Nutrition - Raw Food Versus Cooked Food
( Originally Published 1954 )
People who change their old habits of eating sometimes go over to new ones that are extreme and even detrimental.
When do individuals change their dietary habits? Some make a radical change in their food intake in circumstances of ill health; some are motivated by idealism. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"—that is, a little knowledge is at times worse than none. This statement of wisdom applies to many people who adopt the exclusive raw food dietary.
Raw food is wonderful because it is rich in the vitamins and minerals which the healthy or sick body always needs for its immediate well-being and for bodily storage (Sherman). The human digestive tract is not always, or not in every individual, capable of handling an exclusive raw dietary, because it is just not as strong as the larger stomach of a cow or a horse.
The human digestive system resembles that of the ape. The diet of the ape is closer to the ideal than the diet of modern man. Dr. Kellog, in his excellent and scholarly work, The New Dietetics, discusses this important issue as follows: "Man, like the chimpanzee or the orang-outang, has a simple digestive machinery adapted to the digestion of fruits, nuts, grains, eggs, and milk. It is a feeble stomach, like the stomach of primates, the aristocrats of the animal kingdom, adapted to the digestion of the choicest of nature's tidbits."
Dr. Kellogg further makes the point that man does gastronomic stunts from which the hardiest beast of the forest would recoil. The modern home or public eating place concocts the most unwholesome food mixtures. The basic food values of these food mixtures are destroyed in their process of preparation. The vitamins and minerals are destroyed by cooking. Foods are made indigestible by adding fat to boil, fry or roast, and made further indigestible and otherwise injurious by the addition of salt, pepper, and other spices and condiments.
Modern dinnerplates are heaped with devitalizing, health-destroying eatables. Ordinary cookery furnishes gas-forming soups, acid-forming entrees, ulcer-forming sugar-sweetened desserts.
A health-building dietary must exclude ordinary table sugar (sucrose) or even brown sugar, because it has been demonstrated that sugar produces inflammation of the mucous membranes of the stomach, intestines, nose and throat, and of the deeper structures-the joints, the nerves, the heart, the arteries. When sugar is used in excess-or when sugar is used in such per-capita proportions as the American people use it (two pounds per person per week)-it must be a contributing basic cause of the acute and chronic diseases that are characterized by inflammation.
Here is an important tip to doctors as well as laymen: Stop buying sugar as food. Let the industrial chemists make use of this product, as they are already doing, for the manufacture of wonderful synthetic products such as the clothes we wear, the toothbrushes we use, etc.
To come back to the important subject under discussion—that of raw food versus cooked food- Starchy foods are easier to digest when cooked or baked or toasted- The chemical term hydrolysis means the addition of water to the starch, a kind of predigestion of starch. In other words, by cooking cereals, such as Wheatena, rice, oatmeal or any other grain food, in water, the heat and the water soften the starch granules, thereby making them more easily available to the digestive machinery of the human economy.
Starch, like any other food, should be cooked without salt or butter. The salt would harden the cellular structure of the grain and would therefore make it difficult to digest. This is one objection to adding salt during the cooking of any foods. Another objection to salt is that the body treats it as an unwanted product- The kidneys must excrete it. If a person suffers from kidney deficiency, salt remains with-in the blood and tissues and tends to contribute to sclerosis or hardening of the arteries, etc.
A baked potato is easier to digest than a raw potato, or even than a boiled potato, because the potato contains more water than do the grain foods. It therefore becomes ideally cooked by the higher temperature of baking. The heat of the baking temperature converts the raw potato starch plus its water content (about 80 per cent) into an easily digestible food.
Those people who choose to live on a raw food diet should include baked potato and some form of cooked grain such as brown rice, buck-wheat, millet, wholewheat or oatmeal, in order not to starve their bodies of the B vitamins. The B vitamins are found in these grain foods. These are the vitamins that are not destroyed by cooking, aging or staleness. Vitamins A, C and D, and minerals besides, are found in the raw fruits and raw vegetables. It is for this reason that raw foods should be consumed in high daily rations.
A phenomenon recognized as "hidden hunger" is sometimes mentioned by nutrition authorities- Those individuals who suffer from "hidden hunger" crave sweets and stimulants. What they really lack are the foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Modern men and women do not know as much about their food needs as they know about other personal needs. To form scientifically correct habits in the modern adult requires a kind of re-education from wrong to right. It is necessary to remove him for a time from the "temptation" to want coffee, tea, cake, or injurious entrees that make it impossible to attain good health.
Raw vegetable salads and fresh raw fruits are considered as "extras" which unenlightened (though educated) people of our time omit from their daily food intake. (Frozen fruits, frozen fruit juices, and frozen vegetables are not as heathful as the fresh market raw fruits and vegetables.) I believe that the adult person requires between 60 to 75 per cent of raw food in the daily bill of fare.
Breakfast may be composed entirely of raw fruits. An energetic, healthy person will not feel weak on arising in the morning, requiring bread, eggs and other conventional breakfast foods. The noon meal may be composed of one raw food and one cooked dish (see menus for breakfast and luncheon combinations). Dinners can be banquet meals every day of the week without requiring much processing or preparation.
The modern housewife, restaurant cook, institutional cook or caterer put together the most unwholesome mixtures. In the future, food preparation will be based on the New Knowledge of Nutrition. Foods will be selected and served in attractive and wholesome dishes that will really enhance the health and well-being of the race. Eating properly prepared and combined foods will eliminate one of the causes of widely prevalent diseases of the stomach and intestines.
I believe that it is good for the body to use a certain percentage of cooked foods. The legumes (the beans, peas, and lentils) are excel-lent sources of protein, starch, minerals and vitamins that are avail-able for human nutrition only after they are properly cooked or baked. The human stomach and intestines cannot digest these products in their raw state as can quadruped animals, such as the horse and the cow.
The healthy human stomach can digest one variety of legume in the raw state—peanuts. Peanuts are easier to digest raw than roasted because in the process of roasting the fat content is decomposed, making this excellent food difficult to digest. For the same reason, other kinds of nuts should be eaten in their fresh raw state, rather than roasted or salted.
Nuts combine ideally with raw fruit and raw salads. The digestion of nuts require a good, healthy stomach and an abundance of nerve energy. Those who are rather delicate physically, or even emotionally, must limit their food intake to the lighter varieties.
The foods that are most easily digested are cooked cereals, baked potatoes and fresh raw honey-all for the body's immediate energy needs. Fats, such as butter, cream, and oil, are also comparatively easy to digest when used uncooked and unfried, in small amounts, as seasoning only.
People who are very sturdy may live on a raw diet, even excluding animal products such as butterfat, eggs and milk. A choice of ideal raw foods to make up a health-promoting dietary would have to include the aligator pear or avocado as a source of fat and protein; nuts can be used for the same bodily needs. Fresh raw fruits and vegetables taken in juice form, and some in salad form, will avoid a bulging abdomen. The human digestive tract cannot handle as much roughage as some people consume in large platefuls of raw salad courses.
In summary, a raw food diet can be followed by those who are strong physically and have a robust nervous system. Such people can nourish their bodies to great advantage without any cooked and baked foods. The majority, however, must use a certain amount of cooked food. One meal a day, or even two, should contain one or two adequately chosen and prepared cooked food courses.