alive logo

Enzymes: The Secret of Life?


Of all the major elements of nutrition, enzymes are the least understood, the least written about and provide the most underestimated contribution to life and healt.

Of all the major elements of nutrition, enzymes are the least understood, the least written about and provide the most underestimated contribution to life and health. There are few sources in medical science or nutritional health that offer an in-depth understanding to even begin to thoroughly answer the seemingly simple question of, "what is an enzyme?" But once we review what is known about enzymes, you may want to ask: are enzymes the very secret to life itself?

Every breath you take, every move you make, every thought you think and every action you take requires enzymes. They are the workforce of the body. No vitamin, mineral, protein or hormone can do work without enzymes.

Enzymes are what make all the other pieces work. Enzymes are not tangible, physical substances. They are the life-force that activate vitamins, minerals, protein and other physical components in our body. Enzymes are the key to understanding the difference between life and death, and between sickness and health.

Enigmatic Enzymes

Enzymes have been studied since the early 1900s, but even today this is a field of research still in its infancy. In 1930, only about 80 enzymes were known to exist. Today, there are thousands known, and many reactions have been identified for which the enzymes responsible are not yet known. Every year, more new enzymes are discovered. But even with all its technology, modern science is no closer than it was 60 years ago to knowing what makes an enzyme work. We can only discover it and give it a name.

Enzymes are still thought of by many to be catalysts. But catalysts work by chemical action only. Enzymes function not only on a chemical level but on a biological level also. The chemical part of the enzyme can be synthesized by chemists, but the biological part cannot be.

The best explanation of enzymes I have found are the words of Humbart Santillo in his book Food Enzymes: The Missing Link To Radiant Health. "It has always been felt that enzymes are protein molecules. This is incorrect. Let me clarify this by giving you an example: a light bulb can only light up when you put an electric current through it. It is animated by electricity. The current is the life-force of the bulb. Without electricity we could have no light, just a light bulb, a physical object without light. So, we can say that the light bulb actually has a dual nature: a physical structure, and a non-physical electrical force that expresses and manifests through the bulb. The same situation exists when trying to describe what an enzyme is within our body structure. A protein molecule is a carrier of the enzyme activity, much like the light bulb is the carrier for an electrical current."

The reason you don't hear much about enzymes from those in the medical establishment is there is nothing solid for them to put their hands on. It is very hard to explain and impossible to duplicate enzyme processes. Scientists who fail to recognize the action of enzymes in our bodies also fail to realize the action of enzymes in food and how they fit into the nutritional picture.

There are three different kinds of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, to keep our bodies functioning properly; digestive enzymes, to digest food; and food enzymes found in raw (live) food. Food enzymes are only found in raw food, which is food that has not been cooked or heated. According to the research of Dr Edward Howell, who was a pioneer in the research of enzymes, when enzymes are heated to a temperature of 48o C (118o F) they are destroyed in a half-hour. You can imagine what cooking temperatures, which start at the boiling point of water 100o C (212o F) do to an enzyme! At the temperature of 54o C (130o F) enzymes are destroyed within seconds.

Enzyme Potential Explained

Since our bodies make digestive enzymes to break down food, do we need to have enzymes in our food?

Absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, yes, yes, yes!

Our bodies have "enzyme potential." This means that there are only a certain amount of enzymes that our bodies can produce. If we depend on these enzymes alone, they will be used up, just like an inherited bank account that is spent, but not added to.

Our bodies constantly build and replace living cells at an unbelievable rate; some estimate hundreds of millions of cells a minute. Within a one-year period, almost every cell will have been replaced. So, since we have new bodies every year, there is nothing to worry about, right? Wrong! We have new bodies, but whether they are better or not is up to us and how we use our enzyme potential. We can spend this potential making metabolic enzymes to rebuild healthy new cells or we can deplete it trying to digest enzyme-deficient food (in which case, the dead food we eat would ultimately rob us of energy rather than give energy).

Every part of the body has its own metabolic enzymes to do its work. There are 98 different enzymes in the blood alone. Since metabolic enzymes do the work of repairing body organs and fighting disease, we must make sure nothing interferes with the production of metabolic enzymes. This is why eating raw food is essential for building a healthy body. If the food we eat contains enzymes, then the body doesn't have to waste its enzyme potential. Our bodies were designed to receive food with enzymes, which means food in its raw form.

Conservation Plan

When we eat raw, enzyme-rich food, most of the work of breaking the food down is done for us. If we eat cooked food, devoid of enzymes, our bodies must do all the work. This puts a big strain on the pancreas and digestive system and it is a very inefficient process. It is such a burden that the immune system is called in to help. This is why the white blood cells of our bodies multiply when we eat cooked food: they are used to transport digestive enzymes to digest this enzyme-deficient food we have eaten. The main three enzymes that are a normal part of our white blood cells are protease, amylase and lipase. These are the enzymes to digest protein, carbohydrate and fat, which make up the biggest percentage of food. The white blood cells go to the digestive tract to aid the digestive process. You weaken your immune system when you eat large amounts of cooked food. In fact, some of this enzyme-deficient food does not get assimilated, which leaves fat and cholesterol clogging our arteries, while undigested protein and carbohydrates cause allergies and countless other problems.

Cooked Food Culprits

The digestive enzymes produced in our bodies do as good a job as they can in breaking down food, but if we eat too much enzyme-deficient food, we can't handle it all. The waste products that result produce a burden for our bodies to clean up. Our enzyme "bank account" has to pay the price for the extra work. When we have to produce digestive enzymes, we diminish the body's capability to make the metabolic enzymes needed for rebuilding and detoxification. When the metabolic enzyme level is low enough that the metabolism suffers, we die. The good part is that if we notice the problem in time, we can reverse this process.

Raw fruits and vegetables make superior quality cells, leave no harmful waste products and result in exceptional health and long life. We can also use high quality enzyme supplements with cooked food.

The primary cause of disease is an excess of enzyme-deficient cooked food, which drains our enzyme potential and leaves excess waste in the body. The solution is to eliminate as much cooked food as possible without causing undue stress. Then we can give our bodies some easily assimilated, enzyme-rich, cell-building, raw food. Raw fruits and vegetables, especially the juices of vegetables and greens, are the best means of achieving this goal.

Source: Excerpted with permission from the Hallelujah Acres newsletter.



Come Alive
10 Quick and Healthy Plant-Based Lunch Recipes

10 Quick and Healthy Plant-Based Lunch Recipes

Make your mid-day meal veggie forward and filling

Michelle von Hahn

Michelle von Hahn