Enzymes are protein molecules found in all living cells. Enzymes are the spark of life that catalyze and regulate all bodily biochemical reactions. Approximately 2,700 different enzymes in the human body can combine with co-enzymes to form approximately 100,000 biochemical substances that enable us to see, hear, feel, move, think, reproduce and digest our food. Raw foods provide the most natural source of one of the most important elements of our well-being – enzymes. All raw foods - vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat and dairy - provide in the very food itself, specific enzymes for the body to fully digest it.
Dr. Max Wolf of Columbia University who researched enzymes and hormones from the 1930's through the 1960's, concluded enzyme production in humans diminishes after age 27. The vital force provided by an abundance of enzymes in a young person ensures recovery quick from illness and injuries and provides flexibility, agility and energy to accomplish great feats. As we age, depending on our lifestyle, diet and inherent enzyme potential, digestive difficulties may develop, the immune system must work harder, degenerative diseases may appear, and strength, flexibility, endurance and mental acuity decrease.
There are three types of enzymes: digestive enzymes, metabolic or systemic enzymes produced by the body, and food enzymes which must be obtained from the live foods that we eat. Digestive enzymes are secreted by the digestive system to break down food into nutrients that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. They are also used to eliminate waste. The human digestive system secretes the proteolytic protein-digesting enzymes protease, trypsin and pepsin, fat-digesting enzymes lipase and cholesterol esterase, and enzymes that break down carbohydrates, including amylase, sucrase, maltase, lactase, and ptyalin. Humans don't produce cellulase, an enzyme necessary for digestion of fiber that is present in raw plant foods. But micro-flora in the intestines can manufacture cellulase if enough of these beneficial bacteria have been established by eating fermented foods.
Fermentation is a natural way to preserve food and substantially enhances the enzyme content of the food. This is why most raw foodists eat plentiful quantities of fermented sauerkraut and other plant based fermented foods.
Nature did not design us to make all of the enzymes necessary for digestion, but intended us to ingest most of our enzymes from live, raw foods. For thousands of years our ancestors ate mostly raw and fermented meats, dairy and plant foods and had few if any of the health problems we have today. Even today, the native Eskimos who still eat this "primitive origin" diet are recognized as some of the healthiest people on Earth.
Heating food above 105 degrees F destroys the vital enzymes in food, forcing us to rely on our own enzyme reserves to complete the job of digestion. This dietary situation presents a real problem for modern man, since cooked food dominates our eating. Plant enzymes are most abundant in vine-ripened fruits and vegetables that are just picked. In a matter of days after picking, natural enzyme levels typically drop by 50%. Considering that most produce travels an average of 1,200 miles to get to our table and is often picked unripe to survive the trip, enzyme levels throughout even our organic food supply are deficient.
Systemic enzymes work throughout the body in every system and organ. Delivering nutrients to the cells and tissues for nourishment and regeneration, they initiate and speed up chemical reactions within the cells for energy production and detoxification. Systemic enzymes provide the necessary energy we use to rebuild muscles, cells, nerves, tissues, bones and glands. These enzymes also are instrumental in balancing our hormones, regulating our immune system and producing the neurotransmitters that modulate our emotions and enhance mental clarity. Systemic enzymes reduce inflammation, activate healing and relieve pain. Enzymes clear our blood of undigested food particles and pathogens. And they also dissolve excess arterial plaque, strengthen blood vessels and prevent blood clots. These very same enzymes dissolve scar tissue, adhesions, tumors and cysts. Finally they regulate metabolism to maintain optimum weight, and they rejuvenate aging muscles, joints and skin. That's a lot of work to do everyday!!!!
Systemic enzymes are produced by every living cell. However, the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and other organs play a vital role in their production. Some of the enzymes used for digestion also perform other important functions in the body. When we are deficient in any of these enzymes due to depleted reserves and insufficient dietary intake of raw foods, there are not enough enzymes available in the body for other functions. Health problems ensue. More than likely, there will not even be enough enzymes available to completely digest our everyday food. By eating raw foods and/or taking digestive enzyme supplements with our meals and systemic enzymes between meals, many health conditions can be reversed and healed.
Enzymes and Raw Foods
All raw food enzymes are destroyed by heat. Most raw food, like our body, is quite perishable. When raw foods are exposed to temperatures above 105 degrees F, they rapidly break down, just as our bodies would if we had a fever that high. Enzymes, sensitive and yet powerful, help us digest our food, are proteins that break down as easily. A three dimensional protein structure, enzymes, once they are heated much above 105 degrees F, structurally, molecularly change.
Once raw food enzymes are exposed to heat, they are no longer able to provide the function for which they were designed. Non raw foods contribute to chronic illness, because their enzyme content is damaged. This damage requires the body to create enzymes to process the food. The digestion of cooked food uses valuable metabolic enzymes in order to help digest your food. Digestion of cooked food demands much more energy than the digestion of raw food. In general, raw food is so much more easily digested that it passes through the digestive tract in 1/2 to 1/3 of the time it takes for cooked food.
Eating dead foods places a burden on the pancreas and other organs, overworking them. Eventually these organs become exhausted and disease progresses. Many people gradually impair their pancreas and progressively lose the ability to digest their food after a lifetime of ingesting processed foods.
In 1930, under the direction of Dr. Paul Kouchakoff, research was conducted at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry in Lausanne, Switzerland. The effect of food (cooked and processed versus raw and natural) on the immune system was tested and documented.
Dr. Kouchakoff's discovery concerned the leukocytes, or white blood cells. It was found that after a person eats cooked food, his/her blood responds immediately by increasing the number of white blood cells. This is a well-known phenomena called 'digestive leukocytosis', in which there is a rise in the number of leukocytes - white blood cells - after eating.
Since digestive leukocytosis was always observed after a meal, it was considered to be a normal physiological response to eating. No one knew why the number of white cells rises after eating, since this appeared to be a stress response, as if the body was somehow reacting to something harmful such as infection, exposure to toxic chemicals or trauma. However, the Swiss researchers at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry made another remarkable discovery. They found that eating raw, unaltered food did not cause a reaction in the blood. In addition, they found that if a food had been heated beyond a certain temperature (unique to each food), or if the food was processed (refined, chemicals added, etc.); this always caused a rise in the number of white cells in the blood.
Kouchakoff's researchers renamed this reaction 'pathological leukocytosis', since the body was reacting to highly altered food. They tested many different types of food. Time and again Kouchakoff and his researchers found that if the foods were not refined or overheated, they caused no reaction. The body saw them as 'friendly foods'. However, these same foods, if heated at too high a temperature, caused a negative reaction in the blood, a reaction found only when the body is invaded by a dangerous pathogen or trauma.
Kouchakoff's researchers found the worst offenders of all, whether heated or not, were processed foods which had been refined (such as white flour and white rice), or pasteurized (a process in which milk is flash-heated to high temperatures to kill bacteria), or homogenized (also seen in milk where the fat in milk is subjected to artificial suspension), or preserved (chemicals are added to food to delay spoilage or to enhance texture or taste).
To ensure continued good health, raw foods gift the human body nutrients and enzymes it requires. For illnesses raw foods provide the human body the necessary nutrients and enzymes it requires for healing. All raw foodists agree: when it comes to radiant health, de-aging and overall well-being, raw is the law! If you must cook your food, the best way to cook food is to lightly steam, stew, or use a slow crock cooker. Eat as few over-processed and over-cooked foods as possible. The body has a difficult time digesting fried, pasteurized, barbecued, dried, and other over-processed and over-cooked foods which you find in boxed and processed foods. Consume at least 50% of your food raw, living and enzyme rich. A good vegetable juicing program will easily help you reach the volume necessary to achieve the 50% raw foods percentage.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
Anne Kaspar, C.A.P.H