Enzymes are often described as the catalyst of life and their role as the enabling agent should not be underestimated. Whilst the body uses enzymes for a myriad of different functions there are two types which are used therapeutically:
- Systemic Enzymes
- Digestive Enzymes
Systemic enzymes are those that support the functioning of the body’s systems, although the term isn’t used to describe those that aid the digestive system. Systemic enzymes can do many things in the body such as reduce inflammation and fibrin, dissolving blood clots and clearing out old and dying tissues. This process would be carried out by the body’s own enzymes normally. In poor health, the pancreas can be slow to function reducing the amount of available enzymes and factors like poor diet and toxin ingestion can overwhelm the body’s ability to produce sufficient enzymes to mop up these problems. Supplementing reduces the burden on the body and frees up vitality to work on other tasks.
Favourite Systemic Enzyme formulas include Serrazyme which has high levels of the serrapeptase enzyme in it. This makes it suited for supporting the health where inflammation is a problem such as arthritis or sports injuries. There’s also Blockbuster Allclear, a formula which mixes Serrapeptase with Nattokinase, digestive enzymes, Seaprose and co-factors. It’s well known as being a great supplement for cardiovascular health, helping you keep your veins, arteries and capillaries well.
If you look at the nutrition information on a food you can see it’s made up of lots of different things – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. When it’s in it’s original state it’s all one lump. Digestive enzymes are what breaks down food when you eat it and converts it into the various forms your body can use. Creating digestive enzymes takes quite a lot of the body’s energy – that’s why we feel tired after a heavy meal like a roast dinner – and we don’t always produce enough to deal with out food properly. Gas is one unpleasant symptom and there are many others. Some people are unable to digest dairy products, something that’s very common, especially amongst orientals. It may cause an excess of phlegm, mucus, runny nose as well as gas and this is all caused by the body not producing sufficient enzymes to break down the proteins in milk. These proteins are called lactose and people who don’t produce the lactase enzyme to digest it are called lactose intollerant.
The situation gets more complicated when we eat different food types together. Bread, potatoes or rice are predominantly carbohydrates and they digest easiest on their own. Meat, eggs, beans and nuts are mostly proteins and proteins are easiest digested when eaten on their own. Yet when humans eat – unlike any other creature on earth! – we want to mix bread with eggs, or meat with potatoes, fish with rice or eat beans and pulses with rice. This makes it hard for our stomach’s own enzymes to fully digest the food and supplementing digestive enzymes makes this easier on us.
Why Do We Stock So Many Enzymes?
This is an interesting point and there are two main reasons. Firstly, enzymes occur naturally and most foods have them in. However heating the food destroys the enzymes. This principle is one of the core foundations of the raw food lifestyle who’s followers generally enjoy better than average health simply by not cooking their food.
Enzyme therapy supplements are slightly different. The vast majority of enzyme therapy supplements available on the market use enzymes that are created in laboratories rather than extracted from food. Not all manufacturing processes are created equal, in my opinion! If the enzymes are exposed to heat at any time during the manufacturing process then their strength my be reduced. A capsule that claims to be, for example, 10,000IU may in reality only contain the strength of 1,000IU if it has been through a poorly designed manufacturing process. My own personal experience of taking enzymes at high doses was that some brands simply failed to live up to what one would expect of them. Needless to say, we don’t stock any enzyme therapy brands that we ourselves feel are poor – we take our own choices ourselves!
An easy way of seeing if a digestive enzyme is strong is to open the capsule and spread it onto some food. I do this if I’m trying to make a banana smoothie and I’ve found that the bananas are slightly unripe. If they’re still in that slightly green, starchy phase before going sweet they’ll make a smoothie that sets hard – not much fun to drink! If that’s the case I’ll empty one or two Digestive 150 Digestion Enzyme capsules into my blender. The smoothie will become runnier and more liquid as the enzymes break down the excess starches in the bananas.
The second reason for stocking several choices of the same product is because everyone is different. You have your own physiology. Out of the enzyme therapy brands that have passed our quality standards, some may work better for you than others. An example here is that of Angela. She’ll take Digestive 150 Digestion Enzymes if they are blended into a smoothie as described above but finds that taking two capsules with a meal is less comfortable for her than taking Lifegive HHI-Zyme Digestive Aid Digestion Enzymes. It may be more important to you to have the highest possible strength enzymes or you may find that one which does the job as gently as possible gets your vote. It’s an individual choice as to which is right for you.
Lastly do know that both Pineapple and Papaya are great sources of enzymes. Wherever possible we recommend that you support your health with wholesome, natural, organic foods, fresh air and water, sunshine and exercise. The combination makes all these elements and enzyme supplements more effective.