Every, living thing, needs enzymes to function, every plant, animal and we humans, require lots of enzymes to meet our highest potential.
This information on Sprouts is provided free from Isabell Shipard's Sprout book.
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Please see How can I grow and use Sprouts as living food? for full text.
Sprout Book Commendations
Simply put, enzymes are biological catalysts that can begin, or cause, an activity to speed up. Enzymes are absolutely essential, for the body to work efficiently … are vital for life. When we are low in enzymes, our entire health and wellbeing are adversely affected .
Enzymes can be categorised in three classes:
metabolic, digestive and food enzymes. Metabolic enzymes regulate our body by utilising proteins, fats and carbohydrates and these enzymes also have the task of continual repair. Digestive enzymes help the digestive process to assimilate proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The pancreas produces a fluid called pancreatin, which contains many enzymes. These include amylase to digest carbohydrates, lipase to digest fats, and protease to digest protein. If the pancreas becomes exhausted, then the resulting inability to properly digest and metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins can cause many difficulties. The body has limited capacity to make enzymes. Therefore, by including enzyme rich sprouts in our daily diet, we help the body to perform more efficiently.
Food enzymes from ‘living food’ sprouts are supreme, as we can all grow them in our homes, all year around. All raw foods contain enzymes needed for the digestion of their own nutrients.
These include the amylolytic, lypolytic and proteolytic enzymes our body works so hard to produce. While raw fruits and vegetables have enzymes, they are low in concentration, compared to sprouted seeds. There can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts, than in fruit and vegetables (this does depend on the particular enzymes and the variety of seed that is being sprouted).
To get the highest benefit of enzyme concentration the sprouts must be eaten during the period of high enzyme activity, which is generally between 2-7 days of sprouting. Sprouts have been called ‘the fountain of youth’ and acclaimed as the most enzyme rich food on our planet.
Enzymes are extremely important, as they are the very basis of every action in our body, from digestion to the repair of tissue. Without enzymes, efficient nutrient absorption is impossible and all metabolic functions slow down, making the body age faster and become more susceptible to diseases. Lack of enzymes in the digestive system permits toxins to build up in the colon in time, and this may cause ulcers, growths and cancers.
Enzymes act as ferments, to help our body break down foods into nutrients the body is able to use. They are able to activate biological functions in the body and for this reason, are often called ‘the spark of life’, which we require for digestion, growth, reproduction, wound healing, combating disease, and many other functions.
Enzymes & truly, are like little powerhouses that have a magnitude of essential roles and activities, to keep our bodies functioning efficiently. Enzymes break down food into energy and living cells, and speed up chemical activity in the body, with vitamins and minerals dependant on them, or they cannot work.
There are thousands of different types of enzymes. Each food enzyme is very specific in its action and acts only on one constituent of food. Also, there are different enzymes for each stage in the digestion of each food constituent and no new stage can be commenced, until the previous stage has been completed. For example, three enzymes, pepsin, trypsin and erepsin, successfully convert proteins to intermediate products and finally to amino acids.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme that is able to engulf and digest bacteria, protozoa, and cell wastes, and it is important to a functional, immune system. Coenzyme Q10 is another enzyme important to the body, with the ability to fight free radicals, provide energy to cells, and is able to strengthen the action of the antioxidant vitamin E. It is a catalyst to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which serves as an energy source for many of the body’s biochemical processes and represents the reserve energy in the muscles. This enzyme is found in unprocessed grains (sprouts being a good source), also legumes, and brassicas.
Enzymes require very specific conditions in which to work; the concentration and temperature are important. Drinking with meals can dilute digestive juices and slow enzyme action, and consuming very hot or very cold foods or drinks can inhibit enzyme action. Poor food combinations, at a meal (e.g. starch with high acid foods, proteins with starch, or proteins with sugar), can also impede the action of enzymes.
Don’t underestimate the importance of enzyme-rich foods. Our very life span is governed by the total enzyme supply, process and activity. It has been found the highest enzyme levels are in young adults, but then, many of the digestive enzymes decrease in quantity by approximately 30 times, by 80 years of age. Research shows, that people who consume a diet high in enzymerich foods, have increased energy and vitality. People who are tired and fatigued may very well be lacking enzymes; as the food they eat cannot be utilised constructively, it is turned into toxins instead, which causes tiredness and lack of energy (see cell diagram p 19).
This is why sprouts can play such an impressive role, as we require lots of enzymes for the body to work efficiently, for energy, vitality and long life. As sprouts are easily digested, they do not overload the system, like cooked and processed foods. Sprouts have been called ‘protein enhancers’ as they help the body digest other foods eaten.21 Therefore, as we consume enzyme-rich sprouts, we can actually make enzyme deposits (like money in the bank) and, also, conserve the enzymes that the body manufactures, which increases the potential for better health and longer life.
If our reserves of enzymes are high, then proteins and fats are well digested. Foods that can cause allergies are more completely broken down by the plentiful enzymes and the body will no longer react, or at least, not so adversely, to these substances. Enzymes, in sprouts, commence the digestion of the sprouts and release of the nutrients the moment the sprout cells are ruptured by chewing. Sprouts need to be chewed to a soft, pulpy, consistency for good digestion. Saliva in the mouth is released by chewing & chewing & chewing well (all the food we eat), which is the first stage of digestion, an essential part in a long chain of chemical actions that take place in the body to provide nutrients.
Seeds of all plants contain abundant enzymes, however, while the seeds are dry, these are inactive, due to enzyme inhibitors, until given moisture to activate germination. Due to the inhibitors, seeds can last for years in the soil, without deteriorating and rotting. Unfortunately, enzyme inhibitors are also effective against our digestive enzymes, which means that as a general rule, seeds are difficult to digest. Bean seeds are high in enzyme inhibitors. Cereal grains are best cooked for proper digestion, however, cooking can destroy the valuable food enzymes. Nuts also contain enzyme inhibitors, which need to be annulled for better digestion. The best way to do this, for nuts and other seeds, is to soak these in water and activate germination. It is the enzyme action, during germination that can neutralise the inhibitors. The enzymes also have power to eliminate other detrimental substances, such as phytic acid. Phytic acid, which occurs in considerable quantity in some seeds, tends to bind minerals, so that the digestive system cannot break them down for assimilation. However, when seeds are sprouted, this mineral-binding capacity is virtually eliminated.
If the main part of our diet is made up of processed or cooked foods, we are probably missing out on essential enzymes and, sooner or later, the deficiency will begin to show. Our methods of food processing can deplete, or destroy, the vital, life-giving enzymes …
• enzymes are inhibited by cold; therefore, refrigeration or freezing helps to keep food but can deplete the enzyme value;
• preservatives (even salt) added to foods, work by inhibiting live enzymes and make the foods harder to digest;
• drying foods can diminish enzyme viability;
• irradiated and cooked foods keep well, as enzymes have been destroyed;
• canned and processed foods have a longer shelf life, as the enzymes have been destroyed by heat;
• microwave heating and cooking destroys enzymes.
Enzymes are extremely sensitive to heat and cannot function, being destroyed, when subject to heat over 45º C (118º F). When we cook foods, valuable enzymes are lost, as boiling point is 100º C (212º F).
Sapoty Brook, author of, ‘Eco – eating’, says that, “long heating at 48° C, or short heating at 65° C destroys all enzymes, therefore we create enzyme-deficient meals, every time we switch on the stove”. It has been found in research that, white blood cell counts increase after eating cooked food, indicating that the body is certainly on the defensive. This does not take place after eating living food.
If we eat mainly cooked and processed foods, the main gland that produces digestive enzymes, the pancreas, is often enlarged, due to overwork. One of the first and most obvious signs of lack of enzymes is poor digestion, which may show as excess gas, indigestion, heartburn, bloating, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome. Enzyme deficiency, has been implicated in over 200 diseases, including: joint stiffness, arthritis, dermatitis, lack of energy, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, circulatory disorders, cancer, premature skin wrinkles and general breakdown of organs and body functions.
It is the body’s inability to replace old cells with healthy, new ones, at a fast enough rate, and the concurrent loss in the body’s enzymes, that is responsible for ageing and increased susceptibility to disease, as we get older. Enzyme depletion is a fundamental cause of ageing, and without enzymes we die. Although we cannot stop time from marching on, at least, we can slow down its destructive effects by eating foods rich in living enzymes.
And, when we eat a variety of really fresh foods (that also provide us with alkalising action), the body will better utilise enzymes, which will help provide a good, alkaline environment… this is certainly preferable to acid-forming, cooked and processed foods. We can’t stop manufacturers from making processed foods, but we can choose what we want to eat. Real benefits to health will come from eating sprouts every day, which are rich in enzymes… as… staying biologically young and healthy… is a matter of keeping enzyme activity in our bodies, at a maximum.