Living foods diet

The Living Foods diet is based on the consumption of raw fruit and vegetables including sprouted seeds and beans.

Table of contents
1 Beliefs
2 Origin and scope
3 Recent Research
4 Alternative medicine viewpoint
5 Conclusion
6 Further reading

Beliefs

Followers of Living Foods diets often have the following general beliefs:

  • Raw foods contain enzymes, catalysts which regulate the digestive process in the body.
  • Heating (or freezing) food degrades or destroys enzymes in food.
  • Food without enzymes causes toxicity in the body, excess consumption of food, and obesity.
  • Living and raw foods have much higher nutrient values than foods which have been cooked.
  • One should eat mostly fruit and vegetables while minimising intake of meat, complex carbohydrates, and food which has been either frozen or heated over 106 degrees F (41 degrees C).

Origin and scope

Proponents of the diet believe that man for much of his history had a mainly raw, mostly vegetarian diet, and that his digestive system is largely aligned to that.

Artturi Virtanen, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, is often quoted as supporting a Living Foods diet. He showed that enzymes in uncooked foods are released in the mouth when vegetables are chewed. These enzymes interact with other substances, notably the enzymes produced by the body itself, to produce maximum benefit from the digestion process.

The Living Foods diet is not a universally accepted set of beliefs. For example, most public healthy-eating programs advocate complex carbohydrates (such as pasta, rice, and potatoes) as the major part of a healthy diet. Since these involve cooking, it seems that government advice does not recommend a Living Foods diet.

However, government guidance is being reconsidered, and in Scientific American, January 2003, Walter C. Willett and Meir J. Stampfer point out the new directions for the good food pyramid: these seem to be in line with Living foods thinking.

Recent Research

Raw foods such as fruits and some vegetables are widely recognised to have a place in healthy eating. Research shows (see Prochaska LJ and Piekutowski WV 1994) that there are enzymes in uncooked food which have some role in digestive processes, although some people feel that proteins including enzymes are denatured in the stomach.

Research was done by scientists at Cornell into diet and health correlations across China.This was done in collaboration with Oxford University, and has now had an equally extensive follow-up. The results are seen by some scientists as supporting the beliefs of those following a Living foods diet. (see Cornell Chronicle reference)

Cornell nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Professor and director of the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and Environment states:

"...merely eating some low-fat foods or complying with current U.S. dietary recommendations is unlikely to prevent much disease...To get really significant changes in disease rates, it will be necessary to shift the American diet from its heavy reliance on animal-based foods to one that relies far more on plant-based foods" (Cornell Chronicle 10/1/94)

He also stated at a symposium on epediomology:

"Analyses of data from the China studies ... is leading to policy recommendations." He mentioned three:

  • " The greater the variety of plant-based foods in the diet, the greater the benefit. Variety insures broader coverage of known and unknown nutrient needs.
  • Provided there is plant food variety, quality and quantity, a healthful and nutritionally complete diet can be attained without animal-based food.
  • The closer the food is to its native state -- with minimal heating, salting and processing -- the greater will be the benefit."(Cornell Chronicle 28/6/01)[1]

Alternative medicine viewpoint

The Living Foods Diet is seen as extreme in alternative medicine circles. Some naturopathic (naturopathy) physicians may prescribe this diet as a short-term therapy for an illness, but would not recommend it for all people all the time. The nutrition branches of Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda almost always see raw foods as detrimental to the body even while considering a person's constitution (whether a person is Yin or Yang, weak or strong, hot or cold, dry or damp, etc.) and in this way it would be impossible to always recommend any single type of food to all people, however raw foods is not recommend across the board because it is considered to decrease digestive 'fire'.

On the positive side, some naturopathic doctors believe that by absorbing the building blocks of the enzymes, that this may (further down the biosynthesis line) help with further production of these digestive enzymes, thus presumably helping people who are not producing sufficient quantities.

Conclusion

On balance it seems that a Living Foods diet has some sound nutritional basis and is seen as having some confirmation in research. It has not yet gained the general support of public nutrition advisers, of some scientists, or of some sections of the alternative health community. Its basic idea of enzyme effects is disputed. However, the benefits of a generally vegetarian diet incorporating some raw food is well-supported by nutritionists.

External Links

Further reading

  • The Raw Truth by Jeremy A Safron, (Celestial Arts, Toronto, 2003)ISBN 1-58761-172-4(pbk.)

  • On the synergistic effects of enzymes in food with enzymes in the human body. A literature survey and analytical report. Prochaska LJ and Piekutowski WV, Medical Hypotheses 42: 355-62 (1994).

  • Rebuilding the Food Pyramid Walter C. Willett and Meir J. Stampfer, Scientific American January 2003.



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