What Are Enzymes?
Enzymes are biologically active proteins found in all living cells. Metabolic enzymes catalyze and regulate every biochemical reaction that occurs within the human body, making them essential for cellular function and overall health. Digestive enzymes turn the food we eat into energy which may be utilized by the body for various biological processes. Our bodies naturally produce both digestive and metabolic enzymes, as they are needed.
Enzymes are protein chemicals, which carry a vital energy factor needed for every chemical action, and reaction that occurs in our body. There are approximately 1300 different enzymes found in the human cell.
These enzymes can combine with coenzymes to form nearly 100,000 various chemicals that enable us to see, hear, feel, move, digest food, and think. Every organ, every tissue, and all the 100 trillion cells in our body depend upon the reactions of metabolic enzymes and their energy factor. Nutrition cannot be explained without describing the part that enzymes play.
How are enzymes utilized in the body?
Metabolic Enzymes are an essential component for optimal cellular function and health. These descriptions are not without merit. They speed up the chemical reactions within the cells for detoxification and energy production. They enable us to see, hear, feel, move and think. Every organ, every tissue and all 100 trillion cells in our body depend upon the reaction of metabolic enzymes and their energy factor. Without these metabolic enzymes, cellular life would cease to exist.
Digestive Enzymes are secreted along the digestive tract to break food down into nutrients and waste. Most of the digestive enzymes are produced by the pancreas. The liver, gallbladder, small intestine, stomach and colon also play pivotal roles in the production of these enzymes. Digestive enzymes allow the nutrients found in the foods we consume to be absorbed into the blood stream and the waste to be discarded. Some human digestive enzymes include lipase, protease, amylase, ptyalin, pepsin and trypsin.
Food Enzymes are introduced to the body through the raw foods we eat and through consumption of supplemental enzyme products. Raw foods naturally contain enzymes, providing a source of digestive enzymes when ingested. However, raw food manifests only enough enzymes to digest that particular food. The cooking and processing of food destroys all of its enzymes.
Since most of the foods we eat are cooked or processed in some way and because the raw foods we do eat contain only enough enzymes to process that particular food, our bodies must produce the majority of the digestive enzymes we require, unless we use supplemental enzymes to aid in the digestive process. A variety of supplemental enzymes are available through different sources. It is important to understand the differences between the enzyme types and make sure you are using an enzyme product most beneficial for your particular needs.
Why take digestive enzyme supplements?
Nearly one in three people in the U.S. experience some kind of digestive problem.1,2 Though many suffer, few have to. The typical benefits of enzyme supplementation include reduced digestive distress, increased energy and improved regularity.*
Soothe Digestive Distress:* When undigested foods travel through the intestines they can irritate and potentially damage the sensitive intestinal wall. Over time, this irritation may reduce our digestive capacity and negatively influence the vital absorption process.
Increase Energy: According to Yuri Elkaim author of Eating for Energy, in most cases, up to 80% of our body’s vital energy is spent on digestion.3 By aiding the breakdown and absorption of foods, you can free up enormous amounts of energy, increasing physical vitality and enhancing energy levels. *
Promote Regularity: Promoting proper digestion may encourage a healthy intestinal environment, and help relieve occasional constipation and irregularity. *
“Common GI Problems: Volume 1.” The American College of Gastroenterology. The American College of Gastroenterology, n.d. Web. 30 Jul. 2010 http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/cgp/cgpvol1.asp.
U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Data Finders: Population Clocks. Retrieved October 28, 2010. www.census.gov ,
Elkaim, Yuri. “Health Benefits of Fasting.” Eating for Energy Blog. Yuri Elkaim, 22 Oct 2009. Web. 2 Aug 2010. http://eatingforenergy.ca/blog/177/health-benefits-of-fasting.
What types of Enzymes Supplements are available?
Vegetarian Enzymes are the most popular choice of supplemental enzymes. They are grown in a laboratory setting and extracted from certain types of fungus and probiotics. The enzymes harvested from aspergillus are called vegetarian, or fungal. Of all the choices, vegetarian enzymes are the most potent. This means they can break down more fat, protein and carbohydrates than any other source.
Vegetarian Enzymes consist of bromelain and papain. Bromelain is a proteolytic (breaks down protein) and milk-clotting enzyme derived from the pineapple stem. A concentrate of this enzyme has been known to promote a healthy inflammatory response, is used as a meat tenderizer and is used in the chill-proofing of beer.*
Like pepsin and papain, bromelain has an optimal temperature higher than normal body temperature. There is always greater heat at the sight of inflammation than any other part of the body. Bromelain is used in Repair, Repair Gold and Natto-K .
Papain is an enzyme derived from the latex of papaya. This enzyme becomes active in an environment of 6.0 – 8.0 pH and requires temperatures above normal human body temperature. Like bromelain, it too supports the body’s natural recovery from overexertion.*
Glandular/Animal: Chymotrypsin, pancreatin, pepsin and trypsin are enzymes from the pancreas, stomach and small intestine derived from animal glands and organs. These enzymes require an alkaline pH level of 8.0 to become active. Enzymedica products are 100% vegetarian, thus, enzymes derived from animals are not used in Enzymedica enzyme formulations.
What types of supplemental enzymes are sold in stores?Vegetarian enzymes are the most popular enzymes found in natural food supplements. The four most common are Protease, Lipase, Amylase and Cellulase. They represent about 80% of the market.
They are sourced from aspergillus and grown in a laboratory setting on plants such as soy and barley. They are called vegetarian, microbial and fungal. Of all the choices, vegetarian enzymes are the most active or potent. This means they contain the highest active units and can break down more fat, protein and carbohydrates in the broadest pH range than any other source.
Vegetarian enzymes are useful to develop and maintain a proper digestive system and to allow the body to produce more metabolic enzymes by reducing the need to produce digestive enzymes. They can also be used in varying formulas to treat certain ailments. The other types of enzymes mentioned next are better suited for specific treatment purposes rather than in enzyme maintenance programs.
Aspergillus enzymes have a strong record of safe use in the food industry and are considered food by the FDA. These enzymes can be taken with meals to aid in the digestion of all foods or between meals to feed and fortify the body as a whole. Vegetarian enzymes are not disposed of as if the body has no need for them, rather they exit only after there is no more activity left to do their work.
Since they are food which is natural to the body, and since they are the most potent, they are often preferred over other types. The following is a list of other types of enzymes commonly sold in most health food stores.
Pancreatin is a substance from the pancreas of the hog or ox containing enzymes. Pancreatin contains proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that break down protein), amylase, and lipase. This enzyme has been studied extensively for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Pancreatin has been used successfully in Germany for fortifying the pancreas in a molecular way. Since it is a glandular compound it provides the same type of support a thyroid complex provides an individual’s thyroid. Dr. Roy Dittinan suggests that pancreatic enzymes should not be taken during pregnancy or when using blood thinners.
Pepsin is a proteolytic enzyme usually prepared from the stomach of pigs and is the principle digestive component of gastric juice. It is usually given to those whose digestion of protein is impaired. However pepsin is only activated at a temperature higher than normal body temperature.
Bromelain is a group of proteolytic and milk clotting enzymes derived from the pineapple stem. A concentrate of this enzyme can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a meat tenderizer, and in the chill-proofing of beer. Like pepsin, bromelain is only activated at a temperature higher than normal body temperature.
Papain is a proteolytic enzyme derived from the latex of papaya. This enzyme becomes active in an environment of 6.0 – 8.0 pH and required temperatures above normal human body temperature. For this reason Papain and Bromelain are often used to reduce inflammation since the temperature at points of inflammation are always higher than the rest of the body.
Chymotrypsin is a proteolytic enzyme taken from the pancreas of ox and pigs. This enzyme requires a pH level of 8.0 to become active.
Trypsin is a proteolytic enzyme formed in the intestine and can be taken from the intestine or pancreas of an animal. Trypsin breaks down arginine or lysine and works only in an alkaline setting. Today, it is often coated so that it can make it to the 8.0 pH occurring in the small intestine. It is commonly used to fortify the pancreas and the small intestine.
What enzymes should I take for proper digestion?
Protease breaks down protein, amylase breaks down carbohydrate and starch, and lipase breaks down fat. These three enzymes break down the majority of the common food groups. Other enzymes include lactase (breaks down lactose-dairy), maltase & sucrase (break down food sugars), and cellulase (break down cellulose).
What side effects should I expect from the use of supplemental enzymes?
Enzymes typically have positive effects such as increased energy and relief from digestive complaints.* Few negative effects are reported. A very small percentage of people have reported upset stomach and soft stool (more frequent and softer bowel movements) when first beginning to take a high-potency digestive enzyme supplement. As with any adverse effect, discontinue use and consult a health care practitioner.
How quickly will I feel results with the use of enzyme Supplements?
Some individuals insist that the effects of digestive enzymes can be felt more quickly than other nutritional products. The typical experience allows for the consumer to make an educated decision on the continuing use of a particular product within just a few days to a few weeks because of the speed of results with enzymes.
Does raw food or juicing in our diet guarantee enough enzymes to meet our needs?
Raw food provides only enough enzymes to digest that particular food. There are no extra enzymes in raw food to digest cooked or processed food. Although a totally raw diet may appear to be the best solution, it is generally not practical, and in most cases, not medically advisable. Due to the risk of bacterial contamination, many foods should not be eaten raw, including meats, poultry, eggs and beans. Many people find the fiber content in large quantities of raw food difficult to digest.
Why is enzyme supplementation important?
Most people will choose cooked foods over raw foods. Gas ripened and irradiated foods have no enzyme activity because of this processing. Our body makes our metabolic enzymes from the complete amino acid food we ingest. We usually cook our animal products, robbing them of their enzymes.
As we age, our bodies ability to produce enzymes decreases. Nuts that are raw contain an enzyme inhibitor (as do most beans). Grains and flour are processed, robbing them of their enzymes. Enzyme supplements provided support for more complete digestion and nutrient absorption.
What about supplements such as C0Q10, blue green algae, green barley,vitamins and minerals?
CoQ10 is a coenzyme and was first isolated from a cow’s heart. A coenzyme is an organic molecule, usually containing phosphorus and some vitamins. A coenzyme and an apo-enzyme must unite in order to function. Vitamins and minerals are considered coenzymes. A coenzyme is dependent on another energy and an enzyme to work.
Blue Green Algae and chlorophyll products are wonderful foods that contain minerals, vitamins, and enzymes because they are a plant food. However, they do not have the digestive action of supplemental vegetarian enzymes and at best, their enzymes will only deliver the nutrients they contain. Hydrochloric acid, or HCL, is a normal constituent of gastric juice in human beings. Although administered to aid digestion, it is not an enzyme nor does it act as an enzyme.
How do enzymes work in our bodies?
When we eat raw foods, heat and moisture in the mouth activate the enzymes in the food. Once active, these enzymes digest food and make it small enough to pass through the villi (small pores of the intestines) and into the blood. The metabolic enzymes found in the blood then take the digested 45-known nutrients and build them into muscles, nerves, bones, blood, lungs, and various glands.
Every cell in the body depends on certain enzymes. A protein digestive enzyme will not digest a fat; a fat enzyme will not digest a starch (carbohydrate). Each enzyme has a specific function in the body; this is referred to enzyme specificity. Enzymes act upon chemicals and change them into other chemicals, but enzymes themselves remain unchanged. Simply stated, our chemicals are changed from their original identity by the enzyme to other chemicals with a different identity. Without enzymes nothing in our body would work.
How do I choose the correct enzyme supplement for my needs?
We consider a twofold approach. First begin with a digestive. Digestion is the foundation of health. The better we digest our foods, the more nutrients we have the possibility of assimilating safely and easily while improving the removal of waste. Second consider a therapeutic (enzyme taken on an empty stomach, usually between meals). To determine which formulas may be right for you, take our Enzyme Deficiency Test.
Is it possible to take too many enzymes?
Supplemental enzymes perform very specific activities (amylase breaks down carbohydrates, lipase breaks down fats, protease breaks down protein). Unlike certain vitamins, minerals and herbs, there is no upper limit (or threshold) to the amount of supplemental enzymes that can be consumed. The reason for this is that the body has an estimated 100 trillion cells. Any one of those cells could be using thousands of different enzymes every second. This allows for huge quantities to be used by the body without overdosing.
Do supplemental enzymes stop the body from producing its own enzymes? What about becoming dependent on enzymes?
Supplemental enzymes support normal body organ function without replacing its effective working ability. We like to compare it to a raw food diet that is rich in enzymes. No one suggests eating raw food would inhibit the body’s natural production of digestive enzymes. The fact is the body will continue to manufacture the enzymes needed to benefit from food; supplemental digestive enzymes simply aid the digestive process.
Are Enzyme Supplements safe to consume with prescription drugs (contraindicated)?
We believe our supplemental enzymes, as they are naturally occurring in nature, are among the safest nutritional supplements available. With a lack of conclusive scientific evidence, we recommend consulting a physician before combining or replacing prescription drugs with supplemental enzyme products.
Are these products safe for everyone?
Enzymedica has formulated products specifically for children ages 3 and up, and adults. Because of unique herbal blends, products like Acid Soothe may not be appropriate for the special nutritional considerations of new and expecting mothers. Until more research is completed, we recommend that pregnant or lactating mothers consult with their physician prior to using Acid Soothe, pH Basic, Natto K, Repair Gold, SerraGold, Enzyme Defense, and Enzyme Defense Extra Strength.
Why are Vegetarian Enzymes considered “The ideal” enzyme source?
Approximately 80% of the enzyme supplements sold in health food stores today are vegetarian. The other 20% is made up of glandular/animal-based (such as pancreatin, trypsin and chymotrypsin), and plant (bromelain and papain). It is important to understand that the assays used to measure activities of each of these ingredients are different.
Do not try to compare the active units (the measurement used to determine how much protein, fat or carbohydrates an enzyme can break down in a matter of minutes) of a plant or glandular enzyme with a vegetarian enzyme. Specific assays are designed to test for different sources of enzymes.
What should I look for when reading labels?
Avoid fillers such as magnesium stearate, apple pectin and rice starch. Looking at the label of a high quality enzyme product, you will find measurement units you may not be familiar with. With most supplements, we are used to comparing products based on weight. However, with enzymes we are interested in the activity and potency available. It is important to recognize that there is no direct relationship between weight and enzyme activity.
Typical units of measurement include testing methods established by the Food Chemical Codex (FCC). The FCC is published by the National Academy Press and is the accepted standard of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The system for determining enzyme potency used by the American food industry is derived from the FCC.
This is the only National Standard for evaluation of vegetarian enzymes. This system establishes activity levels and potency for enzymes. Where FCC testing methods do not apply, validated industry based assays are used for laboratory analysis.
Industry Standards for evaluation of plant & vegetarian enzymes
When comparing enzyme products make sure enzyme activities are measured using units such as these:
Alpha-Galactosidase – GALU (Galactosidase Units)
Amylase – DU (Dextrinizing Units)
Bromelain – GDU (Gelatin Digesting Units) or FCCPU
Catalase – Baker Units (Named after the Author)
Cellulase – CU (Cellulase Unit)
Glucoamylase – AGU (Amyloglucosidase Units)
Hemicellulase – HCU (Hemicellulase Units)
Invertase – INVU (Invertase Activity Unit) or SU (Sumner Units)
Lactase – ALU (Acid Lactase Unit)
Lipase – FCCFIP (Federation Internationale Pharmceutique)
Maltase – DP (Degrees of Diastatic Power)
Nattokinase – FU (Fibrinolytic Units)
Pectinase – Endo-PGU (Endo-Polygalacturonase units)
Phytase – FTU (Phytase Units)
Protease-HUT (Hemoglobin Unit on a L-Tyrosine basis)
Xylanase – XU (Xylanase Units)
Are Enzymedica’s products organic (or certified organic)?
Enzymedica takes great pride in producing safe and effective high quality supplemental enzyme products. Our enzymes come from organic sources that have not come into contact with any pesticides or preservatives however, they are not considered “certified organic.”
Are supplemental enzymes destroyed by stomach acid?
Vegetarian enzymes tolerate stomach acid well. Enzymedica’s Thera-blend™ vegetarian enzymes were formulated to perform in a wide pH range including acidic and alkaline environments.
Which Enzymedica products are best for occasional heartburn?
A general digestive enzyme (such as Digest Gold™) or Betaine HCl before the meal will give your body extra support for preventing occasional heartburn.
After the meal, Acid Soothe™ and Acid Soothe Chewable are great enzyme and botanical based formulas to soothe symptoms associated with acid reflux (occasional heartburn).*
Heartburn Relief™ is a breakthrough new alginate based formula developed in conjunction with the Roskamp institute. It forms a gel like “raft”, preserving stomach acid while naturally protecting our esophagus.* Heartburn Relief is also best taken after a meal.
I’m trying to body build and I was wondering if enzymes will help?
If muscle tissue enzymes were not working in the muscle tissue, there would be no muscular growth, not even the basic muscular activity to create growth. Enzymes are the catalysts that turn food into energy to make the muscles move and grow. Our formula has been specially formulated for individuals on high protein diets, wishing to better utilize necessary amino acids for muscle growth.
How do I use the pH strips?
One of the best ways to determine pH is to tear off 1 to 1.5 inch of paper and hold or dip in the the urine stream. Results are immediate once the strip is wet. Compare the strip to the closest color on the graph. Optimal pH is between 6.5 and 7.
My child is autistic, and encounters multiple food intolerances. What products would you recommend for their digestive issues?
First we recommend researching other parents similar results through the website www.enzymestuff.com and the book Enzymes for Autism by Karen DeFelice. Product recommendations begin with the “low and slow” dosing method. Digestive products such as Lacto or Digest Spectrum are to be taken with meals, while products found with the ‘red labeling’ such as Virastop and Candidase are suggested between meals. Slowly building up tolerance to enzymes, and increasing potency is recommended.
Can I take Candidase and a probiotic?
Yes. Probiotics manufacture enzymes for the body. Proteolytic enzymes (protease in Candidase) will only hydrolyze the 3 D’s (Dead, Damaged or Does not belong). Thus they will not interfere with colonization of probiotics.
Is GlutenEase for Celiac?
No. GlutenEase was designed for individuals with gluten intolerance. GlutenEase the product was never intended to “cure” celiac or any other known disease.
Can enzymes be used for healthy weight management?
Lipase is the enzyme that breaks down (digests) fat. When added to your meal as a supplement it is able to do this in the digestive tract. This takes stress off the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas. When taken between meals, they can be of great support systemically and in some cases stored in the liver for later use.
Many overweight people have metabolism imbalance or will soon create one.
The endocrine system is our metabolism. Once we are able to fortify the endocrine system, get the bowels working regularly, and digest our food rather than turning it into fat, we have a successful combination for healthy weight management. This process is not instantaneous, because we have to lose fat instead of weight. A person has to lose a great deal of fat to equal one pound of weight. It takes longer, but it is more healthy and lasts longer. Best of all, it does no harm.
What is the theory of “Enzyme Potential”?
Dr. Edward Howell began researching what he called the “Enzyme Potential” in the 1940’s. Since then there has been a great deal of support for this concept.
Most people require 3 to 10 days to break down, assimilate and excrete the waste of any given meal. Thus our body is in a constant state of digestion. To preserve our potential we need to reduce this amount. One of the easiest ways to do this is to limit the number of digestive enzymes that our body needs to break these meals down.
By making less digestive enzymes we will ultimately make more metabolic enzymes in our lifetime. Keep in mind it is these metabolic enzymes that are the catalysts to every biochemical reaction in our bodies. These are the energy of life.
We all make Digestive and Metabolic enzymes as needed, and it is a proven fact that as we age we make less with each passing year. This ability to make only a limited number of enzymes has been called our enzyme potential.
An individual’s potential is dependent on their DNA or what they inherit from their parents. Some people have a great potential. This is exhibited by the quality of their health despite their lifestyle choices. They can essentially eat whatever they want, drink whatever they want, rarely exercise, have high pressure jobs etc. Despite this, they live long, happy, healthy lives with little illness.
The first option is to eat more raw food. Within all raw foods there are food enzymes. These enzymes become digestive enzymes when we eat these foods. By eating foods that have not been cooked, processed, irradiated or heated above 118 degrees, we are extending our potential. (All of the above mentioned processes denature enzymes and the raw food does not have the same affect on the digestive system.)
The second choice is to reduce the number of calories we consume. Dr. Roy Walford from UCLA pioneered this concept. By eating less, we are ultimately preserving vital energy (making less digestive enzymes) and again, extending our potential.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are people that are essentially born sick. These people have to be careful about every aspect of their lives. To deviate will only bring grief. The difference between these two types of individuals is their enzyme potential. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two groups. We should be conscientious about the choices we make. If we fail to be, eventually it will catch up to us and we will pay for it with immune compromise, fatigue, brain-fog and sickness.
There are three ways to preserve this potential. They are all based on reducing the amount of energy that we spend on digestion. By some estimates, we spend up to 80% of all of the energy we have at our disposal digesting our food. This makes sense since The third choice is perhaps the most obvious. Take a high quality digestive enzyme supplement with every meal. The choice is yours!