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Metabolic Enzymes: Your Body’s Natural Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation afflicts so many people today it might be hard to believe that your body naturally produces the best anti-inflammatory in the world. They’re called enzymes – specifically metabolic enzymes. Of course, this prompts the question:

If my body produces these anti-inflammatory molecules, why do I suffer from it?

Frankly, researchers are still studying the many complexities of our inflammatory response. These causes, however, don’t change the fact that enzymes provide the best and most complete relief. To understand why is to understand the basics of inflammation. Let’s take a closer look…

Why Inflammation Occurs

As big a pain as inflammation is (literally, right?), it’s also the mechanism by which the body protects itself from harm and infection. A 2013 Nutrition Review article explains that inflammation is important as it is your body’s natural response to injury or infection. The article notes five symptoms of inflammation[i]:

  • Redness – indicating increased blood flow to the area
  • Heat – due to the presence of more blood
  • Swelling – resulting from the build-up of fluids in the surrounding tissue
  • Pain – which happens as swelling increases pressure in the area
  • Limited mobility – again due to the swelling, especially in joints

Each of these is an essential part of recovery from injury and infection. For example, if you cut yourself while preparing dinner, you’ll bleed. Apply pressure and wrap it and soon the bleeding stops (assuming of course that the cut’s not too bad).

What happened was that as soon as the body recognized the injury, fibrin, a protein used for clotting was released to the area. This fibrin helps to form a barrier to stop the blood loss. Once the bleeding stops, you might notice the area is red, hot, swollen and tender.

This happens as the area is flooded with lymphatic fluid and white blood cells to stop infection. Other molecules needed to remove the dead and broken cells arrive. Their removal allows new cells to take the place of the damaged ones.

This is the same process that takes place for insect bites and stings, infection from germs, sunburns and yes, it’s the same process that’s at the source of joint pain. While necessary for healing, this process can also become problematic as we’ll see in a moment.

How Metabolic Enzymes Reduce Inflammation

Enzymes can generally be divided into three categories.

  • Digestive enzymes, essential for digestion
  • Food or dietary enzymes, like those that naturally occur in plants; bromelain from pineapple and papain from papaya are two well-known examples
  • Metabolic enzymes, which are used to fuel every metabolic process in the body

These metabolic enzymes are responsible for every chemical reaction you need to live. They control your metabolism, keep your immune system going and cleanse the body of toxins and waste. Part of this body cleansing function includes keeping the inflammation response moving along.

Some ways enzymes work is to clear the blood of fibrin. They’re needed to break down and remove neutralized germs in the form of antigen-antibody immune complexes which form when your white blood cells bind with germs to stop infection. These two simple processes alone have a huge effect on inflammation and how you feel, including:

Improved Circulation

By clearing away fibrin, enzymes help reduce and prevent blockages in blood vessels. This is especially important in the arteries and in the joints. In arteries and veins, fibrin can restrict blood flow and put strain on the heart. A recent study has observed that metabolic enzymes protect blood vessels and the heart from damage by improved blood flow and even contribute to healing.[ii]

Circulation affects joints too. Joints have fewer blood vessels and less blood flow. A build-up of fibrin in the blood vessels reduces blood to the joint. What you experience, however, is swelling, limited mobility, aches and soreness as your body heals more slowly since the delivery of essential nutrients and molecules needed for recovery has been reduced.

Metabolic enzymes help keep the blood clear of fibrin to keep blood flowing.

Better Lymphatic Circulation

The lymphatic system is responsible for the delivery of white blood cells. These white blood cells use metabolic enzymes to break down the germs that cause infection.[iii] When there aren’t enough enzymes, those large antigen-antibody complexes form, and like fibrin, can clog and block lymphatic flow.

This slows the removal of fluid that contributes to swelling. It also slows the ability of new white blood cells to arrive to quickly deal with the infection.

Reduced Pain

Researchers have found that metabolic enzymes work as well to relieve pain as over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, just without the side effects.[iv]

Faster Recovery from Injury and Illness

How long it takes you to recover from injury and illness has a lot to do with blood flow and your body’s ability to complete the many metabolic processes needed to –

  • Isolate the area, i.e. stop blood loss or further damage to nearby cells
  • Remove damaged tissue or infectious germs
  • Deliver the nutrient building blocks needed to rebuild the cells in the area

This is how inflammation works whether you’re recovering from an awesome workout, physical injury, or infection.

Researchers have known metabolic enzymes play an essential role in physical recovery. In one study, they decided to see if supplementing with metabolic enzymes would improve recovery time. They tested the metabolic enzymes against a placebo, which just let the body recover without any additional help. The athletes who took the enzymes enjoyed a faster recovery.[v]

So, If I Make These Metabolic Enzymes, Why Do I Suffer from Inflammation?

While researchers continue to explore inflammation, there are several known factors why inflammation can get out of control.

  1. You produce fewer enzymes as you get older. Some experts suggest by age 50 you produce half the enzymes you did at age 20.
  2. One organ produces the majority of your enzymes. The pancreas is responsible for making enzymes. It can only produce so many (which is frankly a lot), but other factors can make those it can produce too few. For example, without enough enzyme rich foods in your diet – raw fruits and vegetables – it has to spend time making more digestive enzymes, instead of metabolic enzymes.
  3. A diet high in sugar, starches and processed foods. A carb heavy diet and one that includes nutrient and enzyme-deficient processed foods can quickly overwhelm your ability to break down all the sugars and starches you eat.
  4. Eating too much food. Even a healthy diet can tax your system if you overeat.
  5. Sports and exercise. Your body needs time to recover. If it doesn’t get enough rest and recovery time, it can wear down, especially the joints.
  6. Injury. A physical injury can leave a joint damaged or weakened. Even when it heals, it may not be 100%.
  7. Digestive injuries. Constant inflammation in the digestive tract like that which causes irritable bowels, indigestion, acid and more, floods your body with inflammatory-molecules. Inflammation like this may overwhelm your body’s ability to produce enough metabolic enzymes to control it.

These are several common reasons the enzymes you produce may not be enough. Fortunately, you can help.

How to Reduce Inflammation in Your Body with Metabolic Enzymes

Regardless of your condition, you can take steps today to address inflammation. This is not to say your condition may be more complex and require greater attention, but rather, you can take steps to get it under control immediately. Here’s what to do:

First, eliminate processed foods and those with added sugars.

Second, eat more raw fruits and vegetables.

Now, sometimes this can pose a challenge for you, which is totally understandable, you might want to consider taking a plant-based digestive enzyme [INSERT LINK TO PRODUCT PAGE] with meals. By doing this, you’ll support your body’s own digestive enzymes and improve digestion even of sugars and carbs.

Third, if you exercise, set a routine that gives your muscles and joints a chance to recover. Taking a day off between workouts is highly recommended by most physical trainers.

Finally, take metabolic enzymes. By taking them, you supply your body with the enzymes it needs to support circulation, keep your immune system going strong and reduce the achy, soreness of inflammation.

 

 

 

[i] https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/controlling-inflammation-proteolytic-enzymes/

[ii] Gonzalez EA1, et al. Cathepsin B inhibition attenuates cardiovascular pathology in mucopolysaccharidosis I mice. Life Sci. 2018 Mar 1;196:102-109. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2018.01.020. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

[iii] https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/controlling-inflammation-proteolytic-enzymes/

[iv] Bolten WW1, et al. The safety and efficacy of an enzyme combination in managing knee osteoarthritis pain in adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis. 2015;2015:251521. doi: 10.1155/2015/251521. Epub 2015 Jan 31.

[v] Marzin T1, et al. Effects of a systemic enzyme therapy in healthy active adults after exhaustive eccentric exercise: a randomised, two-stage, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017 Mar 12;2(1):e000191. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000191. eCollection 2016.

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10 Benefits of Plant-based Digestive Enzymes

The Importance of Plant-based Enzymes


Plants are unique. They contain the enzymes needed to break them down for digestion. If you take an apple fresh from the tree and start chewing, it releases enzymes that go to work breaking down its sugars and fibers.

These plant enzymes work together with the ones you naturally produce to digest your food. Of course, this leads to the next question…if I produce digestive enzymes, why would I need more?

For years, the answer has been you don’t. Of course, over those same years, the rates of chronic disease have risen, and obesity has become a problem. Perhaps the better question is, were the digestive enzymes we produce ever supposed to carry the entire load of digestion?

Research suggests no. For example, archaeologists have discovered that centuries ago the typical hunter-gatherer consumed about 135 grams of prebiotic fiber daily! That’s raw fiber from enzyme-rich plants. The 135 grams figure is also really important as –

  • Today, the average adult only gets about 15 grams of fiber[i];
  • The recommended daily average is 25-30 grams of fiber[ii]; and,
  • That 135 grams was only prebiotic fiber, not the entire fiber consumption of the individual!

While this is important in regard to the prebiotics-probiotics discussion (covered in this article, it also reveals that hunter-gatherers would have also consumed a lot of plant enzymes every day!

Now, today the term “plant-based enzymes” refers to two types of enzymes:

  • Enzymes like bromelain and papain that come from plants (pineapple and papaya respectively)
  • Enzymes grown in microbial plants specifically for supplements

Both of these come with a lot of benefits, especially when compared to animal-based enzymes, also known as pancreatic enzymes. Here are 10 of them.

#1. All-Natural.

Enzymes grown in plants come from a natural source. It could be said animal-based enzymes come from the pancreases of animals, which would make them natural. There is, however, one problem with this. Animal-based enzymes are so delicate and fragile, that they require extra care and preparation, often introducing other elements and factors into production.

#2. Safe.

With plants, manufacturers have complete control over the growing environment, harvesting, preparation and manufacture. You also don’t have to wonder what the animal used as sources of the enzymes ate, or if they were kept healthy with antibiotics or other chemicals.

Now, when evaluating a plant-based digestive enzyme, you should always look for certifications to validate the product. GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practice, for example, is one any reputable product will have – and one you should look for at a minimum to ensure the best possible product.

#3. Survives in Lower pH Environments

Plant-based enzymes can survive and do their work in acidic environments, even those as acidic as the human stomach.

Animal-based enzymes need the more neutral pH of the small intestine to work. They would break down if exposed to stomach acids. This is why most animal-based enzymes are covered in an enteric coating; it protects them on their journey through the stomach. It also means they don’t start working until they reach the small intestine, where undigested food could cause inflammation if that area is already highly sensitive, a problem for anyone who suffers from irritable bowels or other types of indigestion.

#4. Provides Better Nutrient Digestion and Absorption

Since plant-based enzymes start working in the stomach, more food gets broken down even before it reaches the small intestine. This means better digestion and a reduced digestive effort that might cause indigestion. It also means more nutrients for your body, nutrients that support a strong metabolism, healthy body weight, and better heart, liver and brain health.

#5. Sustainable.

Plant-based enzymes are good for the environment. Plants are grown, harvested, and then grown again. They require sunlight, water and “plant food.” Animals require more time to grow and require more care.

#6. Can Handle a Wider Range of Temperatures.

Plant-based enzymes can also thrive in a wider range of temperatures. Now, that doesn’t mean you can cook them. All enzymes break down when heated above 120 degrees F. But it means they’ll last.

#7. Travels Better.

Animal-based enzymes need to be kept cool, meaning traveling with them can be a challenge. While we encourage refrigeration of our enzymes, for example, they will still work even if they’re not. This makes it easier for you to get their benefits when you go to work, on business trips, out to dinner or on vacations.

#8. A Greater Variety Promotes Better Overall Health.

Animal-based enzymes, coming from an animal’s pancreas, come in a specific percentage of proteases (for protein digestion), amylases (for carb digestion), and lipases (for fat digestion).

Plant-based enzymes provide these and more. With plants you can get protease, amylase and lipase. You can also get:

  • Lactase, for digestion of milk sugars
  • Peptidase, to digest milk proteins (casein) and gluten
  • Cellulase, which digests plant fibers
  • Hemicellulase, again plant fibers
  • Xylanase, plant fibers
  • Beta-glucanase, which digests special fibers used by yeasts, grains and fungi
#9. Keeps Beneficial Bacteria Balanced.

Probiotics, those beneficial bacteria in your gut, get a lot of attention. Yet, they need digestive enzymes to keep their environment stable.

For example, Candida albicans is a fungus that lives in the gut. In small quantities, it helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients. However, if the balance in the gut gets disrupted by illness, antibiotic use, consumption of added sugars and enzyme-deficient foods, Candida can get out of control and makes the gut an unfriendly environment for your beneficial probiotic bacteria. When out of control, it also forms a hard, outer fiber shell that only plant-based enzymes can break down.

#10. More Flexibility in Combining Enzymes to Meet Different Needs

Plant-based enzymes can be mixed and matched. This means they can be combined for a complete digestive enzyme. Or, they can be combined to form metabolic enzymes to cleanse the blood of excess proteins like fibrin. They can also be used to enhance other products like:

  • Probiotics to make them more effective
  • Blue-green algae supplements to boost nutrient absorption and aid detox
  • Natural cleanse products to improve waste breakdown and detox
  • Protein powders to improve protein digestion to prevent stomach upset and for better results.

Animal-based enzymes can’t do this. They will always be a specific combination of proteases, amylases and lipases. This is the reason plant-based enzymes have become so popular.

It’s also why plant-based enzymes will continue to grow in popularity as more and more people use them. They work. They’re safe. They’re easy to take and can make up for a lack of enzymes in the diet, and you can find the one that meets your specific need.

 

 

[i] Ibid.

[ii] https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing_fiber_intake/

Gas Relief, Digestive Enzymes and How to End Bloating

Gas relief can come in many forms. For some, it may be a simple fix. Others may find it requires a little more effort. Yet, no matter what your situation is, you can get relief from gas and bloating. It’s also worth noting, gas and bloating become more problematic with age. Digestion becomes more inefficient […]

Are Digestive Enzymes Good for You?

Many people today, especially in the U.S., have started supplementing with digestive enzymes. They take them to ease gas, bloating and indigestion. Some take them to reduce inflammation. Yet, do an online search and you’ll see a lot of differing viewpoints. And so, the question remains…

Are digestive enzymes good for you?

In a word, yes. Digestive enzymes fuel digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. Without them, your body cannot break down the food you eat.

Your body, specifically your pancreas, naturally produces digestive enzymes. A small portion of the population suffers from a diagnosed condition called pancreatic insufficiency. It really means lack of digestive enzymes. This condition can occur for a variety of reasons, but when it does, doctors prescribe their patients pancreatic enzymes. They’ve been doing this for 60 years!

Today, digestive enzymes have become exceptionally popular for people across all age groups and medical conditions around the world. Why? The modern diet fails to provide the natural support it once did. With the growing rates of digestive disorders and chronic, degenerative diseases, the modern diet may actually disrupt enzyme levels and their effectiveness.

What digestive enzymes do

Think of a digestive enzyme like a key. It unlocks the nutrients in your food. Except, breaking down food to get to a nutrient involves lots of doors.

The process begins when you chew. Your saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starches and sugars. In the stomach, protein digestion begins. Enzymes in the food you ate go to work. Stomach acid is introduced to provide an ideal environment for the enzymes to work.

In the small intestine, bile and more digestive enzymes are introduced. Gut bacteria get involved too as they contribute enzymes. Getting to the nutrients in food is a constant hand-off from one enzyme to another at every step along the way. Enzymes even fuel absorption of nutrients into the blood.

Yet when we think of digestion, we ignore digestive enzymes. Stomach acid gets a lot of attention due to acid reflux. Probiotics get a lot of attention for their role in a healthy bowel. But neither does anything without enzymes!

Digestion only happens with enzymes. In fact, every metabolic process in your body relies on enzymes. And that’s what make digestive enzymes so important – they provide the nutrients needed by the tens of thousands of metabolic enzymes your body uses to create energy, regulate hormones, remove waste from the blood and so much more.

Digestive enzymes also appear to be where the problem starts.

You Make Fewer Digestive Enzymes as You Age

By the age of 30, on average a person produces 95% less amylase. Chewing doesn’t break down as much starch, leading to starches and sugars reaching the stomach and intestines. These fuel the growth of unhealthy bacteria, viruses and fungus.

Middle-aged adults make less lipase, the enzyme that breaks down fat. Researchers know the elderly have such reduced enzyme levels they suffer from some degree of malnutrition![i]

And what often happens in middle-age? Weight gain occurs. Blood sugar problems develop. Gas, indigestion, bloating and more become common.

Often, it’s these irritable bowels of age that lead people to try a digestive enzyme. The results keep them using it! Beyond individual testimonials, studies also show they work.

  • In one study, patients who suffered from cramping, bloating and other symptoms of poor digestion experienced relief after taking a digestive enzyme with meals.
  • Digestive enzymes produced relief in patients with IBS, reducing gas and abdominal pain.
  • A Chinese study reported 80% of patients who took digestive enzymes experienced relief from indigestion.
But if the body makes digestive enzymes, why would I need more?

Ok, so decreased production of digestive enzymes as we age is one reason. But diet looks to play a big role too!

For tens of thousands of years, the human diet included natural, raw foods full of enzymes. These enzymes helped digest the exact foods people ate. It’s very possible the pancreas was never meant to produce all the enzymes needed for digestion.

Most food today lacks enzymes. Processing removes enzymes from foods, so all those refined, processed foods sitting on store shelves have none. Plus, at 120 degrees F enzymes in food break down, meaning cooked vegetables don’t supply the enzymes raw ones do. Even so called fresh foods lack enzymes; once their harvested the enzymes start to break.

This means even a healthy diet featuring natural fruits and vegetables bought at a grocery store lacks the enzymes of our ancestors!

The best sources for enzyme-rich foods include fresh picked produce right from your garden. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and sprouts and soaked seeds and nuts also deliver valuable digestive enzymes.

What is the best digestive enzyme supplement?

You’ll see a lot of digestive enzyme supplements on the market today. Frankly, some are good and others not as much. The best ones include a complete range of digestive enzymes – enzymes for starch, protein, and fat digestion at least. Catalase is good too as it helps to remove free radicals and support the body’s natural antioxidant activity.

Now, one argument made against digestive enzymes is that stomach acids and digestion break them down. It’s important to distinguish though between plant-based and pancreatic enzymes. For decades doctors have prescribed pancreatic enzymes for anyone with a diagnosed enzyme deficiency. Enzyme therapies like these have a coating to help them survive stomach acids.

Plant-based enzymes don’t need a coating like this. They can tolerate a much wider range of acidic environments including stomach acid!

Research done decades ago also has shown that enzymes can survive and boost an individual’s overall enzyme levels.[v] Many additional studies have supported these findings.

The durability of plant-based enzymes makes them the best digestive enzyme for almost everyone. Their ability to survive the acidic environment of the stomach increases the benefits they can deliver.

Another element to look for in an enzyme supplement is how well the enzymes support absorption. Clinical studies have shown some combinations of enzymes and other plant-nutrients enhance absorption, which is after all, exactly what you want.

 

References:

[i] Rémond D, Shahar DR, Gille D, et al. Understanding the gastrointestinal tract of the elderly to develop dietary solutions that prevent malnutritionOncotarget. 2015;6(16):13858-13898.

[ii] Money ME, Walkowiak J, Virgilio C, et al. Pilot study: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial of pancrealipase for the treatment of postprandial irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhoea. Frontline Gastroenterology 2011;2:48-56.

[iii] C. Ciacci, et al. Effect of beta-Glucan, Inositol and digestive enzymes in GI symptoms of patients with IBS. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci, Year: 2011, Vol. 15 – N. 6 Pages: 637-643.

[iv] Wu Y1, et al.  [Efficacy of compound digestive enzyme tablet for dyspeptic symptoms: a randomized double-blind parallel controlled multicenter clinical trial in China]. [Article in Chinese] Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2014 Nov 18;94(42):3326-8.

[v] Ambrus JL, et al. Absorption of exogenous and endogenous proteolytic enzymes. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1967 May-Jun;8(3):362-8.