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Raw and Healthy

Raw and Healthy
By Teya Skae

Published in The Nova December 2008 issue
Interviewed on ABC radio in Sydney 6th Jan 2009
Published in Natural News Jan 2009

In the world of nutrition, health and longevity we are subjected to an overload of often conflicting
dietary advice. So what should we eat and what should we avoid?
The more we understand about the biochemical changes any food undergoes, depending on how
it has been treated, heated, processed, modified or even where it comes from (especially in view
of the alarming melamine reports from China), the better able we are to make empowering
decisions about the food we chose to eat.

Let’s have a look at what baking, roasting, frying, microwaving and heating does to our everyday
foods like coffee beans, bread, cereals/grains, any baking goods (cakes and biscuits) and
proteins. It’s increasingly easy to understand why the Raw Food movement is gaining popularity,
as there is a lot of wisdom in consuming foods as close to their natural state as possible. And one
cautionary tale concerns a substance called acrylamide.

What is Acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a compound most often associated with plastic manufacturing. It is found in coffee
and starchy foods like grains and potatoes that have been baked, fried, roasted or toasted. It is
formed when frying or baking heats sugars and amino acids to temperatures above 120°C. This
process creates the Maillard reaction; also called the browning reaction. Acrylamide has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for
Research on Cancer since 1994, due to its documented carcinogenic effects in laboratory
animals. But when a Swedish study released in 2002 revealed that high levels of acrylamide may
be created by doing something as simple as baking a loaf of bread, it sent shockwaves through
the nutrition field1. Now a new study conducted by researchers from the Netherlands, has found that consuming
high levels of acrylamide increases people's risk of kidney cancer, the tenth most common cancer
in by 59 percent.

Researchers looked directly at the effects of dietary acrylamide on cancer risk by studying data
from the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer, which includes more than 120,000 adult
female and male participants between the ages of 55 and 69.
Researchers from Maastricht University, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority,
and TNO Quality of Life calculated the dietary acrylamide intake of 5,000 random participants,
based on food frequency questionnaires filled out when the cohort study began.2

The researchers found that after 13.3 years, those who had the highest dietary acrylamide intake
experienced a 59 percent higher risk of renal cell carcinoma than those with the lowest intake.
Renal cell carcinoma is responsible for more than 80 percent of kidney cancer cases.
"We found some indications for a positive association between dietary acrylamide and renal cell
cancer risk," the report stated.

A total of 339 cases of kidney cancer, 1,210 cases of bladder cancer and 2,246 cases of prostate
cancer were observed among study participants. The researchers did not observe any connection
between acrylamide intake and cancer of the bladder or prostate.

The highest average acrylamide intake was 40.8 micrograms per day, while the lowest was 9.5
micrograms per day. Average intake was 21.8 micrograms per day, or slightly less than the
amount found in a 75 gram serving of French fries. Every 10 microgram increase in daily intake
appeared to increase a person's risk of kidney cancer by 10 percent. Among smokers, the effect
of dietary intake was even stronger.

What is interesting to note is that coffee was the biggest source of dietary acrylamide for the
study participants. Studies show that potato chips, crackers, pastries, and powdered coffee all contain high levels of
acrylamide, while fried fish and fried chicken contain somewhat lower amounts.

Prior to 2002, acrylamide was known only as an industrial chemical that consumers might be
exposed to through cigarette smoke, cosmetics or the breakdown of certain environmental
contaminants. Then researchers from the Swedish Food Administration discovered that the
chemical also formed at high levels in many popular foods, such as potato chips and bread. Since
then, research has suggested that it may also form in dried fruit.
The good news is that no acrylamide was found in fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, or natural
foods that have not been baked or fried or roasted. But fairly high amounts of the compound
showed up in black olives, bottled prune juice, sweet potatoes and arrowroot teething biscuits.

Other processed foods containing varying amounts of acrylamide included prepared meals
containing turkey and vegetables, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

Although acrylamide is generally accepted to pose health risks in humans, some researchers
have questioned whether typical dietary intakes are actually high enough to have an effect. The
recent study is only one of the latest to suggest that dietary intake is indeed a significant source
of exposure to the chemical.

In earlier research conducted by the same team of scientists and again using data from the
Netherlands Cohort Study, dietary acrylamide was found to increase a woman's risk of ovarian
cancer by 78 percent and her risk of endometrial cancer by 29 percent. Among women who had
never smoked, the increase in risk was much higher: 122 percent for ovarian cancer and 99
percent for endometrial cancer.

Researcher J.G. Hogervorst recommended that people limit their acrylamide intake, including
from their diet.
"In preparing food at home, fry potatoes at temperatures below 175°C and fry them to goldyellow,
not dark brown," Hogervorst said. "The same goes for making toast and cookies."
The darker a food is fried or baked, the more acrylamide it contains. Foods that are steamed or
boiled do not contain acrylamide.

Enzymes in Foods
From a scientific viewpoint all cooked food is devoid of enzymes that are vital for the digestion
and absorption of food. Enzymes are the sparks of life, the living energy contained in food
essential for all the chemical processes within the body.
Any food heated above 45°C starts to become devoid of its natural enzymes and once food is
heated beyond 50°C, the much needed enzymes are totally destroyed. Eating enzyme-dead
foods places a burden on your vital organs, especially the pancreas (where enzymes are
produced stored and released for all digestion of protein, fats and carbohydrates).

Many people gradually impair their pancreas and progressively lose the ability to digest their food
after years of ingesting processed foods. This is most marked if they start their day with a typical
Western breakfast of dry cereal, toast, coffee and pasteurized milk. The only solution is to have a
natural, enzyme-rich, high protein breakfast as it sets the biochemical pattern for the rest of the

In 1930, under the direction of Dr. Paul Kouchakoff, the effect of food (cooked and processed
versus raw and natural) on our immune system was tested and documented at the Institute of
Clinical Chemistry in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Kouchakoff's discovery concerned the leukocytes, the white blood cells. It was found that after a
person eats cooked food, his/her blood responds immediately by increasing the number of white
blood cells. This is a well-known phenomenon called 'digestive leukocytosis', in which there is a
rise in the number of leukocytes - white blood cells - after eating.

At the same time, back in 1930, the Institute’s Swiss researchers made a significant discovery
called 'pathological leukocytosis’ that increased importance of eating more raw foods. They
discovered that eating raw, unaltered enzyme-rich foods did not cause an immune reaction in the
blood that usually occurred in respond to eating heated food. In addition, they found that if a food
had been heated beyond a certain temperature (unique to each food), or if the food was
processed, it caused a rise in the number of white cells in the blood – in other words a toxic

Let's get back to enzymes. Enzymes are needed for the digestive system to work as specific
enzymes break down food particles to be used for energy. The human body makes its own
different digestive enzymes capable of digesting carbohydrates, protein and fats. Yet as we get
older and face more stress in our lives, our bodies cease to make enough of these crucial
enzymes and that creates digestive problems, fatigue and even allergic reactions.

Mother Nature has come to our rescue by endowing raw vegetables and raw fruit with lots of
enzymes to assist our digestion. But this is where we can unwittingly get caught up with extreme
approaches, the ‘all or nothing’ attitude. The ideal is to include at least 50 percent of your total
food as raw foods wherever possible and, most importantly, enjoy enough good quality sources of
protein, such as lean grass-fed beef (high in Omega 3, even higher than commercial salmon),
free range eggs, and include a vegetable protein source such as rice or pea for
vegetarians/vegans. This is because we all need protein to varying degrees.

Due to increasing stress factor in our lives, many people need even more bioavailable protein.
Eggs and raw dairy, (unapasteurised milk, cheese, yoghurt) are enzyme-rich health foods, and
are most beneficial for energy building. Raw eggs are 100 percent bioavailable, which means
they contain the perfect ratio of amino acids, the building blocks of life.

In summary, avoid as much as possible baked and processed foods such as breads, grains and
biscuits. In particular, avoid overcooking proteins as overheating kills enzymes, the much needed
sparks of life that break down food into energy. Eating raw seasonal and locally grown fruits and
vegetables is ideal in preserving some of the richest enzymes available in foods. When it comes
to potatoes, steaming is better than frying or baking.
We all need digestive enzymes and as we get older it becomes even more important to eat more
enzyme-rich raw foods. Not everything can and should be eaten raw, but minimising heating may
still preserve some enzymes. So opt for more raw foods and enjoy a colourfully nutrient-rich diet
for building more energy.

In Wellness!
Teya Skae
Health Coach/Kinesiologist/Nutritionist

M.A., B.A., Dip Health Science,
Dip Clinical Nutrition.
1 http://www.naturalnews.com/024585.html
2 The results are presented in the article "Dietary acrylamide intake and the risk of renal cell, bladder, and prostate
cancer" by J.G. Hogervorst, L.J. Schouten, E.J. Konings, R.A. Goldbohm, P.A. van den Brandt, published in the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition (May 2008, Volume 87, Number 5, pp. 1428-1438).
"FDA Finds Cancer-Risk Acrylamides in More Food" Maggie Fox,
Reuters Health, 3/25/04, www.reutershealth.com

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