Enzymes are something that one usually doesn’t think much about unless something goes wrong. A common example is lactose intolerance where the body does not produce the enzyme, lactase, which digests lactose, the sugar in milk. This newsletter contains basic information about enzymes, what they do, and how they fit into the process of digestion and other important functions, as well as how we can help them function optimally.
Enzymes are energized protein molecules that are essential for
- digesting food,
- stimulating the brain,
- providing cellular energy,
- eliminating toxins,
- enhancing lymphatic drainage,
- reducing inflammation,
- repairing and protecting all tissues, organs and cells,
- slowing down the aging process,
- stimulating the immune system, and
- healing DNA.
Enzymes are often divided into 2 groups: digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes.
Each enzyme has a specific function in the body that no other enzyme can fulfill. It has been estimated that the body manufactures thousands of various enzymes from protein and other nutrients for the countless biochemical reactions that control all life functions. Of the thousands of enzymes in the body, the majority of the body’s enzyme-producing potential is devoted to the 2 dozen enzymes necessary to break down and utilize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Digestive enzymes are secreted along the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, stomach, and small intestine) and break down foods, so the nutrients may be absorbed in the bloodstream and then nourish every cell in the body.
There are 4 main categories of digestive enzymes:
- amylase (found in saliva and the pancreatic juices) helps digest carbohydrates;
- protease (found in the stomach, pancreatic and intestinal juices) breaks down protein;
- lipase (found in the stomach and pancreatic juices) aids in fat digestion; and
- lactase (manufactured in the small intestine) breaks down lactose, the sugar in dairy products.
Another important component of the digestive process is hydrochloric acid (HCl) which interacts with digestive enzymes as they perform their functions. HCl also improves the digestion and assimilation of vitamins and minerals which are vital to enzyme activity.
Enzyme activity can be affected by inhibitors and activators. Inhibitors are molecules that decrease enzyme activity; many drugs and poisons are enzyme inhibitors. Activators such as vitamins, minerals and trace minerals increase enzyme activity.
Metabolic enzymes are those that cause the organs and systems of your body to function. They speed up the chemical reaction within the cells for detoxification, energy production, enhancement of our immune system, and much more.
Enzymes in the liver can take the most powerful and dangerous chemicals in our bodies and make them harmless. These enzymes are designed to eliminate chemicals in 2 steps. In phase 1, an enzyme in the liver cell grabs hold of the toxic molecule and attaches oxygen to it. In phase 2, a second enzyme hooks the toxic molecule onto a larger carrier molecule, which drags it away. These captured molecules are then eliminated in our urine or feces.
Most of us eat a diet consisting largely of cooked foods. Enzymes occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, but they are destroyed if heated above 47°C (118°F) – far below boiling point. Processed food also lacks enzymes. Our bodies produce fewer enzymes as we age, and enzyme deficiencies can lead to a number of acute health problems and chronic illnesses.
A deficiency in lactase causes intolerance to lactose, the sugar found in milk. The lactose is not digested, and ferments in the intestine, causing a variety of digestive disturbances. This can be remedied by taking lactase pills when consuming dairy products that contain lactose. As an alternative, probiotics have the capability of producing lactase.
As mentioned, some vitamins and minerals increase enzyme activity. Among the most important activators, or coenzymes, are the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc.
Consuming certain aromatic herbs, such as caraway, ginger, fennel and gentian before eating improves digestion, by increasing the production of digestive enzymes and fluids, and toning the tissues of the digestive tract. Certain foods such as uncooked cruciferous plants (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and others) are very rich in natural chemicals that increase the production of phase 2 enzymes to eliminate toxins from the bloodstream.
Enzyme supplements can be used to reduce inflammation, control and reduce the amount of scar tissue and fibrosis in the body, improve circulation and cleanse the blood, improve the efficiency of the immune system, and, of course, aid digestion.
In summary, eating uncooked and unprocessed fruits and vegetables provides a good source of some enzymes. Alternatively, taking high quality enzyme supplements helps prevent depletion of the body’s own enzymes and thus reduces the stress on the body. Please contact me for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org
The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.
- Maximizing your NSP enzyme experience. - Levert R.
- Enzymes in action – the many hats of enzymes. – Wong W. - ihr May, 2004.
These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.
Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic