Raw Versus Cooked Carbs (Plant Foods)

© Copyright Bee Wilder March 30, 2015

What “Are” Carbs?

Carbs are carbohydrate foods that are all foods not classified as protein or fat.

What About Enzymes in Raw Carbs?

Many food faddists today recommend eating all raw foods, including freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices. “They claim” heat destroys enzymes in plant foods, which are proteins that convert the food we eat into chemical structures that can pass through cells that line the digestive tract.

Many people believe Edward Howell, MD, is the expert on enzymes in foods, however he reports: “. . . vegetables and fruits are not concentrated sources of enzymes. When produce ripens, enzymes are present to do the ripening. However, once the ripening is finished, some of the enzymes leave and go back into the stem and seeds.”—see Enzymes and Longevity.

Dr. Howell contradicts himself by also stating: “If enzymes were in the food we eat, they would do some or even a considerable part of the work of digestion by themselves.” Didn’t he just state that vegetables and fruits are not concentrated sources of enzymes? Then why does he promote eating raw uncooked vegetables and fruits?

He goes on to say: “However, when you eat cooked, enzyme-free food, this forces the body itself to make the enzymes needed for digestion. This depletes the body’s limited enzyme capacity.” Dr. Howell seems to be ignorant of the fact that humans do not have digestive enzymes that break down the cell walls of plant foods, which is cellulose, called fiber. This forces the body to act like a cow’s body (herbivores who only eat raw plant foods), which is to create lots of bacteria to break down cells walls by fermenting them, and that is exactly what causes a lot of digestive problems and issues – see Poor Digestion is Caused by Consuming Raw Carbs below to understand more about this.

The subject of enzymes and raw foods is very controversial and does not hold up to the light of truth as argued in Assessing the main arguments and corollaries of Howell’s theory of food enzymes. See the whole article Is Cooked Food Poison?

Enzymes & Nutrients in Carbs

What raw foodists and Dr. Howell fail to realize is that enzymes in these foods, along with all of their nutrients, are located inside the cell walls of plants – see this image: Plant Cell Anatomy.

However all plant cell walls are made of cellulose fibers, and the human digestive system is incapable of breaking them down.

Therefore, the cellulose cell walls of plants must be broken down before they are digestible, and in order for nutrients, including minerals, and any enzymes that may be present to be available for digestion. That is the reason why all raw plant foods (carbohydrates) are very hard on the digestive system.

Dangers of Fructose in Fruits

Fruit is mostly fructose sugar with some vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. However, all of those vitamins and nutrients are easily obtained from meats, eggs, and vegetables. It is a little known fact that many vegetables, like broccoli and peppers, contain more vitamin C than any fruits, except for acerola cherries, and that meats and eggs also contain vitamin C.

The fact is there isn’t very much sugar needed to maintain blood sugar levels since there is a maximum of 1 teaspoon is circulating throughout the body at any given time. Since 58% of protein and 10% of healthy fats are converted to glucose by the liver “as needed”, all of the body’s requirements for blood sugar levels are easily fulfilled by consuming meats, eggs and healthy fats. For the difference between healthy fats and unnatural fats see Unnatural Fats & Oils Damage the Entire Body.

Fructose is one of the worst sugars for humans because it does not stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin, which is needed to maintain blood sugar levels, so glucose is still needed for that purpose. Also it is converted very quickly by the liver into body fat, more so than other sugars or carbs.

Even healthy people should consume no more than 2 servings of fruit per day, which must be accompanied by plenty of healthy fats in order to slow the release of fructose into the system.

Glucose from Carbs Are Not the Best Source of Energy for Our Bodies

All carbs change into glucose/sugar in the body which is one of two sources of energy the body can use; the other source is healthy fats. Glucose is not the best source of energy. Healthy fats like butter, unrefined coconut oil, lard, and other natural occurring fats from animals are the best source of energy. That is because these healthy fats do not deplete or put a strain on the body’s resources in order to digest and utilize them compared to digesting and utilizing carbs.

If you are concerned about fats, don’t be, since The Cholesterol Theory Is a Total Scam!.

These healthy saturated fats do not require stomach acid, digestive enzymes nor bile in order to digest them. Most of these fats go directly from the digestive system through the lymphatic system and into the bloodstream. These fats also do not make your body create fat like carbs and unnatural fats do, since any excess fat consumed is “thrown off” or “discarded” by the body. For information about “good” fats see Fats & Oils from The Skinny on Fats. Also see Fat, taking the fear out of eating them.

Poor Digestion is Caused by Consuming Raw Carbs

When you consume raw plant foods, called carbohydrates, which are any foods not classified as protein or fat, and they reach the large intestines, your body is forced to create bacteria in order to break them down. This changes the large colon into a fermentation chamber which creates a lot of gas, bloating, and many other digestive problems and diseases. Fermentation also makes the large intestines acidic, when it is needs to be alkaline so it can perform its many important functions.

Animals like cows and sheep, who are herbivores (consume only plant foods), have digestive systems that contain billions of bacteria and protozoa which begin the process of breaking down the cellulose cell walls into cellobiose to begin the process of releasing the nutrients inside. That’s why herbivores produce lots of gas, and because they consume only carbs/sugars they are fat and bloated. For more details see Comparison Between the Digestive Tracts of a Carnivore, a Herbivore and Man, Part 3 The gut of a herbivore — The sheep. The complete article starts here Comparison Between the Digestive Tracts of a Carnivore, a Herbivore and Man, Introduction.

In order to be healthy the entire small and large intestines must be alkaline. That’s why the pancreas pours out large amounts of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) onto foods emptying out of the stomach, which neutralizes stomach acid, before it produces digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes only work in an alkaline environment. Also the liver, gall bladder, and the large and small intestines produce baking soda for the same reason. Bile is also alkaline.

How to Break Down the Cell Walls (Fibers) of Carbs

It takes heat or fermentation, and time for the nutrients and enzymes (whatever they do contain) to be available from all carbs, particularly minerals. In fact freshly juiced fruits and vegetables contain no minerals or enzymes since juicing does not break down the cell walls.

Breaking down cellulose cell walls of vegetables and fruits can be done by two different methods:

  1. Cooking them long enough for their “color” and “texture” to change, evidence that the cell walls have been broken.
    “Color change means they will get lighter in color. “Texture change” means they will become softer, which is more noticeable with root vegetables. Root vegetables should be soft enough to easily mash up with a fork.
  2. Fermenting them also breaks down their cell walls, i.e. kimchi, sauerkraut, etc. Fermenting foods actually pre-digests them the same as cooking does, if they are fermented long enough.

For example, kale cooked for an hour delivers far more minerals than lightly steamed kale. Therefore cooking all carbs (plant foods), including vegetables and fruits, maximizes the nutrients available, particularly minerals, and fermenting plant foods long enough pre-digests them making them easier to digest.

You can save vegetable cooking water for soups and broths, or drink it as is, with some ocean sea salt and spices added. Or use this mineral-rich cooking water to make Mineral-Rich Bone Broths.

Suggested Reading on Carbs and Fibers