Because I have struggled so much to adhere to a 100% low fat raw vegan diet, and I intuitively know it’s the lifestyle for me, I went straight to the source.
In September 2018, I worked at the FoodnSport health retreats in Sedro Wooley, Washington.
Dr. Rozalind Graham and Dr. Douglas Graham are important pioneers in the fruitarian and raw vegan movements who host these events every year.
Both of them inspired me to write this post.
I discuss the detriments of cooked food from a health and nutrition perspective.
Thus, I provide the groundwork for why I choose raw foods.
References & Limitations
In Dr. Doug Graham’s best-selling book, The 80/10/10 Diet, Dr. Graham explains the effects of heating macronutrients–carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. I review those effects in this article.
At the Sedro retreats, Dr. Rozalind Graham described the connection between cooked food and cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. I discuss those connections in Why Raw Food: Part 2.
In addition, I conducted my own research to back up their claims wherever possible.
Dr. Doug Graham’s book contains a list of references, but there are many sections in his book that derive from common sense and theory.
Moreover, there is a paucity of scientific research studying the effects of a raw food diet.
That’s no surprise.
We live in a cooked food world. Cooked food-eating scientists do not study a raw diet. They certainly aren’t going to be funded to do such research.
Many raw fooders are tree-hugging hippies who would never set foot in a research lab to participate in or run an experiment.
So there’s that too.
Sections Below Are Derived Mainly From The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham.
When we cook food, we create enzyme-resistant bonds between amino acids.
Recall that amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Amino acids are present in all whole foods, even fruits and veggies (hence vegans not dropping dead from protein deficiency).
The typical example given is a piece of hair. Place that piece of protein-rich hair over a flame and what happens? It fuses together. Can it be undone and return to the strand of hair it was second before? Nope.
Dietary enzymes only partially break down these enzyme-resistant bonds. The partially broken down proteins are known as polypeptides.
The body recognizes polypeptides as foreign substances, and attacks, contains, and eliminates them through the kidneys.
Then, polypeptides build up in the kidneys, eventually causing kidney stones and kidney failure.
These undigested proteins can also cause allergies, arthritis, leaky gut, and autoimmune diseases.
The important question is not, “Where do you get your protein?”
Rather, it is, “Do you heat your protein?”
When we heat carbohydrates, carbohydrate molecules fuse into a sticky goo.
The body only uses about 70% of the energy potential in cooked complex carbohydrates.
When heated, the sugar molecules in carbohydrate-based foods melt, and trigger a high glycemic response in the body.
After eating cooked carbs (especially refined products devoid of fiber), blood sugar levels spike.
Carbohydrates heated to a char or blackened are carcinogenic (potentially cancer-causing).
Heated fats quickly go rancid, and thus are carcinogenic.
The longer we expose heated fats to oxygen (e.g. sitting out on a plate or stored in a cupboard as in packaged foods, even technically raw vegan ones!), the greater their nutrient derangement.
Cooked fatty foods interfere with cellular respiration, contributing to cancer and heart disease.
Moreover, heating fats reduces their antioxidant value.
When fats are exposed to high heat via deep frying, broiling, roasting, and barbecuing, carcinogenic substances are produced. The carcinogens include: acrolein, hydrocarbons, nitrosamines, and benzopyrene.
Oils that are repeatedly reheated (as in deep-frying) become trans fatty acids, one of the most dangerous health hazards.
Heated saturated fats clog arteries and capillaries, reducing the delivery of oxygen throughout the body.
Tip: If you’re going to keep oil in your diet, do yourself a favor, and don’t heat it!
Cooking Removes Water From Food
Nature perfectly structures the water in fresh foods.
Unfortunately, most types of cooking remove the water from food.
Tip: If you are going to cook your food, use the water in which you boil, steam, or pressure cook your veggies. Some call this pot licker, and it’s delicious!
Dehydrating foods via cooking oxidizes nutrients, thereby degrading nutritional value.
Unfortunately, you can’t make up for the dehydration of foods by drinking extra plain, filtered water.
Even the purest filtered water does not compare to the structured water in a whole fresh apple, for example.
Cooking Destroys Important Micronutrients
Cooking food damages the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber contained in fresh food.
Cooking deranges fats, proteins, and carbs.
In addition, heating food removes one of the most important nutritional needs of the human body: water.
Some evidence suggests cooking damages micronutrients in plant foods.
This article is continued in Why Raw Food: Part 2. Check it out here!
This article is not meant to scare you, or tell you that what you are eating is bad.
I am simply sharing the perspective of raw food pioneers on why a healthy diet should be based on raw fruits and vegetables.
It doesn’t mean you need to switch to 100% raw food now…or ever!
The message is to eat more fresh, whole fruits and veggies.
Don’t worry so much if you cook a high percentage of the food you eat, especially if you are already vegan!
Focus on including more fresh, whole plant foods into your diet.
Change takes time!
Recipe In Photo Is…
Ginger Belief from the Raw Food Romance Meal Plan 2. It is the TASTIEST raw vegan meal I have ever had! Get the recipe here.
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