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

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. Enzymes 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 enzymes. What we consume of food and supplements cannot be broken down without digestive enzymes, and in order for the body to utilize the nutrients metabolic enzymes are required. In other words, enzymes are important for the body functions, immune system, blood circulation, formation of hormones, etc. Dr. Howell thinks that a human’s lifespan is directly dependent on the amount of enzymes available. Enzymes in food help counteract the reduction of production of enzymes that comes with age. Enzymes 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 in all of the body’s cells. The production is controlled by our DNA- our genetic material, which is initiated by signals from the cell membrane of the cell wall. The cell wall receives signals from other cells all the time, and also from the environment, the food and our mind, though 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 important for the enzymes’ function. It is for example important 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 important to avoid antacid medicines if possible. There is a basic environment in the small intestine, which supports the enzyme functions that takes place there.

Enzymes in Food

There are plant based digestive enzymes in fruits and vegetables, but if they are heated to a too high temperature, will not only the enzymes, but also the taste and the vitamins 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, as 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 properly digested.

Chemicals and pesticides decrease the quality of the food and reduce the enzymes and their functions. The same goes for sugar and refined food. You should therefore buy organic, unrefined food. An excessive intake of unsaturated omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3 fatty acids will also weaken important 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 diet, 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 energy, 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 is not enough enzymes in our diet, will the digestive system become swamped and our own enzymes will not be sufficient. The food will not be properly digested and the body will absorb things it should not. In addition 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 is not only used to digest food in the small intestine, they are also sent directly to the blood to take care of undigested proteins that have been absorbed from the intestines. The immune system takes care off 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 out though 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 enzymes can be effective 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 glands 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 in DR TV.

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

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