Digestive enzymes are one of the best natural secrets to complete nutrition – naturally occurring chemicals that are vitally important for the digestion of proteins, fats, carbs, and toxins in your diet. Digestive enzymes are some of the most popular nutritional supplements. They may be helpful for diabetics, allergy sufferers, and those looking for a natural and healthy way to improve their metabolism or lose weight. Enzymes are also an essential aspect of the raw food movement.
What is an Enzyme?
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions – that is, they make reactions happen or make them more accessible and faster than they would have been without an enzyme.
Enzymes are the key that makes the digestive process happen. Without enzymes, our bodies would be unable to break down food to make use of the nutrition in the food we eat.
Enzymes and Digestion
Enzymes are found in most living materials, including food, raw fruits, vegetables, and plants. But enzyme structures change shape at high temperatures, so most cooked foods have very little or no active, functional enzymes.
Flesh proteins, particularly red meat, are difficult to digest without a digestive enzyme supplement or plenty of raw, live food eaten as a salad or in the same meal.
Digestive system problems from gas to heartburn and acid reflux often result from a shortage of the right enzymes. After a lifetime (or less) of eating cooked and processed foods, the body becomes what many health practitioners consider “bankrupt” in enzymes – making an enzyme supplement an absolute necessity.
Food Sources of Digestive Enzymes
There’s a reason raw food diets are so popular – it’s because a diet rich in raw, living foods and enzymes is fantastic for energy levels, stamina, weight loss, beautiful skin, and good health!
Some of the best dietary sources of enzymes are:
- raw nuts and seeds
- raw fruits and veggies
- vegetable juice
Eating foods high in raw enzymes at the beginning of a meal or before enjoying heavier cooked foods is best.
Enzymes for Special Needs: Diabetes, Allergies, Pain Relief
Enzymes are one of the key components in some alternative treatments for diabetes, allergies, and pain relief.
- People with diabetes can benefit from a supplement containing amylase. This enzyme plays a role in carbohydrate (starch and sugar) digestion, in addition to watching their sugar consumption and consuming as many raw vegetables and fresh veggie juices as possible.
- Allergy symptoms often improve when sufferers take a combined enzyme supplement, which may help break down toxins triggering allergic reactions.
- People experiencing chronic pain and inflammation, such as arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome, may find some relief with an enzyme supplement designed to help the body detox and cleanse old toxins from the system.
Enzymes and Weight Loss
Enzymes have also been a valuable part of weight loss programs. In tandem with exercise and good nutrition, they help remove wastes in the diet and those stored in the body, break down fat cells, and speed healthy weight loss. Enzymes are part of most cleanses and cleansing protocols.