Enzymes – The Spark of Life!
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Dr. Edward Howell, pioneer of Enzyme Therapy states “Enzymes are substances that make life possible. They are needed for every chemical reaction that takes place in the human body. Without enzymes, no activity at all would take place. Neither vitamins, minerals, or hormones can do any work without enzymes.”(1) “Enzymes are the body’s labor force to perform every single function required for our daily activities and are required to keep us alive. They are responsible for all of the functions of every organ system in our bodies. In addition to our immune and defense systems, we require enzymes not only to eat, digest and absorb nutrients, but also to see, hear, smell, taste, breathe and move.”(2)
(1) Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity by Dr. Edward Howell, Lotus Press, 1994, p.17
(2) ENZYMES-The Fountain of Life by D.A. Lopez, M.D., R.M. Williams, M.D., Ph.D, M. Miehlke, M.D., The Neville Press, 1994, p.1
“Enzymes are substances that make life possible. They are needed for every chemical reaction that takes place in the human body. No mineral, vitamin, or hormone can do any work without enzymes. Our bodies, all of our organs, tissues, and cells, are run by metabolic enzymes. They are the manual workers that build our body from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, just as construction workers build our homes. You may have all the raw materials with which to build, but without the workers (enzymes) you cannot even begin.”
Enzyme Nutrition – The Food Enzyme Concept by Dr. Edward Howell, M.D., Avery Publishing 1985.
Are There Many Types Of Enzymes?
There are three main types of enzymes:
- Metabolic Enzymes run our bodies. Metabolic Enzymes speed up the chemical reaction within the cells for detoxification and energy production. They enable us to see, hear, feel, move and think. Every organ, every tissue, and all 100 trillion cells in our body depend upon the reaction of metabolic enzymes and their energy factor. Metabolic enzymes are produced by every living cell.
- Digestive Enzymes break down our food for better absorption. Digestive Enzymes secreted along the digestive tract help break food down into nutrients and waste. This allows nutrients to be absorbed into the blood stream and the waste to be discarded. Human digestive enzymes include ptyalin, pepsin, trypsin, lipase, protease, and amylase. The body does not make cellulase, an enzyme necessary for proper digestion of fiber, so it must be introduced through the raw foods we eat.
- Food Enzymes occur naturally in food and also help in the breakdown of foods. Food Enzymes are introduced to the body through the raw foods we eat and through consumption of supplemental enzyme fortifiers. Raw foods naturally contain enzymes, providing a source of digestive enzymes when ingested. However, raw food manifests only enough enzymes to digest that particular food, not enough to have any support systemically. The cooking and processing of food destroys all of its enzymes. Since most of the foods we eat are cooked or processed in some way and since the raw foods we do eat contain only enough enzymes to process that particular food, our bodies must produce the majority of the digestive enzymes we require. For these reasons it is recommended that we supplement our diet with enzymes.
What Are Glandular And Pancreatic Enzymes?
The source of the enzyme influences its function and its efficacy in restoring gastrointestinal function and whole-body immunity. Vegetarian digestive enzymes are functional over a wide range of pH levels, making them ideal for aiding overall function throughout the digestive system. Unlike vegetarian enzymes, Animal-based enzymes are limited where they work in the digestive tract. They are unable to withstand the low pH in the stomach, therefore requiring an enteric coating if they are to pass through the stomach and remain active. Enteric coating is often made from ingredients such as waxes, shellac, and plastics. That coating also means the pancreatic enzymes are unavailable to support digestion until they reach the small intestines. Therefore, they are less efficient for aiding digestion in the stomach compared to plant-based digestive enzymes.*
Glandular enzymes, derived from animal products, include pancreatin, trypsin, and chymotrypsin, which support the organs and glands of the body responsible for secreting digestive enzymes may be beneficial for targeting particular digestive concerns. Specific animal-based enzymes such as pancreatin may aid in the relief of stress on the pancreas and the liver, but are poor digesters of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Pancreatin contains the proteases, amylases, and lipases that a normally functioning pancreas would have; therefore, this enzyme may be helpful for targeting an isolated concern in the pancreas. If the body needs digestive assistance in the breakdown of foods, glandular enzymes are not the answer. Pancreatic enzymes, such as pancreatin, are animal based often coming from the pancreatic or stomach enzymes in cows or pigs and work solely in the small intestine to digest carbohydrates and proteins. HEALTHY REFLECTIONS® DIGESTIVE ENZYMES are vegetarian plant based, pH stable, GMO-free, do not require an enteric coating and are blended formulas to ensure digestive support throughout the digestive system. Vegetarian Plant based enzyme supplements are the better choice for overall digestive support.*
What Are The Major Sources Of Plant-Based Enzymes?
There are three major sources of plant based enzymes:
Papain comes from papaya
Bromelain is derived from pineapple
Aspergillus is cultured on food materials
What Do Digestive Enzymes Specifically Do?
Enzymes are specific in what they digest and in what pH levels they work. Each enzyme requires a particular temperature in order to function optimally:
- Bromelain and papain digest proteins, but ignore carbohydrates and fats. They work best at about 120 degrees.
- Vegetarian enzymes from aspergillus have been shown to work optimally between 90 and 105 degrees, and in a pH range of 4 to 9 both in the small intestine and the stomach.
The vegetarian enzymes used in the formulations of the dietary supplements, HEALTHY REFLECTIONS ®, are all vegetarian, bacterial or fungal (i.e. aspergillus oryzae and niger) cultured on food materials to produce vegetarian enzymes. Before the fungal organism is used in fermentation, the specific strain is extensively screened to determine if the organism is capable of producing mycotoxins under the conditions of fermentation. Once fermentation is complete, the enzymes are extracted by a complex process that isolates protein compounds from the surrounding material or median. No living fungal cells remain in the isolated enzyme after the extraction process is complete except purified compounds, which do not contain any living Aspergillus cells and therefore cannot initiate infection or colonization.*
This is especially valuable for predigestion because they digest best in mild acid, while the pancreatic and salivary enzymes digest in neutral and alkaline media. Vegetarian enzymes, also known as fungal or microbial enzymes are the most effective digesters of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, allowing them to be more effective than the other two groups. These enzymes can be taken before meals or with meals to aid in the digestion of all foods, or they may also be taken following or between meals to meet needs beyond digestion. Vegetarian enzymes are not disposed of as if the body has no need for them. They exit only after there is no more activity left in them to do their work.* Since they are a component of food, which is natural to the body, and since they are proven to be catalysts, vegetarian enzymes are in a completely different arena from other enzyme supplements.*
Vegetarian enzymes used in HEALTHY REFLECTIONS® formulations are sourced from strictly plant or vegetarian sources. Active across a wide pH range of 1.8 to 9.0, they are of the highest viability enzymes available. There are no animal-derived enzymes in our products, which makes them useful for aiding digestion in the low pH of the stomach as well as the moderately high-pH environment of the intestine. Insufficient digestion in the mouth and stomach means the small intestine must work harder to break down and absorb food molecules. This imbalance may cause occasional digestive pressure and discomforts including bloating, gas, and constipation. Therefore, vegetarian enzymes can help relieve stress on the small intestine by improving digestion in the stomach.*
What Is The Primary Function Of Digestive Enzymes?
- Amylase: breaks down carbohydrates, starches and sugars found in grains, rice, potatoes, fruits,vegetables, beans, herbs, snack foods.
- Alpha Galactosidase: breaks down the polysaccharides and oligosaccharides (complex sugars) in foods such as legumes (beans and peanuts) and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, among others).
- Beta-glucanase: Helps in the breakdown of plant cell walls (cellulose) beta-linked glucose polymers often associated with fibers, grains and cereals, such as in barley, oats, and wheat and other products such as soybean meal and locust bean gum.
- Bromelain: a protein-digesting (proteolytic) enzyme complex found in the fruit and, in higher concentrations, in the stem of the pineapple; able to hydrolyze or break down a wide variety of protein types in a range of both acid and alkaline environments.
- Catalase: an antioxidant enzyme helps the body to convert hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.
- Cellulase: breaks down food fiber (cellulose) found in fruits and vegetables.
- Glucoamylase: breaks down off long chain carbohydrates or starches (corn, potatoes, wheat and rice) into sugar that will afterwards be used as fuel by the body.
- Hemicellulase: breaks down hemicellulose, which is a type of cellulose and a key component of the cell wall in all plants; has the ability to take non-cellulose polysaccharides (long chains of sugars) and convert them into usable constituents.
- Invertase: breaks down white and simple sugar (fructose and fruit sugar).
- Lactase: breaks down lactose, a simple sugar, found in milk sugars (milk products).
- Lipase: breaks down fats found in butter, cheese, meat, dietary fats and oils, vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Papain: derived from the fruit of the papaya plant, that catalyzes the breakdown of proteins by hydrolysis (addition of a water molecule).
- Pectinase: breaks down pectin, a polysaccharide found in plant cell walls. Found in many fruits and vegetables
- Peptidase:breaks down proteins into amino acids.
- Phytase:breaks down carbohydrates; helpful in the breakdown of phytic acids in the leaves of plants, grains, seeds.
- Protease:breaks down protein found in meats, fish, poultry, grains, nuts, gluten, milk proteins (caseins).
- Xylanase: breaks down plant nutrients from vegetables with a high fiber content (fibrous veggies, grains, and legumes).
Why Would I Have To Take Enzymes? Don’t I Make My Own? Will I Always Have To Take Enzymes?
If you ate a diet of raw foods as your only source of nutrition, you would get to keep most of them. However, eating cooked or processed foods uses up valuable enzymes in the digestive process. When one chooses to continue those dietary habits, along with the aging process, more enzymes are needed for the metabolic function of the body, the demand for enzymes then exceeds the supply available.*
Are Enzymes Addictive? Are Enzymes Destroyed InThe Stomach And Not Being Utilized? Do Enzymes Replace The Body’s Own Digestive Supply When Taking Digestive Enzymes?
Supplemental enzymes support normal body organ function and perform very specific activities (amylase breaks down carbohydrates, lipase breaks down fats, protease breaks down protein). This may relieve stress on the body, reducing the load of work, thus reducing the load of output or energy utilized by these organs.* Supplemental enzymes do not control organ function or organ production directly. If you discontinue supplementing, the body will continue to make whatever enzymes are necessary for digestive and metabolic purposes.*
Are Supplemental Enzymes destroyed in the stomach?
HEALTHY REFLECTIONS® plant-based digestive enzymes have a wide range of pH and are stable and active in the acid range and have been carefully selected to withstand the conditions of the GI tract.
How would decreased enzyme production affect my health?
A reduction in the secretions of enzymes needed to fully digest a typical meal consisting of protein, starches/sugars, and fats, could result in toxicity formed from rotting or fermentation of the undigested food. Undigested material finds its way into the bloodstream, where a predictable immune response to what the body perceives as invaders takes place. Frequent repetition of this immune response could contribute to a wide variety of health concerns.*
Can enzymes help in controlling weight?
If the nature of the challenge faced (overweight) or (underweight) is of a nutritional nature, and/or the inability to efficiently digest and assimilate food is a contributing factor, then enzymes may assist in regulating those factors, allowing for more effective weight management.*
Do I Digest All My Food?
No, enzymes are very specific as to the substance they act on, and so the enzymes that breaks down protein (Protease) will not act on fat which requires the enzyme (Lipase), nor on sugar, which requires (Amylase) or one of the other sugar digesting enzymes, such as (Lactase) for the milk sugar lactose. A good digestive enzyme product, such as HEALTHY REFLECTIONS ®, carries a broad spectrum of enzymes, capable of carrying out their function in a wide range of pH as that found in the gastrointestinal tract.*
Why Do We Need To Consider Supplemental Digestive Enzymes?
Most of our food is cooked and super cooked. Typically, the more food is processed, the more likely the food enzymes are destroyed. Many people don’t make enough enzymes for optimal digestion, especially as we get older. If sufficient enzymes are busy breaking down and utilizing foods and their nutrients, extra energy isn’t being diverted away from our immune system.
All biological reactions within human cells depend on enzymes – they are necessary to sustain life. The role of digestive enzymes is to break down food-derived fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into smaller substances that our bodies can use. Although the body produces its own enzymes, it may not be enough to completely break down cooked or processed foods. During cooking and processing, the natural enzymes in raw foods are denatured.
In addition, human bodies don’t produce the enzyme cellulase, which helps break down the cell wall of plants, releasing nutrients for our bodies to absorb. Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are likely missing out on key nutrients from plant-based foods they’re eating, and would most certainly benefit from an enzyme supplement.
Ultimately, supplements can help to optimize the digestive process, and the complete release and absorption of food nutrients can result in fewer digestive challenges.
Can Enzymes Benefit Me In Other Ways Besides Digestion?
Protein (Proteolytic) enzymes or Protease Enzymes have been designed to help support temporary relief of occasional minor aches, pains and muscle soreness, joint discomfort, or muscle cramps associated with overuse, excess exercise, or a rambunctious weekend overworking muscles that aren’t exercised during the week. Enzymes taken away from food can also assist in breaking down and removing toxins. Digestive enzymes are just as they imply. Taken with food broad-spectrum digestive formulas may also support digestive formulas for those with specific food intolerances. Support (or Therapeutic) Enzymes may provide systemic healthful benefits when taken on an empty stomach.*
When Should I Take Enzymes?
Supplemental digestive enzymes are suggested to be taken just before your first mouthful of food. When cooked or processed foods arrive in the digestive tract, digestive enzymes are secreted to break down food into nutrients and waste. These nutrients are then absorbed into the blood stream and used at the cellular level. The waste is to be discarded later, hence the body benefits without giving up valuable enzymes.*
Can More Than One Enzyme Product be Taken at the Same Time?
Digestive Enzymes may help you support and enhance your digestive health.* Taken either 10 minutes before a meal or with a meal HEALTHY REFLECTIONS® DIGESTIVE ENZYMES promote optimum digestion, nutrient availability and may help relieve sensitivity to foods.*
Proteolytic, Lipolytic, Cellulolytic, and Amylolytic Enzymes are also known as Support Enzymes. Taken either with a meal or between meals on an empty stomach (2 hours after eating) and/or at bedtime (or as directed by a Healthcare professional) may help to promote immune modulation, and detoxification, while helping to support the circulatory, lymphatic, cardiovascular and urinary systems.*
It is important to note that not all formulations of Digestive Enzymes are the same. There are variations in potency and activity units and how they work. The formulation, or manufacturing process, of an enzyme product is critical. There needs to be a high enough concentration of enzymes to have a beneficial health effect and the product must be tested to confirm that the enzymes remain effective through its shelf life. In addition, different types of enzymes have different effects, so it is important to choose the right type of enzyme in the right dose and duration recommended. Always contact your Healthcare Professional to determine which formulations will best fit your needs.
Can HEALTHY REFLECTIONS® probiotics be taken with enzyme supplements?
Probiotics actually help manufacture enzymes for the body. Proteolytic enzymes will only hydrolyze or break down the 3 Ds; anything that is Dead, Damaged or Does not belong. They will not interfere with colonization of probiotics. *
Can I Take Too Many Enzymes?
Studies haven’t shown toxic effects from the ingestion of large quantities of enzymes. Enzymes are contraindicated when blood thinners have been prescribed, where there is an active ulcerative condition, and as with all supplements, consult your physician during pregnancy.*
How Long Will it Take to Start Seeing Results When I Start Taking Enzymes?
No two bodies are alike. Though everyone is different, for most individuals results can be noticed relatively fast compared to other alternative health therapies. Typically, using a particular product from a few days up to a few weeks (3-4 weeks) will allow one to make a decision whether benefits are being produced.*
Is There Anything That Would Act Against Enzymes?
Yes, heat in excess of 118 degrees will deactivate enzymes, as will carbonation, certain preservatives, and strenuous exercise.*
How can I determine if I’m purchasing a quality enzyme product?
The FDA requires the name and contact information of either the manufacturer, distributor or importer be listed on the label. When the entity listed is not the manufacturer, they must indicate that the product is either manufactured for them or distributed by them.
Consumers need to know how to read the labels of an enzyme supplement:
- Activity is the key to enzyme effectiveness.
- Enzymes supplements listing measurements in weight (such as mg) state the weight of ingredients in a capsule or tablet. Serving size may be one or more capsules per serving.
- Enzyme weight does not equal enzyme activity.
- The Food Chemical Codex (FCC) is the accepted standard.
- The FCC method is preferable.
- The FCC designation is essential for pancreatic enzymes.
- Some companies also state GDU (gelatin digesting unit) as the unit of activity.
- Units of measurements become a problem when Compendial Standards are not in place for companies to determine their GDU. Companies will use different temperatures, pH levels or different types of gelatin can be used as part of their testing methods. This makes it almost impossible to compare units, even with other companies.
- A Supplements Facts Panel on the product label, may list some or all of these units of measurement: Protease and Peptidase – HUT or SAPU; Lipase – FCCLU or FIP; Amylase – DU; Cellulase – CU; Bromelain – FCCPU or GDU; Lactase – ALU, Catalase – CatU; Hemicellulase – HCU; Glucoamylase – AGU; Alpha-Galactosidase – GalU, Invertase – SU; Xylanase – XU.
- To determine the purity of a formulation, check the Supplement Facts panel of each product.
- FDA requires a Supplement Facts Box on each product label listing all the ingredients, the amounts contained per the serving size, along with the listing of “Other Ingredients” used in the capsule.
- The “Other Ingredients” listing includes additives, fillers, coloring agents, preservatives, etc. contained in the formulation.
- When comparing enzyme products it is important to note if there are fillers listed on the label. Fillers can be many things including leftover fibers and cellulose. Popular fillers include di-calcium phosphate, plant cellulose, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, microcrystalline cellulose; others can be used as well. Many of these fillers do not add nutritional value to the formulation.*
- When reviewing a label for product strength, compare the total activity units of each raw ingredient listed in the formulation.*
- A manufacturer may choose to disclose or list both capsule weight (such as mg) and enzymatic activity on the label.*
- The FDA requires the name and contact information of either the manufacturer, distributor or importer be listed on the label. When the entity listed is not the manufacturer, they must indicate that the product is either manufactured for them of distributed by them.
- HEALTHY RELFECTIONS® Enzyme Products and blends are expressed in FCC (Food Chemical Codex) units such as HUT, FIP, DU, CU, AGU, CatU, FCCPU, SU, HCU, etc., when possible. This certifies that the enzymes went through thorough testing for activity and potency. The enzymatic potency units vary from enzyme to enzyme because different potency tests are required for different enzymes. Labels that list enzymes only by weight (e.g. in mg’s) do not reveal any information about enzyme strength or activity.
What Are FCC And FDA? What information must the manufacturer disclose on the label of a dietary supplement?
FDA regulations require that certain information appear on dietary supplement labels. Information that must be on a dietary supplement label includes: a descriptive name of the product stating that it is a “supplement;” the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor and their phone number, a complete list of ingredients; and the net contents of the product.
In addition, each dietary supplement (except for some small volume products or those produced by eligible small businesses) must have nutrition labeling in the form of a “Supplement Facts” panel. This label must identify each dietary ingredient contained in the product.
More about Enzyme measurements and labeling…
- When comparing enzyme products it is important to note what is stated on the Supplements Facts Panel of the label. Note the Serving Size. This determines how many capsules must be taken to equal the amount per serving listed on the panel.
- The number next to each enzyme signifies “activity units” of that enzyme. “An ‘activity unit’ is a measurement that describes how much of a given food an enzyme has the potential to break down”.
- The letters following the number of active units are a bit more complex. Each enzyme gets its own abbreviation, such as DU or HUT, to describe a specific type of test used to measure its potency
- When reading labels, look at which enzymes are included in a product and aim for a comprehensive blend. Use the number of active units to compare potency in different formulas. If you notice that one product, unlike others, uses different letters for a given enzyme, you might want to ask for more information, to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Once you’ve chosen a product, follow its suggested usage directions.
- When comparing enzyme products it is important to note if there are fillers on the label. Fillers can be many things including leftover fibers or cellulose.
- Looking at the label of a high quality enzyme product, you will find measurement units you may not be familiar with. These are from the Food Chemical Codex (FCC). The FCC is published by the National Academy Press. The system for determining enzyme potency used by the American food industry is derived from the FCC. This is the ONLY National Standard for valuation of plant enzymes. This system establishes activity levels and potency for enzymes.
The following are the most common enzymes used and their FCC abbreviations:
- Alpha-Galactosidase-GALU (Galactosidase units)
- Amylase-DU (Dextrinizing Units)
- Bromelain – GDU (Gelatin Digesting Units) or FCCPU
- Catalase – Baker Units (Named after the Author) or CatU
- Cellulase – CU (Cellulase unit)
- Glucoamylase – AG (Amyloglucosidase Units) or AGU
- Hemicellulase – HCU (Hemicellulase Units)
- Invertase – INVU (Invertase Activity unit)
- Lactase – LacU (Lactase unit) or LAU
- Lipase – FCCFIP (Federation Internationale Pharmceutique), or FIP
- Maltase – DP (Degrees of Diastatic Power)
- Nattokinase – FU (Fibrinolytic Units)
- Pectinase – AJDU (Apple Juice Depectinizing Units)
- Phytase – PU Phytase Units
- Protease-HUT (Hemoglobin Unit Tyrosine base)
- Xylanase – XU (Xylanase Units)
Journal of American Medicine, Vol. 284 No 11, September 20, 2000
Journal of American Medicine, Vol. 287 23:3116-26, 2002
Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity Dr. Edward Howell, Lotus Press, 1994 Enzyme Nutrition, The Food
Enzyme Concept by Dr. Edward Howell, Avery Publishing Group, l985
Food Enzymes, The Missing Link to Radiant Health by Humbart Santillo, MH, N.D., Holm Press, 1987-1993
The Complete Book of Enzyme Therapy by Anthony J. Cichoke, D.C; Avery Publishing, 1999
Enzymes & Enzyme Therapy by Anthony J. Chicoke, D.C.; Keats Publishing, 1994
The Healing Power of Enzymes by DicQie Fuller, Ph.D., D.Sc., Forbes Publishing, 1998
Enzymes the Life Force within Us by DicQie Fuller, Ph.D.,D.Sc., Forbes Publishing
Vitamins Herbs, Minerals & Supplements by H. Winter Griffith, M.D., Fisher Books, 1998
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Third Edition by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC., Avery Books, 2000
Vitamin and Health Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchason, N.D., Ph.D., Woodland Books, 1995
The Little Herb Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchason, N.D.,Ph.D., Woodland Books, 1995
The Enzyme Cure by Lita Lee, Ph.D., Lisa Turner, with Burton Goldberg, Future Medicine Publishing, 1998
Enzymes, The Key to Health by Howard Loomis, Jr., D.C., F.I.A.C.A., Grote Publishing, 1999
Colon Health by Dr. Norman W. Walker, D.Sc., Ph.D., Norwalk Press, 1995
Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowl Care by Dr. Bernard Jensen, Ph.D., Avery Press, 1999.
Probiotics, Nature’s Internal Healers by Natasha Trenev, Avery Publishing, 1998.
Consult a health professional for medical problems.
“The human body could not exist without enzymes”
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