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Enzymes - the ones in 'living' food vs the ones our body makes

In most of the reading I have done on raw food one the ideas that is  prominent is that of the presence of enzymes in the food and the destruction of those enzymes by raising the temperature (cooking) and hence that food no longer being 'living'.

This semester I have been studying Cell Biology which includes the study of enzymes, proteins, carbohydrates etc. Last week we had to do a prac on the effect of temperature and pH on the function of diastase, a plant version of amylase (salivary enzyme which begins the breakdown of carbohydrates in the mouth). 

When the enzyme diastase was heated to 70degrees celcius there was total denaturing/destruction of the enzyme and it was no longer able to break down any starch. At 0 degrees the action was inhibited but not stopped. 

When the test conditions were too acidic or too basic the enzyme also stopped working or slowed down considerably. 

So, I am left with a question. Is the main issue with cooking food destroying the enzymes in the food itself or is it the problem that putting hot food into our mouths directly denatures the enzymes in the saliva secreted into our mouth meaning that food reaches out stomach without the initial digestion of carbohydrates? Could it be that eating cooked food that has been cooled to room temperature is less harmful to our body than eating cooked hot food?

Also I have learnt that proteins and enzymes are really specific. So if food is cooked and the proteins in the food are denatured (changed shape) by the heat then how much does this affect the bodies enzymes ability to recognise them and do their job breaking them down?

Any thoughts? Anyone done any serious study on all of this?

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Enzymes are a current curiosity of mine too.

Even eating raw foods, it is true that some enzymes may be destroyed in our mouths and or via digestion, but some of them do escape and are beneficial to us in their various capacities.

When we cook food and break down the enzymes, we are losing our chances of getting any of them at all to be beneficial.  Cooking food can denature food in other ways too, not just via enzymes, so for optimum health it is best not to cook and process food. 


Regarding the cooking of food:  I will share a few references with you with caution.  Keep in mind that these discuss one animal study and or the eating of animal products.  However, the point of these books is that when people eat cooked and processed foods, their incidences of degenerative diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis, blindness, tooth decay, and things like cancer can increase.

Pottenger's Cats by Francis M Pottenger Jr. M.D.  (You might be able to find a copy at a library)

During the 1930s, a ten  year study of feeding cats cooked food, and xray studies done on children, showed that cooking food caused immediate degenerative problems, birth defects, and by the third generation, homosexuality and an inability to reproduce in the cats.  Cats who were returned to a raw diet, got healthier. 

The same was the case with the children in the study.  Children who had moms who ate highly processed foods had poorly formed dental arches.  Children fed processed foods could have osteoporosis by the age of two, but if the diet was improved, so too could the osteoporosis symptoms. 


This was a study done on tribal peoples before, during, and after processed foods were introduced to their diets, and this is a free ebook:

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets
and Their Effects
BY Weston A. Price, MS., D.D.S., F.A.G.D.


I am planning to read some other older books regarding enzymes found here:


Scroll down until you come to the author named Howard, Edward and the titles

Enzyme Nutrition: The food Enzyme Concept

Enzymes for health and longevity

Peace, PK


Thanks for your input. I have heard of Pottengers cats before, must see if I can find the book. 

I have also come across Weston Prices work before. One of the contributing factors with the dental arch is the increased incidence of mouth breathing which happens with the western diet (increased rate of hyperventilation). An open mouth prevents the normal forces being applied to the upper jaw in particular from the tongue which are essential for normal structure development and hence function. The result is a narrow upper jaw. 

Do you have any theories as to the impact of plant enzymes on digestion as opposed to the enzymes that we produce in our digestive process? My gut feeling is that the ones we produce are more important....but then again there is such a symbiotic relationship between fruit and animals...there is a sense that fruit benefits by being eaten to further its ability to propogate ie release its seed (and hopefully have a bit of fertilizer added to the scenario) that i presume then that there may very well be very important interactions between a plant/fruits own enzymes and our digestive process.


I am actually not an expert with the enzyme question yet, and am planning to read the enzyme books I recommended above myself to get started. 


As far as the dental arch problem, there are probably multiple factors at work.  What you mentioned is probably part of the problem.  But there may be other problems too. For example, lack of proper nutrients can lead to osteoporosis even in young children.  If the bones are not nourished, they will not grow properly, including jaw and facial bones. 

I think this is one of those things that involves several vicious cycles. 


Whatever the symptoms though, when we put the evidence of multiple studies together, even from SAD medicine, it seems to show that cooking and processing food changes the food and us, and points us in the direction of eating low fat and more fruits and veggies and less meat and grain products.

Peace, PK


I mentioned in my original post that I share the book with caution.  It is by no means going to bring one to an 811 conclusion.

However, it can be a tool used in proving cooking and processed foods changes things and that there are long term consequences in eating cooked food. 

Some people go 811, but then ask why they cannot cook their foods.  This book shows that something does  happen when cooked, processed, and or wheat and grain based products are added to the diet. 

I understand that no purely fruitarian tribes were found as well.  However, some of the tribes who ate animal products, and who might be considered a form of gatherer hunter, did have problems with diabetes.  

Mixing up the diets seemed to correlate with tooth decay as well. 

Peace, PK

interesting post.

my own thought experiment (highly scientific, i know) shows me that no other animal in the natural world engages in any type of regular observable use of cooking their food prior to eating.  If all other animals thrive without cooking their food, why as evolutionary creatures of planet Earth would humans be any exception.

obviously you can live a very long life eating cooked food, but it seems like an awful waste of time and effort if it is completely unnecessary.

Hi Paxley

Yes, I have been thinking about this too. No other creature cooks its food. None that I can think of. I dont think any other creature changes its food into another form before eating it. I am thinking that not only is the cooking significant (ie the chemical changes that occur to the proteins, enzymes etc) but also the temperature at which it is ingested. 

Another thing that I am becoming conscious of is how blithely meat is touched and ingested. I am a podiatrist and am therefore very aware of the danger of contact with blood....it is odd that not only do people happily handle meat and its blood but happily ingest it too. Somehow human blood is bad but other animal species blood/flesh is benign...or even good! Odd. 


You inspired my deep thought of the day:D  Thanks.

With a little healthcare in my background, it is ironic that people glove up and protect up to protect themselves from human fluids, but you are right, they go home, and dig into raw meat, leave raw meat and blood residues on kitchen counters, pots, pans, without a second thought. 

ARG!  Peace, PK


This kind of makes sense to me too.

Regarding green plants and chlorophyll. 

We have had some members start but did not like tender greens.  Eventually, teeth pain start.

And or teeth pains can be eliminated by increasing leafy greens in the diet, usually to a pound or more a day. 

I have a theory about this.  Fruits and greens both have vitamins and minerals, so what is special about greens?  The chlorophyll.

It is actually on my to do list to not only study the enzyme issue more, but how chlorophyll in its raw and pure form is good for us too.

Peace, PK

The main thing about photosynthesis is the production of glucose/starch/cellulose which animals can then eat and utilise for nutrients. Though just thinking about it now obviously the growth cycle of the plant (of which photosynthesis is a crucial component) is the reason nutrients from the soil get taken up by the plant and hence then we can ingest them in an available form (as opposed to dirt!).

My other thought for the day is regarding optimal pH of amylase (salivary enzyme that begins the breakdown/digestion of carbohydrates in the mouth). It appears to have an optimum pH of around 6.8 (ie slightly acidic) and optimum temperature of 37 degrees celcius (body temp). So that leads me to wonder what impact cooking has on pH of fruit and veg. Does it change the pH? And if it does which direction does it push it....more acidic or more basic? Further toward the optimum or further away? Temperature is easy to understand....hotter than 37 or colder than 37 we move further away from optimal function of amylase. Am thinking it would be easy to test. Will purchase some pH test strips from the chemist and do a few experiments!  cooked spinach vs raw spinach, cooked banana vs raw banana, ripe spotty banana vs unripe yellow un-spotty banana etc. 



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