Why do some choose a raw food diet? Eating raw means food is not cooked over 116 degrees.  When foods are cooked, the natural enzymes in foods that are most beneficial to our gut and bodies become inactive.  This applies to any plant- or meat-based natural food; however, eating raw meat is not advised.  Most people eating a raw food diet are doing so with vegan choices.

Cooking at high temperatures changes a food’s structure resulting, in essence, eating “dead” food.  However, the human body is a very efficient organism; we have the capability to break down those dead proteins into their constituent amino acid form, and then to rebuild them into enzymes once again. If our bodies were not capable of doing this, we would die from eating cooked food.

So why bother going raw?  Simply put, when you eat “live” food, you skip a step in digestion which does many wonderful things for us. When our bodies don’t have to use our own enzymes to break down food, those enzymes can help fix disease and repair cells, which aids in healing and slows the aging process.  It also helps to speed up metabolism and promotes weight loss.  If you eat raw, you do not have to expend as much energy re-creating the enzymes in food; you’re getting them intact in an active form and can absorb and use them right away.

The other problem with cooking all our meals is that certain vitamins are destroyed in the process and most minerals are not as easily absorbed, so we need supplements to replace the nutrients no longer available in the cooked foods.

There are many ways to get creative if you want to “go raw” and don’t want to always have cold food.  We can warm or “cook” foods to less than 116 degrees with no damage to the enzyme. Using a dehydrator, or slow cooking in a crock pot (when you can set it at a certain temperature) are ideal ways to do this.  Keep in mind that if you make it a practice to eat only one to two raw meals per day, it will make a big difference in how you feel and the rate at which you heal.

Germinating and sprouting are two ways to unlock the nutrients in beans, seeds and nuts.  Beans have enzyme inhibiters, which keep the enzyme from being released.  Sprouting the bean allows you to get the nutrients you want from this food; cooking destroys the enzyme inhibitor as well as the enzyme itself.  We have all seen alfalfa and bean sprouts in the grocery store as well as legume and mung bean.  When beans or seeds are sprouted, their enzyme inhibitors are neutralized.   This way you can eat the raw sprouted bean and absorb the bean proteins and enzymes intact.  The same is true for germinating nuts or beans, which is simply soaking them in water for a specific amount of time.

In closing, eating raw foods is maximally efficient nutritional support for health.  While we are able to ingest cooked food and to use it to survive, we never really thrive as it is not “real food” once it has been fully cooked.

Dr. Beckner is the owner of Your Body Code personalized nutrition and wellness programs in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 341.BODY(2639). For free recipes and more information visit her on Facebook and on the web at www.yourbodycode.com.

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