A blogger for MindBodyGreen.com recently wrote an article titled, “3 Reasons No One Should be on a Raw Food Diet.” She’s an acupuncturist and has been trained in Eastern Medicine, which does not generally advocate a raw foods diet.
I have tremendous respect for Eastern Medicine, and almost always give it precedence for its ancient wisdom, as it is often scientifically proven by western measure.
However, I have a slightly different take on raw foods.
I agree with the author that in the context of our modern society and the toll it’s taken on our bodies, I don’t think that a purely raw foods diet is always the best choice for everyone. It’s powerfully cleansing, and more than once has put people into auto-intoxication. Auto-intoxication can happen when a cleansing diet pulls more waste and toxins from the body than it can process. When the diet is too cleansing for too long a period of time, the elimination organs, especially the liver, can get overburdened and begin to malfunction.
This is why many people who jump into a raw foods diet feel great for 3 months and then crash. At this point they start eating cooked food again and because they feel better, they conclude that cooked food is better for them. In reality, the cooked food makes them feel better because it stops the cleansing process and gives the body a chance to catch up to the toxic load.
That being said, I think a raw food diet is a healing diet and when consciously implemented in conjunction with colon cleansing can save lives. The reason colon cleansing is important is because when purposely pulling out large amounts of old toxic waste, as an all raw foods diet will do, especially in the face of a life threatening disease, we must assist the colon in eliminating the toxins as quickly as possible to avoid auto-intoxication.
The Gerson Therapy is an example of a successful nutrition and colon cleansing combined program used to treat serious disease. It is one of the most well documented natural healing programs. Its foundation is raw foods, juices and coffee enemas (the caffeine helps open bile ducts.)
Without a life threatening disease however, I believe including raw foods as much as possible, combined with cooked veggie meals creates health, wellness and balance long term. If we incorporate raw juices, fruits, salads and veggies during the day, then a cooked veggie centric meal at night brings us comfort, pushes toxic buildup through the elimination channels, and keeps us in touch with our community. I think both physically and psychologically, balancing raw and cooked foods is important in considering a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.
Finally I want to address 2 of the blogger’s main points:
1. Thyroid Health
She writes, “kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens and brussel sprouts contain what are known as goitrogens,” and that these interfere with thyroid health. Food science is very young and doesn’t always have conclusive information regarding some of these more recent discoveries.
However, when I think rationally about our evolution as human beings; from the womb we naturally crave sweet, water abundant foods like breast milk, fruits and greens. These have been available in many of our earliest environments; think the Amazon jungle, the Mediterranean etc. However, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts, were created by humans from the wild kale plant. They didn’t exist on their own. So the fact that they may be harder to digest and contain less than perfect chemical components, makes sense to me. Perhaps a little steaming or roasting of cruciferous veggies is a good idea.
2. Digestive Health
In her opinion, raw foods weaken the digestive tract. I think the opposite is true.
Raw foods work WITH the body. They provide all the enzymes to make digestion easier. Their cellulose fibers keep the digestive tract clean, while the loads of readily absorbable vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients boost immunity and rebuild the body almost immediately.
In contrast, cooked foods take valuable enzymes and energy from our bodies in order to digest. They also lose much of their nutrient value and molecularly morph during the heating process, which makes the digestive tract work harder to garner their nutrient benefits.
Raw foods can definitely be painful for people who already have compromised digestive tracts, like IBS, due to their fiber and ability to activate diseased tissue. However, in a healthy individual, they give the body immediate, unadulterated access to healing, nutrients and energy, while strengthening the digestive tract
Finally if we look at the world around us, anecdotal evidence repeatedly shows us people who have embraced raw foods diets consciously and lovingly as strong, positive people who experience superior health. We also see evidence of raw foods reversing disease and giving people their life back. I think there is no question that raw foods are, on their own, and in conscious application, life generating and healing.
However, cooked foods have their place. They may not have the enzymes, energy, vitamin content, or life force that raw foods have, but I believe they are equally as important in sustaining good health and wellness physically, psychologically, and socially.