Is your Raw Meal a Raw Deal? Or will You Live Longer?
Have you started hearing about the Raw Food Diet? It’s gaining popularity and buzz, not just as a diet to lose weight, but a diet for a long and healthy life. We eat so much in the way of processed food that we don’t even stop to think about what we’re putting into our bodies, and how far we’ve come nutritionally from our ancestral, agrarian roots.
A raw food diet means consuming food in its natural, unprocessed form. There are several common-sense rationales for why this is a good idea. Processing and cooking food can take so much of the basic nutritional value away. Think of some of the conventional wisdom you’ve heard about for years, such as: If you cook pasta just to the al dente (or medium) stage, it will have more calories, yes, but it will have more the nutritional value in it than if you cooked it to a well-done stage. Or you probably remember hearing not to peel carrots or potatoes too deeply, because most of the nutrients and values are just under the surface.
The raw food diet means eating unprocessed, uncooked, organic, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc. It means a diet that is at least 75% uncooked! Cooking takes out flavor and nutrition from vegetables and fruits. A raw food diet means eating more the way our ancient ancestors did. Our healthier, more fit ancestors. They cooked very little, and certainly didn’t cook or process fruits and vegetables. They ate them RAW. Their water wasn’t from a tap; it was natural, spring water. Maybe they drank some coconut milk on occasion.
Doesn’t it just make sense that this is how our bodies were meant to eat? It’s a way of eating that’s in harmony with the planet and in harmony with our own metabolisms. Our bodies were meant to work, and need to work to be efficient. That means exercise, certainly, but it also means eating natural, raw foods that require more energy to digest them.
Modern advertising is constantly pounding us with ads about how and where to eat. Or what we should be eating. Common sense tells us that a much of this “food” is unhealthy but it taste so good that you can’t resist. What is sure to eventually happen is a downward spiral of your physical health if you are not willing to change your diet.
Because cooking takes so many nutrients and vitamins OUT of food, you automatically start feeding your body what it needs when you stop cooking food and start eating uncooked, nutrient-rich foods. A raw carrot has exponentially more nutrition than a cooked carrot.
Cooking also alters the chemistry of foods, often making them harder to digest. Why do we have so many digestive problems in this country? Because we’re putting foods into our bodies in a form that we weren’t designed to absorb. High fiber, high water content fresh produce abolishes constipation of the bowels, cells and circulatory system. Obstructions are cleared and blood flow increases to each and every cell in the body. Enhanced blood flow is significant for two reasons: as mentioned above, blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to living cells, and carries away their toxic metabolites.
Obesity is endemic in this country. The diet industry is more profitable than the oil companies. Why? Because the way we eat and prepare our food practically guarantees that we’ll overeat. Psychologists tell us that we overeat because our souls are hungry. But in reality, our bodies are hungry, even though we may feel full. When you start giving your body the nutrients it craves, overeating will cease.
Eating raw foods is a boost to your metabolism as well. It takes a little more energy to digest raw foods, but it’s a healthy process. Rather than spending energy to rid itself of toxins produced by cooking food, the body uses its energy to feed every cell, sending vitamins, fluids, enzymes and oxygen to make your body the efficient machine it was intended to be.
You’ll naturally stop overeating, because your body and brain will no longer be starving for the nutrients they need. A starving brain will trigger the thoughts that make you overeat. The brain and the rest of your body don’t need quantity; they need quality.
As scientific research figure out what foods promote a strong and vibrant body, it is becoming clear that many of diseases that are connected to aging are the result of a poor diet. Eating a diet high in raw veggies and fruit would lower the risk of most of these diseases but are overlooked as refined sugar and starches are the preferred food of westerners. A diet abundant with raw food everyday will cleanse your body and began to normalize your body fat levels. By spending less energy on digestion, your body can detox properly and spend time repairing damaged cells.
The most important of the anti aging foods are the ones that are high in antioxidants. Free radicals are damaging to our bodies always being produced as a result of metabolism, so antioxidants are needed to remove the free radicals from the body before the particles can damage body cells. You should eat as much raw plant life as possible, particularly raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain antioxidants. Eating raw nuts will introduce unheated vegetable oil to your body, which supplies lots of enzymes and antioxidants.
Eating 100% whole grains should be your focus because the body converts the sugar in these carbohydrate sources at a slow rate. The fiber from these grains can help you to quickly eliminate toxic waste from the body and the grains themselves are full of antioxidants much needed by the body. This is the type of diet consumed by our ancient ancestors, who stayed youthful and hard working into their senior years. Health food experts have claimed for decades about the benefits of a diet high in whole grains and the evidence is now overwhelming. Whole grains are the best way to get your daily supply of complex carbohydrates.
Proteins should come from beans, nuts, and seafood. Healthy fats include olive oil and, to a lesser extent, other vegetable oils. Try to avoid fat from land animals. I personally endorse a diet of 50-70% raw food, just to give you a way to fit some of your favorite foods into your new way of living. Most people come to enjoy eating these wholesome foods. And they are able to enjoy good health longer into their senior years. An anti aging diet would really go a long way toward feeling the way a person should as they age.
The benefits advocated from eating such a diet seem endless: lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, eliminating cravings, preventing overeating, purging the body of accumulated toxins, balancing hormones, maintaining blood glucose levels and reversing degenerative diseases.
Followers of a raw diet cite numerous health benefits, including increased energy levels, improved appearance of skin, improved digestion, weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease, just to name a few. Proponents believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.
There can be some side effects when you are first starting a raw foods diet. Some detoxification effects may be experienced as your body attempts to shed some toxicity. This may include occasional headaches, nausea sensations and mild depression. If these symptoms persist, you should seek the help of somebody who is experienced with detoxification symptoms.
Following a raw food diet means that you have to carefully plan your meals to make sure you don’t fall short of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In some instances it might be appropriate to consider taking dietary supplements, especially when just starting out. You’ll need to invest in some appliances so that you are able to prepare the food, if you don’t already have them available. A durable juicer, a blender and a large food processor make raw food preparation a breeze. You may also want to look into purchasing large containers to soak sprouts, grains and beans, as well as for storage. A durable juice extractor for your fruits and vegetables
The smoothest way to begin a raw foods lifestyle is to slowly transition into it. Try starting off by eating approximately 70 to 80 percent raw foods in your diet. Have fruit and salads throughout the day and a cooked vegetable meal with a salad in the evening. This should help make the transition easier on your body and hopefully lessen side effects associated with detoxification. This is an emotional time as well, so you should allow yourself plenty of time to make the switch. Journaling during the process can help. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling the positive effects of a healthy, detoxifying raw foods diet.
Is there a difference between vegetarian and raw food diets? A raw foodist is a vegetarian, but one who generally is not going to cook his vegetables or fruits. A vegetarian is someone who simply doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but only consumes vegetables, pasta, and rice. A vegetarian might eat meatless spaghetti sauce or order onion rings in a restaurant. (Not the healthiest choice, but sometimes it’s hard to find something to eat in a restaurant if you’re vegetarian – even harder if you’re a raw foodist.)
There are different categories of vegetarians, like vegans, or fruitarians, and raw foodist is a category of vegetarianism. We haven’t seen anything about sushi being considered a raw food, but it is. Raw food, though, generally means eating raw, uncooked fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc.
But to be a raw food purist means raw broccoli, not steamed. To a vegetarian, someone committed to not eat meat or fish or animal products, steamed vegetables are just as good, although everyone would agree that steaming can take out nutrients from foods, rendering them less nutritious. A vegetarian might consume dairy or egg products; however a vegan will not consume any animal products at all. And a raw foodist is a vegan who consumes only uncooked, unprocessed raw foods.
Proponents of the raw diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.
It is also thought that the cooking process destroys vitamins and minerals and that cooked foods not only take longer to digest, but they also allow partially digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates to clog up our gut and arteries.
Followers of a raw diet cite numerous health benefits, including:
- increased energy levels
- improved appearance of skin
- improved digestion
- weight loss
- reduced risk of heart disease