Enzymes are the Secret to Longevity.

Throughout the Natural Health World is a growing awareness of the importantly crucial role in health and longevity of a large group of nutrients that have until now gone largely unnoticed.

These nutrients - powerful enzymes are destroyed in cooking, the harm of which has been warned about for a century by natural therapists preaching the use of raw foods.

Enzymes were discovered by Dr Edward Howell (see Further Reading below) who assessed their value 50 years ago. Why have they been ignored for so long? Probably because they are the agents of food perishability, and therefore the cause of great inconvenience to the food industry and consumers. It has become clear that we are paying a huge price for ignoring enzymes.


model of an enzyme in action

What is an enzyme?

An enzyme is a protein molecule that catalyzes or speeds up a biological reaction. It is not altered by the reaction and therefore can be used over and over as a catalyst. Enzymes control cellular metabolism by controlling the rate of production of new products. Enzymes are usually highly specific, that means they are designed to work with particular chemicals. Thus, there are 1000s of different types of enzyme molecules.

or for the more scientifically-minded:

An enzyme is a specialized protein that acts as a biological catalyst. A catalyst is something that speeds up a chemical reaction. Therefore, enzymes are biological molecules which increase the rates of chemical reactions. Enzymes are highly specific and are the most efficient catalysts known. Enzymes accelerate (often by several orders of magnitude) chemical reactions in the cell that would proceed imperceptibly or not at all in their absence.

The enzyme is not permanently modified by its participation. Most enzymes demonstrate great specificity, reacting with only one or a small group of closely related chemical compounds; several enzymes are sometimes required for efficient catalytic function. Some enzymes depend on the presence of coenzymes for their function. For the enzyme to continue to be effective, its three-dimensional molecular structure must be maintained. Over 1,500 different enzymes have been identified, and the exact sequence of amino acids (subunits of a protein) has been determined for many through the technique of x-ray crystallography. It is believed that an enzyme functions by attaching the molecule it acts on to a specific molecular site, so that the electrostatic forces of nearby atoms sharply reduce the energy needed to cleave and re-form the appropriate chemical bonds.

Enzymes are the Triggers of the Life Processes

In the same way that chemical reactions in the school laboratory can be made to start by catalysts, the chemical changes that constitute the life processes in all living things require cata!ysts to trigger them off. Enzymes are simply biological catalysts.

As with vitamins, enzymes occur in all vegetable and animal tissue in its natural state, so that all wild animals always ingest them with their food. The intricate role of enzymes in living tissue can only be explained if they are considered to be charged with an energy factor or, in other words, some form of life force.

Enzymes make possible the energy supply for every one of the millions of processes occurring within the human body. They are necessary for the digestion of food, for the metabolism of food after digestion and for all other bodily functions.

Each enzyme has a specific purpose so that there are tens of thousands working away in the human body, with something like 50 thousand in the liver alone.

Your lifespan is actually governed by your enzyme supply.

Surprisingly, the less food that is consumed on a long term basis by insects. animals and humans but above starvation level the longer it has been found that they live. In the case of insects and animals, by restricting the quantity of food it was even possible to double the life span. Increasing the temperature causes insects to be vastly more active, but they die sooner. It appears that more food or greater activity causes more enzymes to be used up and this reduces longevity.

Wild jungle animals live exclusively on raw food and don't develop degenerative disease, but when fed cooked food in captivity disease becomes rife.

In humans, enzyme levels are highest in young adults and decline with age. One of the digestive enzymes was found to decrease in quantity by about 30 times by the age of 80. It has been found that bigger college students tend to have poorer health than those who have grown less rapidly (and used up their enzymes less rapidly).

It appears that maximum growth rate and longevity are incompatible. In addition, because greater enzyme potential is associated with increased vitality, enzymes may well emerge as the true yardstick of vitality. Put in another way, the enzyme potential and the life-force may be almost identical.

Enzyme potential is increased with food enzymes

A very important question is whether enzymes consumed in food can work in the body. If they can, then the enzymes manufactured in the body will be conserved and the enzyme potential increased leading to better health and longer life. Generally, it has been assumed that food enzymes cannot work in the body, but Dr Howell has produced evidence to the contrary.

Very interesting experiments found that it is possible for complex substances, such as bacteria, yeast cells, proteins and fats which were not digested, to be absorbed into the bloodstream, where they provoked an allergic response. It was found that if there were adequate enzymes in the blood they would complete the digestion of these substances, but if the levels were low, symptoms of allergy occurred. When enzymes were administered orally to the patient the symptoms subsided. demonstrating that external enzymes could work in the body.

Food enzymes commence the digestion of that food the moment the cell walls are ruptured by chewing. Later on the body's own digestive enzymes begin to work and some of them are very powerful. Pepsin breaks down the protein in egg white in just a few minutes, but it takes a whole day to do the same thing in a laboratory. It is because cooked food can be digested with apparent ease by most people that it is usually assumed that food enzymes are destroyed in the acid medium of the stomach. But this argument is wrong.

As stated by Ross Horne in The Health Revolution (see References below), it has been shown over and over again that, although some are destroyed in the stomach, the enzymes in raw food play an important part not only in assisting the digestive processes and thus relieving the pancreas of extra work, but also in supplementing the other enzyme production within the body.

Some animals have a separate stomach a "food enzyme stomach" which pre digests food by food enzymes before the body's digestive enzymes are called upon. The human stomach functions as two parts, the upper part performing the same function as the food enzyme stomach in animals.

There is no doubt that food enzymes play a significant nutritional role in contributing to our total enzyme potential.

Enzyme Role in Disease

Increased metabolic activity is paralleled by a rise in the enzyme content of the blood and occurs during muscular work, increased food intake, pregnancy and fevers.

Enzyme activity requires the presence of moisture and varies with temperature and acidity, according to the particular enzyme. In the human body enzyme activity reaches a maximum at fever temperatures in order to achieve the maximum action by the body's defences. For even, 1 degree centigrade rise in temperature, the basal metabolism increases by approximately 13%. Because bacterial activity decreases in fever, it is thought that increased enzyme activity is the main mechanism in the body's defence against bacteria. The body's defending cells, white blood cells possess a greater diversity of enzymes than any other cell and are thus able to digest bacteria.


conceptual image of an enzyme

1n contrast to the situation in acute illness, enzyme levels are always low in chronic disease. When the enzyme content becomes so low that metabolism cannot proceed then death occurs.

Enzymes have another interesting role in disease. this time in prevention. Raw food enzymes reaching the colon (bowel) regulate the natural intestinal bacteria (the micro flora) by binding any oxygen present. This eliminates the aerobic condition in which harmful bacteria grow, and cause fermentation and putrefaction leading to toxaemia and consequent degenerative disease including cancer. With the harmful bacteria gone, the beneficial bacteria can flourish and carry out their vital work including the manufacture of vitamins, particularly some B vitamins.

Cooked Food Enlarge Enzyme Glands

In humans eating cooked food the main gland that produces digestive enzymes, the pancreas, is enlarged due to over work. In proportion to total body weight, it is over twice the size of that of herbivorous animals, the only explanation being the cooking of food. Confirming this trend, Oriental people on a high carbohydrate cooked diet, mainly rice, have a pancreas approximately 50% larger than that of western people. The salivary glands, which produce a starch digesting enzyme, are also larger. Interestingly, cattle and sheep, on a high carbohydrate diet of raw food, have inactive salivary glands and only a very small pancreas. They are obviously dependent on food enzymes for digestion at least.

Cooking Kills All Enzymes

Enzyme activity increases with temperature but only until a surprisingly low temperature, where it tapers off, namely 42 degrees centigrade. If the enzymes in raw food are heated to 48 degrees centigrade (118 degrees F) for more than half an hour, they are completely destroyed. However, dry heat which does not occur in foods is not destructive to enzymes until above 150 degrees centigrade (302 degrees F).

Thus the natural, health giving enzymes found in all raw foods are totally destroyed by cooking and even by pasteurisation to our peril.

Cooking Kills People

Wild jungle animals live exclusively on raw food and don't develop degenerative disease, but when fed cooked food in captivity disease becomes rife. When a raw food diet is restored, their health improves again.

The difference in health, physical condition and life span between any animals maintained on a cooked, vitamin Supplemented diet, and animals trained on a raw food diet can only be attributed to the extremely heat sensitive enzymes.

The significance of enzymes in raw milk is supported (not proved) by a Chicago study of 20,000 babies, in which 7 per cent of those that died were breast fed, compared to 66 per cent of deaths in the bottle fed group on pasteurised milk.

Although Bulgarian peasants traditonally eat large quantities of dairy products, including sour milk, they achieve unusual longevity; all dairy products are raw and unpasteurised.

In a parallel case, the health of the primitive Eskimo is excellent, in spite of the fact that raw meal consumption may reach 2&1/2 to 5 kilograms daily. In contrast, the modern eskimo consuming modern cooked foods has all the diseases that are rife in the western world today.

Our appallingly high incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other degenerative diseases is consistent with the expected results of enzymes damaged in a highly cooked diet. Conversely, the therapeutic value of a raw diet of fruit juice, vegetable juice or raw fruits and vegetables, which has been established repeatedly all over the world, is exactly what we would expect.

The "life force" that we attribute to raw foods may well be due largely to their enzyme content.

In contrast to the situation in acute illness, enzyme levels are always low in chronic disease.

Enzyme Inhibitors in Seeds, Cereals and Nuts

The seeds of all plants also contain abundant enzymes, but these are inhibited by "enzyme inhibitors" until temperature and moisture are right for germination. In this way seeds may last for years in the soil without rotting. Unfortunately, enzyme inhibitors are also effective against our digestive enzymes which means that, as a general rule, seeds are difficult to digest and we cannot do the job properly.

Soya beans and peanuts are particularly high in enzyme inhibitors and need to be cooked, or preferably, sprouted, to destroy the inhibitors.

Cereal grains, the "starchy" foods, must be cooked for us to be able to digest them. Firstly, heat is needed to burst the fibrous wall surrounding the starch, and, secondly, the enzyme inhibitors must be destroyed to enable the digestion of the starch. 0f course, the valuable food enzymes are also destroyed.

As a consequence, cereals, although considered the staff of life, are not ideal foods for man unless sprouted.

Nuts, being the seeds of trees, contain enzyme inhibitors which need to be destroyed for best digestion. Many people notice discomfort with more than small quantities of nuts at a meal. The best method with nuts is to soak them to start germination and consume them raw.

Raw Vegetables not Rich in Enzymes Although we would naturally expect raw vegetables to be high in enzymes, they are not. The enzyme content of raw natural foods is roughly proportional to the caloric content, and bulky vegetables are very low in calories. Therefore, unfortunately, the addition of salad to a meal of cooked meat and potatoes will not compensate for the enzyme destruction.

Fresh fruit is high in enzymes, which are responsible for rapid ripening and then the fruit rapidly going bad in hot weather. Bananas are a striking example of this. By comparison, vegetables only wilt and shrivel.

Animal foods meat, fat and dairy products when raw and unpasturised contain valuable enzymes.

Preservation of Food Destroys Enzymes

Cooked food keeps well because its enzymes have been destroyed. Otherwise it would decompose as quickly as fresh food.

Because enzymes are inhibited by cold, refrigerated food keeps well and frozen food will keep indefinitely.

In a similar way, because enzymes need moisture, dehydrated food will! keep indefinitely.

Canned foods also keep indefinitely because the enzymes have been destroyed by heat (pasteurisation at least) and the food sealed in the can against bacteria which would reintroduce enzymes.

Preservatives work by inhibiting enzymes and therefore they must also inhibit digestion to some degree.


enzymes in a petrie dish

  1. Enzymes are of crucial importance to the processes that constitute life.
  2. They are biological catalysts which trigger off every life process.
  3. All animals in the wild consume abundant enzymes in their diet.
  4. Cooking and pasteurisation destroy all enzymes.
  5. In humans eating cooked food, enzyme producing glands enlarge and are overworked compensating for the deficiency in the diet.
  6. All seeds contain enzyme inhibitors to preserve them. They are made less indigestible by cooking and completely digestible by sprouting.
  7. Food preservation depends upon the destruction of food enzymes,
  8. Enzymes are so fundamental to life that our life span depends on the supply of them. A diet of uncooked foods greatly increases this supply.

Further Reading

  • "Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity" By Dr Edward Howell      on amazon
  • "The Health Revolution" 3rd edition By Ross Horne      on amazon
  • "The Enzyme Factor" By Dr Shinya      at the Book Depository

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