What is better for your body when it comes to choosing between raw food and cooked food? I think most vegans and vegetarians are likely to say raw food is healthier for digestion. Is a 100% Raw Diet better for you in the long run?
According to the article below, which was written by Richard Wrangham, it seems that cooked food required fewer calories to digest than raw food. Eating cooked food became more efficient. Especially during periods when food was hard to come by.
Human beings evolved to eat cooked food. It is literally possible to starve to death even while filling one’s stomach with raw food. In the wild, people typically survive only a few months without cooking, even if they can obtain meat. Wrangham cites evidence that urban raw-foodists, despite year-round access to bananas, nuts and other high-quality agricultural products, as well as juicers, blenders and dehydrators, are often underweight. Of course, they may consider this desirable, but Wrangham considers it alarming that in one study half the women were malnourished to the point they stopped menstruating. They presumably are eating all they want, and may even be consuming what appears to be an adequate number of calories, based on standard USDA tables. There is growing evidence that these overstate, sometimes to a considerable degree, the energy that the body extracts from whole raw foods.
Harvard colleague Rachel Carmody explains that only a fraction of the calories in raw starch and protein are absorbed by the body directly via the small intestine. The remainder passes into the large bowel, where it is broken down by that organ’s ravenous population of microbes, which consume the lion’s share for themselves. Cooked food, by contrast, is mostly digested by the time it enters the colon; for the same amount of calories ingested, the body gets roughly 30 percent more energy from cooked oat, wheat or potato starch as compared to raw, and as much as 78 percent from the protein in an egg. In Carmody’s experiments, animals given cooked food gain more weight than animals fed the same amount of raw food. And once they’ve been fed on cooked food, mice, at least, seemed to prefer it.
In essence, cooking—including not only heat but also mechanical processes such as chopping and grinding—outsources some of the body’s work of digestion so that more energy is extracted from food and less expended in processing it. Cooking breaks down collagen, the connective tissue in meat, and softens the cell walls of plants to release their stores of starch and fat. The calories to fuel the bigger brains of successive species of hominids came at the expense of the energy. Cooking freed up time, as well; the great apes spend four to seven hours a day just chewing, not an activity that prioritizes the intellect.
Using the same logic you can see switching to a few raw food only meals a day or week depending on how often you eat would be beneficial if you are trying to loose weight. Not only will you digest fewer calories during the meal but your body will also burn more calories during digestion.