Howell outlines three types of enzymes we need: digestive enzymes, which digest food, metabolic enzymes, which run every function of our bodies, and food enzymes from raw foods, which start the digestive process. So what enzymes are involved in digestion?
Amylase is the enzyme used to digest carbohydrate, and it is concentrated in saliva. Protease is the enzyme that digests protein, found in concentration in the stomach. Lipase digests fats and is manufactured by the pancreas (along with additional amounts of amylase and protease).
Exogenous food enzymes (from the outside–raw food or enzyme supplements) are critical because you need your endogenous enzyme activity (manufactured by the pancreas) to be allocated to metabolic processes. When your body has to produce concentrated digestive enzymes because your food didn’t arrive with its own live enzymes, you’re guilty of forcing your precious enzyme activity to do the labor of digestion while also expecting it to metabolize well. Results include all the disease effects of using up limited resources in the wrong places.
What most of us learned in biology classes when we were young isn’t totally accurate. That is, we were taught that the 3,000 enzymes discovered (and likely many more undiscovered) are catalysts, the sparks that are needed for every action and reaction in the body. They are, in fact, catalysts–used in chemical activities (in this case, in living beings). That doesn’t tell the whole story, because that’s not ALL enzymes are. They have more, biological, functions beyond the neutral, chemical catalyst role. They contain proteins, and some contain vitamins. Plus, they do wear out, and are routinely flushed out by the organs of elimination. And we make a truly fatal mistake believing that we can waste them indiscriminately.