food enzymes serve the same function; they digest the food so it can be absorbed into the blood stream. The difference between the two is that food enzymes are derived from fresh, raw, uncooked foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, raw unpasteurised dairy, meat and fish , where digestive enzymes are made inside our body.
3. Metabolic Enzymes are produced in the cells and are found throughout the body in the organs, in the bones, the blood, and inside the cells themselves. Metabolic enzymes help run the heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys. Hundreds of metabolic enzymes are necessary for the working of our body.
Enzyme supplementation in our diet: * Improves overall digestion so we have more energy for life * reduces the effects of aging, wrinkles, sun spots. * aids in disease prevention * aids in the prevention of cancer and debilitating diseases * minimizes the negative effects of cancer therapies * boosts the immune system * reduces inflammation/soreness of muscle and joint pain * retards periodontal disease * prevention of heart disease * speeds healing after surgery * reduces the negative effects of anesthetics * aids in reproduction problems, regulating cycles, infertility and sterility * cleanses our system from allergic reactions
Enzymes and what they do:
Lipase: An enzyme that digests fats, helping to maintain correct gall bladder function. When added to a meal as a supplement, it digests dietary fat, relieving the gallbladder, liver, and the pancreas which would otherwise need to produce the required enzymes.
Protease: This enzyme breaks down protein found in meats, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs and cheese and may be helpful for people with food allergies or who have difficulty digesting protein.
Amylase: A natural plant extract which helps your body break down and assimilate starches and carbohydrates. Works great for digesting starches and carbohydrates and may be useful for people with gluten sensitivities.
Cellulase: An enzyme that breaks down food fiber (cellulose) found in fruits and vegetables. Cellulase, which is not found in the human system, breaks the fiber bonds and increases the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.
Lactase: Digests milk sugar. Lactase deficiency is the most common and well-known form of carbohydrate intolerance. It is estimated that approximately 70% of the world's population is deficient in intestinal lactase. Supplemental lactase enzymes have been found to decrease the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Phytase: This enzyme breaks down phytic acids in grains, seeds, and simple sugars into fructose and glucose.
Maltase: Digests complex and simple sugars. Maltase breaks down unused glycogen in muscle. Glycogen is a thick, sticky substance that is converted from sugars and starches and is stored in your muscle cells for future use. If stored glycogen continues to build up in the muscle tissues, it leads to progressive muscle weakness and degeneration.
Papain from papaya and Bromelain from pineapple, both help digest protein. Bromelain is also a natural anti-inflammatory.
Why are enzymes so important for digestion? In its raw state, food contains enough natural enzymes for it to be digested. However, when the food is heated above 116 degrees, the natural enzymes present are also heated and denatured, that is they become inactive. This makes the enzymes totally ineffective in the digestive (breaking down) process.
What can we do about it? Eating raw food as much as possible such as spinach, green salad, and shredded carrots with our meats is helpful. Use an enzyme supplement, remember our body will not keep making new enzymes.
Another very important fact to consider is if we totally depend on our internally made digestive enzymes, we are placing more stress on our body's systems/organs. In turn, these systems and organs have less time to make more enzymes for rebuilding and replacing worn out, damaged cells and tissue and keeping our immune system strong.
Your body’s top priority is making sure it has enough nutrients to run its systems. This means digesting food and converting it into nutrients. There is no activity more important to the body than this. This takes a lot of energy and enzymes, particularly if the body must make most or all of these enzymes.
Remember that no food can be digested without digestive enzymes, and they are destroyed above 116 degrees. It sheds light on why so many people suffer from digestive complaints and lethargy.
Dr. DicQie Fuller PhD, in her book The Healing Power of Enzymes, emphasizes the importance of enzymes for digestion: “Eighty percent of our body's energy is expended by the digestive process. If you are run down, under stress, living in a very hot or very cold climate, pregnant, or are a frequent air traveler, then enormous quantities of extra enzymes are required by your body. Because our entire system functions through enzymatic action, we must supplement our enzymes. Aging deprives us of our ability to produce necessary enzymes. The medical profession tells us that all disease is due to a lack or imbalance of enzymes. Our very lives are dependent upon them!” source...