When we are young, our digestive enzymes function at their best by breaking down food into necessary proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, while also helping various metabolic functions in the body take place. Many studies have proven that these enzymes deteriorate as we age, typically around age 40, though food choices and lifestyles people live with today also promote the depletion of the number of enzymes much more rapidly. We’ve seen teenagers that have decreased enzyme production!
With low enzymes, even the healthiest foods are not effectively utilized by our bodies because they are not properly broken down. This lead to lack of absorption and then nutrient deficiency.
However, not all is lost! It is possible to increase and maintain active enzymes in our body by eating raw fruits and vegetables. These raw wonders contain active enzymes that bring food through the digestive tract easier and faster. One thing to note is that through cooking and processing, most of the active enzymes are deactivated. Once enzymes are cooked or processed, they are no longer able to perform optimally, if at all, and we need to make our own enzymes (which is more work for our body!) to process the food.
Think about it. Our bodies put up with so much stress: lack of sleep, sickness, contaminated foods, polluted air + water, etc. I’m sure our bodies would appreciate it if we took care of the very organ that breaks down foods for energy and nutrition. For some people raw foods may not be the most appealing, but think about how much your body will appreciate it! Close your eyes, chew slowly, think about the flavors like in Ratatouille, the textures, and what an amazing impact it will have on your body!
Raw fruits and veggies are harder to digest for some people. In that case, fermented veggies are a great way to get the enzymes with the hard plant cell wall, cellulose, already broken down.
If that is difficult and you know that you are low in digestive power, you may consider supplementing with digestive enzymes!!
- Morley JE. The Aging Gut: Physiology. Clin Geriatr Med. 2007 Nov;23(4):757-67.
- Laugier R, Bernard JP, Berthezene P, Dupuy P. Changes in pancreatic exocrine secretion with age: pancreatic exocrine secretion does decrease in the elderly. Digestion. 1991;50(3-4):202-11.