School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion

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Raw Versus Cooked - What's Better?

Written by John Immel, Asheville, NC
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There is no right or wrong answer to the raw versus cooked debate. The real answer to the debate depends on the digestive strength of the individual. Raw food offers nutritional benefits but is more difficult to digest, causing gas and bloating in those with weak digestion. Cooked food is easier to digest but destroys some vitamins and enzymes. Neither is superior.

If raw food gives you gas, the toxicity created by the gas & fermentation outweighs the nutritional benefits of the food. Indigestible food is considered poison in Ayurveda. Many under cooked foods are hard and chewy, and hard to chew usually means hard to digest. The measure of good food is not just its contents, but its interaction with your body.

Pitta people have the strongest digestive strength and can tolerate more raw foods than other doshas. Juicing fresh raw vegetables or blending fruits into a smoothie might make them more digestible for some people. Once food has been pulverized and thoroughly blended, the body does not have to do as much work to process it. But, it still depends on the power of one's agni.

The qualities of raw food itself are light, cold, rough, difficult, and clear. Raw food feels cold in the stomach and rough on the GI. It has the qualities of Vata and can therefore increase Vata if consumed in excess. Many claim that raw food can be a path to spiritual development, attesting to its light and subtle qualities. A person on a raw food diet might feel inspired and light - like they are floating on air, living off the prana of raw fruits and raw vegetables.

Another danger in raw food is that undercooked food often contains parasites. Whether or not the issue is publicized, parasites are common in every country including developed industrialized nations.

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About John Joseph Immel

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.

John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 7 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.

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Dear Manoj, I do not know the rate of enzyme and vitamin breakdown. I imagine it happens quickly depending on the molecule. Cooking will not affect amino acids or minerals. They are already broken down to their core. Cooking will soften fibers. Experimentation is a great way to find which raw ingredients digest better than others. Generally, foods difficult to digest when cooked are also difficult when raw. Burping, bloating, gas, tired after eating, constipation, diarrhea, etc. All signs of indigestion and poor bowel health are signs of poor digestive health.
I'm not a salad fan naturally. Maybe because I'm Kapha :) now I know I love stews, warm food.
- sonia tigero, Hollywood, FL , 05-22-13 (Reply)

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