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What are Enzymes and Why We Need Them

enzymes

Enzymes are something you have likely heard about from somewhere but can't quite place what it is they are supposed to be and whether or not they are important to learn about. In actuality, there are many things about enzymes that would be useful for you to learn. What you may not realize is that there are many kinds of enzymes that exist inside our bodies and performing a multitude of functions. Without enzymes, our bodies would cease to exist.

Any molecule in our bodies can be called an enzyme whenever it performs a specific biological action. Just like we have molecules like collagen that give us our body structure, enzymes are molecules that perform biochemical reactions that allow other molecules inside our bodies to change in some way. Enzymes are vitally important to us.

Enzymes can build structures inside the body, can help provide the body with energy or can break down structures or molecules in various places in our body. When you read or hear about an enzyme, you can sometimes tell when something is an enzyme because it ends in the letters "-ase". For example, the enzyme collagenase acts specifically on a molecule of collagen.

In humans, we have two large categories of enzymes. (1) We have digestive enzymes that work inside the digestive tract to break down our foods so they are small enough to be absorbed. The enzymes amylase, pepsin and lactase are three common digestive enzymes. (2) Systemic enzymes work inside our blood, our tissues and inside every cell of our body. Proteases, fibrinolytic enzymes and catalases all function inside the body in different systemic processes.

As we age, the levels of our body enzymes generally decrease. The result is that we don't process our food very well and our body doesn't function as optimally as it did during our younger years. Unfortunately, there aren't any enzymatic replacement products that can supplement every possible enzyme a person might need.

For example, there are digestive enzyme products like those that contain lactase. These products are wonderful for people who have difficulty digesting the lactose in milk. If you have difficulty digesting proteins, however, then lactase isn't an enzyme product that will work for you. You need a proteolytic digestive enzyme for that.

Fortunately, several products exist that combine several digestive enzymes together that can work together to process foods of all different types. A really good enzyme product also includes things that help the enzymes work together. These additives are called coenzymes. Some coenzymes are just enzyme helpers while others have functions they can also perform on their own.

With digestive enzymes, there are products containing peptidase, amylase, proteases, lipases, celluloses, lactase, galactosidases and gluconases. Such a blend would help almost anyone with poor digestion, especially those with a poorly-functioning pancreas, the organ that makes most of our digestive enzymes.

With systemic enzymes, there is likely no combination that could possibly replace all of the possible enzymes we have. One can, however, choose an enzymatic blend that targets the specific areas one wants to have supported with enzymes. As with any systemic enzyme blend, there are a few things you need to look for:

  1. The enzymatic blend must be of a pharmaceutical grade. This means that the product is extremely pure.
  2. You must look for an enzymatic blend that contains the coenzymes necessary for the enzyme to work. An enzyme without its coenzyme is like having an automobile without gasoline.
  3. You must choose an enzymatic blend that makes sense for the health conditions you are the most worried about. Reading the product information will help you with that.
  4. You must choose an enzymatic blend that is delivered in a pill or capsule that protects the delicate enzymes from being destroyed in the acidic stomach. Enzymes are generally mostly proteins that can break down in the stomach if not protected by the pill or capsule you use.

Let's take a look at a combination of systemic enzymes that together affect a wide range of body systems. Let's consider a product with the combination of serrapeptase, nattokinase and coenzyme Q10 (along with other necessary coenzyme factors). The first enzyme, serrapeptase, is a proteolytic enzyme that being studied worldwide in those who have thick respiratory secretions, such as those with allergies or lung disease. Research has also found it to be effective as an anti-inflammatory agent, such as the kind of inflammation seen in arthritic conditions. It is also known to reduce tissue swelling after injury and to improve healing of injuries. To compare systemic enzyme products click here.

fibrin coagluated bloodThe next enzyme is nattokinase. This enzyme is a fibrinolytic enzyme, meaning that it breaks down the protein called fibrin. Fibrin is crucial to the formation of unwelcome blood clots such as is seen in heart disease, strokes and in blood clots one gets in the veins of the legs. Having a fibrinolytic enzyme in your system means that plasmin, the enzyme that normally breaks down fibrin-based clots, doesn't have to do all the work. It's a perfect dietary supplement for someone who worries about developing blood clots of any kind.

Adding coenzyme Q10 to the enzyme supplement provides powerful antioxidant effects. Coenzyme Q10 itself has been found to be helpful in diabetics with high blood pressure. One study found that a strain of mice that were prone to the effects of aging showed a reduction in those effects if coenzyme Q10 was added to their diet. Another study showed that when someone is taking certain cholesterol-lowering medicines, the muscle pain they experience is related to a lack of coenzyme Q10 in the muscle cells. This is because coenzyme Q10 is important in a cell's "respiration" and metabolism. As an antioxidant, this coenzyme is helpful for those who are prone to atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries"). To compare systemic enzyme products click here.

The above combination of systemic enzymes are perfect together because they each perform a specific function in the body that work synergistically with one another to support the cardiovascular system and block inflammation of body systems in those who likely have concerns in both of those areas.

With such an extensive list of helpful enzymes and other healthful molecules, perhaps it would be best to summarize the benefits of supporting your diet by listing the various body systems and conditions in which enzyme deficiencies could cause;

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke risk
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypercoagulation disorders
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • High cholesterol
  • Claudication
  • Phlebitis
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Anti-oxidant therapy
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Endometriosis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Peyronie's disease
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sports injuries
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Diabetic risk
  • Indigestion
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • COPD/emphysema
  • Laryngitis
  • Bacterial or viral infections

As you can see, it is even more important with systemic enzymes than it is with digestive enzymes to find a pure, synergistic product that provides the best nutritional support in the areas you are the most concerned about. Finally, pay attention to purity and the delivery system so that the product you pick performs the way you want it to. To compare systemic enzyme products click here.

References:

  1. Pyle GG, et al. "Effect of pretreatment of food gluten with prolyl endopeptidase on gluten-induced malabsorption in celiac sprue." Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol . 2005 Jul;3(7):629-30.
  2. Sollid LM, Khosla C. "Future therapeutic options for celiac disease." Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol . 2005 Mar;2(3):140-7.
  3. Chang CT, et al. "Potent fibrinolytic enzymes from a mutant of Bacillus subtilis IMR-NK1". J Agric Food Chem . 2000 Aug;48(8):3210-6.
  4. Moriya N, et al. "Intestinal absorption of serrapeptase (TSP) in rats". Biotechnol Appl Biochem . 1994 Aug;20(Pt 1): 101-8.
  5. Esch PM, et al. "Reduction of post-operative swelling. Objective measurement of swelling of the upper ankle joint in treatment with serrapeptase-a prospective study". Fortschr Med . 1989 Feb 10;107(4):67-8, 71-2.
  6. Mazzone A, et al. "Evaluation of Serratia peptidase in acute or chronic inflammation of otorhinololaryngology pathology: a multicentre, double-blind, randomized trial versus placebo". J Int Med Res . 1990 Sep-Oct;18(5):379-88.
  7. Selan L, et al. "Proteolytic enzymes: a new treatment strategy for prosthetic infections?" Antimicrob Agents Chemother . 1993 Dec;37(12):2619-21.
  8. Suzuki Y, et al. "Dietary supplement of fermented soybean, natto, suppresses intimal thickening and modulates the lysis of mural thrombi after endothelial injury in rat femoral artery". Life Sci . 2003 Jul 25;73(10):1289-98.
  9. Modi K, et al. "Effect of coenzyme Q10 on catalase activity and other antioxidant parameters in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats". Biol Trace Elem Res . 2006 Jan;109(1):25-34.
  10. Nakamura S, et al. "Effect of the proteolytic enzyme serrapeptase in patients with chronic airway disease". Respirology . 2003 Sep;8(3):316-20.
  11. Yan J, et al. "Reduced coenzyme Q10 supplementation decelerates senescence in SAMP1 mice". Exp Gerontol . 2005 Dec 29.