This year mark’s the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) 20th anniversary promoting National Public Health Week (held April 6-12). The APHA is devoted to creating “the healthiest nation in one generation” by 2030, under the realization that people in many other nations are healthier and live longer lives than Americans regardless of socioeconomic background.
The Hallelujah Diet strongly supports the effort of creating a healthier nation of people, and as such, we encourage everyone to take control of your own health through nutritious eating and routine exercise. We also want you to be aware of why what you feed into your body matters.
The Hallelujah Diet is designed to flood your body with living enzymes in order to achieve optimal health and activate your body’s self-healing abilities. The 85% raw foods component in our diet plan is the best way to ensure you’re giving your body the highest amount of enzymes for good health. (To learn more about enzymatic activity in your body, read The Lowdown On Enzymes: How To Maximize Their Potential.)
The need for plant-based enzymes
“Enzymes rule over all other nutrients,” says Olin Idol, ND, CNC, Hallelujah Diet’s Vice President of Health. “Enzymes are responsible for nearly every facet of life and health and far outweigh the importance of every other nutrient.” Simply put, without enzymes life would cease to exist.
Our enzymatic system helps perform all of the tasks of the body, from the simplest to the most complex and critical. Enzymes are found in three forms: plant enzymes that start the digestive process (when not cooked); digestive enzymes to help digest food; and metabolic enzymes to help perform all other bodily functions.
Even after being harvested, raw plants contain living enzymes. When you consume a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables, your body doesn’t need to take enzymes from other systems in order to digest food. It’s especially important to have a healthy diet filled with living enzymes since they cannot be reused: Enzymes are destroyed once their task (such as digesting food) is complete.
Raw vs. cooked vegetables: Why does it matter?
With the Hallelujah Diet, you can reclaim your body’s self-healing abilities by replacing a diet filled with processed foods and those high in sugar and fat with living, plant-based nutrition—providing the enzymes you need for your health to flourish.
The Hallelujah Diet is an 85% raw and 15% cooked plant-based diet. But where did these percentages come from?
We emphasize raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts in our nutrition plan in order to utilize the maximum enzyme potential from your diet. When you cook your vegetables, for example, the heat kills plant enzymes and important water-soluble nutrients including antioxidants such as vitamin C. Olin explains, “At around 106 to 107 degrees, (enzymes) begin to die and by the time the internal temperature reaches 122 degrees they are completely destroyed. When this lifeless food is consumed, the body must expend its resources to produce enzymes to digest and assimilate it.”
Simply put, you can eat a healthy diet of cooked fruits and vegetables all day long, but if there are no living plant enzymes in them, key nutrients that could benefit your health will be lost.
Raw food diets are significantly lower in calories (which makes them helpful if you’re looking to lose weight), but for weight maintenance, it’s important to eat a percentage of cooked foods as well. Examples of options for cooked foods are steamed vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, whole grains, squash (baked or steamed) and beans. Some nutrients are more easily extracted from vegetables when they are cooked. For example, a Cornell University study found that cooking tomatoes—although eliminating water-soluble vitamin C—actually increases the levels of phytochemicals such as lycopene, which decreases heart disease and cancer risk.
Exhibit: The Digestive Process of a Raw Carrot vs. a Cooked Carrot
When you take a bite of a raw carrot, the saliva’s carbohydrate-digesting enzyme immediately mixes with the carrot as it is masticated thoroughly in the mouth. This is where the digestive process begins, and then it continues through the stomach and small intestine. Since the carrot is raw, it contains its own enzymes, which help the body’s digestive enzymes break down the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats). Foods with plant enzymes can actually “predigest” in your stomach in a process called autolytic digestion.
When you consume a cooked carrot, heated to a degree where no more living enzymes exist, you’re putting extra stress on the body. Without help from plant enzymes to start the digestive process, less digestion will take place before the carrot reaches the small intestine, placing greater stress on the endocrine system. In particular, the pancreas is forced to compensate by over-producing stomach acid and generating mass quantities of digestive enzymes in an attempt to break down the nutrients from the carrot.
In summary, we know how important enzymes are to the health of the human body. No matter how many healthy fruits and vegetables you consume, if they are void of enzymes because of cooking or overcooking, your body has to work overtime to produce enzymes to digest the food. The more raw foods you consume, the closer you’ll be to achieving optimal health.