Raw vegan. You’ve heard of it, but what does it entail? A raw food diet consists of foods that haven’t been heated above a certain temperature, normally around 104 and 118 degrees F. The concept behind raw veganism is that cooking foods destroys the enzymes, or main life force, that makes food bio-available to the body.
Comprehensive lifestyle studies such as The China Study, which lasted 20 years with over 6,500 participants found that plant-based diets greatly reduce the risk of chronic disease and illness. Dr. Joel Fuhrman (MD), author of Eat to Live, and a specialist in nutritional medicine states that it is not the denatured enzymes that matter so much as the loss of vitamins and minerals that occurs and the carcinogens that are produced when we cook food to high temperatures.
A good start to moving in a healthy direction, or tips for adding more raw foods into your diet would be to eat “Raw till 4” where you consume raw foods until 4pm, when you can have a more gourmet cooked meal such as steamed potatoes and other root vegetables with an avocado and salad (or whatever else you please). This is how I first started out in my raw food journey, and now, in my 4th year, I am still discovering new and exciting ways to prepare raw foods, and mainly enjoying the simplicity of mono-meals (eating one type of fruit for a meal). I have not only discovered a new energy bubble out from inside of me, but I feel lighter, cleaner and motivated to excel in all aspects of my life. I always say, “you must Eat Vibrantly to Live Vibrantly!”
If you’re interested in the different equipment, gadgets and supplements I’ve used to help embrace this lifestyle, check out my favourite healthy finds – they’re essential in maintaining the lifestyle I live.
How A Raw Food Diet Affects The Body
Here are ways in which raw foods affect the body, and how the organs in your body will (seriously) love you back for doing so!
Consuming foods in their raw state is incredibly beneficial to the brain and how it functions. Eating foods that are raw allow faster digestion (fruit digests in under 30 minutes! Compare this to meat, eggs, or dairy, which can sit in your digestive tract for weeks at a time!). When we digest food faster, more energy can be transferred to our brains and other organs in the body (allowing them to function faster and more efficiently).
Whole raw fruit and vegetables are also vitamin and mineral dense, and allow for rapid conductivity in the nervous system, making us more alert and have higher levels of mental clarity. Not only that, but foods like bananas are loaded with B vitamins to help fight depression and keep our nervous system healthy, and berries like blueberries dramatically improve memory and fight off diseases like Alzheimer’s!
Heart disease is a major health concern and affects millions of people worldwide (especially in North America where there is an abundance of processed fatty and salty foods). Heart disease kills more than half a million people each year in the United States alone! The antioxidants in raw plant-based foods help keep free radicals at bay and reduce their ability to damage blood vessels and the heart. Antioxidants also help keep cholesterol and blood platelets from becoming sticky, which normally form dangerous clots that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Not only are raw foods rich in antioxidants, but they are filled with fibre which slows down the absorption of sugars and binds cholesterol and fat during digestion to help safely move it out of the body. Fibre also moves out toxic waste production which, if not removed, can cause damage to cells, arteries and the large beating muscle in the centre of our chest – otherwise known as our heart!
Eating a diet high in animal protein puts a lot of stress on the kidneys – the more protein in the diet means more urea that must be processed and excreted by the kidneys. This toxic waste product of excess protein is hard not only on the kidneys, but on the liver too! The general population has been greatly misled with regard to the daily protein requirement. In fact, not even a raw vegan can be “protein deficient” as we have been led to believe (given they consume a wide variety of fruit and vegetable matter).
In fact, consuming around 10% of our calories from protein (and when I refer to protein here, in regards to veganism, I mean high-quality plant matter rich in amino acids, the building blocks of protein – pretty much every fruit and vegetable has amino acids, with greens being in the top bracket), is most optimal for the pH of our body, and helps the body function at its best. For ailing kidneys, the less excess protein they process and the less urea they must deal with the better.
Many raw foods like celery, watermelon, dandelion greens, cucumber, and many others are natural diuretics which help improve the flow of urine and thus remove toxic waste matter more efficiently.
Eating raw, living foods can help improve and support liver function and will result in improved energy levels. Lightening the toxic load on the liver is one reason why so many people feel a sense of lightness and clarity when switching to a raw food diet. They feel dramatic increases of energy and an overall sense of greatness. Following a raw, living food lifestyle will provide your liver with essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes, all of which support and help the liver function at its optimal best.
It is important to recognize that if you are switching to a raw food diet and at first feel slightly fatigued, it is simply because your body is detoxifying loads of excess toxins stored in the cells of our body (particularly fat cells) – these toxins get filtered to the liver, where it must work ever so hard to get them out as quickly as possible. This should pass in a matter of weeks or months, so don’t be too quick to judge this way of living in the beginning stages!
Click HERE for a list of plant-based foods to help support liver function!
Consuming a wide variety of raw plant foods, especially greens like lettuces and herbs are rich in chlorophyll which is quite literally a human-blood super nutrient! Why? Chlorophyll has a very similar structure to the heme component of hemoglobin (a component of blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to other tissues and cells of the body). The main difference between them is the porphyrin ring of hemoglobin is built around iron (Fe) and the porphyrin ring of chlorophyll is built around magnesium (Mg). When you eat salads or drink green juices, you are quite literally giving yourself a blood transfusion of greeny-goodness!
Raw foods rich in chlorophyll include wheat grass, green and blue-green algae, sea vegetables, leafy green sprouts, spinach, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green cabbage, celery, collard greens, green beans, green peas, kale, leeks, romaine lettuce, swiss chard and turnip greens!
Teeth & Bones
Acidic foods strip our bones of crucial minerals – milk is one fine example of how animal products (highly acidic), throw off the natural pH in the body. In defence of this, the body draws out alkaline mineral reserves like calcium and magnesium from the bones to help bring the acidic state up to a more basic state.
Raw foods are alkaline and healing to the body – especially watermelon, avocado, bell peppers, celery, cucumber and lemon! They are rich in minerals to help support and provide the basic building blocks for the bones in our body. In fact, when I went raw, the health of my teeth improved dramatically – so much so that my dental hygenist was completely blown away by how plaque-free my teeth were, and that I wouldn’t have to come back for a cleaning if I kept up with my diet. She was simply astounded, and quite shocked, telling me that in her whole career, she had never seen teeth in the state that mine were in. This isn’t surprising, given not many people where I live are raw vegans (I live in the cold northern climate of Manitoba, Canada!).
A raw food diet helps the body enter an alkaline state instead of an acidic state. When our bodies are acidic we tend to carry a lot of excess mucus which can lead to clogged up lungs and stuffy sinuses. Consuming a high raw, whole food diet will help those suffering from asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, cystic fibrosis, chronic coughing and emphysema. The low levels of inflammation that come with eating a raw food diet also help in treating and even curing most of these conditions.
The fact that raw foods are not processed or heated in any way help us to fully digest our foods without having to rely on our own digestive enzymes. Most vitamins and phytonutrients are destroyed, or damaged to a large degree when cooked or processed above 130 degrees so they are less bio-available for assimilation. Eating high-enzyme foods not only helps digestion, but it helps the way our body functions.
According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., “Enzymes can even help repair our DNA and RNA.” One of the reasons why you get so much energy when switching to raw foods is that your body doesn’t spend as much time digesting the food. Most people are drained by the foods they eat because they are so heavy and take hours or even days to completely pass through. By decreasing the time your body needs to digest food, you will automatically gain an abundance of pure vibrant energy!
Raw food is necessary for digestive efficiency, proper peristalsis and normal bowel function. Aside from gaining more energy from consuming a raw food diet (see the explanation above under stomach), the amount of mucus is also significantly lowered!
Foods that are highly processed, or animal products create an abundance of mucus in the body which lines the digestive tract and prevents the delicate cilia from truly absorbing the nutrients from our food. When we eat a high raw diet, the mucus is cleared from the intestines and we can better absorb crucial vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients from the foods we eat – this helps prevent deficiencies and prevents us from over-eating as we become truly satiated.
Interesting Reads & Supporting Sources: