The Importance of Enzymes

Raluca Schachter

Raluca Schachter › Raluca Schachter is a passionate Nutritionist and Metabolic Typing Advisor®, with a background in both nutrition ...


How many of us actually understand the important role enzymes play in the upkeep and proper functioning of our bodies? Raluca Schachter has created a terrific overview of the various kinds of enzymes needed by the body to perform a multitude of important tasks that keep us healthy and in good working order. She also explains which foods are best for boosting and maintaining the enzyme levels needed for good health.

The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.
(The Enzyme Nutrition Axiom formulated by Dr. Edward Howell)

Vitamins, minerals and all kinds of super-nutrients are in the spotlight on the nutritional arena. Enzymes are not that much talked about though. But they are essential and most of the people these days, including small children are very deficient! Actually, we are the only species on Earth that tries to live without food enzymes! And we’re doing a poor job at it…What happened and why are enzymes so necessary for health?

Why Are Enzymes Essential And Where Did They Go?

Enzymes are substances which make life possible and which are found in natural, “live” foods and also in your body. Enzymes are the “work force” of the bodyWithout them, chemical reactions cannot take place, and hormones, minerals, and vitamins cannot carry out their functions. There are believed to be hundreds of thousands of enzymes in the body; different enzymes perform different functions. Without them, life cannot exist.
Some activities of enzymes are:

  • Digest food to a size capable of being absorbed into the blood
  • Rebuild food into tissue of muscle, bone, organs, glands, etc.
  • Work to store food in the liver and muscles for fuel later on
  • Coagulate blood
  • Attach iron to red blood cells
  • Eliminate carbon dioxide from the lungs
  • Promote oxidation
  • Attack waste material in the blood and prepare it for elimination
  • Change protein into sugar or fat
  • Change carbohydrate into fat
  • Change fat into carbohydrate

You can have all the raw materials necessary for good health – vitamins, minerals, intrinsic factors, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, etc. – but enzymes are necessary in order for your body to utilize all the raw materials in its life-supporting activities of metabolism.

The critical role of enzymes in the maintenance of health and well-being was dramatically demonstrated in an experiment now known as “The Pottenger Cat Studies,” which was performed by Francis Pottenger, M.D., in 1946. Pottenger wanted to know if raw meat and raw milk, when modified by high heat, had an impact on growth and development. During the ten years of the study, nine hundred cats were studied. The results of this study were stunning: consuming raw meat and raw milk versus heated and cooked meat and milk – can negatively affect cats’ health over four generations!! After just one generation of cats, which was fed cooked food, these developed degenerative diseases.

At birth, we acquire a limited supply of enzymes. Throughout our lifetime, as enzymes perform their function, they are destroyed and eliminated from the body.The habit of cooking the food (especially at high temperatures and even above 118 F), eating it processed with chemicals, the use of drugs, alcohol, and junk food all draw out tremendous quantities of enzymes from our limited supply.  Frequent colds and fevers and exposure to extremes of temperature also deplete the supply. 

There are three classes of enzymes:

  • metabolic enzymes, which run our bodies
  • digestive enzymes, which digest the food; most are manufactured by the pancreas
  • food enzymes obtained from raw foods, which start food digestion

Our bodies are run by metabolic enzymes; every organ and tissue has its own particular metabolic enzymes to do specialized work. Since good health depends on all of these metabolic enzymes doing an excellent job, we must be sure that nothing interferes with the body making enough of them. A shortage could mean trouble, many time serious.  Nature’s plan calls for food enzymes to carry the whole load. If food enzymes do some of the work, the enzyme potential can have much more to give to the hundreds of metabolic enzymes that run the body.

Think about it as you think of your banking account: if it’s not continuously replenished, it could become dangerously “deficient”…

So, when ingested, the enzymes in raw food or supplementary enzymes, result in a significant degree of digestion, lowering the drain on the organism. The heat in cooking destroys enzymes and forces the organism to produce more enzymes, thus enlarging the pancreas. This way, the body is unable to produce an adequate quantity of metabolic enzymes to repair the body and fight disease. 

Health Conditions Associated With Enzyme Deficiency

According to dr Edward Howell, a noted pioneer in the field of enzyme research, enzyme deficiency leads to ashortened lifespan, illness and lowered resistance to illnessOn short, the less your supply of enzymes is, the shorter your life! That’s a pretty good argument and a very truthful one as well! The reality is just this: a body in a weakened, enzyme-deficient state is a prime target for cancer, obesity, arthritis, allergies, heart diseaseand other degenerative problems.  The glands and the major organs, including the brain, suffer most from the unnatural digestive drain on the metabolic enzyme potential. The pancreas swells to meet the great demand for its juices while other glands also abnormally adapt, and the brain actually shrinks on the all cooked and over-refined diet.

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This article originally appeared on It is partially posted here with permission from the author.

Do you understand the important role enzymes play in the upkeep and proper functioning of our bodies? 

Photo Credit: Tomiko Peirano