In today's newsletter, I'm going to talk about enzymes in general (this allows me to steal a lot of material from my book, Lessons from the Miracle Doctors). In the next two parts of this series, I'll specifically cover digestive enzymes (including a discussion of the role hydrochloric acid and bile play in the digestive process), and I'll cover proteolytic enzymes (including the “hot” enzymes "de jour", serrapeptase, nattokinase, and Seaprose-S). Although at first glance similar (and often used interchangeably), digestive enzymes and proteolytic enzymes are, in fact, very different in formulation, purpose, use, and effect. But before we get down to that level of detail, let's talk about enzymes in general.
Enzymes are proteins that facilitate chemical reactions in living organisms. In fact, they are required for every single chemical action that takes place in your body. All of your tissues, muscles, bones, organs, and cells are run by enzymes.
Your digestive system, immune system, blood stream, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas, as well as your ability to see, think, feel, and breathe, (in fact, the very functioning of each and every cell in your body) all depend on enzymes. All of the minerals and vitamins you eat and all of the hormones your body produces need enzymes in order to work properly. In fact, every single metabolic function in your body is governed by enzymes. Your stamina, your energy level, your ability to utilize vitamins and minerals, your immune system—all governed by enzymes.
Source of Enzymes
But where do enzymes come from? As it happens, they are produced internally (in every cell in your body, but most notably in the pancreas and the other endocrine glands), and they are present in all of the raw foods that we eat. At birth, we are endowed with a certain potential for manufacturing enzymes in our bodies, an enzyme “reserve,” if you will. Nature intended that we continually replenish that reserve through proper nutrition and eating habits. Unfortunately, that just doesn't happen. Let's take a look at why.
Most people believe that when you eat a meal it drops into a pool of stomach acid, where it's broken down, then goes into the small intestine to have nutrients taken out, and then into the colon to be passed out of the body—if you're lucky. Not quite.
What nature intended is that you eat enzyme rich foods and chew your food properly. If you did that, the food would enter the stomach laced with digestive enzymes. These enzymes would then "predigest" your food for about an hour—actually breaking down as much as 75% of your meal.
After this period of "pre-digestion," hydrochloric acid is introduced. The acid inactivates all of the food-based enzymes, but begins its own function of breaking down what is left of the meal. Eventually, this nutrient-rich food concentrate moves on into the small intestine. Once this concentrate enters the small intestine, the acid is neutralized and the pancreas reintroduces digestive enzymes to the process. As digestion is completed, nutrients are passed through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream.
That's what nature intended. Unfortunately, most of us don't live our lives as nature intended!
Processed and Overcooked Foods
Processing and cooking destroy enzymes in food. (Man is the only animal that cooks his food.) In fact, any sustained heat of approximately 118-129 degrees F destroys virtually all enzymes. This means that, for most of us, the food entering our stomachs is severely enzyme deficient. Actually, there are enzymes present from our saliva. The amount, however, is minuscule since we only chew our food about 25% as much as is required. The result is that most of our meals enter our stomachs woefully devoid of enzymes. (It's worth noting that the body tries desperately to compensate. Amylase levels in the saliva of people eating the typical western cooked/processed diet are as much as 40 times higher than that found in people eating a more natural diet. (The enzyme amylase is used by the body for digesting carbohydrates.)
Since there are no enzymes in the food, it sits in the stomach for an hour, like a heavy lump, with very little pre-digestion taking place. At that point, stomach acid is introduced at high levels to compensate for the lack of pre-digestion (a major factor in the onset of acid reflux disease). But high levels of stomach acid cannot compensate for the lack of pre-digestion. So even after the stomach acid has done its work, the typical cooked/processed meal enters the small intestine largely undigested.
Stress on the Body
At this point, the pancreas and the other organs of the endocrine system are put under tremendous stress since they have to draw reserves from the entire body in order to produce massive amounts of the proper enzymes. The less digestion that takes place before food reaches the small intestine, the greater the stress placed on the endocrine systems. Recent studies have shown that virtually 100% of people on the typical “western” diet have an enlarged pancreas by the time they are 40. Is it any wonder that the incidence of diabetes is exploding in the developed world?
There is also major research showing that enzyme deficient diets contribute to a pathological enlargement of the pituitary gland (That's the gland that regulates all the other glands in the body.) And there is research showing that almost 100% of people over 50 who die from "accidental” causes have defective pituitary glands.
The bottom line is that regular supplementation with digestive enzymes takes stress off the pancreas (and the entire body) by providing the enzymes required for digestion. In other words, digestive enzyme supplements may just be one of the best insurance policies you can give your body so you can enjoy a long and healthy life.
Part 2: Digestive Enzymes
In the next part of this series, we will look at digestive enzymes in more detail – and give you guidelines on how to choose the optimum formulation. (Don't be suckered by enzymes that crank up protease numbers to “look” more powerful than competitive brands – unless you're a lion, or on the “steak lover's" diet. Such enzymes will only marginally effective for most people. The simple fact is that you have to choose a formula designed for real world diets. Benefits from using supplemental digestive enzymes can include:
- A significant reduction in indigestion and heartburn problems resulting from too much acid in the stomach.
- Relief from gas and bloating.
- Improved digestion of dairy products.
- Diminished food allergies due to more complete protein digestion.
- An increase in energy levels.
- Relief from hiatal hernias.
- Relief from ulcers
Part 3: Proteolytic Enzymes
And then in the last part, we'll cover the most exciting topic in enzyme supplementation, the use of high levels of proteolytic enzymes between meals. The health benefits derived from this kind of supplementation can be truly extraordinary. Benefits from using proteolytic enzymes can include:
- Reduced inflammation for, among other things:
- Increased heart health
- Cancer prevention and recovery
- Alzheimer's prevention
- Cleanse the blood of debris
- Dissolve fibrin in the blood, reducing the risk of clots
- Raise the immune system
- Kill bacteria and viruses
- Improved circulation
- Eliminate autoimmune diseases
- Speed up recovery from sprains, strains, fractures, bruises, contusions, and surgery
- Help with MS
- Help with arthritis
- Help with sinutis and asthma
- Dissolve scar tissue
- Aid in detoxing
The possibilities offered by proper supplementation with proteolytic enzymes are obviously very exciting. But even more exciting, a brand new breakthrough product is being released in a few weeks that makes the potential even more exciting, and I'll be covering that breakthrough product in Part 3 of the series.
Read more about Essential Supplements, Nutrition and Athletic Performance
Or visit our Product Recommendations page.