What are enzymes and why do we need them?
The enzyme function is based on a chemical reaction. Enzymes work like a key in a lock. But only the right key fits the lock and can open the door and only if the key is turned in the right direction. This is the work of the coenzymes such as Q10, vitamins and minerals.
Our bodies need a huge amount of enzymes. As with keys and locks, each enzyme is very specific and works well only in a certain chemical reaction, in a certain molecule, at a certain pH and at a certain temperature. Some enzymes break down food substances into smaller molecules, others are involved in breathing, reproduction of cells, eyesight etc. Unlike lactic acid bacteria that multiply by itself, one enzyme is capable only for one chemical reaction. After that it is useless and a new one is needed to replace it. A human body needs about 40 liters of enzymes per day.
Where do we get the enzymes from?
Enzymes are found in all living creatures and organisms: plants, animals, myco-organisms, fungi and bacteria. Especially fresh fruit, vegetables and cereal are high in enzymes. We should obtain most of our enzymes from these dietary sources.
The most important human enzyme producers are saliva, liver, pancreas and colonic flora. Enzymes do not multiply in the body so the organs must produce new ones continuously.
Around half of the enzymes are found in saliva. Its most important ones are amylases which break down starch into sugar. When you chew a piece of bread, you will notice that it becomes sweeter as you chew. Chew your food at least seven times before you swallow so that the breakdown of the food starts efficiently already in the mouth. A healthy human intestinal flora contains 10E14 bacteria which in fact are enzyme factories. Bacteria produce about 25 % of all enzymes. Lactic acid bacteria produce i.e. lactase which breaks down milk sugar, protease which breaks down proteins, and lipase which breaks down fats. The pancreas is also an important enzyme producer. The most important pancreatic enzymes are lactose, phytase, protease and lipase. If the pancreas is inefficient, the intestinal flora has to replace the enzyme production. In case both the pancreas and the intestinal flora are damaged, we are exposed to diseases and allergies and the situation will only deteriorate if the enzyme activity cannot be restored to a normal level. Aging also weakens the pancreatic functions, unbalances the intestinal flora and billions of enzymes slowly disappear. If we do not treat the enzyme deficiency by eating healthy food the downward spiral continues until we die (exit morbus).
Enzymes and nutrition
Having caught an antelope a lion first eats the internal organs to acquire a maximum amount of vitamins and enzymes. When a cat plays for hours with a mouse it has caught, enzymes are secreted in its saliva which help digest the mouse. A wounded animal keeps licking its wounds sometimes for hours because the enzymes in the saliva relieve pain and help in healing the wounds. Animals know these facts intuitively.
The Mediterranean diet is considered to be the world’s healthiest along with Asian food culture. Over there the nutrition consist mainly of vegetables. Especially raw or slightly cooked vegetables are high in enzymes and this is one of the secrets to the long and healthy life of people. Diet of the hyper-industrialized western countries, rich in animal proteins, on the other hand is among the unhealthiest.
Often a body lacking enzymes feels drowsy after a heavy steak. That can be avoided by having a good salad before digging into the steak, since the enzymes in the salad help digest the great amount of fat and protein of the meat. Scandinavians often get indigestion from eating white bread at home, but on trips to the south they do not have this problem. Because the wheat is exposed to the sun for a longer period of time and it is treated in a different way, the enzymes in the wheat are different. Also an official but somewhat controversial secret is that in many cases people with milk allergy and lactose intolerance will get less or no symptoms using fresh milk instead of pasteurized milk. That is because pasteurization simply destroys most of the enzymes that are found in the fresh milk.
In general food in the western countries is more processed. Since pasteurization, microwave oven and the chemicals used in green houses destroy the enzymes in the food, it is easy to understand how many of the products on the market are poor in enzymes and therefore of no use to our bodies.
Synthetic enzymes, vegetal enzymes and pancreatic enzymes
Technically synthetic enzymes, vegetal enzymes and pancreatic enzymes have the same chemical function. The difference in the manufacture however affects the function in practice.
Compared to natural enzymes synthetic enzymes have different, right-oriented molecules, hence they are potentially toxic. They may also require quite a lot of chemicals, including heavy metals, in their manufacture. There is also a risk that synthetic enzymes have some mixed or altered qualities. For example lipase enzymes may have residual protease activity, and thus the final reaction in the body and the quality of the end product cannot be guaranteed.
Vegetal enzymes from natural origin are a better choice, but the manufacturing processes may impair the enzyme function. The best and the cheapest source of enzymes are nature’s own fresh fruits, vegetables, tomatoes etc.
In case the body’s own enzyme production is decreased for example as a result of aging or insufficiency of the internal organs we can seek help from human enzymes. Human or pancreatic enzymes originate from the liver or the pancreas and are grown in highly controlled laboratory conditions though designed fermentation process. They provide well researched and 100% efficient enzymes for the body to use.
Enzymes work best when taken with food. That is when the pH is favorable for the enzyme function and this allows the essential enzyme tools to cut down digested food in our bodies.
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