RAW Versus COOKED.

People really like to debate on this topic.  In health circles it is an issue that comes up often.  Is RAW food healthier than COOKED food? 

It really is a big area of questioning, and unfortunately the answers are not clear.  We will take an approach of using modern science and facts and also ancient wisdom.  Here are some useful clues.

We know that some nutrition can be destroyed or at least damaged by cooking.  This especially includes things like vitamins and enzymes.  There is a large amount of research suggesting that enzymes are destroyed at around 120 degrees F.  We need these enzymes to aid in digestion and other valuable bodily functions.  We also do not want to lose our vitamins. 

On the other side, certain foods appear to be enhanced by cooking.  They become easier to stomach or digest.  Cooking can also make foods that are otherwise inedible something that humans can eat.  This is especially true with some forms of grains.  It can make eating meat more appealing.  It also can make some tougher vegetables like root crops (potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, etc) into something more comforting than the raw counterpart.  There is also much evidence that cooking actually ENHANCES some nutrition.

So in truth, it is a very confusing subject.  There is evidence on both sides of the debate.  If you take out cooking; you usually remove the eating of many grains, some beans, some meats, and some vegetables.  If you eat too much cooked food, you may wind up with enzyme and vitamin deficiencies, and chronic fatigue. 

Ok, so we know it is confusing, what can we do in reality to help develop healthy habits when it comes to eating raw and cooked foods? 

Much of the answers will come from personal intuition and experimentation.  We have different genetics, live in different areas, and vary in lifestyles.  The goal is to find the level of raw-food eating that promotes optimal health.  Here are some tips.

  • Favor RAW when there is no good reason not to.  This applies to most FRUITS, some vegetables, healthy oils like olive or coconut, and dairy.  Cooking will usually turn these into LESS VALUABLE products for human consumption.
  • Favor RAW if it doesn’t bother you.  There are some plant foods that have legitimate reasons NOT to be eaten raw.  This includes some nuts, seeds, legumes, rough vegetables etc.  Many of these have enzyme inhibitors that can mess up digestion.  Some people soak these to help with that.  Other vegetables may be too tough for sensitive digestive systems.  But again, if it doesn’t bother you; favor RAW.  This will keep the nutrition more intact. 
  • Favor COOKED if you feel grains are a healthy thing for you.  Many grains are inedible when RAW.  So many cultures have been living healthfully with grains we can’t just classify them as bad.  Obviously you want whole grains, in the natural form.
  • Meat is where it gets tricky.  We need to let go of cultural stigma here.  This appears to be a personal thing.  Some people cannot stomach raw meat.  However, we need to make sure this is not just a mental construct.  Cultures that eat things such as SUSHI may benefit in health from fresh, raw fish.  Others find cooked meat to be comforting and easier to digest.  An important thing is to balance cooked meat with raw foods.  Using cold pressed oils and raw veggies can do a lot of good.

AHHH, it is so confusing!  Alright, well we understand there is a lot to think about and debate here.  Basically, you want to upscale your level of RAW foods until it feels unhealthy.  Most people could probably use a higher level of RAW.  A small percentage need to allow COOKING to have it’s uses.

-JOSEPH

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