A precise intake of nutrition is one of the critical signs of maintaining a healthy body. However, many of us overlook the actual cause that leads to several nutritional disorders. We all quite mistakenly assume that digestion is a mechanical action; inadequate nutrition or any related complications can be corrected by co-relating or amalgamating the right nutritional supplement. For instance, vitamin A for viruses, vitamin C for colds, and herbal laxatives for constipation. These treatments temporarily relieve the patient’s symptoms but do not treat the underlying cause. Thus, effective management of health problems related to nutritional imbalances requires a thorough analysis of the patient’s gut health and its ability to digest food, as overwhelming evidence has been found, signifying the vital role of food enzymes in digestion.
Enzyme – An Outline
Enzymes are long biological molecules (typically proteins) made from various amino acids in cells. They are employed as a catalyst to accelerate all the virtual chemical reactions taking place within the body, but does not get wasted in the process and so can be used more than one time. Few enzymes help in breaking complex molecules into fragments that are easy to absorb by the body, while some others help in binding two molecules to build a new unit. In many ways, enzymes are highly selective catalysts, which means that each has its specified function for a particular reaction. This catalytic capability is what makes enzymes unique.
Almost all the chemical reactions, which occur within living organisms, require enzymes, which otherwise happen very slowly, or in some cases, not at all. These proteins not only work efficiently and rapidly, but also are biodegradable. Anselme Payen found the first enzyme in 1833.
Importance of Enzymes
Enzymes are vital for all metabolic process, but are not living organisms. They are natural protein molecules with a unique ability to catalyze specified biochemical reactions without undergoing change themselves. They are essential for a human body as it serves a range of critical functions, such as assisting in metabolism and digestion.
Enzymes exist in every living animal or plant cells. Life can’t thrive without it because they are the primary motivators of every biochemical process in the body. For instance, they are the only molecules that assist in digesting food by breaking into small pieces to get through the gastrointestinal mucosa into the bloodstream. Every organ carries its own set of enzymes, which vary in different individuals, based on their lifestyle and genetics. Research has identified more than 3000 different enzymes in the human body.
A Trifecta of Enzymes
The kinds of human enzymes are categorized into three major classes, which comprises of digestive, food, and metabolic enzymes.
- Metabolic enzymes in a human body help in the process of energy production, repair the damages in the cell structure, synthesis, and replicating genetic material.
- Digestive enzymes are discharged across the gastrointestinal tract to help in breaking down the macronutrients like fats, protein, carbohydrates, present in a regular diet, and support the nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream. A human body produces about 24 different digestive enzymes, depending on the food consumed.
- Food enzymes are found in raw food, when present in the diet helps in the process of digestion.
Food Enzymes – The concept
Food enzymes in a body can be introduced through raw food consumption and supplemental enzyme products. They are vitally helpful in pre-digesting the food and helps in absorbing the nutrients. They consist of digestive enzymes and also enzymes that are distinctive to a specific food. Besides, Food enzymes from particular food cannot be deposited for later use in the body. Every enzyme has its specified function with no crossover – each will only stimulate reaction among its designated food type.
Enzyme-Friendly Specific Foods
Research on food enzymes has revealed the significance of including raw foods in the diet. These food enzymes boost the digestion process and decrease the body’s requirement to generate digestive enzymes.
Pineapples – It contains a proteolytic enzyme, known as bromelain. It helps in dissolving antigens responsible for inflammation and allergies. Protease enzymes tend to benefit from intolerances to animal protein and food allergies.
Papayas – This fruit is packed with protease (proteolytic enzyme) known as papain. It is beneficial in alleviating pain and inflammation. Many people eat papaya when suffering from digestion problems, as it is known as digestant.
Apples – It consists of several enzymes, which include beta-galactosidase, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catechol oxidase, peroxidase, ascorbates oxidase, polygalacturonase, pectin methylesterase, pectase, and polyphenol oxidase.
Avocado – The enthusiasts of this superfood will be happy to know that it is an excellent source for a variety of enzymes, particularly lipase, which is responsible for breaking down the dietary fat in the body. Avocados are also a fantastic addition to the ketogenic diets menu due to their high-fat macro-nutrient composition. Lipase enzyme is naturally designed to help in the digestion of such high-fat fruits to yield additional nutritional benefits.
Bananas – This fruit is an excellent resource of potassium, also amylase and maltase enzymes. Amylase assists in breaking down carbohydrates. Maltase breaks down the malt sugars in the body.
Garlic – It is a powerful antimicrobial agent that encourages antioxidant activity, including Allicin, a sulfur compound, which is released when the garlic is chopped, minced, diced or pressed. The composite combines to build new phytonutrients, which boasts a variety of health benefits of raw garlic.
Apricots – It includes Polyphenol Oxidase, Invertase, Amylase, and other enzymes.
Broccoli – The vegetable releases a number of enzymes, such as Casein, Amylase, SOD, and Kinase.
Green beans – It contains Lipoxygenase, Amylase, SOD, and Peroxidase.
Cherries – The fruit is power-packed with Polyphenol Oxidase and Beta Glycosidase.
Cabbage – It contains enzymes like Cyclase, Allene Oxidase, Amylase, and others.
Health Benefits of Food Enzyme
Titgemeier once stated, “you may feel more energetic since you have utilized your food properly.” Sluggish digestion drains the energy from the body, which could be used for metabolic functions. Food enzymes help in converting carbs into glucose, which is the prime sugar molecule used by the body for energy.
Research on lipase enzyme, breaking down fat, is particularly beneficial to influence the weight. Scientists in 2012 were able to boost the effect of lipase three times by controlling a molecular “switch” that could turn the enzyme on and off. Generally, catalysts are employed in weight loss management to help in speeding up the digestion and support metabolism.
A variety of food enzymes help in reducing bloating, belching, gas, heartburn, and food allergies. They promote the pH balance in the body and strengthen the immune system. Studies have also found that they contribute to relieving muscle stiffness and inflammation. Some of the other known benefits of the food enzymes to a human body include protection from degenerative diseases, helps to boost energy, vitality and physical stamina, promotes efficiency to the cardiovascular system and slow down the aging process.
Enzymes can be taken in a supplement form to improve health and are also available in the form of injectable to treat heart disorders and even in the topical form used for skin problems such as burns. A concept of ‘enzyme therapy’ can also be inculcated to a plan of dietary supplements that facilitate digestion and boost the body’s ability to maintain a steady metabolism. Thus, the critical benefits of food enzymes on the overall health of a human body emphasis its significance and need in our daily diet. However, going overboard with raw can also trigger a set of digestion challenges. Thus, combinations of cooked and raw food, along with probiotics, are the constituent elements for a robust digestive process.