Enzymes play an important role in almost every biochemical activity going on in the body. They are needed for digesting food, stimulating the brain, providing the cellular energy, and repairing all tissues, organs, and cells. Life could not exist in the form we know it without enzymes. Each enzyme has its own specific function that no other enzyme can fulfill. Because of this, the body must produce a great number of different enzymes.
Enzymes are divided into two groups; digestive and metabolic enzymes.
Digestive enzymes break down food particles enabling the nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream. There are three main categories of digestive enzymes; amylase, protease, and lipase. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates, protease helps to digest protein, and lipase aids in fat digestion.
Metabolic enzymes catalyze various chemical reactions within the cells, such as energy production and detoxification. All of the organs, cells, and tissues are run by the metabolic enzymes. Two very important metabolic enzymes are superoxide dismutase (SOD), and its partner catalase. Superoxide dismutase is an antioxidant that protects cells by neutralizing a common free radical superoxide. Catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which is a metabolic waste product, and liberates oxygen for the body to use.
After digestive enzymes have broken down the food particles, they will be stored in the liver or in the muscles for later. Then other enzymes convert this stored energy for use by the body when necessary. Enzymes assist the kidneys, lungs, liver, colon, and skin removing the waste products and toxins. They also utilize the nutrients ingested to construct new muscle tissue, nerve cells, bone, skin, and glandular tissue. Proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be beneficial as inflammatory agents. Pancreatin is used to treat pancreatic insufficiency, cystic fibrosis, digestive problems, food allergies, digestive problems, autoimmune disorders, viral infections, and sport injuries. The functions of enzymes are too numerous and too diverse to list and name them all.
Enzymes are extremely sensitive to heat. To get adequate amount of enzymes from food, it is necessary to eat raw foods. Alternatively there are enzyme supplements available. Sprouts are the richest source of enzymes. Superoxide dismutase is found naturally in Brussels sprouts, cabbage, wheat grass, barley grass, and in most green plants.
Most of the enzyme supplements available are digestive enzymes. Synthetic production of enzymes has not been successful, so the supplements are made from animal enzymes. There are also supplements made of aspergillus, which is a type fungus. SOD and catalase are also available as supplements.
Enzyme supplements are in the form of capsules, tablets, powders, and liquids. Some enzyme products also contain garlic to aid in digestion. SOD supplements should be enteric coated. For the maximum benefit of the supplement it should contain all three major enzyme groups. Supplements should be taken after meals. You can make your own enzyme supplement by drying papaya seeds. Then put the dry seeds in a pepper grinder and grind in your food. It has a nice peppery taste.
Research has shown as we grow older our body’s ability to produce enzymes decreases. For the elderly, taking enzyme supplements seems to be vital.
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