So let's learn more about enzymes and their function in the body. Food enzymes are complex proteins whose job is to break down foods in your digestive system. When you don’t have enough enzymes you can get indigestion, heartburn, bloating, and pain. Each enzyme is highly complex to make (and is the equivalent of building a skyscraper from scratch!), yet your body makes billions of them every second, and delivers them to exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Amazing! Generally, enzymes don’t get used up in the process of digestion but continue to work for quite a while repeating the same process again and again. All foods contain enzymes. When you bite into an apple and leave it for a little while, it starts to go brown. This process is known as ‘oxidation’ and is driven by enzymes. Oxidation is a process that is common to all life. It is the way that energy is released from life so that it can be used to build other things. The question for us is: how can we find ways of using the enzymes in the food that we eat to make it easier for our digestive system to work?
Well, for starters, we need to understand that enzymes are large and complex proteins and that they are easily damaged by heat. So the first golden rule is eat your food raw. Cooking food destroys all the living enzymes. Many vegetables and fruits are rich sources of enzymes and probably one of the best ways of obtaining these is juicing. There is nothing like a glass of fresh vegetable juice in the morning. You can really feel the difference in your energy quite quickly. Equally, many fresh fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients as well as enzymes. But remember: as soon as you break a fruit or vegetable open or damage it in any way, the enzymes in the fruit start to break it down. So it is very important that you drink the juices immediately after they have been squeezed or pressed. This ensures that the maximum amount of enzyme activity is present in the food as it travels through your digestive system. Also, the fact that you have liquidised the food means that there is a lot less physical breaking down that needs to be done, and the essential nutrients in that food can be released into your body much more quickly.
So what you juice is largely a matter of taste, although certain foods have particularly useful properties. Pineapple, for instance, contains a powerful enzyme called bromelain which breaks down certain proteins, so it helps the stomach’s digestion. Papaya contains papain which also breaks down different proteins and also has anti-inflammatory properties, which means it helps the body deal with inflammation (we will discuss why inflammation happens and how the body deals with it in another post). Remember though, while vitamins, minerals trace elements and other essential nutrients can often stay active and available in food that has been processed for months, living enzymes have a very short shelf life unless they are processed in a special way. There is often great benefit in taking an enzyme supplement to help your digestive system cope with the food you eat, but again we’re returned to the age old question ‘which one is the best one from me?’. In my post 'Enzyme products that work', I have recommended a good all round product that contains many of the essential enzymes needed for digestion. Also, as you will find out, the NHD course is a simple and powerful way of finding the answers to these questions, without the need for any sort of specialised equipment. You can learn how it works and how to use it on our website. If you are interested in learning more about juicing and would like more information on how to create delicious and highly nutritious juices, click the link below.