Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Cleansing With A Raw Food Diet
Transition Goal For Week One: Eat One Raw Meal Per Day
Spring is here and Doug and I find ourselves cleaning out the garage and barn, cutting brush, weeding, trimming trees and getting our garden ready for summer vegetables. But the winter also puts a few pounds on our bodies and may gather toxins from the relative inactivity. So it’s also time to cleanse our bodies and get in shape for summer.
Many people choose this time to fast. I’ve never been able to do that since I have low blood sugar. For me, an easier way to successfully cleanse my body is by eating more raw food. I discovered the “Raw Food Diet” a few years ago when I was looking for a topic for my Ph.D. dissertation in holistic nutrition. I chose to study the nutritional adequacy of a raw food vegan diet and in doing so I discovered a cleansing and healthy way to eat. In the winter when it’s cold, I must admit, I crave more cooked foods. Even then, I try to eat at least 25% raw food. But now, with spring upon us, I’ll increase my raw food intake significantly. By summer, when fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant, I will typically be eating at least 75% raw food. I also find that going 100% raw for a short period of time, like 30 days, is a great way to “spring clean”, get some extra energy, lose a few pounds and get focused. In the next few weeks, I’ll show you how to gradually transition to a raw food diet. Then you can decide if you want to go totally raw for 30 days or a life time!
The Raw Food Revolution
There has been much interest in this diet. From simple juice bars to high-end Manhattan restaurants like Pure Food and Wine, raw food restaurants are appearing all over the world. On the internet, I found 129 restaurants in 29 different states that featured raw food menus and over 100 regularly held raw food potlucks being held across the United States.
Raw food retreats that combine seminars on nutrition and food preparation together with activities such as yoga and massage are being held in resort-like locations lasting from a few days to a week or more. More intense mind-body-spirit programs such as the three week program held at the Optimum Heath Institute in San Diego, California and Austin, Texas. Both include an organic, live, raw vegetarian diet as the cornerstone of their detoxification program. A similar program is offered in the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida.
There are many books on this subject. Amazon.com offers well over 100 titles on raw food from recipe books to those extolling the many benefits of a raw food diet. So there is sufficient interest in the benefits of raw food to support these commercial and grass root activities worldwide and the interest appears to be growing
Why The interest?
This growing interest stems from the belief that eating a predominately raw food diet will lead to remarkable health and that more benefits are achieved as the percentage of raw food is increased. One hundred percent consumption is considered, by some purists, to be optimal. Countless testimonials have been shared that describe personal experiences from rapid and effortless weight loss, improved well being to the curing of serious diseases. I met a number of people in the raw food community who were able to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol, lose significant weight, totally control their type 2 diabetes without medication, and improve their general health. With real life success stories like these, there is little wonder why people have adopted this food regimen in hopes of obtaining similar results.
On the surface, there would appear to be little downside to eating a wholesome and natural diet similar to what must have been consumed in prehistoric times before humans discovered fire. However, this nutritional lifestyle is highly restrictive and there has not been much data to determine the effects of a long term consumption of a raw food vegan diet. In fact, recent literature points to some serious health risks associated with this food regimen. It would be tragic if a person adopted this diet with the hopes of health improvement without understanding and compensating for any possible nutritional deficiencies. Throughout the next few months of postings, I will share the results of my research and show you how to make up for these deficiencies so that you can reap the benefits of a raw food diet while mitigating the risks.
What Is A Raw Food Diet?
A raw food diet is composed of food that has not been heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit or 48 degrees Centigrade. Some say this upper temperature should be as low as 105 degrees Fahrenheit but there is general consensus that at 118 degrees, the chemical nature of food changes and the living enzymes are denatured.
Foods allowed are raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and grains. Nuts and seeds are commonly pre-soaked or sprouted and used in nut and seed butters and cheeses as well as dehydrated crackers and granolas. Nut milks are the base ingredients in dishes such as smoothies, sauces, and raw desserts or are just consumed as a beverage. Grains and beans are also used in their soaked or sprouted form. Besides activating the live enzymes of the nuts, seeds, grains and beans, soaking and sprouting also inactivates much of their phytate content making them more digestible and their minerals more bioavailable. Grains are also used to make rejuvelac, a fermented, live beverage that promotes healthy intestinal flora. Although raw foodists are typically vegan, some eat raw dairy and even raw animal food.
Although the percentage of raw food consumed varies, typically at least 75% of food is consumed raw and many feel that 100% is the optimum way to achieve the most benefits. Seaweeds, algae, grasses, and herbs are also consumed. Unheated fats and oils made from foods such as olives, coconuts, sesame, and flax seeds, are the raw foodists’ source of healthy fats and essential fatty acids. Raw honey, dried fruit, dates, or date sugar, and the herb stevia are used as sweeteners as well as Sucanat, an organic product made from unrefined, dehydrated whole cane sugar.
Foods are allowed to be frozen but may not be chemically preserved. Most people who follow this diet prefer produce that is grown organically, without pesticides or chemical fertilizer.
The Reasoning behind a Raw Food Diet
The main reasoning behind a raw food diet is that food in its raw state contains all of its enzymes that would otherwise get destroyed during the cooking process when exposed to temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The exogenous enzymes found in uncooked food can work together with endogenous enzymes produced by the body itself to more efficiently digest food. In addition to the benefits of enzyme activity, raw foods are thought to have higher nutrient value than cooked foods and can also carry microorganisms and bacteria that may introduce beneficial flora to the digestive tract. Also, the alkaline nature of this diet allows a more optimal pH balance for the body.
Claims And Advantages
With a pure, alkalizing food regimen rich in enzymes, nutrients, and beneficial flora, the body is relieved in its duties of detoxification, heavy digestion and the neutralization of acidic foods. With the resulting extra energy, the body can devote itself to healing and cleansing. The claims are remarkable and plentiful which is why the seriously ill and those searching for longevity are flocking to this nutritional lifestyle. From looking younger, feeling more energy and clarity, requiring less sleep, having a better disposition, and shedding extra weight to curing serious disorders like fibromyalgia, Candida, migraine headaches, cancer, diabetes, digestive disorders, hypoglycemia, arthritis, chronic fatigue, back pain, and depression, the claims are tempting enough to plunge into this food regimen without necessarily understanding if it could provide adequate nutrition. So it is important to understand how to avoid some of the pitfalls of this diet.
Start Transitioning To a Raw Food Diet Today!
In the next few months, I will review the important results from my research and dissertation, “The Long Term Nutritional Adequacy of a Raw Food Vegan Diet”. In the meantime, if you would like to start cleansing, and transitioning to this diet, substitute one cooked meal per day with one of all raw food. Breakfast is a good place to start. Have a raw smoothie with nut milk, fruit and greens (see Good Morning Kale posted on January 23, 2009) or try my 5 min breakfast salad posted February 20th. Here’s another morning breakfast salad:
Pear And Papaya Salad [serves 2]
2 cups of diced Mexican papaya
1 diced pear
1 cup of seedless grapes, cut in half
¼ cup of raw pine nuts
½ cup of Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted “live” whole grain cereal*
Mix the fruit and pine nuts and top with Ezekiel sprouted cereal.
Per serving: 363.5 calories, 10 g fat, .75 g saturated fat, 8 g protein, 67.5 g carbohydrates, and 10.5 g of fiber. This salad is high in fiber, Vitamins A, C, K and folate.
* There is some debate about the temperature at which the Ezekiel cereals are baked and whether or not they are really “raw”. They do claim that their “exclusive slow baking techniques help preserve the living food”.