Enzymes are life. They are proteins that help all chemical reactions in an organism to function correctly.

Text Carsten Vagn-Hansen

We have more than 3. 000 types of enzymes in our body, which contribute to more than 4.000 different biochemical reactions. Proteins initiate, accelerate, slow down, change or stop these reactions. A prominent enzyme scientist, Dr Edward Howell, calls enzymes for “the spark of life”, like the spark that makes an engine start. All reactions in the body are controlled or initiated by proteins. What we consume of food and supplements cannot be broken down without digestive enzymes, and for the body to utilise the nutrients, metabolic enzymes are required. In other words, proteins are essential for body functions, immune system, blood circulation, the formation of hormones, etc. Dr Howell thinks that a human’s lifespan is directly dependent on the number of enzymes available. Enzymes in food help counteract the reduction of the production of proteins that comes with age. Proteins can, therefore, contribute to a longer and better life. Vitamins and minerals assist the enzymes in their work.

Where do we find Enzymes?

The enzymes are formed first and foremost in the digestive organs and hormone-producing glands, but also all of the body’s cells. DNA is our genetic material, which is initiated by signals from the cell membrane of the cell wall. It controls the production of proteins. The cell wall receives signals from other cells, environment, food and our mind all the time through the brain.

Digestive enzymes also exist in food and are necessary for a well functioning digestive system. There are four main groups of digestive enzymes:

  1. Amylase digests carbohydrates, starches and sugars in grains, fruits and starchy vegetables
  2. Protease breaks down protein in meat, nuts and cheese into amino acids
  3. Lipase breaks down fats and oils in the dairy and meat products into fatty acids
  4. Cellulose assists the digestion of dietary fibres

The plant-enzymes act in the mouth and stomach, where the digestion begins. They also act in the small intestine, where they help the enzymes from the pancreas in the continuation of the digestive process.

The acid-base balance is essential for the enzymes’ function. It is, for example, necessary to have enough gastric acid to activate the protease enzyme pepsin, which digests protein. If there is not enough gastric acid, the digestive system will be weakened. It is, therefore, essential to avoid antacid medicines if possible. There is a primary environment in the small intestine, which supports the enzyme functions that take place there.

Enzymes in Food

There are plant-based digestive enzymes in fruits and vegetables. If they are heated to a too high temperature, not only the enzymes but also the taste and the vitamins will be destroyed. In general, enzymes in food will be damaged if they are heated to more than 48 degrees for more than 15 minutes. If one eats boiled of cooked food, the body will not be able to process the food properly. Consequently, undigested parts of the food can be absorbed into the bloodstream, and we risk getting sick. If that happens, the immune system has to be activated.

If one eats “raw food” on the other hand, for example, raw fruits and vegetables, the immune system does not have to be activated. That is because “raw food” contains enzymes, which ensures that the food is adequately digested.

Chemicals and pesticides decrease the quality of the food and reduce the enzymes and their functions. The same goes for sugar and refined cuisine – you should, therefore, buy organic, unrefined food. Excessive intake of unsaturated omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3 fatty acids will also weaken critical digestive enzymes. Vegetables especially rich in enzymes include bean sprouts and other sprouts such as broccoli sprouts. There are also many enzymes in pineapple (bromelain) and papaya (papain). The enzymes in food also ensure the absorption of vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet. If we do not get enough enzymes from our menu, the body has to use a lot of energy producing digestive enzymes. Consequently, there is less energy left for everything else. By eating more “raw food” and avoiding “junk food,” one gets more power, prevents diseases and maintains the body’s self-healing abilities.

Symptoms of digestive enzymes deficiency include food intolerances, allergies, fatigue, belching, flatulence, constipation and general poor digestion. If there are not enough proteins in our diet, will the digestive system become swamped and our proteins will not be sufficient. The food will not be adequately digested, and the body will absorb things it should not. Besides, the immune system will be overburdened, we can develop allergies, and the body becomes intoxicated. The risk of chronic diseases increases significantly, and one lives shorter lives.

The Immune System

The enzymes from the pancreas are not only used to digest food in the small intestine. They are also sent directly to the blood for taking care of undigested proteins that have been absorbed from intestines. The immune system takes care of these bits of undigested proteins and forms immune complexes. These trigger allergic reactions. The enzymes attract the immune complexes and break them down so that they can be separated through the kidneys.

The enzymes can also rinse the blood of microorganisms and damaged blood cells. Enzyme deficiency weakens the immune system’s normal function, and treatments with proteins can be useful for many diseases. A diet with too few enzymes can lead to problems with the pituitary, a gland in the brain that controls all other organs in the body. Animal testing showed that boiled food caused poor development, many diseases in bones and nervous system, cramps and a shorter life. The third generation on this diet lost their ability to reproduce. – Enzymes are life.

The Doctor

Carsten Cagn-Hansen is from Denmark, has been practising medicine for 18 years and is a lecturer and tutor at Practicing Doctors Centralized Postgraduate Education. He was the president of the International Society for General Practice. He has also received several awards, including The International Nature Medicine Honorary Price. He is the author of numerous books within health and fitness. To top it off, he has been a radio doctor at Danish radio and a TV doctor on DR TV.

He is currently a writer for EQ Magazine in addition to being a health consultant and a speaker.

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