Ann Wigmore is credited for having championed the raw or living food lifestyle in the 1950s. But there were others. People like Viktoras Kulvinaskas, John Tobe, Arnold Ehret and Norman Walker, to name a few. The more recent proselytizers of raw foods are George Malkmus of Hallelujah Acres, Steve Arlin, Rose Lee Calabro and Susannah and Leslie Kenton. The living food lifestyle is catching on and this magazine has been part of the new wave. Alive books published Living With Green Power by Elysa Markowitz in 1997 and The Raw Gourmet by Nomi Shannon in early 1999. Our own chef and food stylist, Fred Edrissi, did the food styling for Raw Gourmet, and it’s become a best seller in the US, far outstripping our predictions in popularity. Both of these authors proved that raw food does not have to be boring, unattractive or hard to swallow. It’s delicious! More than that, raw food has become a new dietary revolution as people catch on to its healing power. This year we celebrate a raw food energy milestone. A group of raw food gurus have co-operated to sponsor a ground-breaking event in Jamaica, August 20–25, 2000: The First Annual Raw Food Masters Culinary Showcase. Fred Edrissi will be there, along with our photographer, Edmond Fong. (See Health Events Calendar p 116) Certified organic food is the food and medicine of the 21st century. The fortunate who hear this message will be able to use all the necessary tools to build strong defense systems against the chemical onslaughts of this new century. Raw food is living food. It’s food that has not been processed or heated above 118°C (244°F). It’s food that contains the enzymes necessary for digestion as well as all the natural vitamins and minerals inherent in the specific vegetable or fruit. Raw food is probably the only basis for optimum nutrition. Even nutritionists like Dr Paavo Airola and others always cautioned that an optimum diet must be at least 75-percent to 95-percent raw. That doesn’t leave much room for packaged snacks, folks! Dr Edward Howell wrote the definitive book Enzyme Nutrition. He said, "The human race is at least half sick...there are no completely healthy people living on the conventional diet. Even young adults who feel fit have health defects." He blames this national state of disease on malnutrition due to the consumption of cooked and processed food. This food destroys all enzymes and therefore makes it impossible for the body to metabolize nutrients. More than anything, the raw food revolution is about enzymes. The Food Enzyme Concept There are three classes of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, which run our bodies; digestive enzymes, which digest our food; and food enzymes in the raw food itself, which start food digestion. All of our organs and tissues are run by metabolic "worker" enzymes. These enzymes take proteins, fats and carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and structure them to make healthy bodies, keeping everything functioning in order. Dr Howell says nothing must interfere with the body making enough metabolic enzymes. Good health depends on it. A shortage means trouble! The digestive enzyme group includes proteases (to digest protein), amylases (to digest carbohydrates) and lipases (to digest fat). We are all given these enzymes at birth, but in a limited supply. So the master plan is that we do not exhaust that supply by forcing the body’s digestive enzymes to carry the whole load of digestion. When food enzymes do some of the work, your enzyme potential can allot less activity to digestion and have more energy to give to the hundreds of metabolic enzymes that run the entire organism, which is you! According to Dr Howell, the enzyme potential of almost all North Americans is facing bankruptcy. We are on a minus diet–food minus its enzymes. This is a strain on all organs, especially the pancreas. No wonder there’s an epidemic of diabetes! Raw Food Function The proponents of a living-food lifestyle introduce a new way of looking at disease. Digestion begins in the mouth. Human saliva is loaded with enzyme activity (that’s why we’re told to chew each mouthful 35 times!) The pancreas is designed to supply the rest. But it’s the enzymes in raw food that begin the process of digestion, thus lowering the drain on the body’s own enzyme supply. Enzymes tolerate no heat at all. If water is uncomfortably hot in the hand it will destroy the enzymes in your food! That is why pasteurization of milk (a process of heating) destroys the natural lactase and makes dairy products dead food unless cultured with live bacteria (yogurt and kefir). Dr Howell says dairy products were "instantly cursed" when milk became heat-treated to destroy disease. "In the days before milk and butter lost their lipase due to the heat of pasteurization, millions of people lived on dairy products without getting atherosclerosis (clogged arteries due to cholesterol deposits), because lipase knows how to handle cholesterol," he says. Ann Wigmore did her research into raw living food during a time when she was very ill and was threatened with amputation of her legs. She refused amputation and looked for healing in natural herbs and grasses. By gathering what green foods she could she was able, she says, to "obtain the kind of food which my body seemed to need; that is, both fresh from the earth and untreated with heat." That was the early experience that set this woman on a path that led to her own complete recovery from disease and her subsequent teaching and treatment of the living-food lifestyle to millions. Wigmore advocated sprouts as the optimum food and recommended pur?ng the sprouts along with other raw food in a blender, a process she called predigestion. A living-food lifestyle means eating food that contains all of its active ingredients: enzymes, vitamins, minerals, bioflavonoids, vitamin co-factors and fibre. That includes nuts and seeds. Nuts should be consumed raw, because heat damages their natural oils and makes them carcinogenic. But nuts and grains are protected with a coating that prevents germination and inhibits enzyme action. That coating must be washed or soaked away to make them digestible. When nuts, seeds and grains are sprouted they are good food and provide the necessary protein for optimum nutrition. (Enzyme activity in the seed is generally at its height when the sprout is approximately one centimetre long.) "In germinated tree nuts and cereal grains we have all of the protein, carbohydrate, fat and calories we will ever need," says Dr Howell. "Complete enzyme nutrition, which the germinated nuts and cereals provide, can put a damper on the basic, if unrecognized, cause of many diseases and solve food shortages at the same time." Enzyme Supplements If you eat cooked food you are likely to be already enzyme-depleted; your pancreas is on strike and you need to take enzyme supplements. According to Dr Howell, you should look for an enzyme extract which will digest in mild acid. This permits predigestion of food in the upper stomach before the stomach acid becomes too strong. Howell recommends a formula that includes the three major enzymes: protease, amylase and lipase. Enzymes should be taken with the first mouthful. Chew the capsule with your food or open the capsule and sprinkle the contents on food. This starts the digestive process immediately. When you swallow the capsule there is a time delay, because the capsule must dissolve before releasing the enzymes. One or two capsules taken with a meal is usually adequate to assist predigestion in the food-enzyme stomach. But remember, this nutritional supplementation is to replace enzymes that are supposed to be in your food! It is not a therapeutic dose. Dr Howell says it may take months or a year to fully restore a stressed pancreas and depleted enzyme store and should best be done under medical supervision. The immediate self-help regimen is to switch to a living-foods lifestyle, as well as to augment your enzyme potential with supplements. It’s spring! It’s a new millennium. It’s a great time to start a new lifestyle. Join the raw food revolution! And even if you’ve never grown vegetables before, plant a few seeds for your own pleasure and consumption. Eat organic. And let us know how you fare. We’re interested.