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Essential For Life

copyright 2004-2022 by Jon David Miller

holistic natural health educator & author


What Are Enzymes?

Enzymes are active components of living bio-systems that are crucial to life. Enzymes are complex molecules, vital catalysts that are needed for every chemical reaction in the body.  These active agents are made of complex proteins and are involved in nearly every metabolic action performed in the body. Enzymes are manufactured by the body, but this ability diminishes as we age. Further, enzymes are depleted by stress, illness and over-consumption of cooked foods.

Naturally grown foods contain the enzymes necessary to break the food down to the essential nutrients the body needs. Nature provides enzymes in food to aid in the digestion process so that the body doesn’t have to use its enzyme reserves to do all the work. By design, we should obtain enzymes for restoring the body's supplies from fresh raw foods.

Cooking destroys enzymes in foods rapidly. When we process, refine, heat, or microwave our food, most if not all enzymes are rendered useless. At a temperature above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, all enzyme activity is destroyed. When we consume cooked or highly processed foods, our digestive system has to produce the enzymes necessary to digest what was eaten.

Further, today's fresh produce is usually raised on soils that have been depleted over time of important minerals, which are needed for plants to form their enzymes. Thus the food supply is enzyme-deficient. Then how long ago was it picked?

If it is old when we process, refine, overcook, or microwave our food, most if not all enzymes are rendered useless.

Dr. Edward Howell did research on enzymes and their importance in the body, beginning more than 70 years ago. He endeavored to get the message out for the rest of his life. His books Enzyme Nutrition and Food Enzymes for Health and Longevity are classics. Dr. Howell points out that there are two aspects to the body’s needs for enzymes: digestion and metabolic activities.

Digestive enzymes work to break down large food molecules, proteins, fats, carbohydrates and sugars into smaller, readily absorbable components, building blocks the body requires.

Metabolic enzymes help build body structure and assist bodily functions.

Including enzyme supplements in a daily diet restores the body’s natural enzyme supply, and supports energy levels and immune system function.



The purpose of our digestive tract is to extract and absorb the essential nutrients contained in our food.  Consuming cooked foods can cause our body to take enzymes from the liver, pancreas, and other organs to use in the digestion process. Over time, this can cause these organs to be stressed, which can weaken our immune system and slow down our metabolism.

When we consume enzyme-deficient food, the food sits in the upper portion of the stomach putrefying instead of being predigested (due to a lack of enzymes). 

The body reacts by increasing the white blood cell count as the immune system begins to treat the undigested food as a foreign substance. The body further stresses itself to produce extra digestive enzymes to digest this putrefying material, reducing its ability to produce metabolic enzymes for cellular activity. If stomach juices are not able to complete their work before the food moves into the small intestine, the food particles can enter the blood system undigested!

This putrefied material coats the small and large intestines, reducing the absorption of nutrients and hindering the expulsion of toxins through the intestinal wall. Harmful bacteria and viruses feed and multiply, causing the body to become susceptible to infection, fatigue, and degenerative disease.


Plant-Source Enzyme Concentrates

For many years the health food stores and many natural health-oriented doctors and other practitioners have offered what could be called the traditional digestive enzyme supplements. These usually contain: pancreatin, pepsin, pancrealipase and bile, all from animal sources, along with betaine hydrochloride from beets, and perhaps papain from papaya and bromelain from pineapple.

These help people digest somewhat better, but have limited effectiveness.

Pepsin requires strong acid to be formed in the stomach, whereas pancreatin works best in a very narrow alkaline pH range of 7.8 to 8.3.  The pH in the stomach is very acid, which would destroy pancreatin unless it is specifically buffered.

The 7.8 to 8.3 pH needed in the upper intestine is not often achieved in most people. Actually, poor pancreatic secretion is not usually the major problem, according to Dr. Howell, but rather the lack of enzymes for pre-digestion in the upper stomach, which leads to imbalances the rest of the way along the digestive tract.  

About thirty years ago, advanced plant-derived enzyme concentrates were brought into the U.S. market. These were based on Dr. Howell’s work and an Asian breakthrough in enzyme concentration methods. These can be more effective than the enzymes in traditional formulas because they work in a broader pH range, generally from about 5 to 9. A few products work from as low as a pH of 2 to as high as 12.


Enzymes For Digestion

As many as 170 MILLION Americans rely on nutritional supplements to help improve or maintain their health. Much of these go right down the sewer un-utilized, with many of the benefits unrealized. The primary reason is the commonly poor state of the digestive system. 


If you eat cooked food, you cannot digest it fully well without enzyme supplementation when you eat. An enzyme supplement usually contains proteases for breaking down proteins, amylases for reducing carbohydrates, and lipase for fats, perhaps with other specific enzymes. These may include cellulase for the cell structures (cellulose fiber) of vegetables; maltase, an amylase that breaks down the type of sugars found in cereals, breads and other grain flour products; invertase for starches; or lactase for lactose milk sugar.

If you have any sore area in the stomach or esophagus such as an ulcer or gastritis, you should avoid any enzyme formula containing protease for a time. Protease can irritate such sore spots where the protective mucosal lining is missing. The protease treats the area like raw meat as it tries to digest it.

Meanwhile there are herbs that are soothing to such inflamed areas of the digestive wall, including aloe vera, slippery elm and marshmallow root. Once these problems have been cleared up, a formula with protease can gradually be introduced. Ultimately the protease is needed for the protein foods in the diet.

With a good quality enzyme formula, which can work in a broad pH spectrum, you can be sure that digestion will take place as it is supposed to. Food that is held in the upper stomach for an hour before moving on, will be digested as much as 75% before progressing, instead of spoiling, as is commonly the case. The solution to “acid indigestion” and “heartburn” is not a calcium or aluminum-based drug-store relief medicine, it is supplemental enzymes.

With good pre-digestion and appropriate proteases, you can be sure that in the lower stomach the proteins in foods consumed will be properly digested to provide key amino acids at the right time. These are essential in forming neurotransmitters, key chemicals for brain function. The result could be a calmer and more effective nervous system and brain.

The appropriate enzymes do more work in the upper small intestine, helping to complete the digestion to insure that each nutrient is available before it reaches its distinct site of maximum absorption in the intestinal wall.

If you take extra enzymes with your meals this should help clean excess mucus off of the small intestinal walls resulting in better absorption. With more nutrients available from your food and better absorption of them, you should notice more energy and improved health.

A more complete digestion of foods means that there won’t be as much of the gluey residues that derive from several popular foods. In many people such residues have accumulated in layers of sticky waste build-up on the colon wall.

If you were to take two bowls of “stick-to-your-ribs” oatmeal and mix the contents of a capsule of a good quality multiple enzymes into one of the bowls, in just a minute you can see the dramatic difference between them. The one with the enzymes will turn rapidly to a liquid state while the other remains a sticky glob. Which would you rather have to move through your intestine? Thus the use of enzymes will make for easier bowel elimination as well.

Generally one to four enzyme tablets or capsules should be adequate for most people, depending on the quality of the product, the status of the person’s digestive function, and the size and complexity of the meal. The best time to take enzyme supplements for digestion is after a few bites of food so they mix in and go right to work on the food in the upper stomach.


What Do Digestive Enzymes Do?

Digestive enzymes assist in the breakdown of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and sugars. The body can't utilize the nutrients even in healthy foods unless digestive enzymes are present to aid in the delivery of the nutrients to the bloodstream, cells, and organs. And, these nutrients are what keep the immune system and the rest of the body strong and healthy.

If the body is forced to supply the digestive enzymes needed for digestion, then it has fewer enzymes for other essential body functions. Including supplemental plant enzymes at the time food is consumed provides two important benefits.

First, the plant enzymes can go to work immediately to start the digestive process. Second, the body doesn't have to borrow enzymes from other organs. This means that more metabolic enzymes will be available to help organs and tissues function properly.

Including enzyme supplements in a daily diet may yield these important benefits:

• Restore the body's natural enzyme supply.

• Boost energy level.

• Strengthen the immune system.

• Improve overall well-being.


Extra Enzymes for Metabolism & Better Health

In addition to assisting digestion, enzymes are also essential for numerous metabolic purposes in the body. Virtually every biochemical reaction that happens involves enzymes as a catalyst or an active agent.

We’ve heard about enzymes for cleaning clothes or contact lenses. Some of the metabolic functions of enzymes include: cleaning up un-metabolized proteins, carbohydrates, fats, toxins and unhealthy micro-organisms in the body; reducing arterial accumulations; and helping to reduce painful inflammation and to speed improvement of damaged tissue.

To add extra enzymes to the metabolic pool, enzyme supplements need to be taken apart from food. When taken with food, they go to work on the food. When taken in between meals they can be absorbed right into the bloodstream to work in the body.

It should be clear that supplementation of the diet with enzymes is of great value in maintaining optimal health.

Many researchers support the idea that premature aging and many of the degenerative diseases people suffer from today are a result of a lack of enzymes in critical organs and tissues. Further, the level of enzymes in young adults is much greater than older adults. This may be due to a steady diet of enzyme-free foods depleting the body's enzyme supply over time.

More about enzymes

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Superior Multiple Plant Based Enzyme Formula

from RGarden

"Maximizer" is an excellent multiple enzyme product for benefits in digestion and metabolism and as an anti-inflammatory.

Maximizer is a plant enzyme supplement that contains 17 different types of digestive enzymes to aid in the pre-digestion of all the foods. This allows your body to use metabolic enzymes to do their vital work, rather than use them for food digestion.*

Each vegetarian capsule contains five different types of enzymes to break down proteins, two types for digesting fibers, one type for reducing fats and oils, two types that work on starches, and seven types of enzymes for sugars and dairy products. Maximizer can help you restore your body's natural enzyme levels, promoting energy levels and overall health.*

When taken with meals (or within one hour after), digestive enzymes aid in digesting proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Their actions help maintain intestinal health and minimize food intolerance. Their absence is associated with multiple food allergies and endocrine imbalances.

When taken between meals, the enzymes act synergistically to help clean up debris throughout the body and break the cycles of tissue damage from inflammation.

DIRECTIONS: Take two to four capsules with meals, depending on the size of the meal.

Each suggested serving contains 605 mg** of a proprietary enzyme blend with the following enzymes: protease, phytase, amylase, cellulase, papain, gluco-amylase, mannanase, pectinase, bromelain, alpha-galactosidase, hemi-cellulase, lipase, acid stable protease, lactase, xylanase, maltase and invertase.

Other Ingredient: rice complex and vegetable capsule (hypromellose from cellulose and water)



Bromelain - a broad spectrum enzyme that hydrolyzes most soluble proteins.

Protease and Acid Stable Protease - for digesting different types of proteins.

Papain - a proteolytic enzyme characterized by its ability to hydrolyze large proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids.



Cellulase - hydrolyzes cellulose.

Hemicellulase - breaks down the hemicellulose of plant walls.

Xylanase - naturally occurring enzyme commonly found in microbes and fungi that can play a vital role in human digestion. It is an enzyme that breaks down a type of fiber known as hemicellulose by converting one of its components (beta 1,4 xylan) into a simple sugar called xylose.

Phytase - helps with overall digestion, especially in producing the B vitamins.



Lipase - for breaking down fats and oils.



Amylase - helps digest carbohydrates and starches.

Gluco Amylase - breaks down sugars and starches.



Lactase - breaks down the lactose in dairy products into more soluble sugars.

Maltase - breaks down maltose, malt, and grain sugars.

Mannanase - helps break down mannans, which make grains hard to digest.

Alpha-Galactosidase - breaks down Melibiose, Raffinose and Stachyose sugars that are responsible for excess gas in the digestive system.

Pectinase - breaks down the pectin in fruits.

Invertase - catalyzes breakdown of sucrose into fructose and glucose


DIRECTIONS: Take two to four capsules** with meals, depending on the size of the meal.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

**Daily Value not established. Do not take if a stomach or colon condition such as ulcers, gastritis, severe burning sensations, irritable bowel syndrome, or intestinal lining damage exists. (Contact us for an alternative.) Keep out of reach of children.


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More About Enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be highly effective in the down-regulation of short-term and long-term tissue degradation in diffuse sites in the body when taken in high doses between meals. In this case, the enzymes passed directly into the blood, are transported to damaged tissues, and produce benefits without the side effects of medications.

Inflammation is the body's natural constellation of responses to stress from physical, chemical, or metabolic insults that initiate tissue damage.  Paradoxically, inflammatory processes can also exacerbate tissue damage unless they are tightly controlled. The clinical manifestations of Inflammation included burning, swelling, discoloration, edema, and more subtle changes such as the exacerbation of allergies from food intolerance.

In the healthy person, inflammation, once initiated, rids the body of damaged tissue followed by healing over the damaged area. However, when certain of the programmed inflammatory pathways are abnormal or dysfunctional, a chronic inflammatory state can develop and persist. Metabolic enzymes help degrade and otherwise disarm macromolecular components of the inflammatory cascades, while the antioxidants and cofactors help dampen the free radicals produced during the course of acute or chronic inflammation.

Clinical research conducted around the world has linked enzymes to the amelioration of conditions such as: 

Arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, sinusitis 
Sports injuries, impact injuries, joint damage 
Bruises, pain, swelling, burns 
Thrombo-phlebitis, hematomas 
Wound healing, recovery after surgery 
More serious degenerative degenerative conditions


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