It’s Not What You Eat, It’s What You Absorb
We don’t usually give this much thought. We eat a chicken breast and assume that it’s fully getting absorbed and utilized to build muscle but the truth is that it’s often times not the case.
Your food goes through a complete refining process from the time it hits your mouth to the time it enters your blood stream. Often times, this refining process is being interrupted by a lack of enzymes needed to break down your food. Food is broken down mechanically and chemically by certain glands and cell in the mouth, stomach, pancreas and small intestine. The process starts by chewing your food and mixing it with your saliva (90% water and 10% enzymes) followed by mixing it with a host of different enzymes categorized as lipase that helps break down fat into fatty acids and glycerol, protease which helps break down protein into amino acids and carbohydrases which breaks down carbohydrates into glucose.
When you eat foods that are low in enzymes, your body needs to work harder at producing them which eventually creates depletion. As we age it becomes more and more important. Here is an important statement made by the late Dr. Edward Howell, a noted pioneer in the field of enzyme research; “The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism.” So it’s important to consume foods that are filled with enzymes at every meal not only for digestion but for your overall health and longevity.
Something else that affects enzymes to a large degree is every day stress. Stress pulls attention away from the intestine and towards the legs simply because it’s in a fight or flight situation making enzyme production hard. When stress is high even production of saliva is low. (Trust me, I almost choked and died eating chicken in my car stressed out that I would be late for a meeting). This is also the reason why you will often see stressed out individuals with intestinal problems like heart burn, indigestion, stomach aches and in a more serious cases Crohn’s disease.
Traditionally many tribes around the world ate foods rich in enzymes. Many would ferment their foods because they were not sure how long they would go before they ate again. The Eskimos that consumed little to no plants understood this by burying their meats in the ice and leaving it there for days in order for it to ferment (thus increasing its enzymes).
Bodybuilder Armand Tanny (brother of Vic Tanny famous for his chain of fitness clubs in the early days) realized the importance of enzymes in the 1920’s when he went to Hawaii and saw the physiques the people were building on raw food. When we cook our food we kill most of the enzymes needed to digest it properly. These days eating foods that are non organic have been shown to have less enzymes also. So make sure you’re consuming a good amount of organic raw foods.
Another great way to make sure you are consuming a lot of enzyme rich foods it through your own fermentation. Fermentation will produce lactic acid that will help breakdown foods. Now, I know this sounds gross but I’m not saying you need to eat rotten meat. What I’m saying is you should ferment certain vegetable like cucumbers and have small amounts of pickles with your meals, or ferment ginger, garlic, peppers, pineapple, sauerkraut etc and add to your meals. It’s pretty easy and it will help assure you are absorbing most of what you eat.