If you’re pressed for time, as most of us are, summer is good news. Gone are winter days with their demand for labour-intensive, heated meals.

Salads, smoothies, and other raw entrees feel good to eat on hot days, and you don’t have to cook. Plus, fresh foods fill our bodies with nutrients and enzymes that aid growth and repair.

Enzymes trigger and accelerate thousands of biochemical reactions in the body. Whether classified as digestive or metabolic, they are essential for digesting food, stimulating the brain, providing cellular energy and repairing cells and tissues. Each enzyme has a specific function in the body that no other enzyme can fulfill. Our bodies manufacture them, or get them directly from food.

Many of us are short on enzymes.

Our body’s supply is depleted by consuming the same foods every day, eating mostly cooked or processed foods, dining in haste, and eating too much and too often. Alcohol and drugs take their toll, too.  

If you are stressed, have chronic health conditions, or are over 50, you need to be concerned about your enzyme intake and production.

Why?

When our bodies run out of enzymes, we run out of life. We will suffer from low energy and immunity, malabsorption, gut flora imbalance, and food or environmental allergies. We may also overeat as the body struggles to capture the nutrients it needs.

We obtain food enzymes from digestive enzyme supplements, and fermented or fresh foods.

A good supplement should contain the major enzyme groups: amylase, protease, and lipase. Additional ones may be needed, depending on your production or secretion of enzymes in the stomach, pancreas or small intestine, and bile from the gall bladder. This is one area where it really helps to consult a nutritionist or naturopath for the right combination, especially if you have medical conditions.

All fresh, unheated, and unprocessed foods have enzymes; some have more than others. Home grown sprouts are one of the easiest sources. Pineapple, papaya, mango, avocado and banana are popular choices. Really, consuming any food that is fresh or living will help maintain enzyme production.  

Go to www.yukonfood.com to explore the range of fresh food currently available to us. We have a number of local farms that you can buy directly from, or you can shop the Fireweed Market at Shipyards Park on Thursdays and Saturdays. The Alpine Bakery also provides organic foods and fresh yogurt.

If you are very busy, take advantage of the Potluck Food Co-op, which will compile your order of organic and local food.  Lifetime membership is $250, or $25 a month for ten months. Supporting the Co-op helps grow our local agricultural economy and strengthens food security in the Yukon.

Fermented foods also contain many enzymes. Products like homemade yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso and unpasteurized cheese are rich sources. You can ferment your food at home easily. You can learn how by contacting me for upcoming workshops, or go to my Facebook page, Wise Bodies Holistic Health, for more information.