08 Oct Nutrition Part 2: Food Enzymes
The second suggestion: Eat Lots Of Enzyme-Rich Foods
Food enzymes have always been a huge factor in a vital life. There are three main classes of enzymes: metabolic, digestive, and food enzymes.
Metabolic enzymes run our bodies. Each and every physiologic process relies on enzymes to accomplish it’s particular task. Without specialized metabolic enzymes, the heart couldn’t beat, the liver wouldn’t adequately detoxify impurities, nor would any of the countless metabolic processes occur efficiently. Metabolic enzymes are the unseen perpetuators of all life.
Digestive enzymes break down food, and there are three main types: Proteases digest protein, lipase breaks down fats, and amylase handles carbohydrates. These enzymes are produced by the digestive organs of the body such as he pancreas and stomach.
Food enzymes, or exogenous enzymes, are present in raw, unheated foods.
I’ve spoken a lot about Qi (energy) being the main game. Enzymes might even pass as a synonym for Qi on the physical level. Enzymes are catalysts in every biological process. Enzymes, therefore, are like a bank account. When the account is full, we possess energy and health; when depleted, our health and energy becomes weaker and more compromised. When no enzymes remain, bodily functions can’t be sustained and we die.
When it comes to food, only raw living foods contain enzymes. All enzymes are destroyed at 118 degrees, and some at lower temperatures. Cooking, including at low temperatures and flash cooking, destroys all enzymes. The only way to increase our enzyme pool is to take enzymes capsules or eat raw foods. I suggest both.
Eating food is paradoxical: food provides energy, and without it we can’t function, but digesting and processing food may be the most significant drain of energy to the body over a lifetime. Enormous amounts of pancreatic and gastric enzymes must be secreted for the purpose of digestion. All organs, including the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, intestines, and even the heart, must work to process food. Conversion of energy is a crucial factor of health, and when it comes to eating, conserving enzymes is the way to accomplish it. How do we conserve enzymes?
Fasting: Enzyme Conservation
Fasting is effective because we stop eating. The true meaning of fast is rest. We rest our bodies from the intense burden of digesting food. This conserves a great deal of enzymes and energy. Many times a body is so weak that one can’t adequately digest the food in our stomachs. While fasting, the energy that normally goes towards digesting is saved and may be channeled towards removing toxins and healing ourselves.
A similar principle applies to raw foods. Each raw food contains the enzyme that helps to digest itself, so raw enzyme rich foods will digest more cleanly with less energy output from our glands and organs. Raw foods also contribute to our overall enzyme pool, all of which increases our vitality. With a raw food diet, we will slowly strengthen our bodies at the cellular level. A healthy body will immediately begin removing toxins and righting itself.
The living diet is, in my opinion, one of the most important principles of health. All animals in the wild eat a 100% raw food diet. Generally, they are in perfect health. When you bring the same animal to a zoo and start feeding it cooked food, vitality goes right down the tubes. It’s the same with our own pets. Wild animals rarely have cancer or heart disease, but feed them commercial chow and they have heart disease and cancer like people.
Eating Less And Enzyme Conservation
Some years ago, a study came out that said the absolute most significant dietary action anyone can take is to eat very small amounts of simple, nourishing food (and it is very much about enzymes). The experiment severely restricted the caloric intake of animals and, in some cases, nearly doubled the length of life. Chinese literature abounds with tales of hermits who lived ridiculously long lives on a cup of rice or mono food. Experiments of eating meager portions of non-inflammatory foods have been conducted at various times and places in the world. There was one in England. A band of men got together and ate very small quantities of foods. Many of them lived in good health well into their nineties at a time when men were ancient if they lived past fifty. It has been shown repeatedly that conserving enzymes and the Qi necessary to digest, assimilate, and eliminate promotes health and a significantly longer life.
Eating small quantities of food is good, but most of us aren’t sages that sit in meditation all day. The average Western mind is under a lot of stress. We need more calories in order to fuel the brain with glucose. If we exercise vigorously, are under stress, or think a lot, we need more calories. Many vegetarians are what I call uninformed vegetarians. They cut animal products but consume a lot of starch, dairy, and sweets. If one wants to follow the monks that ate a little, make sure that your mind is calm, your energy body is developed (so you can absorb energy from life itself), and you are strong enough to withstand that type of routine. One can easily get by on a small amount of food if it is nutrient dense and has enough high-quality fat and protein.
Once one gets their system in balance, they can trust their hunger to be accurate barometer of their needs. Then the advice of the sages can be followed: eat when hungry, sleep when tired. In other words, flow with the wisdom and naturalness of your body.
Food Combining And Enzyme Conservation
Food combining was big in the seventies and eighties and, in some circles, still is. The idea was that certain classes of foods required different enzymes to digest perfectly. Therefore, combining them puts a strain on your enzyme capacity. Some of the ancient dietary laws are based on enzyme therapy. The rule to avoid mixing milk and meat is prudent for some because it leads to exceeding the enzymatic capacity to digest perfectly.
Many Americans habitually exceed the enzyme capacity of their bodies. A plate of Veal Parmesan contains meat, eggs, wheat, cheese, and tomato sauce. Add pasta and dessert and you’ve got a heck of a lot for your body to handle. Even if you have the enzymes to digest it, it will cost you.
Once again, it’s Qi. The body only has so much, and when one exceeds their capacity to digest an amount or combination of foods, it won’t burn cleanly. Inflammation is the result. Remember the old saying: it’s not what you eat, but what you digest and assimilate that counts. Another way of saying this is you can only digest what you have the power to digest. This takes a particular type of Qi. In Ayurvedic medicine it’s called digestive fire, or agni. When the digestive fire burns bright you have the power to digest anything. When agni is weak, gas, bloating, indigestion, loose stools, and lack of keen appetite result: all signs of improper digestion. One simply cannot exceed the flame of one’s digestive power (your digestive fire is your enzymatic and glandular capacity), or your meals won’t digest properly. Again, look to the natural wisdom of the body: if you don’t have a keen appetite, don’t eat. If you’re only a little hungry, don’t stuff yourself. It’s just being in harmony with yourself.
Raw Food Therapy The Right Way
Many raw food enthusiasts eat mostly fruits and vegetables, which don’t contain all that many enzymes. Edward Howell, the father of modern enzyme therapy, reminded us that the highest concentrations of enzymes are NOT in most vegetables and fruits but contained in high-fat foods such as raw butter, crème, milk, cheese, meat, fish, avocados, coconut, and nuts and seeds. Pineapple, mango, papaya, grapes, dates, kiwis, pomegranates, bananas, and berries are fairly rich non-animal sources, but the most enzymes are in raw fat.
Raw fat, therefore, is the prime area of our diet to spotlight. It has always been one of my favorite places to look for deficiencies in my patient’s diets because most people simply don’t consume enough. For many years, fat has been a bad guy, especially saturated fat, but a huge study just came out saying that fat, even saturated fat, is good for you. This has been known for thousands of years to some peoples. Indigenous peoples all sought fatty foods. A broad range of essential fatty acids is essential for good health, but even those who allow themselves to eat fat usually cook it. We can take a large step forward to health by taking in raw fat. Raw fat is the highest quality because it is so rich in enzymes. Raw fat is a completely different entity than cooked. Not only in the way it affects the body, but also in the way it is processed by the body. People cringe when they look at the amount of saturated fat in raw coconut, but raw coconut is one of the finest foods one can eat, especially young coconuts. When you cook coconut, though, it becomes far less healthy. The same applies with nearly any cooked food. Crème, if raw, is a total health food. Yet, I can’t advise eating cooked crème. In fact, I don’t recommend dairy at all unless it’s raw. Avocados are my second favorite high-fat food in the world. They’re good for the skin, brain, blood vessels, and heart.
In short, consume lots of raw, enzyme-rich foods, which means go for the higher calorie foods. If one is unaccustomed to raw foods, gas might result. If that’s a problem, eat cooked foods for the evening meal to prevent gas from keeping you awake. Include high-enzyme foods like a drinking coconut for lunch. Add raw, unpasteurized cheese or raw meat in a salad (and avocados, of course!). As one gets used to raw foods, they almost always find them superior. I sprout a variety of raw nuts and seeds and make a paste that is a used as a staple in my diet. As mentioned, I consider coconut and avocado super foods that might be consumed daily. The Japanese have popularized eating raw fish, and it’s probably one of the reasons why Japanese people are some of the most vital and long-lived people in Asia. It’s commonly thought of as taboo, but eating raw eggs, chicken, and meat is good for you. Raw dairy is so much better than pasteurized, it is in a league all its own.
Take enzymes capsules just before meals or snacks, especially with predominantly cooked meals.
All enzymes are killed at temperatures above 118 degrees. For better results, don’t heat any food you wish to consume raw above body temperature.
If it can be enjoyed raw, why cook it?
Soak and slightly sprout all seeds and nuts.
Eat raw butter, milk, and crème whenever possible.
Raw meat (chicken, fish, beef, buffalo, goat, lamb, etc.) is tremendous for your health and vitality.
Eat as simply as possible. Don’t over exceed your body’s capacity to digest and assimilate your food.
Make your own raw, fermented vegetables.