Enzymes are an important part of healthy digestion, and most are available from foods or supplements. The primary enzymes used to breakdown and synthesize what we eat are produced in the pancreas; however, some people are deficient in pancreatic enzymes for one of several reasons and need supplementation. Eating the right foods in their raw state and supplementing necessary nutrients may improve a person's energy and health, according to "The pH Miracle," written by Robert O. Young and Shelley Redford Young.
Pineapples are rich in bromelain, an enzyme important for protein digestion, writes Felicia Drury Kliment in the "The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet." Eating raw, fresh pineapple at meals provides a boost in digestion, especially if meat or poultry is eaten. The stems and skin of the pineapple also contain a great deal of the bromelain, which can be obtained by juicing the raw fruit including the skin. If you are unable to consume fresh pineapple, bromelain is available in supplement form at health food stores.
Papain is a digestive enzyme found in papaya fruits, according to the University of Michigan Health System, which is useful in the digestion of proteins. Papaya should be eaten raw with meals high in protein, or as dessert for best effects. As with pineapple, the skin of the papaya also contains enzymes and can be used in combination with the flesh to make fruit juice. Papain is often combined with other enzymes in products used to enhance digestion. These products are available at pharmacies and health food stores.
Raw, Organic Honey
Honey is one of the best sources of amylase, the enzymes necessary for carbohydrate digestion, according to Kliment. However, not all honey is created equal in this case. She says the only honey that contains the necessary enzymes must be raw, organic and contain the bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly in a state as close to natural as possible. The enzymes present in this honey help breakdown the starches in foods high in carbohydrates.
Raw Cow and Goat Milk
Raw, organic milk from cows and goats contains lipase, the enzyme that is responsible for fat breakdown, says Colorado State University. Kliment writes that raw milk is best utilized at breakfast or lunch and should not be consumed after mid-day. She also recommends eating butter made from organic raw milk, as it is high in lipase. These products are available at many health food stores and from private dairy farms specializing in raw milk products. Their shelf life is only two to three days, and any products that last much longer than that do not contain the necessary enzymes.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
In addition to pineapples and papaya, all fresh, organic fruits and vegetables contain varying degrees of enzymes, according to Kliment, and should be included in the daily diet. As well as providing natural enzymes, raw vegetables and fruits help to alter the body's pH, creating an alkaline environment, which may contribute to healing certain diseases, says "The pH Miracle." Choosing organic fruits and vegetables is important because they have no pesticides or other chemicals added and they are not genetically modified. Genetic modifications may reduce or eliminate necessary nutrients and enzymes.
Papaya leaves, fennel, ginger root, peppermint leaves and catnip provide a variety of digestive enzymes and are often combined in herbal formulas, according to "The pH Miracle." These herbs can be consumed in their raw form in teas or can be purchased in herbal supplement combinations at health food stores. If making a tea, steep 1 to 2 tsp. of raw herbs in 2 cups boiling water. Strain and drink the tea with meals for its enzymatic action.
- "The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet"; Felicia Drury Kliment; 2002
- “The pH Miracle”; Robert O. Young and Shelley Redford Young; 2003
- Colorado State University: Exocrine Secretions of the Pancreas
- University of Michigan Health System: Digestive Enzymes
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.