Enzymes are chemically specific in the body and as we have seen in the last blog are made up of a protein part and a cofactor or coenzyme. Enzymes are named for the type of reaction they catalyze. Hydrolases add water during the hydrolytic reactions and oxidases add oxygen. When we see the suffix -ase at the end of a term we know it is an enzyme. Some enzymes that were found before the common use of the suffix will not have an -ase at the end of the term like pepsinogen, pepsin and trypsin. Enzymes are manufactured by the cells in an active or inactive form. The inactive forms need to be triggered to become active by the presence of a specific molecule. There are six classes of enzymes; hydrolases, isomerases, lipases, lyases, oxireductases and transferases. Each class of enzyme has its own function in either breaking down or building up substances in the body. For instance lipase breaks down fat lipid molecules, proteases break down proteins into amino acids, fructase breaks down fructose, galactase breaks down galactose, amylase breaks down simple sugars, and the list could go on and on. Digestive enzymes break down the food the animal eats in the process of chemical digestion into smaller molecules that can be absorbed into the intestinal cells for transportation across and out of the cell and into the blood and lymph vessels. Enzymes are critical to all of the cells internal functions as well. Enzymes in the cell trigger a variety of metabolic processes that are vital to cell functions. Sources of enzymes in the animals diet are from fresh fruits and vegetables, fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and buttermilk or organ meats like the pancreas and liver organs of the animals they eat if they are meat eaters. In order for enzymes to work correctly they need to maintain their shape so substrates can bind to them and the anabolic or catabolic activity can take place. In anabolic processes substances are built up by the removal of a water molecule and in catabolic processes water is used to split apart the substrate. The oxireductase enzymes use oxygen in this process instead of water. Enzymes change their shape and become unusable under certain conditions. When body temperatures rise above 104 degrees or when the acid-base balance is disturbed enzymes lose their shape and become incapable of functioning correctly. Biological enzymes need to live in an environment that remains in homeostatic balance. Live unprocessed foods are the best sources of biologically active enzymes. Any time you cook a vegetable, fruit or organ meat you would be destroying the enzymes by altering their shape. Processed foods are have the least biologically available enzymes and raw or fermented foods have the most biologically available enzymes. Certain cells in the body manufacture enzymes from the raw amino acid, vitamin and mineral resources that enter into the body through the diet. If the animal does not get the correct kind and amount of amino acids, vitamins and minerals in their diet the bodies cells will not be able to manufacture the enzymes that are needed in the cellular processes. Many of the digestive problems that animals have today are a direct result of food processing processes that apply heat and radiation to manufacture what I call animal junk food. If the animal is having digestive and elimination problems that is not caused by a parasite, genetic disease, or an allergen you can be certain that there is a lack of enzyme production in the cells due to poor nutrition. In subsequent blogs we will look at how to remedy this problem once we have covered the basics of nutritional elements.