If I asked you what the key to your health is I am sure that I would get varying answers such as a healthy diet, exercise and drinking lots of water. All of these things are great and, in fact, very important as is getting enough sleep and enough sunshine to regulate your hormonal system. But at the very centre of our health sits something as simple as our digestive enzymes. In fact, our digestive health is really the cornerstone of a healthy and vibrant body.
Dr Edward Howell, author of Enzyme Nutrition, writes the following:
“Our body’s life force, vitality, vital force, strength, nerve energy or whatever you choose to call it has enzymes at its core. Without the life energy of enzymes we would be nothing more than a pile of lifeless chemical substances – vitamins, minerals, water, proteins. In both maintaining health and in healing, enzymes, and only enzymes, do the actual work. They are what we call, in metabolism, the body’s labour force. Each one of us is given a limited supply of bodily enzyme energy at birth. This supply, like the energy supply in a new battery, has to last a lifetime. The faster you use up your enzyme supply, the sorter your life. A great deal of our enzyme energy is wasted haphazardly throughout life. The habit of cooking our food, and eating it processed with chemicals; and the use of alcohol, drugs, and junk food all draw out tremendous quantities of enzymes from our limited supply.”
You might be incredibly surprised to read this and in fact might even say that this cannot be true. But give some thought to the process that the body goes through in order to receive nutrition which in turn keeps us functioning. It is our digestive enzymes that break down the food we eat in order for us to be nourished. And in fact, when our digestive enzymes are not at work digesting the food we eat they are absorbed into the blood stream in order to perform other vital functions such as contributing to the immune system functioning or reducing inflammation. The supplementation of digestive enzymes may actually assist in the reduction of allergies and inflammation.
In her book Allergies, Disease in Disguise, Carolee Bateson-Koch writes the following about enzymes:
- Enzymes are vital for vitamins and minerals to work in the body;
- Enzymatic activity is necessary and responsible for every biochemical reaction that occurs in living tissues;
- Studies show that enzymes are biochemically active and therefore can be exhausted and become deficient in the human body;
- Nutritional enzyme supplementation replenishs enzyme losses due to diet, aging, illness and overeating;
So what should you do to ensure that you keep your enzyme supply at its best?
A diet as close to what nature intended is always the one that will create the best results in your body. The rule of thumb is as follows – foods that are raw and unprocessed contain enzymes naturally and when consumed will introduce these enzymes into your body. Foods that are highly cooked are enzyme deficient and add no enzymes to the body. On top of that, foods that are difficult to digest such as red meat, make use of a lot of your existing enzymes in order to be broken down and as such reduce your enzyme supply even further.
Here is a simple plan which you can follow in order to give your body a boost as well as a good clean out:
- Eat only raw fruit and nuts/seeds until lunch time eat day;
- Start lunch and dinner with a big, raw salad packed full of a varying array of veggies;
- Snack on raw fruit, dried fruit (sulphur dioxide free) or raw veggies between meals;
- Do not drink while you eat as this dilutes your enzymes and means that your meal will not be properly digested;
- Keep your consumption of meat and dairy products to a minimum as these are difficult to digest;
I find it interesting that many people are very keen to invest into their retirement but less keen to invest in their health. Some of these changes may seem radical to you but I can ensure you that in the long-term you will be thankful that you made what seemed like a sacrifice at the time. I would suggest that if your current diet is quite removed from this that you try one thing at a time and take it slowly. Perhaps try a breakfast of a pineapple, strawberry and almond smoothie or a chia seed porridge with almond milk and blueberries. Starting the day off with fruit and nuts will allow your body to continue the cleansing process started during the night and will also give you a big boost of enzymes first thing in the day. Once you have tried this and if you feel your health has improved then try something else. Always remember that these changes can bring about a cleanse in your body and you may feel some flu-like symptoms. Increase your water intake and see it through without reaching for the medication. Your body will thank you later!
O, and I forgot the most important rule of all! Relax and enjoy it!