Enzymes: The Key to Longevity

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
Send all comments or additions to:

By Tim O'Shea, D.C.

"Enzymes will be the business of the future."

John Naisbitt, Megatrends 2000

Why do we die? Why do we age? Why do things wear out? Do we just live our lives and then all of a sudden out of the blue a disease bug comes floating in from who knows where and causes an illness that kills us? Unless of course the right drug can be found to "kill the bug."

Do you believe this? The majority of people in America actually do, but their numbers are shrinking steadily. People are now becoming aware that lifestyle has everything to do with susceptibility to disease. Lifestyle: you know - diet, stress level, mental outlook, daily physical movement, or lack thereof. Non-bug issues.

Incontrovertible evidence that has been around for 75 years is now being brought forth and substantiated by mainstream authorities that the determining factor of health and long life may correspond to one simple condition: blood toxicity. Toxicity means poison.

You may think of poisons as things like arsenic, or cyanide, or rat poison, or things that secret agents in James Bond movies bite in capsules just before they're captured. As every good ninja knows, there are many levels and types of poisons. The best ones kill you the slowest and are undetectable. So let's consider the slowest poisons of all: the food we eat.

Most modern food which the American diet comprises, is poison. Why do I say that? A good poison will block the flow of blood, decrease the amount of oxygen to the tissues, interfere with one or more major systems of the body, actually cause addiction to the poison itself, and eventually kill the subject. No poison in history has achieved these goals on the scale that processed food has.

Food processing has only been around for about the last 80 years or so. And it's only been really effective for about the last 50. Food processing came about mainly during wartime when we had to figure out how to transport large quantities of food to the soldiers without spoiling on the way. After the war, the techniques that had been learned were applied to the grocery business. The industry found out that the more enzymes they could remove from the food, the longer it lasted. If that meant that they were also removing most or all of the nutrition from the food, hey, too bad. They weren't in the health business; this was the Shelf-Life business.

So what are enzymes? Take a banana. A green one. Put it on a windowsill for a couple days. It turns yellow and ripens. That's enzymes working.

An alligator kills you in a swamp. But he doesn't eat you right away. Instead he drags you off to some pile of brush and lets you rot for a few weeks. Then when you're seasoned enough, you become an entree. What made the change? Enzymes.

A dog buries a bone. It was too hard. Two weeks later he digs it up. Nice and soft. Yum-yum. That's enzymes at work.

Very simply, enzymes are properties of all living cells that bring about changes. Enzymes are active in every cell of your body every second. Enzymes change things into usable forms.

The class of enzymes you're probably most familiar with is the one that involves digestion. The mouth, the stomach, the pancreas, the liver, and the intestine produce various enzymes whose job is to break down any food we eat into usable components. The key word here is 'any.' No matter how greasy, no matter how much extra cheese, or how much white sugar, no matter how indigestible a food is, your body will try to break it down by means of enzymes.

Some foods are very easy on the body. Turns out, those are the ones which contain within them all the enzymes necessary for complete digestion. Examples: apples, corn, watermelon, green peppers, pears, celery, get the idea? Raw fruits and vegetables. These foods don't require that the body waste energy producing a lot of powerful digestive juices in order to change them into a usable form.

Dr. Edward Howell, the leading world authority on enzymes, tells us it's as though we are given a bank account of enzyme energy at the beginning of our lives. The more of that bank account we have to use for digestion, the less is left over for the thousands of other tasks which enzymes have to perform in our bodies. Minor details like thinking, breathing, walking, seeing, etc. - all depend on enzymes. So think of someone grossly overweight. Do they do all these other functions well, or do they seem impaired? Obvious. Reason: they use too much of their enzyme bank account trying to digest all the heaps of indigestible food that keeps coming down the hatch. So there's not much left over for basic life functions.

Let's talk about the food we eat. Now most of us know what we should eat. But when it actually comes down to it, which it does several times a day, many of us simply eat food that "we're hungry for." We can't really be blamed for this, right? Billions of dollars are spent conditioning us about what we should feel hungry for. Look at TV, billboards, radio, newspapers - what are we constantly assaulted with? Images of burgers, fries, ice cream, chips, Pepsi, candy, milk, cheese, etc. Just hearing these words makes our Pavlovian mouths water. These are the best poisons ever made. Not only do they contain little or no nutrient content; even if they did there's almost no chance of our getting to it because these foods have no enzymes in them. All those were taken out during processing. Therefore the entire burden of digestion is placed on our body's own enzymes. Foods are being broken down only partially, or not at all, by our own digestive enzymes, because many foods are so foreign, so processed, so new to the human race that they overstress our body's ability to metabolize them.

So what happens to all this undigested food? Where does it go?

Well, what happens is, a lot goes in, but never comes out. A little vague? The average 35 year old has at least 4-22 lbs of undigested food in the intestine alone, even according to the FDA. John Wayne on autopsy was found to have closer to 44 lbs. of it! Elvis had more than 20 lbs. This rotting debris doesn't just stay in the intestine, but can make its way intact into the bloodstream, to be deposited in practically any location of the body. Such food is foreign and may cause inflammation in any area where it becomes lodged. Gastroenterologists call the condition Leaky Gut Syndrome. It can be the mechanism for just about any -itis you can think of: arthritis, gastritis, colitis, hepatitis,nephritis, myositis, bursitis, etc. Allergies! Reaction to undigested food has been implicated as the cause of over 90% of allergies. All these conditions usually don't just pop up for no reason, or because of some genetic tendency. Why look for an exotic cause when the obvious is staring you in the face? Years of eating food that cannot be broken down has predictable and definite physical consequences. Diet does not affect your health; diet determines your health.

Dr. Howell makes the observation that humans are the only animals who, in their natural environment, live their lives with disease. Think about it: how many diseases are there for humans in the pathology textbooks? 500? 1000? What other animal in nature gets even 5 diseases? Why? Dr. Howell explains that humans are the only animals that eat processed foods, the only animals who subsist on enzyme-less food:

"All wild creatures get their enzyme supplements in the raw food itself."

Enzyme Nutrition p7

The saliva of horses and cattle doesn't even contain enzymes, like ours does. The work of digestion is largely aided by the enzymes in the grass or hay they eat. A whale that had 32 seals in its stomach was found to secrete no digestive enzymes! Digestion took place by means of enzymes contained within the seals themselves. Think of the burden this removes from the whale's digestive systems during his lifetime. Or more accurately, since we're the exception, think of the burden enzymeless food places on our systems. We must expend great quantities of energy producing and maintaining digestive enzymes that Dr. Howell describes as "pathologically rich." What a waste of energy. At what a price.

Going back to the blood now, and the idea of toxicity, remember that the blood was the carrier which deposited all the undigested food debris in various locations throughout the body. But this type of debris also has observable effects on the red blood cells themselves. Undigested fat and protein in the diet commonly cause a condition known as erythrocyte aggregation, which is simply clumping of the red cells. This causes circulation problems and may be the primary cause of chronic fatigue. It stands to reason if the blood cells are all stuck together like globs of motor oil, they cannot flow very easily through the blood vessels. Circulation is the only way that the body's cells can obtain oxygen, which they need every second. Clumping of red cells graphically decreases the amount of oxygen that is being carried to the tissues. We're not just talking about fatigue any more; lack of oxygen spells tissue degeneration, premature aging, and early death.

Those shooting pains down the legs or arms are sometimes simply the result of muscles being forced to operate without sufficient oxygen, screaming in protest. Again, lack of available oxygen can cause degeneration and dysfunction of any organ or system of the entire body: heart, lungs, skin, kidneys, digestion, you name it. The cholesterol crystals that precipitate out of solution in the blood because of dangerously high levels of blood cholesterol - these crystals classically lodge in joints and cause gout and other types of arthritis. These and many other problems started out with a diet that lacked enzymes...

Ever get food poisoning? Or maybe you know someone. We think of food poisoning as being violently ill, throwing up, and being incapacitated for a few days, because of having gotten some bad food at a restaurant. But there's another type of food poisoning that is much more common, in fact epidemic. This is the type of disorder the doctors and hospitals just can't quite put their finger on. The tests are all negative. But the problem just goes on and on: no energy, intermittent sharp pains in the stomach area, bad skin, bad breath, chronic low-grade allergies, constant feeling of impending disaster - like things are just 'not right.'

So what's the solution? Same as the problem: enzymes. Put back into the food the enzymes that were taken out by food processing. Put back into the body enzymes that can detox the blood and the tissues, where all this half-digested residue has taken up residence. Natural whole-food enzyme supplements are not drugs. Drugs would not work for such a problem as detox without having side effects that could be worse than the original problem itself. Because with drugs, the body has to spend enormous amounts of energy trying to normalize the system, trying to remove the drug.

Natural supplements, on the other hand, take away nothing from the body and require that no energy be expended by the body to get rid of them after they've done their job. Natural whole-food supplements contain within them exactly what a perfect food should contain: all the enzymes necessary for their complete breakdown and absorption by the body, with nothing left over.

Only in the last five years have powerful whole-food enzymes been available. Dr. Howell himself, having died in 1988, could only recommend a 70% raw food diet as the best way to insure complete digestion. He would certainly have welcomed a supplement as clean and powerful as a natural whole-food enzyme which could be taken along with meals and could serve to help replace the enzymes removed in food processing.

Enzyme supplements are such a simple solution to a whole spectrum of health challenges, many of them life-threatening, that they are generally not considered by mainstream practitioners. Most MDs are taught to look for the dramatic rescue, the quick-acting drug, the heroic procedures which can snatch the patient from the jaws of death, or whatever. That's more sexy; it's "real medicine." The first problem is that most medical doctors don't even know of the existence of whole-food enzymes, because such supplements are too inexpensive to be sold by the pharmaceutical companies. Yet. The second problem is that medical doctors have a very limited exposure to enzymes in medical school. The only concept they usually have is what is found in Guyton's, the standard text. They learn that enzymes are "catalysts," which means they cause things to happen but are themselves unchanged in the process. Dr. Howell, who was himself an MD, proved not only was this idea inaccurate, but that there was a grand and dynamic interchange between the enzymes of digestion and the enzymes of all the other life functions, which are called enzymes of metabolism. Less than 20 digestive enzymes have been discovered; but there may be as many as 5000 metabolic enzymes.

For this reason the family physician may not be the best source of information when it comes to whole food enzymes. Why? Because the patient is taking the first step in the dangerous direction known as I Can Be Responsible for My Own Health. Most doctors don't support this idea, because it tends to take away their control of things. And if you don't think the name of the whole game is Control, just observe any TV channel with a stopwatch and tell me how long you can sit there without someone telling you to take some type of medication. Five minutes? Ten? Your job is to need as many drugs as possible between now and the day you die. Their job is to sell them to you. Does this have anything to do with health? No. This has to do with pharmaceutical economics. Health is an entirely different topic altogether.

Dieticians and nutritionists go to all this trouble categorizing foods according to content, telling you that this food has so many mg. of calcium, that one has so much protein, or they talk about calories, or food combining, or eating for your blood type, or some Zone, or any number of trendy notions. But it actually matters much less what's in the food than how much of the nutrients eventually ends up in your cells. If the food was never broken down in the tract, well then, it went right through you. Or worse, it's still in there. It doesn't matter what we eat; it only matters what we digest.

Whole food enzymes can be the key to health, without changing one single other thing. Detox the blood. What's the alternative? The toxins accumulate in the blood, just like they always have. Result: allergies or any type of disease. Almost sounds too simple. But that's the hallmark of the classic cure - simplicity. We're not adding anything new. We're simply replacing something that has been artificially removed by food processing: enzymes. We allow the body to find its normal equilibrium. Mainly that just means stop poisoning it.

Unless we take in sufficient enzymes to completely break our food down, we eat too much. With the modern American processed food diet, our only salvation from "digging our graves with our teeth" is this : whole food enzymes.


Howell, Edward, MD Enzyme Nutrition

Tilden, JH, MD Toxemia Explained

Guyton, AC, MD Medical Physiology

Whittaker, J, MD Best and Worst of Today's Supplements

Carrell, Alexis MD Man, The Unknown

Jensen, Bernard Empty Harvest 1990

For comments or questions, contact Dr. O'Shea @shiloh@netmagic.net

Return to the NUTRITION ARCHIVES Section

Since 6-01-1999

         © 19952018 ~ The Chiropractic Resource Organization ~ All Rights Reserved