Among raw food gurus, the
destruction of enzymes is usually touted as some sort of trump card in
the argument for raw foods.
Unfortunately, banging the enzyme drum is a dead end that succeeds only
in making raw food diets look ridiculous in the eyes of researchers and
doctors who know better.
The basic thrust of the enzyme argument goes like this: enzymes are
needed to digest food; food contains enzymes; heating our food destroys
those enzymes; ergo, heating food impairs digestion and depletes our
Although uncooked food does contain enzymes that are destroyed by
cooking, those are not the the enzymes
we use to digest food, and few enzymes survive our
acid digestive mediums and reach the intestines intact.
Although some of the enzymes that make it through may be beneficial, we
produce all the enzymes we need to digest our food, and so we need
to neither supplement our enzymes with pills nor worry about the food
being able to digest itself with its own enzymes.
the emphasis of
nutritional authorities, society is pretty obsessed with eating
In fact, we're so concerned with protein that if you announce
you're giving up meat, going vegan, or becoming a raw foodist, one
of the first questions you'll likely field from concerned friends and
family is - 'but where will you get your protein?'
There is, of course, plenty of
protein to be had from vegetable
, but if you heat it, your body has a hard time
putting it to good use.
As you may know, protein is made up of amino acid chains. When cooked,
these amino acids fuse together, and the overall protein structure -a
kind of curling of the chains- is altered considerably.
The protein can no longer perform its function, and the end result is
usually disrupted cell activity or cell death.
A good example of this is an egg. When they come out of the shell, a
raw egg white is transparent and liquid. When you cook it, though, the
protein is denatured and the egg turns into an opaque, solid mass.
Protein, of course, is not useful in and of itself. It must be broken
down into its constituent amino acids to be used by the body. The
problem is that heated proteins have their amino acids fused together
into enzyme-resistant bonds the body cannot fully break down.
It instead partially breaks them down into polypeptides, which the body
must then expel as useless.
Raw Food Nutrition - Cooking and Disease
One of the byproducts of cooking grains and starches is acrylamide,
which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and is known to be
toxic to the nervous system (1). The highest doses of acrylamides are
found in cooked carbohydrates, especially french fries and bread.
Grilling, frying, and barbecuing releases transfats and cancer-causing
compounds in food, especially when it comes to animal protein (2).
Raw Food Nutrition - Following Up