At What Temperature Are Enzymes in Raw Food Destroyed?
Today, in the vegan and vegetarian communities, eating substantial amounts of raw and living foods has become the norm. There's a lot of dialogue concerning the highest temperature food can be prepared at and still be considered raw, living food that still has its plant enzymes intact.
All of us who eat raw and living food know the incredible benefits we receive from making sure the food we eat is rich in enzymes.
So just what is that correct temperature?
There are five things we need to understand to optimise low-temperature cooking. If we can grasp these five important points, we will have a much better chance of eating food with its enzymes intact.
So Which Is It ... Air Temperature? Food Temperature? or What?
1. There is a difference between air temperature and food temperature. Generally, moist food is about 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature of the dehydrator. The evaporation process itself cools the food below the temperature at which you have set your dehydrator.
2. The thermostat on your dehydrator regulates the air temperature, not the food temperature. The temperature gauge monitors the air temperature to make sure that the dehydration process temperature stays at the desired setting.
3. When food is wet, that is the time when the enzymes are most susceptible to being destroyed by heat. Once the food is dried, the enzymes can withstand much higher temperatures.
4. Along with the need to preserve food enzymes from destruction, there is also the need to make sure unhealthy bacteria and molds don't establish themselves in the food. So it's necessary to begin the process of dehydration at a higher air temperature. We do this by raising the air temperature while still keeping the food temperature low enough to protect the food. At the same time, we create fast evaporation of the moisture on the surface of the food we are dehydrating.
5. Remember enzymes are only susceptible to damage when the food is wet and the actual food temperature (not the air temperature) is raised to the point of destroying the enzymes.
Because the raw and living food lifestyle is so new, compared to veganism and vegetarianism, the science has not had a chance to mature and is just really beginning to be implemented. Because of this newness we find that there are as many different opinions as to what temperature destroys food enzymes as there are raw foodists.
What The Mother and Father of Live Fooding Said
- Dr. Ann Wigmore, when she was dehydrating wet foods, always set the temperature above 120ºF for the first hour or two. She wanted to make sure no molds or bacteria had an opportunity to get a foothold on her food. Once the food had a soft outer shell, she then lowered it to 105 degrees. Dr. Ann also said, however, that if you’re the forgetful type, you should set your your dehydrator temperature at 105 degrees so that your food will never go over the 120-degree mark.
- Viktoras Kulvinskas agreed with Dr. Wigmore, adding that his testing method revealed that once a portion of food is dried, the temperature of the food could go as high as 150 degrees before the enzymes were destroyed.
Well, you can see where the confusion started and where the inaccurate beliefs about the 105ºF air temperature came from. Who would argue with Dr. Ann or Victor? The problem is, her 105-degree advice was directed to the “forgetful” raw foodist, and Victor basically agreed with Dr. Ann in her advice to non-forgetful foodists.
Today, we know we can dry food at temperatures that far exceed 105 degrees. In fact, I personally have been able to sprout all of a sample seeds, grains and nuts that I had soaked for several hours and dehydrated for 4 hours at 120 degrees. Try it yourself, and you will see how powerful life-giving enzymes are. My experiment proves the enzymes were still active. Otherwise, my nuts, seeds and grains would not have sprouted.
What Some of the Experts Say About Heat and Enzyme Destruction
- Dr. Edward Howell, in his book Enzyme Nutrition, showed that prolonged temperatures over 118ºF will destroy enzymes.
- Dr. John Whitaker, former Dean of Food Science at U.C. Davis, says “every enzyme is different, and some are more stable at higher temperatures than others, but that most enzymes will not become completely inactive until food temperatures exceed 140ºF to 158ºF in a wet state."
- Old School Teachers (at just-for-the-health-of-it )believe: “Enzymes are sensitive to temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit [We teach 107 degrees]. Above 120 degrees, enzymes become sluggish, just as the human body becomes languid and relaxed in a hot bath. At 130 degrees, the life of enzymes is extinct.”
- A fellow named Chandni Hindocha performed a test regarding the temperature at which amylase is destroyed, resulting in a graph that floated around the raw food community.
- Dr. Douglas Graham believes foods cooked above 40 degrees Centigrade or 104 degrees Fahrenheit have lost much of their nutritional value and all their enzymes.
- Dr. Mary Enig says her studies show that “all enzymes are deactivated at a wet-heat temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and a dry-heat temperature of about 150 degrees. It is one of those happy designs of nature that foods and liquids at 117 degrees can be touched without pain, but liquids over 118 degrees will burn. Thus, we have a built-in mechanism for determining whether or not the food we are eating still contains its enzyme content."
For What It's Worth, Here's My Two Cents
Here’s my best test to ensure enzyme retention – If your food feels hot, it has probably lost a lot of the enzymes. Eat your food cool, at room temp, or a little warm but not hot, and then you can be pretty sure you are probably keeping the food enzymes intact.
- Rebuild Your Health: With High Energy Enzyme Nourishment - Ann Wigmore
- Survival Into the 21st Century - Viktoras Kulvinskas
- Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity - Dr.Edward Howell
- Enzyme Nutrition - Dr. Edward Howell
- The Enzyme Factor - Hiromi Shinya MD
- Enzymes: The Missing Link to Health - Susan M. Lark M.D
- Ann Wigmore Institute: Home Page
Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute, an educational center in Aguada, Puerto Rico, teaches people how to rebuild, reconnect and rejuvenate through the Living Foods Lifestyle. Classes are offered in wheatgrass, sprouting and food dehydration.
- Hippocrates Health Institute - Lifestyle Education Classes
Participants are taught the specifics of the Hippocrates lifestyle and given instruction in nutrition and the psychology of wellness.
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