During the past few decades there has been much research done in the area of nutrition. Some of this research casts light on some important insights regarding the foods which Mother Nature offers to us in its whole, raw state, and what happens when we tamper with it. What exactly happens to food when it is cooked? What happens to the body if we eat cooked food? Some key points are covered in this article. Due to space limitation, we can only but touch on the topic here; however, a brief overview is given below.
Key Points Regarding the Effects of Cooking on Food and Health
The food's life force is greatly depleted or destroyed. The bioelectrical (energy) field is altered and greatly depleted (as is graphically demonstrated with kirlian photography). Live and bioactive (raw) food is rendered dead and inert.
The biochemical structure and nutrient makeup of the food is altered from its original state. Molecules in the food are deranged, degraded, and broken down. The food is degenerated in many ways. Fiber in plant foods is broken down into a soft, passive substance which loses its broom-like and magnetic cleansing quality in the intestines.
Nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc.) are depleted, destroyed, and altered. The degree of depletion, destruction, and alteration is simply a matter of temperature, cooking method, and time.
Up to 50% of the protein is coagulated. Much of this is rendered unusable. High temperatures also create cross-links in protein. Cross-linked proteins are implicated in many problems in the body, as well as being a factor in the accelleration of the aging process.
The interrelationship of nutrients is altered from its natural synergistic makeup. For example, with meat, relatively more vitamin B-6 than methionine is destroyed, which fosters atherogenic free radical-initiating homocysteine accumulation (which is a factor in heart problems).
The water content of the food is decreased. The natural structure of the water is also changed.
Toxic substances and cooked "byproducts" are created. The higher the cooking temperature, the more toxins that are created. Frying and grilling are especially toxin-generating. Various carcinogenic and mutagenic substances and hordes of free radicals are generated in cooked fats and proteins in particular.
Heat causes the molecules involved to collide, and repeated collision causes divalent bonding in order for new molecules, and hence a new substance, to form. In an ordinary baked potato, there are 450 by-products of every description. They have even been named "new chemical composites".
Unusable (waste) material is created, which has a cumulative congesting/clogging effect on the body and is a burden to the natural eliminative processes of the body.
All of the enzymes present in raw foods are destroyed at temperatures as low as 118 degrees fahrenheit. These enzymes, named "food enzymes" are important for optimum digestion. They naturally aid in digestion and become active as soon as eating commences. Cooking destroys 100% of these enzymes. Eating enzyme-dead food places a burden on the pancreas and other organs and overworks them, which eventually exhausts these organs. The digestion of cooked food usurps valuable metabolic enzymes in order to help digest the food. Digestion of cooked food is much more energetically demanding than the digestion of raw food. In general, raw food is so much more easily digested that it passes through the digestive tract in a half to a third of the time it takes for cooked food.
After eating a cooked meal, there is a rush of white blood cells towards the digestive tract, leaving the rest of the body less protected by the immune system. From the point of view of the immune system the body is being invaded by a foreign (toxic) substance when cooked food is eaten.
A general augmentation of white corpuscles in the blood and a change in the relative proportions of different blood cells occurs. This phenomenon is called "digestive leukocytosis".
The natural population of beneficial intestinal flora becomes dominated by putrefactive bacteria (particularly from cooked meat), resulting in colonic dysfunction, allowing the absorption of toxins from the bowel. This phenomenon is variously called dysbacteria, dysbiosis, or intestinal toxemia (toxicosis).
A buildup of mucoid plaque is created in the intestines. Mucoid plaque is a thick tar-like substance which is the long-term result of undigested, uneliminated cooked food putrefying in the intestines. Cooked starches and fats in particular are a major culprit in constipation and clogging of the intestines.
A build-up of toxins and waste material in many parts of the body, including within individual cells. Some of these toxins and wastes are called lipofuscin, which accumulates in the skin and nervous system, including the brain. It can be observed as "liver spots" or "age spots."
Malnutrition at the cellular level. Because cooked foods are lower in nutrients, in addition to containing wastes and toxins, individual cells don't receive enough of the nutrients they need.
Tendency towards obesity through overeating. Because the cells don't get enough nutrients they are so to speak "always hungry" and hence "demand" more food. Cooked food is also less likely to be properly metabolized, which is another factor in excess weight gain.
From time to time the body experiences detoxification crises (also called purification or healing crises). This happens when toxins are released through the skin or dumped in the bloodstream for elimination by the liver, kidneys, and other organs. The symptoms may include headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, colds, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, etc.
The body can become so toxic that all kinds of particles, such as pollen, can cause detoxification crises, called "allergies". An estimated 80 million Americans suffer from such "allergies".
The immune system, having to handle the massive daily invasions of toxins and toxic by-products, eventually becomes overwhelmed and weakened. A key factor in the aging process.
Some of the waste material builds up in the arteries and clogs them, leading to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, strokes, etc. - killing an estimated 50% of Americans.
The wastes, toxins, mutagens, and carcinogens that build up within cells, as well as the daily onslaught of excess free radicals eventually cause some cells to become cancerous - killing an estimated 30% of Americans.
In general, the natural aging process is accelerated by cooked food. People who switch to raw food often become biologically and visibly younger.
From cancerologist Bruce Ames (regarding "mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, and the degenerative diseases of aging")
Cooking food is plausible as a contributor to cancer. A wide variety of chemicals are formed during cooking. Four groups of chemicals that cause tumors in rodents have attracted attention because of mutagenicity, potency, and concentration:
Nitrosamines are formed from nitrogen oxides present in gas flames or from other burning. Surprisingly little work has been done on the levels of nitrosamines in fish or meat cooked in gas ovens or barbecued, considering their mutagenic and carcinogenic potency.
Heterocyclic amines are formed from heating amino acids or proteins.
Polycyclic hydrocarbons are formed from charring meat.
Furfural and similar furans are formed from heating sugars. Heating fat generates mutagenic epoxides, hydroperoxides, and unsaturated aldehydes, and may also be of importance.
References: International Agency for Research on Cancer (1993) Some naturally occurring substances: Food items and constituents, heterocyclic aromatic amines and mycotoxins (International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France). Gold, L. S., Slone, T. H., Stern, B. R., Manley, N. B. & Ames, B. N. (1992) Science 258, 261-265. Gold, L. S., Slone, T. H., Manley, N. B. & Ames, B. N. (1994) Cancer Lett. 83, 21-29. [Dr. Ames is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center, University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was on their Commission on Life Sciences. He was formerly on the board of directors of the National Cancer Institute (National Cancer Advisory Board). He was the recipient of the most prestigious award for cancer research, the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Prize (1983), the highest award in environmental achievement, the Tyler Prize (1985), the Gold Medal Award of the American Institute of Chemists (1991), and the Glenn Foundation Award of the Gerontological Society of America (1992). He has been elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Japan Cancer Association, and the Academy of Toxicological Sciences. His 300 scientific publications have resulted in his being the 23rd most-cited scientist (in all fields) (1973-1984).]
Leukocytosis and Cooked Food In 1930, research was conducted at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry in Lausanne, Switzerland, under the direction of Dr. Paul Kouchakoff. The effect of food (cooked/processed vs. raw/natural) on the immune system was tested and documented. Dr. Kouchakoff's discovery concerned the leukocytes, the white blood cells. Apparently, a well-known phenomena occurred immediately after a person ate. It was found that after a person eats cooked food, his/her blood responds immediately by increasing the number of white blood cells. This is a well-known phenomena called "digestive leukocytosis", which means that there is a rise in the number of leukocytes, or white blood cells, after eating. Since digestive leukocytosis was always observed after eating, it was considered to be a normal physiological response to eating. No one knew why the number of white cells would rise after eating, since this appeared to be a stress response, as if the body was reacting to something harmful, such as infection, trauma, or exposure to toxic chemicals. Back in 1930, Swiss researchers of the institute of Chemical Chemistry studied the influence of food on human blood and made a remarkable discovery. They found that eating unaltered, raw food or food heated at low temperatures did not cause a reaction in the blood. In addition, if a food had been heated beyond a certain temperature (unique to each food), or if the food was processed (refined, added chemicals, etc.), this always caused a rise in the number of white cells in the blood. The researchers renamed this reaction "pathological leukocytosis", since the body was reacting to highly altered food. They tested many different kinds of foods and found that if the foods were not overheated or refined, they caused no reaction. The body saw them as "friendly foods". However, these same foods, if heated at too high a temperature, caused a negative reaction in the blood, a reaction that is found only when the body is invaded by a dangerous pathogen or trauma. The worst offenders of all, whether heated or not, were processed foods that had been refined (such as white flour or white rice), or homogenized (a process in which the fat in milk is subjected to artificial suspension), or pasteurized (also seen in milk, flash-heated to high temperatures to kill bacteria), or preserved (chemicals added to food to retard spoilage or to enhance taste or texture). In other words, foods that were changed from their original God-given state. Good examples of these harmful foods are: pasteurized milk, chocolate, margarine, sugar, candy, white flour, and regular salt. The researchers found that if these altered, chemical foods were chewed very thoroughly, the harm to the blood could be lessened. In addition, another amazing finding was that if some of the same food in its raw state was eaten with the cooked counterpart, the pathological reaction in the blood was minimized. However, avoid these unnatural, processed foods; replace them with delicious whole foods for optimal health. Reference: Kouchakoff, Paul, M.D.; "The Influence of Cooking Food on the Blood Formula of Man"; First International Congress of Microbiology; Paris, 1930.
Warren King, a local naturopathic practitioner in Minneapolis, has some valuable wisdom below about the real health hazards of microwave ovens. This hits home for me because I worked for a co. in the 70's that designed microwave cooking accessories, working directly with scientists at Litton, the original inventors of the microwave oven. I had no idea how unsafe it was even though I inquired. Its possible the microwaved food tests I had ingested 25 years ago had something to do with developing asthma and digestive problems. I feel no ill effects today from healing my body with living foods, and good living for at least 8 years.
A little history...and additional facts....
I discovered that American microwave oven cos. like Litton, Amana, etc, were not required by the FDA to test for safety because they brainwashed the public to think all it did was innocently heat the water in the food. Not true, as you can read below.
In Russia before Perestroika in the 80's, microwave ovens were regarded such a serious health hazard from decades of research done by Russian health scientists since WW2, that microwave ovens were banned in that country for 10 years starting in 1976.
When Perestroika opened up Russia to western corporations and a flood of modern products, the ban was lifted in the interest of creating bigger markets for American microwave oven companies, particularly Litton.
Why was a ban on something proven to be unsafe mysteriously lifted, and crucial health effects research suppressed?
My observation is that Litton also produced advanced missile guidance systems that were included in Reagan's proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, known as "Star Wars", remember? So as a reward to Litton, a corporate special interest who supported Reagan, he got the ban lifted. And now millions of Russians suffer with Americans from microwaved food.
MICROWAVED PLASTIC WRAP HAS 10,000,000 TIMES FDA LIMITS OF CARCINOGENS!
If the truth got out to enough people, microwave ovens should rightfully be banned. And hopefully some eco-preneur can come up with a way of recycling all the microwave ovens on the planet and convert them into something beneficial. Any ideas?
One more thing....
Then what would we do with all the mountains of GMO microwave popcorn? Its the biggest reason why people buy the darn machines.
Ninety percent of modern households have microwave ovens [as well as millions of restaurants]. Microwave ovens vibrate at over 2 million cycles per second (compared to 60 cycles for electric stoves), and the intense vibration can affect the cellular integrity of food as well as be absorbed by those who eat it. Salmonella bacteria , a main cause of food poisoning, have been found to survive in cold spots that do not fully cook.
In a study by Dr. Radwan Farag of Cairo University, it was discovered that just two seconds of microwave energy destroys all the enzymes in a food, thus increasing our enzyme deficiency and altering the frequency of the food. Heating proteins in the microwave for 10 minutes or more may create a new, harmful species of protein. Research showed that microwaved food produced major changes in the subjects’ blood and immune function. These included a decrease in the red blood cells that carry oxygen and take out carbon dioxide; an increase in the percentage of red blood cells and eleukocytes; higher cholesterol; and a decrease in lymphocytes. You may decide that this is a high price to pay for convenience.
And then there is this to think about: the University of Minnesota warned that microwaving a baby’s bottle can cause slight changes in the milk. In the case of a hip-surgery patient in Oklahoma, microwaving blood for a transfusion killed the patient. California scientists found that microwaved cow’s milk grew E. coli bacteria, associated with food poisoning, 18 times more than regular milk.
In another research project, two groups of subjects were fed steamed food or microwaved food. After 10 days, stool samples were taken and analyzed. The group given the steamed food had normal stools while the group given the microwaved food showed stools with a plastic -like texture, altered enzymes, and protein with altered molecular structure which could not be absorbed. Furthermore, ultrasound scans showed adhesive food particles stuck to the stomach wall.
Also, the chemicals used in plastic containers or other microwave packaging can migrate into the food. Dimethyl terephthalate, a suspected carcinogen, is commonly used for microwaved popcorn, pizza, French fries, fishsticks and Belgian waffles. There is also the danger of radiation leaking out of the microwave which could disrupt the delicate balances in our cellular growth. Our bodies are regulated by electrical frequencies and electromagnetic fields. It would be wise to avoid disrupting these frequencies.
Like all canny cooks, Cherie Soria knows how to hook her audience: with desserts.
But Soria doesn't pull out the stops with butter, sugar, eggs and flour, baking them into fluffy confections.
She makes her magic with avocado and agave syrup -- and no baking at all. By the time her students taste her creations, they don't mind that those unexpected ingredients are the major components of their chocolate mousse.
As Soria would say, "If you can make a raw vegan cheesecake better than regular cheesecake, why would you eat regular cheesecake?"
In no time, she has her students dipping into a layered pesto torta that relies on a cheese made from almonds to replace the usual ricotta, and digging into a lasagna-type dish with a noodle-like layer of pureed cashew nuts stretched over mushrooms, spinach and a killer marinara sauce.
Soria is the pre-eminent teacher of gourmet raw food preparation, and founder of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Mendocino County. Now, she's established the country's first cooking school devoted to teaching raw and vegan cooking to home cooks and professional chefs.
A place of their own
After nearly a decade of giving classes on the fly, in whatever facilities she could find, to some 800 students, she and her husband, co-director Dan Ladermann, have a place to call their own. The school is now housed in the 6,000-square-foot Company Store on Main Street in Fort Bragg.
With the school, Soria and Ladermann aim to take raw cuisine mainstream. Classes are both demonstration and hands-on; the business also includes a production kitchen and takeout deli. There are no stoves or ovens; instead, dehydrators, high-speed blenders and special climate-controlled rooms for growing sprouts signal this is a raw-food operation.
Power Point presentations are part of the lectures and demonstrations, and six fully equipped stations are set up for hands-on classes.
Roxanne Klein, whose eponymous, exclusively raw restaurant in Larkspur opened to critical acclaim in 2002 is Soria's most famous student. Klein's restaurant and takeout deli closed in 2004, but restaurants such as Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and Berkeley, and Alive in San Francisco, are continuing the trend.
Raw foodists believe that the greatest nourishment comes from food that is not heated beyond 115 degrees. One reason, they believe, is that antioxidants and phyto-chemicals remain intact. They also believe that heat can transform some ingredients, notably oil and salt, into toxins.
While these claims are controversial, Soria, 58, a radiant, small-framed woman who looks much younger than her years, may be the best advertisement for the cuisine and lifestyle. She has been cooking and living the raw food diet for 14 years, teaching classes at retreats such as Harbin Hot Springs in Lake County, and traveling the circuit of vegetarian and vegan national conferences.
When she began Living Light nine years ago, she kicked off with conventional raw dishes. "I taught raw without saying so by making gazpacho and olive tapenade," she says. Those dishes, followed by raw desserts, she says, won people over.
The menu board of Living Light Cuisine ToGo, downstairs from the school, shows what draws: banana ice cream, carrot apple kuchen, chocolate mousse cup, chocolate cheesecake and frozen fudge bites. Juices and smoothies are listed, but so are entrees such as nori rolls, green burrito, zucchini angel hair pasta and a boxed mezze meal. All of them are made with 95 percent organic and 98 percent raw foods.
At the school, students begin with a required fundamentals class, then advance to associate chef and instructor training levels for professionals. As the classes progress, the format moves from a demonstration to hands-on format. In the past year, most of her fundamental classes have been at the capacity enrollment of 30 students. The hands-on classes are usually full, with 24 to 30 students per class.
Soria says the school enrolls students from an international field, including Lebanon, South Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, Europe and South America. Raw food techniques are different enough from standard cooking that even chefs -- many of them private chefs for Bay Area families -- take her classes, says Soria. Google, the Internet giant in Mountain View, recently hired a chef who graduated from Living Light.
Soria knows what it feels like to be labeled a cultist. "I went from the standard American diet to vegetarian to vegan to raw," she says. When she began a vegetarian diet in the carnivorous '60s, "people thought I was going to die."
She was a vegetarian for 19 years before she attended a workshop in 1992 at the clinics of Anne Wigmore, founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, a wheatgrass and raw food discipline with an emphasis on using foods to rid the body of toxins.
Wigmore's regime failed in one respect, Soria says -- "Her food had no flavor." Clients might feel better after a regime of juices, wheatgrass, salads and sprouts, but "they go back home and are bored" with the diet, Soria says.
A mind at work
Soria set her culinary intelligence to work. She based her cuisine on raw vegan "cheeses," and began -- as she did by teaching desserts -- naming her dishes after mainstream comfort foods, and making them look like lasagna, pizza and sandwiches. She created raw dishes with cooked textures, such as her "stir, not-fried" vegetables.
She searched for sophisticated cutting gadgets such as a spiral slicer to create long pastas such as angel hair and linguine out of zucchini, and used high-powered blenders to make smooth and creamy textures, such as vegan mayonnaise and aioli.
Nuts and seeds are sprouted, because a tenet of the raw food movement says that eating "living'' food is the source of energy. By sprouting nuts and seeds, the living components are activated.
Soria ferments pureed nut milks with beneficial intestinal flora such as probiotic and vegan acidophilus cultures and Wigmore's invention -- Revjuvelac, fermented wheat and rye juice. All this adds flavor and nourishment, Soria says, which helps people feel fuller quicker. During the course of a weeklong class, Soria says, students feel sated and still lose an average of 10 pounds.
Jean-Marie Fayat is such a person -- he had tried everything to lose weight. Fayat is executive pastry chef at Draeger's Market in San Mateo. A chef who came up the ranks of professional trade school in France, he came to the United States in 1976. Like many chefs, he had gained quite a bit of weight. He tried a three-day raw foods workshop and found "those foods were very appetizing."
Like other individuals and some private chefs in the Bay Area, he learned that with raw food, "You can make a great, excellent meal." And, he says, "I lost 22 pounds in three weeks.
"It was very dramatic for me. I'm a French chef, and I like my cheese and wine."
Like Soria, Fayat predicts that raw food will become mainstream because it addresses obesity and tastes good. Soria admits that a raw diet can be challenging: It's idealto eat 80 percent raw, but she says that most people will benefit from 50 percent raw. Many of her students, she says, strive to maintain a close-to-100 percent raw diet, but will drink hot tea, and revert to the occasional mashed potatoes.
Trying not to sound extreme, Soria says she and Ladermann do eat out, perhaps once a week, and when they do, they have "a nice vegetarian meal" at a local conventional cooked-food restaurant.
Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, 301-B North Main St., Fort Bragg; (800) 816-2319 or (707) 964-2420, or visit rawfoodchef.com.
In the raw food philosophy, most ingredients supply several nutritional components. Here are the major sources of various nutritional requirements.
Protein: Nuts, seeds and greens
Carbohydrates: Fruits and greens
Fats: Nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and cold-pressed oils
Chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants, but can also be addictive, so use it sparingly, says Cherie Soria of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. The secret ingredient, avocado, makes this mousse thick and rich, but cannot be detected in the flavor.
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup agave nectar (see Note)
3/4 cup raw cocoa powder (see Note)
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice (see Note)
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 avocados, about 6 ounces each, peeled, seeded and mashed
1/2 cup peeled slivered raw almonds, for garnish, optional (See Note)
Place coconut oil in a small work bowl and place the bowl in a pan with about 1 inch of hot water. The coconut oil will melt.
Combine melted coconut oil, agave nectar, cocoa powder, orange juice, evaporated cane juice, orange zest, cayenne and salt in a high-powered blender. A regular blender will work, although it may not make the mixture quite as smooth. Puree until smooth; use a small rubber spatula to keep folding the mixture into the center to keep the mixture blending without adding water (you may stop the machine to do this). Make sure cane juice crystals are fully dissolved.
Add the mashed avocado and blend just until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Pour into six 4-ounce ramekins. Serve each portion topped with slivered almonds.
Note: Agave nectar and evaporated cane juice are minimally processed sweeteners. They are available, along with raw cocoa powder, at natural food stores.
To peel almonds, place a heaping half cup of almonds in a glass bowl. Cover with hot water and let soak 15 minutes. Drain, peel skin off of almonds and slice into slivers with a sharp knife. Dry the almonds slightly before using, either by allowing to air-dry for 15 minutes, or spreading on a sheet pan and placing in a 100° oven for 5 minutes.
PER SERVING: 400 calories, 4 g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 30 g fat (19 g saturated), 0 cholesterol, 17 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.
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