Originally published December 19 2007
The Healing Power of Enzymes for Treating Disease
by Charmaine D. Mercado
(NaturalNews) Enzymes may not share the superstar status of certain vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, and other miracle nutrients in the world of conventional health and nutrition, yet a growing number of studies suggest that enzymes very much deserve a standing ovation when it comes to improving overall health and the successful treatment of numerous diseases.
Enzymes perform an all-encompassing function in the development and maintenance of the human body. Dr. Edward Howell, father of enzyme nutrition and therapy, stated that enzymes are the very substances that make life possible. Yet mainstream medicine has frequently ignored this basic fact, undervaluing the enzymes' vital role in health and underestimating their true potential in overall health, including disease management and prevention. Proponents and advocates of enzyme therapy regard enzyme bankruptcy as a lethal health catastrophe, causing countless bodies to shut down prematurely.
Know Your Enzymes
Bodies of research have identified more than 3,000 types of enzymes in the human body. As organic catalysts, enzymes are known to initiate, speed up, slow down, alter or halt about 4,000 kinds of biochemical reactions. Millions of biochemical reactions take place in our body on a daily basis, including respiration, food digestion, assimilation and transportation of nutrients, detoxification of certain organs, blood purification, movement of muscles, production and regulation of hormones, and cell renewal and repair, to name a few. The enzymes make all these processes possible, and they are destroyed once they complete their respective tasks.
There are three types of enzymes: digestive, metabolic, and food enzymes. Digestive enzymes are produced by the digestive organs that aid in breaking down food into more assimilable forms. The four general classes of digestive enzymes are: amylase, which digests carbohydrates, starches, and sugars found in grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables; protease, which breaks down protein found in meat, nuts, and cheese into amino-acids; lipase, which breaks down fats and oils found in dairy and meat products into fatty acids; and cellulase, which helps digest fiber.
Metabolic enzymes on the other hand are manufactured by the body's own cells to perform highly specific tasks required in regulating the blood, tissues, and organs. They are responsible for the production and growth of new cells, the repair and maintenance of tissues and organs, transportation of blood to the different organs, and detoxification of the cells, tissues, organs, and blood. Metabolic enzymes also carry out the delivery and absorption of nutrients in various organs.
The third kind of enzymes is the food enzymes. These enzymes are the vital life force naturally found in raw, uncooked food. By definition, raw food is food heated below 118 degrees F, the highest temperature in which enzymes can still survive and function. There are a lot of well-documented cases that attest to the wonderful benefits and healing power of raw food. The enzymes present in raw food work synergistically with the other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and co-enzymes, allowing your digestive system to take its much needed rest and giving your immune system the necessary boost to successfully carry out its search and destroy missions.
The Enzyme and Disease Connection
The problem arises when the body becomes overburdened in producing enzymes due too poor dietary choices like eating cooked, highly processed and preservative-laden foods. According to research, food enzymes are heat-sensitive and die when heated at temperatures above 118 degrees F. When a person ingests enzyme-less food, his body then diverts a lot of its energy to the production of digestive enzymes to break down the carbohydrates, protein, fat, and other nutrients of the food. If a person has been eating cooked, unhealthy food most of his life, his body's line of defense may already be exhausted in its fight against diseases associated with diets high in sugar, sodium, additives, trans and saturated fat, and carcinogenic substances.
This is further compounded by a person's genetic predisposition to certain diseases. The body then struggles more to achieve homeostasis or internal equilibrium, which is needed for all the organ systems to run smoothly and to function properly. Because a lot of energy gets allotted to the manufacturing of digestive enzymes, the production of metabolic enzymes becomes disrupted. The more important tasks of providing immune system back-up, blood purification, and organ detox needed in fighting off disease all take a backseat to the digestion of cooked food. Nevertheless the body does not stop recognizing an unfriendly invasion when it sees one, and in a greatly strained attempt to set all things back to order, it goes on a red-alert mode and uses all its limited energy to follow its natural tendency--which is to heal itself. The body is not meant to be in a state of emergency for a prolonged period of time. When this happens, the body finally breaks down and serious diseases like cancer develop.
Other diseases linked to enzyme deficiency include heart disease, which is a sign of the body's inability to break down fats. Autoimmune diseases such as allergies and arthritis on the other hand are the results of the body's incapacity to digest protein and carbohydrates.
The Enzyme Advantage
Studies indicate that increasing your raw food intake and taking enzyme supplements can be very potent measures in the prevention and healing of certain diseases including cancer. Although raw food already has its own enzymes to digest its own nutrients, the undigested substances circulating in the blood that are responsible for a lot of diseases would need extra enzymes before they could be broken down for elimination. This is where enzyme support comes in handy. The high concentration of enzymes in enzyme supplements can dissolve all the unfriendly substances floating in the bloodstream that are causing damage to various organs. Since bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells are made up of protein, proteolytic or protein-metabolizing enzymes such as protease would greatly assist in destroying pathogens and cancer cells. White blood cells are also heavily dependent on enzymes; a shortage on their supply would therefore result in impaired immune function. It is for these reasons that a mega-dose of enzyme supplements is usually required to restore health to cancer patients.
Various experiments conducted on enzymes demonstrate their versatility and efficacy. Combined with a proper diet and other nutritional supplements, enzymes can perform tasks that are nothing short of miraculous. The use of enzymes among athletes suffering from injury and patients who underwent surgery accelerated the recovery and healing of both groups. In one study, a marked improvement was noted among arthritic patients consuming raw food. In another study, a control group of hypertensive and obese outpatients experienced a significant improvement in their conditions on a raw vegan diet. Enzymes have also been shown to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy among cancer patients. Countless allergy sufferers reported relief upon increasing their enzyme intake. Other reported benefits include the elimination of digestive and colon problems, hay fever, asthma, inflammation, hypoglycemia, and Crohn's disease.
With all the positive reports that enzymes are receiving, it is only high time that enzymes get the big publicity they so much deserve, and cease to be the underrated nutrients that they currently are.
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About the authorCharmaine D. Mercado is a freelance writer who is passionate about natural health, nutrition and well-being.
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