Over the last four years, the word enzyme has cropped up again and again in our life.
I think the first time was possibly when Julie and I went to see a Harley St Specialist for advice on alternative Cancer Treatments. Alternative to Chemo, Radiation and Tamoxofin, that is.
At that point, we were inundated with new concepts and information. The enzyme concept got wafted away on the wind.
We then engaged in protracted conversation with a couple of very learned people who amongst a million other things, told us of the work of Dr. Beard and Dr. Gonzalez in the use of enzymes in fighting Cancer.
They waxed lyrical about the use of Pancreatic Enzymes.
Still, this was too much information to take in and usefully use, for me and Julie. We were slowly moving forward on other fronts. For example, Vitamins, minerals, organic foods and BPA’s etc., but the enzyme thing was out of reach
The list was, and still is, endless.
Then, in October 2015 I went on a “Juicy Retreat” with the fabulous Sally Wilkinson, who during one of her talks said something like
“…and the reason that you need to eat raw food is that cooking destroys the enzymes…”.
I, and everyone else in the room, nodded sagely –as you do.
When I was driving home, I thought..
“that was good, but after four years of thinking, talking and research I still don’t know what a f@@king enzyme is, or what they f@@king do ! AND, why did I nod sagely, when I was under the influence of ignorance?”
A vital chunk of information was missing that could potentially keep Julie’s Cancer at bay.
So, this research, on the back of my ignorance, throws some light on enzymes and why you should think about Juicing your Vegetables and Fruit. (But for that you will have to read to the end.!!)
Enzymes are needed for every cell in your body—not just for digestion but for ALL physiological processes.
Enzymes are composed of amino acids and are secreted by your body to help functions that would normally not occur at body temperature.
More than 3,000 different enzymes have been identified, and some experts believe there may be another 50,000 to be discovered. Each enzyme has a different function—like 3,000 specialized keys cut to fit 3,000 different biological locks.
Enzymes drive biological processes necessary for your body to build raw materials, circulate nutrients, eliminate unwanted chemicals, and lots of other biochemical processes that go on without your even thinking about it.
Here are just some of the activities in your body requiring enzymes:
- Energy production
- Absorption of oxygen
- Fighting infections and healing wounds
- Reducing inflammation
- Getting nutrients into your cells
- Carrying away toxic wastes
- Breaking down fats in your blood, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Dissolving blood clots
- Proper hormone regulation
- Slowing the aging process
Small amounts of enzymes can make profound changes! Enzymes are the catalysts that cause many essential biochemical reactions to happen—but they are not “used up” IN the reaction. They merely assist—meaning, they accelerate reactions—sometimes to a mind-boggling several million reactions per second!
Enzymes lower the amount of energy needed for a reaction to occur. Without them, some reactions simply would not happen.
But enzymes don’t work alone.
Enzymes rely on other vitamins and minerals to accomplish their tasks. These elements are called “coenzymes.”
One of these—Coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria (power centres) of your cells where it is involved in making ATP, every cell’s principal energy source.
Another example is magnesium, which participates in over 300 enzyme reactions.
The Concept of “Enzyme Potential”
Dr. Edward Howell spent his entire professional life studying enzymes and can be credited with catalyzing enzyme research.
Howell believed you were born with a limited enzyme-producing capacity, and that your life expectancy depends on how well you preserve your “enzyme potential.” His theory was that if you don’t get enough enzymes from the food you eat, great strain is placed on your digestive system to “pick up the slack,” i.e., produce enough enzymes to accomplish the task.
A deficiency in digestive enzymes then reduces availability of your metabolic enzymes. Howell believed this metabolic enzyme deficit was at the root of most chronic health problems.
There are three basic categories of enzymes:
- Food based
Digestive enzymes, as their name implies, help you break down food into smaller parts that can be absorbed, transported and utilized by every cell in your body. Digestive enzymes are extra-cellular—meaning, they are found outside your cells.
Metabolic enzymes are intra-cellular—meaning, inside your cells, where they help the cell carry out a variety of functions related to its reproduction and replenishment.
Your pancreas produces most of these digestive and metabolic enzymes.
Food Based Enzymes directly help with your digestive process.
The more raw foods you eat, the lower the burden on your body to produce the enzymes it needs, not only for digestion, but for practically everything. Whatever enzymes are not used up in digestion are then available to help with other important physiological processes.
Insufficient enzyme production is at the root of much “tummy trouble”.
Diets heavy in cooked, processed, and sugary foods, combined with overuse of pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics, deplete your body’s ability to make enzymes.
Heating your food above 47 deg C (116 degrees F) makes most enzymes inactive.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to eat your foods raw. Raw foods are enzyme-rich, and eating them decreases your body’s burden to produce its own enzymes.
The more food that you can eat raw, the better. Ideally, you should get 75% of your digestive enzymes from your food.
In addition to heat, enzymes are also very sensitive to shifts in pH, which is why different enzymes work in different parts of your digestive tract, based on the pH each enzyme needs in order to function.
Enzyme deficiency results in poor digestion and poor nutrient absorption. This creates a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including:
- Heart burn
Chronic mal absorption can lead to a variety of illnesses. If your body doesn’t have the basic nutritional building blocks it needs, your health and ability to recover from illness will be compromised.
Besides breaking down food, enzymes can help with gut healing, controlling pathogens, and immune support.
Your immune system begins in your gut—and if you have enzyme and digestive issues, chances are your immune system isn’t functioning as well as it should be.
How Aging Affects Your Enzyme Production
Your natural enzyme production starts to decline by the time you’re about 20.
For every ten years you age, your enzyme production decreases by 13%. So by age 40, your enzyme production could be 25 percent lower than it was when you were a child. And by the time you’re 70, you could be producing only ONE-THIRD of the enzymes you need.
Also, your stomach produces less hydrochloric acid as you age, which is crucial in activating your stomach’s digestive enzymes.
When digestion requires a heavy demand, enzyme supplies run short and your enzyme-producing capacity can become exhausted. The high demand for digestive enzymes depletes your body’s production of metabolic enzymes, which every cell in your body needs in order to function.
Roles of Metabolic Enzymes
Metabolic enzymes are involved with running your circulatory, lymphatic, cardiac, neurologic, endocrine, renal, hepatic, and reproductive systems, and maintaining your skin, bones, joints, muscles and other tissues.
Every one of your cells depends on these enzymes and their ability to catalyze energy production. Each of these enzymes is highly specialized as a function of its particular molecular structure.
Consider these two examples:
- RNA polymeraseis an enzyme your body uses to transcribe DNA into RNA, which is used to make proteins.
- Lysosomal enzyme, produced in the lysosome of each cell (also called the “suicide bag”), breaks down macromolecules and other foreign particles the cell has ingested (such as bacteria) so they can be disposed of. The lysosome is a microscopic garbage disposal!
One of the most important functions of metabolic enzymes happens in your blood. If you think about it, it makes sense. We know that bacteria, fungi, and parasites are comprised of protein, as is the shell encompassing viruses.
Enzymes in your blood—primarily proteases (proteolytic enzymes)—serve to break down protein-based foreign bodies, effectively cleansing your blood.
As blood cleansers, these enzymes combat chronic inflammation, which if left unchecked can lead to everything from autoimmune diseases, to cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Enzymes reduce inflammation in your body by:
- Breaking down foreign proteins in the blood that cause inflammation and facilitating their removal via your blood stream and lymphatic system
- Removing “fibrin,” a clotting material that can prolong inflammation
- Reducing oedema in the inflamed regions
It follows, then, that any disease caused by inflammation— practically every chronic disease we face today—can be benefited by increased levels of functional enzymes in your blood.
Boosting Your Enzyme Levels Naturally
There are four ways to naturally increase your enzyme levels:
- Increase your intake of raw, living foods
- Eat fewer calories
- Chew your food thoroughly
- Avoid chewing gum
The very best way to get enzymes into your body is by eating at least 75 percent of your foods raw.
While all raw foods contain enzymes, the most powerful enzyme-rich foods are those that are sprouted (seeds and legumes).
Sprouting increases the enzyme content in these foods tremendously. Besides sprouts, other enzyme-rich foods include:
- Papaya, pineapple, mango, kiwi, and grapes
- Raw honey
- Bee pollen
- Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
- Raw meat and dairy
The best way to bump up your metabolic enzymes is to provide your body with the raw materials and energy it needs to make them. By eating these types of foods, you supply your body with the amino acids and the enzyme co-factors needed to boost your own natural enzyme production.
Another way to lower your body’s demand for enzymes is to reduce your caloric intake. The average person spends 80 percent of his available energy simply digesting food.
By reducing overall consumption, as well as introducing more living foods, you reduce your need for digestive enzymes, which allows your body to put more of its energy into producing metabolic enzymes.
Which brings me to chewing!
Quite apart from the pleasure of an unhurried meal, there are important physiological reasons to chew your food well.
Chewing stimulates saliva production, and the more time you spend chewing, the longer your saliva enzymes have to work in your mouth, lessening the workload of your stomach and small intestine. Chewing also stimulates a reflex that sends a message to your pancreas and other digestive organs, “Gear up—we’ve got incoming!”
And don’t chew gum.!!
Chewing gum fools your body into believing it is digesting something, so it pumps out digestive enzymes unnecessarily. Why waste those precious resources?
Digestive Enzyme Supplementation
If you suffer from occasional bloating, minor abdominal discomfort, and occasional constipation and suspect your enzyme production is low, you might want to consider a digestive enzyme supplement in addition to eating more of your foods raw.
Digestive enzymes should be taken WITH a meal. There are hundreds on the market, so how do you choose a good one? You should look for an enzyme formula with the following characteristics:
- It should contain a mixture of different types of enzymes, to help digest all of the different components of your diet (including lipase, protease, and amylase)
- The ingredients should be high quality, all-natural, and free of allergens and additives
- The supplement should be labelled as to the enzymatic strength of each ingredient, not just its weight
- It should be made by a reputable company with rigorous quality control and testing for potency
Besides digestive enzyme supplementation, there is another way to use oral enzymes—for systemic use. This requires taking enzymes between meals so they can be absorbed through your gut and into your bloodstream, where your cells can use them metabolically.
Getting enzymes from your digestive tract into your bloodstream isn’t as easy as it seems. Enzymes are very susceptible to being deactivated and must be helped to survive the highly acidic environment in your stomach. They are often given a coating to help them through your digestive tract.
It is crucial that, in order for enzymes to be used systemically, they must be ingested on an empty stomach.
Otherwise, your body will use them for digesting your food, instead of being absorbed into the blood and doing their work there.
Systemic Enzymes in the Treatment of Cancer
The use of enzymes to treat cancer has its roots all the way back to 1911 with John Beard’s The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and Its Scientific Basis. Beard believed cancer was a result of diminished pancreatic enzymes, impairing your immune response.
A study in 1999 suggests he may have been right.
Ten patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer were treated with large doses of oral pancreatic enzymes (along with detoxification and an organic diet), and their survival rates were 3 to 4 times higher than patients receiving conventional treatment. Proteolytic enzymes can be helpful in treating cancer because they help restore balance to your immune system.
Dr. Nick Gonzalez in New York has also done a lot of work on enzymes in cancer treatment and has written a book on the subject.
Some of the ways enzymes can be helpful in the fight against cancer are:
- Boosting interferon and tumour necrosis factor, which are very important in destroying cancer cells.
- Dissolving fibrin: Cancer cells hide under a cloak of fibrin to escape detection. Once the cancer cells are “uncloaked,” they can be spotted and attacked by your immune system.
- It is also thought that fibrin makes cancer cells “stick together,” which increases the chance for metastases.(Secondary Cancers)
- German studies have shown that systemic enzymes increase the potency of macrophages and killer cells 12-fold.
Hopefully you can now appreciate just how important enzymes are to your overall health, right down to the cellular level.
Once you understand this, you may begin to see just how important it is to eat a diet rich in fresh, organic, raw foods.
You should try juicing some of your vegetables and fruit as a way of getting more nutrients—and enzymes—into your body.
It has been said, “You are what you eat.” But really, “You are what you digest” is closer to the truth.