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  QUESTIONS: DRIED FRUIT, OVEREATING, AND FERMENTED FOODS

by Tom Billings

Q: Are the enzymes destroyed in the process of drying fruit? What about the effect of drying on water and oxygen? Are rehydrated, dried fruits as good as fresh?

A: If fruits are sun-dried, their enzyme loss will be minimized, provided the fruit is not heated above 118 degrees F. If they are dried in a kiln or (forced air) drier, above 118 degrees F, the loss can be worse. Some dried fruit is preserved with sulfur dioxide - best to avoid that and get dried fruit with no preservatives.

The purpose of drying is to reduce the water content, and as water is a good vehicle for oxygen, oxygen levels may be reduced. Rehydrated fruits, by most criteria, are not as good as fresh. However they are an alternative to fresh when fresh is not available or too expensive. It is a good idea to rehydrate dried fruit, as it may cause gas if not rehydrated.

Q: I can eat 3 large raw meals per day, plus snacks, and still be very hungry. The hunger makes me think about food all the time. Help!

A: Overeating is a major problem for many raw fooders. The problem is especially acute if one overeats dried fruit, honey, or other sweet foods. Being hungry all the time is bad because you will be tempted to backslide and eat inappropriate food - candy, sweets, salty snacks, and so on. Overeating can disturb your digestion, promote gas, irritate your intestines, and cause excess urination.

When you are eating, learning to recognize the inner voice say "I'm satisfied" is difficult, and developing the willpower to stop eating when you hear that voice, takes some effort and time. Controlling the tongue is very difficult, as it enjoys the taste of delicious raw foods (as well as bad foods)!

How to reduce food intake? First stop snacking and/or grazing. Eat only when hungry, or if you need to eat on a schedule, eat very little if you are not really hungry. For each meal, decide how much food is the maximum you will eat, and don't exceed the limit you set. The amount of food that will fit in both hands, held together, is one possible goal. Such a limit is not arbitrary at all - your stomach size and hand size are related to your body frame size.

When you decide to reduce your food intake, you may find it helpful to begin by using a purgative - prunes, prune juice, or cassia - to clear your digestive system. The idea is to clear the system, then reduce food intake and allow your stomach and intestinal tract to literally shrink back to their proper size (bloating is very common when overeating). You may be hungry for a few days, but once the stomach shrinks back to normal size, the hunger will be reduced.

Note that the suggestions above are intended for those in good health. Individuals with health problems should discuss the above with their health care professional before implementing any parts of it.

Getting your eating under control is *very* difficult, but it is worth the effort. Good luck!

Q: What about fermentation? What is the controversy?

A: Among raw fooders, acidophilus fermentation is generally seen as good, while yeast fermentation (which produces alcohol/liquor) is usually seen as bad. Advocates of fermentation report that it can make certain foods more digestible, promote "good" bacteria (acidophilus) in your digestive system, and provide some enzymes. Fermented foods are an important part of the living foods lifestyle (of Ann Wigmore), which has been used successfully by many people for healing of serious illness. Fermentation may provide some B-vitamins (but formal nutritional analyses of raw fermented foods are scarce/non-existent). A good example is sauerkraut - raw cabbage, by itself, is a problem, in that it can cause severe (even painful) flatulence. However, raw cabbage fermented into raw sauerkraut does not cause flatulence.

Skeptics of fermentation point out that foods that have been fermented for days consist of a live bacteria culture, that is living on a dead base, e.g., in raw sauerkraut the culture is alive (down to a certain pH level), while the base of raw cabbage is certainly dead. This raises the question of whether they are really "living foods". Foods that have been fermented only a few hours, such as sprout milk yogurt, certain seed cheeses, may be acceptable as the base food is likely to be "alive" after only a few hours of fermentation. 

 

 

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