Find out what digestive enzymes do and if you have increased requirements for any of them.

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

by Walter Last

Digestive enzymes are released from our digestive organs in order to break down food into molecules small enough for it to be absorbed. Deficiencies of digestive enzymes are widespread and are caused mainly by overeating, eating too much cooked food, by habitually eating problem foods and by incorrect food combining. Virtually all elderly people and those with chronic degenerative diseases and allergies have digestive enzyme deficiencies.

The enzymes in raw and fermented foods help in the digestive process but are destroyed by temperatures over 1200 F. Furthermore, many heated proteins become more difficult to digest. With this, they need more digestive enzymes than sprouted grains and uncooked proteins. However, some raw seeds (especially beans such as soybeans and broad beans), wheatgerm and nuts contain enzyme inhibitors. Sprouting inactivates these.

Make a deliberate effort to improve the enzyme content and digestibility of your food. In addition, if you are in a state of chronically lowered health, it will be very helpful to use enzyme supplements. This is essential in the case of cancer and other advanced degenerative diseases and also allergies, except if on a predominantly raw food diet.

Most important are the pancreas enzymes - pancreatin, available under various trade names. For serious diseases take 4000-5000 mg of pancreatin in divided doses during the course of each meal. One tablet may contain 1200 or 1600 mg of pancreatin, sometimes also described as 300 or 400 mg of pancreatin 4NF. In addition you may take one or two tablets of an enzyme combination containing papain, bromelain, pepsin and bile. Pepsin is indicated with protein foods if the stomach is weak, while bile is helpful if there is a problem with fat absorption. Papain and bromelain help protein digestion.

Swallow tablets of pancreas enzymes whole. In the case of degenerative diseases and advancing age, gastric acid is often deficient. You may take hydrochloric-acid-pepsin tablets, especially with cooked protein meals. The best gastric acid replacement is betaine hydrochloride, a white crystalline powder, this is the form in which stomach acid occurs naturally. Alternatively, dilute 1 part commercial diluted hydrochloric acid (usually 20%) with 9 parts water. Mix 1 (plastic) teaspoon of this with meals or drink with fluids after a meal. Additional enzymes are not needed with uncooked meals.

However, digestive enzyme supplements are not required if protein-digesting enzymes can be obtained from food, such as bromelain from pineapples or papain from unheated leaves or flowers or unripe fruit of papaw/papaya. Also ripe Kiwi-fruit are good. Use any of these with protein meals. You may also pre-digest meat, fish or other protein food by refrigerating it wrapped or mixed with papaw leaf overnight.