The Importance of Enzymes

Enzymes are responsible for all the biochemical reactions that occur in your body, including digesting your food. The enzymes found in food are the workers responsible for the benefits usually associated with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are actually referred to by scientists as co-enzymes – that is , they can-not be used by the body unless the enzymes are present. Unfortunately for us, food enzymes are systematically removed from our food supply in order to achieve longer shelf life. While we are very careful to replace the vitamins and minerals lost in the processing of food, we rarely replace the more important food enzymes, which enhanced the absorption of important vitamins and minerals and improve overall digestion. Without supplemental food enzymes our diets will continue to be deficient in these essential nutrients.

Food enzymes may be important, but they pose a very difficult problem for the food industry. Whether food is canned, pasteurized, genetically engineered, cooked, or packaged, enzymes must be systematically removed from our food supply for economic and practical reasons. Have you ever wondered how scientists are able to genetically engineer tomatoes to stay fresher longer? The enzyme content of the tomato is reduced or slowed so it does not digest itself as quickly. We are taught that a tomato rots; in reality, it is being digested or broken down by its own enzymes.
Scientists are becoming aware that the organs that produce our digestive enzymes are not large enough to produce all the enzymes needed to digest the average American diet. This becomes evident when you consider the increase in digestive problems in today’s society. Consider how many over-the-counter remedies they advertise daily to address digestive ailments. The benefits of supplementation and replacement with plant enzymes are :

  • Easier and more complete digestion of your food
  • Lessening the work of your digestive system and of natural enzymes
  • Relieving some of the stress on your digestive organs

Enzyme nutrition therapy is the art and science of using nutrition to maintain homeostasis and health in the body. We work with the body’s innate intelligence to bring the body to optimal health using whole foods that contain protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, rather than trying to manipulate it by using chemical compounds that produce side effects.

Digestion is largely taken for granted by just about everybody. You may assume that what you put into your mouth is going to be digested. But, digestion doesn’t just happen: it is a complicated process that is extremely important and should not be overlooked as a root cause for many health problems. When digestion does not occur the way it should, symptoms such as gas, bloating, and pain may result.

Digestion, or hydrolysis, is the process of breaking up food “into simpler chemical compounds by means of hydrolyzing enzymes or chemical action. In other words, digestion breaks up food into small units so the body can use the nutrients for energy or growth and repair. More to the point, hydrochloric acid does not digest food; enzymes do. If hydrochloric acid cannot be adequately produced, as may be the case with older adults , enzymes do not activate. When you swallow food, the stomach begins to produce the acid and enzymes needed for digestion. This window of time, while the body gathers hydrochloric acid in the stomach, can
last for up to one hour. In the meantime, the salivary enzymes and food enzymes are continuing to work at breaking down the ingested food. As hydrochloric acid gathers in the stomach, it becomes an acidic environment. This acidity is ideal for the activation of the protein-digesting enzyme, pepsinogen, which upon activation becomes pepsin. These protein-digesting enzymes begin working while the food and salivary enzymes are deactivated, since this environment is not optimal for certain enzymes to work. Moreover, these enzymes—supplemental and naturally occurring—are not destroyed. Based on the amount and type of food you have eaten, the body produces the exact amount of enzymes needed to continue digesting the food.
The effects of modifying the natural balance If you use antacids even occasionally, it is an early warning sign of dyspepsia, a term for poor digestion. We are told that antacids neutralize excess stomach acid. While this may sound logical and bring relief of symptoms, it does not address the problem.
Studies show that that antacid users are not able to produce proper acid levels for digestion in the 30 – 60 minute digestive time frame. As we age we lose our ability to produce sufficient amounts of stomach acid, let alone excess amounts. Further studies show that geriatric patients cannot make enough acid at all!

Antacids decrease enzyme activity and impairs the absorption of minerals such as calcium. They also disrupt the normal balance of bacterial microflora. If antacid use is the most common consequence of poor digestion then constipation is a close second. This condition is compounded through the use of aspirin and commonly prescribed steroids such as prednisone and cortisone. The use of both of these common treatments for hormonal and digestive tract imbalances contribute significantly to increased gas, bloating, constipation and gastrointestinal distress.

Every body is bio-chemically unique. We believe optimal health can only be attained when each person is viewed that way. Individuals cannot and should not be categorized or labeled to fit into a particular pharmaceutical paradigm. What is good for the general public is not necessarily good for the individual. Before recommendations are made for an individual, specific biochemical and mechanical needs must be objectively ascertained and not subjectively surmised.

At Chiropractic Health, Acupuncture and Diagnostic Services we use proven and time-honored standards to nutritionally support the body. We recognize that the best sources of nutrients are not concentrated chemical compounds but whole foods with contents that act synergistically when properly digested and assimilated.For more information about this topic please call us. We would be pleased to explain how you could benefit from a personal evaluation and to answer any questions you may have. Call us today to arrange for a FREE initial evaluation.