Digestive Enzymes

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A note on digestive enzymes from Nathan Zassman:

Enzymes are critical to digestion, helping to break down and digest the foods you eat, so you can absorb the nutrients from your food more effectively. Aviva offers a variety of quality digestive enzymes and other supportive products. The best enzyme formulations are by Enzymedica, a company that specializes in enzymes. New Roots, AOR, NOW and RenewLife also produce quality enzyme formulations.

Examining Enzymes: The Body's Biological Workforce

By Jayson Kroner

Ah, enzymes ... the body's answer to hired cellular labor. We hear the word more than ever these days, though few truly understand what they are, what they do, and why they're so important to our survival rate. To eliminate any unnecessary confusion, let's start with the absolute basics.

Enzymes are proteins. Taking that notion one step further, enzymes are proteins that help "speed up" the billions of chemical reactions that take place within the body each second. In the process, they provide every cell in the body with the compounds they need to function, help construct new proteins, deliver vital nutrients, remove waste materials, relay messages, and facilitate the transfer of energy. Without them, chemical reactions that take milliseconds would slow to a crawl, eventually reducing us to the level of biological oatmeal. What's even more terrifying is that an outrageous percentage of the US population remains enzyme-deficient, in some capacity. (1)

These hardworking chemical catalysts fall into one of three categories; digestive, metabolic, and food. Metabolic enzymes facilitate the day-to-day actions that keep us functioning, food enzymes stimulate the digestive process, and digestive enzymes (the most well-known) break down solid foods into the gel-like substance that provides nourishment for the body. On an individual basis, each one is important. Collectively, there isn't a person walking this earth who could survive more than a few minutes without them.

One of the most common enzyme myths is centered around our body's ability to produce them. Yes, we can manufacture our own supply of enzymes. And yes, an equally impressive amount can be obtained from food. Sadly, there are pitfalls that embody these guidelines. First, the human body has what is known as enzyme potential and is only programmed to produce a specific amount, as written by the DNA. (2) So obviously, the more enzymes we consume from food and supplements, the less we're forced to exhaust our own reserves. Fast and processed foods have virtually no enzyme content, and a lifetime of eating "junk" forces the body to call in its troops, so to speak. Decades of digestive neglect can gradually ruin our ability to carry out some of life's most basic human functions. Let's examine three areas of key concern.


Though it's regularly mislabeled as lactose intolerance, dairy intolerance is the inability to digest the sugar, fat and protein in milk and dairy. It's been estimated that 30 to 50 million Americans are affected, and until now, most have remained at the mercy of products that only address one part of the problem - lactose.

NOW Dairy Digest Complete is an advanced enzyme formula that addresses all three of dairy's most stubborn compounds. Unlike many formulas that only target lactose, Dairy Digest Complete contains BioCore Ultra - an effective collection of lactase, protease and lipase that grants dairy-sensitive individuals the opportunity to enjoy their favorite dairy products, while benefiting from the vital nutrients they deliver.


Poor diet, increased stress and questionable lifestyle choices are some of the sneakiest culprits of sluggish digestion. (3) But regardless of the problem's core, there's no denying what an epidemic this is becoming. Fast, processed and microwaved foods have become the norm for millions. And while these options may offer some limited level of convenience, they also contain virtually no significant enzyme content. The human body was never designed to make sense out of these foods, and years of consumption can jolt the digestive process into a metabolic frenzy. There is, however, hope.

NOW Optimum Digestive System is a potent formula that contains BioCore Optimum - a comprehensive arrangement of essential enzymes, fungal proteases and carbohydrases (including amylase, glucoamylase, and malt diastase) that, according to the National Enzyme Company, serve as a "disassembly line" for the breakdown of starches. Traditionally, some enzymes are not capable of surviving the harsh acid attack that occurs in the stomach. The unique arrangement of enzymes in NOW Optimum Digestive System has a very broad pH range (a term used to measure a compound's acidity or alkalinity) making them highly effective, even when exposed to the hydrochloric acids of the stomach.

The unparalleled capacity of BioCore Optimum was evidenced in trials using dynamic digestive models (TIM) developed by TNO, a research company in the Netherlands. The results were nothing short of remarkable, showing four-fold improvements in healthy digestion models, and seven-fold improvements in compromised digestive scenarios. (4) Accordingly, NOW Optimum Digestive System offers strong digestive support, especially for those who individuals who typically pass on foods such as beans and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, etc.).


Though highly misunderstood, proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes are actively involved in many cardiovascular, immune system and inflammatory processes. Once utilized, they scour the body for large, abandoned protein molecules. Along the way, they eliminate fibrin - insoluble proteins that collect like magnets to injured and damaged tissues. This is a normal process, though dietary gaps can make their removal extremely difficult. Excessive fibrin accumulations can cause inflammation, interfere with normal clotting processes in addition to many other system-wide complications. (5)

Serrazimes is a potent new proteolytic enzyme formula that was developed to serve as a safe alternative to Serapeptidase. Serrazimes utilizes safe, edible and non- genetically engineered sources (Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus melleus) and has been shown to help facilitate protein digestion, while assisting in the removal of dead fibrin cells from healthy tissues. And while proteolytic enzymes are important for each and every one of us, they are of considerable importance for strength and endurance athletes. Save their increased protein requirements, athletes are constantly tearing and rebuilding muscle fibers during and after training. The body interprets this augmentation as a type of injury, and can result in the onset of fibrin - a precursor to a number of inflammatory conditions. (6)

Remember, enzymes aren't just important - they're the body's primary chemical workforce. And like any workforce, things will suffer if neglected. On your road to health, it's important to never neglect your enzyme requirements, especially if your diet is less than perfect. NOW Foods offers an extensive selection of enzymes to help support a nutritional foundation that your system won't soon forget.

1 Koshland D. The Enzymes, v. I, ch. 7, Acad. Press, New York, 1959.
2 Redmon, GL, Ph.D. Energy for Life; How to Overcome Chronic Fatigue, Vital Health Publishing, 2000; 99-102.
3 Colbert, D. Enzymes: Spark Plugs of the Human Body, 1996, Diving Health Nutritional Products.
4 Medhekar, R., Ph.D. The First Quantitative Evidence Proving the Efficacy of Supplemental Enzymes, et al. 2005; National Enzyme Company and TNO Nutrition and Food Research.
5 Deitrick RE. Oral proteolytic enzymes in the treatment of athletic injuries: a double-blind study. Pa Med. 1965;68:35-37.
6 Rathgeber WF. The use of proteolytic enzymes in sporting injuries. S Afr Med J. 1971;45:181-183.

Health Disclaimer. Content provided by NOW Foods. Copyright 2006-2017. Published with permission. Written by Jayson Kroner, co-author of "7-Syndrome Healing". Jayson Kroner is not affiliatied with avivahealth.com.

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