All biochemical reactions in our bodies happen with the assistance of enzymes’ and each and every single biochemical reaction requires a specific enzyme. In this way, the relationship between biochemical reactions and enzymes’ could be compared to a lock and a key system, where each enzyme ‘unlocks’ a specific reaction. Following this logic, it must be obvious that enzymes’ are not just some dietary supplements but rather nutrients that are essential for life itself.
We are all born with what we could call an enzymatic bank, a certain individual supply of enzymes’ that we systematically use throughout our lives for the above mentioned metabolic reactions. These are then called metabolic enzymes’ and are fundamental to maintain all vital functions of our bodies. However, this life-giving enzymatic bank gets depleted and literally squandered much faster than it should for a modern man. The culprit? Cooked food ! Cooked foods are not foods high in digestive enzymes’.
All the food in its raw, uncooked, unpasteurized and/or otherwise unprocessed form contains digestive enzymes’ that are necessary for breaking down larger molecules into smaller that can then be easily absorbed and utilized by the cells of our bodies. Heating the food above 46 degrees Celsius single single-handedly destroys all digestive enzymes’, yet, the ingested food must be digested. Pancreas then has no other choice but to produce those missing digestive enzymes’ and pump them into our digestive system. Although this may seem like an easy enough solution, it is not the solution that the mother nature has intended for us and so it comes with consequences.
Pancreas produces all enzymes’ – metabolic and digestive but it can do only so much. What this means in practice is that the creation of digestive enzymes’ happens to the detriment of metabolic enzymes’ which, as we already know, are mandatory for all biochemical-metabolic reactions. The more digestive enzymes’ pancreas has to produce, the less metabolic enzymes’ become available for everything else. It is therefore very irresponsible and even risky to rely only on pancreas for digestive enzymes’ instead of providing them, as mother nature intended, in our food.
– fresh fruit (must not be over-ripe; especially banana, avocado, papaya and mango)
– fresh vegetables
– honey and ginger
– fresh unpasteurized milk
– fermented dairy products : yogurt, kefir, buttermilk
– fermented foods ( tamari sauce, tempeh, miso, pickles and sauerkraut)
– sprouted seeds
– herbs and greens
– raw, unsalted nuts and seeds (have to be soaked in water for a few hours to deactivate enzyme inhibitors)
– green foods (green barley grass, chlorella, spirulina)
Enzymatic Value of Green Foods
I do not think I’ve revealed a huge ancient secret in listing foods that are high in digestive enzymes. If we understand a simple equation that food in its natural form equals health, then the list of these foods should not come as a surprise. What I’d like to spend a little more time on are green foods (or perhaps saying ‘green super foods’ would be more appropriate due to their high concentration of nutrients).
Yes ! It is the high concentration of nutrients in green foods that makes them such efficient medicine. Just to get a perspective on the nutritional value of green barley grass juice powder, for example, only 1 teaspoon of this quality powder equals nutritionally half a kilo of vegetables (could be 2-3 broccoli heads… not easy to get down in one sitting, is it? Especially when what we are looking at are raw vegetables if we really want those enzymes).
So let us stay with green barley grass juice powder since we already know how many vegetables are hidden in one teaspoon. What about those enzymes then? Over 30 different enzymes is the answer. Yes, in one teaspoon as well. And just to make it even more exciting and up to date, among those over 30 enzymes is the new kid on the block – SOD (superoxide dismutase).
I have already touched on the role of anti-oxidants in preventing aging in one of my previous posts (‘Benefits of Barley Grass Juice Powder). I recommend to read this post as well, to get a better picture of green barley grass juice and its health benefits, but here I’d like to focus on SOD and an important role it plays in health.
According to an article published in International Journal of Health Sciences, SOD is an essential enzyme that has powerful anti-oxidant and protective functions in a human body. Apart from already mentioned anti-aging role, a group of scientists has concluded that SOD has been indicated in prevention and treatment of the following conditions:
– Cancer – essential in cancer prevention but also shows potential in treatment of certain types of cancer
– Acute and chronic inflammatory conditions (including burns and wound healing)
– Ischemic heart disease
– Rheumatoid arthritis
– Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzhaimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine And Medicine Be Thy Food’
Although majority of western population is in desperate need of enzymes due to modern eating habits, it is important to remind ourselves that it is food that we eat that can make us or break us. Food in its natural form contains myriads of nutrients that work together synergistically and mutually enhance and complement each other’s function and performance. For example, enzymes would be absolutely impotent without certain vitamins and minerals (magnesium being the most common enzymatic co-factor, but there are also other minerals such as manganese, copper, iron or zinc that certain enzymes require for their function) and at the same time, minerals, vitamins and hormones cannot fulfill their mission without enzymes.
In this way, eating foods high in enzymes does not give us only the benefits of digestive enzymes. We receive much more – the synergistic value of a wide range of nutrients that can take care of all the maintenance processes in our bodies. The quality of our food, therefore, becomes of a paramount importance. Considering modern agricultural techniques, mineral depletion of agricultural land and generally lifestyle that just seems to be more hectic and stressful every day, including the so-called ‘super foods’ in our diet might not only be beneficial, but also wise.