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Why Raw Food is Right

Every time you stand at your stove and cook a meal – no matter how pure the ingredients are that you put in it – you destroy that food’s most valuable nutrient: the food enzymes. Had you chosen instead to eat your food raw, the enzymes would have greatly assisted your body in the digestion and subsequent assimilation of that food.

Enzymes are involved in the control of all mental and physical functions. At any given moment there are many different types of enzymes carrying on a myriad of activities inside the human body. Enzymes can be divided into three major categories according to their function: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes and food enzymes. Metabolic enzymes, generally speaking, are the maintenance workers of the body. They play an important role in tissue repair and organ function. Each body cell has in excess of 100,000 enzyme particles necessary for metabolic processes.

The raw materials which the metabolic enzymes use for building and regulating the body must first have been digested through the action of the digestive enzymes, namely amylase which digests carbohydrates, protease which digests protein, lipase which digests fat and cellulase which digests fibre. Digestion begins in the mouth, where chewing ruptures the cell walls of the foods you eat and enzymes are activated.

You can do a simple test of this by putting a piece of bread in your mouth and chewing it well. Within a few moments, you will notice that it develops a sweet taste. This is due to the action of the amalytic enzyme pryalin, contained in saliva, which breaks down the complex polysaccharides into simple sugars, as indicated by the sweet taste. The demand placed upon the body’s own endogenous digestive enzymes is greatly reduced with the intake of exogenous food enzymes, which occur naturally in all fresh and raw foods. When we eat foods in their raw, unadulterated state, the enzymes contained in those foods are equally released by the chewing action in the mouth where they start the digestive process. This activity continues in the upper part of the stomach where the food mass remains until it has been ‘pre-digested’ and liquefied by the food enzymes and moves down into the lower part of the stomach, where peristaltic action is more pronounced. Pepsin then activates protein digestion.

Food enzymes are destroyed by heat. When we eat cooked food devoid of enzymes, our bodies must compensate for the lack by producing more endogenous enzymes. This puts a tremendous burden on the pancreas, which is called upon to manufacture copious amounts enzymes missing from the foods that originally contained them.

It is not surprising that, as the demand increases, the pancreas becomes enlarged and eventually begins to show signs of pathological breakdown.

Wild animals in nature, and primitive peoples’ who eat primarily fresh and raw foods, are not plagued by degenerative disease (dis-ease) as we are in our society. Raw milk, as well as butter and cheese derived from it, contain ample amounts of fat digesting enzymes lipase and it allowed to remain unpasteurized, would not be implicated as they are today in causing a build up of cholesterol in our arteries, as well as a host of other problems. Everyone concerned about his or her health, then, would be well advised to try to shift the diet towards one which relies less on cooked meals and instead emphasizes raw foods. If you find it difficult to eliminate cooked foods entirely, you can still benefit from fermented foods which have been pre-digested by natural enzyme action, such as sauerkraut and yogurt.

Raw honey is rich in enzymes, as is miso, which can be added to soup and other dishes to enhance their flavour, but it is important that this be done after cooking so that none of enzymes are destroyed.
Certain foods, such as legumes, grains, nuts and seeds have naturally occurring enzyme inhibitors to keep them from sprouting, thus making it possible to store them over long periods of time. In order to access the nutrients contained in these foods, they need to be soaked, which removes the enzyme inhibitors, and sprouted, which actually increases the amounts of vitamins and minerals found in such foods. At the same time making these nutrients easier to assimilate.

Just switching over to raw foods (while advisable to prevent a further enzymes drain) may not be enough to correct long-standing enzyme deficiencies caused by years of eating a cooked diet. In order to provide your system with a real boost, considering taking a few food enzymes capsules with each meal. The regular intake of food enzymes from raw foods and supplements is essential to human health. It aids in preserving the body’s own endogenous enzymes, thus allowing them to concentrate on metabolic function. This takes on even greater importance as the body ages and its enzyme production capacity is reduced, as well during times of illness or increased physical activity when more enzymes are utilized. Many health-conscious individuals today are concerned about taking an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals but may not be aware that these nutrients require enzymes in order to be properly assimilated. When food enzymes are added to the diet, the resulting increase in energy and vitality is often remarkable.

Enzymes are the key to understanding allergies. Enzymes work on the surfaces of the food particles, which means that the more thoroughly the food is chewed the more exposed surfaces there are for the enzymes to work on. Also the cells of fruits and vegetables have indigestible cellulose membranes which must be broken down by chewing before the fruit or vegetable can be digested. Many adverse reactions to fresh produce result simply from not sufficiently to break down the cellulose membranes and nutritionists advise chewing each bite 20 to 50 times. For the allergic person, chewing each bite to liquid is better advice. Once the habit of chewing thoroughly is established it does not require much conscious thought.

Studies show that when the diet consists mostly cooked foods containing no enzymes the pancreas will actually enlarge to keep up with the demand to produce greater amounts of enzymes. The same thing happens to your heart if it must pump blood through arteries that are clogged with cholesterol. Enzymes are secreted by the pancreas on demand. There is specific secretion for specific food, and the quantity and type of food determines the quantity and types of enzymes secreted. The pancreas will secrete only the type and amounts of enzymes it needs for the job at hand.

by Simone Gabbay

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