Enzymes are essential to the body’s absorption and utilization of food. The capacity of the living organism to make enzymes diminishes with age, and some scientists believe that humans could live longer and be healthier by guarding against the loss of our precious enzymes.

Enzymes are responsible for every activity of life. Even thinking requires enzyme activity. The two primary classes of enzymes responsible for maintaining life functions are digestive and metabolic. The primary digestive enzymes are proteases (to digest proteins), amylases (to digest carbohydrates), and lipases (to digest fats). These enzymes function as a biological catalyst to help break down food. Raw foods also provide enzymes that naturally break down food for proper absorption. Metabolic enzymes are responsible for the structuring, repairing, and remodeling of every cell, and the body is under a great daily burden to supply sufficient enzymes for optimal health. Metabolic enzymes operate in every cell, every organ, and every tissue, and they need constant replenishment.

Digestion of food takes high priority and has a high demand for enzymes. When we eat, enzymatic activity begins in the mouth, where salivary amylase, lingual lipase, and ptyalin initiate starch and fat digestion. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid activates pepsinogen to pepsin, which breaks down protein, and gastric lipase begins the hydrolysis of fats. Without proper enzyme production, the body has a difficult time digesting food, often resulting in a variety of chronic disorders.

Poor eating habits (e.g., inadequate chewing and eating on the run) may result in inadequate enzyme production and, hence, malabsorption of food (which is exacerbated by aging because this is a time of decreased hydrochloric acid production) as well as a general decline in digestive enzyme secretion.

Saliva is rich in amylase, while gastric juice contains protease. The pancreas secretes digestive juices containing high concentrations of amylase and protease, as well as a smaller concentration of lipase. It also secretes a small concentration of maltase, which reduces maltose to dextrose. Animals eating raw food often have no enzymes at all in saliva, unlike humans. However, dogs fed a high carbohydrate, heat-treated diet have been found to develop enzymes in their saliva within a week in response to enzyme-depleting foods.

One of America’s pioneering biochemists and nutrition researchers, Dr. Edward Howell (1986), cites numerous animal studies showing that animals fed diets deficient in enzymes have an enlarged pancreas, as huge amounts of pancreatic enzymes are squandered in digesting foods devoid of natural enzymes. The result of this wasteful outpouring of pancreatic digestive enzymes is a decrease in the supply of crucial metabolic enzymes and impaired health.