16 September 2009

Crazy for Raw Food

Yep, after twelve years as a vegan I've begun eating living food. That is raw, organic food only. First to go was morning coffee, which resulted in a three day headache. Next was the one slice of whole wheat bread I consumed with tofu, garlic and tahini, which I haven't missed at all. And finally, the steamed vegetables, hot bean recipes and other specially planned menu items that were favorites on my list for an early evening meal. So far, so good.

The raw food diet has been around for a long time.
The raw food diet, though new to many, has history on its side.

It started with the ancient Greeks," says Cousens. "After studying for a time with the Essenes-an ancient Jewish sect of ascetics and mystics - Pythagoras, the sixth century BC philosopher and mathematician, returned to Greece as a believer in live foods. And according to Herodotus, the father of history, the Pelagasians lived to be around the age of 200 years on a diet of raw foods.

Dr. Max Bircher-Benner read Pythagoras' work, decided to heal himself and used raw foods in his Swiss clinic in the 1890s, His contemporary, Dr. Max Gerson, used raw foods to core Albert Scbweitzer of diabetes. He also cured Schweitzer's wife of tuberculosis of the skin. Then there was Dr. Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, who ran a live food clinic in Mexico from 1937 to 1970. People have used this diet for literally thousands of years."

Not everyone agrees that eating only raw food is good for you.

Long term, the raw diet may have questionable benefits. The same Journal of Nutrition study that touted the heart-health benefits of dining raw also found that study participants had increased levels of homocysteine due to vitamin B-12 deficiency. Further, a Washington University study found that people following a raw food diet had lower bone mass, although apparently healthy bones.

Critics of raw foodism also warn against a host of nutritional deficiencies including low calcium, iron, protein, and insufficient calories. They point out that while it’s true some enzymes are destroyed when food is heated, the body in fact produces and uses ample digestive enzymes on its own. Further, cooking can actually make certain nutrients easier to absorb, as with the beta-carotene in carrots. As Bronee points out, “Not all cooked foods are created equal. There’s a big difference between deep fried and blanched.”

I am enjoying the change. My body is responding well. I am sleeping better; my hormones are fluctuating less; I'm losing a little weight; the urge to snack on sweets in the evening has disappeared and my emotional health is improving. Not only that, I find my food bill has dropped a couple of dollars a day. What could be better than that?

Recommend this post