Jars of lact fermented pickles.

Living Food

In order to reach a state of balance and wellness, it’s necessary that the food you eat provide you with the nutrition you require.  Believe it or not, the nutrition from the food you eat doesn’t always get to your body efficiently.  There are a variety of ways that the process of extracting nutrition from your food can be obstructed.  Many people, even though they are well fed calorically, aren’t receiving adequate nutrition.

There are a ton of reasons this can happen – from candida/bacteria imbalance to parasites, including obstructions of the intestines – but for the moment, I would like to focus on one particularly interesting distinction – living food vs. dead food (or food vs. “food product”) – how highly processed food lacks the nutrutional density of its living counterparts.

Living food has a couple of interpretations, but here, I’m describing unprocessed food close to its natural state – uncooked or lightly cooked.  When your food’s in this state, it can literally heal you.  In fact, Hippocrates, a pretty important guy (think: Hippocratic Oath) once said:

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Now here’s an irony. As a normal American, medicine is a synthetic chemical made by a pharmaceutical company that acts upon the body in a predescribed way.  It alleviates symptoms or “heals” you. This is “medicine”. Food is simply raw material for the body. Doctors practice medicine. Food is food. Medicine is medicine. Food’s “state” when you eat it is irrelevant.

Now as an American, you regularly eat food that’s been processed to the point of death. Do you think there’s any living properties left in that can of beans?  In a box of food – any box of food? There are raw materials, but those materials are dead. The materials in that box of quick-food have been rendered, pasteurized, sterilized, and chemically manipulated.

Why should I care?

Bear with me. So maximizing food shelf life has consequences to food, especially to its meta-properties. Dead food, or food product, is almost always acidic. Acidic environments resist decay and make a poor environment for the good bugs that your GI tract requires to properly function. But hey, the food lasts much longer.

These foods almost always lack fiber – which means they digest at a lightning pace (think low GI) – rapidly engaging your hormones to compensate and ultimately, they leave you unsatiated (so you eat more). Not surprisingly, they have far less nutrients than the original food, or the same food made from scratch – made from whole, raw ingredients.

So it’s a problem of definition. When Hippocrates was referring to food, I’m fairly certain he meant raw, unaltered food in its natural state. Food in this state is powerful! More on that later.

When you think food – you might be thinking something entirely different.

So let’s get our definitions straight

I introduce you to food product. This is a processed food. Processed food is food product, not food.

It’s food where:

  • Acids/chemicals have been added to “maintain color” (if you saw food without the additives, you would know to avoid it)
  • Preservatives/chemicals have been added to increase shelf life
  • Its been chemically engineered for attractiveness, mouth feel, addictiveness, etc.
  • The final product is unrecognizable compared to its component parts

Great example: corn. Corn is a cereal. You can recognize it when it’s food.  It’s on the cob, or just cut from the cob. That’s food. The rest of the grocery store (not kidding, 90% of it) is just rendered corn. Read The Omnivores Dilemma if you don’t believe me. That’s all food product. Corn syrup, cheesy puffs, corn based cereals, boxed foods with corn starch, etc. etc.

How do you know your food is living food?

  • Leave it out – it rots (bacteria want to eat it)
  • Colors – they almost glow (vibrancy) (can’t cheat this one!)
  • It fills you up quickly per volume eaten – naturally
  • When you eat it, you become physically full before you become sick-full*
  • You don’t become tired just after eating it in proper portions (important)
  • The chemicals contained therein are all mother-nature made (free of chemical preservatives, fertilizers, etc.)

Those aren’t all the properties, but using this list, you’ll know if what you’re eating is food product (dead) or food (alive).

I mean is all food product “bad”? Nope, not saying that. Just be aware that dead food has consequences within your body and over time, you might forget what peak wellness feels like. Eat this stuff sparingly, top of the pyramid style.

Pro tip: eat living food most of the time.

Thanks for reading!

*Sick-full – Feeling that occurs when the pancreas releases inordinate amounts of insulin into your blood because the body is quickly introduced to high amounts of saturated fats and sugar, often delivered with low fiber.  After eating, you feel like taking a nap, or all of the sudden start slogging.