0

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

 

 

 

0

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

 

 

 

 

0

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).

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

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.

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

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

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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16. Asparagus – is it natural and ethical to eat it?

Is it natural and ethical to eat plant stems like asparagus, bamboo, kohlrabi, rhubarb, sugar cane and celery? We’re looking at whether it is natural and ethical to eat certain food groups.

We have already dealt with food from animals, and now we are investigating the plant world. Many people would agree that eating plants is natural, but most would not even think to ask wh
ether it’s ethical. We looked at roots in the last post and are working up the plant.

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

Investigation

Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) gather, prepare and eat plant stems? Yes, without a doubt. Even if one is not equipped with a knife or secateurs, it’s easy enough to pull up a plant or break off the stem to eat it.

So, eating plant stems is natural.

Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm?

This falls into the same area as roots. Basically, pulling up a plant or breaking off the stem to eat the plant will probably kill the plant, which is the worst possible harm. As to whether the plant will feel any pain, read this post

b) Has it had the best life possible?

Again, as with our discussion on plant roots, only plants that have been growing in wild, natural, organic or biodynamic conditions can be said to have lived the best life possible, since plants growing in deficient soils and smothered in poisons can surely not be living a good life.

c) Is this food good for us?celery-383753_1280

Yes, providing it’s been grown in natural conditions, as listed above. Celery is full of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, all essential to human health. Rhubarb’s claim to fame is high values of calcium, lutein and vitamin K. Bamboo shoots help fight cancer, strengthen the immune system, and contain protein, vitamins and minerals. Asparagus is high in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K. Kohlrabi has more vitamin C than oranges and is exceptionally good for building the immune system, fighting cancer and reducing inflammation.

Rhubarb

Chopped Rhubarb by Grant Cochrane

So, eating plant stems is ethical, providing the plants have been grown naturally. However, some people may feel that killing the plant in order to eat it may overstep the mark.

 

Final verdict in my opinion

Eating plant stems is natural. It is only ethical if the plant has been grown in natural, organic conditions, and that the plant as a species has been allowed to seed, so that this is sustainable. It could also  be borderline for those who believe that plants feel pain.

Next post: plant leaves

2

Asparagus – is it natural and ethical to eat it?

Is it natural and ethical to eat plant stems like asparagus, bamboo, kohlrabi, rhubarb, sugar cane and celery? We’re looking at whether it is natural and ethical to eat certain food groups.

We have already dealt with food from animals, and now we are investigating the plant world. Many people would agree that eating plants is natural, but most would not even think to ask whether it’s ethical. We looked at roots in the last post and are working up the plant.

Asparagus spears

Asparagus spears by Tina Philips

Investigation
Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) gather, prepare and eat plant stems? Yes, without a doubt. Even if one is not equipped with a knife or secateurs, it’s easy enough to pull up a plant or break off the stem to eat it.

So, eating plant stems is natural.

Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm? This falls into the same area as roots. Basically, pulling up a plant or breaking off the stem to eat the plant will probably kill the plant, which is the worst possible harm. As to whether the plant will feel any pain, read this post.

b) Has it had the best life possible? Again, as with our discussion on plant roots, only plants that have been growing in wild, natural, organic or biodynamic conditions can be said to have lived the best life possible, since plants growing in deficient soils and smothered in poisons can surely not be living a good life.

c) Is this food good for us? Yes, providing it’s been grown in natural conditions, as listed above. Celery is full of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, all essential to human health. Rhubarb’s claim to fame is high values of calcium, lutein and vitamin K. Bamboo shoots help fight cancer, strengthen the immune system, and contain protein, vitamins and minerals. Asparagus is high in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K. Kohlrabi has more vitamin C than oranges and is exceptionally good for building the immune system, fighting cancer and reducing inflammation.

Rhubarb

Chopped Rhubarb by Grant Cochrane

So, eating plant stems is ethical, providing the plants have been grown naturally. However, some people may feel that killing the plant in order to eat it may overstep the mark.

 

Final verdict – my opinion:

Eating plant stems is both natural and ethical provided the plant has been grown in natural, organic conditions, though could be borderline for those who believe that plants feel pain.

Next post: plant leaves

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14. Honey – is it natural and ethical to eat it?

Honey is the last on my list of foods produced by animals. We are investigating different foods that humans eat, to see whether it is natural to eat them, and, also, whether it is ethical

Honey collecting is an ancient pastime, and humans have found it irresistible through the ages. A cave painting in Valencia, Spain, dated 8000 years ago, shows humans collecting honey. It’s been used not only for its sweetness, but also for healing internally and topically. It has been packaged to accompany the dead to the afterlife, and for various religious ceremonies, whether offered to monks or poured over deity effigies.

But, we have to ask our questions….

Investigation

Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) collect and eat honey?

Even in today’s honey operations, which have not changed much since humans started to keep bees, collecting honey takes some expertise. Bees behave in a man-made beehive just as they do in a wild hive. They are fiercely protective of not only their honey, but more importantly, their queen. Anyone going to collect honey without adequate protection is likely to get stung.

This video shows how honey is collected in the wild:

It is hazardous, but obviously something human primates can do without needing tools so, therefore, it is natural food.

Is it ethical?

a) Have the bees suffered the least harm?

Watching the video above has shown that honey harvested in the wild certainly causes a great deal of harm. The grubs within the comb, and probably also the queen, lose their lives. Any bees that defend the hive by stinging, lose their lives when they sting. The rest of the bees will die unless they can find a source of honey to eat.

So, harvesting this way is wholesale murder of bees.

Commercial bee operations also involve murder. Queens are often killed to install replacement queens to prevent swarming, and for other practical reasons. Or, if two hives are merged, the queen of the weaker swarm is killed. Some beekeepers kill their swarms before winter, for ‘economic’ reasons.

So, no matter which way honey is harvested, the death of bees is involved unless, of course, it is produced ethically. It is possible. If you’re interested, check this out: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/01/beekeeping-and-the-ethical-vegan-will-curley/

But what harm does it do when their honey is taken? Here is an amazing method developed by two Australians to harvest honey without harming or stressing the bees:

http://www.honeyflow.com/ 

b) Have the bees had the best life possible?

Wild bees obviously have a brilliant life, but commercially kept bees are in danger of being moved from place to place, or killed, not to mention being exposed to pesticides and antibiotics and fed unnatural sugars such as corn syrup, which could be harmful if genetically modified. (1)

However, if bees are kept ethically, they should be living a life as close to wild as possible.

c) Is this food good for us?

Honey has wonderful properties. It has been known to prevent cancer and heart disease, is antibacterial and antifungal, reduces coughs, regulates blood sugar and heals wounds and burns.

But, it must be raw, unheated, unprocessed honey. Heating destroys the enzymes that heal.

Some commercial operations treat the bees with toxic chemicals against pests, and they administer antibiotics, all of which will find its way into the honey, and then into the consumer. So, again, organic, ethically-sourced honey is the best option.

Remember that, even if your honey is ethically produced, it is a sugar and should not be taken in large amounts. Best to treat it as medicine. Remember that it takes a honey bee her whole lifetime to produce just 1.5 teaspoons of honey (2).

Final verdict in my opinion

If honey is harvested from an organic ethical operation, not heated or processed, harvested humanely and taken in small doses as medicine, not food, it is both natural and ethical. Any other source is not acceptable.

So, honey is borderline.

Do you agree?

Next post: Plants – their roots.

 

  1. http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalreports/honey/beewelfareandhoney.aspx
  2. http://www.honeycouncil.ca/chc_poundofhoney.php