Enzymes are present in all or foods in their raw state. Our body also makes enzymes that work in all areas of our body as catalysts for the breakdown, activation and assimilation of very specific processes. These enzymes can work at the digestive level, in all our organ systems and at the cellular level. Take the heart for example, when someone has a heart attack, the care provider can tell if you have had one by a test that shows what enzymes are present or not present. Catalysts (enzymes) are substances that need to be present for these processes to take place because they contribute an "unlocking" mechanism to the other elements of food; but are never changed themselves and are eventually eliminated from the body.
It is the enzymes in our food that contribute to the breakdown of fats, carbs, and proteins in our digestive tract. They are resident in fresh "live" food as part of it's general makeup. It is the enzymes in food that start the process of digestion by helping to break through the naturally occurring outer coverings of skins, nuts and seeds, so that their nutrients can be accessed by our body fluids. It is the enzymes in the skin of an apple that cause the brown "bruising" when it falls from the tree and begins to break up and rot so that the seeds in the center can be released into the ground. Every food substance is uniquely made so that it's own enzymes know how to protect the source, growth and reproduction of those substances. Without them, we would not be able to gain any nourishment from the food we eat. Without them, our bodies would need to make all the enzymes required to break down all the food substances of the earth. Because our foods contain them, the body is created to use these substances and make use of their natural makeup in our own digestion.
Our bodies do make some of these enzymes. For example, when we eat a meal and chew our food well, we have glands in our mouth and back of our throat that add some enzymes and begin to breakdown fats, carbs, and proteins as they are chewed well and transported to the stomach. They mix with the existing enzymes within the food itself and within 15 minutes of entering the stomach begin to break the food into smaller particles. Our stomach secrets hydrochloric acid (HCL) which is the substance that breaks down protein. In the first 15 minutes of arrival in the stomach, it is not yet contributing HCL to the mix so the pre-existing enzymes are continuing to do their work. Once HCL begins to work, when the stretching of our stomach releases it as it makes room for the content of food, the other enzymes stop working as protein is broken down. When the contents of the stomach are ready to transition to the small intestine, the particalized food and liquids are worked on again by the food enzymes and also the pancreatic enzymes released there.
So you see, the enzymes from our food are important to begin the breakdown process so that there are not too many large chunks of food going from the stomach into the small intestine. When would that happen? It would happen when there are not enough enzymes to begin the pre-digestive process of breaking down our food. And when would that be an issue? It would be an issue if your body didn't have enough OR when we cook our food. Heat destroys the enzymes in food. These circumstances would cause a delay of food moving from the stomach into the small intestine and extend the time and work it would take for the digestive track to break up the food particles. In some cases, your body will have to rob enzymes from other organ systems and processes in order for that to happen. In those cases, those other systems are not able to function at efficient capacity.
For some of us with existing digestive issues, whether irritable bowel symptoms, nausea, bloating, GERD and other cases of indigestion, adding a supplement of digestive enzymes with our meals will make all the difference in aiding the digestive process and helping to overcome some of our most common digestive issues. Taken just prior to beginning to eat, they will be ready to receive the first 15 minutes of food and begin the pre-digestive process. You can find digestive enzymes in your local healthfood store or online. The label should read that these enzymes are made from food products and the most important ones that should be there are lipase, cellulase, amylase, protease _____________. What makes these enzymes different from over the counter antacids is that they don't neutralize the normal HCL which is necessary to breakdown the proteins and is regulated by how much food ends up in the stomach; but they contribute to the workers available
do all the work and also unlock the vitamins, minerals and amino acids to do their part in the digestive process also.
I strongly suggest having at least one meal containing raw food each day like a salad, slaw, crudite fruit...... to continue to replenish the reserves of your digestive enzymes and make the work in the stomach for that meal much easier. You will find a tangible sense of relief in digestion as you add these to your daily meals and the resulting sense of enjoyment in eating a meal. There are many good brands and we will be glad to suggest some for your location if you want to give our office a call.