Monday 18 May 2009

Why Raw Food #1: Enzymes

I already posted some general comments about why eat raw food. Today I am starting a series of practical « reasons why » that will include:

Why Raw Food #1: Enzymes
Why Raw Food #2: PH
Why Raw Food #3: Nutrient value and energy
Why Raw Food #4: Detox process
Why Raw Food #5: Organic food

Why Raw Food #1: Enzymes

What are enzymes?

The point in eating raw food is this: Raw foods contain enzymes. When we heating our food over 116°F, enzymes in food are destroyed - in fact, they start to degrade in as little as 102°F. All cooked food is devoid of enzymes, furthermore cooking food changes the molecular structure of the food and renders it toxic. Raw foods that are alive also have enormously higher nutrient values than cooked foods.
Enzymes are complex organic substances originating from living cells and capable of producing certain chemical changes in organic substances by catalytic action.

What do enzymes do in the body?

It is enzyme activity that accomplishes all biological work. When the food is cooked beyond 118°F (48°C), all of these naturally occurring enzymes are killed, and your body must manufacture its own digestive enzymes to do the job.

Enzyme researcher Dr. Edward Howell explains that when the body is busy digesting food, it cannot divert enough energy to continue processing the type of enzymes needed to do other tasks. There is conflict between the demands of your digestive system for a constant supply of digestive enzymes, and your body's needs for metabolic enzymes that are vital for cleansing, healing, and building.

Without an adequate supply of metabolic enzymes, over time, the body starts to show signs of suffering and fatigue, such as: indigestion, constipation, age spots, chronic fatigue, lethargy, wrinkles, skin problems, declining eyesight, poor memory, mood swings and irritability (leading to depression), allergies, brain fog, parasitis (candida), hypoglycemia (leading to diabetes), etc... the list is not closed. And finally, degenerative diseases silently install themselves.

Enzymes and digestion

The catalytic action of enzymes assists in the digestion and absorption of foods. If someone eats enzymeless food (such as "junk food" for instance) the body does not get maximum utilization of the food. This causes toxicity in the body, which turns into fat, clogs arteries, blocks the cleaning organs (kidneys, liver, skin...). Now do you understand why developed countries are getting plagued with overweight problems?

Raw food and the stomach's acid secretions

Cooked protein foods require large secretions of stomach acid (which is not healthful for several reasons - just think about the common "acid reflux" problem...). When we stop eating those foods our stomach doesn't produce much stomach acid. Many people who eat raw foods eat a low protein diet and are free from the stomach acid secretions and have much more energy and a lighter disposition.

Get living food

In living foods, the enzyme content is much higher. Raw, unsprouted nuts contain enzymes in a "dormant" state. To activate the enzymes contained in almonds, for example, soak them in water for as just 24 hours. Once the almonds begin to sprout, the enzymes become "active" and are then considered living.

Of course, this works solely if your almonds were raw from the beginning. Very often, so-called "raw" almonds sold in most food stores have been heated to kill molds and parasites. They appear "raw" and are not. But this is another question for future posts.

Different kinds of raw food diets

Some people consider that they are a raw food dieter from the moment they eat 75% of their food raw. But for others, raw food diet means EVERYTHING RAW.

Among those exclusive raw-eaters, there are specific categories, for example:
- Fruitarian: People who consume mostly fruits.
- Sproutarian: People who consume mostly sprouts.
- Juicearian: People who consume mostly fresh juice.

What do raw-foodists eat?

Raw-foodists eat all fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds, grains, sea vegetables, and other organic/natural foods that have not been processed. In some instances, there are special ways to prepare the foods: for example, most raw-foodists soak or sprout nuts, seeds and grains before consuming them.

What do raw-foodists drink?

They drink pure water (source water, or tap water that has been purified), freshly made juices (made with a personal juicer and consumed immediately). They can even drink coconut water or coconut milk from young coconuts.
Most drinks processed at a store (soda, bottled juices, coffee, alcohol) have been processed, including bottled organic juice sold in health food stores. None of them are really healthy from our "raw food" point of view here, and they always contain too much sugar for overweight or diabetic people. (I'll later have a line of posts on "juicing", how and why).

Where can I start? COLESLAW RECIPE

If you want to achieve optimal health, the best way to do that is to eat a high enzyme diet, and this means adding more and more raw food into your diet.
You can start by including a "coleslaw" at the beginning of each meal. Coleslaw is a salad made of finely chopped vegetables. For instance, finely chop the following ingredients:

- 3 carrots
- 1 small red beet
- 2 kale leaves
- 1 small onion
(You can also add sliced tomatoes, green peppers, cucumber, radishes, mushrooms - you can finely chop zucchini, celery root and stalks, ... unleash your creativity).

Mix them together.
Make your own dressing, according to your own taste, with:

- 3 teaspoons olive oil or flaxseed oil or hemp oil (raw and organic, from your health food store)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (you get two different tastes there),
- and/or Tamari sauce if you like it (the pure, organic stuff used by macrobiotic eaters, not the "soy sauce" junk full of chemicals)
- Finely chopped garlic (if you like it)
- Finely chopped fresh herbs: parsley, mint, oregano, ... to your taste.
- Half an avocado, mashed (in this case, you can use less oil).
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Ginger, or Cayenne pepper... to taste.

Try and have fun!

Eat a full serving of this at the beginning of a meal and I guarantee you will feel full already and you will want less cooked food to continue with your meal.

Attention: do not mix raw and cooked foods. Eat raw food first, then cooked food, and not the other way around. The enzymes from raw food at the beginning of the meal help with the digestion of cooked food that follows.

Give your body what it really CRAVES: enzymes and nutrients.