The health benefits of Digestive Enzymes
In this series health and nutrition expert Patrick Holford gives you the low down on vitamin and mineral supplements. From natural food sources to the ideal supplement package find out what you need to do to ensure that you get the perfect balance of nutrients into your body each day. He also offers his secrets to healthy ageing which will help you to keep the effects of the passing years at bay.
The Truth About Enzymes and Probiotics :-
Digestion the Way Nature Intended :-
Again, as we described in Enzymes Defined, nature intended that you eat enzyme rich food (all live foods have enzymes present in them that promote their own breakdown) and chew it properly so that it thoroughly mixes with your saliva (which is also enzyme rich). If you do that, the food enters your stomach laced with digestive enzymes. In healthy digestion, it is only after this period of “predigestion” that hydrochloric acid is introduced to the process (along with the enzyme pepsin, which is secreted in the stomach). This acid/pepsin mix inactivates (but does not destroy) most of the enzymes used in predigestion and then begins its own function of breaking down any undigested protein content left in the meal, turning it into an amino-acid-rich concentrate. Note: stomach acid and pepsin only work on the digestion of proteins. They are not involved in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates.
Cooking and Processing Destroy Digestive Enzymes :-
Man is the only animal (other than a handful of domesticated animals) that eats cooked and processed food! Unfortunately, it’s not only unnatural; it’s also decidedly unhealthy. Why? Because any sustained heat of approximately 118–129 degrees destroys virtually all enzymes, thereby disrupting the entire digestive process. In addition, most forms of food processing also destroy enzymes. The net result is that for most of us, the food we eat is severely enzyme deficient. Your body recognizes that the food you’re eating is devoid of enzymes and tries to compensate. For one thing, it releases more stomach acid than normal to compensate. Also, over time, it trains itself to pack your saliva with more amylase. Amylase levels in the saliva of people who eat a modern diet and don’t chew enough are as much as 40 times higher than in the saliva of people who eat a more natural diet — but it’s still not enough.
Stomach acid destroys digestive enzymes so they are a waste of money :-
As we’ve already discussed, in healthy digestion, stomach acid doesn’t enter the stomach until about an hour after eating. But really, let’s think for a moment. Do these same experts believe that your body would pack your saliva with amylase if it was going to be neutralized the moment you swallowed your food? Does anyone who has studied the body believe it knowingly wastes resources in this manner? Also, as we explored in detail in Enzymes Defined, for the most part, enzymes are not destroyed by stomach acid–merely inactivated until the pH of their environment is once again made more alkaline by the introduction of bicarbonate in the duodenum. And finally, some enzymes actually thrive in the high acid environment of the stomach–pepsin and acid stable protease, for example. And in supplements, you can use acid stable protease.
The claim that digestive enzymes are in food in the first place is nonsense since if they were, they would digest the food before you ate it :-
Yes, this might be true if the enzymes were active while in the food in their normal state, but they are not. In truth, digestive enzymes in food and seeds are dormant, waiting for the right time (determined by moisture, temperature, and exposure to day/night cycles) to activate. For example, the enzymes in seeds and nuts require the presence of moisture to activate. You can keep a seed or nut in your pantry for months or even years and nothing will happen. But soak those same seeds and nuts in water for 24-48 hours and sprouting takes place. During sprouting, the endosperm (the part we like to eat) uses enzymes to self-digest itself to feed the now growing embryo. How long can seeds wait before self-digesting? The oldest seeds on record to finally germinate and grow were date palm seeds found at the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada.
Your pancreas provides all the digestive enzymes you need so taking supplements is a waste of money :-
Yes, your pancreas absolutely does provide all the digestive enzymes you need, even if you eat cooked and processed food…that is, until it runs out of gas and can’t do so anymore. At a certain point, through overuse, you can no longer produce sufficient enzymes. Although we sometimes refer to this as an “enzyme reserve,” that’s not entirely accurate. It’s not like a woman’s supply of eggs–set from birth and finite so that you only have so many and when you run out, you run out. It’s more like having a workhorse on a farm. If you work him from sunup to sundown, feed him badly, and never give him a break, he’s going to die sooner rather than later. On the other hand, if you are kind to him, feed him well, and give him frequent rests, the odds are that he’s going to be able to be a working part of your farm for years. Likewise, the more stress you put on your body by eating an enzyme deficient diet, the sooner it’s going to give out and no longer produce sufficient enzymes. And it’s not just enzymes.
The pancreas is like a muscle and needs to be exercised :-
And then there are those who argue that the pancreas is like a muscle and needs to be exercised by constantly being forced to make enzymes or it loses the ability over time. We’ve already covered this, but to extend the “muscle building” analogy: any good bodybuilder knows that you have to rest a muscle after exercising it if you want it to build up. If you don’t rest the muscle, it actually breaks down and gets weaker over time. The same holds true for your pancreas’ ability to produce enzymes and your stomach’s ability to produce acid. If you are always pushing it to the limit with every meal, your body’s capacity to produce both will degrade sooner rather than later.
Digestive Enzymes Designed for Real World Diets :-
Many people think that designing a digestive enzyme formula is as simple as racking up big numbers in the key enzymes such as protease, amylase, and lipase. Some companies go so far as to present tables in their literature comparing their protease levels in their formula to the levels found in competitors’ formulas, with the implied understanding that he who has the most wins. If only it were that simple. The fact is that a good digestive enzyme needs to work with real world diets. The simple truth is that too many formulas on the market put in far more protease than is required for a typical diet (simply to show a big number on the label) — and far too little amylase or lactase–not to mention almost none of the specialized carbohydrate enzymes. (Remember, you can only fit so much in a capsule. If you add more of one ingredient, you have to use less of something else.) In the end, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the ability of the supplement to work with real world diets. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about providing an excuse for eating badly, even though a good digestive enzyme formula will certainly help those who do eat badly.
Fat Breakdown :-
The enzyme lipase is crucial for proper absorption of dietary fats. The enzyme is produced primarily in the pancreas, but small amounts are also produced in the mouth and stomach. When dietary fat is consumed, bile from the liver filters the fat molecules and breaks them down into tiny droplets. Then, lipase moves in and further breaks the tiny fat molecules into fatty acids and glycerol. The blood then absorbs these nutrients and transports them to cells for use or storage. Within the body, fat assists with the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K and provides a protective cushion for the internal organs. When carbohydrate levels are low, fat also provides energy for the body.
Carbohydrate Utilization :-
Without the enzyme amylase, the body would not effectively absorb carbohydrates. Carbohydrates serve as the main source of energy for the body. When carbohydrates are consumed, the salivary glands and pancreas release amylase. The enzyme breaks carbohydrates down into simple sugar molecules — like glucose — for absorption into the bloodstream.