Friday, April 13, 2012

So What are Enzymes Anyway?

Being around the raw food circuit you will hear a ton about enzymes. In case you were like me when I first got started on my health journey and felt bewildered, I will discuss a little bit here what enzymes are, why they are important and why we need them, and how we can attain them for better health.

So enzymes are protein molecules, and they are the catalyst for our bodies to operate correctly. Basically enzymes speak the language our bodies understand in order for proper digestion, and the appropriate organs to work effectively. Our bodies have their own stores of enzymes. These are needed for immune health and other body functions.

There are different types of enzymes: food, metabolic, and digestive. You can only find enzymes in living cells. Basically what that means is that once you could your food over 118 degrees F (almost most of our meals in the USA) the enzymes in our foods die. Enzymes are pertinent to digestion. Without them our food does not break down properly, and that leads to terrible digestive issues like indigestion, heart burn, constipation, colitis, crohns disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Ideally for food digestion and for our bodies to utilize that food for energy we should eat foods with enzymes. So what happens when we eat foods without enzymes is our bodies recognize that we have been depleted of the enzymes in our food, so our bodies borrow from our own enzyme stores. What that does over time is that messes with our immune system, which then effects all the other systems in our bodies and causes disease.

An easy way to avoid those issues is to have a mainly plant based diet with lots of whole, fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. You do not have to be all raw to stay healthy. Our bodies need those enzymes though for proper digestion. A rule of thumb that I practice when I am making the choice to eat cooked foods is to eat some raw foods with it. That way the enzymes from the raw foods will help with the break down of the cooked foods. So when you have some beans and brown rice have a large kale salad with lots of different colored vegetables with it. The fiber from the salad will also aid in digestion.

I strongly recommend taking a good digestive enzyme capsule before eating more difficult to digest proteins, like meats, fish, and eggs. Two brands that I really like are Enzymedica and Health Force Nutritionals. You can find the Enzymedica line at The Vine Health Shoppe where I work in Fuquay-Varina, NC. You can order Health Force Nutritionals right here on my blog. You can purchase these at the Raw Life Store or at the Renegade Health Store. Both have banners on the right side of my blog.

If you have any questions, post them below.

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