What on Earth are Enzymes?
This article was originally written by Dianne Ronnow
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Enzymes are the workers in our body that make everything function, by enabling chemical reactions. All living cells contain enzymes. They are hard to visualize, since they are not something tangible, but our lives depend on them.
There are many kinds of enzymes, and they do everything from helping us breath to our start of life at conception. Eighty percent of our DNA code relates to enzymes. But the kind of enzymes discussed here relate to our digestion and the food we eat.
In the process of digestion, the digestive enzymes in our bodies break down food into tiny particles that are easily assimilated by the body into the blood stream. These are compounds that the body can use for fuel, growth and repair. One food may take hundreds of different types of enzymes for the body to digest.
Food is naturally filled with enzymes, called “food enzymes”, that help us to digest that food. The problem is that when we cook or process it, we kill those enzymes. Temperatures over 118 degrees will destroy the enzymes. A good example of this is pineapple, which has some very powerful digestive enzymes in it. These enzymes work so well that when added to gelatin (like Jell-O), the enzymes won’t allow the gelatin to thicken. So, the only kind of pineapple you can add to gelatin is canned pineapple, which has been cooked and processed so that all the enzymes have been destroyed. It is now safe to add to gelatin, but not as good for your body.
Our body can manufacture enzymes, called “digestive enzymes”, in pancreas. But when we eat a diet that is filled with mostly cooked and processed foods, depleted of enzymes, the pancreas is forced to work much harder than it was meant to, manufacturing the enzymes the body needs to digest these foods. So the pancreas ends up overworking, and the body spends much needed energy and resources on digestion instead of important things like boosting the immune system, growth, repairs in the body and fighting disease. Even worse, if the pancreas becomes so overworked that it shuts down, then bits of undigested food start floating around the body in the bloodstream, causing all kinds of trouble and illnesses.
The pancreas can be healed in time, with a diet filled with an abundance of enzymes. A diet that includes raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, as well as fermented and marinated foods, will help keep the pancreas from getting that bad to begin with, and will enable the body to spend it’s energy on more important processes like boosting the immune system and fighting disease. If your pancreas is overworked, enzyme supplementation may be a healthy and safe addition. Check with your health care provider, or naturopathic physician to be sure.
Food enzymes not only help with digestion, but also cleanse the body, breaking down allergens and environmental products that can potentially be harmful. This is why it is so vital that we eat a diet containing lots of fresh enzyme filled foods. Especially in the world we live in today, where we are surrounded by poisons and cancer causing agents. We need these wholesome foods now more than humans ever have in the past, to help our bodies stay disease free and functioning properly.
A word of warning: some people advocate eating a diet of all raw foods, but this may not be the best diet for everyone. An all-raw diet is often good short term for healing and fasting purposes, but some people have encountered health problems when staying on a raw diet long term. Truthfully, not all foods should be eaten raw. Some foods are digested better when cooked, such as starches like potatoes and grains. In the end, the goal of the Enzyme Health Diet Plan is to be healthy, not to eat 100% raw food.
Because people are different, they need different foods to fuel their bodies. Just as an all-raw diet may not work for some, heavy complex carb diets are not for everyone. Some people need more carbohydrates, some need more proteins and fats and some just need an equal mix of both of these things. If you don’t know what metabolism type you are, you need to listen to your body. What foods does it thrive on? If, after time, you still are having problems figuring it out, check our recommended books and resources page on our website, Enzyme-Health. There are some good books offered there by experts on the subject, that can help your figure out what type you are.