Friday, November 19, 2010

The Raw Truth

I recently eavesdropped on a debate about the benefits of raw  versus cooked foods, which turned out to be a steamy one… forgive the pun… as my raw foodist friend adamantly defended his five years of eating only fruit and vegetable salads, nuts, and seeds.  My vegetarian friend who eats her foods steamed, broiled, baked, sautéed, and any other way that her culinary tastes dictate, held her ground and in the end we all agreed that every body has different requirements, and that no one diet should be celebrated as the best.

That being said, there are many advantages of going on a raw diet, even if for a little while, to cleanse the system of built up toxins.  If not a lifestyle choice, it can be looked at as a sort of fast, where fresh, organic produce is made into salads and blender drinks to bring the body back to its optimum pH balance.  Going on a raw food fast for even just a week can bring amazing benefits to the system.

Advantages of a Raw Diet Fast
One of the big advantages of a raw diet is that the enzymes, vitamins, and mineral found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouts remain in tact.  When food is cooked above 118F, the heat kills these nutrients, leading to an internal acidic condition. When the body is overly acidic, it holds on to toxic waste, and because an acidic body is attractive to toxins, it is thus more susceptible to illness.  A raw food diet creates a more alkaline environment in the body, which helps the body get rid of the nasty excess acids and other toxins.  According to the US National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health, alkaline foods also help to create more energy by keeping the system at a healthier pH balance.  

Maintaining Nutrients
Once food is cooked, it obviously cannot recover the enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and electrons it has lost.  When enzymes and other nutrients are destroyed, the body must work harder to produce what is needed to detoxify and fortify the body.
Raw food, on the other hand, maintains its vitamin, mineral, and electron content along with the digestive enzymes that help the body process and eliminate waste materials. 

 Cleansing Effects of Raw Foods
Sometimes a raw food cleanse can cause what seems to be an adverse effect where we feel dizzy, get headaches, lose energy, have bad breath and a coated tongue, and other distasteful symptoms.  The worse we feel, the more we may lose confidence in the benefits of raw food fasting, with that nagging feeling that we may be doing more damage than good. But hold on! These adverse sensations are part of what is called a “healing crisis,” which is natural when the body starts to eliminate toxins that have build up in the system over time. As these noxious wastes are being swept from the body it is normal to feel worse before feeling better. But better we will feel… giving way to a feeling of increased vitality along with a bevy of other benefits like glowing skin, healthier hair and nails, a perkier digestive system, and much, much more.  Drinking lots of water, meaning up to two liters a day, can help offset healing crisis symptoms, but more than likely you will feel some of the effects anyway during the cleansing process as environmental toxins as well as remnants of bad eating habits make their way out of the body. Be patient.  This too shall pass!

Goodbye Cravings, Hello Radiance
Once you’ve completed your raw food fast, you very well may choose to continue eating more raw foods than cooked as a lifestyle.  One thing is sure, your old cravings will be gone and you will have a renewed outlook on what feels right to put in your body.  Fresh, clean, organic foods will definitely be more attractive than ever before, and who knows, you may just say goodbye to your old bad habits in favor of your newly acquired radiance.


I received some interesting reader responses via my Facebook posting of this article, making me very happy that my articles are opening up discussions on health and nutrition. It is true that every body is different, with varying requirements for optimum health:. 

First reader: You didn't really list the harmful effects of eating raw foods. Digesting raw food uses up a lot of energy (which could be good if you're fat I suppose but not if you're thin or sick). Raw vegetables are very harsh on your colon. And raw vegetables can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella which cooking kills. So I guess my question is - how do you know when these risks on balance justify a "cleansing" and how clean is good?

Second reader response: well, here is another idea about it: raw food does not take energy to digest because it has live enzymes that self digest them so they use little energy. Raw vegetables can be harsh if you have colon problems. so you can blend vegetables and make raw soups and smoothies. ( see green for life by victoria boutenko). Also some cruciferous veggies can be lightly steamed. if you wash your veggies and you use organic vegetables grown with good practices and without manure your chances of getting salmonella will be lower.

First Reader (to me) : Thanks for your postings. There is a lot of blogging on the internet about health and diet and as with everything else, there are no simple answers. Each body is different. And extreme cures, diets, obsessions and trends are not good. Moderation and a Mediterranean-style diet seem best.

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