A Lifestyle Prescription for Optimal Health: Enzymes 101 – The Unsurpassable Sparks – 23
- In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. — Carl Sagan, 1987
- To get enzymes from food, one must eat raw food. All life, whether plant or animal, requires the presence of enzymes to keep it going. – Enzyme Nutrition, Dr. Edward Howell
In my last blog article on probiotics I wrote, “Probiotics are THE ESSENTIAL LIFE FORMS necessary for our GI tract to maintain the proper balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria; between probiotics and pathogens. “ To strengthen our immune system and help prevent disease, the right combinations of these microorganisms will have a powerful effect on our path to optimal health. But the essence of our health may be driven by a bond deeper than the existence of microorganisms, a bond directing the direction of our health as well as our existence.
In the 1930’s, Dr. Edward Howell was the first person to actively study enzymes. He believed that it is enzymes that determine the quality of life and the level of energy you display. Dr. Howell knew that the natural elements of REAL food are vital to prevent disease and improve health. Macro-nutrients in sufficient amounts of good fats, good carbs, and protein as well as essential micro-nutrients are needed in order for health to be maintained: vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and probiotics. But even these nutrients & micronutrients are not sufficient to establish the quality of life on their own standing.
Enzymes are living proteins that act as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions, bringing about specific biochemical reactions that are literally necessary for life. Without these thousands of biochemical reactions taking place on a daily basis, life as we know it could not exist. But like our need for specific strains of probiotics to strengthen our immune system, enzymes are absolutely and vitally necessary for these daily reactions to take place for life itself.
As proteins, enzymes are made up of amino acids that function as catalyzes to speed up the thousands of chemical reactions that occur in ALL LIVING CELLS throughout the body. These essential reactions regulate the functioning of the entire body – our cells, our tissues, our organs, muscles and bones are all regulated by the way enzymes affect these reactions taking place to keep the body performing as it was designed to function. Enzymes are catalysts which, by definition, speed up chemical reactions that take place between molecules. Enzymes act upon a special molecular region called the active site. The active site is made up of a specific shape that fits like a puzzle piece with other molecules called a substrate or reactant. Specific enzymes are made to attract specific substrates that are matched by the specific shape they have, just like a jigsaw puzzle piece will only fit into its proper slot. These enzymes then function to ALTER the chemical bonds in the substrates, so new chemical bonds are formed through the enzyme-substrate complex which then transforms into one or more entirely different products. For example, when the enzyme rennin is added to milk, the substrate is a milk protein called casein which is then transformed into curd (rennet coagulation) that never existed until the enzyme and substrate reacted with each other.
Rennin + Casein Rennin-Casein Rennin + Curd
By making chemical reactions occur much faster than they could possibly occur without enzyme catalysts, the energy needed to activate and maintain the chemical process is much smaller, conserving the amount of energy the body needs to function as it should.
Enzymes, like probiotics, only react upon very specific substrates, so that each enzyme will only catalyze one specific chemical reaction. Enzymes do not work alone but often work with many other enzymes in a series of multiple reactions that control cell metabolism which determine how each living cell will survive by taking in nutrients needed and eliminating waste products to maintain life itself. Thus, enzymes are often referred to as the “spark of life” to sustain life needed to activate the metabolism of each of our ten trillion cells making up the human body. Enzymes regulate tens of thousands of biochemical reactions throughout the human body every day. Indeed, there would be no spark of life without enzymes catalyzing chemical reactions necessary for survival.
Chemically this is represented as:
Enzyme (E) + Substrate (S) ⇌ ES → EP ⇌ E + P
Where P is the Product
Just how many different enzymes there are remains unsettled. While Dr. Howell studied enzymes some 80 years ago, it was thought there were less than 100 different enzymes. But as often happens, the more they were studied, the greater the number of different enzymes they discovered. A few decades later as researchers continued their studies more than 500 were thought to exist. But today, the precise number remains highly speculative and ranges anywhere from 2,500 to tens of thousands needed to sustain our life. Enzymes though do not work alone, but in combination with co-enzymes – specific vitamins and minerals – which are needed to form nearly 100,000 chemical reactions in order for the body to maintain its health as well as its life. Each one of our ten trillion cells are dependent upon enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions at a speed that would not be possible without these enzymes, so enzymes truly are building blocks upon which life is dependent.
Enzymes have been divided into three primary categories:
- Metabolic enzymes involve enzymes that make up the metabolic processes responsible for cellular reactions related to energy production, detoxification, and replenishment of our cells. The pancreas is the primary organ releasing metabolic enzymes to flush out toxins in our cells, helping to produce energy which is an integral part of every organ in the body.
- Digestive enzymes function to break down the food we eat, beginning the process of converting it to energy. These enzymes are secreted primarily along the digestive tract beginning with our saliva and ending with the colon.
- Food enzymes are found in REAL, LIVING FOOD and help break down the particular food they are found within.
|Metabolic||Run the Body||Inter-cellular|
Food and digestive enzymes have similar functions as they both help to digest the foods we eat when these foods come from REAL, unprocessed, non-GMO foods that come from the farm. Their primary difference is that digestive enzymes come from within the body, while food enzymes are only found within the REAL foods we consume – within the REAL foods we consume. They are not found in processed foods as processing foods destroy all enzymes.
The body generates its own metabolic enzymes responsible for chemical reactions necessary for the Sparks of Life.
When we consume man-made processed foods that have had their enzymes destroyed due to the processing, the body is forced to use metabolic enzymes meant for other purposes to assist with the digestion of these “foods.” PROCESSED FOODS ARE DEAD FOODS since the life forces (enzymes) of these foods have been destroyed. This is not an insignificant event because each enzyme is specifically made to maintain a homeostatic balance for proficient functioning of the human body. It is thought that the more enzymes are sidetracked from their primary function, the greater the likelihood to jeopardize our health.
Without enzymes the growth of new cells and the upkeep of our tissues could not take place as these fundamental, living proteins are responsible for EVERY CHEMICAL REACTION TAKING PLACE WITHIN OUR BODY.
- When the pancreas is not functioning properly due to injury or illness, its contribution of enzymes places our health in peril. How important are digestive enzymes for maintaining our health? A 2011 study evaluated the effectiveness of a pancrelipase enzyme (PEZ) that is made up of lipase, amylase and protease, and used as a digestive aid for pancreatic insufficiency for the reduction of after meal irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhea (IBS-D) symptoms with 49 patients: 14 men, 35 women, mean age 52 years. This was a double blind study that compared men and women using PEZ and a placebo for the reduction of after meal IBS-D through an analysis of patients that choose to use PEZ over the placebo for extended use. The results showed that 61% choose PEZ and demonstrated improvements in all symptoms for cramping, bloating, urge to defecate, global pain and decrease stooling with increase in stool firmness. The study conclusions stated: “PEZ was found in a small group of patients to reduce postprandial IBS-D symptoms and deserves further evaluation.”
- Pilot study: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial of pancrealipase for the treatment of postprandial irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhoea. Frontline Gastroenterol. January, 2011
There are eight types of digestive enzymes to help break down different types of nutrients:
- Lipase – breaks down fat
- Protease – breaks down protein
- Cellulase – breaks down fiber, but the fiber cannot be used for caloric intake
- Amylase – breaks down carbohydrates
- Sucrase – breaks down most sugars
- Maltase – breaks down complex sugars from grains
- Lactase – breaks down milk sugar (lactose) found in dairy products
- Phytase – assists with overall digestion, and producing the B vitamins
Each time processed foods are eaten, 100% of our digestive enzymes must come from existing enzymes within the body as these foods have been stripped of their live enzymes, effectively drawing upon reserves designed to be used elsewhere. The vast majority of Americans use the Standard American Diet (SAD) as their dietary habits, 90% of which is based upon highly processed foods and fast-foods. These types of foods contain NO LIVING ENZYMES causing us to rely upon our internal, reserve sources of enzymes that have been designated for other purposes. Now, I am going to summarize to one of my previous articles – A Lifestyle Prescription for Optimal Health #5 – not only to illustrate the remarkable authority enzymes have with regard to our health, but what we can do about it.
Telomerase is a LIVE ENZYME that repairs telomeres (the aglets protecting our chromosomes) which has the power to restore the length of telomeres when they get worn down (shortened). Each time a cell divides, the two daughter cells receive equal amounts of DNA from the doubling process of the chromosomes. During DNA replications, small bits of DNA are trimmed off the ends of the chromosomes causing their protective telomere caps to become smaller. This shortening of our telomeres is now seen as one of the central mechanisms behind the aging of our cells. As the ends of the chromosome’s telomeres wear down, telomerase can come in and rebuild the length of telomeres to what they once were and more. The greater the telomerase activity, the longer telomeres can be restored, and the more youth one can retain. This most remarkable discovery illustrates the leverage telomerase has upon our telomeres which is DIRECTLY controlled through our LIFESTYLE HABITS – not through a doctor’s intervention, but through our personal lifestyle choices. Telomerase is now seen as an anti-aging enzyme for which the researchers Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Dr. Carol Greider, and Dr. Jack Szostak all shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for “the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase“.
On September 16, 2008, Dr. Dean Ornish published his study of 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer following the Ornish-style “straight and narrow” healthy lifestyle program for a period of three months where their telomerase enzymatic activity was measured at baseline and again three months afterwards. The lifestyle changes the 30 men adopted during this period were:
- They ate a diet rich in REAL fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy
- They limited the fat content to 10% of the total calories
- Refined sugars were kept to a minimum
- They took vitamin & fish oil (EPA/DHA) supplements
- They exercised 30 minutes EACH DAY at a moderate level of activity
- They participated in stress reducing activities such as meditation or yoga for 60 minutes per day
After three months of complying with these lifestyle behaviors, 24 of the men that had sufficient data for analysis found their telomerase activity levels had increased by 29%, while their LDL cholesterol levels decreased.
- The Lancet Onocology, Dr. Dean Ornish, September 16, 2008
“To our knowledge, we have reported here the first longitudinal study showing that comprehensive lifestyle changes — or any intervention — are significantly associated with increases in cellular telomerase activity levels and telomere maintenance capacity in immune system cells,” was the conclusion of the study authors.
“This is the first study showing that anything can increase telomerase. If it were a new drug that had been shown to do this, it would be a billion-dollar drug. But this is something that people can do for FREE.” And yet, we continue to fail, for the most part, to put these findings into use for improving our health through appropriate Lifestyle measures now known to be anti-aging and protective for our health.
Earlier I mentioned that the precise number of enzymes remains highly speculative and ranges anywhere from 2,500 to 10,000 or more needed to sustain our life, but more importantly, we still do not know or understand the function all of these enzymes have with regard to our health or to aging. Telomerase is but ONE ENZYME that has been shown to affect the rate to which we will age. How about the other enzymes we know little to nothing about and those that we will discover in the future?
What we know is that life – OUR LIFE – is dependent upon each of these LIVING ENZYMES and that our health & aging is dependent upon them. They are the live protein molecules necessary for the functioning of our cells and our tissues and our entire body. These protein molecules consist of hundreds of amino acids strung together in very specific sequences which must fold into a specific three-dimensional shape in order for them to become useful, so the foods that we choose to eat and place into our body have an enormous impact upon these thousands of enzymes that determine our health.
Here is a simple experiment anyone can perform at home. Get half a dozen organic whole carrots. Boil one of the carrots in water for several minutes. With the second carrot, bake it in the oven at a temperature of 350 degrees for 15 minutes. With the third carrot, microwave it for about 60 seconds. With the fourth carrot, grill it on the grill for 15 minutes. With the fifth carrot, sauté it in a fry pan with EVOO for 15 minutes on medium heat. And with the sixth carrot, leave it as it came from Nature – raw. Then cut off the top one inch of the carrot heads and place all of them in a bowl containing cold water so that the carrot heads are not under water. Place the bowl on a window sill so it can receive direct sunlight each day. Allow it to remain there for two weeks. What do you find at the end of the two weeks?
There is no growth to the carrots that were boiled, baked, microwaved, grilled or sautéed. There is no growth to the carrots that were cooked. Only the carrot that remained RAW began to grow with a green stem appearing at the top of the carrot head. Why was that? Each of the carrots basically contained the same vitamins, the same minerals, the same phytochemicals, and the same fiber, but only the raw carrot grew – why? Only the raw carrot retained its live enzymes because heating food to approximately 118-129 degrees F (48-54 C) kills all living enzymes; with each of the other carrots, food enzymes were killed. This is why enzymes are called the Spark of Life, without which there is no life as we know it. Yet these food enzymes are only available to us when we eat foods RAW. Does this mean we need to eat all of our foods raw? Of course not, but it does mean, we should be eating a portion of our meals using raw foods such as with salads as well as using some RAW ingredients as RAW honey and real EVOO which is a raw monounsaturated fat since it is from the first squeezing of the harvested olives using a cold pressing to extract the oil. All of these foods contain live enzymes necessary for a quality of life only REAL foods can provide. In addition to their vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, enzymes found in real foods assimilate their ability to improve health, which researchers continue to discover new & amazing facts the more they research.
A 2010 study found that telomeres can predict one’s inclination for longevity and health. The researchers collected blood samples of 787 participants and followed them for ten years to see if they would develop cancer. The study found that telomere length was inversely correlated with the participants developing cancer and dying from cancer. Participants with the shortest telomeres were THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DEVELOP CANCER than those participants with the longest telomeres during the ten year observational period. The study stated, “The association equally applied to men and women and emerged as robust under a variety of circumstances. Furthermore, short telomere length was associated with cancer mortality and individual cancer subtypes with a high fatality rate.”
And in its conclusion it stated, “In this study population, there was a statistically significant inverse relationship between telomere length and both cancer incidence and mortality.”
- Telomere Length and Risk of Incident Cancer and Cancer Mortality, JAMA, July 7, 2010
When our cells are chronically inflamed due to the poor dietary and Lifestyle habits we chronically impose upon
ourselves, it is these habits that ARE responsible for the massive obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes seen so often as these cells need to be continuously replaced through cell division, resulting in a premature shortening of our telomeres – a poorer quality of life combined with greatly abridged longevity. But the body IS designed to protect our health when we are willing to accept what NATURE is able to do FOR our health – with Nature’s natural ingredients for Optimal Health, including its magnificent array of living enzymes we are just beginning to rediscover.