What Are Enzymes?
The word enzyme is Greek in origin, coming from ‘enzyma’ which translates as ‘to ferment’ or ‘to change’.
Food must be broken down, or changed, to be absorbed by the body. Otherwise it’s useless. Food in its natural form cannot be used by the body.
Enzymes are the key which breaks down the food from its natural form, into the basic nutrients that your body is able to absorb.
Where Are Enzymes Found?
The salivary glands produce some enzymes, which is why chewing is so important. This is the start of breaking down the food. The stomach acid contains enzymes, so keeping this in good order is vital. The pancreas produces enzymes, when it’s healthy. The small intestine also produces some enzymes.
So our bodies do produce a lot of enzymes, but not enough on its own. The majority of enzymes are found in real food – that is fresh fruit and veggies. Any cooking that reaches temperatures of over 40 C (104 F) destroys enzymes. These figures are the maximum you can reach when drying food if you want them to retain enzymes.
Some say you can go up to 48 C (118 F), but then that isn’t considered raw. And it’s raw food that contains the enzymes. So I feel it’s better to err on the low side.
When the diet contains no enzymes in the food, the pancreas in particular, has to work harder than it is designed to. This can result in the pancreas going ‘on strike’.
What Kills Enzymes And What Other Factors Need To Be Considered?
Cooked and processed food is enzyme deficient, because they have been killed at the high temperatures.
Drugs, especially antibiotics and the birth control pill, but vaccines too, upset the natural flora in the gut. Stress, chlorine, fluoride and excessive alcohol also upset the delicate gut flora. When there is less bacteria than there should be and when the stomach acid is too alkaline, digestion will be affected. When your liver is not functioning well, that will effect your digestion.
It is now accepted that the immune system relies, to a very large degree, on the health of the gut.
When You Don’t Have Enough Enzymes
With a deficiency in enzymes, because the food isn’t being broken down as it is meant to do, it starts to rot, mostly in the small, or upper, intestine. That’s a double whammy – there is no nutrient absorption and the food rots.
Rotting food creates gas. Gas creates rumbling, abdominal pain, bloating, farting, diarrhoea or constipation, foul stool and may lead to heartburn, low energy, acne, arthritis, insomnia, slow healing, high cholesterol, cancer and more. But that’s not all. Rotting food also creates toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream.
So you become toxic, nutrient deficient and uncomfortable, at the very least.
What Are The Best Sources Of Enzymes
Anything that helps to normalise the gut flora is going to help you. Raw fruit and veggies are one of the best sources, and they need to be consumed regularly, on a daily basis and in quite large amounts. One of the best ways to start the day is to have a green smoothie for your breakfast.
Fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and the like, are good sources. A teaspoonful with every cooked meal is considered sufficient.
Taking supplements are less effective. Inevitably supplements are processed, which limits their beneficial effect.
Along with the food, good homeopathic health care can have an enormous beneficial effect on your health in general and your gut health in particular. This would be particularly important for those who have serious digestive issues. And those who have had repeated and long term antibiotics.
Researching and learning how enzymes support good health is likely to be your saviour as your health will decline without this important part of your diet addressed.
A lack of the natural raw food in anyone’s diet for the species – cats, dogs, horses, etc – will lead to health issues as the immune system struggles to operate.
Edward Howell did some pioneering work on this subject. As did Viktoras Kulvinskas.