Monday, August 29, 2011

Plant Enzymes: How do they affect my health?

I'm cynical and a skeptic when it comes to many things in life--whether it's someone's political views or religious beliefs but, above all, their nutritional ideas. I especially raise an eyebrow when benefits are first and foremost supported by anecdotal claims. You want me to turn the channel, tell me how your elixir turned Sloppy Joe into Clark Kent.

So, when I hear that plant enzymes can cure a multitude of aliments from obesity to depression, I'm curious but apprehensive. I know that our bodies, or more specifically, our pancreas, secretes the enzymes we need to digest whatever it is we're eating. The first thing that comes to mind is that sure, plants have enzymes, those are the enzymes the plant needs to digest its food-- not mine. Why should I believe that a plant's enzymes will have any benefits to a human?

Probably the most famous plant enzyme that humans take as a supplement is sold under the brand name Beano. Yes, I'm referring to the anti-flatulence pill. This is really just the enzyme alpha galactosidase, which comes from a fungus-- Aspergillus niger. By eating the enzyme from this fungus during a gas-producing meal (like beans), we are adding an enzyme that aides in the digestion of these legumes.

Okay, so it seems to be true that enzymes produced by plants can be used by humans, at least to quell the wind beneath our wings, so to speak, but can they contribute substantially to our improved health? The claims are that plant enzymes can heal and promote sustained good health. How do they do that?

More to come...