In 1978, an exhaustive report by U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs blamed the average American diet for a host of chronic degenerative diseases — including heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and stroke. Many were caused or aggravated in the gastro-intestinal tract, where food digested to run and repair the body. Vital to this process are enzymes that accelerate reactions in the body according to its needs. “Science cannot duplicate enzymes,” writes Emily Kane, MD, on the website Living and Raw Foods. “Only raw food has functional ‘live’ enzymes.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, some enzymes help digest food into simple substances that the body’s cells can use for energy. Other enzymes forge substances within the cells that are unavailable in the diet. While research continues into the potential health benefits of raw foods, Dr. Kane writes that the chain reaction generated by enzymes “helps to send fats where they are needed in our body instead of being stored.” Unlike cooked foods, Dr. Kane adds, “Digestive enzymes are readily available from most of the raw foods that are consumed.”
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According to I-Village Limited, cooking foods above 116 degrees F is thought to destroy food enzymes. It also is thought that cooking leaves foods harder to digest, allowing more fats, proteins and carbohydrates to clog the gastro-intestinal tract and arteries as well. Dr. Kane notes that by moving slower through the digestive tract than raw food, cooked food “tends to ferment and throws poisons back into the body.” Colon cancer, she adds, “is related, in various ways, to eating enzyme-deficient cooked food.”
Raw Food Enzymes
Enzymes make seeds sprout, and bean sprouts are among the best sources of enzymes. About 75 percent of a typical raw food diet replete with enzymes is comprised of fresh and dried vegetables and fruits — especially papaya, pineapple and the aspergillus plant. Also included are freshly-made fruit and vegetable juices, whole grains, beans, sprouts and sprouted seeds, nuts, legumes, young coconut milk, seaweed, and other organic and natural foods.
Raw Food Enzyme Benefits
Digestive enzymes break down larger molecules into simpler molecules, generating nutrients that can be readily absorbed and used by body cells. Benefits include improved digestion and skin quality, reduced risk of heart disease, enhanced immunities and increased energy levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, the fruits and vegetables so abundant in raw food diets boost antioxidants that may protect against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. According to Dr. Kane, all raw foods contain “exactly the right enzymes required to split every last molecule into the basic building blocks of metabolism: Amino acids from protein; glucose from complex carbohydrates; and essential fatty acids from unsaturated vegetable fats.”
According to a study published in the September 2001 edition of “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” raw foods showed a dramatic impact on rheumatic arthritis and related disorders. An earlier study published in the March 1998 “British Journal of Rheumatology” showed participants with subjective improvement in arthritis symptoms while consuming uncooked plant-based foods — and aggravation of symptoms upon a return to cooked food. According to the December 1995 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” another study showed raw-food dieters with higher blood levels of Vitamin C, Beta-carotene and Vitamin E than those consuming cooked omnivorous foods.