Raw Food: Make Love, Not War
I come in peace. This article is not a raw versus cooked standoff with you stuck right in the middle of a shouting match between the two sides. It’s Valentine’s Day, after all! It’s time to make love, not war with your food. That starts with appreciating that there are marked differences between what raw food and cooked food can bring to your health, without hating on cooking. In my book, I recommend that “we need to concentrate on saying yes to good, healthy foods rather than concentrating on the things we shouldn’t eat.”
I do love raw foods, and your body does too. Study after study shows that the more raw-plant-based food we eat, the healthier we will be. I talk a lot about this in my book under “Life Force Number One: Nutrition.”
Raw food (think fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) has not been cooked over 115/118 degrees Fahrenheit and is still alive, in the sense that everything that enabled it to grow while in the ground is still present in the food. Uncooked food keeps all their enzymes. While enzymes aren’t a nutrient, strictly speaking, they are very, very important for our health. How important? Without them we can’t make use of any of the other nutrients we eat in our food. Processed and cooked food have reduced or non-existent levels of enzymes in them, while raw foods have all their enzymes intact.
“Enzymes [found in raw foods] act as catalysts for every single biochemical event that happens inside us.”
Raw food is the process of eliminating the H-B-T’s in food preparation generally applied today. They are: Heat, Beat, and Treat.
When food has not been exposed to heat (cooked), beaten, or treated in any way it still has everything that allowed it to sprout and grow and be ALIVE! All those amazing enzymes, water, oxygen, vitamins, and minerals can then power your body. Fresh, uncooked food is incredible, life-giving fuel for your body.
Here are some other bonuses of raw foods.
- Raw food is generally locally sourced. This benefits creates a tastier, juicer, crisper experience since the plant is allowed to mature. Mature plants synthesize up all the nutrients, and have the time to develop to their full tasty potential. Raw, local food also eliminates a tons of CO2 and other environmental air, water and soil pollutants that come with mass transport. We all can agree that less chemicals and toxins around us as being a good thing.
- Raw food incorporates the long lost art of CHEWING, remember that one? The crunch you get when you bite down on a fresh watery cucumber, or a cauliflower is an experience on its own. This almost turns into a game to see how many crunches you get out of your food, but it is also an extra bonus. Chewing and the chemical reactions it creates go beyond a playful act and benefit your body. Here’s one example: Isothiocinolates a sulfur-like compound found in brassicas (kale, cauliflower, broccoli) is a potent compound with many health benefits. This is what gives these plant members the kick (pungency) associated with them, however, when cooked you severely reduce the active amount, available for your body. When eating them raw and chewing them, on the other hand, myrosinase, an enzyme that make it biologically available and active is released. Cool huh? So chew on that!
- Raw food maintains the nutrient integrity of vitamins such as Vitamin C and the whole spectrum of B-vitamins (B1,2,3,5, etc.). Both of these can be greatly affected when exposed to heat. So eating raw food allows for you to get a better source of them.
The challenge is not for you to give up on cooked foods, but for you to give raw foods a greater chance and more “love” in your diet. You will become your own walking lab and begin to realize the difference in your digestion, energy, sleep, and over all well-being when you eat a higher proportion of raw foods or cooked foods and make the adequate adaptations, so don’t take my word for it or anybody else for that matter. You are in charge of you and only you.
My challenge for you is to introduce one new raw food this week. If you are not used to eating raw foods, start with something simple and tasty like a green apple, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, etc. Buy organic if you can. When you prepare it to eat, make sure to wash it thoroughly. After you add one new raw food, don’t be afraid to mix it up. That is the whole objective — to have abundance and variety. If you already consume a variety of raw foods, I challenge you to increase to a full meal of nothing but raw foods and see how it goes. Are you up for it?