The raw food revolution is gaining popularity, and I’m glad because we are learning to incorporate delicious raw meals into our diets that don’t leave us hungry for burgers and fries. We’re learning that raw doesn’t limit us to carrot sticks and spinach leaves, so more and more people are jumping on the raw wagon. But, what’s so healthy about going raw, and why doesn’t it work for some?
The Up-side of Going Raw
Organic raw fruits and veggies contain live enzymes that aid in digestion. Many Raw Foodists believe that nature intends us to eat food the way she has given them to us. Cultured and fermented raw veggies, seeds and juices also contain enzymes and beneficial bacteria to aid in digestion. So, the diet focuses on maintaining a strong gut by eating pure foods with probiotic and prebiotic healing power.
Since enzymes begin to die at about 118 degrees, going raw keeps our food at its highest nutrition level.
Is there a Down-Side?
I live in Chicago where the weather is crazy cold in the winter and sometimes I want a steaming bowl of soup. Warm foods are calming to our bodies and there are times when we need that type of nutrition. Warm food can be combined with fresh veggies and enzymes to create a comforting meal that soothes us during winter months or times of great sickness. You will notice that people who stick to a completely raw diet and enjoy the most benefit from it, may live in warmer climates.
Macrobiotics teaches us that our food needs change and reflects our moods, climate, energy levels etc, and if we limit ourselves to raw foods then we may be denying the need for some warming foods.
On a recent visit, my holistic doctor noted that nature provided us with raw nutrition, and we thrived on it for thousands of years – but we didn’t really progress as species until we discovered fire and began heating our food. Raw food can work very well for those with indestructible guts. But, in my own case, I needed to prepare my gut to be able to accept the nutrients from a raw diet. And, this meant simply comforting it for a while. For this reason, I believe that going raw is something that is best worked up to.
The Candida Dilemma
I have a huge concern that raw food recipes and meal plans contain too much sweet fruit, and improperly combine it with other foods. This can result in an imbalance of bacteria and yeast and cause candida (pathogenic yeast) overgrowth. Candida feeds on all sugars, including the natural ones, and can thrive when we neglect the food combining rules. Since sweet fruits are best digested alone and on an empty stomach, we confuse our digestive acids by eating them with grains or fats. The ill effects of this may be buffered by drinking a probiotic beverage with a sweet meal, or adding herbs (like cinnamon) which help metabolize sugar.
Gina Laverde is a Chicago-based writer and researcher whose expertise in natural health stems from her experiences with Body Ecology Diet, Blood Type Diet and homeopathic remedies. Gina believes that we’re in the midst of a serious world health crisis, and that the key to survival lies within our guts.