THE LIVING FOOD DIET
Humans have evolved over a period of approximately 4 million years. For the vast majority of that time, our ancestors ate a combination of raw and living foods. It is only relatively recently (in the last 250,000 years, in fact) that humans began to cook their food.
What are living foods?
Living foods are whole foods from nature (such as fruit, vegetables, sprouted grains, nuts and seeds), which have all the vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients and enzymes that processing, storing, transporting and cooking can alter or destroy. As such, they tend to be nutrient-dense and contain all of the vitality and nutritional potential of freshly picked produce.
The raw aspect comes into it because, broadly speaking, heating food over 46 degrees C damages the beneficial enzymes and other nutrients in food.
The Living Food diet is quickly growing in popularity, as more and more people become aware of the connection between natural whole foods, optimum nutrition and good health.
The rationale is that, when we eat foods in their natural state (or as close to natural as possible), we receive the maximum benefit because the nutrients are in higher levels and in a form more easily recognised and used by the body (so-called “food form”).
This is particularly important in the modern age, as the quality of our agricultural soil diminishes and transportation, storage and processing of foods increases.
For example, a study by IFR EXTRA found that vegetables can lose up to 45% of their nutritional value between being picked and being loaded onto the supermarket shelf, simply because of the length of time it takes to get there.
Once picked, the nutritional value of natural produce (like fruit and vegetables) immediately starts to decline and it essentially starts to ‘die’. If you factor in the time it took for the produce to get to the supermarket and the amount of time it’s been stored in their own warehouses and then on the shelves, the nutritional value is likely to have significantly diminished before you even go to cook it.
And then, the cooking process destroys around half of the protein content, approximately 60% of vitamins and renders about 60% of the minerals non-absorbable.
In contrast, “living” foods, such as sprouted seeds, nuts, grasses and other plants, still contain high levels of nutrients (like enzymes). What’s more, these nutrients are “active”. This also highlights an important distinction between raw and living foods – in the former, the enzymes are in a dormant state and will not become active until sprouting begins. However, the important point is that the potential is there.
Arguably, the best living foods are organically grown, because the full complement of nutrients in the soil are preserved and there are few (if any) toxic chemicals to negate their benefits or pollute the body.
The importance of enzymes
Enzymes are proteins, and they can be sourced externally from the foods we eat, or internally from our body’s own finite reserves.
Without enzymes, human life would not be sustainable. They therefore form an essential element of a well-balanced diet, and ensuring a constant supply of high-quality enzymes is critical for the maintenance of health and vitality.
This is because enzymes support a broad range of processes in the body, facilitating all the processes essential to life. They are best described as “tools”, which see to it that, for example, our food is properly digested, so that the body can absorb and make full use of nutrients. They are also involved in the process of converting food into energy, constructing the building blocks needed for growth, and breaking down harmful substances that enter the body. Each enzyme, whether found in a particular food or manufactured in our body, is perfectly geared to its own particular task.
A poor diet, high in “dead” foods that are heavily refined, processed and therefore nutrient-depleted tend to lead to enzyme deficiencies in the body. Similarly, everything from growing older, high stress levels and medication, to pregnancy and illness can deplete enzyme levels.
Living food advocates suggest that a diet packed with natural whole foods that are nutrient- and enzyme rich, are not only better able to support health and immunity, they also support a strained body by placing less of a burden on the digestive system, without the need to continually deplete our own body stores of digestive enzymes.
Where our own enzyme reserves are called upon, not only is our body placed under additional strain, the enzymes supplied can’t always match exactly those contained naturally in the whole foods, which means that their digestion is often incomplete. This can lead to fermentation in the stomach and small intestine, and then putrefaction in the colon. In turn, poor digestion can lead to a variety of health complaints.
Therefore, preserving our finite supply of digestive enzymes should be a priority for any health-conscious individual. This task becomes easier through a diet of natural whole foods rich in their own enzymes (such as living foods), along with the use of food form supplements as required.
Maintaining the acid / alkaline balance
In order to function efficiently, the body needs correct enzyme capacity, as well as blood that has a pH balance that is neutral, or slightly alkaline. This helps to ensure the efficient delivery of balanced nutrients to the cells.
Our blood pH is directly affected by the foods we eat, which fall into either acid-forming or alkali-forming categories.
An acid-forming food is one that produces an acid ash as a by-product of digestion; examples include meat and dairy products, sugar, processed and refined foods.
In contrast, an alkali-forming food is one that produces an alkaline ash. All fruits, when harvested ripe and eaten fresh, are alkaline-forming. Other alkaline foods include vegetables, green leafy plants (such as wheatgrass), nuts and seed used as grain (such as millet).
To maintain a blood pH within the very narrow range that supports good health, any acids that are produced as a result of metabolism have to be neutralised. This is done by the alkaline mineral salts naturally found in alkalising foods, namely: calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium. These salts are all found in raw fruits and vegetables. As such, a diet following Living Food principles tends to be largely alkalising.
So if your aim is to achieve optimum nutrition through your diet, why not incorporate more raw and living foods? Supply your body with a regular source and broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phyto-chemicals, enzymes and other cleansing and protective nutrients, through a tasty and health-giving approach to eating.