Enzymes are really like magic makers in our body. They are involved in so many of our body’s processes.
A diet of mostly cooked foods puts a great strain on our pancreas, making it tired and over-stimulated to produce enzymes that ought to be in foods. This leads to reduced function, early ageing and decreased longevity. Often, when your enzyme supplies are low, so are you.
Once enzymes are heated above 47 C in wet heat and 66 C in dry heat, they are destroyed…….that’s right – heat food above those temperatures and then no more enzymes. That is why raw food is so, so important!
It’s not necessary to be 100% raw – of course you need to cook some foods to prevent anti-nutrients like potato, beans (that aren’t sprouted), kale etc. We have at least one cooked meal per day though we always try to have something raw with each meal. Even if it is a few sprigs of basil on top of our omelette in the morning.
Almost all traditional societies incorporate raw, enzyme rich food into their diets. Not only vegetable foods but raw animal protein, raw fish, raw fats like milk and other raw dairy products. Fermentation of foods such as sauerkraut and miso enhances enzyme activity even further.
A few months ago my family and I were so very fortunate to be able to have a seven day home stay with a Mongolian nomadic family in their ger. Whilst it was the most challenging week for me from a culinary sense for my vegetarian palate, it was so, so interesting to see a culture that hardly has any raw veggies. Even with their cooked veggies they use only 2-3 types in their diet.
Fruit is a delicacy if someone goes to market and is usually imported. I wondered just how they could survive. However, they eat some of their meat raw, they have so much dairy product – all of which is raw, or fermented, or made into balls and dried in the sun. Nothing is wasted. They looked very healthy and happy.
It is easy to get lots of enzymes in the summer in many areas of the world it’s a bit more challenging and needs more forethought and preparation in the winter.
Many of my clients often – ask – ‘How about in the winter? How can I get more enzymes in the winter, when all I want to have is hot soup?’ It is much easier to get more enzymes into you in the summer because it doesn’t need too much thought – but here are some ways to add yummy enzymes in the winter.
1. Dried fruit – these can be delicious if you place them in a cup of water overnight to rehydrate and then place them on your porridge in the morning – remember to drink the juice)- buy organic ones that are sun dried if possible
2. Fresh coconut water
3. Raw honey mixed into yoghurt
4. Naturally fermented sauerkraut -great accompaniment to many meals
5. Kombucha tea/drink
6. Kefir yoghurt drink
8. Miso paste – great on bread mixed with tahini for a savoury taste or mixed with honey for a sweeter taste.
9. Fresh coconut water
10. Alfalfa sprouts and other seed/bean sprouts – great in wraps
11. Raw almonds – soak them over night which increases their digest ability and have them with your breakfast
12. Tzatziki (see Sandy’s Cretan tzatziki recipe)
14. Fresh vegetable or fruit juices
The best ways to conserve your enzyme supply so that it doesn’t run low are:
1. Eating organically grown raw food.
2. Take digestive enzymes every time you eat.
3. Take digestive enzymes on an empty stomach (such as kefir or kombucha).
Put simply, the faster your enzymes supplies are depleted, the faster you age and the more likely you are to get sick. Over 70% of our immunity is in our gut – looking after our digestive system is so important in keeping us well, looking healthier and being happier.
Happy enzyme eating.