Enzymes are fairly large molecules that are absolutely essential for life—if they were all removed from your body it would stop working and die! Their amino acid chains resemble a string of pearls wound together like a ball of yarn. Most of the 1000 known enzymes consist of a protein portion (apoenzyme) and a nonprotein portion (cofactor). The cofactor may be an ion such as iron, magnesium, zinc, or calcium. The cofactor may also be an organic molecule called a coenzyme (coenzymes often are vitamin derivatives).
Enzymes are highly specific, too. Each enzyme affects only specific molecules or substrates and they have a relatively short life span. Some live for only 20 minutes; others for several weeks. Enzymes known as proteases act on proteins; amylases act on starches and sugars found in carbohydrates; lipases act on fats, and cellulases act on plant fibers. Some conditions have been linked to a shortage or deficiency of specific enzymes. For example, cystic fibrosis (trypsin and lipase) and dairy-product intolerance (lactase).
Approximately 25% of the enzymes you need can be produced within your body. These are often referred to as endogenous enzymes.
Examples include: Trypsin (pancreas), Salivary Amylase (salivary glands), Pepsin (stomach), Lactase (small intestines)
About 75% of the enzymes you need to be obtained from outside sources. These can be referred to as exogenous sources and may include the raw food you eat and food supplements you ingest (e.g., green super foods, EnerPrime™).
Examples include: Papain (papaya), Bromelain (pineapple), Rutin (a flavonoid found in several plants)
Purpose of Enzymes
Enzymes are designed to help the body in many different ways. Here are a few examples.
- Act as catalysts. They speed up chemical reactions from 100 million to 10 billion times faster. Most of our biochemical reactions would take hundreds of years to complete without the help of enzymes (normal body temperature and pressure are too low for chemical reactions to occur at a rate rapid enough to maintain life).
- Regulate metabolism. The lower the level of enzymes within the body, the lower one’s energy level tends to be. Metabolic enzymes are needed for regeneration of cells and productivity of all organs and tissues. Digestive enzymes are necessary for the digestion of food and the delivery of nutrients to the body.
- Strengthen immune system function. This can occur in variety of ways:
- Reduce hypersensitivity in conditions such as allergies, hives, and autoimmune diseases
- Fight viruses, bacteria, and carcinogens (100-10,000 abnormal cells in the body). Supplementation can increase activity of macrophages by 700% and killer cells by 1300% in a relatively short period of time
- Destroy immune complexes (antibodies attached to antigens) that can float around in the body until they find a place to anchor themselves and become pathogenic (disease-producing)
- Increase the effectiveness of antibiotics. Selected enzymes (e.g., bromelain) appear to enhance the assimilation of antibiotics such as Penicillin and Tetracycline by the body.
- Ease joint and muscle aches. The enzymes can fight against the microorganism that may have caused the disease / infection, clear the resulting toxins and impurities from the damaged area, and repair the damaged site. Chronic inflammation can result from or be exacerbated by a shortage of needed enzymes.
Factors that can reduce the level of enzymes in your body include:
- Eating junk food
- Consuming alcohol/drugs (both legal and illegal)
- Aging (70-yr old has ½ the enzymes of a 20-yr old)
- A fast-paced stressful lifestyle
- Fevers of 104°F or higher
Factors that can reduce the level of enzymes in your food:
- Depleted soil or poor growing conditions
- Long transit periods and/or long storage periods
- Cooking and heating foods at temperatures >129°F
- Canning, pasteurization, steaming
- Processing chemicals, techniques and/or chemical pollution
NOTE: EnerPrime™ is a good source of enzymes because it contains green superfoods such as Hawaiian Spirulina, Green Kamut, and Green Barley Grass (superfoods contain 1/3 of all known enzymes)
©Arlene R. Taylor PhD, Realizations Inc