Enzyme pg 03

Enzymes 101  A Laboratory Experiment (continued)

Let the Experimentation Begin!

To understand why enzymes are such a necessary part of your health, we’ll need to review the basics of the digestion process. Let’s imagine the process with you eating an ‘organically grown’ banana. I like using the banana for this example because bananas are quite possibly nature’s perfect food, they’re a food you would be unlikely to cook, and thanks to Gwen Stefani I can actually spell it now.

For the purposes of comparison, let’s say you eat half the banana, and squish the other half up in a bowl and leave it on the kitchen counter. We’ll come back to the squished banana in about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you’ve chewed your half of the banana thoroughly and swallowed it. Of course, your teeth have actually started the digestion process. Could you imagine swallowing the banana down in large chunks? For a lot of people that would put them straight on the road to Heartburnville, even with something as benign as a banana. So you chew, and while gomming up that banana between your teeth, your saliva is mixing with it. Your saliva has an enzyme in it called amylase, which just happens to be the specific enzyme that most-effectively breaks down carbohydrates.

Now, let’s get back to your banana. The thoroughly chewed and saliva-mixed banana (yummy!) slides easily down your esophagus, and lands in the upper portion of the stomach. It is going to just sit there for a little while and think about what it’s done! Remember, that this banana has been eaten raw, so it will naturally (hopefully!) contain all the enzymes necessary to break it down into small enough pieces for the body to use. And as I’m sure you can imagine, those pieces have to be extremely small; as in microscopic.

It’s important to note that fruit can move through this process at a slightly accelerated rate over other foods, as long as they are not impeded. This is why it is generally a good idea to eat fruits on an empty stomach, and uncombined with other foods. I usually wait about 30 minutes after eating fruit before eating more ‘solid’ food; and I try to wait a few hours after eating solid food before I take in any fruit. Of course, this isn’t something I’m anal about; it’s just a general rule. A little fruit on top of your pancakes isn’t going to kill you. Mellow out, Dude!

The natural enzymes in the banana break it down sufficiently for the purposes of digestion, and within about 30 to 40 minutes, the banana has moved through the stomach and is beginning it’s decent into the small intestine. It is there that the breaking down of the banana is completed and the minerals and nutrients contained in it are absorbed into the bloodstream. And the body is so happy!

Now let’s go back and take a look at the banana you smashed up in the bowl. If you look carefully, you can see where the banana has actually started to break down on its own. Appetizing, yeah? Luckily, this isn’t exactly how the banana in your stomach looks. No, the one in your stomach looks much worse. But the point is you can see actually see the enzymes in action. Do you wonder why bread doesn’t do that? Hmmm…

So bananas are great! But we can’t live on a diet of bananas alone. We need other minerals and nutrients not found in bananas to survive. Don’t we occasionally need some Vitamin W, and Vitamin F? (That would be whopper and fries.) And sometimes we need the minerals contained in two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions; all on a sesame seed bun.

So let’s run this scenario again, only this time you’ll be satisfying your need to munch on some ‘real’ food. How does a burger and fries sound? I’m buyin’!

Continue to page 4 - The Fast Food Experiment