Life consists of countless biochemical processes. Breathing, digesting food, and even swallowing each require specific chemical reactions. Enzymes allow all these chemical reactions to happen. Quite literally, enzymes make life possible.
- Enzymes are secreted by living cells. They’re made up of two parts: protein and a “prosthetic group”, which is usually a vitamin or mineral. Enzymes are found in all living things.
- Enzymes are made inside the body, but we also get them from the food we eat.
- Plants contain enzymes that help them reach maturity. These same enzymes will “digest” the very food they are contained in when certain conditions are present. An example of this is “bruising” on fruit. Bruising happens when the cell walls have been damaged, releasing enzymes that begin digesting the fruit. Similarly, when we eat a plant its own enzymes help us digest it.
- Enzymes often have “-ase” at the end of their names. For example, protease, lactase, and lipase are types of enzymes.
- There are officially six major categories of enzymes, depending on what chemical reactions they assist with. More generally, though, they fall into broader types, based on where we get them and how we use them.
Types of Enzymes…
- Food enzymes occur in raw foods and are destroyed if heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Digestive Enzymes are made in the body, primarily in the pancreas. Food enzymes and digestive enzymes have the same function.
- There are thousands of metabolic enzymes that are involved in all our biochemical processes. For instance, white blood cells, a key component in the immune system, contain metabolic protease. Metabolic enzymes are also primarily produced in the pancreas.
- Because enzymes are required for all our physical functions, having enough is crucial to good health. The more enzymes our bodies have available to use, the healthier they’ll be.
- Several factors cause the body to become deficient in enzymes. Environmental pollutants, stress, lack of sleep, dietary choices, and numerous other factors can all affect how many enzymes our body is taking in, how many it’s producing, and how many it needs. As we age, our pancreas’s capacity to produce enzymes slows down.
- One factor in the aging process involves a lack of metabolic enzymes in the body. Enzyme deficiency is involved in the formation of wrinkles, bone loss, and other issues and illnesses that generally come with aging.
- Most people don’t get the enzymes they need from their food because cooking and pasteurization kill enzymes. When people refer to “living food” or the “life force” in food, they usually speak about enzyme content.
- When your body doesn’t have enough enzymes, either through production in the pancreas or from dietary sources, it starts to use the enzymes it has for the most vital processes, often neglecting others. This contributes to ill health and physical degeneration.
- Some common issues that may arise when someone is deficient in enzymes are digestive problems, allergies, inflammation, and immune dysfunction.
Making Up the Difference…
- To get more enzymes into the body, you can either choose to eat plenty of enzyme-rich raw foods, or you can take enzyme supplements.
- All raw foods contain live enzymes, including fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, meats, unpasteurized dairy, and eggs. Raw foods may also carry live bacteria that can cause food poisoning and other diseases. Among the richest dietary sources of enzymes are sprouted grains, nuts, and legumes. Sprouting greatly increases enzyme content.
- There are two types of available enzyme supplements: digesting and systemic. Digestive enzymes are usually a blend of enzymes that help the body digest proteins, carbohydrates (sometimes including lactose), and fats. Systemic enzymes usually contain only protein-digesting protease and are enteric-coated to help them survive the body’s stomach acid. Systemic enzymes are meant to help support the body’s various metabolic functions other than digestion.
- The Power of Enzymes http://www.naturalnews.com/022715.html
- A Primer on Enzymes http://www.alaskawellness.com/mar-apr03/enzymes.htm
- The Immune System http://www.enzyme-facts.com/immune-system.html
- What are Metabolic Enzymes? http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-metabolic-enzymes.htm
5. Raw Foods and Enzymes http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/enzymes.h