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Raw Foods for Better Health

With celebrities now promoting raw foods, the raw food lifestyle is finally hitting the mainstream. However, what is a raw food diet? A raw food diet promotes the consumption of uncooked and unprocessed foods. Those who follow this lifestyle are usually called raw foodist or live foodist.

A Few specializations, or sub-categories, of this type of diet are:
  • Fruitarianism: A diet consisting mainly of fruits, nuts, and seeds.

  • Instinctive Eating: A diet consisting of fruits, nuts, seeds, and meats (dairy is usually excluded.)

  • Primal Diet: A diet consisting of meats, dairy, and juices.

  • Raw Foodism: A diet consisting of unheated foods from all food groups.

  • Raw Vegan: A diet consisting of unprocessed foods from all food groups that donít include animals.
Raw Food History

Raw foodism dates to the prehistoric era, before fire was invented. Some raw food proponents claim the ancient Essenes followed a raw food diet and cite the Essene Gospel of Peace, one of Szekely's writings. I have heard this mentioned by certain raw food leaders, but never found any information to substantiate this claim. Naturally curious, I researched and found conflicting evidence regarding this claim.

The first raw food restaurant in America was opened in 1917 by Vera and John Richter. It was named Eutropheon and stayed open for 25 years. The raw food movement became extremely popular from this point forward and a raw food club called the Trophers was formed in the 1930ís. The club grew to eventually have thousands of members.

One of the early supporters of the raw food lifestyle was Ann Wigmore. When western medicine couldn't cure her ailments, she started researching different diet approaches. She adopted a whole food lifestyle and it not only cured her medical ailments, it changed her life. Wigmore was a holistic health care practitioner and a cofounder of the Hippocrates Health Institute. She firmly believed in living foods and raw juices for healing the mind, body, and spirit. Many organizations continue to spread her teachings by providing access to them through a variety of educational programs, retreats, books, and other resources.

Raw Food Benefits

Supporters of raw foods believe that eating uncooked foods enables the body to cleanse itself and sometimes heal itself of chronic medical conditions. Some of the benefits that people have reported from the consumption of raw foods are:
  • Increased energy
  • Weight loss
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Less colds and sickness
  • Improved digestion because of the enzymes in raw foods
  • The reduction or elimination of Type II diabetes
There are many reasons people adapt a raw food lifestyle. In the independent film Super Charge Me, Jenna Norwood, decided to go raw for 30 days because she wanted to dress as a Vegas Show Girl for Halloween.

In the documentary, Raw For 30 Days, six individuals who were chosen out of hundreds of applicants and who suffered from Type II diabetes were given nothing but raw foods for thirty days. This was part of a study conducted by Dr. Gabriel Cousins at the Tree of Life Center and the results were amazing. Those who adhered to the raw food program were able to come off their diabetes medications.

One of the participants, Kurt Tyson, has been featured in another video titled Raw For Life. He has been diabetes free for over one year and a half. He was so inspired by his transformation that he has decided to pursue a degree in Traditional Naturopathy.

In the book Dying To Get Well, Shelly Keck-Borsists speaks candidly about her search for relief from the pain that racked her body. She found relief when she switched to a raw food diet.

Over the years, Iíve read many stories such as the ones mentioned above. Thousands of people are overcoming numerous health related diseases, or simply making improvements to their lifestyle, by letting their bodies heal through the raw foods they choose to consume.

You can find numerous articles, books, and websites focused on the raw food lifestyle.

Raw Food Risk

High In Fat: One criticism that has been directed at the raw foods lifestyles is that it incorporates a high amount of fat into the diet through the consumption of seeds, nuts, avocadoes, and other raw foods that are high in fat. Dr. Douglas N. Graham (A raw foodist for over 27 years) warns about this and states that even raw fat can be unhealthy if eaten in large amounts. He advocates a low fat raw vegan lifestyle and promotes it in his book the 80/10/10 diet.

Lower Bone Density: A study conducted in 2005 showed that those who followed a raw food lifestyle had lower bone density than others; however, this may not be a cause for concern since recent studies show that developing high bone density earlier in life is associated with osteoporosis.

Raw Food Appliances

You donít need a lot of appliances to increase your intake of raw foods. However, for those who want some extras Iíve listed appliances you might see in a raw foodist kitchen.

Food Processor: This is an excellent appliance and can be used when you want to give your produce a different texture. I use a Kitchen Aid and mainly use mine to make ďfruit puddingsĒ

Dehydrator: Raw Foodists donít eat foods cooked over 118 degrees. Raw cookies, pizzas, breads, onion rings (taste a lot like the fried version without the unhealthy consequences that go along with it) are made using a dehydrator. One of the popular brands is the Excalibur dehydrator. I have used this brand for several years, and Iíve been impressed with it.

Blenders: These are perfect for blending fruit smoothies, sauces, fruit puddings, vegetable soups, etc., Two popular blenders within the raw food community are Blendtec and Vita Mix. I have the Vita Mix. Itís an extremely powerful blender that crushes ice, and fibrous vegetables without burning out the motor.I would highly recommend this appliance.

Spiral Slicers: For those who love spaghetti but donít want to say goodbye to the carbs, there are a few tools that can be bought so you can still have your ďpastaĒ. Two of the popular ones are the Saladacco, and the World Cuisine Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. I initially purchased the Saladacco but wasnít impressed with the texture of the vegetable noodles. I bought the World Cuisine Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer and loved it. It has three different plates for your vegetable noodles.

Raw Fed Pets: Itís Not Just For People

There are a growing number of people who have started feeding their pets raw foods. The argument is that, in the wild, animals follow a raw food lifestyle. Many animals observed in the wild donít seem to be plagued with the ailments that face pets in westernized culture. There are some raw foodists that have started their pets on a raw food diet because of the benefits they have seen in themselves. Others have done the reverse. They started their pets on raw foods, noted the improvements, and wondered if they would experience similar results if they incorporated raw foods into their own lifestyle.

Raw Meaty Bones is a book published by Australian veterinarian Tom Lansdale. Itís an excellent resource for those who are thinking of switching their pets to a raw food diet. I switched my dogs and ferrets to a raw food diet and the changes in their energy levels, fur, teeth, odor has been remarkable. If you want more information about raw foods for pets, you can purchase books or search the internet for information on raw fed pets. There is a lot of information available ranging from articles, forums, and yahoo groups.

Iíve been eating at least 85% raw foods for the past four years and, although I have followed a whole food lifestyle for several years, since increasing my intake of raw foods I have noticed increased improvements in my energy, eyesight, digestion, bowel movements, and sleep.

Although a 100% raw food lifestyle might not be for everyone, we all can benefit from increasing the fresh produce we consume in our daily lifestyle.

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