Previously by Margaret Durst: Glycemic Index — Do You Know How This Affects You?
Enzymes are catalysts that run hundreds of thousands of biochemical reactions in our bodies. Also known as “sparks of life”, they are essential for digesting food, stimulating the brain, providing cellular energy and repairing all tissue.
There are two major types of enzymes, digestive enzymes that help us utilize the nutrition in our food, and metabolic enzymes that are responsible for the chemical reactions within our cells such as energy production and detoxification.
Research has found that our enzyme producing potential is limited and decreases as we age. Our body chooses to produce digestive enzymes first, at the expense of metabolic enzymes. What is notable about this is that, our food supply is typically so processed that it contains little, if any, enzymes. This means that all of our enzyme producing potential is used to digest our food with very few being left over to run essential processes in the body. It is no wonder that Americans suffer from indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and other digestive disorders. They simply can’t produce enough enzymes to digest what they eat and their digestive tract suffers the consequences.
To help your whole body, not just your digestion, take a digestive enzyme. There are many different varieties available including those for high protein diets, high carbohydrate diets and high fat diets. Also, eat something raw at every meal such as a salad or vegetable sticks. Raw foods contain all of the enzymes necessary to digest them. If you are eating raw nuts, you may want to soak them first as the outer layer contains enzyme inhibitors which are nature’s way of helping them have a longer shelf life – soaking breaks down the enzyme inhibitors, making the nutrients in the nuts more available.
Enzymes supplements are also used for different conditions in the body. For allergies, enzymes help break down the unrecognized proteins that instigate an allergic response. There are enzymes for metabolic processes. There are enzymes for inflammation that work very well. One of the natural supplements available for rheumatoid arthritis is bromelain, which is pineapple enzyme. Another common use of enzymes is cellulase for systemic yeast or candida overgrowth.
Some simple guidelines that will help you in determining if enzymes might be good for you are: digestive trouble including indigestion and constipation; sore neck and shoulders; sensitivity in the muscles that move your lower jaw; inflammation and allergies.
I thought it was appropriate to run an article on enzymes the week of Thanksgiving. Most people think it is the tryptophan in turkey that makes them sleepy after the meal. I think the body wants to shut down so it can digest and “put away” the food from the feast – whether it includes turkey or not. I carry digestive enzymes to the Thanksgiving meal – I take 2 before and 2 after and I might take 2 later on depending on how much I ate.
Thanksgiving blessings to all. Remember that your stomach will feel better sooner if you help it do its job by chewing well and taking digestive enzymes.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.