Note: This is part two, click here for part one!
The lack of enzymes or enzyme deficiency is a serious matter. When one's body is lacking enzymes, their ability to repair after injury and fight off disease becomes compromised. Maximum recuperation is directly linked to the strength and number of the body's enzymes. Such things as age, disease, diet, stress, injury, digestive problems and genetic problems can all affect enzyme activity and production.
For example: some people can't consume aspartame they lack the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase which means that they can't break down the amino acid phenylalanine, a constituent of aspartame. Those of who have this condition are referred to as phenylketonurics and must refrain from consuming any phenylalanine or risk it building up in their blood stream and causing permanent damage. Similarly, lactose intolerant people lack the enzyme lactase with which to digest milk.
Sometimes enzyme deficiency diseases can be treated with supplementation and sometimes not. But not all deficiencies show up with such obvious symptoms and many of us are going about at sub-optimal performance levels because of a simple enzyme deficiency. To see if you might be lacking enzymes, the first thing to pay attention to is digestion. Having disturbed digestion, upset stomach, gas, etc... are all signs of a possible deficiency. Certain foods, such as beans, are harder to digest than others and when they don't get broken down, they sit and putrefy in your intestine.
Free radical formation is yet another sign of low enzymes that includes symptoms like skin wrinkling, slow recovery, and illness. Those of you who know your antioxidants will know that some of the best are the enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase all of which battle to keep us in peak condition.
Where They Come From
Our bodies produce a number of enzymes which are common to many different animals. Trypsin, for example, is produced in our pancreas and is found to be made as well in many other organisms including fish and insects. No matter where it comes from, every form of trypsin is a hydrolase and will catalyze the same reaction. In this way we know what we're getting when we extract enzymes from animals. Common extraction places for an animal source enzyme include the pancreas, liver, and/or stomach of pigs, oxen, and cattle.
The enzymes found there include various proteases, amylases, and lipases such as trypsin, chymotrypsin, pepsin, rennin and the enzyme combo pancreatin (consisting of a variety of amylase, protease, and lipase enzymes).
Another form of enzyme supplement is the protomorhogen. These include organ and glandular based supplements containing a naturally occurring mixture of the enzymes taken from a specific organ or gland. They can be obtained from the pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, testicles, brain, etc. Because they are taken in their natural combinations, the enzyme composition of protomorphogens depends on the animal, the organ or gland, and the processing techniques.
Aside from animal sources, many enzymes can be gotten from certain plants with particularly high amounts of enzymes. Such supplemental enzymes come mainly from pineapple (bromelain), papaya (papain), fig (ficin), and barley (malt diastase) and can be gotten directly from the foods themselves through simple consumption. For example, papain is good for digesting protein so I used to always eat dried papaya with my protein shake. Also, pineapple is known for bromelain which also breaks down protein as well as a host of vitamins and minerals making it one of the most nutrient rich, enzymatic foods in the world.
Bacteria and fungi are yet another source of enzymes that are known as microbial enzymes. They are produced through various fermentation processes carried out by the microorganism in question and provide a fairly inexpensive and rich source. Because of this, microbial enzymes account for about ninety percent of all commercially produced enzymes. Such industrial microbiology is also used to make vitamins, amino acids, and antibiotics.
Combinations & Therapy
Because of an enzyme's myriad origins and substrates, wide range of pH levels and optimal temperature, synergism, increased absorption percentage, and increased efficacy, many manufacturers will create a mixture of various types of enzymes from various origins creating an overall wider range of therapeutic advantages. For instance, animal source enzymes prefer body temperature and a neutral to alkaline pH whereas plant and microbial enzymes are most active at higher temperatures and acidic environments.
In such a combination, enzymes can work with one another and support a wider range of pH, substrate, and temperature thus creating a wider range of application and activity.
Certain research asserts that may conditions such as acne, allergies, cancer, autoimmune conditions, circulatory diseases, infections, inflammation, sports injury, aging, and viruses can all be treated with enzymes.
As our bodies' growth peaks, somewhere between ages 16 and 20, enzyme levels start their gradual decline. Aging begins here as the rate of tissue reproduction decreases. Because every thing that happens inside your body involves enzymes, restoring enzyme balance lost through aging can improve health status and be therapy against a variety of ailments.
Response to enzyme treatment is mediated by dosage level, individual variables (height, weight, etc), and the condition being treated. Enzymes used to improve digestion will kick in right away. If not, check the dosage and make sure you're using the right enzyme. However, enzymes used to treat inflammation generally don't elicit noticeable improvement until after three days. Sometimes a noticeable change can't be seen for up to three months as in the case for the enzymatic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Choosing A Supplement
Be sure that the enzyme supplement you choose is geared toward your goals. If you are trying to digest protein, get a proteolytic enzyme; to digest fat get some lipases; for carbohydrates such enzymes as amylase, cellulose, and alpha-galactosidase will work; to fight free radicals take superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase, or catalase.
Supplements with an enteric coating are usually designed for systemic use and those without are for digestive purposes. Regardless of manufacturer, try to find the enzyme supplement with the highest activity level.
Note: This is part two, click here for part one!
Enzymes Complete Part Three.