Enzymes
by Jon Barron

 
Enzymes are proteins that facilitate chemical reactions in living organisms. In fact, they are required for every single chemical action that takes place in your body. All of your tissues, muscles, bones, organs, and cells are run by enzymes.

Your digestive system, immune system, blood stream, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas, as well as your ability to see, think, feel, and breathe, (in fact, the very functioning of each and every cell in your body) all depend on enzymes. All of the minerals and vitamins you eat and all of the hormones your body produces need enzymes in order to work properly. In fact, every single metabolic function in your body is governed by enzymes. Your stamina, your energy level, your ability to utilize vitamins and minerals, your immune system -- all governed by enzymes.

But where do enzymes come from? As it happens, they are produced internally (in every cell in your body, but most notably in the pancreas and the other endocrine glands), and they are present in all of the raw foods that we eat. At birth, we are endowed with a certain potential for manufacturing enzymes in our bodies, an enzyme "reserve," if you will.

Nature intended that we continually replenish that reserve through proper nutrition and eating habits. Unfortunately, that just doesn't happen. Let's take a look at why.

Most people believe that when you eat a meal it drops into a pool of stomach acid, where it's broken down, then goes into the small intestine to have nutrients taken out, and then into the colon to be passed out of the body -- if you're lucky. Not quite.

What nature intended is that you eat enzyme rich foods and chew your food properly. If you did that, the food would enter the stomach laced with digestive enzymes. These enzymes would then "predigest" your food for about an hour -- actually breaking down as much as 75% of your meal.

After this period of "pre-digestion," hydrochloric acid is introduced. The acid inactivates all of the food-based enzymes, but begins its own function of breaking down what is left of the meal. Eventually, this nutrient-rich food concentrate moves on into the small intestine. Once this concentrate enters the small intestine, the acid is neutralized and the pancreas reintroduces digestive enzymes to the process. As digestion is completed, nutrients are passed through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream.

That's what nature intended.
Unfortunately, most of us don't live our lives as nature intended!

Processing and cooking destroy enzymes in food. (Man is the only animal that cooks his food.) In fact, any sustained heat of approximately 1180-1290 F destroys virtually all enzymes. This means that, for most of us, the food entering our stomachs is severely enzyme deficient. Actually, there are enzymes present from our saliva. The amount, however, is minuscule since we only chew our food about 25% as much as is required. The result is that most of our meals enter our stomachs woefully devoid of enzymes. (It's worth noting that the body tries desperately to compensate. Amylase levels in the saliva of people eating the typical western cooked/processed diet are as much as 40 times higher than that found in people eating a more natural diet. (The enzyme amylase is used by the body for digesting carbohydrates.)

Since there are no enzymes in the food, it sits in the stomach for an hour, like a heavy lump, with very little pre-digestion taking place. At that point, stomach acid is introduced at high levels to compensate for the lack of pre-digestion (a major factor in the onset of acid reflux disease). But high levels of stomach acid cannot compensate for the lack of pre-digestion. So even after the stomach acid has done its work, the typical cooked/processed meal enters the small intestine largely undigested.

At this point, the pancreas and the other organs of the endocrine system are put under tremendous stress since they have to draw reserves from the entire body in order to produce massive amounts of the proper enzymes. The less digestion that takes place before food reaches the small intestine, the greater the stress placed on the endocrine systems. Recent studies have shown that virtually 100% of people on the typical "western" diet have an enlarged pancreas by the time they are 40. Is it any wonder that the incidence of diabetes is exploding in the developed world?

There is also major research showing that enzyme deficient diets contribute to a pathological enlargement of the pituitary gland (That's the gland that regulates all the other glands in the body.) And there is research showing that almost 100% of people over 50 who die from "accidental" causes have defective pituitary glands.

The bottom line is that regular supplementation with digestive enzymes takes stress off the pancreas (and the entire body) by providing the enzymes required for digestion. In other words, digestive enzyme supplements may just be one of the best insurance policies you can give your body so you can enjoy a long and healthy life.

Benefits from using supplemental digestive enzymes can include:
A significant reduction in indigestion and heartburn problems resulting from too much acid in the stomach.
Relief from gas and bloating.
Improved digestion of dairy products.
Diminished food allergies due to more complete protein digestion.
An increase in energy levels.
Relief from hiatus hernias.
Relief from ulcers

Using high levels of proteolytic (protein) enzymes between meals can provide truly extraordinary benefits. These can include:
Reduced inflammation for, among other things
o Increased heart health
o Cancer prevention and recovery
o Alzheimer's prevention
Cleanse the blood of debris
Dissolve fibrin in the blood, reducing the risk of clots
Raise the immune system
Kill bacteria and viruses
Improved circulation
Eliminate autoimmune diseases
Speed up recovery from sprains, strains, fractures, bruises, contusions, and surgery

Help with MS
Help with arthritis
Help with sinusitis and asthma
Dissolve scar tissue
Aid in detoxing
etc.

There are several hundred digestive enzyme formulas on the market. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them aren't even worth the cost of the bottles they are packaged in. When choosing, the following is recommended:
Protease: A minimum of 33,000 HUT should be adequate for most meals. (Remember, you can always take a second or third capsule for meals that require it.)
Acid stable protease: 1,000 SAPU would be great. Most formulas have none at all.
Lipase: 5,000 LU is adequate
Amylase: Look for 12,000 SKB
Lactase: 1,500 LACU is the minimum with 2,000 or even 2,500 being better
Look for a variety of other enzymes such as Malt diastase, Invertase, Glucoamylase, Cellulase, and Hemicellulase
And look for Alpha galactosidase to help control gas

So how many enzymes should you take? Well, that depends on the strength of your formula and the size of your meal. If one capsule works for most of your meals, you may find you need to take 2 when you overindulge, or 4 on Thanksgiving.

And when do you take your enzymes? I've seen instructions that recommend taking enzymes after you eat your meal, but that makes no sense. The moment dead food enters the stomach, your body recognizes that it has no enzymes and starts pumping in stomach acid. If you have your enzymes after eating your meal, they will be rendered inactive by the stomach acid being pumped in and provide much less benefit -- at least until they are reactivated by the alkaline environment of the intestinal tract, but by then much of their value will be gone. On the other hand, if you take them too soon, they will clear the stomach and be absorbed into your bloodstream before they have a chance to help digest your food. The simple answer is to take them just before you start eating.
This sends a signal to your body that enzymes are present and begins to train your body to hold back on the stomach acid for the 40-60 minutes that nature intended

And if you forget to take your enzymes before you start eating, they can still be of use after you eat -- depending on the size of the meal and how heavy it is, and if your formula contains acid stable protease. In fact, you may find that you can still get great benefit taking enzymes 3-4 hours after eating a large heavy meat, starch, and fat meal -- you know, the kind that sits in the stomach like a giant piece of lead for three days!