1. Without Enzymes You’d Be Dead
Did you know that you need enzymes for almost every reaction that occurs in your body? I plan on eating a lot of delicious, juicy strawberries this summer (hopefully from my garden!). But if not for enzymes, I wouldn’t be able to digest them. Being able to use that breath of oxygen you just took is also not possible without enzymes. And if you want to lower your cholesterol, go no further than enzymes!
2. Enzymes Are Protein Too!
Ok really, what are enzymes exactly and how do they work? To answer that question, we need to talk about protein. I know, it’s overly talked about, but bear with me. Proteins are separated into two different categories; structural and biologically active. The structural is what we normally think of when we hear “protein,” i.e. bones, ligaments and muscles. However, the biologically active protein category consists of…ta da! Enzymes!
But they get even more awesome. Enzymes aren’t a one size fits all, they are kind of like the assembly line at McDonalds. One worker puts the condiments on the bun, another puts the vegetables on, and someone else puts on the meat, etc. Each enzyme is a catalyst, which means they increase the rate of a chemical reaction and create something new. The key thing is that they aren’t changed themselves which means they can keep doing their job! In addition, each enzyme has a very specific job (like the McDonald worker example), and is actually structured in such a way that it can only do that job. So enzymes that digest your food cannot go help out the ones that are breaking down the oxygen you just inhaled, and vice versa.
3. Enzymes are fragile
Yes, those poor “McDonalds workers” are actually quite persnickety about their environment! To explain, we first need to categorize enzymes. There are three different types of enzymes: Digestive, Metabolic, and Food Based. They are all pretty self-explanatory. The digestive enzymes help break down that delicious salad you just ate and get the nutrients and energy to your cells. The metabolic enzymes are located inside your cells and distribute the nutrients and energy as needed around the cell. The food-based enzymes are found in your food if it is still “alive.” By alive, I mean that the enzymes in the food haven’t been destroyed by excessive temperatures (107 degrees Fahrenheit and up) or by experiencing a different pH level than that particular enzyme needs to function properly. But why, if you already have digestive enzymes, would food-based enzymes be important?
4. Dead Food = Sick Body
Eating a few cooked meals isn’t too bad, but when the majority of your diet consists of cooked or processed foods, your body has to rely solely on it’s own digestive enzymes to break down your food. This puts a strain on your body and eventually it becomes difficult to make new digestive enzymes after the overworked ones have died. When your body can’t digest food properly, nutrients and energy can’t get to your cells and you start to be vulnerable to diseases or viruses. When sickness hits, your body is already compromised and getting better becomes even more difficult!
5. How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck (Or In This Case, The Most Enzyme For Your Meal)
The recommended ratio of raw to cooked food is about 85% to 15%. This was pretty daunting for me when I first learned about enzymes, especially since my painstakingly aquired cooking repertoire consisted of mostly cooked dishes. So how do you start the change to be enzyme friendly? I’m not an expert, but I can share the things I started implementing slowly and have eventually just become second nature in how I prepare meals.
-Skip pre-packaged food and eat at home: I know, the convenience factor is very appealing! But just say no to pre-packaged foods. They have been cooked and processed to ensure a long shelf life and limited spoiling, but the heating and/or chemical processing destroys those oh so fragile enzymes. You can make your own “pre-packaged” food by preparing freezer meals! Even if you do end up cooking your food, you know exactly what is in it and that it hasn’t gone through extensive processing. I guarantee it will have more nutrients and probably some enzymes left as opposed to something from a sealed plastic bag.
-Substitute raw for cooked: This has been actually kind of fun for me to try out. I started with adding extra veggies to my salads that I normally would have cooked, like asparagus and potato. I also experimented with preparing all my vegetables differently by shredding, chopping, or spiraling. Just mixing up textures can really spice up your whole meal experience! I also started looking at recipes I came across and tried to see if I could make an uncooked version. If something called for cooking a bunch of vegetables, I either didn’t cook them as long or didn’t cook them at all. Just really simple small changes can make a world of difference!
-Dehydrate: I know not everyone has a dehydrator, but if you ever decide to invest in one it will make eating predominantly raw foods that much more fun and easy! The key is to find a quality dehydrator (I got and Excalibur which I have been very happy with) and keep the temperature setting below 107 degrees. I definitely takes longer for things to dry, so keep that in mind. It’s still a little mind blowing that I’ve made granola, fruit leather, dried fruit, crackers, chips, and I am currently working on another type of cereal, all with living enzymes! It’s like the ultimate guilt-free snack because I know it’s not only “not bad for me,” but it’s actually helping me become healthier!
Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear how you have switched some area of your cooking to implement more raw foods! I am always looking for more ideas, so comment away 🙂