Why Cooked food is necessary
Notes/opinions/learnings from: Catching Fire: How cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham. (Part 2/5)
Animals can live on raw diet, since humans are animals too this should be the same, right? According to Marco Polo, Mongol warriors of the 13th century rode for 10 days at a time without lighting a fire. Their food was raw blood of their horses by piercing their veins. This resulted in no harmful subsequence to their health and also reduced time in riding and being located by hostile forces through smoke of the fire.
An experiment done called the Evo diet (to represent the types of food our bodies have evolved to eat) experiment in 2006, by BBC shows the opposite result. 9 volunteers with high blood pressures spent 12 days eating like apes that is everything was raw, peppers, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots etc. The aim was to make sure it improved their heath and it did and they also lost around 0.37 kg per day. This makes us question the kind of diet that is important to understand human adaption? Do we just enjoy taste and cooked food without depending on them or are we do we use fire by our biological needs to rely on cooked food to supple energy to our bodies?
Giessen Raw Food study studied 513 raw foodists over a long period of time and concluded that a strict raw food diet cannot guarantee adequate energy supply. This can be perhaps of lack of meat however, this doesn’t apply to people who eat cooked diets. There is no difference in body weight between vegetarians and meat eaters. When our food is cooked we get many calories from vegetarian diet as compared to a non-veg one.
If we apply raw foods to our evolutionary past, it was probably less successful since the the people who exercised this diet were hungry every one hour and with a incredibly low fertility rate (women who were eating raw diets, 50 percent ceased to menstruate and 10 percent suffered from irregular cycles). If we were to put them in the situation of our ancestors this would not be possible since women spent the day looking for food this would result in a further decrease in fertility- in fact until the development of agriculture it was human fate to be hungry for weeks to years.
Some Raw foodists believe in the ideas of Edward Howell, who said in his 1945 book that plants contain living/active enzymes which if eaten raw operate for our benefit inside our bodies.People who follow this cook their food between 45 degrees because if the temperature goes above it life force is apparently destroyed. (I added this here as an extreme opposite to what I have been reading on Jain food beleifs). However, scientifically, the idea that food enzymes contribute to digestion is nonsense because molecules digest in our stomach. Other follow the idea that cooking is responsible for eating meat that we should therefore not eat at all. Some others called instinctotherapists eat like apes would eat. They smell their food and by instinct and eat exactly how it is.
The longest recorded that someone has gone on raw food was in 1972 when a British sailor and his family lost their boat to killer whales and were confined to a dinghy for 38 days. They ate sea food raw, their physical condition was better than before. However, they were hungry but not starving. Raw foodists do not fare well except when thriving on the comforts of modern life and high quality food. Therefore we need cooked food.
Animals do not have the same restraints. Domestic animals grow faster when given cooked food, cows produce more milk, fishes grow stronger, pigs get fatter. This explains why dogs get fat, this is because their commercial food is cooked. BARF: Biologically Appropriate Raw Food is advised because every living animal needs biologically appropriate diet. Animals adapt to raw diets more than cooked food.
Humans have adapted to cooked food because it is an advantage complemented by evolutionary benefits. Our ancestors started eating cooked food everyday because natural selection favoured those with small guts because they were able to process food better and at low cost. We have small, mouths, jaws, teeth, stomach. Before, the unusual size of these body parts had been because of the evolutionary effects of our eating meat.