View Full Version : Enzymes?
12-16-2004, 11:28 AM
I opened my newsletter from Fredric Pautende this morning, and found the below article. Thoughts? I know conventional nutrition tells us that a plant's enzymes are not needed by us, which goes against the popular line of thinking in the raw foods movement. I think I have a lot more to say on this, but it's a bit early and I'm not yet coherent. :D
Enzymes: Are they the key to raw foods?
Dear Frederick. I am Marios from Greece and this is my
second e mail with a question. You say that raw foods are
good for us but not because of the enzymes.. This is really
something ... then why all this raw food movement is expanding
throughout the western world? Many well known hygienists and
raw foodists claim that enzymes are the exact reason of why raw
food is superior to the cooked one.
Can you please clarify this one? Do we really have any scientific
information on whether the enzymes that the foods carry don't or
do take a part in digestion?Â”
ThatÂ’s an interesting question. In most raw-food books youÂ’ll
read that food enzymes are Â“the lifeforceÂ” of foods and that
theyÂ’re the reason why we should eat a raw diet. ThatÂ’s what
I used to think when I gullibly believed everything that the
raw-food gurus said. Now my understanding is that food enzymes
are not important at all in the digestive process, and most of them
are destroyed in the process of digestion anyway. If they are not
destroyed, it is unlikely that they have any role to play in digestion.
You ask if IÂ’ve got any scientific research to back it up. You
should ask the question differently. Do raw-foodists have any
scientific research to back up their enzyme theories? Very
scant. Open up any physiology book and youÂ’ll realize that
all of those theories are pure conjectures. Everything that I just
said about enzymes are recognized facts of physiology.
HereÂ’s what one of my correspondents sent me, and this
summarizes this issue a lot:
Â“It was SO good to read your snippet about enzymes as you
have put out publicly exactly the conclusions I had come to!
All this hype about enzymes being good for your health flies
in the face of proven science on many counts:
1) Enzymes are biological catalysts and the definition of a
catalyst is that it is something that alters/speeds up a reaction
without being used up in the process. So, by definition, we
cannot 'run out of enzymes'. Even if we could:
2) Enzymes are proteins and are made up of the same amino
acids as other proteins needed in the body. Thus, if more are
needed, more can easily be made from the same materials as
other body parts! Our raw plant foods actually go to make up
3) Enzymes are specific - they catalyze one reaction and one
reaction only. That means that plant enzymes are there to deal
with reactions connected with the plant's life and not to help
humans digest food. Look at the speed at which fruit ripens then
decays. It takes days, if not weeks! But human digestion of fruit
takes only hours. How can the same enzyme suddenly do that?
Simply, it can't. Also, enzymes being specific, human metabolic
enzymes cannot logically be used as digestive enzymes. They
are there only to catalyze the metabolic reaction.
In my opinion, the food enzyme theory and its wide following is
one of the major things against more mainstream acceptance
of raw foodism as a whole. It's blatantly wrong and gives those
who insist on it a bad name. If the raw and natural food
movement wishes to be gain wider credibility, it has to be more
credible.Â” Elizabeth, UK
LetÂ’s take the example of the banana. An unripe banana is
loaded with various enzymes that are needed BY THE
BANANA to transform its own starch into simple sugars.
As the banana ripen, it becomes sweeter as complex substances
(starch) are transformed into simpler ones (sugar). In the end,
the enzymes are themselves disintegrated in the process.
So when you eat the ripe bananas, there are few enzymes in it.
But then, it is so easy to digest that the body will use fewer
enzymes to digest it than if you ate a slice of bread, which
contains mostly complex carbs. So in the end, you indeed
Â“save upÂ” your enzymes by eating the raw banana, but this
has nothing to do with the enzymes in the bananas, which
are not needed anyway.
Raw-foodists often say that avocados are easy to digest
because they contain a lot of fat-digesting enzymes (called
lipase). It this were true, the avocado would digest itself.
It would not sit on the counter and ripen, but it would quickly
digest itself down! In reality, when you eat a ripe avocado,
your body has to use its own enzymes to digest it.
Nuts and seeds are easier to digest when they are soaked not
because it supposedly Â“activates the enzymesÂ” in the nuts.
In fact, they are easier to digest simply because they are
hydrated. A dried fruit is also easier to digest when it is
But enzymes supplements work, youÂ’ll say. Sure they work.
The enzymes used are specific digestive enzymes. However,
when you use them, you cripple a natural function. If youÂ’re
experiencing digestive problems and you find relief in using
supplemental enzymes, youÂ’re simply not addressing the
cause of your problem. Over time, your digestion will become
less and less efficient because you are using a natural Â“aidÂ”
like a crutch Â– youÂ’ll end up with a weaker digestion.
12-16-2004, 11:39 AM
Huh. Well, I'm not a scientist and I don't play one on tv, so I don't really know. I think so much of what human's believe to be true is not.
All I can do is to eat what my body seems to respond to the best. For me, that's raw food. I don't respond well to nuts, so I don't eat them. Even though they are raw, I can tell that my body responds badly to them just like if I ate some cake or some bread.
I think in the end we can only do what feels the best for our bodies and for me, that's eating raw. No scientific data is going to change how my body responds, how clear my mind is, and the 20 pounds I've lost. Those all clearly came from eating raw, so enzyme or not, it's better than SAD.
12-16-2004, 01:43 PM
What he has to say about enzymes I've seen in another raw food forum, with Dr. Doug Graham. Like Karen said, our experience speaks for itself, but I think Frederic is right in that is important for those who are publicly teaching in the raw food world to have their claims backed up as much as possible so as not to hurt the 'movement,' so to speak. I think what he is saying, in the end, is that the fruit and veggie enzymes' work is important, it's just WHERE they do the work that is the point. They may not work IN my body, but because of the work they do in the raw foods, the less work my body has to do in producing enzymes to digest the food, which is good news for me!
12-16-2004, 02:50 PM
I really like the way you put it! Thanks for your insight.
01-26-2005, 09:41 AM
One of the classic rawfood texts is called "Enzyme Nutrition" by Dr.Edward Howell. Even after reading it there are some stubborn skeptics lurking around, but i cannot reccommend this book enough.
01-26-2005, 11:14 AM
A Dr. Gonzalez explains how enzymes work in Carol Alt's book.
<<2) Enzymes are proteins and are made up of the same amino
acids as other proteins needed in the body. Thus, if more are
needed, more can easily be made from the same materials as
other body parts! Our raw plant foods actually go to make up
He says that our bodies *can* make enzymes/proteins from our foods by taking parts of enzymes and rebuilding them from the food we eat. But when raw food is eaten, the enzymes remain intact, so the body isn't reconstructing anything, it can just use them as they are, and that takes less energy, leaving the body's energy to do other things, like healing.
Whether it's true that the enzymes remain intact and aren't destroyed by our digestive system, I don't know. How does one prove these kinds of things?
01-26-2005, 02:26 PM
Howell's book is what had me going raw like 10 years ago. We just didn't have gormet raw back then and living on apples, lettuce and carrots was just too dull.
Now, it's my understanding that what this Frederick fellow is saying is exactly what's happening.
Each body (animal or vegetable) has within it enzymes which break it down. If an avocado is left on a shelf it will rot away. Essentially having digested itself. We all know anything left in the sun will rot away faster. So inside our warm tummies with our own acids, food enzymes work a lot faster.
Within "meat" critters, the enzyme "cathepsin" is what "digests" us after we die. We call it decay. If we didn't have the cathepsin we'd have a lot of corpses laying around. When meat is "aged" it is left hanging for it's cathepsin to digest it - which makes is "tender." It's tender because its cells have begun to break down.
Our pancreas pruduces our own enzymes. Our pancreas is three times the size of a cows. Cows are three times our size. Why is that then? Because cows eat a raw diet of grasses and grains. So their bodies don't have to produce as many supplemental enzymes. 90% of our pancreas produces digestive enzymes. Only 10% produces metabolic. Our intake of useless food has cause that 10% to malfunction at an astonishing rate. Look at the epidemic that is diabetes.
If we aid our pancreas by eating whole, unprocessed, uncooked foods - they are much easier for our bodies to make heads or tails of. Thus 90% of our pancreas works far less than it has in the past - easing the stress on the other 10%.
Has anyone heard of the Nun Study?
It was an alzheimer's break through. Broke down all the theories on aging and the state of our brains. It was discovered that nuns who had suffered stroke and brain damage showed no sign of it because they had learned through out their lives. They had "exorcised" their brains - creating a reserve of operating brain cells that took over for the damaged portion. What if our pancreas does the same?
We're just babies out here in the world. So much to learn...
01-27-2005, 07:22 AM
Hi, I am a relative newbie around here and I am really interested in going raw and intend to do the Raw Challenge - still at the reading, researching and preparing stage - mentally and practically.
I am so glad someone has bought up this subject of enzymes. It is the area of raw that bothers me. I am a nutritionist, and to me it is simple.
In the stomach we have a large amount of hydrochloric acid (HCL) this is part of our immunity (destroys incoming bacteria) and a vital part of our digestion. It is there to break down proteins. Enzymes are proteins. I cannot see how enzymes can get through this hostile environment. Yes, this is veryvery well researched and documented.
Once the food in the form of a liquid mixture called chyme leaves the stomach and enters the duodenum, the pancreas squirts enzymes onto it - this together with bile from the gall bladder is very alkaline, this is necessary to counteract the acidity from the HCL and is a necessary part of digestion as well as helping to digest our food.
Therefore, I fully support the raw food diet because it is natural, highly nutritious, energetic and very important, it is an alkaline food. (This means it leaves an alkaline ash after it is metabolised, that is why lemons are acid outside of the body but alkaline in the body). An alkaline diet is extremely important to general health and I believe one of the key reasons people feel so much better with this way of eating. Now here's a thing, enzymes are very pH specific, which means they only work efficiently withing the correct acid/alkaline environment. Therefore it seems logical to me that an alkaline diet creates the right environment for more effective enzymes, wherever they come from, resulting in a healthier body.
I know disputing a theory does not make us comfortable, but if anyone supports the enzyme theory then it must be supported by studies otherwise it will not help the raw food movement. In other words, it cannot be true just because we want it to be.
Love to hear other views and thanks to everyone on this forum, great site.
01-27-2005, 08:55 AM
Whether or not the enzyme theory common in raw community is true (and I'm definitely leaning towards believing it's not true), I still feel it's important to know why raw foods are better--and they definitely are from personal experience. At least for me, I feel more grounded when I talk to others about eating raw and living foods. I really don't like to be ignorant about why I do what I do. Of course, it doesn't negate the intuitive sense of raw foods being better for me than cooked or my subjective experience. I guess I just want to be a well-informed advocate for raw foods!
So . . . I'd love people's input on the benefits of raw food. For myself, I've found (after an adjustment period) that they are far easier to digest--I no longer have heartburn, indigestion, or bad gas. They are also much kinder to my blood sugar. Blood sugar crashes are a thing of the past, even when I only eat fruit until lunch! Since I've had three normal moon cycles since going raw (coming from over a decade of no predictable cycle and going for months with bleeding or not bleeding), something good is happening with my endocrine system. But because I know little about the mechanisms of nutrition, I can't say why any of this is true! Like I said before, knowing or not knowing doesn't negate my experience and will not change me being raw, but I'd love to be articulate for people who do ask me why.
01-27-2005, 09:00 AM
LindyLoo, thanks for the information. I once read a review of raw diets by a nutritionist. It basically said, the claims made by raw foodists were unscientific, but yet it couldn't be denied that the diet was effective. I think the reviewer concluded that it was the amount of fruits and veggies that made the difference. I guess the bottom line is, I don't really need to understand *why* a raw diet works, to know that it *does* work.
01-27-2005, 11:06 AM
Pailani and Olive, I totally agree with you. It's what works that counts. That's why I want to go 100% raw and form my own views. In fact, until I do this, I don't have any opinion (a bit like someone praising or criticising a film they have never watched!).
But I don't think it's enzymes ;)
01-27-2005, 09:41 PM
hmmm... i'd have to re-fresh myself with another read of Howell, but i still remember a thing or two. For those of you who haven't read any of Howell's books, they are full of references to scientific studies. Some have said these are so old they are "out-dated" and i agree that further and more ethical studies would be wonderful. But i disagree that a study, just because it was done 50 years ago, discounts the data in any way.
Howell collected research by other people's studies which suggested that enzymes were in fact able to be absorbed into the body. He said most studies sought for evidence of enzymes being reabsorbed into the bloodstream, and as a result could never find anything. He believed, as suggested by some studies, that enzymes were communicated through the lymphatic system.
From memory, the other major point that Howell made was that by chewing on a fruit or vegetable, the enzymes in them are then fully unlocked and go about digesting the 'food'. Then, in the way the food sits in the stomach, the hydrochloric acids don't get to all the food straight away. The enzymes continue to be active in the digestive process for some time, at least half an hour. Enzymes work pretty quickly and get heaps of work done in that time, at least on fruit and vegetables.
Anyway, in my opinion i would say enzymes are pretty important to include in the diet, and for me personally it gives a good model of understanding many benefits from the rawfood diet. Scientific analysis will keep coming up with new things all the time, so it seems too, which is great. For me, the important thing now though isn't so much learning how it works, but rather learning to more fully embrace all of Nature's work.
Here are photo's of enzymes in food->
In the video that accompanies "Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine" Gabriel Cousens talks about how enzyme supplements work, and at least 30% of them are absorbed into the body. There are so many benefits to enzyme supplements, I eat them before, during, and in between most meals.
I just found the link where Gabriel
Cousens discusses enzymes->
"...Dr. Weil's comment that, "there is no reason to
think that any of them [live enzymes] survive
digestion to affect other systems of our bodies," is
simply inaccurate. He attempts to say that the
value of live enzymes in alfalfa sprouts and other
live foods is mythological.
The only mythology that exists is the old AMA medical
reasoning that live food enzymes are not absorbed
into our system from the gastrointestinal tract as
whole, active proteins because they are theoretically
broken down by the digestive process. This medical
myth has been proven to be scientifically inaccurate
from a variety of approaches.
For example, people have been successfully ingesting
pineapple enzyme, bromelain, for years, as a treatment
for muscle and joint inflammation. Research with radio-
active tracers shows that at least 40% of the pineapple
enzyme is absorbed into our system in an intact form.
This is simple, but straight forward evidence. Live cell
analysis experimentation has shown that within ten
minutes after ingesting enzymes to break up red blood
cell clumping, they are able to see the red blood cells
become unclumped. Something is happening in the blood
after the enzymes are ingested that suggests the
enzymes are effective in the blood.
The most important scientific evidence and argument
disproving Dr. Weil's AMA medical logic about enzymes,
comes from a research paper by Dr. Michael Gardner at
the School of Biomedical Sciences in England, titled
"Gastrointestinal Absorption of Intact Proteins" published
in the Annual Review of Nutrition in 1988.
After his extensive review of the literature, Dr. Gardner
concludes: "the concordance between results obtained
by independent workers using different experimental
approaches is now so strong that we cannot fail to
accept that intact proteins and high-molecular-fragments
thereof do cross the gastrointestinal tract in humans and
animals (both neonates and adults)." In other words, the
live enzymes in alfalfa sprouts are able to cross the
gastrointestinal tract in their intact form and therefore
can have the healing affect on the body claimed by live
food advocates. "...alfalfa sprouts have been used as
part of healing therapeutic programs in live food healing
centers for years."
One of the most important aspects of live foods, ignored
by Dr. Weil, is that food enzymes pre-digest the food in
the food-enzyme part of the stomach, and therefore
have a beneficial affect to our health without even having
to pass through the gastrointestinal wall. Research by Dr.
Beazell, a noted researcher in the field, published in the
American Journal of Physiology, shows that 60% of the
complex carbohydrates, 30% of the protein, and 10% of
the fats are digested in the food-enzyme stomach by the
enzymes contained in raw food. By eating food which is
not cooked, we preserve our own digestive enzyme
energy. This enzyme energy, according to the Law of
Enzyme Adaptation formulated by Dr. Howell, considered
the father of food enzyme research, can then be
transferred to other needy places in the body to bring
01-31-2005, 03:42 PM
LindyLoo, I say DITTO to you! Thanks for posting! I am also a nutritionist, and I work for a major digestive care company which is constantly educating the public about the benefits of food based enzymes. There is a lot of confusion out there.
You are very right when you say enzymes are PH specific. Some such as pepsin & gastric lipase work in the harsh acid of our stomach. Others such as lactase are produced in the small intestine, and are activated by the highly alkaline environment that exists there. It is such a complicated process, and it is very easily thrown off kilter when we are consuming processed foods. Cooked and processed foods have denatured enzymes, and require our body to rely on the pancreatic enzymes. Because of that, our body can't use them to the degree needed for metabolic activity and repair.
Just thought I would mention, digestive enzyme supplements as sold on todays market typically work in a wide PH range. This is now industry standard. Such that, when you buy something that contains "protease" it likely has several forms that will work in many different PH ranges, and not be "killed" as they pass thru what one would assume to be an inhospitable environment. That is how the manufacters can sell it as being "functional" thoughout the bowel. I found that quite interesting.
There is research out there that has shown that one can not become dependant on supplemental enzymes, as our body, as miraculous as it is, is able to shift to make the needed type, at least as long as our body is working right, and our systems are firing appropriately. I have found that eating lots of quality raw foods is able to do this. It provides a varied diet, high in fiber, nutrients and antioxidants to make sure our organs of detoxification are able to do their jobs...
01-31-2005, 06:22 PM
This is a GREAT thread - I was just talking about this very topic with a friend of mine who isn't raw - but is very open and we were wondering about enzymes - scientific info - waht's true - how healthy people are who eat macrobiotic diets and they are 100% raw....etc.
thanks a bunch.
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