Focus On: Enzymes

WHAT are they? Enzymes are the energizers of life—they’re catalysts for energy released within the body. In addition to affecting energy, enzymes also regulate biochemical reactions that take place within the body. There are three types of enzymes: digestive, metabolic, and food. The body naturally produces digestive and metabolic enzymes, but food enzymes come only from what you eat.

 

[ Benefits ]

Enzymes allow the body to better utilize the energy present in food. This energy increases mental alertness as oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain. In addition, enzymes break down fats, help maintain weight (and boost weight loss) by aiding in digestion rather than fat storage, and improve the appearance of skin by eliminating stored waste products.

 

[ Natural Sources ]

Raw, whole, and live foods are the best sources for enzymes. For example, all leafy green vegetables are rich in enzymes. However, there are a few particular foods that top the enzyme list such as papayas, pineapple, grapefruit, unpasteurized milk, and yogurt.

 

[ Digging Deeper ]

The body is constantly in a state of digestion, and since digestion requires energy, keeping a balance between foods eaten and energy expended is vital for health. Eating foods low in enzymes potentially uses more energy in digestion than the food provides, whereas eating foods high in enzymes provides the body with the energy it needs to thrive.

 

[ Supplementation ]

Most enzymes sold in stores are plant-based and sourced from aspergillus found on soy and barley. The best way to ingest enzymes is to eat leafy green vegetables, yet plant-based supplements are also good for boosting enzyme levels. Pancreatin is derived from the pancreas of hogs and oxen and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Pepsin is found in the stomach of pigs and is often used in supplements for people who cannot digest protein. As always, follow directions on any supplement’s label for storage and dosage.

 

[ Antioxidant Picks ]

North American Herb & Spice Gastronex, $60, 90 capsules, p-73.com // Enzymedica Digest Gold, $16, 21 capsules, enzymedica.com // Arise & Shine Arisenzyme, $40, 180 capsules, ariseandshine.com // Natrol Papaya Enzyme, $8, 100 chewable tablets, natrol.com // Irwin Naturals Daily Digestive Enzymes, $20, 45 capsules, irwinnaturals.com // VivaPrime Digest, $90, 60 capsules, vivaprime.net