What Are Enzymes?
Enzymes are energized protein molecules found in all living cells. They catalyze and regulate all biochemical reactions that occur within the human body. They are also instrumental in digestion. They break down proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber making it possible to benefit from the nutrients found in those foods while removing the toxins. Enzymes turn the food we eat into energy and unlock this energy for use in the body. Their presence and strength can be determined by improved blood and immune system functions.
Types of Enzymes
There are three types of enzymes. Our bodies naturally produce two types, digestive and metabolic enzymes as they are needed, while food enzymes can only be consumed orally.
Metabolic Enzymes speed up the chemical reaction within the cells for detoxification and energy production. They enable us to see, hear, feel, move and think. Every organ, every tissue, and all 100 trillion cells in our body depend upon the reaction of metabolic enzymes and their energy factor. Metabolic enzymes are produced by every living cell. However, the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and other organs play a vital role in their production.
Digestive Enzymes are secreted along the digestive tract to break food down into nutrients and waste. This allows nutrients to be absorbed into the blood stream and the waste to be discarded. Human digestive enzymes include ptyalin, pepsin, trypsin, lipase, protease, and amylase. The body does not make cellulase, an enzyme necessary for proper digestion of fiber, so it must be introduced through the raw foods we eat.
Food Enzymes are introduced to the body through the raw foods we eat and through consumption of supplemental enzyme fortifiers. Raw foods naturally contain enzymes, providing a source of digestive enzymes when ingested. However, raw food manifests only enough enzymes to digest that particular food, not enough to have any support systemically. The cooking and processing of food destroys all of its enzymes. Since most of the foods we eat are cooked or processed in some way and since the raw foods we do eat contain only enough enzymes to process that particular food, our bodies must produce the majority of the digestive enzymes we require. For these reasons it is recommended that we supplement our diet with enzymes.
Enzymes Sold in Stores
Plant based enzymes are the most popular enzymes found in natural food supplements. The four most common are Protease, Lipase, Amylase and Cellulase. They represent about 80% of the market. They are sourced from aspergillus and grown in a laboratory setting on plants such as soy and barley. They are called plant based, microbial and fungal. Of all the choices, plant based enzymes are the most active or potent. This means they contain the highest active units and can break down more fat, protein and carbohydrates in the broadest pH range than any other source.
Plant based enzymes are useful to develop and maintain a proper digestive system and to allow the body to produce more metabolic enzymes by reducing the need to produce digestive enzymes. They can also be used in varying formulas to treat certain ailments. The other types of enzymes mentioned next are better suited for specific treatment purposes rather than in enzyme maintenance programs.
Aspergillus enzymes have a strong record of safe use in the food industry and are considered food by the FDA. These enzymes can be taken with meals to aid in the digestion of all foods or between meals to feed and fortify the body as a whole. Plant based enzymes are not disposed of as if the body has no need for them, rather they exit only after there is no more activity left to do their work. Since they are food which is natural to the body, and since they are the most potent, they are often preferred over other types. The following is a list of other types of enzymes commonly sold in most health food stores.
Pancreatin is a substance from the pancreas of the hog or ox containing enzymes. Pancreatin contains proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that break down protein), amylase, and lipase. This enzyme has been studied extensively for its anti-inflammatory properties. Pancreatin has been used successfully in Germany for fortifying the pancreas in a molecular way. Since it is a glandular compound it provides the same type of support a thyroid complex provides an individual's thyroid. Dr. Roy Dittinan suggests that pancreatic enzymes should not be taken during pregnancy or when using blood thinners.
Pepsin is a proteolytic enzyme usually prepared from the stomach of pigs and is the principle digestive component of gastric juice. It is usually given to those whose digestion of protein is impaired. However pepsin is only activated at a temperature higher than normal body temperature.
Bromelain is a group of proteolytic and milk clotting enzymes derived from the pineapple stem. A concentrate of this enzyme can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a meat tenderizer, and in the chill-proofing of beer. Like pepsin, bromelain is only activated at a temperature higher than normal body temperature.
Papain is a proteolytic enzyme derived from the latex of papaya. This enzyme becomes active in an environment of 6.0 - 8.0 pH and required temperatures above normal human body temperature. For this reason Papain and Bromelain are often used to reduce inflammation since the temperature at points of inflammation are always higher than the rest of the body.
Chymotrypsin is a proteolytic enzyme taken from the pancreas of ox and pigs. This enzyme requires a pH level of 8.0 to become active.
Trypsin is a proteolytic enzyme formed in the intestine and can be taken from the intestine or pancreas of an animal. Trypsin breaks down arginine or lysine and works only in an alkaline setting. Today, it is often coated so that it can make it to the 8.0 pH occurring in the small intestine. It is commonly used to fortify the pancreas and the small intestine.