On April 20, 1862, Louis Pasteur came up with the process we now know as “Pasteurization”, which is boiling and cooling of a liquid.
This was something seen as a miracle since pasteurization is what killed bacteria such as lactobacillus, which was responsible for souring things like beer, wine and milk.
Come to think about it, pasteurization is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to our diet, here’s why:
Pasteurization kills all bacteria, both good and bad.
Our bodies rely heavily on good bacteria for digestion, nutrient uptake and to keep our immune system strong. Killing good bacteria in our food is the fastest way to kill our natural defense system and open up the door to bad bacteria and bugs to enter our body.
This is the biggest reason why you should go for more “Raw Food”.
If you think about it, we are the only species who cooks their food. The only ones to get gray hair, wrinkle up and get sick from food. When I say we, I’m referring to the western culture that follows a diet similar to that in the US, which is now being referred to as the Standard American Diet (SAD).
SAD is a diet filled with modern day starch, modern day gluten and modern day fats causing all kinds of health problems which most people are not willing to admit are caused by food.
To understand what’s wrong with cooking foods and when it’s actually a good idea to fire up the kettles we need to go back to our topic of enzymes and bacteria.
Why is a steak considered perfectly cooked when it’s nicely seared on the outside and raw juicy pink on the inside?
Well first off, steaks are better off not being fully cooked at all… back in the day when cows were on healthy diets and not much of a business, it was ok to eat partially raw meat… that of course was as long as cows ate grass grown from healthy seeds on healthy soil maintaining the food cycle in balance and healthy.
As the diet in cows changed, so did their population of bad bacteria and parasites.
If you are what you eat, and if your body serves as a host to living cells, bacteria and such, it’s only a matter of time before your body becomes filled with bad bacteria and parasites if you eat the wrong foods!
Cooking a steak back then was considered a bad idea because enzymes are temperature dependent. As cooking temperature rises, enzymes begin to denature and become useless. Most protein enzymes usually denature at around 130 °F give or take depending on the enzyme.
Cooking a steak by leaving the middle raw juicy pink was basically a compromise between killing bad bacteria, parasites and keeping some of the enzymes found in meat so that the body could digest the proteins in meat. Cooking also helped soften up the meat so it was more digestible.
Old school barbecue as my grandpa used to cook was done by digging a hole in the ground and letting the meat sun cook at temperatures below 130°F or crockpot temperatures. Much like a protein rest in brewing beer, this method of cooking got protein enzymes active and pre-digested the meat, which tenderized the meat and turned it into a fall off the bone kind of tenderness which was not only very tasty, but easy to digest. All was good back then.
Unfortunately cows are just like people… if they eat healthy, they will be the mouth in the food chain… if they eat unhealthy they become the food chain when bad bacteria and parasites grow inside of them and begin to eat them from the inside out…
The main reason why cooked foods are bad is because the enzymes we need to digest food get killed during the cooking process. In the case of oils and some proteins, their chemical structure changes so that it becomes toxic to us.
Enzymes are protein. Just like enzymes denature, other proteins denature as well. Their structure changes and becomes indigestible. If you ever see someone skimming foam off the top when making chicken soup or when brewing beer it’s because that’s useless protein which has no business going into your body.
Like protein, temperature also denatures many oils, which is why coconut oil is the best for cooking. The saturated fat in coconut oil doesn’t change by cooking at low to medium temperatures. Olive oil and other common vegetable oils, however, have unsaturated fats that do change in structure and become indigestible taking away all nutritional value.
Cooking is really not needed in most cases. It’s only hard to think of eating non-cooked food because we’ve grown accustomed as a culture to eat mainly cooked foods and have forgotten ancient foods which our ancestors knew were key to living a healthy life.
If you eat cooked or as some call it ‘dead’ food without enzymes, then you should at least begin to include some ‘live’ food with enzymes to compensate… simple.
It’s just like brewing beer. If you want to use a grain like corn that has no enzymes to brew beer, find a way to get the enzymes and brew with it. Brewers get creative and you can too with your diet.
Going from cooked foods to raw is not easy and should be a transition. Some people have been able to simply switch and be fine, though it should be done in stages. You should start out with about 25% raw food, then move on to 50% raw, on to 75% until you are 100% raw.
There are reasons why it should be done progressively, but before we get there let’s go over times when cooking food can make sense.
The Mean Stepmother
When I was a young pup growing up, my parents would tell me stories to teach me morals and values. One particular story was that of the mean stepmother.
She was a single mother who started over and met a single father. All started well, but she did not love her step children as much as her own children. Actually not at all, she was mean to them. Every time she would make chicken soup, she would serve her own children first and then serve the dregs and pretty much nothing but broth to her step children.
Little did she know that the most nutrient rich part of the chicken soup was the broth and the dregs.
Call it karma or whatever, but the stepchildren grew up healthier and stronger than her own children.
See boiling does actually help us do one thing… extract nutrients from certain foods.
Roots, tubers, and other starchy vegetables have a lot of nutrients, which are not easily digestible, but become easily digestible once they are cooked. The problem, however, is that boiling separates the nutrients from the food and the nutrients end up mixed in the water (just like boiling grains when brewing beer).
If you’ve ever heard of the GAPS diet, this is the principle behind some of their techniques. They have you make chicken soup and drink just the broth. Most people would believe that eating the solids would be best because they are more filling, but the broth is where all the nutrition is.
Cooking in this case may be beneficial, but not all foods benefit from cooking. Most actually don’t. Boiling, as we mentioned, changes the structure of proteins, enzymes, and oils. That’s where infusions come in.
Sometimes we want to extract oils, but we don’t want to change their structure. Many oils are volatile and will evaporate completely if boiled. This is why home brewers add hops when their brew is cooling down so that they can keep aroma oils from hops.
This basically leaves us with cooking foods in two categories, infusion and decoction.
Infusions are best to extract oils from plants and making teas. Decoction is best to extract minerals from roots, starchy vegetables and grains. Note that when doing a decoction, you don’t want the solids, but the actual broth or tea from the roots or grains… that’s where the nutrients are (just ask mean stepmother).
Other than making teas, there is really no reason to cook food. This obviously depends how far you want to go with this. Everyone is going to have something “they think” they’ll never stop eating.
For me it was pizza. For some it may be steak, bacon or something.
It is hard to make a transition and you may have to cook food for a while in order to fully transition into a raw food diet.