My treatise on Raw food in the modern world goes a little like this; its great in theory but for most “busy” people it’s just not sustainable health wise. So unless you’re a monk meditating on each mouthful on a mountain top or live in a hot tropical holiday destination all year round, have a body thats always running hot or a master at balancing the energetic nature of food you may want to cook things up a little.
When I was studying Nutrition 15 years ago (wow where time goes…) there was no mention of the energetic of food that I learnt about in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Dietetics. What we did learn a lot about was what acids and enzymes broke down food down to its nutritional components all the way along the digestive tract. One thing that stuck with me from those dreaded lab session was that if you increase the variability of temperature, it was a catalyst for increasing the acids and enzymes ability to go to town and work their magic breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fat in a timely manner.
Flash forward –to my TCM Dietetics study this made a lot of sense-you see in TCM we learn -people that haven’t got super ‘hot’ digestive systems at this point in time should avoid energetically cold and uncooked food. Our digestive system is simply just not made for eating cold, refrigerated and frozen foods & drinks in a hurry.
Let me use this for an example that healthy Green smoothie for breakfast on the way to work in the car isn’t getting swooshed around in your mouth for 4 minutes each mouth full so it comes up to body temperature is it? So its hitting the stomach acids and enzymes cool and slowing the rate of digestion. Not to mention that your attentions on driving your car, catching your bus or sitting at your desk stressing about your work emails by this time- so blood & electrical circulation in your body is divided between your survival and thrive (rest & digest) already.
Time passes and your stomach empties the not so properly digested “Nutrients” of your green smoothie into your small intestine and then moving on to your large intestine in not quite the right form as they should be. This upsets the ecosystem here causing the bacterial balance to be squewed, inflammation and improper fermentation processes (Gas!) happening. Meanwhile during this process you haven’t ended up getting all those wonderful super nutrients that you thought you were getting from that beautiful and bountiful looking Smoothie, juice, salad or organic papaya & free range dragon fruit gelato!
From my experience for me the common sense rules are:
– Warm cooked foods + drinks 37 degree plus for the most part.
-No Ice in drinks or food unless it’s 40 degrees outside.
-Get Fruit & vege out of the refrigerator a while before eating.
-Ginger, Green tea or miso soup is good to have with food.
-Water and peppermint teas etc dilute & cool digestive juices and should be consumed away from food.
-Combine Hot or warming natured foods with cold, raw or cooling food. Think sushi eat the ginger to stimulate digestion, add wasabi to pump up the digestive heat and drink tea, broths and miso.
-If I am unavoidably faced with raw, room temp or cool foods- SLOW down and chew each mouth full extra well and eat a small amount so it has the chance to be broken down.
-Food is Medicine, listen to what your body is telling you, think ice-cream headache, reflux!
Lastly there is always some confusion and crossover of raw as in uncooked foods and raw-un refined processed ingredients let me just say I’m a huge fan of raw chocolate just not a fan of a completely raw diet-unless you’re one of those people I described above and its only until you have come back to balance!