By Paul Kouchakoff, MD
Summary: A classic and profound study on the direct effect of cooking food on the human immune system. Presented by Dr. Paul Kouchakoff at the First International Congress of Microbiology in 1930 and later translated and published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, the research focuses on the phenomenon of “digestive leukocytosis,” or the increase and mobilization of white blood cells in response to eating food. Dr. Kouchakoff observed that this immune response occurs only when the food eaten is cooked and, moreover, that processed foods (which are often exposed to high temperatures in their preparation) incite an even graver response than cooked whole foods. Raw foods, on the other hand, not only fail to cause digestive leukocytosis but can prevent cooked foods from causing it if eaten at the same meal. Dr. Kouchakoff spent many years studying the effects of cooked food versus raw food on the human immune system, and it remains a great mystery and tragedy that no one has followed up on his startling findings. From Proceedings: First International Congress of Microbiology, 1930. Translated and reprinted by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. It has been edited for clarity. To view or download the original document, click here.]
The Influence of Food Cooking on the Blood Formula of Man
Presented at the First International Congress of Microbiology, Paris, 1930.
The living organism is very sensitive to all harmful influences and reacts against them immediately. We see this when we make an analysis of our blood during simple and infectious illnesses, when extraneous substances are introduced into our system, and so on. In such cases the total number of white corpuscles changes, and the correlation of percentages between them [that is, the proportions of the different types of white blood cells] is altered. This is one of the indications that a pathological process is going on in our system.
We also observe an increase in the number of white corpuscles, along with a change in the correlation of their percentages, after a person takes in a dose of [certain] foods. Until now this phenomenon has been considered a physiological one, known as “digestive leukocytosis.”
Now, in general we use the following as food: 1) raw foodstuffs 2) foodstuffs that have been altered by means of high temperature, and 3) manufactured [industrially processed] foodstuffs. How, then, does each one of these foodstuffs act on our blood formula?
We find that after the taking of raw foodstuffs, neither the total number of white corpuscles nor the correlation of their percentages is changed. Ordinary, unboiled drinking water, mineral water, salt, different green foodstuffs; [raw] cereals, nuts, and honey; raw eggs, meat, and fish; [raw] fresh milk, sour milk, and butter—in other words, foodstuffs in the state in which they exist in nature—belong to the group of those foods that do not call forth any alteration in our blood formula.
After the consumption of these same natural foodstuffs altered by means of high temperature, we find that the total number of white corpuscles changes, while the correlation of their percentages remains the same. After consumption of manufactured foodstuffs, on the other hand, not only does the total number of white corpuscles change, but also the correlation of percentages between them changes. To this last group belong sugar, wine, chocolate in tablet form, and so on.
All our experiments have shown that it is not the quantity but the quality of a food that plays an important role in the alteration of our blood formula, [as little as] 200 mg or even 50 mg of a reaction-causing foodstuff producing the same reaction as a large dose of it. The experiments also show that the reaction in our blood takes place at the moment the food enters the stomach, while the preliminary mastication of food in the mouth softens the reaction.
We have already said that raw foodstuffs altered by means of high temperature call forth only an increase in the total number of white corpuscles [and not a change in their relative percentages]. Does this occur only when such foodstuffs are heated to the boiling point, or is the same phenomenon called forth at lower temperatures?
It appears that each raw foodstuff has its own, unique temperature that must not be surpassed in heating; otherwise it loses its original virtues and calls forth a reaction in the system. For instance, ordinary drinking water heated for half an hour at a temperature of 87°C [188.6°F] does not change our blood, but this same water heated to 88°C [190.4°F] does change it.
We have given the name “critical temperature” to the highest temperature at which a particular foodstuff can be cooked for half an hour in a bain-marie and then eaten without changing our blood formula. (Cooking with a bain-marie, or “Mary’s bath,” refers to the method of placing a pan of food in another pan with water in it in order to stabilize the heat reaching the food.)
This critical temperature is not the same for all raw foodstuffs; it varies within a range of 10ºC. The critical temperature for water, for instance, is 87°C; for milk, it is 88°C; for cereals, tomatoes, cabbage, bananas, 89°C; for pears and meat, 90°C; for butter, 91°C; for apples and oranges, 92°C; for potatoes, 93°C; for carrots, strawberries, and figs, 97°C. See the table below for conversions to temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit.
CRITICAL TEMPERATURE OF VARIOUS FOODS
|Food||Critical Temperature (°F)|
Our experiments show that it is possible [under certain circumstances] to deter the action of a foodstuff after its critical temperature has been surpassed. There exist strictly definite laws for this, and the critical temperature plays the primary role here.
For example, if a cooked foodstuff is eaten along with the same product in a raw state, then there is no reaction. The raw product neutralizes the action that this same product, with its critical temperature surpassed, would have called forth. In other words, the raw product has, so to say, reestablished the virtues of the product that were altered by high temperature.
Such a reestablishment is also possible when two different products [one cooked, one raw] have been absorbed, given one condition: either their critical temperatures are the same or the critical temperature of the raw product is higher than the critical temperature of the overheated one. If the critical temperature of the raw product is lower than that of the overheated one, then the reaction is sure to take place; even increasing the quantity of the raw product does not help.
This law remains the same when the raw product is mixed with several overheated ones of the same critical temperature. [On the other hand] if several cooked foodstuffs of different critical temperatures are taken along with a raw food, then a reaction takes place even if the raw product has a higher critical temperature than that of any [or all] of the cooked foodstuffs.
Now we pass on to the third group of foodstuffs, those such as sugar, wine, and so on, which are obtained by complicated manufacturing processes and produce a double reaction in our organism. These products can also be consumed without calling forth any reaction but only when they are introduced into our organism concomitantly with no less than two raw foodstuffs of a different critical temperature.
Even a single raw food has a beneficial influence on this third group by depriving the foods of one of their properties, namely, the power to alter the correlation of percentages of the white corpuscles. As regards the proportions at which raw products must be added to cooked foods, there is an irreducible minimum. For water, for example, it is 50 percent.
After over 300 experiments on ten individuals of different ages and both sexes, we have come to the following conclusions:
1. The increase in total number of white corpuscles and the alteration of the correlation of the percentages between them that takes place after the consumption of certain foods, which was considered until now a physiological phenomenon, is in reality a pathological one. It is called forth by the introduction into the system of foodstuffs that have been altered by means of high temperature and by complicated treatments of ordinary products produced by nature.
2. After the consumption of a fresh, raw foodstuff produced by nature, our blood formula does not change over any period of time, nor does it change as a consequence of taking in any combination of raw foods.
3. After the consumption of foodstuffs produced by nature but altered by means of high temperature, an increase in the total number of white corpuscles takes place, while the correlation of percentages between them remains the same.
4. After the consumption of foodstuffs produced by nature but altered by [industrial food] manufacturing processes, an increase in the total number of white corpuscles as well as a change in the correlation of their percentages takes place.
5. It has been proved possible to take, without changing our blood formula, every kind of foodstuff that is habitually eaten now but only by following this rule: it must be taken along with raw products according to a definite formula.
6. In a healthy organism, it is not possible via the consumption of any food to alter the correlation of percentages between the white corpuscles without increasing their total number.
7. Foodstuffs do not seem to have any influence on the transitional [sic] and polymorphonuclear eosinophils, and the correlation of percentages between them is not altered.
8. We can change our blood formula in the direction we desire by dieting accordingly.
9. Blood examination only has significance as a diagnosis if it is made on an empty stomach.
By Paul Kouchakoff, MD, Institute of Clinical Chemistry, Lausanne, Switzerland. Translated and reprinted from Proceedings: First International Congress of Microbiology, Paris, 1930, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.
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