The following is excerpted from Longevity Now: A Comprehensive Approach to Healthy Hormones, Detoxification, Super Immunity, Reversing Calcification, and Total Rejuvenation, published by North Atlantic Books.
The Benefits of Living Food
Let’s start by addressing an incorrect assumption about food. It is so basic that it literally has slipped by us all for thousands of years. It’s an assumption that was never really scientifically questioned until the twentieth century. And that is the assumption that cooked food is a normal and natural part of a daily balanced diet.
Cooking is something that was invented. It is not indigenous to the Planet Earth. Fire is indigenous, but cooking food is not. It is something we do that is different from every other creature on Earth. We humans and our domesticated animals are the only creatures on this planet who eat cooked foods. All animals living in the wild eat their food raw and, almost always, fresh. Cooked and processed foods are artificial. The cooking and processing of foods has become so common that most of us do not even question it.
The basis of human nourishment is obvious: it is raw plant foods. And Nature presents this to us in abundance. Raw plant foods are simple, easy to find, fun to eat, enjoyable, contain thousands of discovered and yet-to-be-discovered health-giving nutrients, and conform to the biological design of the human digestive system. The Sun is the beating heart of all life, and raw plant foods represent the purest form of transformed sun energy.
Eating a balanced mix of raw plants (and especially their juices) restores the body on a molecular level, builds strong cells, neutralizes oxidation damage (aging), raises alkalinity, and grounds the person in the natural world. Of course, the body resists shocking changes, so everyone should ease into the raw-food approach at an appropriate pace. Also, everyone should self-educate on this subject by visiting www.thebestdayever.com and other online sources, reading raw-food books, attending lectures, and talking to others so that the common mistakes are avoided.
I strongly recommend that you take action with your diet and make purer, cleaner choices by looking into a raw, organic, plant-based diet filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seaweeds, sprouts, flowers, fermented foods, herbs, superherbs, and superfoods (as described in my books The Sunfood Diet Success System and Eating for Beauty). Such a diet significantly reduces the toxic load, enhances the immune system, and helps achieve great strides toward clearing energy blockages, attaining wonderful health, and achieving vital longevity.
Here are the benefits of eating live food and avoiding cooked and processed foods.
Benefit #1: Living food is better for the environment.
When one eats a bag of corn chips, the wrapper goes into a landfill. When one eats an orange, the wrapper (peel) becomes compost. When one follows a raw-plant-food lifestyle, the amount of trash produced by that individual decreases to almost nothing. Test for yourself and see. Cooked food and pollution are directly related.
Benefit #2: Living food is easier on your immune system.
Swiss scientist Dr. Paul Kouchakoff discovered that if at least 50 percent of your meal consists of raw plants, then the body’s reaction to digestion is much easier on the immune system.1
Most people are activating their immune system with every single meal. This is because every single cooked meal stimulates the production of white blood cells. The body experiences this food as an attack on the immune system. Everything has to be “recoded” in order to be properly divided up and delivered throughout the body. When each meal is at least 50 percent raw, there is no such white blood cell response.
Most people don’t realize that the very act of cooking food can introduce toxins, as the food’s chemicals change during the heating process. In Instinctive Nutrition, Severen Schaeffer wrote:
“The number of derivatives appearing at the end [of the cooking process] is extremely impressive; we are constantly discovering new ones: volatile alcohols, cetones, aldehydes, esters, ethers, nonvolatile heterocycles. The overall result is a mixture of derivatives with different chemical and biological properties: aromatic, peroxydizing, antioxidizing, toxic, some of them possibly mutagenic or carcinogenic. As an indication, at the present time in a fried potato we have identified more than 50 derivatives, most of them derivatives of pyrozenes and thiazole, but we know that in all, there are still 400 yet to be identified.”
Benefit #3: Living food is rich in enzymes.
More than twenty years of experience have shown me that enzyme-rich foods (raw foods) and enzyme supplements (especially taken in large doses) do accelerate healing. In spite of controversies on the subject usually generated by pessimists, my experience compels me to inform you of the healing, youthening power of raw foods and enzymes.
Research shows that once food is cooked between temperatures ranging from 120 to 170°F, valuable nutrients and enzymes are destroyed. Enzymes have many important functions in the body. They break down food, assist the immune system, carry out functions of the metabolism, and help the body detoxify harmful substances. Enzymes help the body unlock nutrients. Enzymes are, in fact, vital to all life processes.
There are two classes of enzymes: metabolic and digestive. Metabolic enzymes operate in all the cells, tissues, and organs and are an essential part of every biological activity. Digestive enzymes are produced by and appear in the alimentary organs—that includes your stomach, pancreas, salivary glands, and to some degree your intestines. They help to digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Within these classes of enzymes are three main sub-categories. Amylases are enzymes that digest carbohydrates. Lipases are enzymes that digest fats. And proteases are enzymes that digest proteins.
Enzymes are small proteins. Some nutritionists mistakenly believe that enzymes are destroyed by stomach acid. However, protein cannot be broken down by hydrochloric acid in the stomach; therefore enzymes, especially plant enzymes, survive in our intestines. There they can be absorbed into our tissue system and can help us break down cooked-food particles, incompletely digested raw-food particles, as well as toxins that are caught up in our metabolism.
Enzymes are also present in their proper proportions in whole raw plant foods. These enzymes are there to assist the digestion of food. Many food enzymes are destroyed at 150°F (66°C). The dehydration of food below 104°F (40°C) keeps nearly all enzymes intact. Enzymes are heat-sensitive and therefore their loss is likely the primary reason cooked food affects us very differently from raw food. After a great deal of research, loss of enzymes was identified by Dr. Edward Howell (author of Food Enzymes for Health and Longevity and Enzyme Nutrition) as being the main reason humans age prematurely. Food-enzyme shortages sooner or later result in physical degeneration.
All our food comes naturally packed with enzymes. As long as that food is raw, natural, and intact, the enzymes themselves will help to predigest the food. For example, an apple comes complete with all the enzymes to help digest its apple self in our bodies. If we cook that apple, we remove those enzymes, and we end up having to use our own enzymes to do the job. When the digestive enzymes present in the body are insufficient, the body draws upon its reserves—the metabolic enzymes from the major and minor organs and glands—which weakens one’s overall vitality. It takes ten metabolic enzymes to form one digestive enzyme!
To understand this more clearly, let’s say we were on a diet of all processed food, everything is cooked, with no enzymes in anything. Our body then has to use digestive enzymes that are secreted by the pancreas, the salivary glands, and the liver. Once those digestive enzymes are depleted, the body starts drawing upon and sucking energy from the metabolic enzymes that are keeping all our cells healthy and happy. Because the draw on the metabolic enzymes is so high, we can see a cascading reaction later in life when someone goes into such an enzyme depletion that major vitality is sucked out, not in a year’s time but literally in months.
One of the most enzymatically active locations that exists in Nature is to be found in the mouth of a child eating cooked food. If cooked food is eaten, the body attempts to adapt by increasing the enzyme content of the saliva in order to begin breaking down cooked food as quickly as possible. This adaptation will last as long as the body has enzyme reserves. As we age our reserves decrease; later in life they decrease significantly because we have cashed out our enzyme bank account.
The level of amylase in human saliva is approximately thirty times more abundant in the average twenty-five-year-old than the average eighty-one-year-old.2 In contrast, whales and dolphins, who live in the perfectly balanced aquatic environment and eat only raw foods (like the rest of the two million species of this planet) have no difference in cell enzyme composition in young and old.3
Without the proper enzymes to break down our food, we begin to accumulate undigested materials in our system. This leads to weight gain, inflammation, stagnation, digestive distress, and fatigue. According to Dr. Bernard Jensen, the enzymes found in raw foods are codes that tell the food where to go in our bodies. For example, the enzyme erepsin that is found in cucumbers encodes for breaking down excessive protein in the kidneys.4 Therefore cucumbers are excellent for kidney health.
Many herbs also work along enzymatic principles; thus, it is important that the herbs we consume are dried properly so that the enzymes remain intact. When we consume the powder of those dried herbs, we get a tremendous blast of enzymes in the form of food, thereby decreasing the amount of digestive enzymes we need, which decreases our draw upon metabolic enzymes. The next thing we know, we start building up our enzyme bank account—which is Dr. Howell’s entire scientific point.
Every time we eat cooked food the body has to recode the food, or reidentify it, because the enzymes are missing. To recall the example about erepsin (the enzyme in cucumbers): that enzyme is like a code, and when the body sees that code it says, “I need to deliver this food to the kidneys!” If that code is missing because the food has been cooked, the body says, “Okay, we have some work to do to figure this out,” and a new code has to be put on the food. What ends up happening is that the body has to send all sorts of signals and rearrange lots of different pieces. This is where mistakes can happen over time because food often gets sent to the wrong places. We can actually become malnourished because of this. This is critical, especially later on in life, because our primordial vitality or jing decreases, and cooked food actually drains us of increasingly more vital energy.
Raw food is a great source of enzymes. Whenever you eat raw food you are getting enzymes 100 percent directly from your food; but enzymes are also found in every cell of the human body. This is an important point. All cells have the potential to act as highly charged batteries, and each cell contains at least four thousand different enzymes. Most of us have not activated each of these four thousand enzymes within each cell because we do not have enough of the major and trace minerals in our diet. Minerals, when obtained through their whole-food complexes, especially their whole raw-food complexes, activate our cellular metabolic enzyme system. Trace elements and minerals are essential for the proper release and functioning of enzymes.
The goal is to increase the minerals and nutrition within each cell so as to activate every enzyme while simultaneously building up one’s enzyme bank account with the visualized goal of increasing the electromagnetic charge in each cell, causing all cells to resonate in harmony. At the cellular level, this is truly the picture of perfect health.
Cooking or heating shifts the molecular structure of food to both slight and great degrees. These altered molecules are not the ideal building blocks for our tissues; however, since our body is always doing the best it can, if given nothing else it will incorporate these altered or cooked molecules into our bodily structure. Cooked and processed foods have an accumulative effect on our body because one’s inherent enzyme bank account decreases over time in the effort to digest these enzyme-deficient foods. Once the body’s enzyme bank account, or enzyme potential, is diminished beyond a certain threshold (usually having to do with the inability of the glands to produce the enzymes trypsin and chymotrypsin), the body wears out and inner vitality is lost.
Because we know that heating raw food destroys enzymes, this question often comes up: does freezing food destroy enzymes too? Here is what we found out. Freezing food destroys at least 30 percent, and up to 66 percent of enzymes. So, it is not a complete loss; enzymes remain to some degree. For example, frozen berries are still considered raw—they still have that raw “high” about them. When you eat frozen berries you don’t feel your energy sag or notice any kind of depletion in the food; however, if you cook those blueberries, things change—the enzymes are lost—and they suddenly take on a slight “downer” vibe.
We know that enzymes are particularly beneficial for our health if they come from raw unfrozen plants (as opposed to animal sources or the body’s endogenous enzyme stores). This is because plant enzymes initiate the most health-giving activity throughout all the various pH (acid and alkaline) conditions in the body. When we eat food we have an environment within our mouth of either an acidic pH or an alkaline pH. As the food goes down into our stomach we have an acidic pH, and as it continues into our intestine we have both acidic and alkaline levels of pH. The most desirable enzymes are those that survive all the way through our system, through both acid and alkaline pH.
When you take cabbage, put it in a crockpot, add acidophilus to it, and make raw sauerkraut, you will discover that there is a very high enzymatic activity present in the final product. This is because the good bacteria actually begins breaking down (digesting) the cabbage, and this process secretes enzymes. This is why fermented foods like sauerkraut are a very important part of a healing diet. They are rich in friendly bacteria and they supply tremendous amounts of enzymes directly into one’s digestive system.
Going back to Dr. Howell’s research, he presents a wealth of evidence in his books Enzyme Nutrition and Food Enzymes for Health and Longevity, demonstrating that all living creatures have a fixed enzyme bank account. He believed that we have a certain amount of enzymes, and if we wipe them out early, our life is going to end early. In his words, “Humans eating an enzyme-less diet use up a tremendous amount of their enzyme potential and lavish secretions of the pancreas and other digestive organs. The result is a shortened life span of sixty-five years or less as compared to 100 or more years. Also resulting will be illness and a lowered resistance to stresses of all types both physiological and environmental.”
As opposed to Dr. Howell’s view, my experience and research supports the view that by eating raw and living foods, and taking the right superfoods, superherbs, and supplements, you can actually rebuild your enzyme bank account and get your vitality back. In my opinion, nothing is fixed in this universe, and you can always get more out if you put in the intention, time, energy, and discipline.
Dr. Howell uncovered connections between enzyme deficiencies in the diet, eating cooked food, and a decrease in brain size and weight. Proper nutrition is the basis of mental power. The nutriment of the brain cells is derived from the blood corpuscles being perpetually suctioned in to nourish the brain cells by the delivery of rarified gases from the lungs. If the food stream is devoid of enzymes and impure, then the heart regulator valves become weak, the stomach disordered, the liver contaminated, the lungs congested, and the brain starved, drugged, and poisoned. When a body is in this condition, all the thoughts that germinate therein will be inappropriate to solve the problems that we are facing in our world today.
Benefit #4: Living food is great for your “right brain.”
There is a known connection between eating cooked food and a change in brain chemistry. This was recently confirmed by my friend Tony Wright, who broke the world record for staying awake (nearly twelve days straight). He has been a raw and living foods eater for more than fifteen years, and he discovered that eating cooked food not only changes brain size but also causes us to suffer from left-brain dominance (the left brain is the logical, analytical side of our brain). In comparison, the right brain is action-oriented and imaginative, the part that has fun and wants to go out and do new things. The right brain has been shown to not need sleep—only the left brain requires sleep, hence Tony Wright’s ability to stay awake by avoiding left-brain activities. (You can read about Tony’s philosophy about the brain in his book Left in the Dark.) It has been shown that living foods and enzyme-rich foods help us access our right brain and activate those energy centers.
This might actually be one of the greatest discoveries in human history, because it indicates why the world is in the shape it is right now. Because the majority of the population is left-brained, we are not thinking in an imaginative way and have become too linear, too much in the box, and are therefore not really capable of solving problems at a level above the consciousness that created them. We have to get out of that place where we created the problem, which is all the cooked food we ate throughout all the history of civilization, and start getting back to the creative side of our brain by eating food that is rich in enzymes—raw and living foods.
1. Paul Kouchakoff, MD, “The Influence of Food Cooking on the Blood Formula of Man,” Proceedings: First International Congress of Microbiology, Paris 1930. Translation by Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Available in pdf form at www.igien-enaturale.it/Post-Prandial Leucocytosis.pdf.
2. Victor Kulvinskas, “Don’t Dine without Enzymes,” a booklet available digitally at http://loveinservice.tripod.com/viktoraskulvinskas/id2.html.
3. Maynard Murray, MD, Sea Energy Agriculture (Austin, TX: Acres USA, 2003).
4. Bernard Jensen, Dr. Jensen’s Juicing Therapy: Nature’s Way to Better Health and a Longer Life (Lincolnwood, IL: Keats Publishing, 200).
5. Paul Kouchakoff, MD, “The Influence of Food Cooking on the Blood Formula of Man,” Proceedings: First International Congress of Microbiology, Paris 1930. Translation by Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Available in pdf form at www.igien-enaturale.it/Post-Prandial Leucocytosis.pdf.
© 2013 by David Wolfe. Reprinted by permission of publisher.
Teaser image by Kari Sullivan, courtesy of Creative Commons license.