There are over 3,000 types of enzymes in the human body that initiate, speed up, alter, slow down, or halt about 4,000 chemical reactions in the body. Some people even believe that there are up to 70,000 enzymes in the human body. Each organ in the body has its own set of enzymes, and each enzyme has an individual function. Essentially they act much like a key in a lock—not every key fits in every lock. Enzymes work differently than vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids, but studies are now showing that enzymes are just as important to the overall health of many individuals as well as the successful treatment of many diseases. Read on to discover more.
The Types of Enzymes
There are 3 types of enzymes in the human body: digestive, metabolic, and food.
Digestive enzymes come from the digestive organs and aid in breaking food down into a more assimilable form.
Metabolic enzymes are made in the body’s own cells and perform highly specific tasks that are required to regulate blood, organs, and tissues. These enzymes are responsible for the growth and production of new cells, the maintenance and repair of organs and tissues, taking blood to the organs, and detoxing cells, organs, and blood.
Lastly, there are food enzymes that are the most important life force that are found in raw foods—those that are not heated above 118 degrees. These enzymes work together with other nutrients—allowing the digestive system to take a rest and also boost the immune system.
The Digestive Enzymes
There are 8 primary digestive enzymes, as they each perform their own functions for breaking down different types of foods.
- Protease is essential for digesting proteins.
- Amylase is what digests carbohydrates.
- Maltase is what transforms complex sugars from grains into glucose.
- Lipase is essential for digesting fats—it should be noted that individuals with IBS, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, gallbladder dysfunction, or obesity can benefit from higher levels of lipase. Also, flourinated water may decrease protease and lipase production.
- Lactase will digest milk sugars (aka lactose) in dairy products.
- Sucrase works to digest most sugars.
- Cellulase breaks down fiber.
- Phytase helps with overall digestion, and especially with producing B vitamins.
Enzymes for General Health
Enzymes are so involved with many functions of the body and will lower the amount of energy that it takes the body to perform a reaction or activity. Sometimes, lack of enzymes would prevent some reactions from taking place at all.
These are just some of the activities that require enzymes in the human body: carrying away toxic wastes, energy production, dissolving blood clots, absorbing oxygen, fighting infection, healing wounds, dissolving blood clots, breaking down carbs, fats, proteins, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels, hormone regulation, inflammation reduction, nerve impulse regulation, RNA/DNA functioning, slowing the aging process, and moving nutrients to cells.
Enzymes and Diseases
Problems arise when the body becomes stressed to produce enzymes due to poor dietary choices. When individuals consume food with no enzymes (heated above 118 degrees) the body then spends energy on producing the digestive enzymes needed to break down all of the components of the food’s nutrients. This is compounded by a person’s predisposition to certain diseases. The body will struggle to achieve homeostasis—which is vital for properly functioning organs.
When the production of metabolic enzymes is disrupted, the body steps back from important tasks like blood purification, organ detox, and immune system health in order to digest the food. A prolonged time in a state like this will cause the body to break down and be prime territory for diseases to develop.
More Than Just Digestion
Enzymes can do many things like optimize digestion, boost athletic endurance, and increase the effectiveness of nutrient intake. Enzyme preservation is a vital aspect of longevity—younger individuals have much higher levels than older individuals.
The best ways to create an enzyme surplus in the body:
- Incorporating a diet high in raw foods
- Papaya (eaten approx. 15-30 minutes before meals)
- Pineapple (eaten approx. 15-30 minutes before meals)
- Fermented vegetables
- Bee pollen
- Raw honey
- Chewing properly
- Intermittent fasting
Broccoli, cabbage, and cucumbers have an enzyme called nicotinamide mononucleotide, which is involved with energy metabolism. It regenerates cells that are aging, allowing them to behave like younger cells and preventing many genetic changes related to aging.
It has been shown that fasting can conserve enzymes—meaning that digestive enzymes are not produced if you do not eat, and this allows metabolic enzyme activity and production to proliferate.