Food and diet play an important role in health. Every day, research in fields such as epidemiology and nutritional biochemistry teach us more about this relationship. Through scientific investigation and effective consumer communication, functional foods are becoming an important tool in promoting health.

According to Health Canada, a functional food is “consumed as part of a usual diet that is similar in appearance to, or may be, a conventional food, and is demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions.”

Functional foods may come from plants or animals. Active ingredients effective in promoting human health include amino acids, fats, dietary fibres, antioxidants, pigments, vitamins and minerals.

If you follow the studies that document the stress put upon our digestive tracts when processed and refined foods are eaten, you will then realize how the body has to respond in a completely unnatural way to digest food matter that the body does not recognize.

Interestingly, when cooked foods are eaten, large amounts of mucus are secreted. Foods that are particularly mucus forming include all processed and refined foods.

When cooked food is eaten, the T-cells, which are so vital to immune function, increase in the gastrointestinal tissue to protect our system from certain foods, which are interpreted as foreign matter. If we consume cooked and processed food day after day without adequately eating raw food and fibrous foods, protective mucus will form in excess and build-up on bowel tissue, similar to the age rings we see in the trunks of trees.

As a result of faulty eating, nature’s protective coating — which was designed for occasional use only — becomes enraged and inadvertently contributes to ill health.

Consequently, the immune system is taxed and the presence of this excess mucus creates a perfect medium for the multiplication of bacteria, viruses, parasites and worms. Autoimmune diseases may develop due to the fact that the immune system has begun to attack the body, rather than invading microorganisms.

Continually eating “lifeless” foods — cooked, refined or processed foods devoid of fibre and enzymes — over-stimulate the immune system in a way that compromises its function. As a result, the animal becomes susceptible to every virus and bacteria.

Raw food is living food. Its food that has not been processed or heated above 118oC (244oF). Its food that contains the enzymes necessary for digestion as well as all the natural vitamins and minerals inherent in the specific vegetable or fruit. Raw food is probably the only basis for optimum nutrition. In an article in “Alive” magazine in May of 2000, nutritionist Dr Paavo Airola stated that an optimum diet must be at least 75-per-cent to 95-per-cent raw. And that was a reference to human diets. That would leave little room to doubt that canines and felines should be consuming at least that much raw food.

Dr Edward Howell, author of the definitive book “Enzyme Nutrition” blames the national state of disease on malnutrition due to the consumption of cooked and processed food. This food destroys all enzymes and therefore makes it impossible for the body to metabolize nutrients. More than anything, the raw food revolution is about enzymes.