There’s a lot we know about enzymes. There’s also a lot we don’t know.
There are many theories regarding the benefits of food enzymes. Some are, as yet, unproven. Since the topic of enzymes is of interest to the juicing community, we at PURE Juicer believes it’s important to provide an objective overview of the subject. We’ll start off by looking at what we do know and then we’ll look at what we still need to know.
Enzymes are biologically active proteins that accelerate beneficial chemical reactions in the body. They are broken into three different groups: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are produced in the body as needed to catalyze chemical reactions within the cells. These enzymes work within the organs and tissues in order to attach iron to red blood cells, turn phosphorus into bone, help to heal wounds to the body,1 and break down fats in the blood.2
Digestive enzymes are also produced in the body – in the salivary glands of the mouth, in the stomach, pancreas, and the small intestine, where 90% of the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream takes place. Digestive enzymes play a crucial part in the absorption of nutrients. They strengthen the body’s immune system so it can fight infections better.3 They also help eliminate toxins from the body.4 There are four types of digestive enzymes; amylases, which split carbohydrates into simple sugars like glucose; lipases, which help digest fat; nucleases, which help digest nucleic acids; and proteases, which help digest proteins.
Many nutritionists believe that enzyme-rich foods actually “pre-digest” in your stomach, through the action of their own enzymes. This process is called autolytic digestion. It’s believed that, since the cells of these foods or liquids are already being broken down by their own enzymes, our stomachs need to produce less acid and digestive enzymes. This takes stress off of the entire process of digestion. According to Dr. Edward Howell, a pioneer in enzyme research, “This reaction results in a conversion of the enzyme potential and body energy. It allows the body to devote its attention to supplying more metabolic enzymes for use by the organs and tissues to carry on their functions, provide repairs, and bring about cures.”5
Produce and their enzymes
Food enzymes are delivered to our bodies through the foods we consume.
Vegetables that are particularly rich in enzymes include:
Carrots – containing the enzymes sucrose synthase, beta fructofuranosidase, lipoxygenase, peroxidase, phosphodiesterase, and polyphenol oxidase.
Celery – containing the enzymes amylase, glucosidase, linase, peroxidase, dismutase.
Cucumbers – containing the enzymes catalase, ascorbate oxidate, chintinase, invertase, pectinase, peroxidase.
Ginger – containing the enzyme zingibain.
Tomatoes – containing the enzymes carboxylase, acid invertase, lipoxygenase, peroxidase, pectinesterase
Wheat Grass – containing the enzymes amylase, catalase, lapase, protease, peroxidase.
The temperature debate heats up
An article in Life Extension Magazine claims definitively that enzyme deactivation in produce occurs when temperatures exceed 118°F.6
John Kohler posted an interesting and detailed post on his website (link) in which he conducted his own research on different kinds of juicers and the temperatures they generate while juicing. In the end, he concluded that only one kind of juicer exceeded the 118°F limit.7
An important point about this deactivation of enzymes was whether or not it occurs in slow increments a one approaches 118°F or whether that temperature is more of an immediate switch. This information was not easily discovered among the sea of claims regarding 118°F.
The University of California Davis has a very detailed paper which details a range of temperature in which a “denaturation of the protein structure” occurs.8 In their research, enzymes don’t immediately degrade at 118°F. Instead, they degrade in the range of 104°F to 122°F. This could make a huge difference in the arguments you’ll find online, even those of John Kohler’s above.
Since the juice made with Pure Juicer is cold pressed, it hasn’t been exposed to the higher temperatures that some people claim occurs in some high-speed juicers. The Pure Juicer has been measured to juice in the 60°F and 70°F range, well below the 118°F deactivation point.
More research needed
Currently, there is no scientific evidence available to either support or disprove Dr. Howell’s conclusions. However, the research continues. The National Science Foundation is currently funding studies on enzymes that regulate human biology.9 Enzyme Research is a peer-reviewed journal, available online, that publishes original research articles as well as review articles related to all aspects of enzymes. As we learn more, we’ll report on it. We believe it’s important to stay informed regarding the latest discoveries regarding food enzymes in order to have clear knowledge as to how they provide health benefits and how those benefits can be best delivered through cold pressed juicing.
Sources and further reading
1“Newly Discovered Enzyme Could Improve Wound Healing” Advanced Tissue, December 19, 2014 (accessed November 2015)
2“LPL,” Genetic Home Reference, February 2015 (accessed November 2015) http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/LPL
3EM/HR, “New immune defence enzyme discovered,” Max Planck Society, April 2, 2012 (accessed November 2015)
4“Digestive Enzymes are important for Health and Longevity,” Natural News, August 25, 2009, (accessed November 2015)
5Howell, Edward, “Enzyme Nutrition” Penguin Jan. 1 1995, p. 10 (see Google Books)
6Life Extension Magazine online, “Digestive Enzymes: The Missing Link,” April 1999 http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/1999/4/cover/page-01
7Website – Discount Juicers http://www.discountjuicers.com/juicequality.html (accessed November 2015)
8UCDavis ChemWiki, Map: Ball et al. “The Basics of GOB Chemistry,” S18.7 Enzyme Activity. Site visited 11/29/15 http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Textbook_Maps/General_Chemistry_Textbook_Maps/Map%3A_Ball_et_al._%22The_Basics_of_GOB_Chemistry%22/18%3A_Amino_Acids,_Proteins,_and_Enzymes/18.07_Enzyme_Activity#Temperature
9National Science Foundation, “UT Arlington research may unlock enzyme’s role in disease,” December 23, 2013 (accessed November 2015)