In this article I will answer and expound on the question, ‘what are enzymes’ in simple terms, and I will go into how they relate to the raw food diet. Enzymes are vital for health and well-being, yet most people consume a diet that is “enzyme poor”.
Enzymes are catalysts: they are organic substances that speed up or instigate a given chemical reaction. They make things happen. Enzymes are what the body uses to accomplish everything from large motor movements, to the smallest cellular activity.
There are many different kinds of enzymes, and each one has a specific purpose in the body. Every organ and every tissue has their own specific enzymes, designed to carry out its unique purpose. In Enzyme Nutrition, Dr. Howell states, “one authority made an investigation and found 98 distinct enzymes working in the arteries, each with a particular job to do”.
Every time you consume fresh raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds you have the added benefit of consuming all-important enzymes. Without enzymes, you would not be able to digest your food, fight disease, move, breathe, or even think, to name just a few things! They are all-important to a long healthy life; everyone who is interested in healthy living should learn about them.
A diet rich in enzymes produces an energetic, youthful body. In Psalms 103:5 it says, “who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s”. (Emphasis mine.)
When food is cooked the enzymes die. So to digest the food eaten, it takes enzymes that were designed for another function to handle the digestion of that food. It works, but not as well, and then uses up the enzyme that was meant for some other function.
The important factor about enzymes is that we are all born with a certain amount, and there is no way to obtain more enzymes, except through food eaten or supplements (which are obtained from food), and then, obviously, you are consuming food enzymes, but not replacing enzymes used for other functions.
Some raw foods have many more enzymes than others, however all raw food has the enzymes in it that are needed to digest that particular food, so that whenever raw food is eaten, no additional enzymes are needed as supplements. This is one of the reasons that raw foods are usually easily digested.
However, if cooked food is eaten, it is highly advisable to take a food enzyme supplement with that meal, or enzymes will be taken from your body that were meant for another purpose. Note: not all enzyme supplements are created equal, and usually a good supplement needs refrigeration.
Dried food, if dried below 118 degrees will have retained their enzymes. However, most dried food at the supermarket has not been dried below this temperature, and falls more into the category of cooked food, with regard to enzymes. Dried food that has been dried at this lower temperature also tastes much better!
Raw meat has enzymes needed for digestion. As an interesting fact, the some of the Indians that hunted buffalo upon the kill, went straight for the vital organs, and ate them raw! These organs provided them with much needed enzymes. We do not recommend, of course that people eat raw meat for many reasons. However, for our carnivorous pets, raw meat is the best.
Raw cheese contains enzymes, as does raw milk, but can be difficult to obtain. Raw honey is also a good source for enzymes. Most store bought honey is not raw, and therefore contain no enzymes.
If you would like to know more about enzymes and how they function, I recommend the excellent book Enzyme Nutrition by Dr. Edward Howell, which is considered by many to be the best book on the topic.
In conclusion, for optimal health, you want to retain as many of your enzymes in your body as you can, because, once they are spent, they are gone, and your body has no way to fight aging or disease. What are enzymes? The secret ingredient for long life and good health.