When is the last time you looked at a piece of food and thought “Is it living, raw, or dead?” Probably never, would be my guess. If you are looking for nutritious, healthy, and fresh, then you need to start asking yourself that question. Now I know some of you are scratching your heads, wondering what the heck I am talking about.
Let’s break it down for you. It all boils down to one thing: enzymes. Every living animal and plant cells uses enzymes. Life will not exist without them.
There is a lot of debate about is it living or is it raw. Some say that they are the same as they both have enzymes and dead food doesn’t. I on the other hand have further divided this argument into three distinct groups, Living, Raw, and Dead.
While it is true that what I call “living” and raw foods both have enzymes, it is the state of those enzymes that define the two categories for me. Let’s just call these states “Active” and “Inactive.” Before I explain any further let’s look at enzymes and what they do.
Enzymes are proteins that serve as catalysts for specific biochemical reactions in the food or our own body. There are many forms of enzymes. There are plant enzymes, which help the plant grow. When the plant is no longer growing, they are responsible for the wilting and decomposition of plant after it is harvested. We have digestive enzymes, that help us digest the food we eat, and then there are enzymes that help with keeping our bodies growing called metabolic enzymes. There are more, but this is enough to get the point across. And, yes, heat can destroy enzymes.
Living Versus Raw
The distinction between “Living” and “Raw”, for me, is that while the plant is in the growing stage the enzymes are what I call “Active” and are keeping the plant growing. The plant still has its roots and growth continues. On the other hand, when the roots are separated from the plant and it is harvested, I consider this as “Raw” and the enzymes now move into an “Inactive” state as they no longer are helping the plant to grow. Instead, they now move on to their secondary role, that of decomposing the plant. That is why food spoils after is removed from the living state.
Another way of distinguishing the difference is that live foods are consumed fresh, digested within in a matter of hours, while the enzymes are still in the active state of helping the plant grow, not days or weeks. Raw on the other hand is in a condition as close as possible to their original, vibrant, living state, but the enzymes are now inactive and decomposing the food.
Well then what is the worst of the liter, “Dead.” Dead means the enzymes no longer have an effect on the food item. They have been systematically removed from the food item. Think of it this way; Dead food is anything that doesn’t contain enzymes, such as packaged and processed products. For the most part this was done to increase the shelf life. Basically, we can store in the grocery store or at home for weeks, months or years without spoiling. This makes life more convenient, but not very nutritiously beneficial to health.
Just in case you need an example, think about a nice juicy red apple fresh off the tree compared to a jar of beige looking applesauce, Raw versus Dead. Or an ear of raw corn plucked off the stalk compared to a bowl of corn flakes. Or maybe a head of lettuce pulled out of the ground with the roots still attached to a bag of salad mix, Live versus Raw.
From a nutrition viewpoint, the closer you get to a growing plant at time of harvest, the more nutrients it has. If you pick it living it is still full of all the nutrients it has. In the raw state, the enzymes are already using up the nutrients in the decomposition process. Dead foods are the least nutrient. Yes, the food company probably tries to enhance the nutrient content by adding artificial nutrients, but they never come close to the living plant in comparison.
If you want to get even better nutrition, try sprouts and microgreens. These plants are anywhere from 10 to 40% more nutrient packed than their older more mature counterparts.
The bottom line is if you are looking for freshness, high concentration of nutrients, and provide the most healthful punch for your dollar, look for living plants to eat.