foods that help digestion . . . part 5

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:   What are foods that help digestion? Some raw foodists eat raw meat.   Raw meat and milk have enzymes, so aren’t they good foods?

Answer:   We’ll leave the Oxford/Cornell China Project out of this discussion, which shows that animal protein causes many diseases.   (The primary author of that pivotal study, Dr. Campbell, told me he did not study predigested or fermented milk products, such as kefir or yogurt.)   Raw milk has over 35 enzymes.   If you’re going to use dairy products or milk, raw certainly has those many advantages over pasteurized.   One very old study showed the highest morbidity (death) rate in newborns drinking pasteurized cow milk, a much improved rate for those drinking raw milk, and higher still for those who were fortunate to be breastfed by their mothers.

However, you run many bacterial risks with the way milk and meat will be raised, handled, and transported to you.   Meat in particular is troublesome, and I would not recommend eating it raw, even if you go to all the trouble of finding truly range-fed, organic chickens or beef.   The shockingly lax U.S. standards for poultry allow virtually anything to be legally given labels like “natural” and “range fed.”   We can obtain live enzymes through plant food, much more safely.

That said, I believe much evidence shows kefir or yogurt to be an excellent food with its natural probiotics.   If you can find a source you trust of raw milk, and can obtain kefir grains, you can use the raw milk and predigest the casein proteins with the action of the live kefir grains.   Raw goat milk is preferable to cow milk, with its smaller fat molecule that is not mucous forming like cow milk is.   (Vegans can make kefir with coconut liquid.)

I’m visiting my grampa in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, for the rest of the week and may be offline.   (He is in a home, and I am flying out with my aunt.)   After that I’ll talk about what enzymes supplements to take.   Happy Thanksgiving!

what enzymes do to make food digestible . . . part 3

We don’t think of our stomach as being two-chambered, but Howell goes to lengths to document all the experts and studies (including Gray’s Anatomy) saying that it does, in fact, have two distinct parts.   And in the upper stomach, or “food enzyme stomach,” gastric juices are not released, and peristalsis is not yet churning the food.   Most nutritionists don’t know this.   But that’s where the digestive enzymes inherent in raw foods do their work for about 30-60 minutes before the lower stomach opens and stomach acid must begin to work.   If the food is cooked, it sits there doing nothing, with any bacteria you swallowed with it getting a foothold.   Or, the predigestion that can take place there only with raw food makes the draw on the body’s supply much less when that food continues on through the digestive tract.

 

Think of a snake, for instance, who eats a rat.   That rat is so large that it can’t enter the snake’s stomach for some time to be broken down by stomach acids, until the natural enzymes that came inside the rat break it down.   The healthy ancient meat eaters of various cultures ate not just meat and dairy products, but fermented products–foods that are broken down into component parts by live food enzymes.   Some bizarre examples are Eskimos who eat the contents of a caribou’s stomach (and a number of other putrefied foods) as a “salad,” and Indians of the Amazon River basin, who chew boiled yucca, spit it into jars, and let it ferment with the amylase enzyme in saliva.   This food is their main nourishment, with the average person drinking a gallon a day!

 

Because of the terrible draw on our enzyme processes when we don’t supply exogenous food enzymes, all metabolic activity is affected.   Consequently we have dental cavities, baldness, thinning hair, and breaking nails, allergies, acne, headaches, constipation, cancer, energy problems, and so many more diseases.   Animals in the wild simply don’t have the hundreds (thousands?) of diseases that modern man does as a result of destroying the enzymes in our food.   Even the “healthy” among us tend to have many of the smaller ailments that no animal eating raw food in the wild has.   Dr. Howell says that the idea that “nature cures” we’re all familiar with can refer only to metabolic enzyme activity, because “there is no other mechanism in the body to cure anything.”

 

In 1943, Northwestern University established the Law of Adaptive Secretion of Digestive Enzymes through experiments on rats.   Dozens of other research teams later strengthened this law’s premise with similar findings.   Researchers studied the amount of digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas.   What researchers found was that an organism values its enzymes highly: it will make no more than are needed for the job.   So, if raw food containing exogenous enzymes are provided, the body has to manufacture very little, leaving its resources and energy well allocated to metabolic processes.

Many studies from the first half of the 1900’s prove that when an animal eats lots of starch, amylase is primarily produced.   A meat-eating animal is found to produce mostly protease.   A whale’s stomach has no amylase in it, because a whale eats no carbohydrate.   And people? When we bring in lots of exogenous enzymes in our food, our body produces very little, leaving those capacities free for other metabolic work.   Scientists missed knowing this, and Medicine and even Nutrition, as disciplines, have misunderstood or ignored these discoveries.   By and large, those charged with guiding us to good health have ignored the critical factor of helping us avoid enzyme burnout.

 

Just like people have enlarged livers or enlarged hearts when those organs are heavily taxed, the pancreas becomes enlarged when a body is fed lots of enzyme-free (cooked or processed) food.   Lab mice eating a cooked, enzyme-free food have a pancreas two to three times heavier than wild mice eating a raw-food natural enzyme diet.

what enzymes do to make food digestible . . . part 2

Howell outlines three types of enzymes we need: digestive enzymes, which digest food, metabolic enzymes, which run every function of our bodies, and food enzymes from raw foods, which start the digestive process.   So what enzymes are involved in digestion?

 

Amylase is the enzyme used to digest carbohydrate, and it is concentrated in saliva.   Protease is the enzyme that digests protein, found in concentration in the stomach.   Lipase digests fats and is manufactured by the pancreas (along with additional amounts of amylase and protease).

 

Exogenous food enzymes (from the outside–raw food or enzyme supplements) are critical because you need your endogenous enzyme activity (manufactured by the pancreas) to be allocated to metabolic processes.   When your body has to produce concentrated digestive enzymes because your food didn’t arrive with its own live enzymes, you’re guilty of forcing your precious enzyme activity to do the labor of digestion while also expecting it to metabolize well.   Results include all the disease effects of using up limited resources in the wrong places.

 

What most of us learned in biology classes when we were young isn’t totally accurate.   That is, we were taught that the 3,000 enzymes discovered (and likely many more undiscovered) are catalysts, the sparks that are needed for every action and reaction in the body.  They are, in fact, catalysts–used in chemical activities (in this case, in living beings).   That doesn’t tell the whole story, because that’s not ALL enzymes are.   They have more, biological, functions beyond the neutral, chemical catalyst role.   They contain proteins, and some contain vitamins.   Plus, they do wear out, and are routinely flushed out by the organs of elimination.   And we make a truly fatal mistake believing that we can waste them indiscriminately.

What enzymes do to make food digestible . . . part 1

I’m going to write about the work of Dr. Edward Howell, who spent 20 years writing Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept.   I confess to reading the 170-page abridgement rather than the 700-page original work with 700 sources.   I’m abridging that book and other sources I’ve read on enzymes so in reading a handful of short, daily blog entries, you’ll understand his work conceptually.   Besides the basic premises behind the research on food enzymes, I’ll tackle

n           whether enzymes can survive the acidic pH of the stomach

n           whether raw meat/dairy with all their enzymes are good food, and

n           whether you should take digestive enzymes

 

Howell’s book is one of the authorities on the subject, an early pioneer.   Other good reads are Enzymes: The Fountain of Life by Lopez, Williams, and Miehlki, and Enzyme and Enzyme Therapy by Anthony Cichoke.   Another enzyme enthusiast has briefly reviewed the major books here: http://www.enzymestuff.com/resourcesbooks.htm.   After this blog series, I’m going to summarize a handful of studies on the benefits of raw foods, whose foremost benefits are live enzymes.

 

You can’t read GSG.com or 12 Steps to Whole Foods for long without understanding that I believe LACK OF LIVE ENZYMES to be the biggest deficit in the U.S. (or Western) diet.   That is, we are eating so much dead food, which we are not designed to do, and it’s leading to all the degenerative diseases of our day–autoimmune, cancer, heart problems, and more.   Howell says that disease started when man discovered fire and began killing food enzymes with it.

 

The critical law of biology that Howell explains is that when we require our body to manufacture enzymes to simply digest our food, by eating food without its own enzymes, we are robbing more important needs for enzyme activity in metabolic processes.   That’s every single transaction that takes place in every organ.   And the result of stealing enzymes from where they belong is cell damage, burnout, aging . . . and early death.   This phenomena of burning out our natural resources manifests itself as disease.   And all this is ENTIRELY PREVENTABLE.

what changed, when we switched to whole foods . . . part 2 of 2

My publisher for The Green Smoothie Diet, to be released next spring, wants me to tell my “story” in the beginning of the book.   I’ve been compiling a list of what happened as my family transitioned to a diet of whole foods.   It was certainly a sea change, to go into my pantry and dump all the Tupperware labelled flour, sugar, cornmeal, spaghetti . . . and relabel those same containers with things I’d never heard of before: quinoa, spelt, Kamut, oat groats.   And to fill up the fridge with produce instead of milk.

It’s helpful to make a list like what follows so you see the gains you’ve made (12 Steppers, I nag about this all the time, right?!)   Please feel free to share YOUR list or any part of it!   I know you are experiencing profound gains, because you email me all the time about this.   Sharing here helps others.

  1. Kids’ asthma more or less disappeared, never again a steroid prescription or an emergency visit
  2. I lost pounds I’d been carrying for several years and achieved my ideal weight, easily and without dieting or deprivation
  3. I regained energy I’d lost in my 20’s
  4. My really scary migraines (right arm going numb, unable to see or talk for several hours) stopped
  5. I needed 2 hours less sleep at night and no longer had insomnia
  6. I didn’t crash into coma-like 90-minute naps in the afternoon anymore
  7. I bounced out of bed in the morning instead of needing 20 minutes to drag myself out
  8. Panic attacks / anxiety I’d had since childhood gone (only returns if I eat sugar)
  9. Digestive problems gone: all of us totally regular, all the time, no hard or foul-smelling stool, eliminations complete
  10. Nobody gets sick anymore, besides an occasional mild cold (no strep, bacterial infection, or flu in 10 years)
  11. All four kids grew strong and tall and dominate in competitive athletics
  12. Menstrual irregularity gone, PMS symptoms dramatically lessened (I didn’t get so cranky, didn’t have cramps any more, didn’t break out)
  13. I loved people more naturally and purely, and I took frustrations with people in stride, even when their behaviors are negative–instead of wanting them to just leave me alone!   My siblings and parents commented on the dramatic change in my personality.
  14. My nails lost their white spots, grew quickly, and became strong and flexible
  15. Cravings for bad foods lessened (not gone, unfortunately, but lessened)
  16. People in the family who had warts lost them (they just went away)
  17. Nearly all of us had eczema, and it went away for everyone
  18. Two of us had hayfever, which dramatically decreased, no longer requiring drugs
  19. I used to be a terrible runner and hated it; now I look forward to running 15-20 miles per week and sometimes run races
  20. My hypoglycemia (since childhood, causing me to be unable to fast for even one meal, and causing me to not dare even going for a walk without an apple in my pocket while pregnant) . . .  GONE.

natural laxatives . . . part 4 of 9 on ELIMINATION

It’s important that we keep the colon and lower intestine clean and powerfully peristaltic.   The answer isn’t to gag down some chemically reduced Metamucil stirred into water, while eating the Atkins Diet, like my friend Michelle does.   When I occasionally go out on a limb and express concern about her long-term Atkins lifestyle, I mention the importance of plant fiber, and she says, “Oh, I’m covered.   I drink Metamucil like crazy.”

Jensen says 95% of the millions of dollars spent annually on laxatives are only stimulating the bowel by irritating and harming it.   If you want to use a very effective natural laxative that will stimulate without causing diarrhea or irritate the colon, have the herb Cascara Sagrada on hand.

Laxatives do one or more of three things:

  1. increase the amount of liquid retained in the feces,
  2. act as a lubricant, or
  3. irritate, poison, and/or chemically stimulate muscle walls to cause abnormal contractions.

If you have diarrhea, it’s for one or more of these four reasons:

  1. excessive use of laxatives,
  2. stress,
  3. infection in the GI tract/colon, or
  4. toxins in the bowel.

These chemicals are absorbed through lymph and blood vessels and end up in various parts of the body.   They damage the normal ability of the bowel to eliminate on its own, tiring out muscles by keeping them constantly stimulated.

The way to heal the bowel is through diet that promotes excellent nerve and muscle tone, with clean, pink, highly peristaltic tissues. And what’s that diet? Lots of clean water, and lots of bulky greens, vegetables, and fruits, legumes and whole grains, nuts and seeds. The GreenSmoothieGirl diet prevents ulcerations, diverticulitis, spastic bowel, IBS, strictures, adhesions, and colitis, and gas/flatulence that are affecting increasing numbers of people in the Western world.

Additionally, you can do a very simple thing do get off laxatives and become more regular.   Wake up your digestive system every morning as you wake up, before you get out of bed.   Massage your ascending, transverse, and descending colon with your hands or a tennis ball.   Massage deeply starting in the lower  right of your pelvis, work straight upwards, then massage  right to left across your belly button, and straight down on the left [corrected from my original post].   Then get up and start your day with two glasses of water.   These are very effective natural laxatives.   And of course, most people know that prunes are  good natural laxatives, too.