Enzymes act as catalysts for every chemical reaction inside our bodies. This includes everything involved in digestion and metabolism. Enzymes can be reused many times - they cause a reaction and allow a desired output to be created from a specific input. However, the enzyme remains unchanged in the process. Enzymes make reaction rates millions of times faster, allowing us to continue digesting food, eliminating toxins and wastes and creating energy on a daily basis. A body with no enzymes cannot survive.
Enzymes can be made inside of our bodies and also found in the foods we eat. I am sure you have heard of the "raw food diet". Those who follow a raw food diet do so, in part, to obtain optimal amounts of enzymes from the food they eat. While enzymes occur naturally in raw foods, they are killed when that food is cooked or processed. When we don't receive enough enzymes from our food to catalyze the reactions inside our bodies, we draw these necessary enzymes from our organs which can then become unbalanced. When our enzyme supplies are low and enzymes are not functioning properly, we may experience digestive issues, increased fat deposits, poor circulation, cardiovascular problems, and other health disturbances. A deadly illness can be caused by the malfunction of just one of your body's 3,000 enzymes.
Some raw foods, such as all nuts and seeds and some lentils, peas and beans, contain not only enzymes but also things called enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors neutralize some of the enzymes our bodies produce. These foods contain enzyme inhibitors to prevent them from sprouting prematurely. If you experience some stomach discomfort when you eat nuts and seeds, this may be why. There are ways to deactivate these enzyme inhibitors prior to consuming these foods, which can really aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Since it is not realistic for most of us to consume only raw foods, many people supplement their enzymes daily. There are different kinds of enzyme supplements available, and they are used by some people with each meal to aid in digestion, and by others to treat diseases like cancer and arthritis.
Enjoy your weekends and try to consume some raw foods with each snack or meal! Monday I will elaborate on the digestive enzymes and exactly how they work inside of us.