Enzymes, its all so complicated! I can’t remember how many times have I heard that, to many to remember. The point is their right, it is complicated and unless you can keep simple, the more than likely it will remain that way. Professional scientists require long terminologies due to the depth of the discussion they enter into. As dog owners most of us don’t need or want to get quite as technical as they do, but it helps to have a basic, general idea of why things work the way they do. When you understand the importance of our topic, enzymes, hopefully it will all become a little more clear. The intent is not to diminish the importance of the other properties that take place during digestion, were just focusing in on one segment. Since my focus is on dogs I will try to restrict the examples to them.
Enzymes are these marvelous super microscopic protein molecules that are responsible or take part in every phase of ours and every other living things life. Professor Moore from the university of Oxford described enzymes best as “particles of matter charged with biotic energy”. From the moment of conception of life to the very end of life enzymes have a role to play. When sperm enters an egg for fertilization it is an enzyme that bores the hole to allow the sperm to enter making the union for life possible. When a living thing dies, enzymes that have laid dormant in the body become activated and start the process of decomposition/digestion returning the once living organism back to the earth in its broken down form. Metabolic enzymes provide the spark of life to keep our harts beating. Digestive enzymes break food down into its various components so the body can recognize and utilize the food. With out enzymes we could not absorb vitamins, form hormones or clot blood when the need arises. It dose not take much imagination to realize what biological disorders living things face when there is an absence or deficiency of enzymes. There have been hundreds of studies where one group of animals were fed a diet rich in enzymes while another group of the same species were fed the exact same diet with the enzymes destroyed. The outcome was always the same. The group that received the enzymes thrived while the group that was deprived of the enzymes failed to thrive. To go into the details it would require endless pages of text and a life time of study. The documentation is there, research it for yourself, it will become very obvious.
Scientists make new discoveries about enzymes all the time and have only touched the tip of the ice burg, as they say. The first step to understanding is to start thinking at a cellular level , very, very small. Enzymes are protein molecules. A molecule is anything consisting of two or more atoms. If a molecule is comprised of a thousand atoms or more it is called a macro molecule. Even though macros are the larger ones and they are still very small, enzymes rarely if ever get that large.
The reason the size of an enzyme is important goes back to an on going scientific discussion of, where do enzymes do their work. Studies documented in the book Food enzymes for health & Longevity by Dr. Edward Howell (recommended reading) have shown that enzymes work through out the entire body. The question that was posed by skeptics was, do digestive enzymes work in the blood stream and can they be absorbed into the blood stream? The conclusive answer is yes, when enzymes are absorbed into the bloodstream they continue to break down any of the substrates that they are specifically designed to deal with. At one time the oppositions claim was that enzymes were to large of a molecule to be absorbed in to the bloodstream. This was proven to be an erroneous assumption. Each enzyme has a specific type of food such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, etc that it seeks out and proceeds to break down in to a recognizable form that the body can use. There are even enzymes designed to digest and remove worn out enzymes. Studies have already revealed over 3000 different very specific enzymes and researchers believe this is just the beginning. In the ideal world animals would achieve complete digestion or break down of protein, fats and carbohydrates in the initial stages of the digestive tract. This would basically entail the mouth, stomach, small and large intestine. Digestive enzymes are at work from the second a plant is picked or begins to ripen or when a particle of animal protein has ceased to thrive as part of the living animal. This process is accelerated when a rise in temperature takes place as it enters the animal consuming the food. Other enzymes are then secreted by the body to join in the breaking down of the matter as it travels through the digestive tract. When we feed our dogs enzyme deficient diets, which means anything cooked or processed with heat, the ideal situation of complete digestion cannot be achieved. When ever a food has been heated up to 118° F. the destruction of enzymes has for the most part taken place. Canines have been designed by nature for over 30 million years of evolution to eat a variety of enzyme laden foods. Think about it, dogs don’t cook! They have not been blessed with the ability or the strength in their enzyme producing organs, pancreas and liver being the main ones, to make up for an enzyme deficient diet. It is very important that enzymes continue to do their work in the blood stream. If undigested food is allowed to circulate through out the bloodstream problems that are often perceived as allergies manifest as skin problems as well as an increased creation of pro-oxidants. If there is a insufficient intake of anti-oxidants to combat the oxidative stress the manifestation of cancerous tissue is a probability. The scavenging or cleaning up of the bloodstream with enzymes is a proven therapy that often gives relief from the misery of these so called allergies. The word allergies has become a cover all term for anything wrong with the skin that cannot be diagnosed with any specific cause.
The refusal to accept this probability has resulted in the overuse of anti-biotics and steroids. Common sense dictates these problems that have been created by these deficiencies be corrected by the reintroduction of pro-biotics and enzymes. Instead modern medicine tries to combat or repair the problem by doing the opposite. They restrict the use of enzymes and attempt to kill all bacteria be it good or bad. Undigested food in the blood and the redundancy of the same incorrect food day in and day out has resulted in these so called allergies. When in reality they are merely built up intolerances to undigested incorrect food in the blood stream. Proteins putrefy, Fats turn rancid, carbohydrates ferment. How can there not be a problem with all of this going on in the bloodstream and these various toxins being circulated throughout the body. Protein must be converted to an amino acid, fat and carbohydrates must be converted in to glucose for the body to recognize and utilize them. When the kidneys and liver are forced to filter out and deal with these undigested foods, it is no wonder they begin to fail. How often has the statement been made to much protein causes problems. I believe to much unbalanced, undigested protein brings about these problems. Dogs are designed to eat protein as their main source of nourishment. The dog food companies would have you believe they need high levels of simple carbohydrates. This comes from a constant need to create a cheaper dog food for the general public to buy and increase profits, not for the welfare of your dog. Cheap dog food can only be made by using cheap ingredients. Carbohydrates are those cheap ingredients along with unsuitable, indigestible proteins and fats that can be purchased for the lowest price. Bottom line is, it takes a commitment, time, work and money to keep a dog correctly. Inexpensive dog food can be the most costly mistake you can make. The vet bills to deal with the problems it can and will create can be quite costly. Normal medical expenses are part of raising animals but they can be drastically reduced through proper diet.
People have made the statement, we have bred the need for raw foods out of the dog. To this, I say no amount of breeding in recorded time will ever change one important fact, evolutionary changes take millions of years to occur. There is no breed immune to this fact of nature. These same people have used the argument that we have bred dogs to be able to digest very high starch carbohydrates such as corn and wheat. Again, show me where and when the wolf, the ancestor of our modern dog, has thrived on a diet of these food types. They may say “they eat the stomach contents of the pray” and in this way the receive these grains. Yes this may be true, but what pray even the deer has ever eaten corn or wheat for any period of time longer than it has been introduced and cultivated by modern man, still not enough time for evolutionary changes.
With regards to dogs that are know as hard keepers. Perhaps you have owned or known one, sometimes a breeder will label a dog a hard keeper just because no matter what they are fed they just don’t thrive. It is true dogs will inherit their metabolic function from their ancestors or are they just inheriting an ability to produce enzymes? Could it be that we accuse a dog of a deficiency when in actuality he has received all the tools to thrive for a normal dog and we are just feeding him the wrong diet. On the other hand some dogs are super dogs, easy keepers. This is a wonderful thing in a animal and we should strive to reproduce this, I believe these dogs have inherited a extra ordinary enzyme potential or the ability to produce abundant amounts of enzymes. Their organs can in some case produce enough enzymes to deal with the poor diets fed to them. This poses a question how long can they tolerate the diet? Odds are the animal will pay in latter life for the bad foundation of nutrition that has been built under him. Even though a animal may thrive on a diet lacking in enzymes while they are young, the quality and longevity of latter life may not be there. Organs are similar to muscles they need to be exercised to become stronger. The strength is acquired when the organ/muscle rests and rebuilds itself. Imagine working a muscle/organ 24 hours a day, calling upon it to produce enzymes constantly to make up for the enzyme deficit in the diet. How long do you think it will last? Over working of the organs eventually breaks the organ down and never gives it a chance to rebuild. It will slowly lose its ability to perform its function. In the case of the pancreas bouts of pancreatitis in the liver cirrhosis with eventual failure of these organs in the long term.
I would ask you to look at things as a whole and in complete cycles. Consider the predator pray relationship. These life cycles have existed for millions of years. When a predator consumes the pray the enzymes that once belonged to the pray now become part of the predators reserve of enzymes. You could say they have been recycled as part of the predators energy source. After the remnants of the once whole food is excreted, enzymes continue, with help from bacteria, to break the food down even further returning it back to the earth from where the energy originally came to create the food in the first place. This completes the cycle of birth, life and finally death. Man has often decided he can improve on mother nature. This usually results in disaster, our egos often prevent us from seeing the big picture. Why if it isn’t broke must we constantly be trying to fix it?
9 Jan 1990