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.

defending that my diet’s not all raw

I read the raw foodists all the time (Patenaude, Wolfe, Boutenko, and lots more).   I think their diet is fantastic.   Sometimes I go all raw, for a few days, weeks, or even months.   I wouldn’t criticize anybody for a minute who wants to do it permanently, as some of my friends do–they all enjoy excellent health.

 

So why don’t I eat 100% raw and promote it on my site?   I thought I’d lay out my defense of NOT being all raw.

 

  1. Yes, when man discovered fire and begin to cook his food, he altered it for the worse, killing the life force in the food.  But I think we’ve adapted biologically to thousands of years of eating whole, cooked plant foods, eaten as part of a diet containing lots of raw plant food.   I think 60-80 percent is usually enough to provide outstanding disease prevention and an ideal weight.   EVERY meal and snack should contain raw plant food.   What we’re NOT adapted to is cooked, REFINED foods or a diet heavy in cooked food.    
  2. I think that grains and legumes are good food.   They’ve been used for thousands of years by most of the populations of the world.   They provide good energy in the form of both carbs and protein, and the perfect amount of fat (which is to say, not very much).   Hundreds of studies say they prevent disease.
  3. Most people can’t afford to eat 100% raw.   Boutenko said several years ago that her family of 4 spends $1350 monthly ($45/day).   Because I feed my family highly inexpensive whole foods in the form of legumes and grains, I spend $800/mo. to feed 50% more people than Boutenko does.   In summary, my program is very do-able financially.
  4. It’s very hard to feed kids, especially teenagers, an all-raw diet.   Without grains and legumes to give them higher calories and faster food to prepare, moms can really burn out and teenagers get surly and . . . downright hungry.   I have tried it.   It’s really hard (nigh unto impossible) to feed a house full of competitive athletes and teenagers all raw.  
  5. On the other hand, it’s not very hard to eat 60-80% raw, at least after completing a learning curve (my 12 Steps to Whole Foods program is the learning curve, as I experienced it, flattened out for my readers to skip all the rabbit holes I chased down that were a waste of time).   It is, however, nearly a quantum leap, I’ve found, to go from 80% to 100%.   It’s like the effort differential between getting a B+/A- in college, and getting an A.   That difference is MUCH bigger than the difference in your effort, for instance, between getting a C and a C+.   A 60-80% diet is achievable for anyone, allowing for social events not to become a stress and excellent health to be achieved.

So don’t get me wrong: I love the raw movement.   But Boutenko writes about people going 100% raw and then swinging to almost no raw, back and forth.   I never eat no raw–always, always 60-80 percent, even while traveling.   (You can get salads almost anywhere.)

And I think that’s the most important thing: to be consistent about eating well, and keep your “raw” above 60 percent every day and always as high as you can, so you are providing lots of enzymes and not taxing and aging your organs.   I also recommend having periods of eating as simply and as close to 100% raw as you can–like a “detox week.”

The Essential GreenSmoothieGirl Library . . . part 2

Here are three more of my picks from my Top Shelf–the most pivotal books on health and nutrition:

Dr. Robert O. Young and Shelley Young’s books and recipe books:   Sick and Tired, The pH Miracle, The pH Miracle for Weight Loss, Back to the House of Health I and II (containing many excellent recipes).   Dr. Young, with multiple PhDs, is the most credible authority on why an alkaline diet is the most important aspect of disease prevention and treatment.   His ace-in-the-hole over other authors is that his wife is a recipe developer and therefore gives practical help in addition to this century’s leading-edge nutrition theory.

  

Dr. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, the largest and most comprehensive nutrition study in history conducted jointly by Oxford and Cornell, the most empirical evidence ever gathered validating a plant-based diet.  

 

Colin Campbell is a professor of nutrition at Cornell University and has sat on the highest nutrition governing boards in the U.S.   He is the son of a cattle rancher and believed, in his early nutrition research, that he would find lack of protein to be the cause of childhood liver cancer in the Phillipines.

He found just the opposite: the wealthier children with good access to meat/milk were dying of liver cancer, not the poor children who could afford only plant food.   Time and again, Campbell and many other researchers discovered the same results: that in animals and humans, high consumption of animal protein causes all the modern Western diseases, including cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and much more.

The rodent studies are fascinating: two groups of mice are put on 5% animal protein pellets (casein, from milk) and 20% animal protein pellets, respectively.   That parallels an almost-vegan diet versus the typical American diet.   At the typical rodent lifespan, the 5% group were lean and healthy and the 20% group were full of cancerous tumors and many were dead (all would die early).

 

Even more fascinating is how the researchers could SWITCH the groups’ diets.   Lean, healthy rodents develop tumors and die when placed on the 20% animal protein diet, and formerly cancerous rodents lose weight, tumors are eliminated, and they live and thrive when placed on the 5% animal protein diet.   These studies were duplicated with the same results, by other researchers all over the globe.

 

Campbell went on to conduct the largest, most longitudinal, most comprehensive nutrition study in human beings, in history, yielding hundreds of statistically significant correlations.   He has been studying 6,500 people in China for about 30 years now.   Whether or not you completely eliminate animal foods from your diet, this book is so compelling that you will be motivated to make a commitment to a plant-based diet and share the message with others.

You don’t eat meat? Then where do you get your protein?

I know, I’ve blogged about this more than any other subject.   But I’m going to say a few more things about it today, just in a slightly different way, because of that old statistic that people have to hear something 11 times before they believe it.   And because that’s the question we plant eaters get most often, “But where do you get your PROTEIN?”

 

The World Health Organization says humans need 5 percent of daily calories to be protein.   The USDA says 6.5 percent.   On average, here’s what plant foods contain:

 

Fruits                                                                                                   5 percent

Vegs                                                                                                 20-50 percent

Sprouts, nuts, beans, grains, seeds:             10-25 percent

 

So you get plenty of protein from plants.   When you eat these proteins raw, they’re undamaged by heat and therefore more usable by your body, too.   Greens are highest in protein of the vegetables, so they are ideal for building and repair in the body.   We have a protein excess in the Western diet, not a protein deficiency.

 

Amino acids are protein’s building blocks.   Animal flesh combines those amino acids in a highly structured way–that’s all it means when people talk about “quality” proteins.   On the other hand, vegetable proteins are comprised of free-floating amino acids.   The first 8 amino acids are called “essential” because we have to acquire them from food.   The last 14 are built from the first 8.   Vegetable proteins, in free form, are easier to digest, give you more energy, and contribute to beauty and feeling well!

 

Some say, “But I feel better when I get much more protein.”   Years ago, I felt the same way–I noticed I had more energy eating chicken and fish.   Then I recognized truth when a book I was reading said that many animal protein eaters experience weakness/fatigue when they go off animal protein because of the inevitable cleansing that results.   So they attribute the difference in the way they feel to “needing” meat rather than feeling poorly when they cleanse as an adjustment to ending an addiction.   (These opinions are then further supported by diet-plan promoters who advocate for unnatural amounts of protein, as well as scientifically unsupported “blood type” and “metabolic type” authors.)

 

I put the idea that my “feeling better” was related to cleansing, not need, to the test.   I can honestly say I have more energy now than ever before.   It’s not true what people say, that you’re just going to feel worse in your 40’s than you did in your 20’s!   I feel MUCH better at 41 than I did in my 20’s!   I just had to go off chicken and fish for LONG ENOUGH.   I plan to never go back to eating those foods  full of antibiotics, steroids, foodborne bacteria, and all kinds of pathogens.

Need motivation to eat less meat and more plants? . . . part 6 of 12

Are plant sources of protein sufficient?   Today, good stats about the need for protein:

 

Protein in human mother’s breast milk: 5 percent of calories

 

Minimum protein requirement according to the World Health Organization: 5 percent of calories

 

U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adult protein intake: 10 percent of calories

 

Percent of calories from protein in broccoli and spinach: more than 40 percent

 

Percent of calories from protein advocated for by Dr. Atkins, Dr. Sears (The Zone), etc.: 30 percent or more

 

Organizations that have condemned high-protein, low-carb diets: World Health Organization, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Dietetic Association, Surgeon General of the U.S., and American Institute for Cancer Research.

 

Two Barry Sears’ (The Zone Diet) quotes: “Humankind has been genetically unable to cope with . . . grains.”   Also, “About one-third of Americans are . . . suffering from protein malnutrition.”

 

Most of the human race for thousands of years has relied on, for most of its caloric energy: grains

 

Position paper quote from the American Dietetic Association:   “Plant sources of protein alone can provide adequate amounts of the essential and nonessential amino acids.   Conscious combining of these foods within a given meal as the complementary protein dictum suggests is unnecessary.”

 

Tell me: Have you given up the idea of needing to pack in more protein to your diet every day?   Or are you still clinging to some of that brainwashing you’ve received over many years?   Try it out.   Switch to plant sources of protein (or just quit worrying about protein altogether) and see what happens.   Give it some time, because  detox symptoms of going off meat/dairy are likely.