She sat across the table from me enviously eying my salad. “I’d really love some vegetables right now,” she said. We started talking about her diet — the typical diet of the typical American.
I told her that 60-80% of the diet of traditional people groups isn’t cooked. “Oh,” she interrupted, “I bet I don’t cook 60% of the food I eat.”
She missed my point. She was talking about sandwiches and cold breakfast cereals, snack bars and cheese sticks. Let’s not beat around the bush, people. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is cooked. Aside from the occasional salad or piece of fruit, we just don’t eat raw foods. In fact, we fear them.
I think it’s time for Food Renegade Newbie Tip #4.
Eat more raw, fermented, and living foods.
First, some definitions.
- A raw food is a food that is not heated above 118 degrees (F).
- A fermented food is a food that has had its carbohydrates and sugars turned into alcohol or beneficial acids.
- A living food is a food that still has living enzymes in it and includes both raw and fermented foods.
Now, for some examples. Everyone understands “raw,” but “fermented” and “living” may be harder to follow.
- FERMENTED — Some typical foods preserved by lactic-acid formation include mayonnaise, pickles and yogurt.
- LIVING — Cheese, sour cream, yogurt.
Why should you eat more living foods?
One word — Enzymes.
Your body needs them to properly digest, absorb, and make full use of your food. As you age, your body’s supply of enzymes decreases. This has caused many scientists to hypothesize that if you could guard against enzyme depletion, you could live a longer, healthier life.
Okay, so they’re important. But what does that have to do with eating living foods?
Here’s a fairly succinct summary from Life Extension Magazine:
One of America’s pioneering bio-chemists and nutrition researchers Dr. Edward Howell, in his book Enzyme Nutrition, cites numerous animal studies showing that animals fed diets that are deficient in enzymes suffer from enlargement of the pancreas, as huge amounts of pancreatic enzymes are squandered in digesting foods that are devoid of natural enzymes. The result of this wasteful outpouring of pancreatic digestive enzymes is a decrease in the supply of crucial metabolic enzymes and impaired health.
Digestive organs such as the pancreas and liver produce most of the body\’s digestive enzymes, while the remainder should come from uncooked foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, raw sprouted grains, seeds and nuts, unpasteurized dairy products, and from enzyme supplements.
Eating food in its natural, unprocessed state is vital to the maintenance of good health, and a lack of it in the modern diet is directly responsible for much degenerative disease. Cooking of food, particularly if heat is prolonged and over 118 degrees Fahrenheit, destroys enzymes in that food, leaving what is commonly consumed by the modern person – an “enzymeless” diet. This is how by middle age we become metabolically depleted of enzymes.
If foods are eaten uncooked, fewer of the body’s digestive enzymes are required to perform the digestive function. The body thereby adapts to the plentiful, external supply by secreting fewer of its own enzymes, preserving these enzymes to assist in vital cellular metabolic functions.
So, I’m about to go all bold and red on you.
Are you ready? If you didn’t read that hunk of text up above, this is the one thing I want you to understand:
Eating an enzyme-rich diet decreases the load on your pancreas, preserving your body’s own natural enzyme potential, thereby reducing your risk of chronic diseases.
So, that’s why science tells you to eat more raw, living foods.
Here’s why you really should consider it.
It’s like what I told my friend at the beginning of the post — for centuries, traditional people groups the world over have consumed at least 60-80% of their calories in raw, living foods and beverages.
Put another way: They’re not the weird ones. We are.
Looking for more Newbie Tips? Check out the ever-growing list here.
(photo by puzzlemepuzzle)