Raw versus Cooked Food

Posted to Subscribers on 02 March 2011


Dear Subscribers,

This post might be helpful to some people and annoying to others. In the early 1990s, I had a clinic in Santa Fe and I hired an inquisitive patient to research the issue of cancer diets. She had no limit to the budget for books and ended up with probably 50-60 books, ranging from popular diets to rigid ones to scientifically researched ones . . . oh, dare I go further. I have said it before: there is nothing more ethnocentric or idiosyncratic than what we put into our mouths, nothing more habitual and perhaps nothing more difficult to change. Even the body resists change, not to mention those opinions we have practically carved in stone.

If there were a debate on diet, you could assign me almost any position and I would be able to argue that position but what does it matter? In order to remove a few obstacles to putting the main concepts in order, let's take up two preliminary topics, both worthy of volumes of books: (1) food changes in modern times, and (2) human health. I used to tell my clients that in more historic times, we had much more concern over food contamination due to microorganisms, poor storage methods, lack of clean water and good personal hygiene, and perhaps plates and cutlery that were not particularly germ-free. There are some cultures today that are still very traditional and I have reported a bit about this in odds and ends posts over the last few years. For example, when discussing night soil with the Congolese group, the resistance to using this on food crops was so firm that it was a waste of effort to send studies that contradicted the prevailing wisdom of the people of the Congo. I totally understand that the idea is revolting but in most parts of the world, this is a traditional soil amendment.

Another example of resistance is with raw food. In India, for instance, there is no tradition of eating salads with meals. There are chutneys and condiments of various types, but basically, all food is cooked, and it is not stir fried as in China or Thailand but really cooked. Dr. Vasant Lad used to say that sooner or later all food is cooked. It can be cooked by the secretions of the gastrointestinal system or cooked over a fire. Food that is cooked with spices is considered to be predigested and to require less effort to metabolize. For the record, I agree with this argument, but it obviously flies in the face of those who are preoccupied with vitamins and enzymes that they feel go missing in typical kitchen.

Some of you are already saying, "ah, ha" because you see how easy it would be to take a position and argue it. We have to look at vitamins and then compare them to the larvae and fungi and other hitchhikers that are typically found on food and rarely properly removed when foods are eaten raw.

I have been consulting with a couple of patients recently, scattered over the globe. I told one doctor about some adventures I had in Indonesia in 1963. One of my college roommates was Indonesian and she had a grant to do a study that involved what was quite rare in those days: a brand new four-wheel drive vehicle and permits to move about. She offered me the chance of a lifetime to travel for seven weeks to places no one would normally visit. One of the members of the team was a virologist who had been to Papua New Guinea just before teaming up with my roommate. I was very interested because I had written some papers in college on everything from geography to language to the politics of New Guinea. The virologist had encountered some cannibals and took the opportunity to ask if they had eaten someone who went missing. Michael Rockefeller was the youngest son of Nelson Rockefeller and he disappeared on an expedition in late 1961. So, the researcher asked the cannibal if he ate white men. The cannibal replied, "Yes, but they are greasy." So, he went on to inquire about Michael Rockefeller and they told him they had indeed eaten him but apparently not enjoyed the meal much. Officially, the cause of death is not known so you can take this for what it's worth, but the scientist was clearly intrigued, enough to leave a lasting impression on me.

He observed the hunting habits and figured that they were actually quite lucky if they managed to catch one tiny animal every now and then. So, he figured the protein intake at about 5 grams which is shockingly low by our standards. In the U.S. at that time, breakfast often consisted of eggs with ham or bacon. Lunch had some more meat, and dinner might include a huge steak. This would have supplied the entire protein for a large tribe in that particular part of western New Guinea. What stymied the investigator was that he did not observe what we would normally refer to as protein deficiency. The intake had to drop to practically zero and stay there for a while before they decided to eat a person. This type of decision was not undertaken hastily or without conference because the dinner would be fetched from another tribe and this would launch a vendetta that would be satisfied when a person of the same age and gender and social rank were kidnapped and cooked by the other tribe. So, while not tasty, the cannibal explained that white men did not precipitate revenge so the politics were simpler. How he managed to stand there and take so many notes, I never fully understood, but keep in mind, a small group of us were traveling in the same vehicle and eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner together for weeks on end so the stories could be very detailed. For the record, the researcher was absolutely convinced of his facts though I can appreciate that the Rockefeller family might have trouble accepting the story.

Roughly 20 years later, a German doctor and I were driving quite a distance to visit a medicine man. She who had a grant to study Native American medicine. She told me that the medical exams were tricky and often included questions about diseases one would rarely see in actual practice. I asked her to give me an example. She said "kuru" but I knew about this disease because of the trip to Indonesia. It's a kind of encephalitis that affects cannibals in much the same way that mad cow disease affects animals and people. So, while I agreed that she was very unlikely to see a true case of kuru in her practice, it was a reasonable way to find out how many pages of the textbooks the students had read.

I do, however, want to keep this on track, but unless we understand how hugely different eating habits are, we will not see through our own dietary prejudices. So, for instance, a patient asked a doctor — I will not give a name but simply say that the person is famous, but obviously not for his dietary expertise — whether or not with his treatment diet would make a difference. He didn't seem to know the answer so she rephrased the question and asked what she should eat and he said, "pork chops." I am guessing there is not a single peer-reviewed study to support this response, but it was probably the first thing that jumped into his mind.

We will not put pork chops on one end of the spectrum but rather start with William Donald Kelley who was perhaps one of the influential people in limiting protein consumption for cancer patients to 100 grams before noon. He felt that as people became more tired, they lacked the ability to metabolize harder to digest food; however, there are Ayurvedic reasons for consuming the largest meal more or less when the sun is overhead, plus or minus two hours. This is that this is the time of day when the fire energy is highest and the body is therefore able to produce more of the secretions needed to transform food into the required nutrients. However, this fact should not be used to argue for or against protein consumption or meat consumption but rather simply to eat the largest meal at midday.

Back to the person I hired to research diets. She was quick to pour through all the books and just starred at me, "Is there nothing, nothing at all upon which people can agree?" If the truth be known, this is why I hired her. She would have to make up her own mind and choose which theories were right because I could not prove anything one way or another.

Now, I have to repeat a story I have told before but in an entirely different context. The second person I worked with who had cancer had been given three months to live. He went to Mexico for laetrile and was arrested and put in a federal prison for possession of a vitamin. He is fine. He is very much still alive so we are talking about prison food and totally normal longevity.

Some people would take this fact to argue that what we eat or even where we eat it does not matter, but I don't agree. I would however say that "everything matters" but what matters most is the choices we make and why we make them. Intent is more important than actions but both are relevant.

Over the years I have seen thousands of people with cancer. I used to ask each person what made them sick and what made them well. Nearly everyone could answer these questions without a huge pause. Some would start by saying, "How would I know?" Some would say, "That's why I came to see you." However, the truth is that with a little less denial and little more concentration on the particulars, people could easily point to dysfunctional patterns or emotional issues that needed to be processed. A few wanted to escape a treadmill that was unfulfilling and catapult into a new reality. I believe these shifts are possible without the challenge of a life-threatening disease, but the disease can be a friend in disguise because it provides the incentive to get things right and make the changes one wants.

Now, however, I want to go to the second point which is our present state of health, this whether considered from a personal, familial, national, or international level. In most areas of the world, diseases are rampant and even in the so-called developed world, the incidence of food allergies and intolerances, obesity, childhood diabetes, arthritis, various degrees of autism, attention deficit disorder, senility, etc. are unacceptably high. If modern is "good", we are a loss to explain why the quality of life has deteriorated to such an extent.

I believe that cancer patients consciously or instinctively buy into the Earth trauma scenario and to the extent that this makes effort seem futile, they cannot find their way through the challenges to a purposeful relationship with existence. After more than 40 years of observing patients close up, I am totally convinced that the moment the relationship with the future is as clear as the grip the past holds, the patient is likely to be home free, usually in the same body but a nicely healed body. You can tell I worded that carefully. We all need to know the meaning of our lives and we all need inspiration to live, but some of us find it while incarnate while others have to go home to get their batteries recharged.

This for me is the crucial point but while waiting for the infusion of purpose, there are sane measures that apply to "everything" and one of these is that care of our bodies is a way of showing respect for ourselves. So, let's say that I generate some trash in my home. It is not permissible to toss it over the fence into the neighbor's yard nor to fill up the garage and then the closets and then the living room with trash. We have to generate less trash and dispose of it conscientiously and ethically. The body also needs periodic maintenance. I have known people who did not know how to take care of their health needs, for instance, bachelors whose idea of eating at home was peanut butter on crackers. There are few institutions that serve decent food. Look at school cafeterias, fast food chains, what people see in supermarkets and put in the baskets, what the airlines serve, what passes for food in hospitals, oh, oh, oh. We are taught about four food groups, stupid idea at best, and that (officially) there is no difference between fresh, frozen, or canned spinach, no difference between heirloom corn and genetically modified corn, no difference between wild salmon and GMO salmon nor between organic food and food that is grown with toxins. How can the majority find the truth when air waves are cluttered with disinformation.

In Europe, I had the opportunity to study the impact of diet on plasma and blood cells. Really, we should be talking mainly about plasma because it is the source of nutrition of red and white blood cells. If the plasma is toxic, the white blood cells are crippled and unable to deal with morbid substances, die off, or infection. If it is nutrient deficient, the red blood cells cannot transport what is needed for the body to perform repairs. The consequence is degeneration. It's that simple. The weaker the patient is, the more important it is that the food offered is easy to digest. I have visited more than a dozen cancer clinics and talked to patients who have been to countless clinics. I also know the owners or staff of some of the clinics. They always have a reason for what they are doing, but the reason can be hypothetical rather than empirical. What we want to know is whether or not the ideas are correct. I honestly am not sure anyone is keeping good enough statistics. It takes a lot of people to follow up so if patients are seen for a few weeks at a time, not much can be determined in that time.

Now, I want to harp on a few points that I believe are usually overlooked. In several places I visited, all the patients had blood parasites. By asking questions, I gradually learned who had picked up parasites while traveling and which ones seemed to be native to that area. Because I was seeing these parasites, I was looking for routes of infection: insect bites, flies on food, agricultural methods. For instance, in the U.S., most windows have screens. This is not true in Europe and I saw lots more insects indoors, often on food. I also saw more insects on food in restaurants and I was myself ill several times. What I am saying is that one does not have to go to the tropics to pick up a disease, one just needs for one person to be reckless for a moment. In the raw versus cooked argument, I think I favor cooked because fewer diseases are passed along. The exception might be if someone were really zealous about cleaning fresh vegetables: ozonated water and who knows what else to remove contaminants.

I also believe that spices, many of which have shown anti-cancer actions, are useful in ridding food of certain pathogens and promoting better assimilation. However, you can say that years of study of Ayurveda tilt me in this direction, but there is a reason for the teachings and the reason is not agroindustrial efficiency or greed. Though I know people who claimed to have been cured by mono diets of everything from grapes to raw butter, I have never seen anything to convince me that the diet is the begin all and end all. This said, I think it's important and it deserves prominence but not at the expense of getting other issues in order. So, food fanaticism that involves methods that are too demanding would seem to me as flawed as neglect of the importance of food.

In my work, I have seen spontaneous remissions due to mystical factors and gradual improvements due to diet. I think both are important.

Many blessings,



Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2011







Seventh Ray Press
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2011

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