Low Enzymes Vs. High Enzymes

Syringe with blood
Enzymes are usually measured with a blood test. (Image: NikiLitov/iStock/Getty Images)

Enzymes are central to every biochemical process occurring in your body. Enzymes are catalysts, which means they speed up chemical reactions in your body, sometimes by a factor of a million times or more, according to Biology Reference. You cannot live without enzymes because metabolic processes such as digestion would simply be too slow to sustain your life. There are three basic types of enzymes in your body: digestive, food and metabolic enzymes, each responsible for performing different tasks.

Liver Enzymes

The enzymes ALT, AST and GGT are indirect measures of the health of your liver. Levels of these enzymes are normally very low. Extremely high levels of these enzymes indicate acute hepatitis. Lab Tests Online states in most types of liver disease, ALT level is higher than AST.

Cardiac Enzymes

Creatine phosphokinase, also known as CK or CPK, is a cardiac enzyme. Low levels of this metabolic enzyme indicate good health while high levels demonstrate that some sort of muscular event has taken place in your body. Injury, such as injuries sustained to your heart muscles after a heart attack, causes the enzyme to leak out from your muscle tissue into your bloodstream. Because CK levels can rise as a result of injury to any muscle, your doctor will compare your blood work with other clinical findings, such as symptoms, physical examination findings and EKG studies.

Low Enzyme Diseases

Some diseases occur because there is not enough of a particular type of enzyme. You rely on enzymes to help you digest food. Low levels of digestive enzymes can result in poorly digested foods and malnutrition. Diseases caused by low digestive enzymes include Pompe’s disease, Forbes’ disease, Tarui’s disease and McArdle’s disease, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Low levels of protease may cause improper protein metabolism and alkaline excesses in your blood.

High Enzyme Diseases

Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center correlate high levels of the enzyme PKC-delta in mice and humans with increased insulin resistance associated with the onset of type 2 diabetes. High lipase and amylase levels are indicative of pancreatitis, an acute inflammation of your pancreas.

Replenishing Enzymes

Levels of certain enzymes decrease with advancing age or because of a medical or environmental condition. You can chemically increase some enzymes through medications or by eating certain foods. Raw fruits and vegetables contain food enzymes that help your body to digest that particular food. Cooking reduces the amount enzymes in the food. For example, a fresh salad provides enough enzymes for your body to digest the salad whereas a baked potato has lost all the enzymes you need to digest it.

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