What is more important than the power of the food we eat, is how well and how fully we absorb it. We can be eating the best food in the world, but if we are malabsrobing it, or not absorbing it well, then it’s virtually worthless to us. Absorbption always comes first.
- What are enzymes?
- Enzymesare a vital component of the digestive process, essential to the body’s absorption and full use of food.
- enzymes are necessary to every cell in your body—not just for digestion but for ALL your physiological processes.
- Enzymes accelerate biochemical reactions in the body—sometimes to a mind-boggling several million reactions per second! The also lower the amount of energy needed for a reaction to occur.
- Why do we need to take enzymes
- Almost none of the foods we eat could be absorbed into our bloodstreams without the action of powerful enzymes that breakdown food in order to extract vital nutrients. Without this break down of the food matrix, undigested food passes into the colon, where it can lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea, and cramping. But even worse than these uncomfortable symptoms, poorly digested food contributes to the malnutrition that threatens older people who are already facing reduced appetite and changes in muscle and fat stores.21,22
- While healthy foods provide the foundation for optimal health and vitality, even the healthiest foods are of little use if they are not properly digested. As we age, normal digestion slows down, inhibiting our ability to process vital nutrients for use throughout the body.1
- If the body cannot extract all the nutrients in our food, our overall health will begin
- to falter, and can result in a wide range of unwelcome diseases. These problems are often caused by decreasing levels of the digestive enzymes that facilitate the crucial breakdown of food in our digestive tract.2-4
- The unfortunate result is malnutrition and deficits in crucial nutrients
- A lot of aging has to do with enzymes and enzyme production. The more your body has to produce enzymes throughout the years of your life, the faster you will age.
- Research has shown that your natural enzyme production starts to decline by the time you’re about 20.
- When digestion of foods requires such a heavy demand, enzyme supplies run short and your enzyme-producing capacity can become exhausted. Why does this matter? 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.
- Therefore, supplementing with enzymes (preferably large doses) can be one of the most helpful things you can do to slow down your aging process.
- Not only that, but supplementing with enzymes can be extremely powerful for increasing your energy levels. As we know, digestion saps more energy than almost anything else, and by taking enzymes, your taking off the body the huge load of having to produce enzymes to break down your food, and by doing so your cleverly conserving your own energy rather than spending it on digestion, and your instantly making more energy available to you.
- The capacity of a living organism to make enzymes diminishes with age, and some scientists believe that humans could live longer and be healthier by guarding against the loss of our precious enzymes.
- Benefits of taking enzymes
- The result of taking enzymes can be better digestion, less abdominal distress, and greater assimilation of vital nutrients like vitamins K,D, and omega-3s.6-8
- What enzymes to take
- If you notice that you have a problem digesting a certain type of food, then it may be wiser to take enzymes that will help you digest that food better and easier rather than or along with a product that contains a broad spectrum of all digestive enzymes. For example, for several years I always had a problem with digesting fats, and experienced bloating and burping afterwards. That problem disappeared after I started taking a product that is high in lipase, which is the enzyme responsible for digesting fats. You may need to find the supplement that works best for you and helps with your own digestion.
- For example, for athletes or people who feel like they need to have a diet high in protein, adding a blend of protein-digesting enzymesto their regimen can afford more complete protein breakdown, allowing them to achieve the full benefit of their additional protein intake.36
- How & when to take enzymes
Enzymes are best taken about 30 minutes before eating. You can take enzymes before any foods or supplements that you want to absorb better. If you’re already investing in superior supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids or blue-green algae, then it makes sense to take enzymes first to ensure maximum absorption of these foods.
- Many people are also deficient in hydrochloric acid (HCL) and should also experiment with taking a hydrochloric acid supplement with food. Most HCL products that are available have pepsin with them, which is not a plant enzyme. There are a few products that contain HCL only and these may be a better fit for people who want to avoid animal enzymes and prefer to use a vegetarian product instead.
- Digestive organs such as the pancreas and liver produce most of the body’s digestive enzymes, while the remainder should come from fresh food in its raw state (sadly most of our diets nowadays have very low enzymatic activity), and from enzyme supplements.
- Eating food in its natural, unprocessed state is vital to the maintenance of good health, and a lack of it in the modern diet is directly responsible for much degenerative disease. Cooking of food, particularly if heat is prolonged and over 118 degrees Fahrenheit, destroys enzymes in that food, leaving what is commonly consumed by the modern person – an “enzymeless” diet. This is how by middle age we become metabolically depleted of enzymes. The glands and major organs, including the brain suffer most from this deficiency. The brain may actually shrink as a result of a cooked, over-refined diet devoid of enzymes the body so desperately needs. As stated earlier, to try to meet the deficiency, the pancreas swells. Laboratory mice fed on heat-processed enzymeless food have a pancreas two or three times heavier than that of wild mice eating their natural enzyme diet of raw food.
- Brad Rachman says that 58% of the population suffers from some type of digestive disorder, and a lack of optimal digestive function associated with enzyme inadequacy may lead to malabsorption and numerous related conditions.
- Many people also suffer from Leagy gut syndrome (LGS). Enzymes can decrease the quantity of undigested foods molecules leaking across the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Such leaks may trigger the body’s defenses against exposure to what it perceives as foreign protein, producing the symptoms of allergy.
- The time when our normal ability to produce enzymes is greatest is in our youth, a time of rapid growth, and in most cases a time of no serious illness. When we age and our food enzymes become depleted, we begin to suffer a broad range of health complaints.
- “the more lavishly a young body gives up its enzymes, the sooner the state of enzyme poverty, or old age. is reached.”
- a careful review of the literature reveals a picture of gradually declining digestive enzyme output, which appears to accelerate after age 65, especially among women.
- Lipasesare enzymes that separate fats into individual fatty acids. Lipase supplementation promotes more normal fat digestion in people with pancreatic disease.9
- Even if you don’t suffer from an overt pancreatic disorder, you could still benefit from lipase One critical role of lipase enzymesis to facilitate absorption of vital fat-soluble nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, along with vitamin D, vitamin K, lutein, and gamma tocopherol.6-8
- humans do not have digestive enzymes to process cellulose, or plant fiber,that is part of broccoli and other vegetables, which pass through the intestinal tract undigested by human enzymes (this is why blending vegetables into soups, or slightly steaming them, is recommended to make them easier to digest). What happens when these foods are eaten is that organisms living in the large intestine break down the plant cellulose into molecules that are then fermented. This fermentation process draws fluid into the colon and produces bloating and gas, which keeps many people from eating healthy vegetables like broccoli.
- To prevent these fiber-related complications, supplements withcellulose-digesting enzymes such as cellulase, hemicellulase, phytase, beta-glucanase, pectinase, and xylanase can convert cellulose into smaller molecules that can then pass harmlessly through the intestinal tract. The result is a smoother digestion of tough vegetable fiber and an increased availability for absorption of beneficial compounds contained in healthy plant foods.
- Supplements containing cellulose-digesting enzymes break down plant fibers, such as those found in broccoli
- Human studies have demonstrated beneficial effects from digestive enzyme supplements.3In one small study, vital measures such as total serum protein and white blood cell counts increased significantly following supplementation.39 In a larger, placebo-controlled study of a digestive enzyme supplement, patients had significantly higher global improvement scores than controls, and reported fewer episodes of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, bloating, flatulence, and appetite loss.40
- Digestive enzymes not only help promote optimal digestion, they may also help avert inflammation, speed post-surgical recovery time, and serve as a useful adjuvant cancer therapy.
- Supplementation with digestive enzymes is a proven way of restoring lost digestive function and easing symptoms.
Insufficient enzyme production, along with hydrochloric acid deficiencies, is at the root of much “tummy trouble” in our country. Digestive problems cost Americans $50 billion each year in both direct costs and absence from work. These problems could be remediated by affordable supplements that cost no more than $100 a month, yet people sadly spend hundreds a month to alleviate their digestive pains.
It is a sad fact that 90 percent of the food Americans buy is processed food. 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 116 degrees F renders most enzymes inactive.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to eat many foods in their raw (yet, many foods should also be lightly cooked, steamed, or blended for maximum absorption and minimal digestive stress. Discerning between raw or cooked is key and we need to avoid dogmatic thinking in this case.).
Enzyme deficiency results in poor digestion and poor nutrient absorption. This creates a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including:
- Flatulence and belching
- Heartburn and acid reflux
Chronic malabsorption can lead to a variety of illnesses. Think about it—if your body doesn’t have the basic nutritional building blocks it needs, your health and ability to recover from illness will be compromised.
- Another way to lower your body’s demand for enzymes is to reduce your food intake. Did you know the average person spends 80 percent of his available energy simply digesting food?
- Besides digestive enzyme supplementation, there is another way to use oral enzymes—for systemic use.
- 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.