Heard about enzymes but don’t know exactly what they are or what they do for your body? Keep reading to learn more about these proteins and why they are a health miracle.
In this article:
- What Are Enzymes?
- Who Were the First to Use Enzymes for Non-Human Body Processes?
- What Are the Different Types of Enzymes?
- Why Are Enzymes Important?
- How Do Enzymes Benefit People Who Workout?
- Where Can You Get Enzymes Naturally?
- What Are Other Facts You Should Know About Enzymes?
Why Are Enzymes Important for the Body
What Are Enzymes?
Without enzymes, plants, humans, and animals can’t exist. They are necessary for most cellular functions and biological processes, including optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
Enzymes are small proteins composed of amino acids. The body secretes them to catalyze functions that are normally not possible at body temperature.
In fact, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics and chemistry stated that one biological reaction essential to life takes 2.3 billion years without the enzyme that catalyzes it in milliseconds!
We have identified over 3,000 different enzymes, but some believe there might actually be as many as 70,000 within our bodies. There is still much to discover. Each organ has its own set of enzymes; each with its own unique function.
Who Were the First to Use Enzymes for Non-Human Body Processes?
Enzymes have been used since the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians discovered fermentation and began brewing and producing cheese.
Gene technology and modern science have now made it possible for us to synthesize and capture enzymes in such a way that we can use them to benefit our health. Plus, they are gentle on the natural environment.
What Are the Different Types of Enzymes?
Enzymes fall into three main categories:
- Food enzymes
- Systemic enzymes
- Digestive enzymes
1. Food Enzymes
Food enzymes are present in raw food and help with joint health, arterial health, and immune system function. Eat more fruits and vegetables to automatically receive more food enzymes.
2. Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes aid in the digestive process. There are eight primary digestive enzymes that help break down different food groups:
- Protease for digesting protein
- Lipase for digesting fat
- Amylase for digesting carbs
- Cellulase for breaking down fiber
- Maltase for converting complex sugars into glucose
- Lactase for digesting lactose sugar in dairy products
- Sucrase for digesting a range of sugars
- Phytase for boosting overall digestion and producing B vitamins
We need all of these enzymes to break down the food we eat. In fact, our health greatly suffers due to malnutrition without them.
When Do You Need to Boost Your Digestive Enzymes?
A digestive enzyme also helps combat indigestion, bloating, abdominal discomfort, gas, and other problems. When these problems occur, you may be prescribed medications and antacids. However, the source of the problem may actually lie in enzyme insufficiency.
You can simply eat foods that naturally have digestive enzymes, such as mangoes, honey, bananas, and sauerkraut, to get rid of these digestive issues.
3. Systemic Enzymes
Systemic enzymes or systemic proteolytic enzymes help build and maintain overall health. They can help break down excess mucus, fibrin (scar tissue), toxins, allergens, and clotting factors. Some people use them as alternatives to NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, thanks to their anti-inflammatory effects.
Proteolytic systemic enzymes digest proteins and include the pancreatic proteases trypsin and chymotrypsin, papain, bromelain (found in pineapple), Serratia peptidase, or the silkworm enzyme, and fungal proteases.
What are proteases? This is a group of enzymes that helps the proteolysis process — the breakdown of molecules like protein into peptides and eventually, amino acids.
They have been shown to be useful in healing autoimmune conditions, where they are thought to aid the body in breaking down immune complexes formed between antibodies created by the immune system and the compounds they bind to (antigens).
Seaprose-S or protease-s is a proteolytic enzyme that has been shown to have powerful positive health benefits such as lowering inflammation and dissolving mucus. It is designed to be consumed between meals when it can best work in your entire bodily system.
Nattokinase is another proteolytic enzyme extracted and purified from a traditional Japanese food named natto. Natto is made from boiled or steamed soybeans fermented with beneficial bacteria, but nattokinase doesn’t contain soy. It has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure.
Why Are Enzymes Important?
Enzymes are important because they have been found to help with:
- Lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and other gastrointestinal conditions
- Cardiovascular diseases, like hypertension, stroke, and heart attacks
- Inflammatory venous disease
- Surgical wounds, post-partum
- Any illness that stems from a weakened immune system
They also play a key role in fighting infections and healing general wounds, regulating hormones, slowing the aging process, dissolving blood clots, and reducing inflammation.
Enzymes may also possibly:
- Help eliminate plaque from teeth
- Reduce the risk of and response to food and pollen allergies
- Aid in cleansing and detoxification
- Improve body alkalinity
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome
How Do Enzymes Benefit People Who Workout?
Recently, it has been discovered that enzymes are beneficial for people who are involved in fitness, weight loss programs, bodybuilding and weightlifting, and other sports and activities.
MassZymes, for example, creates enzyme products that have a range of benefits such as:
- Muscle growth
- Faster recovery after exercise
- Improved gastrointestinal wellness, including reduced bloating, gas, and constipation
- Better absorption of the protein you’re already consuming
- Pre-workout free energy levels
- Immune enhancement
- Increased mental clarity and focus
Where Can You Get Enzymes Naturally?
Humans used to get a lot more enzymes from their diet. Thanks to processing, shipping, refrigeration, and cooking, we often don’t receive enough enzymes to re-supply the digestive tract effectively.
You can eat foods that contain the most enzymes such as pineapple, papaya, avocados, bee pollen, milk kefir and yogurt, and fermented vegetables (such as kimchi).
What Are Other Facts You Should Know About Enzymes?
Other things you must know about these bodily proteins are as follows:
- Enzymes are used in the fabric industry to produce stone-washed jeans and other effects and are added to clothes detergents and bread to make it last longer, rise before baking, and get crispy in the oven.
- Cancer cells are protected by proteins, which can be broken down by enzymes.
- Enzymes can kill all types of invaders, from bacteria and viruses to molds and fungi, without touching delicate blood proteins.
- Enzymes can be lost through our sweat and body waste and decline during the natural aging process.
Enzymes indeed play an important role in bodily functions and provide many health benefits. All you need to do is eat foods rich in these natural proteins to accelerate their supply in the body for increased enzyme activity.
In fact, the benefits of taking enzymes are so many, you might have started to wonder why you’re not taking them!
What other health benefits of active enzymes can you share with us? Let us know in the comments section.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 27, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.