Enzymes are catalysts that run hundreds of thousands of biochemical reations in our bodies. Also known as ‘sparks of life’, they are essential for digesting food, stimulating the brain, providing cellular energy and repairing all tissue. There are two major types of enzymes, digestive enzymes that help us utilize the nutrition in our food, and metabolic enzymes that are responsible for the chemical reactions within our cells such as energy production and detoxification. There is significant research that has found that our enzyme producing potential is limited and decreases as we age. An important point in this research is that our body will chose to produce digestive enzymes first, at the expense of metabolic enzymes. What is notable about this is that over time, our food supply has been processed so that it contains fewer and fewer enzymes. Any diet that consists of foods that are cooked has no enzymes since enzymes are destroyed by heat. If our body has to use its valuable enzyme potential on digestion, then metabolic processes suffer. To minimize this, eat something raw at every meal such as a salad or vegetable sticks. Consider supplementing digestive enzymes. There are many different varieties available including those for high protein diets, high carbohydrate diets and high fat diets. Enzymes supplements are also used for different conditions in the body. For allergies, enzymes help break down the unrecognized proteins that instigate an allergic response. There are enzymes for metabolic processes. There are enzymes for inflammation. One of the natural supplements available for rheumatoid arthritis is bromelain, which is pineapple enzyme. Another common use of enzymes is cellulase for systemic yeast or candida overgrowth. Some simple guidelines that will help you in determining if enzymes might be good for you are: digestive trouble including indigestion and constipation; sore neck and shoulders; sensitivity in the muscles that move your lower jaw; inflammation and allergies. If you have any questions, stop by the store. Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.