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STARCH STORED IN ROOTS

Roots are part-simple sugar, part-starch. Their enzymes are busy biting off the sugars one at a time from the chains of starch stored in the root. It's instant fuel for their cells to multiply and grow deeper into the ground.

Macrobiotics says: "cook all roots and tubers" like carrots and potatoes, so our enzymes can digest them.

I enjoy raw carrots, but dislike the strong starch taste of raw potatoes. Soon as you heat a potato – e.g. slice it thinly and steam for 3 minutes – you can taste the sweet sugars.

All raw recipe books use the starchy vegetables fresh and raw – that's roots (beet, carrot, celeriac, daikon, parsnip, radish, rutabaga, turnip), tubers (cassava, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, potato, sweet potato, yam) and gourds (pumpkin, squashes). Gourds grow in the sun, they're not underground. But in starch content, they're linked with roots.

Try raw pumpkin pie at your next Thanksgiving! My friends all loved the one in Recipes for Longer Life by Ann Wigmore.

WHY DO WE FARM GRAINS?

Rudolph Ballentine, M.D., writes in Diet & Nutrition:

"The history of grains is the history of civilization, and it was largely the storable grain that made towns feasible ... grains supply the vast majority of fuel that is burned by human beings."

Can we deny epidemiological evidence, the first-hand experience of a human being? If six billion humans are living healthily on whole grains, and macrobiotics is curing cancer with whole grains, then it's obvious our enzymes are digesting that grain, and our cells are utilizing its nutrients.

In 1966 as an anthropology student I traveled in remote rural Africa where the wimmin had never seen a white woman. All around were trees of exotic juicy fruits. Yet the wimmin toiled long hours in the sun to grow corn.

Why do we humans go to the trouble of cultivating grains when fruit trees are everywhere? Why, when fruit trees are easier to plant and care for, do we sow fields of new grain every year? That message says something, that we get something from grain that fruit is not giving.

Macrobiotic teacher Annemarie Colbin in Food and Healing writes:

"cooking contracts vegetable foods, thus we get more nutrients with less bulk ... For most people cooking will therefore support mental concentration."

I don't agree with Colbin. But thousands of healers do, in particular those who practice Oriental and Traditional Chinese medicine.

I need to listen to the first-hand experience of so many. I cannot claim cooked starch is poison when people are healing on a diet of 35-60% whole grains. And I did too.

GRAINS VS. FRUITS

Both fruit and grain are nearly all glucose, our body's gasoline. It's a continuum – on one end is fruit made of free-floating single glucose molecules, and on the other end is grain made of tightly-woven glucose, locked into a web called starch.

A few rawfooders will eat only fruit, and not go near grains. A few macrobiotic followers will eat only grains and hardly touch a raw fruit. Both eat greens of course.

The rest of us jump around on the continuum and eat what we want, fruit in the heat, grain in the cold, choosing the glucose that makes us feel good. If we mistakenly eat the Whites – like white rice, white flour, white sugar – then we feel totally unbalanced.

A few rawfooders teach that all cooked food is poison. All cooked food is addictive.

Biochemically, this is true of fats, minerals and vitamins, but I believe not strictly of starch. Nor of the protein in starchy beans.

Starch is unique. We humans have cooked starch for about half a million years (no one knows exactly when fire was discovered).

Still today cultures that don't shop at Wal-Mart, like the Koisan of the Kalahari (bushmen), dig up huge tubers and bake them in a fire for the family meal. Across the world, humans eat grain as their main food – corn in south Africa, millet in north Africa, rice in India, wheat in north America.

We're a starch-centered species.

ADDICTIVE REACTION TO SIMPLE SUGARS

Our enzymes do digest cooked starch or alpha-starch. Test it for yourself. Pour a couple of enzyme capsules into a dish of whole oat groats (beta-starch). Nothing will happen. Now grind these groats, soak in water, then simmer on the stove for a few minutes into thick porridge (it's now alpha-starch). When cool, add the enzyme capsules. Within an hour, the porridge will be water, showing the enzymes broke down the starch (digested it).

The starch must be cooked or it must be germinated (sprouted) for enzymes to act on it. It needs warmth and moisture to go from rigid beta-starch to soft alpha-starch (see page one).

This is why the Doctor School and Macrobiotic School recommend cooked grains as our best source of blood sugar or fuel. They say that blood sugar stays steady and fully topped up, as digestive enzymes break off the glucose drops one at a time from the alpha-starch. Slowly over a period of hours, the glucose enters our blood stream.

They say that simple sugars like fruits, flood our blood with too much sugar at once. The free glucose in fruit is instantly absorbed, it doesn't have to wait in a chain to be snipped off. Our pancreas freaks at the blood sugar rush. It shoots out excess insulin, which shuttles the sugars into our cells, and whoops, we've no more blood sugar. Again we crave food, and eat more sugar. So the glucose chart goes up and down like a yo-yo, not in a steady line.

This addictive reaction to sugar – where you can never get enough – occurs with white flour, white sugar and alcohol.

I experience it with high-sugar fruits like watermelon and giant mangoes. If I eat too big a slice of watermelon, I feel faint from the blood sugar rush. It's the reason Ann Wigmore recommended you leave out carrot juice, because it rushes too much sugar into your blood too quickly.

If I eat watermelon too often in the summer, I begin to crave cookies and chocolate, so I'm clearly getting the insulin reaction. It's draining off the excess sugar in my blood, and I crave more sugar.

In fact for years after I got sober, the only time I wanted a drink (and did at times go out and get drunk) was in summer when I was eating blended watermelon. I specifically noticed that the only time I got drunk was at watermelon time.

Ann wigmore recommended watermelon juice, in addition to wheatgrass juice. But for me, I need to stick to smaller slices of watermelon, not eat too much at once.

NUTRITIONAL DOCTORS SUPPORT WHOLE GRAINS

Medical doctors who teach nutritional healing, all recommend:

* "Eat more whole grains and products made from whole grains," TV speaker Andrew Weil, M.D., in Spontaneous Healing;

* "A health-supporting diet is plentiful in complex carbohydrates [grains] but limits unprotected simple sugars [fruit]," heart doctor John McDougall, M.D., in The McDougall Plan;

* "Each day we should have 6 vegetables, 2 fruits, 1 starch and 1 protein," Bernard Jensen, Ph.D., clinical nutritionist, author of a dozen books on food & nutrition, in Vibrant Health From Your Kitchen.

Today my starch is raw sprouted grains, blended and dried into crackers in my dehydrator.

These raw grain crackers are my TV munchies. I hire someone to make them once or twice a month.

  
   
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