A diet rich in raw foods is an important component to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Raw foods not heated over 118 F contain the enzymes needed for their digestion.1 Enzymes are catalysts, the spark plugs of life. They are protein molecules that work in a "lock and key" fashion to facilitate chemical reactions in virtually every cell, organ and system from digestion to elimination.
When you eat cooked food, you force your pancreas to crank out more digestive enzymes. By age 40, the average person has only 30% of his digestive enzyme production potential left. 2 This a major reason for increasing tiredness with age. According to Dr. Edward Howell, who spent a lifetime researching enzymes, "The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism."
"It is shown that when the enzyme potential is exhausted beyond a particular point, it triggers the end of the lifespan." 3 In other words, by incorporating more raw foods into your diet, you extend your life. You also have more energy freed up: Energy no longer needed for digestion often goes to the higher centers creating a spiritual awakening, renewed creativity, mental alertness, along with enhanced optimism, meditation, focus and concentration.
Raw foods are also richer in vitamins. Viktoras Kulvinskas, who helped Ann Wigmore found the Hippocrates Health Institute, created a list of the various destruction of nutrients from cooking. He compiled this list from numerous scientific journals and detailed them in his classic book , Survival into the 21st Century (p. 48). He discovered that about 45-55% of B vitamins are lost in heated foods, as well as 70-80% of Vitamin C, and 50% of Vitamin E, for example. "Cooking does not improve the nutritional value of food," he writes, "It destroys or makes unavailable 85% of the original nutrients."
In addition, inorganic mineral elements are combined naturally in raw foods with molecules containing carbon, making them organic. According to Dr. Vivian Vetrano, "These [organic molecules] are the useful mineral compounds, and they are in the proper balance for human nutrition. When food is cooked, the minerals are separated by the heat from this organic combination, returning to inorganic molecules which recombine as toxic inorganic salts, such as sodium chloride, causing many health problems, such as arterial plague, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease" 4 (Incidentally, Dr. Vetrano has been eating a raw food diet since age 17 and now, at age 81, is still able to dance bale and climb trees!)
Furthermore, raw foods contain phytochemcials, nutrients that serve as antioxidants and modulators of the body's defense mechanisms. Many of these are useful to the body only when not cooked. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (October 25, 2008) entitled "Bioavailability and Kinetics of Sulforaphane in Humans after Consumption of Cooked versus Raw Broccoli," it was found that the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane was biavailable at the rate of 37% if the broccoli was eaten raw, but only at the rate of 3.4% if eaten cooked.
Another study was recently done at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. 5 They found that eating raw broccoli and cabbage slashed bladder cancer risk by 40%. However, the researchers did not find such a protective benefit from eating the same quantity of cooked cruciferous vegetables. It is evident that the anti-cancer properties of vegetables are destroyed by cooking. One exception seems to be lycopene found in tomatoes: It is more readily released and bioavailble if the tomatoes are cooked. However, the lycopene is just as well released when the tomatoes are raw, but blended (as in raw soups that include tomatoes, or freshly squeezed tomato juice).
Another prized ingredient of raw food is electrons. A free radical is a molecule that is missing an electron, and since it wants to rebalance its electrical charge, it will try to steal an electron from wherever it can: molecules of fat, protein, DNA, etc. When DNA is altered, it can lead to cell mutation, possibly to cancer. Therefore, it is good to have spare electrons FROM RAW FOODS? to give to these free radicals so that they don't wreak havoc.
A healthy, vital body contains lots of spare electrons. Raw food activists David and Annie Jubb note that "We've all met people that appear to glow...Having spare electrons allows this glow to be a more permanent condition." 6 Foods rich in electrons are raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted or soaked grains. Spirulina and flaxseed are especially high in the capacity to absorb solar electrons.
Raw foods also contain biophotons. In 1982, German physicist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Fritz Popp and his colleagues proved the presence of biophotons, biologically produced units of light, in vegetables. Biophoton emission can be thought of as a kind of biological laser light with a very high degree of coherence, capable of transmitting information, which ordinary incoherent light cannot achieve.
Dr. Popp proved that the quality of a food is mianly dependent on the number of biophotons it contains. Cooking destroys nearly 100% of the biophotons. Adding chemicals to, processing, preserving and irradiating all endanger the biophotonic force of foods. Fresh, sun-ripened, organic food eaten straight from a vine, tree, stalk or ground contains the greatest number of biophotons.
Wild foods were found to emit two times as many biophotons as cultivated organic foods. Organic foods emit five times as many biophotons as commercially grown foods. Cooked or irradiated foods emit almost no biophotons. 7
Water is another ingredient found in raw foods. The water found in raw organic produce is superior to nearly all water. People who start to eat more and more raw foods report becoming much less thirsty because they eat less cooked, dehydrated foods that require drinking a lot of water for their digestion. A young body is more than 80% water, but with age this can decrease to 60%. Getting old is often thought of as "drying up," "shrinking," or "withering away." These metaphors are not far from wrong. In fact, an older body holds less water than a younger body. If we are to stay youthful in body, mind and spirit, we must be sure our source of water is the best and get as much of it as possible from raw food. Cooking evaporates some of the water and also lowers the quality of the remaining water normally present in fresh food.
Bacteria are another precious ingredient in raw foods. Ironically, it is because of bacteria that many people think they have to cook their food! But when you cook to kill the potentially harmful bacteria, you also destroy the friendly bacteria necessary for optimum health. 8 A lack of "good" bacteria can result in yeast infections, intestinal disorders and other symptoms associated with weakened body defenses. Eating cooked food, especially cooked meat and dairy (which Americans tend to overeat), causes putrefactive bacteria to proliferate and eventually dominate and replace the natural population of beneficial intestinal flora. This causes colon dysfunction and allows for the absorption of toxins from the bowel. This disease state is called dysibiosis or dysbacteria. Raw foods stimulate production of healthy bacterial flora.
Raw foods are also rich in oxygen. Heat reduces the oxygen found in fresh food, oxygen we need to resist disease. Cancer cells and AIDS viruses thrive in blood low in oxygen. Raw foods contain small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which provides oxygen to kill viruses.
Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color. It has been likened to the "blood" of the plant. The chlorophyll molecule is almost identical to the hemoglobin molecule, which is the oxygen carrier in human blood. Therefore, when you eat plants in their living, unheated state, the chlorophyll actually feed oxygen to your body. Cooked food does not contain this organic type of oxygen. This is why, when you eat lots of greens or drink wheatgrass juice, you immediately feel a surge of energy. Wheatgrass is an especially good source of oxygen.
Oxygen stimulates digestion, promotes better circulation in the body, promotes clearer thinking, protects against anaerobic bacteria, and nourishes every cell in the body. Without sufficient oxygen in the blood, the metabolism and digestion become sluggish. The body loses energy and is ripe for disease.
It is not hard to incorporate more raw foods into your diet. Start breakfast with a smoothie of fresh fruit blended with greens such as kale and some foods rich in minerals, such as spirulina, goji berries, maca and bee pollen. Add a tablespoon of raw coconut butter. For a snack, pack an apple or some homemade trail mix of raw nuts and seeds, sundried shredded coconuts, and goji berries. For lunch, pack a salad with homemade dressing of raw apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (raw if possible) with raw agave nectar. Dinner can include salads or raw soups. There are now dozens of recipe books for raw food entrees, desserts, etc.
Susan Schenck, LAc, is a raw food coach and author of The Live Food Factor, The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet. (This book contains contributions by Victoria BidWell and Dr. Vivian Vetrano.) More information about raw foods can be found at her site www.livefoodfactor.com.
1 Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity, Dr. Edward Howell, p. 108 and Enzyme Nutrition, The Food Enzyme Concept, Dr. Edward Howell, p. 72.
2 12 Steps to Raw Roods, Victoria Boutenko, p. 5. For more information also read Enzyme Nutrition, by Dr. Edward Howell, p. 25-29. He cites numerous studies, including one at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago in which the enzymes in the saliva of young adults were found to be 30 times stronger than in people over 69.
3 Enzyme Nutrition, Dr. Edward Howell, p. 25.
4 The Live Food Factor, p. 187 (NOTE: Dr. Vetrano was a contributor to my book.)
5 The findings of the Roswell Park study were presented at a meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research in Philadelphia. For more information, go to http://www.naturalnews.com/023655.html
6 Secrets of an Alkaline Body, The New Science of Colloidal Biology, p. 62-63, Annie and David Jubb.
7 Dr. Fritz Popp of Germany wrote several published articles about biophotons, including a 1984 paper called "Bio-Photon Emissions: New Evidence for Coherence in DNA." You can also find his work summarized in Gabriel Cousen, MD's book Spiritual Nutrition, p. 162-166 and Dr. Cousen's book Conscious Eating, p. 576-577.
8 Conscious Eating, Gabriel Cousens, MD, p. 565.