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
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!
Processing and cooking destroy enzymes in food. (Man is the only animal
that cooks his food.) In fact, any sustained heat of approximately
1180-1290 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
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
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.
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 hiatus hernias.
• Relief from ulcers
Using high levels of proteolytic (protein) enzymes between meals can
provide truly extraordinary benefits. These can include:
• Reduced inflammation for, among other things
o Increased heart health
o Cancer prevention and recovery
o 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 sinusitis and asthma
• Dissolve scar tissue
• Aid in detoxing
There are several hundred digestive enzyme formulas on the market.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of them aren't even worth the cost of
the bottles they are packaged in. When choosing, the following is
• Protease: A minimum of 33,000 HUT should be adequate for most meals.
(Remember, you can always take a second or third capsule for meals that
• Acid stable protease: 1,000 SAPU would be great. Most formulas have
none at all.
• Lipase: 5,000 LU is adequate
• Amylase: Look for 12,000 SKB
• Lactase: 1,500 LACU is the minimum with 2,000 or even 2,500 being
• Look for a variety of other enzymes such as Malt diastase, Invertase,
Glucoamylase, Cellulase, and Hemicellulase
• And look for Alpha galactosidase to help control gas
So how many enzymes should you take? Well, that depends on the strength
of your formula and the size of your meal. If one capsule works for most
of your meals, you may find you need to take 2 when you overindulge, or
4 on Thanksgiving.
And when do you take your enzymes? I've seen instructions that recommend
taking enzymes after you eat your meal, but that makes no sense. The
moment dead food enters the stomach, your body recognizes that it has no
enzymes and starts pumping in stomach acid. If you have your enzymes
after eating your meal, they will be rendered inactive by the stomach
acid being pumped in and provide much less benefit -- at least until
they are reactivated by the alkaline environment of the intestinal
tract, but by then much of their value will be gone. On the other hand,
if you take them too soon, they will clear the stomach and be absorbed
into your bloodstream before they have a chance to help digest your
food. The simple answer is to take them just before you start eating.
This sends a signal to your body that enzymes are present and begins to
train your body to hold back on the stomach acid for the 40-60 minutes
that nature intended
And if you forget to take your enzymes before you start eating, they can
still be of use after you eat -- depending on the size of the meal and
how heavy it is, and if your formula contains acid stable protease. In
fact, you may find that you can still get great benefit taking enzymes
3-4 hours after eating a large heavy meat, starch, and fat meal -- you
know, the kind that sits in the stomach like a giant piece of lead for
Dr. Howell is often called the "father of food enzymes". During the '30's and '40's of
the last century, he did incredible research to prove that food enzymes were an essential nutrient, and that cooking and processing of foods destroy them, thereby creating dramatic changes in our ability to digest food and remain healthy. This is a classic in the field.