The Pros and Cons of Raw Food
Raw Food: Good for Enzymes, Hard to Digest!
Maintaining a strict raw food diet may be the most effective way to feed your body the enzymes it needs, still the idea of all raw, all the time is a hard one to digest.
What’s the big deal about enzymes?
They sound important, but why? Even though we don’t always hear a lot about enzymes, they actually deserve top billing, even if they do have long, unpronounceable names usually ending in –“ase.” Not only do enzymes help digest and absorb food, but actually they’re responsible for every chemical reaction in every cell in your entire body.
Unfortunately, the importance of enzymes often takes a backseat to the “standard American diet,” often referred to as “SAD” in various naturopathic communities.
What do they have to do with digestion?
The primary function of enzymes is to facilitate digestion, and the three main enzymes for the job are protease, lipase and amylase which digest protein, fat and carbohydrates. While indigestion may sound like mild discomfort, in reality nearly all chronic degenerative diseases are either caused or instigated by digestive issues. And although we are born with enzyme-producing organs like the liver, the pancreas and even our saliva glands, these organs wear down over the years, particularly due to the SAD state of cooked, canned and processed foods.
Can’t I just eat healthy food like fruits and vegetables?
Hardly. What’s really “SAD” is that even if you DO eat your spinach, what you’re getting doesn’t hold a candle to the spinach of Popeye’s day. Thanks to a generation of industrialized farming, most of our fruits and vegetables are now grown in over-fertilized soils lacking in nutrients and covered in pesticides.
As a matter of fact, according to a study by the US Department of Agriculture, over the past 50 years the measured nutrients in 43 fruits and vegetables declined anywhere from 38% to 6%.
That means your fruits and vegetables are nearly 40% less nutritious than the ones your grandparents ate. No wonder real nutrition is so hard; right from the start, the fruits and vegetables you eat now are barely HALF as nutritious as they were as little as 50 years ago. Digest that!
As if the low nutrient-value of today’s food wasn’t bad enough, cooking is the real enzyme-robbing culprit. Heating foods over 118 degrees destroys most of the nutrients and ALL of the enzymes. As powerful as enzymes are, they’re no match for your microwave. Many won’t even survive light steaming!
Aren’t the enzymes produced in my body enough?
They are—for now. When you’re not getting enzymes from your food, your liver, pancreas, stomach and intestines have to pick up the slack. On top of that, when we eat processed foods, we force these organs to work even harder during digestion.
Our bodies were meant to work, but not in overtime ALL the time. According to one of the pioneer researchers of the benefits of enzymes, Dr. Edward Howell, this is a recipe for disaster. Howell says, “Although the body can manufacture enzymes, the more you use your enzyme potential, the faster it is going to run out.”
Aside from what our bodies produce, enzymes can only be found in raw or “live” foods, which is why there has been a lot of talk surrounding “Raw Food” diets in various foodie communities. Raw food diets have a lot of benefits including easier digestion, no preservatives or synthetic nutrients and of course, LIVE enzymes!
But raw food diets are so hard!
The problem is raw food diets are not easy to maintain. A salad is one thing, but for many of us, the idea of eating all raw food at every meal is unappetizing. Add to that time-consuming and expensive, and it may give you indigestion. And you can’t go half-way with raw. Many sources say if your diet isn’t 50 percent raw or more, you’re still not giving your body what it needs.
That brings us back to why the idea of a strict raw food diet is a tough one for people to digest. Luckily, there are whole food vitamin supplements created to help us fill the gaps in our enzymes and nutrients. You just have to make sure you know what’s really in your multivitamin.