Why raw foods?
Over the years we have been introduced to a multitude of diets and anti-aging programs. They all promise spectacular benefits to health. And while some of them make a lot of sense, they may work for some people and bring disappointment to others. People differ in constitution and metabolism, but there probably is no better way to rejuvenate than through the raw food diet. Although there can be no single recipe for all, the raw food diet advocates claim increased vitality and exceptional health. People with Type 2 diabetes were able to reverse their condition in only thirty days after going on a raw food diet.
Raw food diet is considered to be the secret key to longevity. It has the potential to detoxify the body, reverse degenerative processes, and deliver all the nutrients needed to sustain optimal health. Raw foods contain vitamins, minerals, live enzymes, fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, anti-carcinogens, phytosterols, plant hormones, and many other compounds with high healing potential.
Raw food diet usually comprises of 75-100 per cent uncooked, "living", mostly organic foods. The raw food diet is a diet based on unprocessed and uncooked plant foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, sprouted seeds, grains, and beans, nuts, dried fruit, and seaweed. Raw honey and cold pressed, virgin oils are used. Some proponents of this diet also consume raw, unpasteurized, non homogenized milk and cheese. In some cases nutrient rich organic raw eggs are added to the diet.
There are some foods that are better absorbed when cooked or sprouted. These foods include beans, potatoes, egg plants, asparagus, and most of edible mushrooms. (Although it is possible to eat champignons in their raw state, for instance, one should be aware that these mushrooms contain cancer-causing hydrazides that are normally destroyed by cooking).
Raw foods are considered to be more nutritious as heating food above 118º F is believed to destroy enzymes that normally could assist in digestion and absorption of food. Cooking is also thought to diminish the nutritional value and "life force" of food. The vitamin content of many vitamins diminishes during cooking and minerals are washed away. Researchers agree that cooking destroys over 50 per cent of B vitamins, with as much as 96 per cent of Thiamine (B1), up to 96 per cent folic acid, and up to 72 per cent of biotin being lost. It is estimated that 70-80 per cent of vitamin C is being wasted due to cooking. Protein loses almost half of its bio-availability. Researchers found that cooking alters protein into substances that may disrupt cellular function and accelerate aging and degenerative processes. The nutritional value of fats is lost as they change their molecular structure during the cooking process. Foods that have been baked or burned, particularly these with a high starch content, contain highly carcinogenic compounds called acrylamides.
People on raw food diet report that raw food diet has numerous health benefits such as:
- increased levels of energy and stamina
- increased mental alertness
- strong immune system
- improved joint health
- improved skin tone and overall appearance
- better digestion
- normalized body pH
- weight loss
- reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
- reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease
- decreased risk of many cancers due to better detoxification of the body
There is a lot of fear and misconception about raw food. Many people do not understand how important it is to consume live foods that are not only rich in vitamins, but also in enzymes. When we eat food that is mostly cooked and denaturated through the industrial process, our bodies need enzymes to digest it. Properly chewed raw digest itself and delivers vital enzymes that are so necessary to support bodily functions. Cooked fats, for instance, lack the enzyme lipase and have much less biologically active fatty acids. When we consume raw, virgin oils, they begin their digestion with their own lipase in the slightly acidic environment of our stomachs and enter the small intestine in a predigested form. Cooked fats, on the other hand, reach the small intestine in a highly undigested form and require body's own lipase for their digestion. It is very much possible that this altered fat metabolism plays some role in obesity and cholesterol levels in the blood, as the body is constantly depleted of its own lipase and loses the capability to fully metabolize dietary fats.
Transition to raw food
After years of living on a mostly cooked food diet it may not be easy to make the transition to a 100 per cent raw food diet. The transition may be much easier if a person is living in a warm climate or begins the process during the warmer seasons, as the body temperature may drop a bit in the beginning and we crave warming comfort foods. Adding warming spices such as black pepper, chili peppers, and ginger, will keep the blood circulating. Learning about raw foods and joining a support group where like-minded people exchange ideas and experience will help one to experiment and become more creative in the kitchen. It is, however, important to introduce dietary changes gradually. A certified health practitioner should be consulted if there are some health concerns or an existing disease.
To begin, one should gradually add more fresh fruits and vegetables to the menu. Replacing boiled vegetables with a raw salad, snacking on raw carrots or radishes instead of chips, eating an apple instead of doughnut, drinking freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juice instead of soda, or having a fresh fruit smoothie for breakfast, are just a few ways simple ways to start the transition.
Initially, one may notice changes in digestion. Enzymes and fiber in raw vegetables may speed up the digestion, causing some discomfort. But as the body adjusts to the new diet and the intestines are working to remove old fecal matter, the discomfort disappears and digestion returns to normal. The detoxification organs are working to remove toxins that accumulated in the body over the years. At this stage one should reduce the consumption of animal products and introduce more raw vegetables. People who do not wish to give up meat, should opt for the best, organic quality on the market.
The preparation of raw food is rather simple, although gourmets now create elaborate raw food menus. Preparing a salad or making a juice are rather easy and one can use all the ingredients that are in season. More complex methods involve sprouting and dehydration of foods. As one feels more comfortable with raw foods, it is sensible to introduce new ingredients and new recipes. Nowadays bookstores offer a multitude of raw recipe books. There are also many websites and raw food networks offering valuable advice.
After the initial transition and detoxification process, when the body has regained the ability to absorb nutrients, a person on a raw food diet will notice visible changes in the way he or she looks and feels. As we age, our bodies need support. Energetically charged nutrition rich in vitamins, enzymes, bioflavonoids, and other vital nutrients, helps us heal, regenerate, and reverse aging. It is believed that human cells are designed to live about 120 years. The life extension, however, could only be desirable if we were mentally and physically fit at this age. Raw food diet is probably the best strategy to live a very long and healthy life.
By Dominique Allmon
For raw food recipes please visit Passionately raw!
*This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.
Rejuvenate with Raw Foods by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.