Taking the nature out. Pretty simple. The term is utilized to support whole food arguments and is quite often used incorrectly leading arguments about the science of eating healthy.
Heating food past 112 degrees denatures it. This is a fact. Right at 112 degrees proteins begin to unfold and change shape rendering structurally sensitive enzymes biologically inactive. However, even when a food is heated, it still has enzymatic activity to help you break it down. It takes a lot of heat and/or a lot of time to totally denature food. The reality is that as we process foods, they lose enzymatic activity in relation to how hot and how long they were heated. Microwaving is another way to denature food at an intense pace.
So, why does it matter? A simple explanation is that enzymes are specific proteins with specific structures that allow certain metabolic activity, digestion. Denaturing enzymes or inactivating those processes will add stress, however minor, to your body when you consume the food. Accumulation of that stress over time can lead to further problems with digestion and subsequently other more serious symptoms and dysfunctions. This does not mean that any cooking is a horrible thing, simply that we must consider it a compromise and make choices accordingly. It would be ideal to only consume fresh whole raw foods but without the time and effort put in, it is just impractical in todays culture. Making whole food choices whenever you can and using plant based digestive enzymes when you eat cooked food can be the best escape hatch to reducing the stress of digestion on your body. Thus relieving many digestive issues like bloat, IBS, heart burn, reflux, etc.
Feed your body what it needs and it will love you for it!
– Dr. Josh Carter, Contributor