The more processed a food is, the less likely it is to contain active enzymes. But before we talk about whether enzymes are present or not, let me first explain what enzymes are.
Enzymes are protein-based molecules composed of chains of amino acids which help speed up the body’s biochemical reactions. Without them, life simply would not be possible. An excellent example is the enzyme necessary to be able to use glucose (sugar).
If hexokinase, the enzyme that enables animals to use glucose, did not exist, sugar would break down so slowly that we would die. Glucose is the brain’s primary nutrient, and without the enzyme hexokinase, the brain would be unable to utilize glucose, leading to its eventual “starvation” or death.
Our body produces specific enzymes for each function. For example, it produces proteases to break down and use the proteins present in food, amylases for carbohydrates, lipases for fats, and so on.
The pancreas and its enzymes play a crucial role in the body, which is why pancreatic diseases can be extremely dangerous and even deadly due to the absence of these essential enzymes. The liver and other organs also rely on enzymes for vital functions.
Billions of cells depend on the body’s enzymatic reactions.
I mentioned that processed foods no longer contain any active enzymes. They are lifeless and sterile as they don’t contain any of the bacteria or molecules that are essential to life.
Natural and lightly cooked foods, if they require cooking at all, are rich in enzymes that aid in proper digestion and, therefore, better absorption of nutrients.
Dogs and cats can consume processed foods occasionally without harm, as long as the quality is good or reasonably good. For example, my dog eats natural food 80-90% of the time, but when I have to travel, or for any reason I can’t feed him, my neighbor takes care of him. To avoid any trouble, he just gives him one and a half cups of kibble in the evening and again at night.
Besides being unappetizing and lacking in nutrients, commercial processed foods are also devoid of natural enzymes. How can we make up for this deficiency? Should we artificially add enzymes to these products? This approach only exacerbates the problem of moving further away from natural foods.
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