Understanding the Human Digestive System:
Don't Dine without Enzymes.*
Hello and "Welcome back" to our Journey to Better Nutrition
In this discussion we deepen our knowledge of how nutrition works inside the human body. This will lead us (naturally and organically) into a discussion about how the New Earth products work inside the body. The main purpose behind this and all of our nutrition discussions is to help you to have optimum product benefits and results. And all of this is designed to support your commitment to creating a healthier diet and lifestyle.
"Biology will be to the 21st Century what physics and chemistry
were to the 20th century…The main area of interest will be the
production of enzymes, or living catalysts, which will act in
the same way as chemical catalysts."
- John Naisbitt, Megatrends (1992)
Where and when does the process of human digestion begin?
Most of us have had the experience of imagining a favorite food, whether at home, at the office, or in the car…and that favorite food is at least a few hours away from being bought, prepared, and eaten.
It doesn't matter. A few seconds into clearly imagining one of our favorite foods we notice that a certain amount of extra moisture permeates our mouth. We are salivating. Some smell or some memory or image in our brain has triggered a biochemical reaction in our belly and throughout our entire gastro-intestinal system. We may even feel and hear a distant grumbling noise or two. What is happening is one of the many miracles of a healthy human body…the miracle of digestion has begun.
The moment the body gets the message (either real or imagined) that "food is coming" a whole series of biochemical reactions are triggered and the miracle of human digestion begins. Digestive enzymes are released into our saliva that are capable of breaking down all the sugars contained in the carbohydrate portion of our foods, particularly fruits, grains, and vegetables. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) and the digestive enzyme protease ("pro-tea-ace") are secreted through the delicate mucous lining of the stomach. Protease is secreted to break down the protein portion of our foods (beans, legumes, fish, chicken, beef, etc.) and HCL is released to sterilize and disinfect our foods from pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. At the same time, the liver, gall bladder and pancreas are busy generating additional digestive enzymes and bile salts that are capable of emulsifying the fatty portion of our foods. The liver provides the nutrients that the pancreas uses to generate enzymes, and the gall bladder rations out bile salts and enzymes as the various foods leave the stomach and enter the duodenum. And this is just the very beginning of human digestion.
Of course, this is how things work in a healthy human body…under ideal circumstances and conditions. But as we've already mentioned…we are no longer living in the proverbial Garden of Eden.
Living in the modern world of planes, trains and automobiles has produced unique varieties of stress whose deep and pervasive and usually negative impacts are unprecedented in the history of humanity.
There are at least two dominant stress factors that contribute to all the many insults that negatively impact our desire and ability to create healthier diets and lifestyles.
- A radically altered food supply: Consider
every aspect of modern technological agribusiness, from seed stocks
to plowing and planting, harvest and storage, fertilizers, pest
and rodent control, refrigeration, transport, processing, and
distribution…and most recently the creation of what some are calling
"frankenfoods", the infamous Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Each step in this technological chain of events has the potential
to degrade and decrease the nutrient viability of all of our food.
This is a much larger and longer discussion that we will address
in separate sections. There are two major components of the stress
factor we are calling a radically altered food supply: 1. How
we grow, harvest, process and distribute our foods, and 2. How
we select, prepare (cook), and consume (digest) our foods.
- A toxic environment: Toxic chemicals used in agriculture,
industry, technology, and even in our own homes and gardens contribute
to the poisoning of our local, regional, and global eco-systems,
including all of our food, water, and air. The magnitude of this
subject requires many separate discussions, which we look forward
to sharing with you.
What are the "results" of these two stress factors?
These two stress factors - a radically altered food supply and a toxic environment - interferes with and disrupts all of the normal biological functions inside the human body. Every cell in our body ends up missing essential nutrients because they are no longer in our food. Or the nutrients decompose on the way to our kitchen table, due to radically altered harvesting, processing, and distribution methods. Or they are destroyed through improper cooking techniques. These problems are referred to as nutritional deficiencies. And they are more widespread than most of us realize. When our cells lack the micronutrients necessary to do their various metabolic tasks, these tasks simply do not get done. When our cells don't work properly, our organs don't work properly, and our systems (digestive, cardio-vascular, etc.) don't work properly. The myriad symptoms of acute and chronic discomfort and dis-ease have part of their root cause right here. The biological buck starts and stops with our magnificent cells, which depend entirely on the quality of our food, water, and air supplies. But this is only one side of the proverbial coin…
The other side of the coin…
The other side of the coin, a toxic environment, introduces completely
non-nutrient substances into our bodies and into our cellular structures.
Under ideal circumstances, the normal cellular detoxification pathways
(see Each Cell is a Factory ) can quickly
identify, neutralize, and eliminate any and all toxic foreign invaders.
This internal cellular protection mechanism is part of every cell
in our body.
The cellular component and metabolic co-factor responsible for this magnificent internal cellular protection is called an enzyme.
But, if nutrient deficiencies exist (as they almost always do in the modern food supply), the micronutrient co-factors (vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, pigments, amino acids, etc.) necessary for the enzymes to work simply are not there (or enough of them are not there), and so the enzymes cannot do their job. When the internal metabolic enzymes cannot do their job, it's bad enough. But complicating matters even further is the presence of toxic co-factors, which cause additional stress and strain to an already underachieving body. Inside our magnificent body ecology, every function is connected and interdependent, but perhaps no one factor is more important to the overall health and well-being of our bodies than enzymes…
"The enzymes catalyze specific reactions of chemicals, either
to create structure through molecular assemblies or to provide
the electrochemical fire to run the cellular engines and ultimately
keep the entire system working."
- Richard Gerber, M.D.
What are enzymes?
Our resident Enzyme Expert and author of the booklet; Don't Dine Without Enzymes, Victoras Kulvinskas, describes enzymes this way (paraphrased here):
The word "enzyme" comes from the Greek word "enzymas" which means "to ferment" or "to cause a change". Enzymes are catalysts for all biochemical reactions and are necessary components for all biological life. Without enzymes what we call "biological life" would simply not exist as we normally recognize it. Enzymes are the foundation for all cell regeneration. Enzymes play a key role in the transformation of undigested food into the micro-nutrients that are absorbed at the cellular level. With the proper balance of enzymes we have the energy to participate in the dance of living.
An enzyme is a specialized protein structure which carries with it an electromagnetic or "energetic" charge. Enzymes speed up chemical reactions that normally take place very slowly or not at all. It is this "energetic component" behind the protein structure that makes enzymes different from other protein-based substances. It is this energetic life principle, sometimes called prana or ch'i (pronounced "chee") or life-force that animates all life forms.
The father of modern enzyme therapy, Dr. Edward Howell, once said that enzymes emit a kind of radiation that can be picked up on Kirlian photographs. Howell can be singled out from other researchers because he stressed that enzymes are not merely expendable protein-based chemical catalysts that move along various chemical reactions…He forcefully argued that enzymes are none other than units of life energy that use various protein molecules as their carriers.
Types of Enzymes
There are three primary types of enzymes:
- Metabolic Enzymes: This type of enzyme exists
throughout the body and requires nutrient co-factors in order
to function as described earlier. Metabolic enzymes are involved
in every biochemical reaction in every cell, organ, and system
of our body.
- Food Enzymes: In its infinite wisdom, nature
recognizes the value and importance of enzymes and therefore makes
sure that every edible seed, grain, sprout, fruit, bean, and vegetable
contains its very own internal enzyme bank capable of completely
breaking down the food that contains it and releasing vital micronutrients
for digestion, absorption, and assimilation into our cells. There
are two vitally important and very big "ifs". The first big if
is this: If the food enzymes are still there. Food enzymes are
extremely sensitive and can be destroyed long before you eat the
food in question (due to harvesting, processing, and transport
methods), or immediately before you eat the food due to cooking.
Endogenous food enzymes, meaning those produced by or from within
the food, are present only in very healthy, nutrient-rich raw
foods. The second big if is this: If you chew your food properly.
Proper chewing mechanically tears open the whole food fibers and
releases the endogenous "bank" of food enzymes contained within
the food itself. Proper chewing also stimulates the increased
production of our own digestive enzymes.
- Digestive Enzymes (protease, amylase, and lipase
among others): If the body is properly nourished and not assaulted
on a daily basis by various environmental toxins and other stress
factors, it is fully capable of producing the necessary digestive
enzymes for breaking down the three major types of food: proteins,
carbohydrates, and fats. And if we still lived in the Garden of
Eden we wouldn't be taking this journey to better nutrition together
now, would we?
Why are supplemental digestive enzymes necessary?
Supplemental digestive enzymes (such as New Earth's Enzymes and Enzymes Plus) are necessary because of all the reasons explained previously. To summarize briefly:
- Nutrient deficient and, therefore, enzyme
deficient food supplies
- A toxic environment that produces marginal and
toxic food supplies
- Improper cooking and preparation methods
- Improper chewing techniques (wolfing down food
works great…but only if you are a wolf!)
- Millions of other stress factors in our modern
diets and lifestyles: antibiotics, alcohol, caffeine, food additives,
overwork, lack of sleep, etc.
These stress factors leave people overfed, undernourished, stressed out, toxic,
overwhelmed…and with bodies that are less and less capable of normal
Supplemental digestive enzymes provide the necessary biochemical assistance in order for all consumed foods to be thoroughly broken down and liquefied. Only in this liquid state can the next and very important stages of absorption and assimilation of nutrients occur.
Why is complete digestion of our foods so important?
One of the primary reasons to eat any food is to make the full spectrum of vital micronutrients available to the cells of our body. This is possible only through the elaborate biochemical process of complete digestion, including the assistance of digestive enzymes. Incomplete digestion of food is one of the root causes of all bodily discomfort and is partly responsible for the full range of acute and chronic dis-ease symptoms. This important realization will become more relevant and clear, as we continue our journey to better nutrition in the days and weeks ahead.
Why is "variety" in our food selections so important?
The primary reason to eat a variety of foods is to make sure we are making available to our cells all of the essential micro-nutrients they contain. The bad news is that accomplishing this feat without the help of dietary supplements is virtually impossible. The good news is this: Gram for gram the most nutrient-rich food on earth, naturally containing a balanced synergy of the broadest spectrum of all available micro-nutrients is New Earth's Wild Bluegreen™ Algae. By adding Wild Bluegreen™ Algae to our digestive enzyme products we have created the most nutrient rich and most enzymatically active enzyme products in the marketplace today.
"There is no other mechanism in the body, except enzyme action,
to protect the body from any hazard. It is ambiguous to say that
'nature cures' when we must know that the only machinery in the
body capable of doing [work] is enzyme activity. Hormones do
not 'work'. Vitamins do not 'work'. Minerals do not 'work'. Proteins
do not 'work'. Enzymes, and only enzymes, "work". The ability
of the body to make any of the numerous enzymes needed for good
health and long life must be kept at a high level by the methods
incorporated in the Food Enzyme Concept."
- Dr. Edward Howell, Enzyme Nutrition
"Many researchers now believe that the aging process is the
result of the slowing down and gradual disorganization of
various enzyme activities. Might it eventually be possible to
restore youthful patterns of activity by supplying those enzymes
that are deficient in the diet?"
R. Ratcliff M.D. Today's Health
(published by the AMA in 1960.)
As you can see, enzymes in general and digestive
enzymes in particular are some of the most essential ingredients
in our journey to better nutrition.
Remember…Don't Dine Without Enzymes. Talk to you again soon.
Action Steps for Section Two!
Back to the Table of Contents
- Learn more about New Earth's two digestive enzyme products:
Enzymes and Enzymes Plus
- Learn more about enzymes in general
- Read Enzyme Logic in
Dollars & Sense
- Fill out your Weekly
- Identify an insulting habit in your diet or lifestyle
and minimize its impact. You could eliminate the insult altogether
or simply modify it. Just try it one day at a time, for one week,
and see if you notice improvements in your health and energy.
Review the Habits of Naturally Healthy People
for ideas and suggestions.
- Do you have questions?