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Maybe you have seen Don Bennett's video about protein:



It totally makes sense, you need to consume protein from raw fruits and vegetables. Cooking denatures protein to the point of making in non-utilizable by our body. Watching the video this question rose:  How do people who don't eat at all raw food even survive? Does the body actually recognizes a part of the protein and can make it utilizable? I know people who seldom touch raw food.

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How this can make sense if it apparently is not true?

One can easily compare non-denatured protein vs denatured protein and know and see.

This has already been done. For example (non-denatured) whey protein isolate vs (denatured) soy protein isolate regards the ability to build muscle. No significant difference there.

Even infants receive denatured protein and they grow nonetheless.

Just for curiosity I'll throw it out here: I just heard a fellow talking about his friend who lived on soaked wheat berries all winter long, nothing else. Half a cup of wheat berries swelling up to a cup, and nothing else ought to put question marks in our heads: where is that all important nutrition, protein, vitamins and minerals? But wait, perhaps, this hibernation diet, complemented by a spring and summer wild green, berries diet has enough protein in it after all. This  fellow was apparently very robust, not emaciated, full of vigor, said the fellow in the interview.


Incredible how someone can be healthy for long years on mono diets of low protein and fat, almost all carbs, and of course it was all raw.


So for what it's worth, once the body gets used to a regular intake of anything from nature, it somehow manages to thrive on this substance almost indefinitely without sickness or weakness, in fact quite the opposite, in strong health. Cooked meals however definitely degrade the health of the body, leading to sickness and weakness. Even the most stubborn cooked food eater manages to eat a slice of tomato or a leaf of lettuce here and there, thus survive somehow.

where the wheat berries soaked in just water?  can we digest grains that are just soaked and not cooked?  just curious. 


also - i almost posted this same question because i know people that barley touch anything raw or for that matter any fruit or veggies and they are quite robust. ( i'm quite certain they are unhealthy on in inside - just stating that i think they would have to be utilizing the cooked protien).  i think that to denature means to disassemble the amino acids of a protein, which is what our digestive system does to protein anyway - and then uses the amino acids where they are needed.  so i don't see why denaturing a protein would make it any less usable.

"i think that to denature means to disassemble the amino acids of a protein, which is what our digestive system does to protein anyway - and then uses the amino acids where they are needed. so i don't see why denaturing a protein would make it any less usable."


            I agree with this logic... I have yet to find a good counter explanation as to what it means for a protein to be denatured and then digested, that supports the claims that say the protein is useless to us when it is cooked.

Denaturing does not mean disassemble the amino acid, denaturing just changes the form (conformation)and then folding of the amion acid chains (which makes the protein), that what exatly happens when you heat egg white. Same happens when body temp goes above 42-43C, brain and other proteins start to denature, enzymes (which are proteins) malfunction and person dies.

yes, denaturing means to change the form of the amino acid chain. the bonds between the acids are fused by heating, so that they can not be broken down by our digestion into their usable parts, rendering it a useless obstacle that must be disposed of.

Andrew Perlot explains it on his website here:

"As you may know, protein is made up of amino acid chains. When cooked, these amino acids fuse together, and the overall protein structure -a kind of curling of the chains- is altered considerably.

The protein can no longer perform its function, and the end result is usually disrupted cell activity or cell death. 

A good example of this is an egg. When they come out of the shell, a raw egg white is transparent and liquid. When you cook it, though, the protein is denatured and the egg turns into an opaque, solid mass.

Protein, of course, is not useful in and of itself. It must be broken down into its constituent amino acids to be used by the body. The problem is that heated proteins have their amino acids fused together into enzyme-resistant bonds the body cannot fully break down.

It instead partially breaks them down into polypeptides, which the body must then expel as useless. "


Hope that helps!

Proteins are chains of amino acids folded once, twice, or even three times into different configurations.  Denaturation occurs when proteins are exposed to heat or acid. Denaturing unfolds proteins to various degrees, exposing different amino acids to surrounding enzymes along the digestive path. Enzymes specific to each amino acid are found at different points along the small intestines, and the shape or level of denaturation exposes the correct amino acids at the correct digestive point for absorption of that specific amino acid.


Cooking can render a percentage of proteins unusable because the exposure to heat can unfold proteins an incorrect amount, so that the amino acids are not exposed to the enzymes at the point that they appear in the small intestines.  In essence the amino acids are trapped inside the chain. Denaturation is a natural and necessary process that occurs in the stomach, but as with anything extremes tend to cause more damage.


Btw, all enzymes eaten in food are denatured in the stomach (ie destroyed)

I learned from a recent lecture I attended that protein is just the substance that binds the amino acids together and that we need the amino acids and the protein is just this really hard to digest, acidifying binder that is just a byproduct of a "complete" protein like that found in flesh. Lindsay's explanation verifies this and makes it even clearer.

Having this information makes me think...hey, we don't need protein. Crazy to think of it that way but way more accurate, right? The essential amino acids are abundant in all of the various plant based foods that we eat and are apparently not damaged by heat. Interesting stuff. I have also heard that there is alot of damage to various other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals with cooking however.

Also the whole "enzyme" thing is kind of a myth too because the enzymes in food are metabolic enzymes, not digestive enzymes and are destroyed in the stomach. Otherwise our fruits and veggies would turn to vomit on the counter overnight...lol!

Protein is actually just the term for any chain of amino acids - the different ways the amino acids combine and link together forms a unique body that we call a protein. This is why there are thousands of proteins.
Even if our body is capable to utilize some of the cooked protein, Don Bennetts also say that denatured proteins are considered as foreign invaders therefore autoimmune reaction occurs. Hence eating pasturizes milk and other cooked protein leads to diabetes I, MS and many other diseases.
Cooking doesn't destroy protein.  Protein is still there in the form of amino acids in meats and milk and stuff.  Animal products tend to have a more dense amount of protein because their bodies store protein efficiently just like ours. :)  Cooking only denatures vitamins and the like.  For example, folate and vitamin C are typically destroyed by the cooking process.

Great conversation! You guys are a smart lot! :)

My observations here are not in response to anything posted in this thread, just some things that have bounced around in my head regariding protein, enzymes, denaturization.

I think that it's important to realize that we can't say "cooking is bad because it denatures food" or because it "denatures protein" because stomach acid denatures food also. In fact, there are dishes where protein is denatured on purpose, by lime or lemon juice, which tend to be weaker than the acid (HCl + KCl + NaCl) in our stomachs anyway.

Here's a good explanation of denaturization:



By the way, those tertiary forms of protein mentioned? Enzymes are teriary proteins and each one's shape and groups attached detertmine which reactions it helps along. There's a decent write up on enzymes in Wikipedia:



I don't see as much enzyme talk here, but a lot of raw food folks insist that enzymes are gone from cooked food and we must have enzymes for health, and they say we should eat extra enzymes, etc. The problem there is that many, if not all of these enzymes are also denatured in stomach acid. I've seen claims that plant based enzymes can function from ph 2 - 8, but Gastric acid is said be be ph 1 - 2, so if you're more acid, then maybe these enzymes wont survive your stomach. I'm not personally sure about enzymes taken orally. I'm not trying to prove or disprove them, just saying that latching onto enzymes or protein denaturization as proving the terribleness of cooked food is shaky ground.

I am not saying it's good to eat cooked food, just that we need to be careful about how we approach the subject, especially if we're talking to someone who likes cooked food a lot and has any knowledge of chemistry. We can end up sounding like half-wits if not careful. In fact, I personally always approach the subject by saying how wonderful raw food makes me feel, what it has done for me, as opposed to telling people what terrible things their food is doing to them, especially if they think they feel fine. I encourage people to give low fat raw a try and see how supercharged it makes them feel.

I've got a couple of good friends who I was study buddies with in college and they both became doctors. I have sometimes sent them video clips of various raw food people I think are decent and all they need to see is one mistaken reference to something they know (or think they know) all about and they just switch off. Yeah I know, they should listen to the whole message and then just toss the bits that don't add up, but it's a real problem in the raw food movement and one we need to be aware of if we want to evangelize people using technical jargon. If we talk the jargon to try to convince people, we need to be really sure we are using it correctly.

That's all, just wanted to add my $.02, interesting conversation here! :)



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