Lesson 21: Enzymes Copy


Enzymes are biologically active proteins found in all living cells. Metabolic enzymes catalyze and regulate every biochemical reaction that occurs within the human body, making them essential for cellular function and overall health. Digestive enzymes turn the food we eat into energy which may be utilized by the body for various biological processes. Our bodies naturally produce both digestive and metabolic enzymes, as they are needed.

Enzymes are protein chemicals, which carry a vital energy factor needed for every chemical action, and reaction that occurs in our body. There are approximately 1300 different enzymes found in the human cell. These enzymes can combine with coenzymes to form nearly 100,000 various chemicals that enable us to see, hear, feel, move, digest food, and think. Every organ, every tissue, and all the 100 trillion cells in our body depend upon the reactions of metabolic enzymes and their energy factor. Nutrition cannot be explained without describing the part that enzymes play.

How are enzymes utilized in the body?

Metabolic Enzymes are an essential component for optimal cellular function and health. These descriptions are not without merit. They speed up the chemical reactions within the cells for detoxification and energy production. They enable us to see, hear, feel, move and think. Every organ, every tissue and all 100 trillion cells in our body depend upon the reaction of metabolic enzymes and their energy factor. Without these metabolic enzymes, cellular life would cease to exist.

Digestive Enzymes are secreted along the digestive tract to break food down into nutrients and waste. Most of the digestive enzymes are produced by the pancreas. The liver, gallbladder, small intestine, stomach and colon also play pivotal roles in the production of these enzymes. Digestive enzymes allow the nutrients found in the foods we consume to be absorbed into the blood stream and the waste to be discarded. Some human digestive enzymes include lipase, protease, amylase, ptyalin, pepsin and trypsin.

Food Enzymes are introduced to the body through the raw foods we eat and through consumption of supplemental enzyme products. Raw foods naturally contain enzymes, providing a source of digestive enzymes when ingested. However, raw food manifests only enough enzymes to digest that particular food. The cooking and processing of food destroys all of its enzymes. Since most of the foods we eat are cooked or processed in some way and because the raw foods we do eat contain only enough enzymes to process that particular food, our bodies must produce the majority of the digestive enzymes we require, unless we use supplemental enzymes to aid in the digestive process. A variety of supplemental enzymes are available through different sources. It is important to understand the differences between the enzyme types and make sure you are using an enzyme product most beneficial for your particular needs.

There are three main types of digestive enzymes:

Proteases: Break down protein into small peptides and amino acids.
Lipases: Break down fat into three fatty acids plus a glycerol molecule.
Amylases: Break down carbs like starch into simple sugars.

Other Enzymes :

Protein-Digesting Enzymes
Protease (high pH) [Dairy Digesting]
Protease (low pH) [Dairy Digesting]
Protease (mid pH) [Dairy Digesting]
Protease (neutral pH) [Dairy Digesting]

Carbohydrate-Digesting Enzymes
Lactase [Dairy Digesting]

The Enzyme Theory: (Myrosinase & Allinase convert phytochemicals into active forms)

Enzymes are the fundamental catalyst of all physical and mental functions. Every known break down of health has to do primarily which a depletion of “life enzymes” or “metabolic enzymes”. When we eat a heavy cooked, processed, and animal based diet our body recruits healing enzymes to help break down the food. This causes our body to become crippled in micro-fractures over time slowing down the healing process and accelerating the aging process. Enzymes are catalysts, and they help to speed up chemical reactions in cells. They are almost always proteins, and because of that, they are easily damaged or destroyed. They have a limited life span and are constantly replenished by the body.  It is often said that people would live about three weeks without food and three days without water, but people would probably only survive about three minutes without enzymes! People have no idea what enzymes really are. People tend to picture these things in plants that help humans, but there really is more to it than just that. There are three kinds of enzymes that have any kind of consequence for human health. Metabolic enzymes basically help run and maintain the body. Digestive enzymes are those that our bodies manufacture in order to break down the food that we eat; that way, food nutrients can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Food enzymes are naturally present in foods and in all raw plants. While plant enzymes may be helpful, they are not critical. Digestive enzymes are important for digesting food. Food enzymes are present in plants to ensure the survival of the plant. There are many societies that eat a predominantly cooked food diet, with a limited intake of plant enzymes, and they can live long and healthy lives. There is no scientific proof that humans require enzymes from food. However, it appears as though we can benefit from the enzymes in food, in a couple of ways.

Without digestive enzymes, we would be dead in fairly short order. If we did not have digestive enzymes, we would not be able to break apart the food in the stomach and we would not get any nutrients. There are some diseases in which we are not producing digestive enzymes at a normal level. For example, people with cystic fibrosis have to take a large amount of enzymes in order to survive. Cooking destroys the enzymes present in food, although this destruction is a gradual process. There are two main disadvantages to cooking foods: first, you reduce several of the protective factors in the foods, such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes. Second, cooking can cause the formation of several potentially harmful compounds such as advanced glycation end products, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and acrylamide. In addition, cooking generally increases the glycemic index of food, causing steeper rises in blood sugar than does the raw form of the same food. Another thing cannot be overlooked. When you cook food, you are more likely to add things like butter, salt, or sugar. The same could be said of processed foods. Raw foods are generally unprocessed and uncooked. When you eat mostly a raw food diet, you are automatically putting a lid on all of these unnecessary and potential harmful additives.

All enzymes have a pH and temperature range in which they are active. Outside of that range they are either inactive or denatured. This is why cooking pretty much destroys most enzymes. Raw food enzymes passing through the extremely acidic environment of the stomach also contributes to the destruction or inactivation. When food is chewed, or ground up in some way (chopped, blended) food enzymes are released and activated. These enzymes remain active in the blender (raw food blended into a smoothie), mouth, and even in the upper part of the stomach. When food enters the stomach, it hangs out in the upper segment for approximately 40 minutes. It is thought that perhaps here, salivary as well as food enzymes work and are beneficial. After this stop however, the food enters the lower section of the stomach where it is mixed and churned with hydrochloric acid. Ph levels change dramatically. Here, the enzyme pepsin is produced and secreted. Pepsin is the only enzyme known to survive, be activated, and thrive in the acidic pH of the stomach. As a result, the chance of food enzymes entering the small intestine (and being absorbed into the body) is not highly likely. Enzyme researcher Stephen Rothman states, “I am unaware of any evidence that suggests that enzymes in raw vegetables or fruits at quantities normally eaten, can substitute for our digestive enzymes or provide substantial assistance in the digestive process. Nor am I aware of any evidence that they pass safely through the acid environment of the stomach or are not rapidly degraded when they reach the intestines. . . .”

The enzyme theory premise, that there is a limited amount of digestive enzymes in the body and that we cannot make digestive enzymes to reboot supplies, lacks scientific evidence. Researchers have found that instead, the body conserves digestive enzymes by reabsorbing, recycling, and reusing them. In addition, the contribution of raw food enzymes to the total digestive process is quite small. For example, amylase activity in a glass of carrot juice is 20-30 U/L whereas amylase in saliva is 200,000 U/L. If we had to rely on food enzymes alone, without digestive enzymes, “we would starve to death in short order.”From a scientific perspective, the enzyme theory appears rather weak. However, this does not mean that an individual cannot be greatly benefited from eating more raw food. Raw plant foods provide an amazing array of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. In fact, there are a couple of enzymes that stand out when dealing with cancer.

Myrosinase is an enzyme found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and even radishes. Myrosinase converts specific phytochemicals into active forms which are absorbed into the blood stream and are known to inhibit cancer growth and kill cancer cells in the body.

Allinase in allium vegetables like onion and garlic converts the phytochemical alliin to an active form possessing antimicrobial, antithrombotic, lipid lowering, antiarthritic, and anticancer activities. This conversion occurs when the plant has been juiced, blended, mashed, chopped, or chewed. Cooking these foods destroys much or all of these two enzymes. The anticancer potential of consuming these raw foods is exciting.