An enzyme is a substance naturally found within a cell, whose function is to create certain chemical reactions or to speed up (catalyze) chemical reactions within the body. Most enzymes are proteins, but some are ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules. Each cell contains thousands of enzymes. The enzymes are never destroyed during any process, so, a cell can reuse each enzyme many times. Exposure to harsh chemicals, high changes in pH, disease, and heat can damage enzymes and change their shapes. Once enzymes are damaged, they fail to work and this affects the body processes that it normally supports.
What do enzymes do?
Enzymes provide support for many important processes within the body. The functions include digestion, building muscles, respiration, metabolism (breaking down food particles into energy), muscle and nerve function, destroying toxins, and thousands of other functions.
Digestion: Enzymes are present in the saliva, stomach, small intestines, and the pancreas. They help the body break down larger complex food molecules into smaller simpler molecules. Amylase is produced in the salivary glands, small intestines and pancreas, and it breaks down starches and carbohydrates into sugars. Protease is produced in the pancreas, stomach and the small intestines, and it breaks down proteins into amino acids. Pepsin is the main digestive enzyme digesting proteins in the stomach. Lipase is produced in the pancreas and small intestines, and it breaks down fats and oils into glycerol and fatty acids. Lactase breaks lactose, the sugar in milk, into glucose and galactose. Several other pancreatic enzymes go to work when protein molecules reach the small intestine.
DNA replication: Each cell in the body contains DNA which is copied each time cells divide. Helicase enzymes unravel DNA while DNA polymerase synthesize deoxyribonucleotides.
Detoxification: The liver breaks down toxins in the body using a range of enzymes that facilitate the process of destroying the toxins.
Other activities: Other enzymes help with hormone production, cell regulation, muscle contraction and expansion, transporting materials around a cell, respiration, and signal transduction.
What affects enzymes?
Enzymes work by binding to another substance known as a substrate. However, they can only work under certain condition.
The body temperature needs to be around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees centigrade, the typical body temperature. When the body is too low in temperature the enzymes still work but slowly. When the temperature is too high, as in a fever, the enzymes change shape in which case the substrates cannot bind to them.
Enzymes work best in a fairly narrow pH range. Generally, 7 is neutral and is the pH of water, anything lower than 7 is acidic, while anything higher than 7 is alkaline. However, different enzymes tolerate different levels of alkalinity or acidity. For example, enzymes in the stomach work best at a pH of 1.5 because the stomach is naturally acidic, while the enzymes in the intestines work best at a pH of 8 (slightly alkaline). If the body environment around an enzyme is too acidic or too alkaline, the enzymes change shape and cannot function well.
Certain health conditions also affect enzymes. For example, inflammation of the pancreas hurts your pancreas and can reduce the number and effectiveness of certain digestive enzymes.
Chemicals and drugs
Chemicals called inhibitors can interfere with an enzyme’s ability to cause a chemical reaction. Inhibitors can occur naturally, but they can also be manufactured and produced as medications. For example, antibiotics work by preventing certain enzymes from helping bacterial infections spread. So, try to stay away from antibiotics as much as possible by avoiding meats from cattle, chicken and pigs that are regularly given antibiotics.
Diet can affect your body’s enzyme activity. Some foods contain digestive enzymes that assist enzymes that naturally occur in your body. Examples are kiwi, figs, dates, avocado, papaya, sauerkraut, grapes, mango, apples, banana, ginger, and miso. Eat them regularly and eat them raw so that their enzymes are not destroyed by cooking.
A diet high in sugar and processed foods (filled with harmful chemicals) also negatively affects your enzymes.
Do not overindulge. Indigestion, nausea and diarrhea may result from occasional large meals because you don’t have enough enzymes to digest all that food. Eating a nutritious diet in moderation on a regular basis and staying in good health will help your body’s enzyme activity to stay more regular.
Lifestyle choices can gradually reduce the amounts of enzymes that your body produces as you age. Things that can cause an enzyme deficiency include smoking, pregnancy, and physical, psychological and emotional stress.
Signs of enzyme deficiency
There are a number of symptoms that you may experience if you have enzyme deficiency. These are:
- Digestive issues
- Food intolerances
- Poor nutrient absorption
- Weight gain and obesity
- Weaker immune system
- Anxiety and depression
- Skin problems
Treatment with enzymes
Systemic enzyme therapy has been found to be effective in treating pain and inflammation linked to injury or musculoskeletal disorders. Treatments with proteolytic enzyme (PE) were first used in Germany in the 1960s for inflammation, osteoarthritis, viral infections, and autoimmune diseases. PE usually contains a mixture of trypsin, pancreatin, bromelain, papain, and chymotrypsin.
Lab studies suggest that proteolytic enzymes can affect the growth of cancer cells, but most recent studies do not support those findings.
Proteolytic enzymes may be useful in reducing pain associated with moderate-to-severe knee osteoarthritis.
If you have problems with your pancreas, such as pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, and cystic fibrosis, your body may fail to produce enough digestive enzymes. You may need pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy to replace the missing enzymes. Pancreatic enzyme products (PEPs) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Make sure the product that you get has an FDA approval on its label so that you get the right quality. Read more…
Type 2 diabetes
Nicotinamide mononucleotide is an enzyme that helps body cells to use energy. Animal studies tested its effect for controlling diabetic symptoms in mice and found remarkable positive results. When injected in humans, it should have the same effect.
Enzymes are critical for health. Your body naturally produces them. Also, eat the foods mentioned above that provide more enzymes to your body, in addition to your cooked foods. If you have health problems, your naturopathic doctor may recommend the right enzymes supplements. If recommended by a health professional.
"These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”