This is the eighth in a series of posts taken from an old blog of mine, documenting my first experiences with raw foods.
The "What" and "Why" of Eating Raw - Originally posted June 21, 2007
Raw food, also known as live or living food, is any food in its natural state that is not heated to over approximately 115 degrees (sources vary, some say 108, some 118, depends on who you ask). Any food that is cooked, steamed, boiled, roasted, microwaved, pasteurized, or canned (such as any produce in a can or jar on the store shelf) is not raw. It is dead food. Dehydrated food is considered raw ONLY if it hasn't been heated too high (over about 110 degrees). Many commercially dehydrated foods have been dehydrated at too high a temperature.
Why not cook food? Cooking destroys the living enzymes in food that our bodies need to digest that food. If the food has no enzymes, our own enzymes must be "called away" from their job of eliminating toxins and healing our bodies to do the digesting, then those enzymes are lost as they stay with the digested food and are eliminated with our bowel movements. It is estimated that by age 40, most people have only 30% of our natural enzymes left, and those enzymes do not replenish themselves.
Many nutrients and vitamins are also lost in cooking. And if you compare people to chimpanzees, the animals that are closest in physical design to humans, you'll see that their natural diet consists mostly of fruits and greens, some pith and bark, and some vegetables and seeds. Insects and the meat of other animals are a rarity, and those chimp troops who eat more meat don't live as long. Now, I do NOT believe in evolution, and chimpanzees are NOT the same as people, but looking at it from a physical perspective only, they have similar bones, teeth, etc. Our diets shouldn't be all that different from theirs. If you read Genesis in the Bible, it talks only of food naturally growing in the garden, particularly tree fruit. That is what God designed us for...produce. In fact, man's punishment for his disobedience was to toil for his food...to grow it. Produce. Nuts, seeds, plants.
I'm not saying eating meat is wrong. I have nothing morally against it. I love it! Chicken is my favorite. However, I must reluctantly report that I feel better without it...and more so without dairy. I haven't gone completely without dairy (I can't seem to kick the habit of adding shredded cheddar to my salads) but the less I eat, the better I feel. It is true what I've heard...dairy does produce excess mucus. When I eat less, I have less mucus. A few days on pizza, and my nasal mucus tripled! [Edit: Please note that I was talking about commercial dairy, not raw organic dairy. I have not yet experimented with how I feel eating raw vegan vs. high raw with some raw, organic dairy.]
Does one have to eat 100% raw? I believe for true health and weight loss, yes, you do. But eating even 50% raw will help you, and improve your health noticeably. If you ate fruit for breakfast, a big salad with a small sandwich of organic deli meat [edit: I would avoid even organic deli meat--too processed--try homemade organic chicken salad] and cheese on whole wheat bread for lunch, and a big salad with fresh salad vegetables with a very small amount of organic chicken breast and brown rice for dinner, I think that would be a very big step in the right direction. If you just couldn't part with meat and dairy, try to minimize it, and only eat meat from organic, grass fed animals, and dairy from the same animals, but raw (unpasteurized and unhomogenized). I have read a lot about the harm pasteurization and homogenization has done to our health. Raw milk products have natural bacteria that help our bodies fight off disease, plus many other benefits.
There are so many reports from people who have cured "incurable" diseases by going 100% raw. There are retreat centers around the country for those who want to break their bad habits and go on a raw retreat to heal themselves. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, food allergies, heart arrhythmia, arthritis, gout, IBS, celiac disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer...these are all diseases that people have freed themselves from by simply eating living foods as God designed us to eat. These are all amazing stories, but the cancer is the most convincing to me.
Did you know the cause of cancer was discovered back in the thirties? There was a doctor [edit: Otto Warburg] who received a Nobel prize for discovering that cancer is caused by an anaerobic environment in the body. From what I remember, it starts with abnormal cells in your body, that do not get enough oxygen. Then those cells multiply, and the cancer spreads. This is a poor explanation, but the important part to remember is that your body needs to be in an alkaline state for your cells to be getting the oxygen they need. Most foods in the SAD (Standard American Diet) today are acid-forming. It is no wonder we are so sick! One hundred years ago, cancer was as rare as obesity. Sure there were fat people around...but not anywhere NEAR as many, or as heavy as today. Today with all our nutritionists and cancer research, we are fatter and sicker than ever.
Why? We eat unnatural, cooked, processed foods and sit on our lazy butts all day in cars or at desks or in easy chairs. If we all ate completely natural, unprocessed foods that are at least mostly raw, and worked in our gardens, went for walks, and kept busy all day, the oncologists and bariatric surgeons would almost all be out of a job!
I won't try to bombard you with facts and figures. Either you're intrigued at this point, or you're not. I would recommend you do some research on raw and living foods, and reach your own decision. Just try it for two weeks. Heck, even one week! If you stick to it for that long, you won't need any evidence...your body will be all the evidence you need!
Some sources I can recommend are: Raw Food Talk, Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko (an excellent read, taught me the importance of getting greens in my diet), the book Raw Foods for Busy People (ideas and recipes for quick raw meals) and any raw websites you can find. There are different mindsets out there about what raw is. Some people believe in eating raw meat and dairy as part of their diet. Some are partly raw. Some are "high raw", around 70-80% raw. Most hard-core raw foodists are 100% raw and vegan (no meat, fish, or dairy products at all).
I am shooting for the latter. I plan to aim for about 90% raw right now, because I was told not to go 100% while pregnant. Going 100% will eventually result in a "detox" period, where your body eliminates the toxins from itself all at once. It can be unpleasant for a while. You can feel like you have the flu, or re-experience some symptoms of illnesses you had in the past as your body releases the stored toxins. It is temporary, and for some people it can re-occur in short bursts after a year or two on raw. But they say afterward you feel better than ever. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not the time to be going into detox, and really you should avoid it when nursing, as the toxins could come out in the milk. Since I'm always nursing or pregnant, it seems, I may never get to 100% raw. But I hope to one day, and for now I want to go 90%.