Vegetarians, Pescatarians, Vegans and Raw Foodists?
There are so many diets, theories, recipes, and books floating around, it can be extremely overwhelming to determine what’s best for you….and who has the time or energy to sort through the countless number of websites trying to piece together the perfect diet? Well actually, that would be me, but only because I wanted to be assured that everything I was consuming was working towards increasing my health and vitality, as opposed to ingesting toxic crap food.
I myself am a vegetarian, I eat no meat whatsoever. Unfortunately, most meat, here in the states especially, is loaded with antibiotics and hormones. And hormones in my case, fuel the type of cancer I am fighting. So I made the personal decision to cut out meats altogether. I do eat some dairy, but I make a conscious effort to eat as much organic, raw food as possible. Ideally I should be eating mostly raw (and so should anyone facing cancer). #Goals. It isn’t easy and choices are especially limited when eating out, but the benefits of eating raw foods should outweigh all temptation. I’ll explain why in just a sec.
So What exactly is a raw food diet and what makes it different from the other common diets? A raw food diet is made up of fresh, whole, unrefined, living, plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, which are consumed in their natural state, without cooking or steaming.
The concept behind a raw diet is that cooking foods destroys the enzymes, or main life force, that makes food bio-available to the body. Applying heat to foods provides no nutritional benefit to the food and most, if not all nutritional value is destroyed. This loss of nutrients and enzymes is harmful because enzymes boost digestion and fight chronic disease. In short: When you cook it, you kill it. Studies have shown that the immune system often reacts to the introduction of cooked food into the bloodstream the same way it does to foreign pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Cooking food denatures the proteins, carcinogizes the fats, and caramelizes the carbohydrates. No bueno!
Soooooo, on the contrary, eating a diet consisting mostly of organic, raw food will flood your body with the enzymes and nutrients necessary to build immunity and fight off sickness and disease. Ideally, if you are fighting a disease such as myself, you should try to eat mostly raw, although as I mentioned, this is not an easy transition. It may seem really boring at first, but there are so many amazing dishes you can prepare. I will be sharing lots of raw recipes on the blog so stay tuned.
Shortly after getting diagnosed, I took a trip to West Palm Beach Florida to Hippocrates Health Institute. It’s pretty costly to go but with the help of family and friends I was able to attend the 3 week program, and it was life changing. Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) flourishes within a lush, tropical 50-acre setting…it’s super peaceful and serene. Under the guidance of a knowledgeable and compassionate team, guests from all over the world benefit from health and nutritional counseling and eat a strict diet of raw foods for the entire three week stay. “The goal of the institute is to assist people in taking responsibility for their lives and to help them internalize and actualize an existence free from premature aging, disease and needless pain.” It was mind blowing to see people change both physically and mentally in such a short period of time. People with all sorts of health issues and concerns were there, many with cancer. On day one, during orientation, the founders of the Institute said that they could not legally make any claims that people had been cured of cancer after attending the program and implementing the lifestyle changes they teach (mostly eating a raw food diet), but that returning guests would be a testimony that this really works… and they were right! I met a couple of amazing people while I was there, who were given months to live years ago, and they are both now cancer free! They return yearly to relax and get back into the groove of eating raw foods in order to stay healthy and on course. Also, many of the people who work at the Institute have similar stories, which is pretty fascinating. I learned a lot about raw foods and was able to see and experience first hand the overwhelming benefits. There is no silver bullet or guaranteed cure as with anything, but you could only benefit tremendously by visiting this place. Check out some of their testimonials here.
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″ by consuming raw foods until 4pm, followed by a more gourmet cooked meal for dinner. This will make the transition much easier…but what should make it even more easier, are the benefits your body will receive. Here are ways in which raw foods affect the body, and how the organs in your body will love you back for eating so good 🙂
Brain: Consuming foods in their raw state is incredibly beneficial to the brain and how it functions. Eating foods that are raw allow for faster digestion (fruit digests in under 30 minutes, compared 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 boosting mental clarity.
Heart: 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). 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.
Kidneys: Eating a diet high in animal protein puts a lot of stress on the kidneys – the more protein in the diet, the more urea (the waste produced by the body after metabolizing protein) 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.
Many raw foods like celery, watermelon, dandelion greens and cucumber are natural diuretics which help improve the flow of urine and thus remove toxic waste matter more efficiently.
Liver: 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. Following a raw 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.
Blood: 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! 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. To counteract this mineral deficiency, 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.
Lungs: 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 diet will help with the treatment of lung conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
Stomach: The fact that raw foods are not processed or heated in any way help us to fully digest the foods without having to rely on our own digestive enzymes. Because your body won’t have to spend as much time digesting the food, you will have so much more energy! 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 vibrant energy.
Intestinal Tract: Raw food is necessary for digestive efficiency and normal bowel function. Foods that are highly processed, and 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 however, the mucus is cleared from the intestines and the body can better absorb crucial vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients from the foods we eat – this helps prevent deficiencies and prevents over-eating.
The benefits of a raw food diet are endless really. Hopefully you are somewhat inspired and will consider incorporating more raw food into your diet…especially if you are faced with a health challenge. Every time you eat or drink, you’re either feeding disease or fighting it…choose wisely!