Enzymes – Critical for Life

Box with a Hamburger and French Fries --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThe importance of enzymes in human nutrition is very important when dealing with maintaining good health and the prevention of disease. In a recent journal “Townsend Letter For Doctors And Patients,” an article written by Morton Walker, dealing with the problems of indigestion helped me decide to write about digestive issues with this article. In his article he notes staggering statistics as to how many people suffer from digestive disturbances, we are talking about over 20 million people. Of course with our standard American diet consisting of over processed refined chemicalized food it is no wonder that the pharmaceutical industry makes billions of dollars on over the counter preparations designed to provide symptomatic relief. Unfortunately many of these substances compromise the digestive system further down the line. Since this topic is large, I will only be able to address certain aspects.

In my training, digestive functions is the center of good or bad health. It used to be stated that “you are what you eat” now we say “you are what you absorb.” Let take a closer look at digestive functions. First we begin with the mouth. Just the thought of food begins the process in the brain that prepares the stomach for food. The first bite is very important. How many of you chew your food well? Chewing of food mixes enzymes in the saliva that will help start the process once the food enters the stomach. The stomach is designed to secrete hydrochloric acid and numerous enzymes mainly to take the food you have eaten and break it down into smaller more absorbable components that will be absorbed into the blood stream further down the intestinal tract. Some basic guidelines to help this process is to chew well, don’t drink excessively with meal due to diluting of the digestive juices, watch food combining, which will be in a later article, avoid overly cold beverages with a meals.

Let’s look at some other aspects of the digestive principal. Enzymes are critical players in the digestive process. So what are enzymes and how do they work? The body manufacturers approximately twenty two different digestive enzymes. These enzymes are capable of breaking down protein, carbohydrates, sugars, and fats. The National Enzyme Commission has established a nomenclature system to identify enzymes. All enzymes end with the suffix -ase. The following are the main four categories.

They are:

  1. Lipase- which serves to break down fat.
  2. Protease- breaks down protein.
  3. Cellulase- breaks down fiber.
  4. Amylase- breaks down starch.

Enzymes are critical for all life functions. We have discussed how they work with digestion but what other role do they play. Enzymes in the blood take nutrients and help to build muscles, nerves, blood cells and aid glandular functions. They assist in storing sugar in the liver and muscles and turn fat into fatty tissue. Enzymes work with our immunity by attacking waste material and poisons within the blood. They aid in elimination functions of the kidneys and the lungs. Enzymes are specific and they do not cross over. An example is protease will not digest starch. They act on substances and change that substance into something different without changing themselves. As stated in the book Enzymes The Foundation Of Life by Drs. Lopez, Williams, and Miehlke, “the enzymes work as tireless, highly skilled workers on a conveyor belt, dismantling, controlling, protecting, destroying, eliminating, reassembling or performing whatever we need in order to exist day and night.”

There are three classes of enzymes:

  1. Metabolic which work in blood, tissue, and organs.
  2. Food enzymes from raw food.
  3. Digestive enzymes made in the body

There are approximately 3000 thousand known enzymes in the human body. Dr. Howell has been a leading researcher in enzyme therapy since 1920. He is the world leader in our understanding of how enzymes work. It used to be believed that we had unlimited enzyme production in our bodies. It is now believed that we have an enzyme bank and that we do not replenish it as we age. It is like a bank account if we overdraw it we pay the consequences.

The overdrawn enzyme bank happens when we have a diet of overly refined food and fail to eat raw fruits and vegetables. One characteristic of enzymes is their inability to withstand heat. At the temperature of 129 degrees enzymes are destroyed. Baking, food processing, cooking, and microwaving are destroying our plant enzymes. When we eat processed cooked foods we are depleting our enzyme bank account. It does need help by either eating raw foods or taking enzyme supplements.

Some of the conditions of enzyme deficiency are various inflammation processes, enlarged pancreas, toxicity of the colon, allergies, bronchitis, cystitis, arthritis, acne, osteoporosis, and lupus.

Enzymes have been used to treat many of these conditions. They help to block the formation of inflammatory compounds due to injury and degenerative diseases like arthritis. They help to reduce swelling and promote healing. Enzyme therapy has been used to treat viruses by helping the body to break down the protein coating that cover viruses. They have been used to treat multiple sclerosis and are an adjunctive therapy with cancer.

It really is fascinating to understand how important enzymes are to our health and vitality. Our modern diet is a constant factor when it comes to dis-ease processes. I urge you to do more reading about this subject. A few good books are: Enzyme Nutrition by Dr. Howell, Food Enzymes by Humbart Santillo, Enzymes The Foundation Of Life by Drs. Lopez, Williams, and Miehlke.

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