What are enzymes & how do they help keep us healthy?
The body produces many enzymes naturally, but real food often comes with added enzymes to assist further with digestion. Although our body produces enzymes, food enzymes are also needed as we do not produce enough enzymes on our own. For example, lets consider the breakdown of an avocado. Our body produces an enzyme (called lipase), which helps in the breakdown of fats. Lipase is released as soon as our body begins digesting fatty foods like avocado. Lipase can also be found in fatty foods like avocado, which further assists us in the breakdown fats. Having enzymes present in food relieves the body of having to do all the work on it's own and helps us to reserve enzymes and energy.
Foods high in enzymes
- Raw vegetables & fruits
- Aged dairy products (raw dairy has more natural enzymes than pasteurized dairy although pasteurized does have some)
- Whole grains
- Cultured/fermented foods & drinks
- Nuts & seeds
- Sea vegetables
- Raw unprocessed honey
Are you getting enough enzymes?
For thousands of years humans have consumed foods high in enzymes, as they ate a diet filled with foods directly from nature. Our modern world, however, looks much different. Many foods today are made to last (be shelf stable) and are highly processed. This processing destroys the enzymes that we once got from our diet naturally. Enzymes are sensitive and are easily destroyed during heating and processing. Packaged and processed foods (foods that come from a box/package) are most often devoid of enzymes, as this helps them stay stable (last) on the shelf. Remember, from above, it is an enzymes job to breakdown food and that is exactly what it does. If your food does not spoil in a timely manner (as is the case with packaged & processed foods), chances are it is missing the necessary enzymes. Each time we eat we need these enzymes to be present to properly digest and absorb nutrients from that food.
The problem with a diet low in enzymes
Enzymes & Food Intolerance/Sensitivities
Gluten sensitivities and intolerance are also on the rise as well. Properly prepared whole grains, including whole wheat, contain enzymes necessary to assist with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. The problem arises when grain products are processed. Again, the over processing and improper preparation of grain products kill important enzymes making digestion of them difficult. Proper preparation of grains and bread require either soaking or souring (think real sourdoughs) to enhance enzyme activity, improving and easing digestion.
How To Get More Enzymes In Your Diet
Posted by Dr. Keri Linane, D.C., Chiropractor
Revive Chiropractic Studio
Montclair Village, Oakland