This is not a new question!
In his ‘Nature Cure Magazine’, published from 1907 to 1909, Dr Henry Lindlahr, MD wrote about health matters including the issue of eating uncooked vs cooked foods – which was a huge debate at the time. Who knew!
One fact we know is that when food is cooked, some nutrients are destroyed and others are easier to digest and absorb.
In a 2013 Scientific American article, Richard Wrangham of Harvard University, proposed that cooking food was a major factor in human evolution since it made food softer and easier to digest and absorb. Easier digestion allowed humans to free up time from food searching to spend more time on the interesting activities that make us human. And in circumstances of food scarcity which were present during most of our life on earth, humans could not survive without cooking food. Consideration of a largely raw diet could only be undertaken in conditions of food abundance that we find ourselves in today.
If one looks at the ancient healing traditions of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are specific food guidelines. For example, a particular constitution may need cooked food for better health. And both systems supported the idea that food should be warm or cooked in cold climates or seasons.
The reason I bring this idea up now is that we are entering the cold damp time of year. Yet many health enthusiasts promote the consumption of raw fruit and veggies, juicing and frozen smoothies no matter what the constitution or season.
This is the advice I have:
• Listen to your body. If cold food doesn’t appeal to you during the winter months, take that as a sign that it isn’t right for you and feel confident that eating warm cooked food is a healthy choice for you right now. Of course, continue to concentrate on eating multicolored veggies as a staple in your diet. Dress lightly with healthy fats and oils to improve absorption of fat soluble vitamins.
• If you are highly active, you need to absorb better – cook foods.
• If you are very inactive, then you are probably struggling to keep your weight down – eat more raw foods. You will feel more satisfied and hopefully won’t add to your waist line.
• If you have poor digestion – cook foods so that they are easier to digest.
• If you have allergies or sensitivities – cooking foods tends to inactivate the allergens.
We have entered such an unusual social crisis regarding our eating habits. So much conflicting health information everywhere, extremely unhealthy processed foods everywhere – no wonder we are so confused and struggling.
I love Michael Pollan’s simple common sense advice:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
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Scientific American reference: