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25. Is food combining natural and ethical?

What is food combining?

Food combining as a dietary discipline came out first with the so-called Hay diet in the 1920s, which advocated eating vegetables with either carbohydrates, or meat and fat, and eating fruit in separate meals. This format has been advocated in various forms since then.

File:Food Combining Chart.png

By Qwesar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

However, the question arises, based on other posts in this blog: is food combing natural and ethical?

https://rcm-eu.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=naturalethicalfood-21&o=2&p=48&l=st1&mode=books-uk&search=vegan%20food%20combining&nou=1&fc1=000000&lt1=_blank&lc1=3366FF&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

 

Is food combining natural?

This post is a follow-up on my previous high-protein or high-carb diet post

The reason why these two posts are part of the same argument is because what emerged from that post is the fact that certain animal species have certain body types and lifestyles that govern which foods can be captured, eaten and digested, and these foods tend to be found in certain combinations of food components.

For example, take a lion. It has the build, power, speed, claws and teeth to be able to catch, kill, tear open and eat a large animal. Further, its digestive system is suited to eating a high protein (animal muscle) high-fat diet as it has a short digestive tract ensuring that rotting meat does not stay in the system too long. The nature of the difficulty of capturing animals ensures that lions don’t eat too often, so they don’t get fat despite the high fat intake and relative laziness they appear to display much of the time.

However, what arises from this observation is the list of food components eaten by a lion. It will consume meat, fat, blood, skin, hair, bones, digestive tract contents (fermenting vegetable foods normally) and possibly some soil. They may look for certain herbs or grasses to swallow to aid digestion. They may even eat berries if they are about. They don’t rush off and eat grains or dairy.

Here you can see what it takes to be a true carnivore in close up view (note the size and shape of the teeth and the lack of utensils, romantic music and wine):

On the other end of the scale is the herbivore: horses, cattle, deer, rabbits etc. On the whole they graze much of every day on grasses and any grains that come with them. A little soil may also be consumed. They don’t rush off looking for meat or fish to eat. They don’t make bread out of the grains. Certainly, dairy doesn’t interest them once they have stopped suckling from their mothers.

Their digestive tracts are suited to holding grains long enough to enable them to ferment, as this is the only way grains can be thoroughly digested if they haven’t been sprouted. This is because grains and seeds contain proteins and lectins that are difficult to digest, such as gluten in wheat, which can cause bowel inflammation, ulcers and insulin problems (http://paleoleap.com/11-ways-gluten-and-wheat-can-damage-your-health/)  The reason why grains and seeds have these difficult to digest compounds is to protect the seeds long enough for them to germinate. Upon germination, most of the protective devices disappear, making sprouts a healthy alternative. Herbivores have digestive tracts that help ferment grains.

Here you can see a close view of a cow chewing the cud  (note the flat teeth):

Finally, we come to omnivores which eat some or all of these food groups: plants, fungi, algae, seeds, fruit, insects, eggs and small animals and birds that they can easily catch without tools or weapons. They do not consume milk beyond babyhood. Primates (like us) fall within this category (see https://naturalethicalfood.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/the-human-primates-natural-food/) together with bears, squirrels and birds.

Here you can watch a monkey eating fruit (note the use of the hand to hold the fruit – carnivores and herbivores don’t do this):

There are three natural types of food combining

What this comes down to is that in nature there are three types of food combining:

  1. Carnivorous (mainly meat, fat, skin, bones and fermented digestive tract material)
  2. Herbivorous (mainly grasses and herbs)
  3. Omnivorous (a variety of herbs, fruit, nuts, seeds, algae, fungi, insects, eggs, small animals)

What is notable is that while animals eat combinations of foods suited to their species and makeup, they don’t suffer from obesity or disease. As soon as their diets are changed, their bodies come under stress. This can be seen with some proprietary dog and cat foods that contain mostly grains (often GM). These animals often have to be put on anti-inflammatory drugs from middle-age onward. Another notable is that not one of these groups consumes dairy foods beyond suckling age.

So this tells us that to eat naturally, one should consider which of the three groups one’s body belongs to, and eat accordingly. Also, consider that dairy should not be consumed by any of the groups, past babyhood. Ethically, the omnivorous diet covers humans who choose not to kill, or cause, or be party to pain or suffering of any creature. This could mean taking up a fruitarian diet or a vegan diet.

Which type of food combining is natural and ethical?

The way to decide it to compare a human’s dental make-up with that of other apes. To short-cut this process, the human dental makeup is closest to that of the Bonobo ape. You can see this in this interesting video:

Interestingly, what emerges from this is that the Bonobos with their flat canine teeth do not kill each other or any other creature, while chimpanzees will kill and eat each other and any other creature that they can catch. This means that you, as a conscious human, can choose to eat as a chimpanzee or as a Bonobo. Choosing the Bonobo way ensures that you can eat ethically without any danger of your dying of hunger or malnutrition.

This video carries this message of choice across very clearly:

So, is food combining natural? Yes, definitely, providing the eater is eating foods that fall within the range of foods suited to their species and digestive makeup.

Is food combining ethical? For omnivores, it can be, should they choose foods that do not necessitate killing, pain or suffering.

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High protein or high carb diet?

Why do people follow a high-protein diet?

Salmon with spinach - a high protein/low-carb option

Salmon with spinach – a high protein/low-carb option

In order to lose weight, many people are following either a high-protein/medium-fat/low-carb diet, or a raw-vegan diet  (high-carb/low-protein/low-fat). The high-protein diets (Paleo/Atkins/Harcombe etc) are very popular as they almost guarantee weight loss without having to count calories or restrict portions. How does this work? We need to look at what happens to food when it’s digested.

Very simply:

  • When carbohydrates are eaten and digested, glucose is created, which goes into the bloodstream as an energy source. If there is too much glucose in the bloodstream at any one time, the pancreas injects insulin into the bloodstream. This allows the liver to turn the glucose into glycogen and store it for later use (in the liver and muscles). When blood sugar levels drop, the liver converts the glycogen into glucose and pushes it in to the blood stream. Glucose from carbohydrates can only be stored in limited quantities.
  • When protein is eaten it is broken down into bits called amino acids, ready to be reconstructed as the body needs these building blocks. Stored protein can be used as fuel in lean times, when it is broken down into glucose.
  • When fats are eaten they are broken down into fatty acids that travel about in the blood and get used by cells that need the energy. Fatty acids that don’t get used quickly get stored in fat cells (that have unlimited capacity), and when blood sugar is low, the pancreas produces a hormone called lipase which breaks the stored fat into fatty acids and puts them in to the bloodstream, ready to be used for fuel.

In summary: both carbohydrates and fats provide the body with energy, and if there is too much glucose or fatty acids in the bloodstream, these are stored as glycogen and fat for later use.

What this means is that if you sit down and eat a meal of carbohydrates and fat (bread and butter, potato with sour cream, fish and chips) the energy from the carbohydrates will be used first as this is immediately available as glucose, and the energy from the fats will be stored.

If you eat a high-protein/low-carb-medium-fat diet , you have very little glucose in the bloodstream for energy, so the fats you eat provide the energy you need. If you keep your fat intake fairly low, at some stage you will have burned up the fatty acids in your bloodstream, so your body breaks down the fats stored in your fat cells, and you lose weight.

But, before you rush off and buy a leg of beef, be warned – there are inherent dangers in this type of diet:

  • You can increase your risk of osteoporosis as high amounts of protein require high amounts of calcium to digest it, and if you don’t eat enough calcium-rich foods, your body will leach the calcium from your bones.
  • Your kidneys are responsible for filtering protein from the blood, so they can take strain if faced with having to filter high quantities of protein as well as the waste products created when protein is processed.
  • When your body turns fat into energy (whether this is fat you have just eaten or fat in your cells), this creates ketones. Some ketones are used by the brain and heart and other organs as energy. This is why it is important to eat some good-quality fat. However, the ketone acetone can be dangerous.  This normally gets expelled in the breath or urine, but too much in the system can cause death.
  • If your carbs and fat intake are low, your body will break down protein in your tissues, as well as fat in your fat cells, for energy.

Which is natural: high protein or high carb?

First, let’s look at this in a general natural sense. I will show you how animals tend to eat either a high-carb/low-protein/low-fat diet , a high-protein/low-carb/medium-fat diet, or a medium-protein/medium-carb/medium-fat diet, and what they eat has everything to do with their lifestyles and how much energy they expend in daily living and in getting food.

Lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, wild cats, panthers, wild dogs, foxes, wolves etc will hunt an animal to eat, taking some time over the process and not being successful each time they try. They may go for days without food. When they do catch an animal, they eat huge quantities at one time, and they eat the muscles, fat, skin, hair, blood, intestinal matter (which helps digest the food) and bones (which supplies them with calcium and prevents bone density loss as explained above). Their diet is high-protein/medium-fat/low-carb, and when they eat, which is not often, they gorge on food. They exercise vigorously when hunting, but spend the rest of the time being fairly sedentary. Here is a video of lions with their kill:

Horses, bison, elephants, cattle and  some species of baboon eat mainly grass and leaves and any grains and seeds that come with this. This is a high-carb/low-protein/low-fat diet and these animals keep on the move, eating often, yet take time to rest and digest food. This is a video of wild horses grazing:

Monkeys, mice, birds, squirrels and rodents graze all day on fruits, grasses, grains, insects, eggs, nuts and anything else they find edible as suited to their species. This is a video of a Spider monkey eating fruit:

Gorillas and orang-outangs eat leaves, fruits, roots and insects. Chimpanzees and baboons eat anything, including small mammals and birds, if they can catch them.

Those that eat mainly fruits (high-carb/low-protein/low-fat) tend to be very active and eat often. Those that eat a combination of foods and those that eat mainly nuts and seeds (medium-protein/medium-carb/medium-fat) tend to eat less often yet spend a lot of energy finding their food.

So this shows that high-protein and high-carb diets are natural.

Match the type of food you eat to your lifestyle and exercise regime

Orang-outang up a tree eating leaves

Orang-outang eating leaves

In nature, if food is easy to get, it probably has a low energy value, so animals need to eat a lot of it and often. Foods with higher energy values take either a lot of time or a lot of energy (or both) to get hold of, so less of it is eaten (they are not eating all day as do fruit eaters) ensuring that in the natural world, animals don’t eat more food than their bodies need.

This is how nature keeps a perfect balance. Think about it: you don’t see obese monkeys, lions or squirrels, yet they don’t diet. Nature makes sure that the amount of effort and time they are prepared to put into finding food is related to the energy value of the food.

Humans have bypassed this formula, though, and many people who rarely do any vigorous exercise have easy access to high calorie value foods, causing weight problems.

 

Which is the most ethical diet?

Our ethics, as we have seen, involve not killing, especially not killing animals. So, this makes it very difficult to eat an ethical high-protein/low-carb diet, since there is no low-carb plant food available. Thus, we are left with:

  • raw foods (fruits and greens) (high-carb/low-fat/low-protein)
  • grains/legumes/roots/starchy fruits and greens (high-carb/low-fat/low-protein)
  • all of the above plus oils, nuts and seeds (high-carb/medium-fat/medium-protein)

And here is some inspiration for those are still considering going vegan (natural/ethical):

How do you plan your meals as a vegan? Do you struggle with ill-health or weight problems? I would love to hear from you.

Next post: Is food combining natural?

 

Bibliography:

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-negative-high-protein-diet-effects.html#b

http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2011/mar/how-the-body-uses-carbohydrates-proteins-and-fats.html

Image credits:

“Hairy Orangutan Eating” by papaija2008

“Salmon With Spinach” by tiramisustudio

 

 

 

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24. High protein or high carb diet?

Why do people follow a high-protein diet?

In order to lose weight, many people are following either a high-protein/medium-fat/low-carb diet, or a raw-vegan diet (high-carb/low-protein/low-fat). The high-protein diets (Paleo/Atkins/Harcombe etc) are very popular as they almost guarantee weight loss without having to count calories or restrict portions. How does this work? We need to look at what happens to food when it’s digested.

Very simply:

  • When carbohydrates are eaten and digested, glucose is created, which goes into the bloodstream as an energy source. If there is too much glucose in the bloodstream at any one time, the pancreas injects insulin into the bloodstream. This allows the liver to turn the glucose into glycogen and store it for later use (in the liver and muscles). When blood sugar levels drop, the liver converts the glycogen into glucose and pushes it in to the blood stream. Glucose from carbohydrates can only be stored as glycogen in limited quantities.
  • When protein is eaten it is broken down into bits called amino acids, ready to be reconstructed as the body needs these building blocks. Stored protein can be used as fuel in lean times, when it is broken down into glucose.
  • When fats are eaten they are broken down into fatty acids that travel about in the blood and get used by cells that need the energy. Fatty acids that don’t get used quickly get stored in fat cells (that have unlimited capacity), and when blood sugar is low, the pancreas produces a hormone called lipase which breaks the stored fat into fatty acids and puts them in to the bloodstream, ready to be used for fuel.

In summary: both carbohydrates and fats provide the body with energy, and if there is too much glucose or fatty acids in the bloodstream, these are stored as glycogen and fat for later use.

What this means is that if you sit down and eat a meal of carbohydrates and fat (bread and butter, potato with sour cream, fish and chips) the energy from the carbohydrates will be used first as this is immediately available as glucose, and the energy from the fats will be stored.baked-potato-522482_640

https://rcm-eu.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=naturalethicalfood-21&o=2&p=48&l=st1&mode=books-uk&search=vegan%20high%20carb&nou=1&fc1=000000&lt1=_blank&lc1=3366FF&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

If you eat a high-protein/low-carb-medium-fat diet , you have very little glucose in the bloodstream for energy, so the fats you eat provide the energy you need.

If you keep your fat intake fairly low, at some stage you will have burned up the fatty acids in your bloodstream, so your body breaks down the fats stored in your fat cells, and you lose weight.

But, before you rush off and buy a leg of beef, be warned – there are inherent dangers in this type of diet:

  • You can increase your risk of osteoporosis as high amounts of protein require high amounts of calcium to digest it, and if you don’t eat enough calcium-rich foods, your body will leach the calcium from your bones.
  • Your kidneys are responsible for filtering protein from the blood, so they can take strain if faced with having to filter high quantities of protein as well as the waste products created when protein is processed.
  • When your body turns fat into energy (whether this is fat you have just eaten or fat in your cells), this creates ketones. Some ketones are used by the brain and heart and other organs as energy. This is why it is important to eat some good-quality fat. However, the ketone acetone can be dangerous.  This normally gets expelled in the breath or urine, but too much in the system can cause death.
  • If your carbs and fat intake are low, your body will break down protein in your tissues, as well as fat in your fat cells, for energy.

Which is natural: high protein or high carb?

First, let’s look at this in a general natural sense. I will show you how animals tend to eat either a high-carb/low-protein/low-fat diet , a high-protein/low-carb/medium-fat diet, or a medium-protein/medium-carb/medium-fat diet, and what they eat has everything to do with their lifestyles and how much energy they expend in daily living and in getting food.

Lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, wild cats, panthers, wild dogs, foxes, wolves etc will hunt an animal to eat, taking some time ans spending lots of energy over the process and not being successful each time they try. They may go for days without food. When they do catch an animal, they eat huge quantities at one time, and they eat the muscles, fat, skin, hair, blood, intestinal matter (which helps digest the food) and bones (which supplies them with calcium and prevents bone density loss as explained above). Their diet is high-protein/medium-fat/low-carb, and when they eat, which is not often, they gorge on food. They exercise vigorously when hunting, but spend the rest of the time being fairly sedentary. Here is a video of lions with their kill:

Horses, bison, elephants, cattle and  some species of baboon eat mainly grass and leaves and any grains and seeds that come with this. This is a high-carb/low-protein/low-fat diet and these animals keep on the move, eating often, yet taking time to rest and digest food. They don’t run unless they need to, or in play or courtship. This is a video of wild horses grazing:

Monkeys, mice, birds, squirrels and rodents graze all day on fruits, grasses, grains, insects, eggs, nuts and anything else they find edible as suited to their species. They are constantly on the move, and they move quickly, and they eat almost continuously as they find food. This is a video of a Spider monkey eating fruit:

Gorillas and orang-utans eat leaves, fruits, roots and insects. Chimpanzees and baboons eat anything, including small mammals and birds, if they can catch them. They keep fairly active, though spend quality time resting. They tend to eat regularly but not constantly.

So this shows that high-protein and high-carb diets are natural, and that the respective animal types’s energy expenditure balances out the calories they gain from the food they eat.

Match the type of food you eat to your lifestyle and exercise regime

Orang-outang up a tree eating leaves

Orang-outang eating leaves

In nature, if food is easy to get, it probably has a low energy value, so animals need to eat a lot of it and often. Foods with higher energy values take either a lot of time or a lot of energy (or both) to get hold of, so less of it is eaten (they are not eating all day as do fruit eaters) ensuring that in the natural world, animals don’t eat more food than their bodies need.

This is how nature keeps a perfect balance. Think about it: you don’t see obese monkeys, lions or squirrels, yet they don’t diet. Nature makes sure that the amount of effort and time they are prepared to put into finding food is related to the energy value of the food.

Humans have bypassed this formula, though, and many people who rarely do any vigorous exercise have easy access to high calorie value foods, causing weight problems.

Which is the most ethical diet?

Our ethics, as we have seen, involve not killing, especially not killing animals. So, this makes it very difficult to eat an ethical high-protein/low-carb diet, since there is no low-carb plant food available. Thus, we are left with:

  • Raw foods (fruits and greens) (high-carb/low-fat/low-protein) for those who donlt exercise too hard.
  • Grains/legumes/roots/starchy fruits and greens (high-carb/low-fat/low-protein) for those who go tot he gym or play sport.
  • All of the above plus oils, nuts and seeds (high-carb/medium-fat/medium-protein) for those who do sport that burns lots of energy.

And here is some inspiration for those are still considering going vegan (or natural/ethical):

How do you plan your meals as a vegan? Do you struggle with ill-health or weight problems? I would love to hear from you.

Next post: Is food combining natural?

 

Bibliography:

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-negative-high-protein-diet-effects.html#b

http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2011/mar/how-the-body-uses-carbohydrates-proteins-and-fats.html

Image credits:

Hairy Orangutan Eating by papaija2008

 

 

 

 

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Is it healthy to eat cooked food?

Hello and welcome back.

Thank you for following all the theory and investigations so far on whether the foods we eat are natural and ethical. Basically, if you look at this post, you will see that we are left with not too many food groups.

However, in order to capitalize on the nutrition to be found in these wonderful foods, and also to create some variety, the question is, is it healthy to eat cooked food?

Does cooking destroy food?

Food being cooked over flames on a gas stove.

Is it healthy to eat cooked food?

Raw foodists say it does, as above a certain temperature (104 to 118 degrees F or 42 to 46 degrees C – there is disagreement about the exact temperature) enzymes are killed and vitamins destroyed, making the food less nutritious. Some also say that food becomes toxic if it is cooked (1).

However, some sources believe that certain foods when cooked release more nutrition than when eaten raw. Tomatoes and some other red fruits contain lycopene (a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radicals) which is increased when the food is cooked. Other foods such as carrots, mushrooms, cabbage and spinach produce an increased quantity of antioxidants (carotenoids and ferulic acid) when cooked.(2)

Cooking also neutralises lectins (which are indigestible and can damage the gut lining) found in legumes.

So, on the face of it, it looks as if eating a selection of raw and cooked foods will give us the best range of nutrition.

Is eating cooked food natural for humans?

We also have to consider whether it is natural to eat cooked food. My entire theory has been based on the human primate in the wild with no tools or cookware other than a rocks sticks and fire. Why did I include fire? Is it natural? Basically, no. None of our closest cousins: gorillas, chimps, baboons and monkeys, cook their food.

Seafood soup

Seafood soup

Are we going to make an exception? I think there is good reason to, since, at the time humans were using rocks and sticks to help them gather food, they were also using fire.

According to a recent study(3) humans were using fire to cook food one million years ago. The evidence is in the form of charred bones and vegetable matter. Another study suggests that humans were using pottery to cook food 20,000 years ago (4). Apparently, the first type of food to be cooked in pots was fish soup.

Does the passage of so many years make cooking a natural process? Perhaps not, but humans who found themselves far from the tropics for various reasons had to harness fire to keep warm in order to survive. Some had to rely on foods that fire made more digestible or easier to eat.

So, we will consider some forms of cooking in the interest of humans having evolved to survive using fire.

How did ancient humans cook food?

Paleolithic humans cooked food by suspending it over fire or creating a form of oven using heated stones.

One can easily imagine that once humans had discovered how to harness fire, the next thing they would have discovered was that stones heated in the fire could be used to cook food. Have a look at the Hangi cooking method which is still practised by the Maori people in New Zealand:

Humans also learned to use heated rocks in an earth oven for cooking meats and vegetable foods such as potatoes and starchy fruits like pumpkins:

Mesolithic humans used utensils such as earthenware pots, built by hand and hardened in fire. These vessels would have been used to cook food mixed with or immersed in water.

This video shows Zulu women cooking millet porridge in an earthen pot, over an open fire:

Pots were made out of clay which was hardened in fire, as in this video:

As you can see, the amount of effort involved in making pots would have had to have been offset by the benefits of cooking food.

Some foods would have been ‘cooked’ in the sun or on sun-heated stones, in hot climates. This would have included Essene bread, tomatoes, fruits, fish and meat, not so much for making food more digestible, but to preserve it.

Grains and legumes would have been fermented, crushed or sprouted, or all three, before being cooked in the sun, in a pot over a fire or in a heated stone oven. One of the most ancient foods created like this was flat bread in Egypt (2000 BCE) (5) and Essene bread, known to have been the staple diet of the Essenes, a Jewish religious group (6).

Essene sprouted sourdough bread is still made today using modern methods, and is served either ‘raw’ (dehydrated) or baked in an oven. This video show you how to make baked, sprouted, fermented Essene bread:

Grain is easily digestible once it has been sprouted and fermented. Sprouting and fermenting grains helps humans digest them as this process neutralises the glutens, lectins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that keep grains whole, so that even when they are passed through an animal’s digestive tract, the grains can still sprout and grow into plants.(7)

Why did humans start to cook food?

Cooking would have been a way for humans to make the foods they gathered easier to eat and digest. An example would be the meat of larger animals. Imagine that earlier humans would have come across animals that had already died or been killed and had dragged these to their caves to eat them. Since they had no knives to cut the meat into pieces small enough to eat, they found that putting the meat into the fire made it easier to rip through the skin and eat the flesh.

Many people these days follow what is called the palaeolithic diet, which advocates that humans eat a diet of animal protein, fruits, vegetables and no grains. This makes sense with respect to what a human can gather and prepare to eat without specialised tools. But, this would have limited how much meat palaeolithic man would have eaten. As we discussed previously, humans are not equipped to hunt down and eat animals without the aid of tools and weapons. They also do not have the teeth to cope with biting through animal skin to get at the flesh beneath. Therefore, the majority of their food would have been fruits and vegetables, just as in the diets of our cousins, the apes. (8)

But, we know they did eat the meat of large animals. How did they get it? Here is a video of some Sudanese people chasing lions off a kill so they can steal the meat. Although they have used a large knife to cut off a haunch, this still shows that this would have been one of the easier ways to get the meat of a large animal:

Here is another video showing some San people chasing cheetahs off their kill and stealing it, using no weapons other than sticks.

So, the only meat palaeolithic man would have had in his diet would have been that found by scavenging, stealing off wild animals, or hunting smaller creatures that he could catch with quite some effort and far less danger than stealing it from the big cats. Palaeolithic man was mainly vegetarian, but would have probably cooked the meat he could get.

Seafood taken off rocks as well as fish caught by trapping was far easier to eat and more palatable when cooked. This video shows how ancient people would have trapped fish:

Which types of cooking are the least harmful?

Now that we’ve included cooking in our natural, ethical system of eating, we need to be sure of which methods cause the least harm. It seems that the cooking methods that will cause humans the most harm are (9):

  • Grilling over an open flame, especially if food becomes blackened
  • High heat pan-frying and deep frying
  • Smoking

The high heats associated with these types of cooking change the structure of the food which can make it toxic.

The least harmful methods are:

  • Slow baking
  • Boiling
  • Steaming
  • Poaching
  • Stewing

Note that nearly all of these involve cooking with water.

So, in conclusion, when I post recipes up, they will be tagged according to our investigation here, that is, raw or cooked according to which method provides the most nutrients and makes the food more digestible, and the cooked recipes will be created using only the least harmful methods and utensils.

Are you a raw foodist? Do you agree that cooking is beneficial to some degree, or not?

Next post: Does the blood-type diet work?
Bibliography

1. http://www.mariakranker.com/what-is-raw-food/

2. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/raw-veggies-are-healthier/

3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162548.htm

4. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/04/10/176762387/earliest-cookware-was-used-to-make-fish-soup

5. http://www.bakersfederation.org.uk/the-bread-industry/history-of-bread.html

6. http://www.essene.co.nz/history.aspx

7. http://wellnessmama.com/3807/sprouted-soaked-fermented-grains-healthy/

8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/ancient-humans-vegetarians-paleolithic-diet_n_1695228.html

9. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-gently-cooked-food-better-for-you/#axzz3USui7VYP

 

Image attributions:

“Chef Cooking In Kitchen Stove” by stockimages

“Sukiyaki” by tiverylucky

 

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22. Is it healthy to eat cooked food?

Hello and welcome back.

Thank you for following all the theory and investigations so far on whether the foods we eat are natural and ethical. Basically, if you look at this post, you will see that we are left with not too many food groups.

However, in order to capitalize on the nutrition to be found in these wonderful foods, and also to create some variety, the question is, is it healthy to eat cooked food?

Does cooking destroy food?

Raw foodists say it does, as above a certain temperature (104 to 118 degrees F or 42 to 46 degrees C – there is disagreement about the exact temperature) enzymes are killed and vitamins destroyed, making the food less nutritious. Some also say that food becomes toxic if it is cooked (1).

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However, some sources believe that certain foods when cooked release more nutrition than when eaten raw. Tomatoes and some other red fruits contain lycopene (a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radicals) which is increased when the food is cooked. Other foods such as carrots, mushrooms, cabbage and spinach produce an increased quantity of antioxidants (carotenoids and ferulic acid) when cooked.(2)

tomato-soup-482403_640

Cooking also neutralises lectins (which are indigestible and can damage the gut lining) found in legumes.

So, on the face of it, it looks as if eating a selection of raw and cooked foods will give us the best range of nutrition.

Is eating cooked food natural for humans?

We also have to consider whether it is natural to eat cooked food. My theory has been based on the human primate in the wild with no tools or cookware other than a rocks sticks and fire. Why did I include fire? Is it natural? Basically, no. None of our closest cousins: gorillas, chimps, baboons and monkeys, cook their food.

Are we going to make an exception? I think there is good reason to, since, at the time humans were using rocks and sticks to help them gather food, they were also using fire.

According to a recent study (3) humans were using fire to cook food one million years ago. The evidence is in the form of charred bones and vegetable matter. Another study suggests that humans were using pottery to cook food 20,000 years ago (4). Apparently, the first type of food to be cooked in pots was fish soup.fish-soup-1179040_640

Does the passage of so many years make cooking a natural process? Perhaps not, but humans who found themselves far from the tropics for various reasons had to harness fire to keep warm in order to survive. Some had to rely on foods that fire made more digestible or easier to eat.

So, we will consider some forms of cooking in the interest of humans having evolved to survive using fire.

How did ancient humans cook food?

Paleolithic humans cooked food by suspending it over fire or creating a form of oven using heated stones.

One can easily imagine that once humans had discovered how to harness fire, the next thing they would have discovered was that stones heated in the fire could be used to cook food. Have a look at the Hangi cooking method which is still practised by the Maori people in New Zealand:

Humans also learned to use heated rocks in an earth oven for cooking meats and vegetable foods such as potatoes and starchy fruits like pumpkins:

Mesolithic humans used utensils such as earthenware pots, built by hand and hardened in fire. These vessels would have been used to cook food mixed with or immersed in water.

This video shows Zulu women cooking millet porridge in an earthen pot, over an open fire:

Pots were made out of clay which was hardened in fire, as in this video:

As you can see, the amount of effort involved in making pots would have had to have been offset by the benefits of cooking food.

Some foods would have been ‘cooked’ in the sun or on sun-heated stones, in hot climates. This would have included Essene bread, tomatoes, fruits, fish and meat, not so much for making food more digestible, but to preserve it.

Grains and legumes would have been fermented, crushed or sprouted, or all three, before being cooked in the sun, in a pot over a fire or in a heated stone oven. One of the most ancient foods created like this was flat bread in Egypt (2000 BCE) (5) and Essene bread, known to have been the staple diet of the Essenes, a Jewish religious group (6).

Essene sprouted sourdough bread is still made today using modern methods, and is served either ‘raw’ (dehydrated) or baked in an oven. This video show you how to make baked, sprouted, fermented Essene bread:

Grain is easily digestible once it has been sprouted and fermented. Sprouting and fermenting grains helps humans digest them as this process neutralises the glutens, lectins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that keep grains whole, so that even when they are passed through an animal’s digestive tract, the grains can still sprout and grow into plants.(7)

Why did humans start to cook food?

Cooking would have been a way for humans to make the foods they gathered easier to eat and digest. An example would be the meat of larger animals. Imagine that earlier humans would have come across animals that had already died or been killed and had dragged these to their caves to eat them. Since they had no knives to cut the meat into pieces small enough to eat, they would have found that putting the meat into the fire made it easier to rip through the skin and eat the flesh.

Many people these days follow what is called the palaeolithic diet, which advocates that humans eat a diet of animal protein, fruits, vegetables and no grains. This makes sense with respect to what a human can gather and prepare to eat without specialised tools. But, there is a limit to how much meat palaeolithic man would have eaten. As we discussed previously, humans are not equipped to hunt down and eat animals without the aid of tools and weapons. They also do not have the teeth to cope with biting through animal skin to get at the flesh beneath. Therefore, the majority of their food would have been fruits and vegetables, just as in the diets of our cousins, the apes. (8)

But, we know they did eat the meat of large animals. How did they get it? Here is a video of some Sudanese people chasing lions off a kill so they can steal the meat. Although they have used a large knife to cut off a haunch, this still shows that this would have been one of the easier ways to get the meat of a large animal:

Here is another video showing some San people chasing cheetahs off their kill and stealing it, using no weapons other than sticks.

So, the only meat palaeolithic man would have had in his diet would have been that found by scavenging, stealing off wild animals, or hunting smaller creatures that he could catch with quite some effort and far less danger than stealing it from the big cats. Palaeolithic man was mainly vegetarian, but would have probably cooked the meat he could get.

Seafood taken off rocks as well as fish caught by trapping was far easier to eat and more palatable when cooked. This video shows how ancient people would have trapped fish:

Which types of cooking are the least harmful?

Now that we’ve included cooking in our natural, ethical system of eating, we need to be sure of which methods cause the least harm. It seems that the cooking methods that will cause humans the most harm are (9):

  • Grilling over an open flame, especially if food becomes blackened
  • High heat pan-frying and deep frying
  • Smoking

The high heats associated with these types of cooking change the structure of the food which can make it toxic.

The least harmful methods are:

  • Slow baking
  • Boiling
  • Steaming
  • Poaching
  • Stewing

Note that nearly all of these involve cooking with water.

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So, in conclusion, when I post recipes up, they will be tagged according to our investigation here, that is, raw or cooked according to which method provides the most nutrients and makes the food more digestible, and the cooked recipes will be created using only the least harmful methods and utensils.

Are you a raw foodist? Do you agree that cooking is beneficial to some degree, or not?

Next post: Does the blood-type diet work?
Bibliography

1. http://www.mariakranker.com/what-is-raw-food/

2. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/raw-veggies-are-healthier/

3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162548.htm

4. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/04/10/176762387/earliest-cookware-was-used-to-make-fish-soup

5. http://www.bakersfederation.org.uk/the-bread-industry/history-of-bread.html

6. http://www.essene.co.nz/history.aspx

7. http://wellnessmama.com/3807/sprouted-soaked-fermented-grains-healthy/

8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/ancient-humans-vegetarians-paleolithic-diet_n_1695228.html

9. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-gently-cooked-food-better-for-you/#axzz3USui7VYP

 

 

0

21. List of the most natural and ethical foods for humans

Our blog about which foods are natural and ethical to eat has undergone a fair investigation, and I’ve come up with a list. It’s been very interesting going through all these types of food that humans eat and trying to work out whether they are natural and ethical food for humans.

Natural means that the human primate does not need any weapons, tools or cookware to gather or prepare the food, other than sticks, stones and perhaps fire, and ethical means that the least harm has been done to the food source and its future sustainability, and that humans themselves are not harmed in any way.

 

The list

 

NATURAL ETHICAL FOODS

FOOD

If food
source is alive when food harvested

If food
source is found already dead from natural causes before harvesting

 

NATURAL

ETHICAL

NATURAL

ETHICAL

 

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

FRUIT

SEEDS

NUTS

LEGUMES

GRAINS

FLOWERS

LEAVES

PLANT STEMS

ROOTS

HONEY

EGGS

INSECTS

SHELLFISH

FISH

POULTRY/BIRDS

LAMB

PORK

BEEF

DAIRY

KEY
(W=wild sustainable; O=organic or biodynamic sustainable production; C=conventional production)

NATURAL

NOT NATURAL

ETHICAL

NOT ETHICAL

 

For the person who wants to do the least possible harm, the only food to eat is fruits: apples, squashes, bananas, pineapples, beans, peas, peaches, raspberries, cucumbers, avocados … the list is long. It is the food group that, according to fruitarians, gives humans all the nourishment they need.

watermelon-846357_640

The next step down is to include plucked leaves from living plants, allowing them to remain alive and still thriving. This includes many types of salad leaves, kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, chard and so forth. It’s also fine to eat nuts, seeds, grains and pulses from plants that have either already discarded the seeds, or plants that have died naturally.

Then, eating stems, flowers and roots of plants is also ethical if the plants have already died or, if by gathering these parts, the plant is not harmed and continues to thrive, or if there are enough plants to ensure the sustainability of the species. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, elder flowers, celery and various other plants fall into this category.

Finally, eggs from poultry or birds that are wild or organically farmed and truly free range is ethical, providing sustainability is taken into account (the wild) and that no chicks are killed. In this day and age, it would be very difficult to find a source that meets these requirements.

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Any other food is not ethical to eat unless it has already been found dead from natural causes. You will need to decide on how high up the ethical ladder you want to climb.

The above list is very close to what our cousins the apes eat, and since their digestive systems are practically identical to ours, we are back where we started

What do you think? Do you agree that we should limit our foods to leaves, flowers, seeds, nuts, grains and fruit?

Next post: Is cooked food good or bad?

0

List of the most natural and ethical foods for humans

The big question: which foods are natural and ethical to eat, has undergone a fair investigation, and I’ve come up with a list. It’s been very interesting going through all these types of food that humans eat and trying to work out whether they are natural and ethical food for humans.

Natural means that the human primate does not need any weapons, tools or cookware to gather or prepare the food, other than sticks, stones and perhaps fire, and ethical means that the least harm has been done to the food source and its future sustainability, and that humans themselves are not harmed in any way.

“Hand Holding Red Apple”

“Hand Holding Red Apple” by mikumistock

 

The list

 

NATURAL ETHICAL FOODS

FOOD

If food
source is alive when food harvested

If food
source is found already dead from natural causes before harvesting

 

NATURAL

ETHICAL

NATURAL

ETHICAL

 

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

FRUIT

SEEDS

NUTS

LEGUMES

GRAINS

FLOWERS

LEAVES

PLANT STEMS

ROOTS

HONEY

EGGS

INSECTS

SHELLFISH

FISH

POULTRY/BIRDS

LAMB

PORK

BEEF

DAIRY

KEY
(W=WILD SUSTAINABLE; O=ORGANIC SUSTAINABLE FARMING; C=CONVENTIONAL FARMING)

NATURAL

NOT NATURAL

ETHICAL

NOT ETHICAL

 

For the person who wants to do the least possible harm, the only food to eat is fruits: apples, squashes, bananas, pineapples, beans, peas, peaches, raspberries, cucumbers, avocados … the list is too long. It is the food group that, according to fruitarians, gives humans all the nourishment they need.

The next step down is to include plucked leaves from living plants, allowing them to remain alive and still thriving. This includes many types of salad leaves, kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, chard and so forth. It’s also fine to eat nuts, seeds, grains and pulses from plants that have either already discarded the seeds, or plants that have died naturally.

Then, eating stems, flowers and roots of plants is also ethical if the plants have already died or, if by gathering these parts, the plant is not harmed and continues to live. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, elder flowers, celery and various other plants fall into this category.

Finally, eggs from poultry or birds that are wild or organically farmed and truly free range is ethical, providing sustainability is taken into account (the wild) and that no chicks are killed. In this day and age, it would be very difficult to find a source that meets these requirements.

Any other food is not ethical to eat unless it has already been found dead from natural causes. You will need to decide how high up the ethical ladder you want to climb.

The above list is very close to what our cousins the apes eat, and since their digestive systems are practically identical to ours, we are back where we started

What do you think? Do you agree that we should limit our foods to leaves, flowers, seeds, nuts, grains and fruit?

Next post: Is cooked food good or bad?