Every biological process in our body requires a chemical reaction. Digesting food, healing inflammation, or increasing mobility, none of these things can happen fast enough without the help of certain specific proteins. These proteins are called enzymes and they act as catalysts, speeding up all the chemical reactions that happen within our body. It doesn't mean that without enzymes chemical reactions don't happen, it would just take too long without them. For example, we don't want undigested food sitting in our stomach for days. Our bodies need enzymes for building, repairing, and maintaining our cells, as well as breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.
Our bodies can produce many enzymes on their own, but very early in life, around the age of 20, the production starts declining and then is decreased by an average of 13% every 10 years. For that reason, eating plenty of enzyme rich, raw food is very important. Why raw? Why not cooked? Heat breaks down the chemical links between the molecules in enzymes, breaking them into individual amino acids. With cooking, we are not wasting our food completely, we are still getting the nutrients in our diet but when exposed to temperatures above 116 F, it no longer has the enzymatic advantage of raw food.
Not having enough digestive enzymes leads to a deficit of metabolic enzymes, and this is believed to be one possible root of many chronic health problems, including chronic malnutrition, reduced ability to recover from illness and injury, and of course poor digestion. The best way to meet our enzyme needs is to consume plenty of raw, uncooked food. But in many cases, consuming a mostly raw food diet leads to discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, or bloating. In that case, supplementing with enzymes is actually necessary, not just optional. It is important to pay attention to the timing of supplementation too. If we take our enzymes with meals, they are going to help us with digestion of the actual meal. To make sure enzymes are absorbed through the gut into our bloodstream without being used during digestion, it is crucial to take them in between meals (something like at least 30 minutes before, or 1.5 hours after a meal). This way, enzymes are able to get right into our cells and get their job done we call these systemic enzymes.
Digestive enzymes, when taken for systemic effect, work well to cleanse the body and get rid of toxins. Scar tissue, fibrosis, arthritis, decreased joint flexibility, and weak immunity those are just a few common issues we deal with that systemic enzymes are able to improve. As the name suggests, fibrosis is the root cause of pain in Fibromyalgia patients. Even though mainstream medicine sometimes thinks that Fibromyalgia related pain is psychosomatic, there is scar tissue buildup binding muscle tissues, causing the chronic pain that cannot be solved by pain killers. Systemic enzymes like Nattokinase or Serrapeptase are excellent scar tissue dissolvers.
There are many brands and blends of enzyme supplements on the market. But just like with any supplement, their quality and potency is varied. Many cheaper brands require you to ingest a huge number of capsules each day to get the real benefits and often these are not the most effective formulas. Let's take a look at two reliable brands that are affordable, effective, and made with quality ingredients only, without artificial colorings or flavors, dairy, wheat, yeast, gluten, or GMOs. These two products are Fibrenza by HCP Formulas and Zymitol by Generation+. While Fibrenza does contain some animal sourced enzymes, Zymitol is Vegan and Vegetarian friendly. They are both wonderful options for supplementing with necessary enzymes, but there are some differences in formulas to consider.
Fibrenza comes in a bottle of 240 capsules, containing a blend of enzymes with different properties. Aside of amylase, protease, and lipase (digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), Fibrenza contains Seaprose-S, that is proven to be one of the strongest anti-inflammatory systemic enzymes available. Nattokinase NSK-SD is recommended for cardiovascular health and has a strong blood cleansing and fibrin dissolving effect. Superoxide Dismutase, present in Fibrenza, is a strong antioxidant, helping to break down excess oxygen molecules in cells. Serrapeptase, Trypsin, Bromelain, and Papain are some of the digestive enzymes that are also able to break down toxins and cellular debris, and they have significant anti-inflammatory properties when used systemically. The enzyme blend comes in a vegetable capsule that is able to survive the acidic environment of our stomach, allowing the enzymes to pass through to the small intestine where they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to individual cells. Some enzymes in this formula are derived from animal sources (porcine pancreatic enzymes to be specific).
Zymitol is available in three different sizes of 90, 360, or 630 capsules. It contains a high dose of biologically active sulfur that is a building block for enzymes and other proteins, and helps with digestive issues, nutrient absorption, detoxification, and hormonal balance. Bromelain in Zymitol is one of the few enzymes that are active in different pH environments both the acidic region in our stomach and the alkaline region in our small intestine. It reduces inflammation, swelling, and pain. Bromelain is extracted from the stem of the pineapple plant. Papain comes from the papaya plant, and is excellent for removing dead tissue. Serrapeptase is known for having the same scar tissue dissolving properties and is a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme. Zymitol also contains antioxidants like Fulvic Acid and Rutin, compounds that protect our cells from free radicals. If you follow a Vegan, Kosher, Halal, or Vegetarian diet, this would be your preferred option.
Both of these supplements have a large spectrum of enzymes that will support not just our digestion, but every cell in our bodies. Enzymes have natural anti-inflammatory properties, they build and restore cells, they remove dead cells and fight harmful bacteria, they heal wounds and cleanse our blood, they keep our joints flexible and our muscles strong. We should never underestimate the importance of having a well balanced enzyme arsenal. If you experience any sort of digestive problems, chronic pain, inflammation, or immunity issues, definitely consider looking into enzyme supplementation. It might be the missing puzzle piece you are looking for.