I recommend eating some raw or fermented probiotic food at every meal if you can. One of the major benefits of eating raw foods is that they have the enzymes still intact; they are destroyed at about 118 degrees Fahrenheit (which conveniently is the temperature at which human mouth tissue burns).
Enzymes break down food into nutrients so that they can be assimilated. Without proper digestive enzymes the entire digestive system fails because each successive step is cued off the previous one. If the proper enzymes are not in place in the stomach then the small intestine doesn’t get the right messages to be ready for the incoming food, and it won’t get absorbed properly. You can be eating the best food in the world but if you’re not absorbing the nutrients it doesn’t do you any good. The more enzymes you get from your food, the fewer your body had to manufacture itself, freeing up energy for other things.
This is why people who go on raw food diets feel so good. Their bodies are finally getting to take in nutrients, and they get much more energy and vitality than from the dead standard American diet. However, there are a couple reasons not to stay on the typical raw food diet for a long time. First, most people on raw diets are eating only fruits and vegetables. This leaves a huge protein and fat deficit. That can be solved by eating raw milk and meat products. Salami and prosciutto are some of the traditional cured raw meats.
Raw milk, and milk products like butter and yogurt, from grass-fed animals deserves a whole post of its own. It is an amazing super food that has almost everything necessary for complete nutrition—healthy fat, good protein, carbs, enzymes and lacto-bacteria. Many people are concerned about the safety of unpasteurized milk. The brilliant thing is that the milk comes with several components that not only kill pathogens, but also stimulate the immune system, build a healthy gut wall, prevent absorption of pathogens and toxins in the gut and ensures assimilation of all the nutrients. There are lots more details, visit the Campaign for Real Milk. This post covers many reasons for drinking raw milk. In addition to health, it’s better for the environment than factory farming, and connects us to our local community and economy.
It’s important to note, that not every food should be eaten raw. For instance, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale have ingredients which can cause goiters if eaten raw, but which are destroyed by cooking. Grains and seeds can be eaten raw but they must be properly prepared by soaking. This treatment releases enzyme inhibitors, which are also anti-nutritious in other ways, and frees up the enzymes to actually work.
Next month I’ll talk about traditionally fermented foods, which not only makes food more digestible, and in some cases frees up more enzymes, but also adds probiotic bacteria which are essential for human health, and almost completely absent from most modern diets.