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RAW FOOD IS LIVING FOOD! You Are Not What You Eat!
- by Chris Clark - www.misohungry.org

You are what you assimilate and digest. And the assimilation and digestion of food depends on many factors. Thorough chewing, for example, ensures that digestive enzymes from the saliva are combined with food thus making it more digestible. Also drinking while eating can dilute digestive enzymes and impede digestion. Also taking foods or beverages at excessive temperatures can severely disrupt digestion. But perhaps the most important determining factor for the digestion of food is the method of its preparation. This is the fundamental teaching of the Raw Foods movement. Of course macrobiotics also address food preparation methods, but usually from a strictly energetic perspective. Macrobiotic teachings contend that certain preparation methods, baking for example, are better suited for winter because baking creates warmth and heaviness. And other methods, like steaming, create lighter, cooler energy better for spring and summer. But there is another important consideration regarding food preparation, something rarely discussed in macrobiotic circles. This is the impact of cooking food altogether, or conversely, the effects of eating raw, living food.

Cooked Food is Refined Food

Cooked food is perhaps the most common form of refined, processed food. Refined food, by definition, is something less than whole, something derivative. To make soymilk, for example, one must separate and remove the carbohydrate portion of the bean from the fat and protein portions. The result is a rather unbalanced, acid-forming, mucous-forming food. White rice is another highly processed food deriving from something whole. In this case, whole brown rice is stripped of its outer layers, resulting in a simple carbohydrate food lacking its original fiber, protein and mineral content. In most cases, refined food is nutritionally inferior to its whole food counterpart. While it is easy to understand the refinement of white rice and soymilk, it is perhaps less obvious to comprehend that all cooked food is also refined. The primary difference between cooked food and raw food is the loss of enzymes from the cooking process. The greatest irony and perhaps the greatest tragedy of macrobiotics is that, despite an unwavering insisting on whole, unrefined foods, it never considers the refinement of food caused by cooking.

Key to Longevity: Enzyme Preservation

Enzymes are living, biological entities that activate and carry out ALL biological processes in the body including digestion, detoxification, RNA/DNA functioning, and repairing and healing cells. This is one of the primary observations of Dr. Edward Howell, the father of food enzyme research. His other major observation regarding enzymes is that the capacity of an organism to make enzymes is exhaustible and therefore the health and longevity of an organism depends largely on how well it utilizes and replenishes its enzyme reserves. Enzymes are essential for the digestion of food and the assimilation of its nutrients, regardless of whether the food is raw or cooked. But because cooking destroys food enzymes, cooked food requires the pancreas to produce and distribute digestive enzymes. And since raw food contains its own enzymes, the consumption of raw foods conserves abundant supplies of energy. Dr. Howell has observed that the pancreas of modern man is so overworked and swollen that humans have the largest pancreas relative to body weight of any animal on earth. In proportion to body weight, the average human pancreas weighs double that of a cow. Without the burden of digesting cooked food, the enzyme supply of the body is free to roam about, repairing damaged cells, enhancing the immune system, and protecting the body from disease and toxicity. Dr. Howell believes that the tremendous strain of cooked foods on the body’s enzyme supply is one of the primary causes of ageing and premature death. Ageing occurs when the concentration of enzymes in the body decreases. So one important key to longevity is enzyme preservation. The best approach to enzyme preservation is to eat an abundance of raw, living foods because they are loaded with digestive and other enzymes. When we eat raw foods, we put less demands on the body to supply enzymes for digestion and thus preserve our own enzymes for other vital functions.

Key to Longevity: Eat Less, Live Longer

Eating a low-calorie diet is a well documented, scientifically proven method for improving health and vitality, avoiding disease, and extending life span. Whether we examine the diets of historical cultures enjoying remarkable longevity, the diets of certain individuals who achieved extraordinary life spans, the nutritional wisdom of centuries old traditions including Taoism and Ayurveda, or the modern scientific research, the health enhancing impact of a low-calorie diet is nearly indisputable. Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, for example, has studied cultures with the longest life span. and lowest rates of chronic disease. From the Hunzas of West Pakistan, to the Abkhasians of Russia, to the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, to the Vilcabamban Indians of Ecuador, he found one dietary similarity, namely a caloric intake less than half of the modern American diet. History also provides plenty examples of individuals who thrived upon low-calorie diets. From his longevity research, Dr. Edmond Bordeaux Szekely notes several examples including the Englishman Thomas Cairn, born in 1588, who lived 207 years thanks to his caloric restriction, and the French Countess Desmond Catherine who lived 145 years eating primarily fruit. If we turn to the dietary advice of Taoism, Ayurveda, Macrobiotics and other Eastern traditions, we find them all recommending eating only until the feeling of 70-80% fullness. And since the 1930’s, Western scientists have conducted scores of studies demonstrating the longevity effect of caloric restriction.

In the 1930’s, Dr. Clive McCay of Cornell University studied the relationship between life span. and caloric intake for rats. He observed that his calorie restricted rats, eating half the calories of his control group, lived twice as long and were notably more energetic and youthful. Later studies on rats at the Morris H. Ross Institute in the 1960’s demonstrated similar results, including extending life span. to 5 years, the equivalent of 180 years for humans. In the following decade, Roy Walford and Richard Weindruch, doctors at UCLA Medical Center, conducted studies highly relevant to modern society where most people who are attempting to reclaim their health through diet have already eaten extreme diets for 20, 30, 40 years or more. These doctors studied middle-aged mice and found that even with gradual caloric restriction, they could extend life spans up to 60%. Recent research from Dr. Stephen Spindler, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of California at Riverside, confirms and builds upon these results. Spindler, in studying over 11,000 mice, found that caloric restriction results in not only physiological changes, but also genetic changes. He found that 60% of genetic changes pertaining to ageing occur within the first few weeks of adopting a calorie-restricted diet. According to his research, to adopt a low calorie diet is to quickly produce a genetic profile for anti-ageing rather than to gradually prevent genetic change and deterioration over the life span of an animal. In further studies, Spindler also found that regardless of the age of the animal subjected to calorie restriction, the anti-ageing effect still applies. Dr. Gabriel Cousens summarizes the scientific research on the topic with three concise statements:

1. Calorie restriction has passed every test as a treatment for aging.
2. It has also been shown to postpone degenerative diseases of aging such as cancer, arthritis and atherosclerosis.
3. Calorie restriction is the only thing we know that is able to consistently slow aging in all varieties of animals, including the various mammalian species.

And although no such scientific studies have been conducted on humans, Cousens states, “there is not a single instance that I am aware of in the history of medicine that such powerful evidence for animals could not be used to achieve similar success in humans.”

Low Calorie Diet or Starvation Diet?

If you have never experienced the amazing effects of living foods, then the thought of cutting your calorie intake in half probably sounds more akin to a slow and miserable starvation. A closer examination of the differences between raw and cooked foods demonstrates that, yes, a primarily cooked food diet does require more calories for nourishment and satiation, while a primarily raw food diet delivers more nutrients and the feeling of satiation from significantly less calories. The process of cooking destroys more than just the enzyme content of food. Although results vary from study to study, most research shows a 60-70% loss of all assimilable vitamins and minerals from cooking. This means that cooking either destroys completely or alters these nutrients such that the body can no longer assimilate them. In our current era of protein misinformation, characterized by a seemingly ubiquitous fear of consuming insufficient amounts of protein, the results of studies from Germany’s highly regarded Max Planck Institute for Nutritional Research should sound like a blaring alarm. They found that cooking food generally results in a 50% loss of bioavailable protein! Whether you analyze these and similar studies or simply experiment on yourself with a primarily raw food diet, you will understand that when your calories come mostly from raw foods, calorie restriction is not experienced as starvation but rather as a natural, completely satisfying approach to health and longevity.

I can attest to this fully from my own experience with a 75-85% raw food diet starting in January, 2006. Within two weeks I found myself feeling fully nourished from portions amazingly smaller than that to which I was previously accustomed. In nearly four years of eating Macrobiotic-style food, I certainly noticed increased energy and overall vitality, but in those years I also experienced a frustratingly excessive appetite. I remember so many times eating a large meal of cooked grains, vegetables and beans and feeling like I had only eaten some appetizers! Also frustrating was my constant inclination to eat something before going to bed. As a result, my digestion was frequently stagnant and I failed to cure myself of a decade-long skin condition of frequent pimple outbreaks. Raw food changed me profoundly in ways I am still only beginning to understand! Within one or two months, I enjoyed remarkable skin improvements and for the first time in 15 years my complexion was no longer a problem for me! Also I noticed the skin all over my body becoming much softer, my eyes becoming brighter, my sleep deeper, my digestion stronger, and my overall energy and vitality becoming much higher. Gone was my desire to eat between meals and before bed. And my daily food intake is now half, or maybe even less, of my previous intake. And in this time I have been working 50-60 hours per week as a professional chef, so I am constantly around food, but the desire to eat arises only when I am truly hungry.

Living Foods, Past and Future

For millions of years before man began hunting animals for food, some 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, human beings (and all primates for that matter) lived exclusively on raw vegetarian foods, primarily fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. In consuming these foods with higher proportions of fiber to protein, humans inevitably developed longer digestive tracts. Throughout nature, the length of the digestive tract generally indicates the diet of the animal. Carnivores, in contrast to early humans, eat high proportions of protein to fiber and thus have relatively short digestive tracts. Humans however, with our 40-foot alimentary canals stretching from mouth to anus, have one of the longest digestive tracts relative to body weight in all of nature.

With the introduction of meat into the human diet, the discovery of fire for cooking, and more recently, the widespread consumption of highly processed, refined foods brimming with chemicals and other unnatural additives, humans have proven themselves remarkably adaptable. But in straying from the original evolutionary diet, many consequences have incurred, namely deteriorating health and disease. Even the consumption of grains, since about 6,000 or 7,000 years ago, is completely new from an evolutionary perspective. Interestingly, the Taoist literature of ancient China continually repeats the term bi-gu, meaning avoid grains.

Clearly human beings are omnivores, meaning we can survive on many foods including both plants and animals. But having such wide capabilities also causes much confusion and misunderstanding. Since our primitive ancestors ate differently from our ancestors of the past several thousand years, and since our relatives from the past several generations have eaten remarkably different from anyone in the history of man, many people today are wondering just how to eat for optimal nutrition. While this is certainly a personal question that no health guru, doctor or scientist can answer for you, you can gather ideas and information from others, and then experiment on yourself.

The modern history of raw, living foods diets stretches back thousands of years to the Pelegasian people of ancient Greece. Herodotus, known as the father of history, reports that these people ate primarily raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and enjoyed an average life span. of 200 years. The Essenes were another historical group eating and thriving on raw foods. Pythagoras, sometime between 500-600 B.C., studied with the Essenes on Mount Carmel and then took back to Greece a knowledge of living foods and fasting, a knowledge that was later passed on to Plato and Socrates.

In the early twentieth century, Dr. Max Gerson discovered the healing effects of raw foods and began using them with great success in his practice. For example, he successfully cured lupus during a time when the disease was thought incurable. Gerson saw firsthand how raw foods enhance the immune system, protect against disease, and support the vital regenerative force of the entire body. After much success in treating many patients, in 1928 he cured the wife of Albert Schweitzer of tuberculosis, and later Schweitzer himself of insulin-dependent diabetes. Gerson also cured cancer with live foods and in 1958 published the book Cancer Therapy-Results of 50 Cases. Largely because of his work and his influence, there are many live food and fasting clinics throughout Europe today. Dr. Edmond Szekely, cited above for his research on caloric restriction, also cured many people from various diseases. He ran a clinic in Mexico where from 1937 to 1970, he saw over 123,600 patients, 17% of whom where previously diagnosed as incurable. By using living foods as medicine, Szekely maintained a 90% success rate in curing his patients. The research on raw foods and the evidence of its healing powers continues to grow. For more information, please consult the books of Dr. Gabriel Cousens, perhaps the most serious research and educator on the subject today.
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