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You are here:Home > Raw Food and Enzymes

Raw Food and Enzymes

V.E. Irons, A.B. (Yale, 1919)

Orthodox View - The case against enzymes

The role of enzymes in the food for both man and animals all too frequently has been a neglected subject scientifically, so far as nutrition is concerned. For example, in 1952 before eight witnesses, Dr. Elmer Nelson, one time chief medical consultant of the FDA stated that, in his opinion, a person could live from birth to a ripe old age just as well on all cooked foods where the enzymes have been killed) as he could on all raw or a mixture of cooked and raw foods.

It has been established by some so called experts that whole grains contain an insoluble substance know as PHYTIN, which inhibits the assimilation of calcium. Many experiments have been performed which demonstrate that some animals die more quickly on whole grains than on white flour because this insoluble phytin prevents the assimilation of the calcium in the whole gain, thus causing rickets in the animal. This occurs despite the fact that the whole grain has four times as much calcium and phosphorus as the white flour. Many food processors, refiners, and certain persons in the FDA have seized upon these experiments, stating that "there is no evidence to indicate that white flour isn't just as good as a food and just as nutritious as whole wheat flour."

The Case for Enzymes and Raw Foods

The inability of pasteurized milk to afford assimilable calcium is no doubt based on loss of phosphatase enzymes through heat treatment. Those who say there is no evidence for the need of enzymes in food should explain why Mother Nature put half a dozen, or more in milk. Dr. F. Pottenger showed, in his celebrated cat experiments that calcium was not properly delivered to bones and teeth if the animals were fed pasteurized milk, and that condensed milk was even worse. His cats developed pyorrhea and arthritis very quickly. It is very significant that experiments with human subjects showed that, even on starvation diets they had no pyorrhea, or arthritis and practically no tooth decay when they used a minimum of cooked foods.

In animal feeding, it has been recognized for years that exogenous enzymes (from the intestinal flora) are important in the digestion of cellulose. In 1949, Mellanby et al, of London established, with animal experiments over five generations, that the phytin combination (of phosphoric acid, magnesium, and calcium) of the whole grain unbleached flour is broken down into an assimilable form by enzymatic action. This occurs when lukewarm water is added to the whole unbleached flour during the yeast raising period, or by the action of the phylase (phosphalase) enzymes of the unbleached whole grain during digestion.

Perhaps as an outgrowth of Edward Mellanby's experiments proving the need for soaking cereal grains in advance so the enzymatic action could break up the phytin into its soluble component parts, several scientists in the Department of Poultry Science, State College of Washington performed experiments using native barley soaked 7 hours as against imported corn. These experiments established the fact that the enzymatic action is sufficient after 7 hours to enable the animals to utilize the barley ingredients with better overall results than when fed the corn.

The important points, therefore, are: First, that the whole grain must not be bleached, for bleaching kills the enzymes, and, Second that the whole unbleached grain should be soaked in water for a substantial period before baking to permit time for the phytase (phosphatase) enzymes to break up the phytin so as to release the phosphates for combining with the abundance of calcium found in the whole grain. Thus, we find that bread made as MY GRANDMOTHER made it, by letting the unbleached whole grain flour soak overnight, produced a food which, though cooked, was just as good as other foods are when eaten raw because the enzymatic action HAD done its job before heat was applied.

NOTE:  Soaking grains to make nutrients more available may not be necessary for optimally nourished people, such as the Hunzas who consume highly mineralized diets of quality foods. However, where food quality is questionable, or the intake of minerals is minimal, particular attention should be given to this method of preparing grains. Special attention should be given to grain preparations for the elderly, who may assimilate nutrients less efficiently, for the young; and for those whom grains constitute the major dietary staple.

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