The most common question I face, right after “How can you live without hummus?” is “Why raw?”. So what is it about raw food that makes it so fantastic for cleansing, to improve health and to simply feel better? Here are eight reasons that I have found during my raw food journey.
Raw foods in their natural state are full of digestive enzymes that aid in the process of braking it down. On the other hand, a sustained heat of above 50 degrees Celsius destroys virtually all of these enzymes, which otherwise would help the raw foods to “predigest” in your stomach. However, without those naturally occurring enzymes, the body needs to compensate by over producing stomach acid and digestive enzymes in the pancreas in an attempt to break down the “dead” food. This puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the body and especially the pancreas. Eating your foods raw liberates a lot of energy for the body to use on elimination and reparation.
The Ph of the body is about 7.3, and the blood must maintain that level of alkalinity or else the organism would die very fast. In order to keep the organism alive, the body has to neutralize the acids by pulling calcium from the bones, which leads to osteoporosis over time. All animal products and most cooked foods are on the acid side of chemistry with respect to the body’s optimal ph, meaning that the metabolic process of breaking down these foods produces acidic waste. If produced continuously, this waste cannot be eliminated fast enough and it starts to accumulate in the body. Acids mutate cells and destroys tissue, and hence the body needs to isolate it in order to protect the most valuable organs. This is how cancer gets started.
When we cook foods, we are either evaporating a great % of the food’s natural water content, or we are re-hydrating them with tap water (in case of beans and rice for instance). On the other hand, most raw fruits and vegetables have a water content of above 85% and this is high quality water filtered by the plant itself, in contrast to tap water which is usually full of inorganic minerals and pharmaceutical residues. Eating high water content foods puts less strain on the body and helps to keep the body hydrated. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints.
Fuel for the cells
Fruits are full of high quality carbohydrates, which is essentially what all cells use as fuel. It’s a tragedy that fruits are demonized for their presumably high sugar content. Fructose in fruits is a simple sugar, meaning that the body does not put any energy in breaking it down. Also, no insulin is needed to bring fructose to the cells, which saves the body additional resources. The reason why we taste fruits as sweet is not because they have more sugar, but rather because it is the type of sugar that our taste buds are programmed to detect, because that’s what our bodies are designed to be consuming.
On the other hand, we do not perceive complex carbohydrates such as rice and grain as particularly sweet, or even tasty as such. Nevertheless, when these polysaccharides -sometimes containing thousands of sugar molecules in a chain- are broken down by the body, the result is a much larger amount of simple sugars in the blood. In addition, being in the form of glucose, this type of sugar requires insulin to enter the cells and hence adds more strain on the body.
As you probably know, raw fruits and vegetables are full of minerals and vitamins that are essential for the body, much of which gets destroyed in the heating process. In order for your body to heal and repair itself from previous damage, it requires an ample and steady supply of nutrition, preferrably in an easily accessible form. Raw fruits and vegetables are simple structures which the body can break down without much strain. This is especially the case with amino acids which the body needs for building new tissue. However, complex protein structures are not ideal for getting amino acids, as they are consuming to break down and also produce acidic waste in the process. Raw vegetables on the other hand are a great source of amino acids for anybody wanting to heal and rebuild their body.
Some people like to justify their omnivore habits by saying that our brains only evolved after we started eating meat. However, this is only one theory. Another theory suggests that when we left the tropics, indeed we had to start broadening our food selection in order to survive, but the reason for our rapid development was not the meat, but rather the fact that being outside of our comfort zone only the most clever and innovative individuals were able to survive. We had to come up with new ways to protect ourselves from the cold, to create shelters, to protect ourselves from new kinds of predators and to catch food.
Our bodies evolved during millions of years in the tropics to consume predominantly raw fruits, vegetables and herbs. If we feed other primates a standard western diet, they develop the same diseases that we humans suffer from. Biologically, we are all still monkeys eating a bear’s diet. Our physiological similarities to other primates are striking and far from what a true omnivore or carnivore looks like physically.
Cutting food addictions
The raw food diet is amazing for getting rid of food addictions, and the reason is this: behind every food addiction, there is emotional pain. When you go raw, the emotional pain that you have been suppressing with food comes to the surface, and you can start healing the old wounds. Even common undesired habits may fall off by themselves as a by-product of going raw, such as sugar cravings in the evening (given that you eat plenty of fruit during the day), or desire for alcohol, as your system becomes cleaner and can no longer tolerate such poison.
Increased energy levels
This is a combination of many of the above mentioned factors. Increased energy levels can partly be attributed to improved hydration and effortless digestion, but most of all, high quality carbohydrates! Anybody on a high fruit raw vegan diet will tell you that there is no need for stimulants as the food itself gives you more than enough energy for daily activities. When you have more energy, it is easier to do physical activity, in fact it feels even necessary. As a result, you will feel better, lighter, more energized and simply happy.