WHAT IS A LIVING / RAW FOOD DIET?
Raw food is a diet of uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Raw food contains intense nutrients and enzymes. In general, the act of heating food above 47 degrees celsius destroys valuable enzymes and vitamins. Since digestion depends on enzymes, the body must produce these lost enzymes in order to process food.
Cooked food is an inefficient method of fuelling ourselves: it wastes energy and makes us age prematurely. Fortunately the body is a forgiving organism. If we nourish it properly, it will rejuvenate. Eating raw food allows the body to cleanse itself, bringing about the healing of chronic conditions as well as a euphoric sense of wellbeing.
All cooked food is devoid of enzymes. Furthermore, cooking food changes the molecular structure of the food and can render it toxic. If we eat too much overly cooked, microwaved and processed foods, it can clog our colon, which may lead to a whole host of problems, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other degenerative diseases. Living and raw foods on the other hand, have enormously higher nutrient value than foods that have been cooked.
WHAT DO RAW / LIVING FOODISTS EAT?
A raw food diet is much more than apples and oranges. There are many foods that can be classified as raw living foods. A raw diet may include all fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted legumes, sprouted grains such as wheatgrass and barley grass, algae, sea vegetables, herbs, spices, dehydrated foods and fermented foods.
Fruits, vegetables and greens are the foundation of a good raw food diet. Any other items should make up only a small part of your daily menu. In some instances, there are special ways to prepare foods. For example, most raw and living foodists soak or sprout nuts, seeds and grain before consuming them.
Processed foods including canned, bottled or prepackaged foods, are most often pasteurised, contain additives, preservatives, colourings, salt and sugar, and should be avoided at all costs.
WHAT ARE ENZYMES?
Enzymes are chemical catalysts that create every chemical reaction our cells require. They are proteins found in every cell and are needed for nearly every biological facet of life. Your digestive and immune systems both rely on enzymes and they far outweigh the importance of other nutrients.
Cooking destroys 100% of the enzymes in food. Living foods are much easier to digest because they are full of enzymes.
They’re known to be the “life force” and or “energy” of food. If the food is living your body doesn’t need to build digestive enzymes to break it down, drawing energy from other areas and organs of the body. Your immune system will then have more enzymes to heal and repair the body. A strong immune system will slow, stop, and even reverse the ageing process.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIVING FOODS AND RAW FOODS
Living and raw foods both contain enzymes. In living foods, the enzyme content is much higher. Raw, un-sprouted nuts contain enzymes in a dormant state. To activate the enzymes contained in almonds, for example, soak them in water for at least six hours or overnight. Once the almonds begin to sprout, the enzymes become active and are then considered living. This makes them much easier to digest and assimilate. They become exponentially more nutritious and most fats are converted into proteins and simple sugars.
WHAT DO RAW FOODISTS DRINK?
Water is the most important nutrient because our bodies consist of approximately 70% water.
Fresh fruit and vegetable juice It is best. 80% vegetables 20% fruit is a good mix. Fruit is good for you but it contains fructose and too much is not a good thing. The point of juicing is to remove the fibre. You can absorb the nutrients instantly because you don’t need to digests the fibre.
THE IMPORTANCE OF JUICING ON A RAW FOOD DIET
Firstly - our blood is liquid, and the nutrients in food need to be in a liquid form to be efficiently transported throughout our body. A cold press juicer will do the same job as our teeth, only much better. A juicer will turn hard and fibrous foods like cabbage, kale and beetroot into liquid much better than our teeth can.
Secondly - most raw foods are high in water content and low in calories. You need to eat a large volume of food in order to receive adequate calories and sustain your energy levels throughout the day.
Coconut juice or coconut water is an incredibly nutritious beverage filled with vitamins, minerals and sugars. Each litre of coconut water is filtered through the tree for over 9 months, making it one of the cleanest sources of water on Earth.
There are two varieties of coconut available. One is an old, mature, brown, round and hairy coconut. The other is a white, young coconut with a pointy top. The young coconut is most popular because it’s filled with a pint of delicious coconut water. The meat of the young coconut is a soft white jelly. If you find one that is any colour other than white, throw it out.
Herbal tea is a very nourishing beverage and there are many different plants that can be used. Green tea and Yerba Mate are filled with many unique antioxidants and vitamins. There are many herbal teas that are great for assisting the body with detoxification and boosting the immune system. Most drinks purchased at a store have been processed and are not included in a living/raw foodists diet.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING RAW FOODS
If you slowly begin to eat in this fashion, you will be amazed at your increased energy levels, youthful appearance and decreased visits to the doctor.
Other benefits of following a raw food diet include improved skin appearance, weight loss, improved digestion, the reduction of many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as many other health debilitating ailments.
Food combining is a very important aspect of the raw food diet. Improper food combining leads to numerous problems such as indigestion, low energy, bloating and gas. There are a few rules that should be followed when preparing meals.
Each food takes a different amount of time to digest, and different digestive enzymes are needed to digest it.
Fruits have complex sugars. Melons, for example, are pre-digested and turn into simple sugars as they ripen. They should be eaten alone and on an empty stomach for optimal digestion. If they are eaten with other foods requiring longer digestion times, the fruit will be held in the stomach and ferment. These fermenting sugars may create gas, abdominal discomfort, and will be unusable by the body. Eat fruit 10 to 30 minutes before eating salad to give them time to digest.
Soaked nuts and seeds may be eaten with vegetables and acidic food such as berries, limes and pineapples. Sub-acidic foods include apple, mango, kiwi, peach.
Starchy carbohydrates such as pumpkins, bananas and carrots, should never be combined with proteins such as nuts, seeds, coconut meat, acidic fruits or fermented foods such as yogurt and cheese. These foods require different pH environments in the stomach.
Do not drink liquids during or immediately after meals because the digestive enzymes will be diluted. Wait 15 to 30 minutes after drinking liquids to eat food.
Living foods such as sprouts and soaked nuts, can combined with other foods as long as you don’t overeat.
EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS
A blender is the most important kitchen appliance. It is used for soups, smoothies, sauces, dressings and more. It breaks down the food, making it easier to digest. It will save hours of chewing time. Many blenders are not designed to blend up nuts and hard vegetables and a cheap motor may wear down quickly.
A food processor is a time-saving multipurpose machine. It has many different blades that can chop, blend, mince, mix and shred. It is perfect for preparing foods for the dehydrator.
A juicer can be an invaluable addition to your kitchen, providing you with the means to extract nutrients from your foods like no other appliance. There are many juicers on the market. A cheap juicer will waste food, leave behind wet pulp and heat the juice by creating too much friction. A higher quality cold press juicer will extract twice as much juice, preserve nutrients and enzymes and will save you money in the long run.
A dehydrator is not a necessary companion for your raw food diet but is a luxury you should consider if you want to explore this diet. It will help you make delicious and nutritious dried foods, it will help you save all your overripe fruits and veggies and makes a great snack.
There are a few more tools that require a brief mention. A sharp knife, cutting board, spice mill (ideal for grinding small quantities of dry seeds, nuts, spices etc.,) and any hand grater/ cheese grater will work well with veggies. A high-quality and sharp peeler/potato peeler is great for root vegetables.
HOW TO GET STARTED
To achieve a 100% raw diet is not something easily done on a regular basis. If you eat a standard diet of cooked food, meat, and dairy and wish to go raw, you must change gradually. Eat one raw meal a day for a month, two raw meals a day the next month, and so on. The body is a self cleaning machine. Eating home-cooked raw food will assist the bodies cleaning process and can eliminate excess weight and accumulated toxins. Opening the door to regeneration is easier than you think, but detoxification takes time.
Getting started and keeping it going is easy when you adopt a pure and simple approach: whole raw foods, prepared quickly, eaten simply – and you must eat the foods you love! Quick, easy, healthy and delicious!
Every essential nutrient is provided when a variety of foods are eaten. Care must be taken when transitioning to the raw food diet to ensure you are receiving all essential nutrients. These essential nutrients include minerals, vitamins, enzymes, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and antioxidants.
The hard to find nutrients include vitamin B 12, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iodine and the omega 3 and 6 fats. Our bodies should be able to make most of these nutrients, but some people may not make enough of them.
Vitamin B12 is not found in the raw food diet. You must take a B12 supplement.
Vitamin A is not really found in plant foods. Beta-carotene is found in plant foods and is the precursor to vitamin A, which means the body uses beta-carotene to make vitamin A. Approximately 4 units of beta-carotene are needed to create one unit of vitamin A.
Vitamin D: Our body will make adequate levels of vitamin be from sunlight.
Zinc: The best source is green pumpkin seeds, strawberries and blueberries which should be eaten on a regular basis.
Selenium: The best source is Brazil nuts; eating three a day will satisfy your daily requirement.
Iodine is an essential nutrient not found in land plants. The only sources are sea vegetables or supplements.
Omega-3 and Omega-6: The body cannot make these fats and they must be supplied through food. Some of the foods that supply these fats include flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and cauliflower. Omega-6 fats are found in sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, tomatoes, beets, carrots, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sprouts.
A fully raw food diet is not for everyone – but fresh fruits and vegetables certainly are. When it comes to improving your health, it is like the tortoise and hare. The slow and steady approach brings success. The road is long, so enjoy the scenery.