A word about Enzymes
Note: The study of enzymes or enzymology, can lead through very complex paths (which we will do our best to avoid here). And so, we shall endeavour to take a more simple, yet knowledgeable, route while preserving the essence of the information transmitted.
What are enzymes?
In the good old days, people used to call them “ferments” because they were observed through their actions while turning grapes into wine, Hobbs into beer or rising bread. Enzymes are found everywhere in nature and their functions vary widely varied. We mostly know them through the processes of digestion and body healing mechanisms, but there are many more. We also know that without them we wouldn’t live!
In a more scientific approach, an enzyme is a protein composed of a chain of amino acids(simple organic compounds that form proteins). Not all proteins are enzymes though! Enzymes are produced by all living organisms and play a crucial role in nearly all the chemical reactions that take place within the body by acting as catalysts(a Catalyst is, in this case, a chemical substance that provokes or accelerates the rate of a chemical reaction without being changed itself by the reaction). Enzymes facilitate vital processes such as respiration, digestion, photosynthesis(for plants), tissues reparation and much more. Being the subject of very specialised studies by the industrial sector they are now being used in all sorts of sectors such as food-industry, detergents (bio washing powders for example), textiles, animal feeding, medicine, paper production, waste treatment, etc.
Where, do they act?
Enzymes are classified according to the type of work they do and on which substrates (the substance that is being changed by it) they act on, which means that the number of different enzymes is huge! When reading about enzymes you will recognise them through their etymology as most of them have names finishing by “-ase” or “-sin”. Here are a few examples:
– Invertase: breaks down sugar.
– Proteinase: Speeds up the splitting of proteins and plays a very important role in mending the lungs after smoke damage.
– Pepsin: digestion of proteins in stomach.
– Trypsin: carries on the protein digestion in the small intestine.
How do they work?
Enzymes act by converting their “assigned” substrates into different molecules/substances (products). Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to sustain life.
Enzymes have also some “friends” that will bind to them for the duration of the reaction,and therefore facilitating the process: they are called “cofactors” (coenzymes are some of them). These are either organic or non-organic (such as magnesium, iron…)and they might not be produced by our system such as vitamins like riboflavin, thiamin or folic acid. This means that we have to bring them in through our diet. The subject of cofactors alone is vast. So, if you want to know more about these, see the references below.
When do they stop working?
Enzymes will stop working if the conditions within which they are supposed to thrive are not met such as an increase in temperature, acidity levels, in our body, or by absorption of chemicals. This is why a healthy diet is crucial to maintain a good level of working enzymes within and that means avoiding, as much as possible, foods causing an acidic increase(This will be the subject of another paper). There are also some substances called inhibitors which, as the name suggests, will prevent the enzymes from performing. They attach themselves to the enzyme and will stop the substrates from binding to the active site (see image further up). These inhibitors can be natural such as those contained in dry pulses (which is why you have to soak them before cooking them) and the belladonna family; or they can be chemical such as most pesticides (don’t forget that all foods that are produced the “main stream” way are absolutely showered with them), most prescribed drugs to treat diseases (chemotherapy drugs are a good example).
What to do to maintain a good level of enzymes in our body?
After reading this, it comes to sense to say that eating a healthy diet of mainly fruit and veg is a good idea as it will provide you with a constant supply of enzymes of all sorts. Please, choose organic as it is better for the Earth and better for you as you won’t be introducing dangerous chemicals of all sorts into your precious vehicle (your body). Avoid, as much as possible (and I am well aware that this is sometimes impossible to do so) all types of chemical medicine, ready made dishes, processed foods and drinks as they, too often, contain a whole battery of ingredients that are far removed from the natural world and often lethal for your health, but most of all, they will rise the acidity in your system to a sky-high level. So, it is best to keep your ph level as alkaline as possible. If, by principle, you go for something that presents itself under its natural form (the form it was born with), you should be pretty safe…or as safe as can be as there are so many other factors that can affect our health!
Remember that what you don’t put in your mouth is even more important than what you do!
Why are enzymes so important?
Cancer, for example, is a direct consequence of either enzyme deficiency or malfunctioning. This statement is taken from the chi Machine International page (see reference below):
“In the early 1900’s, Dr. John Beard discovered that pancreatic enzymes destroyed cancer cells. He deduced that cancer cells come from stem cells that become uncontrolled stem cells. Decades later, Dr. William Kelley read about his work, and cured himself of cancer using pancreatic enzymes and started treating and curing many cancer patients (including actor Steve McQueen) using pancreatic enzymes. Cancers of the liver and pancreas demand the supplementation of digestive enzymes because these are the organs that are supposed to produce them in the first place.”
They are a key elements for a good health.