Enzymes are “The Life Energy” of All Organisms
Enzymes are biocatalysts that initiate, accelerate and terminate very precise sequential biochemical reactions in our bodies.
The DNA in our genes code for enzymes, and there are thousands and thousands of enzymes that our bodies need.
Every organ system in our bodies, every cell and every tissue requires enzymes to function. And they all need to be properly orchestrated.
Enzymes work in concert each other. Complex tasks are done in small steps — one enzyme does a small task, then activates another enzyme, which activates another, and so on, until the last enzyme triggers the desired effect.
A mistake in a step-by-step system to which that enzyme belongs can lead to errors which can get our bodies out of equilibrium and cause disease.
Enzymes are part of our every day living.
Enzymes are Basic to Life
Enzymes are an integral part of practically all the complex major pathways in our bodies!
Digestive enzymes are facilitators in digesting proteins, carbohydrates and fats and are required to release energy from foods.
Systemic enzymes (sometimes called theraeutic enzymes), facilitate building new cells and tissue, repairing damaged tissue, removing wastes, destroying harmful elements such as infections, pollution, carcinogens, and eliminating early cancerous cells developing in the body. Systemic enzymes also maintain proper fluidity in our blood (preventing abnormal coagulation), regulate metabolism, maintain cell respiration and on and on.
A combination of digestive and systemic enzymes are key in controlling excessive inflammation and keeping our neuroendocrine system functioning properly.
Enzyme Supplements Can Help Digestion, Reduce Gut Inflammation, Support Immune Response
Taking a digestive enzyme supplement when your diet and body do not supply enough on their own, enables healthy digestion (of proteins, fats, fibers and carbohydrates), fosters a well functioning GI tract, and promotes a healthy mucosal lining.
There are digestive enzyme supplements targeted toward food intolerances, such as lactose, casein, gluten, phenols, etc.
Take digestive enzymes with meals so they can “work” on the food you eat.
Digestive enzymes are enzymes that aid digestion and help us to “unlock” the energy in food to fuel our bodies. Oral digestive enzymes (proteases, lipases and amylases) have been used for a long time in medicine when the body cannot produce enough enzymes of its own.
Having an insufficiency of digestive enzymes (such as lactase needed to digest dairy products), leaves some food undigested and our bodies “lose out” on nourishment. Usually this results in uncomfortable GI symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.
In addition, when the undigested food passes into the large intestine, it becomes a source of nutrients for the intestinal bacteria. This commonly overfeeds microflora which may lead to an overgrowth of certain microbes in the gut lining and disturb the balance of the gut microbial environment.
The microbes produce gas and release by-products. The waste products can inflame the intestinal mucosa. Mucosal inflammation leads to increased permeability of the intestinal lining (leaky gut syndrome) which can have a negative impact on your immune system.
The gut is “the internal skin” of our bodies and a first line of immune defense!
Enzyme Supplements Can Curb Microbial Overgrowth, Reduce Tissue Inflammation and Pain
Taking a systemic enzyme supplement may help improve the ecosystem of your GI microflora, support your immune system and reduce inflammation and pain.
“[Some European scientists] feel that it is logical and sensible to take enzymes prophylactically as well, in order to have the fighting troops ready when a danger to health and therefore an increased enzyme requirement would be likely, for threatening colds to everyday sport’s injuries.” —
from Enzymes: The Fountain of Life, by D. A. Lopez, MD, R. M. Williams, MD, PhD and K. Miehlke, MD.
Microbial Overgrowth and Inflammation in the Gut – Certain therapeutic enzyme supplements address microbial overgrowth and inflammation in the gut. They disrupt the coating (biofilm) that undesirable microbes lining the gut mucosa use to protect themselves.
Microbes in the Blood – Protein-digesting therapeutic enzymes in the blood can break down undesirable microorganisms like viruses, yeast, fungi, bacteria and parasites that get into the bloodstream. They break down the protein coating or components of these undesirable microorganisms and help “clean up” the remains of the harmful microbes in the blood.
Out of Control Tissue Inflammation and Pain – For many years orally administered therapeutic enzymes have been used in Europe to treat diseases that have an uncontrolled inflammatory process. This process includes deposits of fibrin at the tissue sites affected by the disease and/or the formation of immune complexes. (Specific therapeutic enzymes can travel in the system to different tissues and break down immune complexes that trigger the inflammation.)
The inflammatory response is the body’s normal defensive response to what it perceives as a foreign invader or injury. When the natural inflammatory process becomes uncontrolled and does not shut off, it destroys tissues in the body. This is a feature of several autoimmune diseases.
Oral enzyme supplementation can strengthen the body’s own defenses and perhaps prevent or mitigate long-term damages from persistent unrelieved systemic inflammation.
Take systemic enzymes on an empty stomach — at least 1/2 hour before eating or 1 1/2 hours after a meal; the enzymes go directly to the gut lining, are absorbed into the blood stream and travel throughout the body’s systems.
Getting Enzymes From Food…Do We Get Enough?
We get enzymes from fresh, raw, unprocessed foods in our diets.
Our bodies produce many enzymes, like those for digestion or those that break down proteins in the bloodstream, but as we get older, our bodies produce fewer of them.
Enzymes can be destroyed — by cooking or commercial food processing (enzymes are heat sensitive proteins), smoking, excessive exposure to sunlight, and exposure to toxic substances and radiation.
Our bodies re-use enzymes, but enzymes have a limited life-span.
In good health there is always a new supply of enzymes ready and able to keep on working. But depending on your diet, lifestyle, environmental stressors, age and general health, your supply of enzymes may be inadequate.
How to get more enzymes in your diet:
- Eat something fresh and raw with each meal.
- Start a meal or two each day with a fresh salad full of leafy greens (not iceberg lettuce!) and raw vegetables like carrots, beets, herbs, tomatoes, leeks, celery. Add vegetables and fruit with a rainbow of color!
- Eat raw fruit like papayas, figs, pineapples, oranges, grapefruit, berries, etc.
- If you cook vegetables, lightly steam them…you’ll destroy fewer enzymes.
- Eat enzyme-rich foods like raw sauerkraut, onions, garlic or fresh herbs with meat meals to help with digestion.
- Incorporate fresh sushi in your diet; raw fish is rich in enzymes.
- Use soy sauce as a condiment; it’s a fermented food, rich in enzymes that help digest meat protein.
- Eat a minimum of highly refined processed foods that are “barren” of enzymes.
Some enzymes can’t do their “jobs” without a complementary co-enzyme such as vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, vitamins C and K, trace elements and minerals (copper, iron, nickel, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, etc.).
Coenzymes are necessary to manufacture certain enzymes. Healthy food or a multi-vitamin/mineral dietary supplement can provide these nutrients.
“Biochemically speaking,” a healthy diet full of fresh raw whole foods, full of enzymes and cofactors (minerals and vitamins) is essential!
My absolute favorite book about enzymes is: Enzymes: The Fountain of Life, by D. A. Lopez, MD, R. M. Williams, MD, PhD, and K. Miehlke, MD.
It’s a fabulous review of the science and history of the use of enzymes, but uses language that may be understood even if you don’t have an advanced science degree!