By Dr. Edward Howell
The following article was written by Dr. Howell late in his life, in attempt to make clear his revolutionary food enzyme concept.
In spite of all I have written about food enzymes since 1936, common misconceptions persist and distort their significance in nutrition. Let me restate that all animal and vegetable foods in their natural state contain non-caloric elements in addition to proteins, carbohydrates and fats. In the order of their discovery and recognition as indispensable food elements, they are minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. It is obvious that merely discovering that foods are endowed by nature with any particular non-caloric food material should constitute all the proof needed to establish this substance as a protector of the health and well-being of living organisms, including the human race, during the whole lifespan. This is because constituents of unprocessed natural foods have had countless eons of time to mold and shape the form and function of living organisms and have created a dependence to fill a need. Therefore, to remove any part of natural food from the normal diet could not be sanctioned because of the possibility of harm to the health and well-being.
This had been shown by the history of nutrition. Not very long ago, the only elements considered necessary for wholesome nutrition were protein, carbohydrates and fats. Minerals were considered unimportant and ignobly characterized by chemists as “ash” because they were all that remained after food was burned in the laboratory. Vitamins and enzymes in foods were unknown. The fiber of foods was removed and discarded because fiber was believed to be too coarse for the human digestive tract. Many people formerly believed that vegetables were fit food only for rabbits and cows – not humans. The immigrants flooding here from Europe during the early years of this century, foolishly embraced white bread with open arms. In the backward, unindustrialized countries, only the wealthy ate white bread, the common people having to be satisfied with whole-grain bread, of whose health value they were ignorant. The bran of wheat, which we now value as necessary food fiber, along with the valuable wheat embryo or germ, were removed and found their way into rations for cattle and hogs, proving to serve as excellent nutrition for these animals.
For over a hundred years, enzymes had a reputation as being important in the digestion of food, and that was all. Their area of operation was believed to be limited to the stomach and intestines. It was not realized until recently that the work enzymes do in the digestive tract is only a minor part of their complete duties in the bodies of animals and human beings. Enzymes are the active agents in metabolism – in anabolism and catabolism. Enzymes are the actors behind the scenes in the immunity processes. They power your thinking, breathing, sexual activity – your very life. Thousands of different enzymes – metabolic enzymes – are involved in everything going on in the heart, lungs, liver, arteries, blood, muscles – in all organs and tissues. Your body is expected to make all of these digestive and metabolic enzymes.
But while the body is required to produce less than a dozen essential digestive enzymes, functioning only in the food canal, it must furnish thousands of metabolic enzymes to service the multitudinous activities of the entire organism. Metabolic enzymes do work, they are workers. They take absorbed food products with their minerals and vitamins, and build them into tissues. They repair the body and aim to keep the organs healthy. Furthermore, through substrate action, metabolic enzymes remove worn-out material from the cells, keeping everything in repair. It can be recognized that this is a far bigger job for enzymes than merely digesting food in the food canal, part of which should be done by food enzymes, or if need be, by other exogenous enzymes, meaning supplemental enzymes. So which are more important in the body, digestive enzymes or metabolic enzymes? Let us beware about permitting a metabolic enzyme labor shortage to form, which can induce our problem diseases.
If metabolic enzymes are more important, then why must they play second fiddle, and have second call, in the allocation of the body’s resources? Why are digestive enzymes kept rich by having first call on the limited enzyme potential of the organism, while the more important metabolic enzymes must be satisfied with what is left? I must emphasize that the reader of this treatise is an owner of the serviceable and precious metabolic enzymes. Smart owners will not force their digestive enzymes to do work meant for food enzymes if this extra burden on the digestive enzymes requires the body to put a strain on producing their multi-functional metabolic enzymes and not have enough of them to carry on their important functions. If you were a biological engineer, responsible for efficient operation and health of human organisms, is it not logical that you would see to it that the digestive enzymes be given less work by allowing food enzymes, or supplemental enzymes, if need be, to do more digesting, as evolution, or the God of nature’s laws, ordained?
Each plant, animal and human being can make the enzymes needed to do that which needs to be done in the organism. Any high school student knows that the human digestive glands can make the enzymes needed to digest our foods. Some well-informed students also know that human saliva and pancreatic juice are fabulously rich in enzymes, far stronger than in any wild animal living under the laws of nature. The uninitiated and perplexed reader may reasonably ask why we need the enzymes in food when our digestive enzymes, in the prime of life, can do the job so well. “Are not food enzymes superfluous and nonessential,” some people may ask. Even those in high places have been beset by difficulties in discerning the hidden facts. To clarify an otherwise muddled situation, is precisely why I wrote this narrative. But before proceeding, it is urgent to call attention to yet another important pillar in the Food Enzyme Concept.
Now, permit me to return to the matter of why food enzymes are so important and indispensable to the reader’s present and future health – possibly even more so where the digestive juices are overflowing with personal enzymes. In the first place all of nature’s creatures welcome and receive food enzymes, in every morsel of food, in addition to the enzymes they produce. Fish are surrounded by enzymes as they swim in the ocean water. Plants are dependent of free enzymes in the soil to help make plant food, and suffer increased susceptibility to disease when they must subsidize deficient soil enzymes with their own metabolic enzymes. When you eat a raw food, the enzymes within it are immediately released and begin to digest it in the mouth, even before being swallowed, and before your own enzymes are even secreted.
The same happens with animals living on raw food. When birds, like the chicken, swallow intact wheat or corn seeds, they go into the crop. There the seeds swell with moisture and the food enzymes inside the seeds begin to digest the starch, protein and fat before the seeds reach the stomach of the bird. Snakes and many other creatures eat their food by swallowing it entire without chewing. Small snakes swallow live rats, frogs, and such. Large snakes, such as the python, engulf live pigs. The body of the hapless victim shows up as a large bolus in the midriff, causing an enormous distention of the stomach of the snake, which allows no room for the snake’s enzymes or acid to enter. Only after the digestive enzymes and catheptic enzymes of the prey, which now belong to the snake, and have become its food enzymes, have performed the ritual of predigestion, and liquefied the body of the prey, can the snake’s enzymes find room in its own stomach, to proceed with digestion.
Millions of fish swallow entire smaller fish every day as their normal diet, while millions of birds gulp down entire fish or other organisms to constitute their complete food intake. And thus the ritual of predigestion by food enzymes is carried on in the entire animal kingdom. A lion has teeth adapted only to tear away large chunks of meat from the body of prey. He may tear off thirty pounds of chunks and then walk away dragging a full belly to a sanctuary to rest, while the pressure from the enormous distention of his stomach by the meat forms a coalescent bolus which crowds out everything, giving no room for the lion’s acid and enzymes to enter. The lion’s peptic enzymes and acid can find room to get into its stomach only after the catheptic enzymes within the meat itself have performed their role of predigestion and reduced the bolus to a plastic or liquid consistency. Only then can the lion’s enzymes carry on the digestive process from where the cathepsin stopped. It is indeed a law of nature, tested and proven by millions of years that enzymes within the food have been ordained by evolution, or evolution’s God, to predigest food, and that your private enzymes were never intended to do the job alone.
Must we pay a penalty when we alone, of the hundreds of thousands of species of living treasures on this earth, force our unaided, personal (endogenous) digestive enzymes to digest food, instead of letting exogenous (outside) enzymes do part of the job by predigestion, according to nature’s law? There is a penalty which is inescapable and cumulative. It is deceptively unnoticeable when we are young, but when our bodies are permanently called upon to make too many enzymes for digestion, the stress of competition for enzymes, forces our organism to produce less of the other kinds of enzymes needed to keep all organs and tissues in proper repair and health.
In other words, if the body has very rich digestive enzymes, it must be satisfied with poor metabolic enzymes. The organism cannot at the same time make very rich digestive enzymes, and very rich metabolic enzymes, but a hyper-secretion of one kind can be attained only at the expense of a hyposecretion of the other kind. The old saying that the man with an “iron stomach” is the prime candidate for an early heart attack, is unfortunately quite true. When we flirt with the integrity of metabolic enzymes, and abuse the enzymes’ potential, we are inviting the most serious types of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc., to make themselves at home in our bodies. Food-enzyme deficiency and its aftermath must be recognized as the most serious and profound oversight and omission in nutrition.
Since wild animals do not cook, what is there to prevent ingested food enzymes from predigesting the food of wild animals? This leaves the human race in the unenviable and isolated position of being the only living creatures forcing their digestive enzymes to suffer the burden of unaided digestion of food, which in turn is reflected in compromising the potency of metabolic enzymes. Anything lowering the efficiency of metabolic enzymes, impairs their ability to keep the organ systems healthy enough to ward off disease. The fact that the health of people and their domesticated animals does not measure up to the high standards of wild animals, offers support to indications that the relative potency of metabolic enzymes plays a key role in the health discrepancy. Professional experience has shown that those domesticated and laboratory animals eating a human-type diet, are plagued with a variety of human-type serious diseases after they pass the middle of the lifespan. On the contrary, wild animals are immune to our problem diseases, unless they are exposed to toxic influences, or fed at our garbage dumps. The animals of the deep jungle are singularly free of degenerative and problem diseases which affect people and their pets and farm animals.
It is sometimes said that food enzymes or supplemental enzymes swallowed with food cannot do any work because the acid in the stomach prevents their activity. This is true if the enzymes and very strong acid are mixed together in a test tube in a laboratory demonstration. But it is untrue when enzymes are taken into a living body. The stomach normally allows salivary enzymes, food and supplementary enzymes to digest food for up to an hour. When they have finished their job of performing predigestion, food enzymes and proper supplemental enzymes, functioning at a lower pH, continue digestion of protein, carbohydrate and fat for a longer time than salivary or pancreatic enzymes; salivary digestion being restricted to starch. As the stomach acid level becomes higher, the special acid enzymes, pepsin, can continue the digestion of protein where the others left off. These facts have been elicited after the stomach and upper intestinal contents were pumped out and examined at various intervals following meals.
I have been able to show the dire consequences following use of the enzyme-deficient diet by discovering that the pancreas must enlarge to produce the vast quantities of enzymes necessary when the body is forced to digest all of the food without outside aid. This does not harm the pancreas at all, anymore than it harms a muscle when it must enlarge to do more work. Similarly, when a government agency must enlarge to give away more money to foreign governments, the only harmed parties are the taxpayers. An enlarged pancreas can give out and waste more precious enzymes than a normal organ, but this generous dispensation is not good for the body as a whole because it strains the enzyme potential of the whole body in its effort to produce a normal quota of metabolic enzymes to keep all organs and tissues healthy and disease-free.
Those who theorize that food enzymes do not digest food in the human stomach, thereby confess ignorance of the fact that physiologists have fed test meals to human subjects, along with the food enzyme, barley amylase. Other physiologists fed test meals and waited for the salivary enzyme, ptyalin, to work on them. Later, the contents of the duodenum and stomach were pumped out and it was learned that marked digestion of the food consumed occurred in both instances. And a large portion of the enzymes fed with the food, were recovered, proving that they were not permanently inactivated, and proving furthermore, that theoretical prognostication can be dangerous.
There are those who surreptitiously proclaim that food enzymes cannot do any work in the stomach because all enzymes are proteins, and food enzymes are digested as are other proteins. But this argument very conveniently overlooks, or perhaps tries to hide the fact, that if the enzyme complex had no special and specific immunity against being digested because it contains protein, what is to prevent one portion of the enzyme pepsin from being digested by an adjoining and contiguous portion of the same enzyme while pepsin functions in the stomach? Why do pancreatic proteolytic enzymes not digest each other while they are at work reducing food proteins to amino acids in the small intestine?
Further evidence that food enzymes have been ordained by nature over countless millions of years to help digest the food of all creatures, including human beings, is supplied by special organs with no function except to serve as food-enzyme stomachs. Food enzymes are made up of proteolytic food enzymes to digest protein, amylolytic food enzymes to digest carbohydrates, and lipolytic food enzymes to digest fats. The so-called killer whale, a member of Cetacea, has a food enzyme stomach larger than any land creature. The food-enzyme stomach of this whale has been found to contain more than a dozen porpoises and seals. In one instance this enormous food-enzyme stomach, which is the first of the whale’s three stomachs, and much larger than the others, was found to house the bodies of 32 entire seals undergoing digestion by the seal enzymes, which now belong to the whale, and are the whale’s food-enzymes. The remarkable fact elicited by physiologists is that the first stomach (forestomach) has no enzymes or acid of its own at all. Its membranes have no glands to produce these agents for digestion. The first stomach is simply a large reservoir which provides space for the enzymes within the bodies of swallowed animals to digest their own bodies to a sufficiently plastic or liquid consistency which enables the food material to pass through a small opening connecting the first stomach to the second stomach, which makes enzymes to continue the digestion.
There are many wild ruminating animals, among which the cow and sheep have been domesticated. The cow has four stomachs, the first three I name food-stomach or rumen, while the fourth is the smallest and the only one making enzymes. In ruminating animals the food-enzyme stomach harbors protozoa which are tiny animals that supply enzymes to help food enzymes digest the bulky herbivorous diet. In contrast the Cetacea (whale, porpoise, dolphin) do not have digestive help from protozoa. Other creatures with food-enzyme stomachs are grain-eating birds, such as the chicken and pigeon; various species of monkeys with cheek or buccal pouches, and animals with special body pouches. Crop is the name given to the food enzyme stomach of grain-eating birds and other birds and insects.
For hundreds of years human beings felt quite sure they had only a single stomach to digest food. But scientists have found this is not strictly true, and that humans have a digestive organ functioning as two stomachs. The upper part, or cardiac end, produces no acid or enzymes and is a food enzyme stomach. It has been designed as a reservoir to receive food, and permit the enzymes in the food itself to predigest the food for further digestion by the chain of enzymes along the digestive tract. Therefore, the human being also owns a food-enzyme stomach. This fact, along with the other evidence I have presented, establishes food enzymes as cardinal digestive agents, making it impossible for anyone to lightly brush them aside.
The foregoing avalanche of relevant information supports the recently discovered law of the adaptive secretion of digestive enzymes which proclaims that the body values enzymes highly and produces no more of them than it is forced to. If more digestive food enzymes are eaten, the body will automatically make fewer digestive enzymes and can then produce more metabolic enzymes, should they be needed. The body will therefore be in a better position to prevent or deal with the problems of killer diseases.