“Carbohydrates carry energy from the sun … In humans they are the primary fuel for every cell and crucial for the structure of cartilage and bone.”
Is cooked starch poison? Does it make fool addicts out of us?
Six billion people on earth eat starch as their primary fuel. On the raw food path, it’s the last cooked habit to go.
To me there’s no guilt in eating grains, our # 1 source of starch, while we travel to 95% raw. Let’s explore why.
CARBOHYDRATES ARE SUN ENERGY
Our snuggle food, our comfort foods are carbohydrates. They were the first cooked food to pass our lips. We love their sweetness. Our cultural icons are cereal for breakfast, bread for lunch, and potatoes or pasta for dinner.
Carbohydrates carry energy from the sun, and are the most abundant biological compound on earth. In humans they’re only 1% of our body, yet are the primary fuel for every cell and crucial for the structure of cartilage and bone.
“Carbohydrate” refers to any sugar or compound of sugar molecules strung together. Each sugar is carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in the ratio CH2O, plus the sun’s energy that was trapped during their combination.
Eat sun-ripened fruit whenever possible. Shop at farmer’s markets and plant your own fruit trees. Fruit picked early for mass-market distribution has not fully developed its vitamins and sugars. Sun-ripened fruit has maximum nutrition AND there’s more sun energy trapped in each sugar.
Only plants make carbohydrates. Flesh food has zero carbs, one reason why high-animal diets are so dangerous.
Every part of a plant – its fruits, seeds, leaves, stalks and roots – has free-floating sugars (simple carbohydrates) or strings of sugar (complex carbohydrates).
- Leaves are busy making sugars,
- Seeds and roots string sugars together into starch for storage,
- Stalks string them together into cellulose for stiffness, and
- the sweet sugar in Fruits is our temptress plant enticing animals to eat her seeds and disperse them (this fruit isn’t needed by seeds for their growth, you can take any seed from a fruit and grow it in water).
We humans battle over which sugar parts are okay to eat raw, and which parts shouldn’t be eaten at all.
The smallest molecule of carbohydrate is one sugar or monosaccharide.
Example monosaccharides are fructose, the sugar in fruits, and glucose, the sugar in our blood, both made by plants. Primitive humans got their sugar mostly from fruits, that’s before we discovered fire.
Simple sugars often pair up into disaccharides, e.g. sucrose (table sugar) is fructose and glucose coupled together.
So far, so good, everyone agrees we should eat 5-a-day raw fruits and vegetables, and fresh fruit is healthier than white sugar.
The problem comes at stage two, when plants chain their sugars together into a tight web of either starch or cellulose, depending on how the web is weaved. We call these complex carbohydrates.
Let’s forget cellulose. No human can digest cellulose. Animals like cows have bacteria in their stomachs to digest it. That’s why we call celery (a stiff stem of cellulose) “roughage”. It’s rough on our inner membranes. I spit out the strings of cellulose, I’ve always disliked it in celery.
90% of cotton is cellulose. We don’t eat the shirt off our back. It’s best to juice stalks. Our joint cartilage, that acts like a sponge at the end of bones, soaks up the sodium in celery juice. Sodium is the chief mineral in sinovial fluid, the liquid squishing in and out of cartilage as you bend your bone-joints.
STARCH STORED IN GRAINS
The starch-dominant seeds are the grains like barley, corn, millet, oats, rice, rye and wheat. All grain seeds grow into grass, except corn.
If you love cooked starch – bread, potatoes, rice and cereal – don’t worry, you’re in the same boat as billions of other humans. All you need do is ensure the starch you eat is a whole grain, not a skeleton of its former self.
Eat organic brown rice, and bake your own bread. It’s so quick in a bread-maker. I used to grind into flour the same wheat I use to grow wheatgrass, using a small electric flour mill. Then I poured this flour with water, yeast, raw honey and salt into my bread-maker and two hours later had delicious fresh bread.
There comes a day on the rawfood path where you don’t enjoy bread any more. It falls away from you. All the grains left me one-by-one, during the 15 years I took to transition to high-raw.
I still enjoy the pseudo-grains, buckwheat and quinoa. They look like grains but botanically are not. I eat them for their B vitamins and complementary minerals, with my cooked beans.
Do you prefer to go gluten-free? The three grains you want to avoid are wheat, rye, and barley. The “bad” gluten is in wheat (including spelt, kamut, durum & einkorn; and wheat products like bulgur & semolina) and in barley, rye, and triticale (a rye/wheat hybrid).
Oats can be contaminated by wheat so look for gluten-free oats. To eat oats as a whole food, buy only the whole oat groats (hulled) and grind them in a coffee grinder. Soak in water for half an hour, enjoy.
Oats are not raw, they’re steamed, but the groats are healthier than oat flakes. The more you expose the cell’s contents to air, by flaking it in a factory, the more nutrients you oxidize and lose.
Farmer Jim Mumm at sprouting.com has raw oat groats without hulls. These you can sprout, then blend into raw porridge.
Addiction and poison enter the picture when we turn whole grain starch into skeleton starch, when we refine it into white flour, white sugar, and white rice. Sugar can be more addictive than heroine, as every alcoholic and overweight person will testify.
Starch cravings fall away, the more raw foods you eat. Your biochemistry comes into balance. The more balanced you are, the more you desire only raw foods.
That’s my experience!
HOW WE DIGEST STARCH
Starch is the white inside potatoes, grains, beans and nuts. Starch satisfies our hunger. Hunger is actually a signal that our blood is low in glucose.
The starch in grains is beta starch. Raw rice is hard because beta-starch is rigid. Its chains of glucose molecules are woven tightly into a crystalline pattern. Each glucose chain looks beautiful, like a tree-trunk with crystal branches at regular intervals.
Beta-starch resists digestion by any enzyme, to protect the seed from germinating when conditions aren’t right. Only in the presence of warmth and moisture (sun and rain) or when we boil rice, bake bread, or sprout the grains, then water oozes in between the glucose drops. The crystal branches wave like fronds in the sea of water, and lose their rigidity. The starch turns into a soft pasty alpha-starch.
Now enzymes in a grain that’s sprouting, can act on this alpha-starch, snipping off its glucose molecules to provide energy for the plant’s growth, until it develops green leaves and makes its own glucose.
Our enzymes too, easily snip molecules of glucose away from alpha-starch. We feel warmed and satisfied when we eat starch, especially cooked in winter.
Over time, moisture will evaporate from the soft cooked starch. It reverts back to a hard form of beta-starch, as in stale bread that once again is difficult to digest.
When we sprout grains and blend them with dates or raisins, then dehydrate them, see carrot cake recipe here, then we don’t get this aging phenomenon of starch. Dried fruit retains some moisture (up to 15% water depending on its sugar content) to keep our cookies edible over a few months.
Continue to read seven pages on Essential Carbohydrates