Science Facts Sundays: Enzyme Nutrition Introduction – The Law of Adaptive Secretion of Digestive Enzymes (Part 2)

Welcome to Science Facts Sundays.

This week we are beginning the journey through Dr. Edward Howell’s ground-breaking book, Enzyme Nutrition, The Food Enzyme Concept – Unlocking the Secrets of Eating Right for Health, Vitality, and Longevity. I read this book several years ago with much interest, and am excited to be combing through it again.

Published in 1985, this book was written by Dr. Howell when he was in his late eighties. A pioneering biochemist and nutrition researcher, Dr. Howell began his study of food enzymes and how they affect human health in the 1920′s – right around the time Dr. Weston A. Price was connecting the dots between tooth decay and modern diets.

In 1930, Dr. Howell began utilizing nutritional therapies in his own facility, where he used the concepts described in this book to treat chronic ailments.

Our modern diet is severely lacking natural, unprocessed foods. Although unrefined foods are vital to our health, we are plagued with degenerative diseases. Why?

Dr. Howell discovered natural elements already in our food play a key role in longevity – and it’s not just the vitamins and minerals. Food enzymes play a vital role in health, and this book will show you why – and how.

Although we will learn all the details in this book, I want you to know where Dr. Howell is coming from. Here is the Enzyme Nutrition concept in a nutshell, from Dr. Howell’s own mouth:

The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.

In other words, Dr. Howell believed that as we age, our internal enzymes become depleted, thus leading to chronic illnesses.

Dr. Howell may or may not have correctly assessed the how’s and why’s (do we really have a store of enzymes? can we conserve them? do they really run out?), but he was a man ahead of his time. We have much to learn from this book about enzymes – much of which is being proven in new ways by modern science.

Join me as we lean everything there is to know about Enzyme Nutrition. If I am moving too slow for you, consider purchasing your own copy of Enzyme Nutrition. Warning: it is not an easy read! As a biochemist, Dr. Howell uses impressive words, as did most men of his era. This is a book that you will need to read slowly so you can absorb it (at least I do!).

This week our focus is The Law of Adaptive Secretion of Digestive Enzymes (written in my own words, from the view of the author):

(Make sure you read last week’s post here or this week will be super confusing)

There is competition between metabolic enzymes (which repair and heal) and digestive enzymes. The Law of Adaptive Secretion of Digestive Enzymes (LASDE) established this law based on experiments on rats. Digestive enzymes were measured and found to vary depending on the amount of carbs, protein, or fat given in a meal. This experiment found varying amounts of digestive enzymes were excreted depending on the amounts of food types (carbs, protein, or fat). Previous to this experiment, it was assumed equal amounts were secreted. LASDE holds that no more enzymes than are needed will be made and secreted. If the food already contains some enzymes, less digestive enzymes will be secreted.

If we were to consume more enzymes, whether with our food, or via supplementation, our bodies won’t have to create as many digestive enzymes. The energy can than be used to create metabolic enzymes for healing and repair.

The best way to get enzymes from our food is to eat them raw. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and even daily items, are full of enzymes that aid in digestion. Heat destroys these naturally-occuring enzymes. Unlike vitamins and minerals, enzymes are very sensitive to heat. Pasteurization kills all enzymes, and any heat at all above what is comfortable to the touch will kill the enzymes in your food.

The Food Enzyme Concept hold to the belief that large amounts of wasted enzymes can cause disease and damage to our bodies. Our bodies were not meant to consume enzyme-less food each time we eat. Yet our modern diets frequently consist of foods that have been processed and heated and are basically “dead” once consumed.

An experiment done on young rats and chickens provides an interesting view on this concept. In 1944, the animals were fed raw soybeans, which are  high in enzyme inhibitors. Huge amounts of digestive enzymes from the pancreas were used up, even wasted, on the enzyme inhibitors. The rats and chickens grew sick and stopped growing, and their pancreas glands enlarged under the stress.

The author’s organ weight tables in this book show that the size and weight of the pancreas varies with the type of diet. When the pancreas is urged to produce more enzymes, the pancreas grows in size. Enlarged organs are not happy organs: consider the health dangers involved with an enlarged heart, thyroid, or liver. Lab mice have 2-3 times the pancreas size of wild mice who eat a raw diet.

So what about the Law of Adaptive Secretion of Digestive Enzymes – how does that work? The saliva in wild animals have been found to be naturally low in enzymes until introduced to cooked food as pets. When put back on their natural, raw diets, the enzyme counts in their saliva returns to low numbers, proving the LASDE theory.

That’s it for today! I hope you learned something :) Check back next week as we continue to discuss Dr. Edward Howell’s book, Enzyme Nutrition and focus on The Food-Enzyme Stomach.

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Lea Harris founded Nourishing Treasures in 2006. A mom passionate about her family's health and well-being, Lea believes education is power. Encouraging others to take baby steps in the right direction of health for their families, Lea's goal is to raise awareness of what goes into our mouths and on our bodies, providing natural alternative information that promotes health and prevents disease by using traditional foods and nature's medicine.

Lea is a Certified Health Coach graduate from Beyond Organic University, and a Certified Aromatherapist graduate from Aromahead Institute.

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