The organic benefits of Enzymes

By Jon Barron

What is the definition of an Enzyme?

Enzymes are made up from biological molecules that are large in size (mostly proteins) that speed up or catalyze chemical reactions in living organisms. They play a critical role in everyday life. Enzymes regulate every single part of your body. Enzymes regulate all of your tissues, muscles, bones, organs, and cells. Enzymes are our life blood!

Enzymes also govern every single system in your body–all of your working parts on a daily basis. Enzymes control your digestive system, immune system, bloodstream, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas, as well as your ability to see, think, feel, and breathe–the very functioning of each and every cell in your body–all depend on enzymes.

Each time that you eat food, all of the minerals, vitamins and all of the hormones your body produces need enzymes in order to function properly. Every single metabolic function in your body is governed by Enzymes. Your stamina, your energy level, your ability to utilize vitamins and minerals, your immune system–all governed by Enzymes.

Other diseases, such as cancer, result because damage to cellular DNA triggers an excessive activity of one or more enzymes. It also should be noted that many routine medical tests monitor the activity of enzymes in the blood as a lookout for possible problems. For example, standard blood panels include a check on liver enzymes that can spotlight anything from alcohol abuse to viral hepatitis to liver tumors.

Here is How Enzymes Work

Enzymes work by providing an alternative pathway that requires lower activation energy for a reaction than would otherwise be required. By bringing the reactants closer together, enzymes can help make chemical bonds weaker, thus helping reactions proceed faster than they can without the catalyst.

Enzymes allow many chemical reactions to occur within the constraints (temperature, oxygen levels, acid/alkaline balance, etc.) of a living system. As organic catalysts, they are involved in chemical reactions; and they do not alter the equilibrium of those reactions. Enzymes do not make a reaction occur that would not occur on its own, they just make that reaction happen much faster.

This is important since these “reactions” govern every function in your body, not to mention the destruction of viruses, bacteria, and cancerous cells. This helps us understand how increasing the speed of a chemical process in the body several-millionfold could change things drastically. And the most amazing part is that enzymes are not permanently altered in the process of catalyzing a reaction. They may be changed briefly during the process, but at the end of a reaction, enzyme molecules are unchanged from where they were at the beginning. This means that a single enzyme molecule can be used over and over to catalyze the same reaction.

Another way to describe what enzymes do is to say that they create an environment that makes reactions in the human body more energetically favorable. When we use the word “environment” here, we’re not talking about a big, complex ecosystem kind of thing, but rather, a very small focused area where chemical transformations take place. In fact, with enzymes, the “environment” is a tiny place located on a single molecule. This environment, referred to as an “active site” is a groove or pocket on the surface of the enzyme inside of which the substrate (the substance that is the focus of the chemical reaction) gets bound and then undergoes reaction.

What kind of Enzymes are in your body?

There are thousands of different enzymes in the human body. The exact number is unknown, but estimates range from 55,000 to as many as 75,000–the vast majority, as yet, unidentified–and each one is responsible for facilitating one specific chemical reaction required to keep the body running.

When it comes to the vast majority of these enzymes, there is very little we can do to change their numbers and impact on the body. That said, many medications specifically try to do just that. These pharmaceutical medications work by increasing or inhibiting either the production or efficacy of a particular enzyme–either in your body, or in the body of an invading pathogen. Penicillin, for example, works by dissolving the cell walls of invading bacteria, literally disintegrating them. The way in which it does this explains a lot about enzymes.

Stomach Acid and Oral Enzymes

Are we able to digest enzymes orally and impact chemical reactions both within the gut and the bloodstream and produce multiple beneficial effects, or are they destroyed by stomach acid? Let’s discuss that:

There are some sources on the internet that would have you believe that orally administered enzymes are an absurdity because, as they say, “Since enzymes are proteins, your stomach acid digests them before they can have any beneficial impact in your gut–let alone enter your bloodstream.” As it turns out, it is not supplemental enzymes that are absurd, but these claims.

And they can be proven wrong in many ways, but the simplest is to give three real world examples: pepsin, amylase, and lactase:

Pepsin is an extremely powerful protein digesting enzyme that thrives in the high acid environment.  It is produced in your stomach, and it not only works with the hydrochloric acid in your stomach to break down proteins, it actually requireshydrochloric acid to be produced in the first place.

How Does Stomach Acid Work?

Here’s the sequence. Pepsinogen is secreted by the chief cells in your stomach. By itself, pepsinogen is inactive and will digest nothing until it is converted into pepsin. Pepsin is produced when pepsinogen comes in contact with hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This is actually a remarkably elegant maneuver by your digestive system.

Since pepsin literally digests protein, you don’t want pepsin active in the chief cells themselves or it would digest them. Thus the chief cells release inactive pepsinogen–pepsin’s precursor– which is converted into pepsin only after the pepsinogen has made its way out of the chief cells and into the stomach itself, where it is converted in the presence of stomach acid. Since the wall of the stomach is coated with mucous, it is protected from the active enzyme. Pepsin can only digest your meal and not your stomach.

On a related note, stomach acid doesn’t actually digest protein; it merely unfolds proteins. That’s where pepsin comes in. Pepsin is what breaks the bonds between amino acids that make up proteins; thus, it is the pepsin that digests proteins. The hydrochloric acid is merely the setup man in the process.

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