“…a person’s life span is directly related to the exhaustion of their enzyme potential.
And the use of food enzymes decreases that rate of exhaustion, and thus,
results in a longer, healthier, and more vital life.”
- Dr. Edward Howell, Enzyme Nutrition
I am becoming a major advocate for enzymes!!!!
Without enzymes life would cease to exist.
Whoa! Wait a minute! Back up!
We’re always hearing about the need for vitamins and minerals, not enzymes… But, did you know, if it weren’t for enzymes we wouldn’t be able to absorb the nutrients from our foods. Enzymes are required for every single chemical action and metabolic function that takes place in our body. “Our digestive system, immune system, blood stream, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas, as well as your ability to see, think, feel, and breathe, all depend on enzymes.“ They play a key role in the elimination of toxins and can be used by our body to reduce or prevent inflammation.
While most often enzymes come up in conversations regarding some kind of digestive issue, the truth of the matter is, everyone should be taking digestive enzymes, at every meal.
“What nature intended is that you eat enzyme rich foods and chew your food properly. If you did that, the food would enter the stomach laced with digestive enzymes. These enzymes would then “predigest” your food for about an hour — actually breaking down as much as 75% of your meal. After this period of “pre digestion,” hydrochloric acid is introduced. The acid inactivates all of the enzymes, but begins its own function of breaking down what is left of the meal. Eventually, this nutrient rich food concentrate moves on into the small intestine. Once food enters the small intestine, the pancreas reintroduces digestive enzymes to the process. As digestion is completed, nutrients are passed through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream. That’s what nature intended. Unfortunately, most of us don’t live our lives as nature intended!
Processing and cooking destroy enzymes in food. This means that, for most of us, the food entering our stomachs is severely enzyme deficient. (Actually, there are some enzymes present from our saliva. The amount, however, is minuscule since we only chew our food about 25% as much as is required.) The result is that most of our meals enter our stomachs woefully devoid of enzymes. The food then sits there for an hour, like a heavy lump, with very little pre-digestion taking place. Even after the stomach acid has done its work, the meal enters the small intestine largely undigested. At this point, the pancreas and the other organs of the endocrine system are put under tremendous stress since they have to draw reserves from the entire body in order to produce massive amounts of the proper digestive enzymes.”
– Jon Barron, Baseline of Health Foundation
I’m inclined to add to this as food sensitivities are becoming more and more prevalent. When you eat a particular food on a consistent basis (dairy or gluten, for example), specific enzymes are required to digest that food. As this eating pattern continues – over days, weeks, years – you may create an enzyme deficiency for that food. Dairy and gluten (two of the most common food intolerances) are often eaten together which further stresses the enzyme systems. Anything consumed on a daily basis can create a potential intolerance – corn, soy, sugar, eggs, pork, as well as the aforementioned… it’s often those foods you crave. So how are cravings and food intolerances connected and what does this have to do with our enzyme systems? (note: I’ve taken the liberty of inserted a few clarifying words or statements in [ ].)
“Cravings and insatiable hunger are characteristic symptoms of withdrawal. When the food is subsequently eaten, the person feels better – another tip-off of addiction [intolerance]. When the addictive food is eaten again, the symptoms disappear temporarily. However, a person can often keep himself in a symptom-free state by eating the addictive food frequently, thereby postponing symptoms of withdrawal. The result is chronic stress to the body, eventually leading to chronic and degenerative disease… All chemical and ingested food allergies and addictions eventually lead to pancreatic injury….
When a food allergen is consumed, the released inflammatory prostaglandins cause the stomach to secrete less HCl, which is necessary to stimulate the production of pepsinogen, a protein-digesting enzyme. Without sufficient pepsinogen, protein cannot be properly digested. [Amino acids are the end products of protein digestion. Antibodies, hormones, and enzymes are all built from amino acids. The immune system is adversely affected due to lowered antibody production. Without sufficient amino acids, more digestive enzymes cannot be made, and a self-perpetuating, vicious cycle begins.] Without sufficient stomach acid, the pancreas underproduces the bicarbonate necessary to alkalinize the food since it depends on the acid to stimulate this production. With less bicarbonate, the pancreas is also not stimulated to produce and release the necessary digestive enzymes to complete digestion. Paradoxically, because the food is not alkalinized, the original under-acidified food now remains in a relative overacidic state in the small intestine… Also when trypsin, a pancreatic protein-digesting enzyme, is inhibited, more undigested fragments of food (macromolecules) can be absorbed through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. Antibodies recognize these particles as foreign invaders and attack them, creating allergic reactions within the body. The fewer enzymes, the more undigested food particles there are in the intestine… The powerful chemicals released during the allergic reaction cause other serious problems. They are capable of causing inflammation of the intestine, which in turn will cause the intestine to become more permeable to food particles, allowing more incompletely digested particles to gain entrance to the bloodstream to be carried to other parts of the body, creating further reactions in tissues throughout the body.”
- Carolee Bateson-Koch D.C., N.D. author of Allergies – Disease in Disguise
So are you catching my drift here?!
Bottom line: EAT RIGHT (chew your food thoroughly, eat enzyme rich foods, don’t overeat…) AND TAKE ENZYMES!
Regular supplementation with digestive enzymes takes stress off the entire body, especially the pancreas, by supporting healthy digestion and assimilation. Digestive enzyme support may just be one of the best insurance policies you can give your body.
Which Enzymes To Use?
Look for one that contains:
- A variety of proteases, including Papain (to aid in the digestion of protein).
- Amylase (for the digestion of starches and carbohydrates).
- Lipase (to digest fats).
- Cellulase (to break down fiber cellulose into smaller units).
- Lactase (to digest dairy products).
- A superior formula should also contain large amounts of Bromelain (to aid digestion of protein, helps to reduce inflammation and swelling in joints).
Note: According to Jon Barron, “a dedicated proteolytic enzyme (high protease) formula, will be even more effective in this regard than a digestive enzyme formula forced to do double duty. Ideally, you should use a dedicated digestive enzyme formula with your meals and a dedicated high protease formula between meals.”