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The "Temperature at Which Enzymes Are Destroyed" Myth

You may have heard claims that temperatures over 105°F destroy food enzymes. The manufacturer of Excalibur dehydrators issued a statement correcting this misconception, from which the following is excerpted (paragraphing added):

Twenty years ago Ann Wigmore spoke to Roger Orton personally and said that the food temperature had to go above 120 degrees for a period time before the enzymes were destroyed. Again in our discussions with Viktoras [Kulvinskas, cofounder with Ann Wigmore of the Hippocrates Health Institute] he said the same thing. 

Ann tested different dehydrators and found that Excalibur was the best for living foods. She found that the best technique for saving enzymes was to set Excalibur on a higher food temperature setting in the beginning and then turn it down after a few hours. However because most people may not know when to turn it down, and by leaving it on the higher setting may kill the enzymes she said to set your Excalibur on 105 degree setting throughout the entire cycle. That way the food temp will never go above 120 even after it is dry. We believe this is why many have come to believe that 105 degrees air temperature is the temperature at which the enzymes are destroyed, which is entirely inaccurate. [Final italics added.]

We have also heard many people quote Dr. Edward Howell where he says in his book “Enzyme Nutrition” that prolonged temperatures over 118 F will destroy enzymes. We also read in his book where he says that the enzyme amylase can still convert starch to sugar at air temperatures up to 160 F but will wear out after a half an hour. We have also read where he says that the optimum temperatures for enzymes are 45 F to 140 F.

Just recently we spoke with Dr. John Whitaker who is a world recognized enzymologist, and former dean of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at U.C. Davis. He said that every enzyme is different and some are more stable at higher temperatures than others but that most enzymes will not become completely inactive until food temperatures exceed 140 to 158 F in a wet state. [Italics added.]