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How a Raw Food Diet Affects Digestive Enzymes

Learn how eating raw foods affects the enzymes that your body uses to digest food from chef Ron Russell in this Howcast video.


One of the things about raw food is the enzymes that are associated with it. That's one of the real benefits of raw food. To process your food you need enzymes. That's what's happening in your stomach. Enzymes are breaking down the food, and that helps to process it and also breaks it down so that it can be absorbed into the body, the nutrients.

What happens is at 118 degrees we start to kill the natural enzymes that are in the food that are there to make them break down in our bodies. By cooking it we get rid of all those enzymes, and that's why, when you eat a cooked meal, you generally want a nap. Your body is working overtime to create these enzymes to break down this food.

When you eat a raw food diet you tend to be energized at the end of a meal. You're like ready to go. That's because the natural enzymes are helping your body.

A couple of tips, though. The reason raw food is talked about soaking nuts and seeds is that they have what is called a natural enzyme inhibitor. And what that does is it keeps the enzymes in check so that they can't be used.

The reason that is made that way by nature is seeds tend to fall in the fall. If they sprouted in winter they would die because of the cold, so they have these enzyme inhibitors to keep the enzymes inactive. When spring comes, when moisture is introduced to the seed, and warmth, then they sprout and they grow. That's how seeds work.

We do the same with a raw food diet. We want to soak our seeds and nuts so that that enzyme inhibitor thinks, oh, it's spring, I feel the water, I feel the warmth, and then it starts to sprout the seed or nut. And that breaks down the enzyme inhibitor so your body can fully use the enzymes that are built into those seeds and nuts.

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