By Lori Kenyon Farley @ Project Juice
Enzymes are essential to vitality, beauty, and health. And all bodily functions require enzymes. They are the catalysts for every activity: from proper functioning of internal organs to your ability to think and process information, to detoxification and replenishment of cells.
On the flip side, a lack of enzymes is arguably one of the biggest causes of poor health. Lack of enzymes can cause wrinkles, bone loss, weight gain, and illness. Without enzymes, outer beauty suffers because your cells cannot repair themselves (read here about the relationship between collagen production, leafy greens and getting your youthful glow back). As you age, your body naturally produces fewer enzymes, requiring you to take in more from your food and supplements in order to avoid a deficiency.
There are three (primary) enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes and food enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are in charge of energy production in your body and produced in your pancreas. They process the nutrients provided by your food and disperse them through your body to assist with the replenishment of healthy cells. They also help flush toxins from your body.
Food enzymes are obtained externally through our food source – primarily from plants (or supplements) and, again, are responsible for aiding your body’s digestive process. Fresh raw fruits and vegetables are the easiest place to get good food enzymes. Enzyme rich foods include papayas, pineapples, and bee pollen to name a few… mmm, sounds like a smoothie in the making!
Try this detoxifying green smoothie with pineapple to ramp up your body’s natural detox system.
Organic foods will deliver more than their conventional counterparts and will not come with a nasty side of pesticides. Also, heat will destroy food enzymes, so it is important to incorporate fresh raw fruits and vegetables into your daily diet as well as healthy essential cold pressed or whole plant oils.
So, what are digestive enzymes?
Digestive Enzymes (amylase, protease, lipase), like metabolic enzymes, are also produced internally, however are responsible for aiding in digestion of food consumed and assimilating food into usable nutrients.
Beginning with amylase in your saliva, enzymes go to work from the moment food hits your mouth. This is why it is important to eat slowly and chew your food before swallowing.
Benefits of Digestive Enzyme Supplements
While you should aim to satisfy your nutrition needs mostly through your food, in today’s busy world, it is not always possible. If you travel frequently, often eat meals away from home, or simply wish to increase your nutrition intake, smart supplementation may offer you a good solution. The easier you can make your body’s job of breaking down the food you eat, the more energy you will have.
Adding a digestive enzyme supplement to your diet will take some of the burden off of your digestive system’s daily load. They can be especially helpful when consuming meals that contain animal products like meat or dairy, which require extra work to break down.
Processed food contains enzyme inhibitors that actually prevent your body from assimilating enzymes contained in the real raw food you eat. Consider it another reason why it’s so important to avoid processed foods!
A way to combat this is through consumption of fermented foods. Fermentation neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and breaks down gluten, sugars, and other difficult to digest elements of your food.
Try adding some fermented food to your diet, like Yogurt, Kefir, Kombucha, or sauerkraut (try this easy-to-follow cumin-garlic sauerkraut recipe).
HOW TO NATURALLY INCREASE DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
While digestive enzyme production lessens as we age or as our digestive systems become more acid and taxed through the foods we consume regularly as part of the standard american diet (SAD), there are also ways to naturally increase or support enzyme production.
The easiest way? Increase the amount of raw food you eat.. or in this case, drink! That’s right. JUICING or opting for SMOOTHIES allows you to double your intake of veggies versus what you are generally able to eat in a single sitting at the table. Flood your body with live enzymes and critcial nutrients by investing in a small juicer or blender, and make it a part of your wellness ritual!
Already have a juicer? Try this 5 ingredient juice recipe that will leave your skin glowing and your tummy happy.