Enzymes! Nutrition Workhorses

Breakfast tacos with an enzyme-rich creamy chili-lime dressing
Last Monday I had the pleasure of holding my first tele seminar on Enzymes, as part of my new nutrition series on Traditional Foods.

A major difference in most modern diets versus those of our ancestors relates to enzyme content.

Why should we care that the standard American diet of canned, pasteurized, microwaved, or irradiated food contains few enzymes?

Enzymes are the nutrition workhorses responsible for carrying out every single one of our body processes and it turns out we are only given so many enzymes at birth. We do fine for a while, but after years of a diet low in enzymes – and subjecting our body to things like toxins, alcohol and stress – we run out. If we do not get enough enzymes from our food, our pancreas has to rob them from other glands, muscles, nerves, and blood to carry out digestion. This can lead to fatigue, premature aging and early death.

Advice from traditional foodists of the Weston A. Price Foundation suggest that 50% of our diet be raw or enzyme enhanced. Surprisingly, raw vegetables and fruits contain few enzymes.

Enzyme rich foods include:

EGGS: raw egg yolks (raw egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors)
FATS: extra-virgin olive oil (cloudy and with a grassy smell), raw butter
RAW FRUITS: Avocados, bananas, dates, figs, grapes, kiwi, mangos, papayas, and pineapple
DAIRY: Raw milk and raw cream
CULTURED DAIRY: Cultured butter, raw cheese, cultured cream, yogurt, kefir
SOY FOODS: Miso (unheated), natto
MEAT AND FISH: Rare and raw well-aged meat; lacto-fermented fish, such as gravlax
LACTO-FERMENTED CONDIMENTS: Sauerkraut, pickles, chutneys
LACTO-FERMENTED BEVERAGES: Old-fashioned ginger ale and root beer, kombucha, kvass, water kefir
GRAINS: Grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds are rich in enzymes, but contain enzyme inhibitors that put great strain on the digestive system unless acted upon by sprouting, soaking in warm acidic water, sour leavening, culturing and fermenting.
SPICES: Papaya pepper

Many of these foods are not readily available in our cafeterias, convenience stores, restaurants and common grocery stores. With a bit of work around our buying patterns and food preparation habits, we are able to supply our family with a diet rich in enzymes. Meals featuring traditional foods need not be elaborate, but can be made up of ready-made foods that we have cultured and prepared by setting aside a few minutes a day for enzyme-enhancing food preparation techniques. 

Join in for the Traditional Foods Tele Seminar Series to learn simple recipes and techniques to increase the enzyme content of your family’s meals.


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