Excerpted from the book "Your Right to Be Beautiful: How to Halt the Train of Aging and Meet the Most Beautiful You" by Tonya Zavasta.
It seems pathetic we aspire to create a new product as "natural" as possible but destroy the very natural ingredients in the process. New packaged products appear on the market every day. Each time you try one of these new products, you are foregoing the old-fashioned fruits, vegetables, and seeds. As a result, you will not get enough nutrients from your meal.
Researchers are excited whenever they discover new benefits in produce of particular colors. The bright vibrant colors of fresh produce, such as the deep green of leafy vegetables, the lilac of blueberries, or the red of strawberries are a sign that this produce is packed with antioxidants, called polyphenols.
The brighter the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more nutrient combatants it has to prevent degenerative diseases. Now picture what happens to the original rainbow of colors after cooking. The colors fade like old laundry. How can it not be more obvious to us: by tampering with natural products, we are losing something essential for our health and beauty.
There is a scarcity of nourishment, but not of meals. In this country, we face unprecedented temptations. America is preoccupied with eating like no other country in the world. By giving in to the skillful seductions of the advertisers to try "new food," our bodies are starving while we constantly chew and swallow. Ironically, the variety and affordability of foodstuffs leads us to become overfed and at the same time undernourished. The best way to resist these temptations is to develop an attitude towards cooked food in general and adopt the raw food lifestyle.
Mark Twain wrote: "To eat is human, to digest divine." We need enzymes to digest food. Our living body also needs enzymes for every other operation and chemical reaction to take place. Enzymes constitute the difference between life and death. Only living organisms can produce enzymes, but their capacity to make enzymes is limited and exhaustible.
Our body hosts two types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, which run our bodies, and digestive enzymes, which participate in digesting our food. Only raw foods follow nature's design and come with their own food enzymes to aid digestion. They are responsible for the release of nutrients out of the foods we eat.
Dr. Edward Howell writes in his remarkable book Enzyme Nutrition that heat over 118° F kills enzymes. If food is cooked, it does not bring enzymes, and the body is forced to use up its own digestive enzymes.
Enzymes are biochemical catalysts for metabolic reactions to take place. While performing their duties, they are consumed, altered, or destroyed. The body must continually manufacture them. The liver is our primary manufacturer of enzymes, and when it has to work overtime it becomes enlarged. The same happens to the pancreas when it is forced to process extra enzymes. Dr. Edward Howell noticed that the size and weight of the pancreas increases on a diet lacking adequate enzymes.
Only living organisms, be it a human being, an animal, or a plant, possess enzymes. No one would ever argue that a dead person is the same as a living one just because the chemical composition of the body is the same. And yet we never think twice about allegations that cooked food is as good as raw or better. The plant world possesses integrity and the "life factor." From an enzymatic approach, a picked up fruit or a cut off green is still alive, even though its own source of nourishment has been cut off. Seeds and nuts will reproduce if put into the soil, fruits will continue to ripen even after they have been picked from the tree, a vegetable--be it a carrot, onion, or potato--when put into the ground will sprout.
Enzymes are combinations of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in an active molecular form. Chemists are able to synthesize some of these nutrients, but they have not been able to "breath life" into them. The "life factor" has never been and probably never will be re-created.
Enzymes are very particular. They cannot tolerate heat, microwave irradiation, or pasteurization. Cooking always removes or spoils the goodness of food. Cooked food points down to the grave, because it is dead. Only humans apply heat to what they eat. Presently, humans apply heat to most of their food prior to consumption. Humans on average as a race, die at or below half their potential life span of chronic illness that is largely diet and lifestyle related. "You won't be surprised that diseases are innumerable--count the cooks." -- Seneca (4 BC-AD 65), Epistles
Cooking is the most profound abuse of food. Cookbooks are full of recipes on how to smother the life out of a meal. The more creative they are in doing so, the more honor we attribute to the cooks. The concept of great cuisine is based on the opinion that plain fruits or vegetables are not appealing to the eye or satisfying to our taste.
Natural food is seen as an enemy. The less the dish reminds one of the original ingredients, the prouder the cooks become. Raw produce is treated not like the divine food but as something to be mutilated and manipulated. It is even called "from scratch," as if it is a second-class product needing an upgrade. And yet, man is not capable of producing even a simple meal without using the basic ingredients he did not make. The talent of the cook should be applied elsewhere, because the basic fruits and vegetables he begins with are nutritionally superior to the most sophisticated creations he ends up with.
Traditional cooking alters the taste buds into being incapable of appreciating the flavor and taste of raw fruits and vegetables. We become more concerned with pleasing our perverted palate and satisfying our coarse sensation than with providing nourishment to our body.
By cooking our food, we are killing nutrients that keep us alive and healthy. After we grill or roast, bake or boil, sauté or stew, we produce some decadent matter with no nutritional value and only by using salt or sugar abundantly can we get it to pass our taste buds. All cooks rely on salt, sugar, and spices to have their creations appreciated. Cooking without spices smells awful. Not surprisingly, spices were originally used to disguise decaying and decomposing food.
How delicious is a fresh apple! But we put it in an oven and it becomes a squashy, mushy, shriveled mass requiring a load of sugar so one can eat it. In cooking, the original colors of fruits and vegetables are dulled and the initial variety of flavors is altered. Make no mistake, the nutritional value is gone as well.
It is ironic, but not incidental, that fresh produce is used for decoration of this bland and dead food. We decorate this lifeless, tasteless, and shapeless mess with fresh green leaves and bright colored veggies to deceive our eyes. We add spices to disguise the smell. We load it with sugar and salt to cheat our taste buds.
Nowadays, health-conscious people know processed food is devoid of nutrients and try their best to avoid it. But somehow, home cooking escapes the stigma of "processed." Cooking is processing! And the difference between home cooking and manufactured foodstuffs is the same difference as between "dead" and "very dead." We hear everywhere the less food is processed, the better. Why process it at all?
Most Americans do not eat the 5-9 recommended servings of fruit and vegetables each and every day. And if you haven't heard yet…in January 2005 these government recommended allotments have been increased to 9-13 serving. Between the lines government is telling us in order to be healthy we need to go on the raw food diet. Since if you eat 13 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables you will not need or want anything else.
By Tonya Zavasta
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Biography: Tonya Zavasta is the raw food lifestyle expert, the author of the books Beautiful On Raw: UnCooked Creations and Your Right to Be Beautiful: How to Halt the Train of Aging and Meet the Most Beautiful You, named a 2004 Health Book of the Year Award finalist by ForeWord Magazine
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