Enzymes: The Key to Life

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A friend of mine was complaining about bloating all the time, which prompted me to share some information on enzymes.

Enzymes are the key to a long life! According to the late Dr. Edward Howell, foremost pioneer in the field of enzyme research, touted enzymes as the sparks that make your life sparkle. Enzymes are necessary protein molecules that play a role in every single biochemical activity in the body. The action of enzymes have over hundreds and hundreds of functions, which include digesting food, activating the brain, reducing inflammation, increasing cellular energy and repairing all organs, cells and tissues. Enzymes are catalysts. These shakers and bakers make hundreds of thousands of biochemical reactions in the body happen. Each individual enzyme has a specific function in the body that no other enzyme can fulfill, therefore the body produces a vast number of different enzymes.

Enzymes are generally divided into two groups: digestive and metabolic. Digestive enzymes are secreted in the gastrointestinal tract, breaking down foods. They are referred to as amylase, protease and lipase. Amylase is found in saliva – how many of us gobble our foods without nibbling, chewing well or salivating first? Hence, low amylase. Amylase is also produced in the pancreatic and intestinal juices, helping to break down carbohydrates. Many Americans over-consume coffee, alcohol, sugar and processed carbohydrates which deplete amylase. Different types of amylase break down specific types of sugars. Lactase breaks down lactose (milk sugar), maltase breaks down maltose (malt sugar) and sucrose breaks down sucrose (cane and beet sugar). Proteases are found in the stomach and intestines, as well as the pancreatic juices helping to digest all proteins. Lipase, found in the stomach and pancreatic juices (while also present in fats in foods) aids in breaking down fats.

Metabolic enzymes catalyze numerous chemical reactions within billions of cells, creating energy and detoxification. All organs, cells and tissues are dependent upon metabolic enzymes. They are the worker bees that build the body from the proteins, fats and carbohydrates ingested from your daily diet. Two of the most important metabolic enzymes are superoxide dismutase (SOD) and its best friend, catalase. SOD protects your cells from oxidation while catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide, a waste product of metabolism, hence liberating precious oxygen for the body to use.

According to studies, most Americans are fairly enzyme deficient by the age of 40. While we can derive enzymes from some foods (i.e. raw) if you are enzyme deficient, it’s difficult to break down raw foods, therefore they can be taxing on your system. Many food allergies arise due to depleted enzymes as foods cannot digest efficiently. These molecules leak through the intestines into the bloodstream causing anything from inflammation, gas and bloating to full blown allergic reactions.

Whatever your problem may be, for the best results, look for an enzyme that is proteolitic, which is both digestive and metabolic. Look for amylase, protease and lipase along with either hydrochloric acid (HCL) or papain on the label, and don’t forget SOD and catalase. To preserve integrity, keep in a cool place. A high enzyme is enteric coated allowing the enzyme to pass through the stomach acid while being maximally absorbed in the small intestine. I recommend 3 – 6 tablets, 15 minutes before each meal to start. When aches and pains, gas, bloating and constipation subside and energy rises, reduce intake slowly. If you consume excessive alcohol, gluten or sugar then take extra enzymes. The toxins created by your “goodie” choices will move through your GI tract with more efficiency thus experiencing less negative reactions to your body.

For plant-based enzymes I trust TriMedica. Another good product is Inflazyme Forte. My most favored enzyme? Vascuzyme from Ortho Molecular Products.

Deborah_Arneson

About Deborah Arneson

Deborah Arneson holds a B.S. in Food Science, a M.S. in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed clinical nutritionist. A veteran in her field, she specializes in solving hormonal imbalances: increasing energy, focus, moods, eliminating anxiety, constipation and sleep problems though one on one nutrition counseling and Ayurvedic practices.