01.02.2013 Nutrition

Is Raw Food Healthy?

Supporters of raw food claim it boosts energy and vitality. John Evans shares his views

Society's obsession with cleanliness has resulted in the pasteurisation of dairy products to the detriment of the nation's general health. Another manifestation of this obsession is that all almonds grown in the United States must now be heated before they can be sold.

With good sanitary production methods, it is not necessary to enforce pasteurisation of dairy foods but governments are slow to change. Pasteurisation destroys enzymes and denatures the food making it unacceptable for health conscious consumers.

Pasteur, the scientist who promoted the germ theory of disease, at the end of his life said, "Bernard was correct. I was wrong. The microbe (germ) is nothing. The terrain (milieu) is everything."In other words, microbes are not the cause of disease, the cause is the toxic condition of the body.

If we live an unhealthy lifestyle, we will create a favourable environment for microbes to inhabit. A pile of clean sand has no worms in it but add compost and it comes alive with worms. So it is with the body. It becomes attractive to worms, parasites and microbes if we create and retain toxic waste.

Eating mainly raw foods is a choice many consumers are making as they experience the often dramatic lift in energy and general wellbeing. Raw foods contain enzymes to make digestion easier, so energy previously devoted to the digestion of cooked or processed foods is diverted to strengthen the immune system, eliminate toxins and improve all body functions. Most enzymes begin to be destroyed over 40°C and are completely destroyed at 60°C.

The immune system produces white blood cells (leukocytes) and most of these are concentrated around the digestive system. Cooked and processed foods cause the immune system to go into overdrive as the body treats these foods as 'invaders' and tries to eliminate them.

Foods cooked below 82°C are not denatured and are more readily accepted by the body as food but they still lack enzymes. If we have raw food before we consume low temperature cooked food, the immune system will not react as the food is recognised as food, not an invader.

Foods are not just nutrients. Fresh, alive foods have their own energy as can be seen by Kirlian photography. Is this one reason why those who have a productive home garden seem to live longer, healthier lives?

Of course, good home gardeners also put more into their soil than commercial growers, which results in much more nutritious and tasty produce. Foods that are full of flavour are also highly nutritious and are therefore more satisfying, meeting our body's nutritional needs. Many raw sea vegetables are available and these contain about 20 more minerals than land vegetables so we need them to get some of the rarer trace minerals.

Organic minerals in foods are changed to an inorganic form by high temperature cooking. Inorganic minerals cannot be easily utilised by the body. We can't eat rock minerals and neither can plants without the help of soil microbes. Organic produce is grown on soils with microbial activity, which makes the minerals available to the plants. In contrast, chemicals on conventional farms sterilise the soil.

If we cook our food, we destroy a lot of its nutritional value. There is little benefit in cooking foods. We may get more lycopene from tomatoes, for example, but then how much lycopene do we really need and is more always better? Personally, I eat a lot of raw, fresh and dehydrated tomatoes and I rarely get sunburn even after long exposure. Lycopene protects us from the damaging rays of the sun. Perhaps raw fooders assimilate lycopene better as they do with other nutrients.

Tonya Zavasta who wrote Quantum Healing had a similar experience. She never drank water, only watermelon juice which also contains lycopene. Even after several hours in the sun she wouldn't get burnt! Of course, to get more lycopene by cooking we get much less of all the other nutrients that are destroyed by heat.

Where do raw fooders get their calories?
The main sources of calories are fats, protein, complex carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates.

Fats are hard to digest so they can drain our energy if we have too much of them. According to Doug Graham who wrote the book 80:10:10, the ideal ratio is 80% simple carbohydrates, 10% fat and 10% protein. Some do better on even less fat. Remember this is measured by calories not by weight.

The theory is that too much fat in the body coats our cells and stops them absorbing sugars in our bloodstream, thus creating problems which include chronic fatigue or candida. The conventional Western diet contains about 30% fat by calories.

Budding raw fooders who often use nuts and seeds in recipes to mimic cooked foods like bread may consume up to 60% fat.

Proteins are mostly acid-forming in the body and over consumption puts a strain on the kidneys. All foods contain some protein and we need much less than we are led to believe.

Complex carbohydrates include potatoes, grains and legumes.The starches they contain need to be converted by the body to glucose for energy so this strains the digestive system.

Fruits are the easiest, cleanest foods to digest so 80:10:10 followers make them their main source of calories. To balance the potassium in fruits, we need the sodium from vegetables such as celery and leafy greens. Greens are also a major source of alkaline minerals so they are an important part of the raw food diet. The "Green Smoothie" is a popular meal replacement successfully promoted by Victoria Boutenko and her family. It consists of about 60%-70% leafy greens and 30%-40% fruits such as bananas or mangoes. It looks green but tastes like fruit.

A few nuts and seeds are included in the diet to satisfy other nutritional requirements such as essential fatty acids like Omega 3. Many sports and endurance athletes have proved that this diet works and helps them achieve optimal performance.

What to expect if beginning on Raw
The body is self healing. All we have to do is get out of its way! If we remove cooked and processed foods from our diet, go lightly on the fats and protein and consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, the body will begin the first stage: elimination of wastes and old cells which usually leads to weight loss and a drop in energy. Adequate rest ensures the body can concentrate its energy on rejuvenating the vital organs such as the liver and digestive system.

The second stage is stabilisation of weight as the regeneration of new cells equals the elimination of old cells. The third stage is when the body builds new cells faster than it eliminates old cells. Energy increases, digestion and elimination are better and weight rises.

Enjoy these Raw Food Recipes

Green Smoothie

Omega 3 Kale Salad

John Evans