So what's all this about enzymes?  Do we produce them for digestion? Aren’t they in food? Don't we hear about liver enzymes too? How does all of this work?

Well I hope to clear some of this up by writing this article.  First of all, we definitely secrete enzymes to help with digestion. They are catalysts helping chemical processes take action. There is amylase in saliva to help break down carbohydrates and others that the pancreas secretes to help break down fats and proteins.  The liver secretes enzymes to aid in digestion too, but there are other kinds of enzymes manufactured in many other parts of the body that have nothing to do with digestion. Enzymes are made of 100s to 1000s of amino acids strung together and folded into unique shapes.

EnzymeCredit: Fulop, Bocskei, Polgar source

Non-digestive enzymes are like little workers used for seemingly every single function of the body. There are workers for digestion and then there are workers for metabolism. Dr. Edward Howell says, "Metabolic enzymes take proteins, fats and carbohydrates and structure them into our bodies keeping everything working properly. Every organ and tissue has its own particular metabolic enzymes to do specialized work. For example authorities have found 98 distinct enzymes just to work in the arteries. Thousands of enzymes are known, and many more reactions have been identified for enzymes that are not yet known."[1] These are metabolic workers and they number in the thousands and do almost everything except assist in digestion.

Digestive enzymes specifically focus on breaking down fats with lipase, breaking down carbohydrates with amylase, invertase, maltase and lactase, and breaking down proteins with pepsin, trypsin, peptidases and nucleases. But these digestive catalysts do not take on the substantial work of the body. You see, most of the body's work resides outside of digestion.


Now here comes the interesting part. Uncooked natural foods (fresh produce) also have these catalysts. When fruit becomes ripe it is the enzymes in it that ripen it; the amylase in fruit starts to break down the fruit's carbohydrates, in essence pre-digesting the fruit for us. This process is specifically beneficially because it reduces our need to produce our own digestive enzymes. 

The body functions so much better when all of its energies are focused on metabolic processes instead of digestive processes. The only proven method that extends human life is a reduced calorie diet. When we force our bodies to make digestive catalysts, the metabolic processes are delayed or even ignored all together. When people eat diets that are void of digestive workers (void of fresh produce) they develop an enlarged pancreas due to the overburden it experiences. Dr. Howell's 700 page book is full of scientific evidence about enzymes and includes scientific conclusions from many other scientists and authorities.

better pre stomachCredit: Dr. Edward Howell


Food enzymes work in the pre-stomach. Food is allowed to sit in a pre-stomach and digest in its own catalysts before continuing down into the next section of the stomach. Cows have three pre-stomachs; chickens and whales have two pre-stomachs; and humans have one pre-stomach. That's right. The top section of our stomach holds food and allows the food catalysts to break down the carbohydrates for us. It is only when the food reaches the lower section of our stomach that we may produce more digestive enzymes if needed, but preferably conserving our digestive energies. Enzymes are like energy. Conserving our digestive energies is like boosting our metabolic energies. Many believe that enzymes carry the life force for all living things. 

better stomachCredit: Grutzner


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The most fascinating stories describing how food enzymes provided more energy were from the Eskimos, albeit, Eskimos who had retained their primitive ways. Multiple stories from the ancient Eskimo life describe how they only ate meat, but here's the ringer, their meat was always putrefied.

Hunters would leave their fresh kill out for several days before starting to eat it. Scientists have found that flesh also has an enzyme that helps break down its tissues when the organism is no longer alive. Catheptic is the enzyme that predigests and tenderizes proteins, but these catalysts only work in raw food so the Eskimos were always eating their meat raw and aged. 

Inuit FamilyCredit: Edward S. Curtis

They looked for every opportunity to use predigested foods. The foods found inside the stomachs of their prey were always considered a delicacy. The partially digested plant food of the Caribou stomach would be dressed with oil and eaten as salad. These people ate this way because they knew eating predigested or putrefied food gave them more energy, prowess and endurance. This was also true for their dogs. Dr. Howell said, "The secret of the good health of the carnivorous Eskimo is not that he eats meat, but that he forbids his personal enzymes to digest all of it."

Now I'm not getting in line to eat any putrefied meat (and I don't suggest you do either), but I can apply the same theory to eating meals made of fresh, ripe, uncooked produce. This gives my body a break from the continual demand for digestive enzymes. I do this now for breakfast and lunch, and the difference in energy is impressive. Gone are the days that I look for my cooked protein in every meal. Now I just look for beautiful mounds of colorful produce. 

Mounds of Fruit