Raw Food Woo

Two posts in two days. Well I’m at home, it’s raining and I’ve found a really shite article in today’s Metro.

On page 19 of the August 5 issue is a full page article about Chad Sarno’s raw food cuisine and it’s just packed full of Sarno spouting pseudo-scientific bollocks:-

“The idea is you eat like our prehistoric ancestors who lived on raw food long before fire”

Charred bones and ashes have been found alongside quarter-of-a-million year old remains of Homo Erectus which rather indicates that those prehistoric ancestors did cook their food. Moreover, our own species (homo sapiens) has only been around for 110,000 years at the outside – so cooking food has existed for twice as long as our species. We have evolved on cooked food. For us raw food is unnatural.

“I’ve worked with people with diabetes who found their insulin levels dropped after two weeks”

I thought that the problem diabetics had was that their bodies did not produce insulin, that’s why they have to frequently inject themselves with it. Not a recommendation of Sarno’s cuisine, then.

“Raw is based on enzyme therapy … Cook above 47°C (116°F) and your body greets the food as a foreign substance but raw food keeps all the enzymes at their maximum … As you cook it increases toxins and kills off enzymes. If you eat an enzyme-less diet, you are going to suffer.”

I vaguely recall reading something last year that burnt meats can sometimes contain traces of carcinogens but I can’t find any peer-reviewed evidence to support this idea so it was probably part of the Daily Mail’s Project Oncology. In general, I think we can safely ay that cooking does not produce anything we cannot deal with since, as I said previously, we evolved on cooked food.

The stuff about enzymes is just gobbledygook. Food – whether cooked or not – is a “foreign substance”. That’s why your digestive system has to break it down to produce chemicals usable by your body. And what is the nonsense about enzymes all about? Your body  produces the enzymes needed to break down food, not the food itself.

The only good thing about the article is the final paragraph which shows that writer Chloe Scott remains unconvinced. She writes:-

“Yet it’s hard not to believe the best diet isn’t good old-fashioned common sense. Steer clear of badly reared meat, yes. But give up greens, roasted veg and ahem… the odd quality steak? I’ll leave that to Macca and other culinary disciplinarians.”

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3 Responses to “Raw Food Woo”

  1. dvnutrix Says:

    Any enzymes in raw food are digested – and what crazy hybrid triffid beings is this article aimed at? Why would a cabbage enzyme work to do something fabulous in the human body?

    Badly written though the section about diabetes is I know what they mean as I’ve come across variations of this claim – but the answer here is partially-related to the sheer lack of calorie intake under the circumstances of a raw-food way of eating.

    A family friend had a genetic disorder that meant that she had to obtain the enymes to eat food. This wasn’t a bottle of tablets – this was IV therapy that meant that she had to travel everywhere with bottles. Whenever she went on vacation, her luggage allowance and other people’s was taken up with her medication.

    Slightly OT for this, some people just don’t have the teeth or the digestive system to cope with raw food. Plus, cooking increases the bioavailability of some nutrients – like the beta-carotenes in carrots.

    We recently discussed the idea of old woo gussied up as new woo – there is such a long history of promoting raw food it would be interesting to pin down the origins of this modern (or continuous) faddism.

  2. yunshui Says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only Metro reader to be infuriated by that bunch of bobbins. They’re getting worse – there was a truly bonkers article about New Age marriage therapy in there the other day as well.

    Good for a laugh in the mornings, though.

  3. patchogue Says:

    The insulin business is probably relating to type II insulin resistant diabetes – mind you a decent bit of exercise and a balanced diet often do the trick.

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