“In life as in nature, what’s good for the bee, is good for the hive”

Enzyme Nutrition – A Brief Encounter

Apr 30, 2018

Recent travels took us to the beautiful Isle of Skye.  By chance, returning home, we stayed in a Tithe barn – causing us to pass through the quaint village of Carnforth, in sunny Cumbria.  To older film buffs (or even those fully clothed) Carnforth Station will forever be famous as the setting for Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, a 1945 film epic starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.  A role for which he trousered £500 and Celia received £12,000 – she having bigger draws, apparently.  Nostalgia, clearly ain’t what it used to be.

Carnforth is also home to a book shop stocking a mere 100,000 second hand books. My Wife, keen as ever to top up on her (some say frugal) 200 cook books, by Delia Fernley-Whittingstall – stepped deftly over the threshold of the shelf bursting emporium.  I quickly followed and soon spied Enzyme Nutrition and I too, was off to the races.  Penned by Dr Edward Howell, and subtitled ‘The Food Enzyme Concept’ it was marked up at only three quid (second hand) so it was soon in my collection.  With none too complex science, it was a layman’s delight.  Fully digestible, it pulled no punches and appropriately enough – avoided any sugar coating of ‘deep dive’ subjects.

Healing Crises

The book makes much of the lessons that we miss in our modern and fast paced lives.  We overlook  the obvious which is often in plain sight, but which leads to our slow, daily, decline.  Our current de-natured food is a prime, or should that be a sub-prime, example of that.  Our bodies eventually complain loudly – by being over fed, but undernourished.  Finally, the body cries ‘foul’ with aches, pains, boils or lesions that wake us up – or something even more buffer hitting, if we’re unlucky.  If it is a simple ache we may take a paracetamol to paper over the cracks, but fixing the underlying terrain would be a much better approach.  Health crises, they help heal, like that.  If we’re reflective we may not take that paracetamol – rumour has it that it wouldn’t pass a modern liver toxicity test these days. Upstream causes dear boy, search for causes.

Metabolic or Digestive – Those Enzymes Sure Take the Biscuit

It seems The Eskimos are top of the pile when it comes to living high on the fat. Their ‘ketogenic diet’ enables them to go without food and sleep for 24 hours or more while they fish and paddle their own canoe with muscular arms.  Being fully ‘fat adapted’ sure helps.  ‘Eat more raw’ could also be their mantra for avoiding heart disease, arthritis and kidney failure – despite eating copious blubber, fat and high in cholesterol, foods.  By diverting less digestive enzymes to the un-cooked food diets, Eskimos have more metabolic enzymes to deploy in their free of obesity, ‘body building’ – they’re a fat adapted ketogenic marvel.  Meanwhile their Doctors remain on meagre financial rations.  However, when Eskimos move to ‘civilisation’ to sample our irradiated and cooked foods, they get all the diseases that we do too.  It’s good to share… though it seems you can’t outrun a bad diet – nor can you out paddle one in a city, either.

The Law of Adaptive Secretion of Digestive Enzymes

De-natured foods can’t release all the essential vitamins and minerals that we need to be fully active, to be a: functional medicine marvel.  If you have all the nails and wood and bricks to build a house but have no workmen – how can you construct anything that’s long lasting?  Enzymes are just like that too.  If we isolate the enzyme ‘workers’ by adding in polypharmacy (or modern ‘meds to the max’) the stomach acids can’t release the carbohydrates, fats and protein building blocks so essential to help the body function fully.  But the body has a plan and tailors helpful enzymes where it can, to counter our ‘skewed’ habits.  But sometimes our habits are so off the Richter Scale it would take a mini nuke to change our D minus behaviour, for the better.  If only Nature would shout and not whisper – eventually it will though, as we more rapidly move towards the coffin.  The adaptive enzymes have to cope with an avalanche of sugar nowadays, eating as we do, an average of 150 lbs per person, per year. in many Western Countries.  The great Dr John Yudkin was another medical pioneer and a giant of a canary in The Sugar Mine.  He authored: Pure, White and Deadly, some four decades ago, stating clearly, for those listening, that sugar would eventually overwhelm our digestive and metabolic enzymes.  He sure did try, but it was a bitter pill to swallow.

Fast But Not So Furious

Dr Howell also confirmed the benefit of fasting to help re-set our digestive clocks.  It’s not just a whipped horse that appreciates a good rest – our digestive toolkit likes one too.  It seems we have only around 3% of our digestive enzymes when we’re aged 80 compared with when we were 20 – so any help by fasting lessens the load on our digestive system.  ‘Give it a rest, son’ – sure could catch on.

Survival of the Unfittest

Since the era of chemicalised soils it’s not just what’s missing from our foods anymore, it’s what’s not in our soils nowadays.  Many farms have stumbled into a scorched earth ‘policy’ – however unwittingly it has sneaked up on us.  Enzyme free fertilisers are the global norm, so we need ever more of them to hit ‘yields’ and quotas.  But they are nutrient depleted, leading wholesale to our damaged diets.  Nature has designed humans and plants to grow in a sequence, to co-operate in combination, each being a link in a chain.  Granted, being below the eagle in the pecking order is not much fun – but it has always had a place in the Natural Order of things.  Without sentiment it worked over millennia – until recent decades.  By adding ever greater volumes of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to our crops we’ve ‘developed’ de-natured foods and promoted the survival of the Un-enzymed and Unfittest.  We’ve created Franken-foods that couldn’t make it on their own – in the wild.  Unwittingly, we’ve sowed the seeds for the Wicked Witch: by hubble bubble, we’ve ‘soiled’ and caused trouble.

A Long Encounter

At 170 pages the book is an excellent summary of the lifelong medical research by Dr Howell and his sadly forgotten insights of 80 years ago. The painstaking nature of the book and his gentle tone nudging us to pay attention, all came from the era of the steam age – but this pioneer was never chuffing about.  His book is actually a précis of his much longer volume of some 700 pages, while also making 700 references to the world’s scientific literature.  Clearly it’s my next book to read and one for which I will enjoy a very long encounter.