Enzymes: Are They for Real?
Enzymes function as the organic chemistry version of catalysts, meaning that they facilitate chemical reactions but do not get involved in the reaction, coming out of it unchanged. A lot of hype has been created around enzymes, misinformation that has really caught on within the raw food movement. A few facts are in order.
Our body produces the enzymes it needs to make digestion happen. There are some 20 different enzymes responsible for the digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. If the digestive enzymes we required to digest foods were already within the foods, the foods would digest themselves. A nut could sit on your counter for decades without digesting itself; hence we must conclude that the required digestive enzymes are not present.
OK, the nut is soaked. What happens next? Does the nut now digest itself? Certainly not. After a thorough soaking, the nut grows through the stage we call germination. Germination is different from digestion, as when the nut germinates it is actually converting itself into a young plant. New structures are growing. In fact, the germination process is the exact opposite of digestion, which is catabolic, for it is anabolic.
So what did soaking the nut actually do? It must have had something to do with enzymes, for in organic chemistry, nothing happens without an enzyme to foster the initiation of a reaction. There are thousands of enzymes, each performing its own ultra specific task. The enzyme inhibitors that are deactivated when nuts are soaked are in fact not digestive enzyme inhibitors at all, but rather germination enzyme inhibitors. There is a huge difference.
The nuts are easier to digest after soaking, yes. They were in a dehydrated state. All dehydrated foods are more difficult to digest than their water saturated counterparts. The nut is changed in form, from an intensely concentrated dehydrated nut to one that is in the beginning phases of becoming a sprout, a young tender vegetable. Of course it is easier to digest.
If we put a healthy man in a wheelchair for some months, he will lose the use of his legs. Making it easier in the short run actually makes it harder in the long. The same can be said for digestive aids. Consumption of digestive enzymes does not encourage a person to eat well, in fact, it does the opposite. Why eat well if you can get away with eating poorly and taking enzymes? At the same time, the use of the digestive enzyme inhibits and impairs the innate bodily ability to produce the required digestive enzymes. This is a boon for the enzyme salesman, but a bust for the health seeker.
We only have so many enzymes, or so the story goes. I wonder, where do we store them? Do we have a lifetime's worth of digestive enzymes, stored in our glands? Would we find them in a child's glands, if we were to perform an autopsy? Isn#8217;t it strange that no one has ever found them stored in such a fashion? What about all the other thousands of enzymes in the body? Why don't we run out of them? Doesn't it make more sense that we produce digestive enzymes as needed, as we do all the other enzymes in our body?
If we do have just a limited amount of digestive enzymes, as the salesmen would have us believe, how did we use them up in the short span of just twenty or thirty years? What do our parents do for enzymes, I wonder, who are decades older yet still eating foods that are far more nutritionally lacking than we? If taking enzymes helps this problem, how does it do so? And why are we just taking digestive enzymes, why not all the others? How does a broad spectrum digestive enzyme supplement actually work? Each of the 20 digestive enzymes that we produce is ultra specific to the exact type of food we eat. Can a wideband supplement be that specific?
Are we taking supplements to help us digest our fruits? This is unlikely and even by the salesman’s suggestion, unnecessary. Are we eating enzymes like candy to help us digest lettuce, or celery? Again, this is unlikely. So why are we taking enzymes? To help us digest fats, apparently, and the fruits and vegetables that we poorly combined with fats, no doubt.
Herein lays the crux of the matter then. If we eat poor food combinations and take digestive enzymes, we are still eating poor food combinations. If we eat more fats than we have the capacity to digest well, taking digestive enzymes in no way reduces our total fat consumption. It seems that there is not really an instance where the consumption of such digestive aids works to our advantage. By suppressing the symptoms through the consumption of digestive enzymes, we only fool ourselves into thinking we are "getting away with it" while we are actually fostering a worsening of our digestive problems. This approach is in no way different than taking drugs or over the counter remedies for indigestion. The intelligent approach is obviously to eliminate the cause of the problems, rather than to simply treat the symptoms.