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Enzymes: A Dead Diet’s Necessary Companion

© Paula Rothstein

The old saying, “You are what you eat” no longer holds true with regards to today’s modern diet of over-processed/cooked food. Our diet is for the most part comprised of dead food. More appropriately, “We are what we are able to digest”.

Enzymes are complex proteins in the body that cause chemical changes in other substances which in turn provide the labor force and energy necessary to keep us alive. They are energy catalysts that are essential to the successful occurrence of over 150,000 biochemical reactions in our bodies, particularly involving food digestion and the delivery of nutrients to the body. Enzymes help convert food into chemical substances that pass into cell membranes to perform all of our everyday life sustaining functions.

By supporting normal function, enzymes keep our immune system strong enough to fight off disease. Enzymes help to nourish and clean the body, making possible the human body’s miraculous capacity for self-healing. They also make available the energy needed for a normal body to burn hundreds of grams of carbohydrate and fat every day. Without enzymes, life could not be sustained.

Enzymes perform so many important functions in the body that they have been called “the basis of all metabolic activity.” In other words, enzymes deliver nutrients, break down and carry away toxic waste, digest food, purify the blood, deliver hormones, balance cholesterol and triglycerides levels, feed the brain, build protein into muscle, and feed and fortify the endocrine system.

Enzymes save people’s lives by restoring energy and homeostasis, reversing the aging process, turning a dysfunctional digestive system into a healthy one, and strengthening the immune system.

Enzymes enable our bodies to digest the food we eat. They break down the various foods we consume proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins—into smaller compounds that the body can absorb. They are absolutely essential in maintaining optimal health. When digestion is not properly completed, partially digested proteins putrefy, partially digested carbohydrates ferment, and partially digested fats turn rancid. These toxins remain in the body, harming the system. Fermented toxins in the digestive tract can be absorbed into the blood and deposited as waste in the joints and other soft tissue areas. The results of enzyme deficiency include digestive disturbance, fatigue, headaches, constipation, gas, heartburn, bloating, colon problems, excess body fat, and problems as serious as cardiovascular or heart disease.


Now that you better understand the role of enzymes in your diet, the following will begin to explain what occurs in their absence.

A diet lacking in enzymes can actually do double damage to your health. First, the enzymes that exist naturally in your own body, the endogenous enzymes, are called upon by your vital organs to digest the food you eat, instead of doing the important job they were meant to perform—providing energy, fighting disease and ensuring the proper functioning of your cells. This inability to break down can rob you of vitality, make you feel listless, and lead to premature aging.

Secondly, without enzymes, the food you eat goes partially undigested and will stay in your intestinal tract for months, where it can actually putrefy. This can lead to releases of the harmful bacteria that can literally start to poison your health and lead to far more serious problems.

It has been estimated that 80% of all diseases start in the intestinal tract!

Because your immune system will attack and defend your body against partially digested foods that get into the bloodstream, the immune system does not recognize it as food. It sees a toxic invader, and destroys the food. When this happens you fail to get the benefit of that food, and you weaken your immune system by using it inappropriately.

In other words, you are using the immune system and metabolic enzymes daily to clean the bloodstream of undigested food particles, instead of having their full attention on protection and repair of your body.

Dr. Edward Howell, the individual responsible for pioneering enzyme research, said that the digestive system is designed to break down approximately half of the food we eat.

As explained in his book “Enzyme Nutrition”, before fire was discovered, man and animals alike could only eat raw food, like raw meat, plants or fruits, and vegetables.

He further explained how raw foods have a 40/60 ratio of enzymes which means a raw food like an apple has live food enzymes within the apple which break down and digest 40 to 60 percent of that apple leaving the remaining 40 to 60% of the apple to be broken down by the digestive system.

Raw foods are enzymatically alive which means these foods have live enzymes within them to help digest 40 to 60% of that particular food. Cooked and processed foods are enzymatically dead which means there are no live enzymes within that food to help digestion.

These dead foods place stress on the digestive system, pancreas, immune system, and your whole body.

Before genetic engineering and irradiation, our raw foods had the proper 40/60 ratio. However, today many raw foods are genetically altered or they have been irradiated for longer shelf life, killing the enzymes in the food which means that even the raw food we eat today could be in a 20/80 ratio or worse.

In addition, we are already asking the human body to break down 100% of the cooked and processed foods and supplements we eat, and now, possibly 80% or more of the raw foods we eat.

Imagine the stress this puts on your body on a daily basis!

Basically, here is how the digestive process works: First, you chew your food, and it mixes with the saliva in the mouth. The saliva has an enzyme called amylase which starts the predigestion of carbohydrates. The more you chew, the better.

Secondly, the food is swallowed and goes down the esophagus into the upper portion of the stomach. The food remains for about 45 to 60 minutes to predigest. That is, it will predigest if you are eating foods containing live enzymes because the body does not supply any enzymes at this stage of digestion.

Thirdly, the food goes into the lower part of the stomach where trypsin, pepsin and hydrochloric acid break it down further. The food then moves into the small intestines where the pancreas produces digestive enzymes to complete digestion.

Lastly, the nutrients pass through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream where metabolic enzymes utilize these nutrients in all parts of the body and in every living cell.


First you need to affect the predigestive stage which lasts approximately 45 to 60 minutes in the upper part of the stomach. Dr. Howell calls this the enzyme stomach because this is where the live enzymes within a raw food start predigestion of that food.

You can improve your digestion by adding a digestive enzyme to break down the food as it sits in the upper stomach. It can then predigest completely, which improves the entire digestive process, and your health.

This is very important as it helps conserve your body’s enzyme supply.

Lack of digestive enzymes affects the pancreas. Remember the digestive system is designed to break down approximately half of the food. When we eat cooked and processed foods, we’re asking the digestive system to break down 100% of the food we have eaten. This means every time we eat these foods, the pancreas must produce twice as many enzymes and the pancreas is working double time. Doing this year after year puts a tremendous strain on the pancreas and eventually stresses our immune system and reduces our metabolic enzyme supply.

Autopsies have been done on people that eat mostly cooked and processed foods. The results show the pancreas is dangerously enlarged, poorly functioning, and quite often on the verge of breaking down.

There are three ways to conserve your enzyme supply.

Eating organically grown raw food is one way. The second is to take digestive enzymes every time you eat, or to take digestive enzymes on an empty stomach.

Dr. Howell said, “If we don’t replenish our enzyme supply, we run the risk of ill health.”

In other words, the faster your enzyme supply depletes, the faster you age and the more likely you will get disease. On the other hand, when you conserve and even increase your enzyme supplies, you increase the odds you will live a longer and healthier life.

Dr. Howell stated that the underlying cause of almost all degenerative diseases is the depletion of the enzyme supply caused by eating cooked foods which ends up causing premature aging and early death.

He also said, “We know that decreased enzyme levels are found in a number of chronic ailments, such as allergies, skin disease and even serious diseases like diabetes and cancer.” If your enzyme supply is low, you will have problems. But, if your enzyme supply is high, you will be healthy.

Some problems show up in the long term while others show up in the short term. For example, frequent colds and flus are a very good example of what can occur in the short term as an indication that your immune system is not functioning properly.


Fat in its raw form is the best source of energy. However, when fat is cooked or processed, it no longer has the 40/60 ratio and quite often gets stored in the body and is one of the reasons why many people are overweight.

Dr. Howell’s research has also shown that a diet of cooked foods causes rapid, premature death in mice. In fact, rats on a cooked and processed food diet live about two years. While the rats that eat raw food live about three years. The rats eating raw food live 50% longer. Dr. Howell also noted that the brain weight of rats eating cooked food went down and their body weight went up.

Another study was based on two groups of hogs. The first group ate cooked potatoes and gained weight rapidly. While the second group ate raw potatoes and didn’t get fat. Dr. Howell stated, based on his work in a sanitarium, “It is impossible to get people fat on raw foods, regardless of the calorie intake.”

At the Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago experiments were done on two groups of people. The first group was 21 to 31 years old. The second group was 69 to 100 years old. They found the younger people had 30 times more amylase in their saliva than the older people. This is why when we’re young, we can handle a diet of bread, pasta, pastries and cooked foods without much problem. But this type of diet can cause rapid aging and depletion of our enzyme supplies.

Without taking digestive enzymes, you can’t digest food properly, especially when the food is cooked. Because the enzymes in the food have been killed by the processing and cooking. Even fresh fruits and vegetables, unless they are organically grown, are usually irradiated, which kills the enzymes in them.


For years, most so called “experts” believed that if enzymes were taken orally, they simply passed right through the body without being absorbed. Many also believed that all enzymes from ingested food were destroyed in the stomach. Yet independent research shows that neither is the case.

In one experiment, authors of Enzymes Therapy, Max Wolf, M.D. and Earl Ransberger, Ph.D, tagged certain enzymes with radioactive dye and determined that they could later be found in the liver, spleen, kidneys, heart and other vital organs of the subjects who ingested them. A Northwestern University study showed that the enzyme amylase, from germinated barley, digested starch in the stomach and then passed into the small intestine where it continued digestion.


Most medical experts believe that toxicity and genetics are the primary causes of diseases. While this may be true, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Remember that enzymes are involved in every metabolic and cellular process in the body, including maintaining your immune system. Among other things, they attack and break down toxic substances so that the body can eliminate them safely.

During acute illnesses and common infections, such as fevers, flu and pneumonia, the body’s enzyme levels are actually increased. That is because your white blood cells (often called leukocytes) which are responsible for destroying disease producing substances in your blood, increase to help your body fight off the invasions that cause these temporary illnesses.

Conversely, people suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes and cancer have been shown to have greatly reduced levels of certain enzymes. Their pancreas and digestive tracts are often in a weakened state and their immune systems show signs of depletion, probably from having to fight the disease for a long period of time.


Dr. Willstatter, in an early enzyme research study, found that there are eight different anylase enzymes in white blood cells. Other investigations have also shown that white blood cells, or leukocytes, contain proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes, which are common to those secreted by your body’s pancreas.

These enzymes act very much like the ones in your body’s digestive tract which break down proteins, fats and carbohydrate that have been absorbed by the blood causing diseased conditions.

Enzymes in your white blood cells are the scavengers of the body. They attach themselves to foreign substances and reduce them to a form the body can dispose of safely. They also prevent the arteries from becoming clogged up and the joints from becoming gummed up.


Abnormal cells in the body erect a fibrin shield that hides them from your body’s white blood cells which would normally destroy them. Yet, research by German scientists has shown that certain enzymes, taken orally, can detect abnormal cells and eat away the fibrin shield, allowing your body’s natural immune system to demolish them.


Fibrocystic disease occurs in almost 50% of premenopausal women. Although benign, it can cause pain and discomfort. Enzyme therapy has been successfully used as treatment. Drs. Wolfgang, Scheef and Konig studied 247 women over a period of five years. After six weeks, more than 65% of the women taking the enzyme therapy were free of complaints.

Multiple Enzyme Formula Information:

It is recommended to use a multiple formula enzyme on a daily basis with your meals. There is some thought amongst the medical community that the pancreas may have a “preprogrammed” ability to produce a certain amount of enzymes in a lifetime. This is especially important for patients that are prone to diabetes. Regular use of a quality multiple formula enzyme supplementation may possibly lesson the demands on your pancreas over your lifetime, which may therefore prolong the ability of your pancreas to continue working strongly into old age. This has not been proven, but is considered a reasonable explanation as to why some older people have a harder time digesting foods.

Individuals with extreme cases of Gastritis, Gastric or Duodenal Ulcers should begin their enzyme supplementation with a formula void of Protease and gradually transition over to a formula with Protease in about four weeks. This is due to the situation that Protease may temporarily have a burning sensation for individuals with these situations.

There is evidence that a quality multiple formula enzyme, taken on a daily basis, provides nutritional support for most digestive disorders; prevention of malabsorption; food allergies; gallbladder stress; sugar intolerance; dairy intolerance; and intestinal disorders.

A quality blend should contain the following plant enzymes:

  • Protease Responsible for breaking down proteins into amino acids.
  • Amylase Aids in the digestion of carbohydrates by breaking them down into simple sugars.
  • Lactase Assists in the digestion of milk and dairy products and may help overcome dairy intolerance.
  • Cellulase Essential in digesting fibers. It is found in all vegetables but is not produced by humans or animals.
  • Lipase Assists in the digestion of fats by breaking them down into essential fatty acids and smaller chains of fatty acids like triglycerides.


There is no doubt, enzymes are critically important to maintaining optimal health. They are the work force and life force of the human body. To be at your very best, continue to supplement with vitamins and minerals, glyconutrients to aid in cellular repair and communication, detoxify your body of heavy metals and environmental pollutants, AND for efficient and proper digestion, add a quality enzyme product which contains an efficient blend of ingredients.

When you add digestive enzymes to your diet, your vitamins will work better, your minerals will work better, and you will gain more from the food you eat. These important supplements are a necessity in today’s toxic world, as we consume a diet which is, for the most part, dead food.