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Bernice Clark ▼ | August 17, 2012
EnzymesPut two persons of the same age and weight on the same diet, and they will lose their weight differently. How's that possible? The answer hides in genetics and - enzymes.

That very intriguing intro raises even more important question: What we actually know about our immune system and what enzymes have to do with it?

To function properly, our immune system must detect a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism's own healthy tissue.

In the order of importance for human health there is oxygen, water, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. Ironically, we were taught a lot about the importance of minerals and vitamins but not much attention goes to enzymes.

Minerals are often artificially added to the diet as supplements, vitamins are required by an organism as a vital nutrient in limited amounts, and while our body cannot produce vitamins and minerals, it does have the power to make enzymes from its own cells and without enzymes minerals and vitamins won't work.

A chronic deficiency of enzymes weakens the immune system, contributes to illness, and ultimately promotes diseases such as cancer.

So, what are enzymes?

Enzymes are biological catalysts, mainly proteins, generated by an organism to speed up chemical reactions. Enzymes can catalyze (speed up) about 4,000 reactions, up to several million reactions per second. Even thinking involves enzymes.

There are about 10,000 enzymes produced in the body, and they can be separated in two main categories: digestive enzymes, which work in stomach and metabolic, which work within our immune system. As we age, enzyme production slows. Although the reason for that is not clear, it is a medical fact.

When we are talking about food we eat (and gain weight), the most interesting part of our body is pancreas, a small organ located in the upper abdomen adjacent to the small intestine. It secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars and completes its job by breaking down proteins and fats.

Our digestive system was designed to process raw food. If we briefly take a look back at the ancient times we will see that our ancestors' primary diet was fruit and vegetables, and despite the fact that they were hunters the meat was rarely on the menu.

Maybe that's the reason why, although nobody ever said exactly that, our body burns carbohydrates first, then proteins and last are fats, our fuel reserves.

Our diet changed drastically from that time and meat is more often on the table than fruit and vegetables. That new situation puts a lot of stress on three basic digestive enzymes (amylase, lipase and protease) which gives tumour more space to slip unnoticed and start to grow and spread through the body.

The majority of food we eat today is cooked, baked, fried, canned, pasteurized, microwaved... Once the food is cooked at a temperature above 48C (118F), enzymes are destroyed.

Only raw, uncooked food contains enzymes. In 2002 the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine released a report recommending people to focus on getting more good carbohydrates into their diet (read: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans).

Elevated amylase and lipase in the blood may mean inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), especially when the pain is in the center of the upper abdomen.

But to diagnose acute pancreatitis, the level of another enzyme, tripsin, found in the digestive system, gives more accurate data, plus symptoms associated with inflammation of the pancreas (upper abdominal pain, losing weight, nausea and vomiting).

Elevated amylase and lipase may also mean kidney failure or alcoholism, amylase deficiency occurs in liver diseases and diabetes, and it is elevated in colon obstruction...

Now, a carful reader would say: Both deficiency of enzymes and elevated enzymes cause diseases, so what's the relationship between enzymes and cancer, anyway? We can't live without water but drinking too much water will kill us and to have deficiency of enzymes or elevated enzymes is not good, too.

Our natural immune defence system works so well that it destroys most tumour cells before they ever cause any noticeable symptoms. But the problem arises when there are more tumour cells than it can handle. To solve that problem the number of enzymes increases to reduce tumour size. So, to have elevated enzymes in the blood means our body fights against something.

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