The Power of Enzymes
by Ron Harder
One of the most common health problems in North America today is poor digestion.
There are several reasons for poor digestion, but the two biggest reasons are the inability of your body to produce enough enzymes, and the lack of digestive enzymes in the food that you eat.
What are digestive enzymes? They are organic protein molecules that break down food particles such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats; and convert them into smaller absorbable nutrients that your body can use to build cells, tissues, and organs.
What do they do? Digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking down the food that you eat so that your food can be more easily absorbed and digested by your small intestine. It works something like this. You put some food into your mouth and by chewing it you break this food up into smaller segments and mix it with saliva. The enzymes in your saliva start the pre-digestive process in your mouth, and this continues while your food is on its way to your stomach. In the stomach your food is mixed with hydrochloric acid that helps to digest starches.
More enzymes are added at this point which helps to break down your food even further and turn it into a paste-like substance called chyme. After several hours this chyme moves from the stomach to your small intestine where pancreatic enzymes are added to help with further digestion. The more enzymes you have available the better your digestion will be. Any food that you are not able to digest will be passed along to your large intestine where it will await elimination from your body.
Where do digestive enzymes come from? You obtain most of your digestive enzymes from the food that you eat, and your body also produces enzymes of its own. Unfortunately, because of soil depletion, herbicide sprays, etc., we do not obtain anywhere near the number of enzymes that we need. Another major problem is that modern processing and preserving techniques, such as boiling and pasteurization, destroy most of the enzymes that ever were in your food. Enzymes are also destroyed by exposure to air, exposure to light, alcohol consumption, temperatures over 118 degrees, caffeine, cigarette smoke, and prescription drugs. Parasites, pesticides, pollutants, ultra-violet radiation, and fluoridated water also destroy enzymes. Enzymes are either obtained from plants, or they are manufactured by the pancreas. Pancreatic enzymes are animal based and only function in your small intestine. If pancreatic enzymes are taken with food they will be destroyed by the acids in your stomach, and therefore, they are not nearly as effective as plant enzymes.
Plant enzymes are much more effective because they begin pre-digestion in your mouth, they are not destroyed by the acids in your stomach, and they function in both an acid and in an alkaline environment.
As we age, our body looses its ability to produce its own enzymes, and so we have to include them in our diet. There are only two ways to accomplish this.
One method is by eating raw organic food, and the other method is by taking enzyme supplements. Some good food sources for enzymes are alfalfa, barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, kelp, peppermint, and sea vegetables. Most fruits, especially bananas, are also a good source. You should make very sure that you get enough enzymes, because a lack of digestive enzymes will cause a number of things to occur in your body, and here are some of the more common.
You may develop abdominal bloating, abdominal cramps, constipation, crohn's disease, colitis, diarrhea, eczema, heartburn, indigestion, IBD, psoriasis, skin rashes, and many other conditions that can cause you a lot of problems. Low levels of enzymes can lead to a toxic colon because undigested food in your intestines can ferment and turn toxic. The toxic byproducts that accumulate in your intestines will be absorbed through your intestine wall and will end up in your blood stream, and when these toxins enter your blood stream they will come into contact with all the cells throughout your entire body. When this occurs, all kinds of nasty things, like cancer for example, can and do develop.
Up to this point we have only discussed digestive enzymes, but there is another type of enzyme we should briefly discuss and that is metabolic enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are protein-like substances that act as a catalyst in all metabolic actions within your body. In other words, metabolic enzymes are the workers within your body that allow the minerals, vitamins, and proteins to do their job. Metabolic enzymes are your body's labor force, and they are responsible for all the anabolic or catabolic activity in your body.
If you eat cooked food, fast food, or processed food, your body needs all the help it can get. There are virtually no enzymes in these kinds of foods, and without enzymes, you will not be able to digest any of the nutrients that may be present. If your diet consists of these foods I would strongly suggest changing your diet to raw vegetables and fresh fruits so that you can maximize your enzyme intake. Above that, I also strongly recommend taking enzyme supplements as part of your daily diet. This will ensure that you are getting all the enzymes that you need for your good health.
Enzymes are very selective in that each enzyme can only do one specific job. One enzyme cannot do another enzymes job, so a shortage or absence of just one enzyme can have a very serious impact on your health. As you can see, enzymes are an extremely important part of your diet.
How important are they? Enzymes are the first of the "workers" in your body. They are the catalyst that allows the minerals and vitamins in your body to do their job. They are responsible for all metabolic functions. They are responsible for life itself. The following are the eight major digestive enzymes that you should have in your body to make sure that you maximize your digestion. The first four are absolutely essential for optimum health, and the last four are generally manufactured by your body on an as- required basis. However, all eight of these enzymes perform a very specific function that cannot be performed by a different enzyme, and so they are all very important.
PROTEASE Responsible for digesting proteins in your food, which is probably one of the most difficult substances to metabolize. Because of this, protease is considered to be one of the most important enzymes that we have. If the digestive process is incomplete, undigested protein can wind up in your circulatory system, as well as in other parts of your body. When you take protease in higher quantities, it can help to clean up your body by removing the unwanted protein from your circulatory system. This will help to clean up your blood stream, and restore your energy and balance. One of the tricks of an invading organism is to wrap itself in a large protein shell that the body would view as being "normal". Large amounts of protease can help to remove this protein shell, and allow the body's defense mechanisms can go into action. With the protective barrier down, your immune system can step in and destroy the invading organism. Additional amounts of protease are also helpful in fighting such things as colds, flu's, and cancerous tumor growths. Protease helps in the healing and recovery from cancer by dissolving the fibrin coating on cancer cells, and thereby giving your immune system a chance to do its job. It can effectively shrink these tumors by helping to remove the dead and abnormal tissues, and by stimulating healthy tissue growth.
AMYLASE The second most important enzyme that we have, amylase is responsible for digesting carbohydrates in food. Because of this, it could be considered a natural antihistamine. Incomplete digestion of carbohydrates has been linked to blood sugar imbalances, allergies, and asthma. Amylase is also very effective in helping to relieve the symptoms of allergic reactions to such things as insect bites, pollen irritation, or contact with poison oak, poison ivy, or sumac. A possible reason why some people appear to be more immune to these poisons is because of a higher amount of amylase within their bodies.
LIPASE Responsible for digesting fats in food. When taken in higher quantities it will also find its way into the blood stream and help to remove excess fatty deposits from the inside of your veins and arteries. When this occurs, the arteries and veins are more open and allow the blood to flow more smoothly throughout your body. It is well understood that clogged arteries cause a rise in blood pressure, and that this in turn leads to heart problems. Using extra lipase during the pre-digestive phase can help with overall fat control both in the stomach and in the arteries of your body. Additional lipase can also be helpful in a weight management program, because it converts fat to energy instead of allowing it to be stored in your body.
CELLULASE Responsible for breaking down fiber. It is also an excellent antioxidant because it binds to heavy metals and other toxins and carries them out of your body. We generally consume a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is effective in binding to excess cholesterol and toxic material and removing them from the body. Cellulase helps with this process because it breaks down the soluble fiber and allows it to be more efficient. Insoluble fiber provides the necessary bulk to keep the intestinal tract properly inflated, and acts as a "push broom" to keep the walls of both the small and large intestines clean.
MALTASE Responsible for taking the complex sugar found in malt and grain products and changing it into glucose.
LACTASE Responsible for digesting the milk sugar found in dairy products.
PHYTASE Helps with digestion in general, and is especially effective in producing vital nutrients of the B-Complex.
SUCRASE Responsible for digesting the sugars that are found in most foods. You may not always get enough enzymes from the food that you eat, and because of that you may sometimes have problems with your digestion.
To help you with that I have included a few suggestions that you may wish to consider.
a) Chew your food well. This will help to break down your food so that your enzymes can do their job more effectively.
b) Eat your meals slowly. This will allow your food to proceed along your digestive tract in an orderly and continuous fashion.
c) Take time to relax after you eat so that your body will have the energy to start the digestive process.
d) Eat smaller more frequent meals during the day to help your digestion, and to promote better metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fat.
e) Do not eat a heavy meal within three hours of bedtime.
f) Drink plenty of water or herbal tea with and between your meals to promote better digestion and system regularity.
g) Eat plenty of fresh raw fruits and vegetables to maximize your enzyme intake.
Do your very best to obtain all the enzymes that you can. The more enzymes you consume, the better your digestion will be, and the more value you will obtain from your food. And you do not have to worry about ever getting too many enzymes, they are not something that you can overdose on.
Eat well, and be healthy.
This article written by Ron Harder, Nutritional Health Consultant, Iridologist, and Author of "How To Defeat Cancer - Naturally - without Chemo, Radiation, or Surgery". For more health information please visit his web site at http://www.defeatcancer.ca. Other articles by Ron Harder are available at www.shift.to/health/