Food Enzymes — A Key to Unlocking Our Health

by Alison Heath

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the September 2000 issue of M.D. News magazine.

We are not what we eat, but rather, what we can digest of what we eat.

Our bodies have over 80,000 enzyme systems, each with a specific function from determining the colour of our eyes to aiding the digestion of food and even to controlling the movement of the retina as we speak. Some enzymes are endogenous, originating within the body, while others are exogenous and originate outside our bodies. Enzymes act on substances (substrates) and change them without being changed themselves. Often described as proteins, the protein molecule is only a carrier of enzyme activity, just as a light bulb carries electrical current.

Our diet of processed and cooked foods with no active enzymes has intensified our current health crisis. Unnecessary stress is placed on the pancreas, liver, and spleen to produce large amounts of enzymes to replace those missing from our diet.

Supplemental food enzymes serve two functions: eaten with food, they aid digestion by ensuring the complete metabolization of fat, proteins and carbohydrates; ingested on an empty stomach, they are absorbed into the blood and clean long-term residual food particles. The four types of enzymes that break down food molecules include lipase for fat molecules, protease for protein, cellulase for cellulose, and amylase for starch molecules.

Enzyme research in 1936 enhanced our understanding of the enzyme amylase and its relation to the well-being of mind and body, relieving mental fatigue. Amylase shortages result in sugar level problems causing drastic emotional swings. By giving amylase preparations, blood sugar was maintained after individuals ingested 80 grams of glucose.

Lipase plays an important role aiding the body to store and break down fat. A lack of lipase can lead to erythrocyte aggregation in the blood, compromising the circulation and contributing to high blood pressure and an accumulation of cholesterol. Numerous studies illustrate how erythrocyte aggregation, a condition where the red blood cells clump together, degrades the function of the immune system by inhibiting the circulation of white blood cells.

Cellulase, derived from a natural plant extract, aids in the breakdown and assimilation of cellulose by catalyzing the cleavage of internal glycosidic linkages. Cellulose is found in the fibers and substances of the fruits and vegetables we digest. Supplementing our diet with cellulase can help ease gas build-up that occurs when we ingest some herbs, vegetables and fruits.

The importance of maintaining high levels of food enzymes in our bodies cannot be over emphasized. Dr. Edward Howell, interviewed in the compilation of his enzyme research, Food Enzymes for Health Longevity, summarized the following in relation to animal models: “Diets deficient in enzymes cause a 30% reduction in life-span.” He recommends including raw foods in the modern diet, but recognizes that this would not overcome the current enzyme drain. He states, “The only solution is to take capsules of concentrated plant enzymes.”


Alison Heath has included wild grown full spectrum nutrition in her diet since 1987. During her many years of work in Information Technology, she has devoted much of her time to the health sector, including homeopathic clinics and hospitals. She recently held the position of president and CEO for InfoMedQue Inc., an Internet information service for the health sector in Quebec. Her regular column titled “The Natural Path” was created to provide medical practitioners who read M.D. News magazine with information on another approach toward health and well-being.


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