Dr Dingle's Blog / enzymes
Another reason to add some of the cabbage family to your daily diet, preferably raw is because of their gut healing properties and how they promote gut health through the gut microbiome. The Brassica family including cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, arugula (rocket), bok choy, cauliflower, collard greens, radish, turnip and others have been recognized for their gut healing and gut health properties for hundreds of years and modern epidemiologic studies have shown a frequent consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer, especially cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, breast, prostate, and lung. However, only now are we recognizing that many of these benefits are mediated through the microbiome and that their frequent consumption alters the composition of the microbiome.
Cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of glucosinolates a precursor to the Isothiocyanates (ITC), which exhibit powerful biological functions in fighting cancers, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and gut healing. The Isothiocyanates are a by product of specific plant enzymes (myrosinase) active during chewing or crushing when broccoli is consumed raw or lightly steamed, however, like all enzymes myrosinase is deactivated by cooking and ingestion of cooked broccoli typically provides only about one tenth the amount of isothiocyanates as that from raw broccoli. So to maximize the gut healing, gut health and overall benefits of these foods they are best eaten raw or just lightly steamed.
Instead when cooked cruciferous vegetables are consumed, gut bacteria are mainly responsible for ITC production in the gut. This is highlighted after taking oral antibiotics, the ITC’s availability and uptake decreases after eating cooked cruciferous vegetable. It also appears that there is considerable difference in the ability of individuals, due to individual differences in gut microbial community, to produce the isothiocyanates. Although, the gut community’s ability is altered over just 4 days. In one study feeding raw or cooked broccoli for four days or longer both changed the microbiota composition and caused a greater production of isothiocyanates. Interestingly, a three-day withdrawal from broccoli reversed the increased microbial metabolites suggesting that the microbiota requires four or more days of broccoli consumption and is reversible.
The lactic acid bacteria appear to have myrosinase-like activity and the fermented Brassica food products, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are particularly rich in Lactobacillus, and a diet rich in Brassica may promote Lactobacillus growth in the colon.
The reason I call it the blood pressure smoothie is all of the ingredients have been multiple shown in scientific studies to reduce blood pressure. By no way is this meant to replace advice from you GP but you can share it with them and see if they are interested in preventing the problem rather than just treating it with pharmaceuticals. Remember also that I am not a GP I am just the guy who does all the research which is why I have a PhD.
4 ingredients in order of importance
Almonds (soaked for at least 8 hours)
Filtered re-mineralised ionized water.
(equal amounts of each ingredient excerpt a more water)
Extras for taste and minerals
Start by grinding the linseed and the almond in the smoothie maker.
Add the beetroot and the filtered water to make up to the constituency you need.
If you want to make it a bit sweeter add some ripe banana, dates or coconut water (and coconut meat if you have the whole coconut) as they are rich in Potassium (and other minerals) which is essential for muscle relaxation and tastes great. But wait till the banana is ripe for the best taste. You can also cold green tea instead of water to add to the antioxidant mix.
The properties that make this smoothie such a potent blood pressure mix is all of the ingredients have excellent antioxidant properties, rich in minerals and other nutrients liked with lowering blood pressure in scientific studies.
High blood pressure or hypertension is having a blood pressure reading of above of around 90mm Hg on 140mm Hg. Hypertension itself is not a disease but a condition or as an indicator of ‘increased risk’ of cardiovascular disease. Patients who are hypertensive have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke due to the direct correlation between the two. Hypertension also contributes significantly to the increased risk of kidney failure and other chronic illness.
In healthy people the cells of blood vessels produce the substance called nitric oxide (NO) which instructs smooth muscles surrounding arteries to relax. If they cant relax they stay rigid and you end up with high blood pressure. The NO is produced in a single layer of cells that line the inside of the arteries called the endothelium. If this tissue is damaged in the case of too much pressure, oxidation or through other means it stops producing NO and blood pressure rises.
Many of the beneficial actions of nutrition on lowering blood pressure results both directly and indirectly through improving endothelial tissue and NO production and release from this tissue. Two major pathways to increase NO are increase the rates of nitrates in the diet, the building block for NO, and L-Arginine which stimulate the enzyme to manufacture NO. Endothelial-derived NO also inhibits platelet adhesion, activation, secretion, and aggregation and promotes platelet disaggregation so you are less likely to have a stroke. A third mechanism that is absolutely critical is to protect and repair the endothelium, remember it is only one cell thick and very susceptible to damage. Vitamin C and antioxidants are essential for this part.
Diets high in dietary nitrate such as beetroot are associated with reduced blood pressure increased exercise performance as a result of vasodilation (expansion) of the blood vessels and a decreased incidence in cardiovascular disease. 100-200mg of beetroot per day has been shown to produce immediate effects of lowering blood pressure by around 15 mm of Hg. Beetroot is also rich in vitamins, phytochemicals and contains large amounts of iron and folic acid Mg, Na and Ca. Apart from the nitrates the major bioactive molecules in beet are polyphenols, flavonoids, betalains, therapeutic enzymes, ascorbic acid, and dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA). So they not only provide the ingredients for NO production but also help in repair and protection of the endothelium.
Almonds have one of the highest sources of L-Arginine (most nuts have lots of L-Arginine so you can substitute the almonds if you want) which stimulates NO synthesis. Studies of almonds have shown reductions of 5-6 mm of blood pressure. It is important to soak the almonds as they (all nuts and seeds) have enzyme-inhibiting factors in them which stop them from germinating until they have enough water. These enzyme inhibitors also stop the absorption of some nutrients, particularly minerals. When you soak the nuts many of the nutrients also become more available for digestion.
Flaxseed is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, L Arginine (about 20% less than almonds), lignans, antioxidants and fiber that together probably provide benefits to patients with cardiovascular disease. Studies on consuming 30g of flaxseed have been shown to reduce blood pressure by up to 15 mm Hg.
A study of 20 volunteers, eight males and twelve females, who were given Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains, either 30 min before breakfast (pre-prandial administration), or 30 min after breakfast (post-prandial administration) found no difference in the levels measured in the stools. Different theories have suggested the higher acidity in the empty stomach or the mixing in with the food might influence the amount of viable bacteria that populate the colon. While only a small number the study suggest take them any time.
The study also found probiotic supplement levels up to 1 month after the end of probiotic oral intake in both groups. It also reported a significant decrease in Firmicutes abundance which has been associated with weight gain and diabetes. The abundance of a particular stain Akkermansia muciniphila was increased compared to samples collected at the beginning of the experiment. This is important as it is the bacteria that increases with the diabetic drug metformin and is associated with breaking down the mucus build-up in the gut and stimulating energy production in the cells (the mitochondria). Yes that is how the drug metformin works. If they inject it directly into the blood it has no benefit at all. Yes the worlds most effective drug is just a prebiotic.
In this study the probiotic supplement showed the ability to modulate the gut microbiota composition, leading to a significant reduction of potentially harmful bacteria and an increase of beneficial ones. The two bacterial strains seemed able to exert a beneficial effect on the bacterial ecology of the gastrointestinal tract, as many significant positive changes in gut microbiota composition have been highlighted.
In the last years, their numerous beneficial properties and positive impact on human health have deeply been described. Nowadays, hundreds of different bacterial strains are available in the global probiotic market and consequently, the choice of the most suitable probiotic product becomes very difficult and fragmented. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are the main microorganisms used as probiotics; indeed, numerous species belonging to these genera have been reported as safe and effective in improving the host’s health. Several studies showed that the combination of specific bacterial strains belonging to Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species can act in optimal synergy for restoring the intestinal balance.
The thought of eating nothing but raw food, seems somewhat alien in the modern world, where the methods are cooking food are widely varied. But, until the discovery of fire, and the ability to recreate fire was developed around 1.8 million years ago, our human ancestors consumed massive amounts of raw food. It has been estimated that throughout 99% of human evolution, we consumed nothing but raw foods – something that is hard to imagine.
Humans are the only species (if you don't count our domesticated animals) that do not eat a 100% raw food diet, with many populations, eating a diet consisting almost entirely of cooked and processed foods. Undomesticated and wild animals live on a completely raw food diet, and suffer few of the serious degenerative conditions that we humans do.
The paleo-diet (i.e. the Hunter-Gatherer Diet), has received a lot of attention in the media recently, for it's proposed health benefits. But we humans are much more, in evolutionary terms, than the early cave (paleo) man. It is on the right track, but less than 5% of the evolutionary history of man, has been as bipedal hominids, walking tall on two legs. We have been using tools to grind, prepare and cook food, for less than 1% of our evolutionary history. We are in fact well and truly pre-paleo-raw food eaters if you look at our history. Additionally, it has only really been the last 1000 years that we humans have been processing our food, something that has really taken off in the last 100 years and even worse in the last 50 years with modern junk foods and take-aways.
Humans are unlike any other primates. If you spent the day watching any one of the great apes, our closest evolutionary cousins, you would see that they spend the majority of their time eating raw fruits, vegetables and leaves. Chewing each mouthful for minutes. Gorillas and orangutans are almost entirely herbivorous (plant-eating), while chimpanzees eat mostly plant foods including, fruits, seeds, nuts, leaves and flowers, they will also eat insects and even more rarely they hunted larger animals (around 2% of their diet). All of their food is raw. Now I am not recommending you go out and eat your meat raw, but there is a lot of merit in increasing the raw component in your food.
If you look at the evolutionary history of humans, and the dietary habits of our closest relatives, the great apes, it seems that we have a digestive system that has evolved to ingest and breakdown raw foods. So why don't we eat them more?
Health benefits of raw
At both a personal and scientific level I have no doubt about the health benefits of increasing the raw component in your food. There is growing scientific evidence that a higher consumption of raw, plant-based foods is beneficial to human health. Increased consumption of raw foods can lead to a reduction in allergies and strengthening of the immune system. As a result, the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases is reduced. Other health benefits such as a lower Body Mass Index (BMl), lower blood pressure, and beneficial levels of lipids, lipoproteins, glucose, insulin, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides can also be attributed to raw food consumption. Raw diets lead to a decrease in obesity and cardiovascular disease through less consumption of processed carbohydrates and sugars. All of the people I have encouraged to consume more raw food, usually through having a vegetable smoothie have all lost weight and reported more energy. An increase in raw vegetable protein also decreases bone loss and the risk of bone fractures.
In a study of blood pressure for 2,195 participants, intakes of both total raw and total cooked vegetables were inversely related to BP. However, the study found raw vegetables had a stronger effect on blood pressure than cooked vegetables. In a study that followed 32 individuals on diets containing at least 40% uncooked foods (vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, and certified raw milk) for six months; intakes were significantly associated with lower blood pressure of participants but increased to previous levels when switched from high raw food diets back to cooked diets (without altering caloric or Na intake). You might recall the raw blood pressure smoothie I wrote about last year. Just by having a raw vegetable smoothie peoples blood pressure dropped by as much as 50 mmHg. Such large drops in blood pressure are unheard of in medicine. A recent cohort study of 20,000 men and women in the Netherlands, using food frequency questionnaire data on seven raw vegetables and 13 cooked vegetables, reported that raw vegetable intake was significantly inversely associated with ischemic stroke and raw fruit and vegetable consumption was also inversely related to coronary heart disease.
Studies of patients suffering fibromyalgia showed a marked improvement in their condition after following a raw food diet. Improvements included better sleep and digestion, along with less pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. The reversal of chronic metabolic acidosis, as well as improvements in people suffering from diabetes, can be achieved through a raw diet.
A raw food diet also results in numerous mental benefits. Eating raw foods leads to better sleep and hormone regulation. One report found that patients who were suffering from anxiety, depression and eating disorders showed significant improvement in their condition after beginning a raw food diet.
Overall raw food has the potential to have a major positive impact on our health and out lives and the benefits are derived not just from the additional nutrients and improved digestion but also from exposure to a lower level of cooking based toxins.
Pre-digestion by food enzymes occurs in every creature on earth, the only exception is humans on a cooked enzyme-deficient diet. When we eat raw foods, physical contact, heat and moisture in the mouth activate the enzymes in the food. Once active, these enzymes digest a significant portion of what we ingest.
The stomach has two distinctive sections – the upper Fundus and the lower Pylorus. The bolus of food remains in the upper part, the fundus for up to one hour where pre-digestion of raw foods takes place. All raw foods come with their own digestive enzymes, thus saving the pancreas from supplying all the enzymes needed for digestion. You don’t want to waste too much of our “Life Force”. Cooked foods, which have no enzymes as the break down around 48oC, must wait in the Fundus and can only rely on enzymes from the pancreas, which means a lot more work for our body, and the feeling of fatigue after eating a big cooked meal.
There are two zones of protein digestion in the stomach one has a pH of 1-2.5 at which, the enzyme pepsin is most active. The other zone with a pH of 3.3-4 at which, the enzymes naturally occurring in raw foods are still active. The amount of digestion in both zones is approximately equal. For example, raw meat has its own supply of cathepsin so if you eat raw meat like all other carnivorous or omnivorous animal, up to 50% of the digestion occurs before it even comes in contact with the pepsin from the gut. The same happens with plant based proteins. Digestion can continue without the use of our body's own digestive enzymes when the pH changes in the intestines allowing the foods natural digestive enzymes to become active again.
Enzymes are essential for the digestive process and when food is cooked the naturally occurring enzymes are destroyed, meaning that the digestive system has to work so much harder to digest food. Additionally, digestive enzymes help to cleanse our colon – foods that are not digested properly are stored in our colon and digestive problems can begin. Undigested protein putrefies, carbohydrates ferment, and fats turn rancid in our colon. Unpleasant isn't it?
The most obvious symptoms of enzyme deficiency are easily identified, particularly after meals, which can include:
Bloating, gas and cramping.
Constipation and poor elimination.
Cooking food can have a negative effect on digestion, by both destroying enzymes and other nutrients that aid in the digestive process such that heat and processing, reduces the amount of co-factors and co-enzymes, which are essential for efficient digestion. Co-factors are inorganic micro nutrients, which includes, zinc, iron and copper, which are important for the function of many digestive enzymes. Co-enzymes are organic molecules, such as vitamins, that also assist in digestion.
Digestive Enzymes cleanse our colon. Foods that are not digested properly are stored in our colon and digestive problems can begin. Undigested protein putrefies, carbohydrates ferment, and fats turn rancid in our colon. The enzymes from live raw foods prevent this from happening. Excess enzymes from these foods can also be absorbed into the blood and assist with numerous health conditions, including attacking cancer and viruses.
Poor or inefficient digestion can cause a number of health conditions, ranging from arthritis to Alzheimer's, to cardiovascular disease to cancer, as well as, diseases of the digestive system. An estimated 40% of Australians have lower gut disorders and one in five Australians is known to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, and the number is on the rise. Other conditions of the digestive system include: colitis, Crohn's disease, leaky gut, gluten intolerance, bloating, acid re-flux, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea and food allergies. Other health problems that can develop as a result of poor digestion include: fatigue, yeast overgrowth, acne, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, circulatory problems, chronic inflammation and auto-immune disorders.
Enzymes are literally the life force and it is well established the higher the supply of enzymes you have in your body, the slower you will age and the more resistant you are against degenerative diseases. In general the duration of life varies inversely with our enzyme activity and the older we get, the weaker our enzyme activity becomes - this is not just an indication of lost enzyme potential, but a reduction in the enzyme potential of the whole body, both digestive and metabolic enzymes.
If you take you health seriously I suggest start with a raw plant based smoothie each day. You might be surprised at not only how good it is for you but also how quickly you can make it.