Posted on

Digestion Part 3 – Fats and Problems

Mary-Ann covers fats, and then goes on to discussing problems from indigestion.


From our Mondays with Mary-Ann sessions . . .
Digestion Overview
Digesting Fats, and some potential problems that create indigestion and techniques to fight it.

Digestion – Fats

There are no enzymes in the mouth, and most of the role the mouth plays in other food’s digestion doesn’t happen.

Fats are somewhat unique in that most of the common forms of
“Concentrated Fats” are typically already broken down.

Some foods that contain a lot of fats (Nuts and Seeds for example) need to be chewed thoroughly in order to have their fats digested.

Digestion – Fats

Bile, which is made by the liver and stored in the gall bladder.

The Gall Bladder concentrates the bile and uses it to emulsify and blend the fats into a workable form that can continue on in the digestion process.

This is where Essential Fatty Acids are made available and absorbed into your body for CRITICAL work in many different systems.

Digestion – The MACRO nutrients

Carbohydrates provide the Glucose, which is used in cell metabolism, brain function etc…

Proteins provide the Amino Acids used to repair and grow tissue.

Fats provide the EFA’s for the Endocrine system, which regulates hormones and many other processes.

These 3 main groups provide the foundational elements of the body, and then associated products like vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phytonutrients etc… get brought along and absorbed in the body as well.

Digestion – Fiber and digestive muscle

Fiber is a key, non nutrient product involved in digestion.

Peristalsis is the process of muscular contraction that moves food along the digestive tract. Without fiber, the process doesn’t work and fiber provides the bulk that carries the food along.

Eventually this process forces the left over waste (and undigested food) out of the body.

Digestion – its Hormonal!

This entire process is controlled by hormones, and therefore the Endocrine system.

Peristalsis is controlled by hormones.

Hydrochloric acid is manufactured and controlled by hormones.

Without a health Endocrine system digestion is near impossible.
Stress affects the Endocrine system, and can inhibit digestion.

Anything that inhibits hormonal
function can mess with digestion.

Digestion – potential problems and solutions

Some people have trouble regulating or using digestive enzymes and need supplemental forms.

Prepzymes by AIM are very good at helping digest Fats, Protein, and Carbohydrates.

Supplemental digestive enzymes help make up for a deficiency and keep food digesting properly and avoid the negative effects of indigestion.

Some people who have suffered with specific problems (Pancreatitis for example) may very well need digestive enzymes for the rest of their life.

Digestion – potential problems and solutions

Periods of high stress can result in indigestion, and supplemental digestive enzymes can help.

Poor eating habits can have long term damage to the digestive tract (dyspepsia).
Using products to cope with the pain and acidic conditions don’t actually help the problem.

Anti-acids wont help digestion.

Digestive enzymes and intestinal flora supplement (FloraFood) will help counteract the problem, as well as help restore the lack of digestive bacteria.

Posted on

Digestion Part 2 – Proteins and IN-digestion

Digestion and Indigestion

Part 2 of my Mondays with Mary-Ann Shearer (of The Natural Way) sessions where I’m talking with her about Natural Health Topics and extracting the little nuggets of Natural Health wisdom she has collected over 30+ years of research, application and education.

This session comes on the heels of Part 1, where we reviewed the basics of what digestion is, and understanding the digestion of starches (carbohydrates).




From our Mondays with Mary-Ann sessions . . .

Digesting Proteins and a common cause (and side effects) of combing Carbohydrate and Proteins at same meal.

Concentrated Foods

  • Many foods have some carbohydrate and protein and fat in them.
  • When a food has more than 20% carbohydrate, it is considered a “Concentrated Carbohydrate” or simply a “Carbohydrate”
  • When a food has more than 15% Protein, it is considered a “Concentrated Protein” or simply a “Protein”.

Amino Acids

  • Similar in concept to carbohydrates which are made out of chains of sugars (Glucose, Galactose, Fructose), Proteins are made up of Amino Acids
  • Each Amino Acid is different in shape and size, and there are over 20 of them known to man.
  • “Essential” Amino Acids must be gotten from food in your diet.
  • 9 are considered essential for Babies, 8 for toddlers and older.
  • From those 8 Essential Amino Acids, we make over 24 different proteins for use in the body.

Proteins in the mouth

  • Digestion is the process of breaking food down into their component nutrients. In this case, we are breaking down concentrated proteins by Mechanical and Chemical processes.
  • Digesting proteins start just like Carbohydrate in the mouth by chewing.
  • Chewing reduces the size and complexity of the food, and sets the stage for the chemical process of digestion.

Proteins in the stomach and intestines

  • Hydrochloric Acid is first released by the stomach, which in turn triggers the release of enzymes.
  • The digestive enzyme called Pepsin is released to reduce and extract the amino acids from the other parts of the proteins.
  • It continues into the small intestine for further breakdown and extraction until the Amino Acids are fully extracted, and then released into your body for use.

Problems with digesting

  • When you eat Fruit, it is very simple to digest because the raw ingredients are already broken down and easy to digest.

Problems with digesting

  • Raw nuts and seeds are very high in protein, but easier to digest than animals.

Proteins vs Carbs . . . ph problems

  • As your stomach senses the quantity and quality of protein coming in, it will respond by releasing digestive acids.
  • When your stomach releases Hydrochloric acid, it is creating a very acidic environment (ph of 3.0).

Proteins vs Carbs . . . ph problems

  • As your stomach senses the quantity and quality of carbohydrates coming in, it will respond by releasing digestive Ptaylin.
  • As you body moves the food along the digestive tract, it continues to release enzymes to finish breaking down carbohydrates into Glucose for use.

Proteins vs Carbs . . . ph problems

  • Carbohydrates require ph of >4.0
  • Proteins require ph of <=3.0
  • If you remember basic chemistry in school… you cannot have 2 ph levels in the same solution.
  • The ph levels of both solutions will combine and create a different resulting ph in the residual solution.

The wonderful side effects of indigestion

  • The wrong ph creates an environment where none of the food breaks down correctly.
  • The carbohydrates will normally begin to ferment, with the resulting problems of gas, poison and…


  • Gas – carbon dioxide, methane and many other ever expanding gases that are looking for a way out… time for the giggles…
  • However, gas pain can be very painful, and is a sign of several problems your body is having digesting food.
  • Walking and exercise can help alleviate gas. But it is better to avoid it in the first place!

Other problems

  • Ammonia – very carcinogenic (cancer causing)
  • Acetic Acid – Strong acids normally seem in vinegar
  • Ethanol – The least toxic of the 5 alcohols to humans.
  • Some people even experience the effects of alcohol after eating concentrated proteins and starches at the same meal… they have become their own brewery!

Optimal Digestion

Optimal digestion actually makes you feel better! Clear headedness after eating is a sign you are digesting properly!




Posted on

Digestion Part 1 – Starches

Potato Carbohydrate starch

How does food digest? How do we take food and turn it into energy, tissue, and life itself? Mary-Ann Shearer goes into each piece of this amazing process, starting with starches.



Transcription Notes

Digestion of Starches / Carbohydrates

From our Mondays with Mary-Ann sessions . . .


Digestion Overview

Why do we have a digestive tract and what does it do?

  • What is digestion
  • Breaking down food into usable resources
  • This is primarily accomplished through 2 methods, Mechanical and Chemical
  • Mechanical is accomplished normally through chewing, but could also be accomplished via Juicing or other pre-ingestion mechanical steps.
  • Most people do NOT chew their food enough, and this has a significantly negative effect on the subsequent digestive process
  • Your teeth are designed specifically for the first step, and are actually part of the digestion process.

  • Starches are carbohydrate rich foods, for example potato, grains, fruits, sweet vegetables.
  • You cannot use a potato without breaking it down.
  • As you chew starches, you break them down mechanically, and then your mouth secrets Ptyalin, a form of amylase found in humans and some animals.
  • This enzyme breaks down the starches (long strings of bonded carbohydrates) into the shorter, smaller, simpler sugars to be used by the body.
  • The poly-saccharides (multiple sugars) become di-saccharides (2 sugars) and eventually move into your stomach.


  • In your stomach, the Ptyalin breaks down and new enzymes are used.
  • As the starches move to the small intestine, your body releases even more digestive enzymes (intestinal amylases).
  • The digestive process finishes by breaking the di-saccharides into Glucose.
  • Glucose is then absorbed and used by the body.

The body uses Glucose in the brain and central nervous system. Without enough stable Glucose (i.e. Low Blood Sugar), the body simply doesn’t function effectively:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irrational Thoughts
  • Anxiety

The optimum form of Starches are WHOLE FOOD sources, which digest correctly. Refined starches (refined carbohydrates) do NOT digest correctly, and cause ill health.



Posted on

Essential Fatty Acids Overview

This is an attempt to give people a baseline understanding of essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6 particularly) and how they work in the body. As well, it presents the idea that EFA’s alone aren’t enough, they require other nutrients to work well.

This presentation is put together from basic research, a 60 min conversation I had with Mary-Ann Shearer, and some personal experience with feeding our own bodies and kids in our family.


The audio of my discussion with MAry-Ann is below. To save the mp3 file right click here and select save as . . .

Supplementing with Essential Fatty Acids

Throughout the discussion and video, you will see the following products mentioned over and over again. These products are simply the best resources we can find to help supply EFA’s.


essential fatty acids AIMega AIMega® is an organic seed oil blend that delivers an important source of healthful and essential omega-3, -6 and-9 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are incorporated into every cell of the body, and are key structural, metabolic, and regulatory components of cells. They improve and regulate cellular function, reduce inflammation, modulate immune response, optimize health and well-being, and help prevent chronic disease.
essential fatty acids catalyst BarleyLife BarleyLife is a non-gmo, all-natural, green barley juice concentrate (in powder form) that provide the nutrition you need to for a good foundation of health. The power starts in the young barley leaves. Research shows green barley juice contains large amounts of enzymes, essential amino acids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory activity, immune system support, and cholesterol-lowering effects. Its truly one of the most health promoting foods possible.


Posted on

My High Hopes to Raise a Picky Eater

Picky Eater Havah and friend

Do you really want a picky eater? That might depend on your definition. This is an article written by Danielle Henry, when her daughter Havah was just a few months old. Havah is now 7, and the oldest of a set of 3 “littles” who have all grown up following many of the simple concepts in this short excerpt.

A few times a week I will talk with other moms about nutrition for the family. Up until the past year I’ve really only be responsible for feeding myself. Our two older daughters are old enough to go to the kitchen and feed themselves. Sean and I encourage them to make good choices, but they are at a place where they will choose what they do and don’t eat when they are at school or at a friend’s house.

When our youngest daughter started to seem interested in food I realized that I had some big decisions to make. When is the right time to introduce solid food? What is the right first food? I looked all over the internet, I went to the bookstore and to the library in search of answers.

I found a lot of helpful information. I also found a lot of useless information!

Common Answers, no Real Help

The most common answer that I found was something like this, “Around 4-6 months of age your baby will need something in addition to breast milk. This is great time to introduce rice cereal. If you feed your baby rice cereal before putting him to bed, you can expect that he will begin to sleep through the night.”

This was helpful, but not exactly what I was looking for. The information that I really wanted was something like, “Here are the nutritional needs of your baby and why. Here are good foods that meet those needs.” I did find a few sites and books that provided that type of information.

Great Resources to make a Picky Eater

The best source I found was a book by Mary-Ann Shearer called Healthy Kids the Natural Way. I had read a few of Mary-Ann’s books before, but didn’t realize that she had a book about children’s health until my friend Merrily Bright turned me onto it. Mary-Ann discusses nutrition from pre-pregnancy all the way to adolescence. The chapters on when to introduce solid food and what to give my baby were great! She goes on to break down several fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds – providing the vitamin and mineral content of each. It was great information. It really helped me to understand that these foods have everything that the body needs for optimum health. Unfortunately, if you look for this book on the web you will have trouble finding it. If are interested in getting a copy email me.

Another good resource is Many of the articles are very practical. Besides having a super fun raw food family, they discuss great tips on providing proper nutrition to your children and practical advice on how to survive travel, school lunches etc. while keeping health in mind.

Recently, my friend Paul Nison (raw food author, chef and educator) has been posting information on nutrition for babies and children as he and his wonderful wife Andrea just had a baby girl. Andrea wrote a great post about her plans for their daughter’s diet in the coming years. You can check out some posts she did on a blog at Guaranteed good info and great videos.

So here’s what happened with Havah: At around seven months old I gave her a taste of ripe banana mixed with breast milk. Over the next several months I introduced several other raw fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of her favorites are mangos, blended apples and pears, avocados, carrot juice, bananas (when she wants something to eat she asks for a nana), nectarines, papaya, young coconut meat, some of our raw shakes of course BarleyLife. A few times a week we give her food that is lightly steamed like yellow squash, peas and green beans.  Basically, she loves any food we give her!

I found some interesting info the on rice cereal suggestion. It turns out that babies don’t produce ptyalin, the enzyme that is produced in the mouth to help convert starches into sugars. Babies don’t produce this enzyme until they have a mouth full of teeth and are good at chewing. This usually happens around 18 – 24 months. Introduction of complex starches (rice cereal, potatoes, bread etc.) can sometimes result in constipation, mucus production and food intolerances.

My hope for Havah and all of our children is to raise picky eaters! I hope that if she grows up being stuffed with wonderful foods that help her body thrive that she will prefer them all of her life. I hope that our children will try anything, but have a preference for raw, fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables.

Danielle Henry

Posted on

Enzymes (and where to find them)

It is our belief, shared by many proponents of Raw Foods that the single best mechanism for getting enzymes inside your body is by eating Raw Foods. It is also often true that we need to supplement with enzymes in order to recover from ill health, or to make up for the limited amounts in even the best diets. If you are struggling with ill health, poor digestion or similar problems, enyzmes may really be at the root cause.

First off, what is an enzyme, and why it is so important.

Enzymes are the fundamental catalysts (helpers) of processes occurring in the body. They help facilitate chemical reactions and allow them to speed up and work more efficiently. Without enzymes, these reactions might never occur quickly enough, powerfully enough, or occur at all.

What kind of processes? Almost every single one! It is common reading articles readily available that enzymes are largely held as the measuring stick for biological activity. Meaning Life is measured by the amount of enzymatic activity! Your body is producing millions of these every second, and using them immediately:

  • Digestion of Food
  • Creating Cellular Energy (For more information research ATP, Krebs Cycle, and cellular metabolism) from the resource digested.
  • Cell repair in all tissues, organs etc…
  • Brain Function

While there are lots of chemical catalysts, most chemical catalysts catalyze (help) a wide range of reactions. They are not usually very selective. Enzymes are usually highly selective, catalyzing specific reactions only (for instance digestion). This is due to the shapes of the enzyme molecules, and how they fit into the substances they help.

Types/Classes of Enzymes

There are generally 3 types, or classes, of enzymes.

  • Metabolic Enzymes:
  • Digestive Enzymes
  • Food Enzymes

Metabolic Enzymes

These enzymes work directly within the cells, functioning as helpers to do whatever specific work that unique cell needs to do. Examples would be the conversion of minerals into a usable substance (Phosphorus or Calcium or Magnesium into human bone), providing the bind for iron within a red blood cell, regulation of valves in cardiac tissue, dilation of blood vessels, and much, muhc more.

Digestive Enzymes

These function outside a cell, and are normally associated with the break down of food into the usable, basic elements like Amino Acids, Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamins, Minerals etc… Most digestive enzyme supplements are focused on the breakdown of macro nutrients: Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein. These enzymes are created by your body itself.

Food Enzymes

Food Enzymes are actually contained within the food itself, allowing the body to begin digesting and breaking down the food before the Digestive Enzymatic process actually begins. These enzymes are also what causes fruit to ripen, and then subsequently rot.

Functional scenarios for enzymes

Enzymes humans use fit into 2 categories, ones we make (Intrinsic) and ones we get from outside (Extrinsic).  A great example of Intrinsic enzymes is digestive enzymes. Our bodies produce these in many areas of the body that help break down food into its simpler and more usable substances. An example of an Extrinsic enzyme is Papain, which comes from Papaya.

Enzymes humans use function within a fairly narrow range of Temperature, PH, and Concentration. The optimum Temperature is about 104 degrees F. Above that, the enzymes begin to break down and degrade (actually they “denature” similar to cooking proteins) as the temperature increases. They also function in very narrow ranges of PH. They are also limited by Concentration. If there aren’t enough enzymes molecules, they won’t work on all the chemical “substrates” (molecules) that need them.

So what does this mean to me?

This essentially means that a very fundamental ingredient in the basic functions of most every part of life are dependent on and governed by, some very specific products that have very specific requirements. The performance of this vital element has a very narrow range to work their best. This has huge impact on our bodies because there is really only one source of these products if they are not enzymes the body can make itself: EATING!

So now what?

It isn’t simply eating, but eating enzymes that are functioning within their correct parameters; Temperature, PH, and Concentration. Without these factors, the enzymes will not work as well as we need. 1

Concentration: Considering basic logic that all true food designed for Humans has within itself what we need (or it really wouldn’t be food), Concentration isn’t hard if we don’t affect the other parameters. The levels of enzymes should be sufficient assuming they haven’t already been denatured or modified. The concentration of enzymes in a particular food will be highest if we ensure the following:

PH: There is a lot of debate about this topic, but we can safely say enzymes themselves function within specific ranges, and if you need enzymes but are not able to have an environment within their optimum range, they are not optimally active! Some enzymes function only in acidic environments, but those are typically specialized, and occur only in areas they are needed (think pepsin in the stomach). Most references point to human enzymes, especially metabolic enzymes (enzymes that affect metabolic processes that are located in EVERY cell of the body) working at about 7.2, slightly alkaline. Therefore, more alkalinity would be considered better than more acidic for most enzymes in the human body.

Temperature: This is the easiest to control, but the hardest to implement! The more closely most enzymes is to 104 degrees F, the better. Any higher, and it starts to denature, until they are totally ineffective. Note this serious dilemma, I have found no easily accessible research claiming that at 118 degrees F all enzymes break down! I cannot find it anywhere other than on sites selling raw Foods, and it is not backed up by a results based study, it is simply made as a blanket claim!

However, it is clear from a simple looking around that enzymes do break down after heating, and I found a claim that Papain (from Papaya) is able to handle one of the highest temperatures, 190 degrees F.

Therefore, it is safe to find some maximum, and we think most Plant based enzymes handle up to 125 degrees F, which is awfully close to 118!

So tell it to me straight.

So, all factors point to foods that are slightly alkaline, near 104 Degrees F are optimum sources of enzymes. This would mean that RAW PLANT FOODS that have not been brought to Acidic PH, or above 104 degrees, have to be some of the best, if not THE best, enzymes for us to eat. The other alternative is taking supplements that have been extracted from Plants, and we think you should skip the middle man when possible, and go right to the source.

Common biology and understandings point by themselves to basic raw plants as optimum source of enzymes.  This isn’t rocket science, and it isn’t a metaphysical argument.

The basic conclusion is: More RAW FOODS! And when you are making a transition to a healthier lifestyle or find your digestion sluggish or incomplete, use a good supplemental source of digestive enzymes.

Digestive Enzymes

PrepZymes Digestive EnzymesWe believe that the AIM Prepzymes are some of the best digestive enzymes available. They are highly effective, and high value.