Sunday, November 25, 2012

So Why NOT Cook Our Food?

A Raw Foodist's Journal - So Why NOT Cook Our Food? Amid all the frenzy for cooked, baked, grilled, deep-fried, stir-fried, BBQ-ed, pasteurized, you-name-it treatments applied to all edible things ever known to man, eating the same ingredients raw sounds like a semi-civilized and, to some extent, even a primitive proposition.

As we'll see in this post, it's quite the contrary. Eating raw foods is one of the best things we can do to our body and mind and environment! I summarize the benefits of eating raw into two categories - health & vitality and environmental friendliness.

Health & Vitality

Many beneficial nutrients exist only in fresh produce (such as fruits, vegetables, green leafy, and nuts and seeds). For the sake of concrete examples, cancer fighting falcarinol in raw carrots, anti-aging resveratrol in grapes, olive oil, etc., thousands of immune system enhancing and inflammation reducing phyto-nutrients found in fresh produce (many of these give the fruits and vegetables their bright colors).

Food heated at temperatures higher than 105 degree F is devoid of most "life." This startling scientific fact warranties some detailed discussion:

      If we sow a raw almond seed and a roasted one, the raw seed remains dormant and germinates when the conditions are right; the roasted seed rots quickly. When consumed, which is likely to provide us with more nutrients and energy?
      A preliminary understanding of science tells us that heat causes the internal molecular structure of things to change (that's how red-hot iron can be cast into shapes whereas a cold iron rod can't be). The same principle, when applied to food, causes the molecular structures of the naturally available nutrients to change into complex compounds like acrylamide, HCAs, and PAHs. Our body has to work very hard to break these complex compounds again to digest them and release the nutrients. Ever felt as heavy after eating a large salad as an average plate of your most favorite cooked delicacy?

     Additionally, when heated, glucose particularly binds very tightly to proteins to form abnormally tight Advanced Glycoxidation End products (AGEs). This is an irreversible connection. The enzymes that disrupt other protein bonds cannot disrupt those in AGEs. These have been linked to many diseases from cardiovascular disorders to diabetes to stroke. Ironically, it is these AGEs that provide color, flavor, and texture in cooking - the golden brown color to roasted turkey and the darkening of a toast.

     In a nutshell, the complex compounds formed by thermal application to food are foreign to the human body. These are muta-gens and carcinogenic and cause inflammation. Inflammation is the cause of 90% of the diseases we know today.

Processed, pre-packaged foods are even worse. Essentially, these are foods that have been engineered so we crave for them even more (and the manufacturers make more profits). How many of us have turned over the packaging of our most favorite snack and tried to decipher the long ingredient list? How many of them can we pronounce? How many of those grow naturally? Who takes the brunt of breaking down these engineered toxins after our external taste-buds have been ephemerally satiated?

Ever wondered why we feel sleepy after a big meal? Brain and intestines are the two organs in our body that require the most energy to function. After a big meal, the brain diverts most energy (red blood cells) to the intestines to breakdown the food and carry the nutrients to all parts of the body. This causes the brain itself to feel lethargic and want to relax; the rest of the body obediently follows...

Conversely, how would the functioning of our brain change if we ate simpler, naturally-growing foods? Thinking about it, our ancestors lived on a raw, plant-based diet and evolved into what we are today! (Man's ability to make fire has been conclusively dated back to only 400,000 years.) Nature has genetically programmed our bodies to process these foods over millions of years. Does the opposition to GMO foods sound familiar? Without question, a raw food diet, over just a few days, sky-rockets our energy and vitality levels and gives us unprecedented mental clarity. How can we desire a fulfilling life while we feel listless and can't think clearly? It is the sole ability to think and analyze that places man on the apex of the pyramid of evolution on Earth.

Environmental Friendliness

Besides all the health benefits, eating raw foods is a huge help to the environment. First off, less cooking leads to less energy consumption - the cut in energy demands would be huge if we went raw en mass. A propensity to eat fresh foods also requires less transportation, thereby reducing oil consumption. A shorter transportation time further translates into less packaging, which, in turn, reduces the demand for non-biodegradable packing material and prevents that material from going into landfills afterwards. (A very small percentage of the trash we generate actually gets recycled and recycling takes a lot of resources by itself too; most of us are oblivious to these facts.)

More raw food consumption would obviously reduce the demands for pre-processed, packaged foods which would directly cap industrial waste and pollution. To take it a step further, by going raw, we'd be introducing less "artificial" material (from preservatives to industry chemicals) into our environment. In a nutshell, going raw helps us tread more lightly on our planet, as another raw foodist put it. There is so much more to be said here that it is going to be another blog post altogether.

"12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Food" by Victoria Boutenko
"Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast" by Ani Phyo
Countless other material that I read in last several months...

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