Thursday, March 6, 2008

The trouble with raw food.

Let's first look at the Raw-Foodists. these folks make a strong argument against cooking and meat eating. I don't want to hit below the belt, but their argument is completely un-sourced. That said, I must now source all the crazy shit I am going to say...oh well.

anyway, let's take a look at a bit of the fruitarian's ideas:

"The body struggles for years to stay healthy, despite the fact we keep putting devitalised food into our mouths. When the body loses this struggle we begin to develop disease."

What on earth is this assertion based on? I am going to have to refer to my healthy friends, the French again on this one.  They cook everything they touch, and they are damn healthy, in general.
how about this:
"Cooking causes the inorganic elements to enter the blood, circulate through the system, settle in the arteries and veins and deaden the nerves."

If they are talking processed foods, foods high in trans fats, HFCS, aspartame and other sweeteners, etc, then they are probobly right, though sourcing is difficult. here is a bit about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In terms of deadening the nerves, they are curiously out on a limb. The process of deadening a nerve internally is usually demyelination - or the withering of the sheath surrounding our nerve bodies - a process that is almost always auto-immune.  
More on that here.  I have heard that HFCS also breaks down the myelin, but I have still not found an adequate source on that.

"human beings are clearly not carnivores by physiology or anatomy and the digestive system shows that humans must have evolved from millions of years living on fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables."

Well, this one is just silly. It is hard to watch, but this video of a chimpanzee hunt shows us everything we need to know about our evolutionary ancestry.

Chimps hunt with some frequency, here is a nice piece about their predatory habits.

Jean-Louis Tu, biologist, mathematician, put together a massive paper on the subject, which can be read here.
 an excerpt on meat and our ancestry:
"The paradox of relatively high cholesterol intake and cooked meats vs. rarity of heart disease in hunter-gatherer groups. It is also worth remarking that many other factors than lipid peroxides influence the development and/or prevention of atherogenesis, such as the amount of saturated fat, amount of mono- or polyunsaturated fat, amount of carbohydrates and insulin response, etc. Of particular note here is the example of hunter-gatherer societies, where the incidence of heart disease is extremely low (perhaps the lowest that has been seen among human groups), despite the fact that relatively large amounts of cooked meat are consumed."

but there are the detractors, they just don't source:   here

then again there are those on my side of the fence, and they provide ample sourcing.  Like this guy.

What I discovered in reading the available material online is this:  The Raw food folks base their findings on assertions that have little scientific basis.  They often blame cooked food for health problems, when their health problems are more likely due to additives and processed foods, the elimination of which brings a misleading and temporary healthier state.  

So I will bring out a non-scientific theory of my own.  Well, not my own, exactly.  This theory was transmitted to me in class by Jeffrey C. Yuen  last semester at The Swedish Institute:

Human Beings are bipeds.  None of our primate relatives or mammalian neighbors  are the same.  In Chinese Medical and Dietary theory, the body takes in Qi in three ways:  Through respiration, through food intake and through the earth.  Because we are bipeds we only have contact with the earth through our feet (and in this concrete age, even that is a stretch).  This means that we take in half the Qi from the earth that other mammals do.  This earthly Qi, over the millions of years of evolution has helped build the digestion mechanism.  In humans, the lack of earthly Qi has led to a less robust digestive system (in terms of raw foods).  The method of overcoming raw foods is cooking.  We break down the thick proteins of meat, the toxins, the over-whelming (see this guy. again) enzymes of vegetables by cooking them.  This balance has allowed us to divert vital energy away from our digestive systems.  Our other systems, in turn, endocrine, nervous, lymphatic, and musculoskeletal, have ascended to heights undreamt of by the most intelligent of beasts.

Like any other subject, there is a balance to be struck.  Some food (read: OYSTERS) is best when consumed raw.  But that is for another post.

That is enough for well.

1 comment:

Karina said...

For some reason I felt compelled to watch the YouTube clip... bad idea. Needless to say, I didn't finish it...