At Solluna, we believe in the importance of enzymes for gut health, for building immunity, and for overall wellness. Enzymes affect your body’s health, influence your energy levels, and help break down your food. You can take enzymes to maximize health, vitality, and beauty — we’ll show you the exact steps to take.
We also want to clear up some myths floating around regarding so-called “immune reactions” when eating cooked foods that lack enzymes. But first, let’s begin with the basics.
A Basic Definition of Enzymes
Enzymes are proteins that serve as catalysts or the “spark” to quickly bring about specific chemical reactions in your body’s cells. The easiest way to understand enzymes is to see them as “worker bees” in your body’s cells, creating chemical reactions that allow them to break down existing materials or create new ones. This is why enzymes and food are synonymous with achieving optimal gut health.
Pineapple is a wonderful source of digestive enzymes and is one of nature’s most enzyme-rich foods (and one of Solluna’s top 50 Beauty Foods). It has an abundance of bromelain, which is a powerful digestive aid, and is loaded with Vitamin C, which has an endless list of health benefits, including the growth and development of bodily tissues, improving the immune system, and even stimulating collagen production for beautiful skin. In the next article, we’ll dive deep into the connection between enzymes and beauty.
The therapeutic role of digestive enzymes was popularized by Dr. Edward Howell, author of a book called The Status of Food Enzymes in Digestion and Metabolism. He said, “Enzymes may be the key factor in preventing chronic disease and extending the human lifespan.”
Dr. Howell’s work influenced many other figures in the digestive health movement, including Dr. Anne Wigmore, one of the pioneers of the living foods movement. Dr. Wigmore was an amazing woman and a big proponent of dietary enzymes.
The Science of Enzymes, Simplified
There are more than 3,000 types of enzymes in the human body, playing key roles in more than 4,000 biochemical reactions.
In other words, nothing in your body happens without the action of enzymes!
Enzymes are important for proper digestion, metabolism, respiration, nutrient absorption and transportation, detoxification and purification, muscle building, hormone production, cellular rejuvenation, and so many other things related to your health and beauty.
Once an enzyme does its job, it is removed and must be replaced by new enzymes in order to keep your body humming along.
Your body gets enzymes from four main sources:
- Your body’s cells manufacture metabolic enzymes to help with every key bodily process. These do not come from food but are produced by your body in the presence of the right nutrition and health conditions.
- Your digestive organs produce digestive enzymes, which break down food into forms that nourish your body. Digestive enzymes include:
- Amylase, which allows you to digest carbohydrates in fruit, and break down starches found in vegetables and grains
- Lipase, which breaks down fats to be used as fuel
- Protease, which breaks down proteins into amino acids
- Cellulase, which digests fiber to help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels
- Surprisingly, the bacteria in your gut actually also produce enzymes as well! A study published in the journal Cell Reports shows that healthy gut bacteria produce an enzyme that sends signals to make even more enzymes, including enzymes to break down food. This is yet another reason why taking the right probiotic supplement can be so powerful — because a healthy gut can help you make more enzymes.
Enzymes and Beauty
The foods you eat contain food enzymes, but they are typically only “alive” and bio-available to you if the food is raw (heated below 118 degrees Fahrenheit). These enzymes can strengthen your immune system and work in conjunction with nutrients to repair cells and build health. This, however, doesn’t mean that everything you eat must be raw.
When you eat foods that do not contain enzymes, or overheated foods with inactive enzymes, your body, including salivary glands, digestive system, and pancreas must work harder to produce the enzymes it needs. Foods like cooking oils, which become trans fats, are completely devoid of enzymes, toxic and actually trigger an immune reaction, according to research summarized by Harvard. That’s a big reason why fried food should be avoided at all costs.
Does This Mean All Cooking Is Bad for You? No!
Dr. Joel Fuhrman states, “It is true that when food is baked at high temperatures—and especially when it is fried or barbecued…important nutrients are lost. A significant percent [of vitamins] can be lost with cooking, especially overcooking. Similarly, many [beneficial] plant enzymes…can be destroyed by overcooking.”
Dr. Fuhrman goes onto explain that the nutrient and enzyme loss that occurs during cooking is often exaggerated by raw food diet proponents and often overlooks the nutrients that are brought out by the cooking process. (Such as the additional lycopene in tomatoes you can bring out when you cook them.)
What’s more, cooking certain foods — including cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or Brussel sprouts — actually makes those foods easier for the body to digest. This can actually save you enzymes in the digestive process, versus attempting to eat and break them down in the raw form. Additionally, mushrooms have very tough cell walls that prevent our small intestines from absorbing their nutrients because they are highly indigestible when they’re not cooked. Mushrooms also contain small amounts of carcinogens that are destroyed during the cooking process.
This is also, to an extent, instinctive. Isn’t cooked broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or mushrooms often more appetizing than eating them raw? Just avoid deep frying or burned food and you’ll be fine.
Incorporating fermented foods into your diet is a great way to add more natural digestive enzymes to improve your gut health. In a later article, we’ll examine which foods to eat and what steps to take to maximize your body’s enzyme levels.
A Starter Kit for Digestive Wellness
Supplementing with digestive enzymes and probiotics will help you to fully digest the food you eat, allowing you to absorb more nutrients to help you not only feel better but look better too! People with minor sensitivities to certain foods and people with lactose intolerance can also benefit from taking a digestive enzyme supplement. That’s because your digestive system will be equipped to properly break down and digest proteins that are causing gas, bloating and discomfort
Improve your overall digestive health and start feeling even better with our Solluna Feel Good Digestive Starter Kit. It includes:
- Feel Good SBO+ Probiotics
- Feel Good Detoxy 2.0
- Feel Good Digestive Enzymes
This article was updated from its original, published on 09/04/2014