Discover The Evidence-Based Benefits Of Eating Raw Food (Plus A Scrumptious Recipe)
There always seems to be a fad diet going on, and often these diets are not backed by scientific evidence, so they soon lose credibility and subsequently fade from popularity. In contrast, solid, scientifically-backed nutrition endures the test of time.
Many fad diets do have a kernel of truth to them, which, if taken within the context of sound nutrition, can have significant applications to a bone-healthy diet. One such diet is the “raw diet.” While eating all raw food all the time is extreme and impractical, the basic idea is valid: raw foods are very healthy, and offer some excellent bone-building benefits.
So today, we’re going to take a look at the benefits of raw foods, and the evidence that supports their consumption as part of a bone-smart diet. And I also share a delicious recipe to inspire you to eat raw!
Why Raw Foods?
The point of consuming raw foods is to obtain nutrients that are otherwise missed if those same foods are consumed cooked. And raw foods are by their nature unprocessed. They are the epitome of a whole food. Of course, when I refer to raw foods, I mean organic foods that are free of pesticides and other chemicals.
Many people experience exceptional health while eating raw foods, and for good reason. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from raw food consumption.
Decreased Pain And Inflammation
Raw foods are full of polyphenolic antioxidants, plant chemicals that prevent oxidation of tissues, including your bones. Painful joints and health conditions associated with inflammation may in fact be relieved if you increase your raw foods intake.
It makes sense that your energy will increase while eating raw foods. They tend to be easier and faster to digest, so your body is not spending lots of energy digesting and filtering out toxins. And some of the nutrients are more bioavailable, giving your body the boost it needs to feel better and even get up in the morning with more energy.
Raw foods do not include animal foods such as meat and poultry, and or course, no fatty, processed snacks or fried foods. So just cutting out those foods, which are high in unhealthy fats and calories, will tend to regulate weight.
In fact, back in 1999, an interesting study was conducted on 216 men and 297 women who consumed a completely raw diet for almost 4 years. This study is notable because it showed that “The consumption of a raw food diet is associated with a high loss of body weight,” but also noted that after several years on an all-raw diet, participants became underweight and experienced a cessation of normal menstruation.1 This underscores my earlier point that an all-raw diet all the time is too extreme; but it does clearly show that responsible raw food consumption promotes weight loss.
Better Kidney Health
When you replace processed, unhealthy, or low-quality foods with raw, organic foods, you’re greatly reducing your body’s toxic load. That is an excellent way to protect your kidneys and liver, boosting their function and protecting your bones from toxins and oxidative damage.
Again, this does not mean you have to replace all cooked foods with raw; cooked foods are not necessarily nutritionally inferior. In fact, some bone-healthy nutrients are better absorbed from cooked foods. I am referring to balancing your meals and snacks to include more raw foods and replacing “junk” foods with raw ones, thus increasing your raw food intake in general.
A More Alkaline Plasma pH
Raw foods are primarily vegetables and fruits with a few nuts and seeds, so raw foods are mostly alkalizing by nature. A balanced pH without the excessive acid so prevalent in the modern Western diet is essential for reversing bone loss, and an alkaline diet has a host of other benefits as well.
Incorporating raw foods into a healthful, balanced diet promotes excellent cardiovascular health, even more so than a strict raw vegan diet, according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Nutrition. In fact, the study noted the following regarding cholesterol and triglyceride levels in raw food dieters and cardiovascular health:
“…the present study indicates that a strict raw food diet may result in remarkably low serum total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations. However, the elevated tHcy [homocysteines] as well as the low HDL cholesterol concentrations in participants in this study could provide a mechanistic explanation of the higher mortality from coronary heart disease in vegans… In contrast, studies of moderate ovo-lacto-vegetarian diets suggest that well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle…and reduce risk for diseases. Changing the ratio of raw food intake toward an extreme regimen…may be harmful in the prevention of coronary heart disease rather than providing additional benefits as occurs with milder dietary regimens.”2
In sum, incorporating raw foods into a varied, well-planned, pH-balanced diet (as described in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program) is optimal for heart health.
Raw foods contain all of their natural enzymes intact. Many, many body functions depend on enzymes, and digestion is one of them.
Evidence continues to point to the absence of enzymes as a major culprit behind poor nutrient absorption. Here are some of the main digestive enzymes and their roles in digestion:
- Amylase, which is present in the saliva, gets incorporated into foods during chewing. Amylase converts complex carbohydrates into simple sugars.
- Lactase changes lactose from dairy products into glucose.
- Cholecystokinin is required to digest fats and proteins.
- Aminopeptidases cause peptides to degrade into amino acids.
- Maltase changes maltose into glucose.
- Phospholipase breaks down phospholipids into fatty acids.
- Elastases break down protein elastin.
- Lipase’s job is to convert triglycerides into glycerol and fatty acids.
- Trypsin and Chymotrypsin break down proteins into amino acids.
- Nucleases change nucleic acids into nucleosides and nucleotides.
- Secretin plays a role at the very beginning of digestion. Triggered by the presence of stomach acid, secretin regulates the secretion of digestive enzymes in the duodenum (the area of your small intestine where it joins the stomach).
The release of these enzymes during digestion depends on a communicative interplay of hormones, nutrients, and digestive secretions, including stomach acid. As we age, stomach acid production tends to decrease. Ironically, this can result in reflux, heartburn, and other symptoms that the Medical Establishment incorrectly attributes to “too much acid” and typically treats with bone-damaging proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), which acid-reducing drugs like Nexium or Prevacid .
This simply makes the problem worse, since too little stomach acid, which can occur naturally with age, correlates with insufficient digestive enzymes. That’s because stomach acid present in the stomach during digestion helps trigger enzyme release when the acid-soaked food enters the small intestine (remember secretin?).
While supplementation with digestive enzymes has become popular, at the Save Institute we don’t recommend taking supplemental digestive enzymes, except in the presence of digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, constipation, chronic diarrhea, leaky gut, excessive gas and bloating, pancreatitis4, or malabsorption.
In fact, there may be harmful effects from unnecessarily taking enzyme supplements day in, day out. Your gut needs to learn to function and use these enzymes on its own; continually “propping up” your digestion with supplements may cause your system to become dependent on them. In addition, taking lots of enzyme supplements has a cleansing effect, and continuous cleansing can increase irritation and inflammation of the digestive tract.
Overall, the best way to obtain these crucial enzymes is to eat plenty of raw foods as part of an overall pH-balanced, varied diet. If you are using supplements to improve a digestive condition, then you could taper off your supplement use by consuming enzyme-rich, raw foods once symptoms improve.
Getting More Raw Foods Into Your Diet
Delicious, raw food smoothies are a convenient choice for including lots of variety into your raw food consumption. But raw foods can be hearty and “solid,” too, as in the following delicious recipe.
These “meaty” mushrooms are satisfying and full of sweet-savory flavor.
- 3 large portobello mushrooms, sliced 1/3 inch thick
- 1 large cauliflower, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup almonds
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons distilled water
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey or 1/8 teaspoon stevia
- Mix marinade ingredients, pour over mushrooms, and marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours, occasionally stirring them.
- Place cauliflower slices in bowl. Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper and mix. Add mixture to food processor or blender, along with almonds, oil and water. Process until pureed.
- Add rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture on top of marinated mushrooms and serve.
Raw Foods Build Bones Through Cleansing
In addition to providing a vast array of bone-building nutrients, promoting optimal nutrient absorption through enzymes, and alkalizing the body, raw foods also have a cleansing effect on your system.
Your bones benefit greatly from a periodic cleanse, which is why I developed OsteoCleanse™ as a “kick-off” to embarking on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. It is not a supplement, but rather a seven-day dietary plan that includes cleansing techniques like deep breathing, body brushing, and drinking pure water.
Step 3 of OsteoCleanse™ is titled ‘Cleanse With One Raw Meal Daily’, and contains over 40 delicious and creative raw recipes like the one above. Dishes like Zucchini Noodles with a choice of Tomato or Alfredo sauce (page 33), Sun Garden Burger (page 38), and even desserts like Coconut Almond Cream Pie (page 40) will certainly confirm that a “raw meal” doesn’t mean nothing but lettuce.
Accelerated Bone Remodeling In Just 7 Days!
Discover how OsteoCleanse™ can flush osteoporosis drugs and other bone-damaging toxins from your system – in just seven days.
OsteoCleanse™ speeds up the removal of osteoporosis drugs from your system, and gives your kidney and liver function a big boost, which in turn, greatly helps your bone-building endeavors. And OsteoCleanse™ allows you to experience the cleansing, healthful benefits of raw foods without going to the extreme of adopting an all-raw diet all the time.
Do you have a favorite raw recipe or idea you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you – just leave your tip in the comment section below.
Till next time,
1 Koebnick, C., et al. “Consequences of a long-term raw food diet on body weight and menstruation: results of a questionnaire survey.” Ann Nutr Metab. 43. 2. (1999): 69-79. Web. June 7, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10436305
2 Koebnick, Corinna, et al. “Long-Term Consumption of a Raw Food Diet Is Associated with Favorable Serus LDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides but Also with Elevated Plasma Homocysteine and Low Serus HDL Cholesterol in Humans.” J. Nutr. 135. 10. (2005): 2372-2378. Web. June 8, 2016. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/10/2372.long
3 Duggan, Christopher; Gannon, Jennifer; and Walker, Allan W., “Protective nutrients and functional foods for the gastrointestinal tract1’2’3.” Am J Clin Nutr. 75. 5. (2002): 789-808. Web. June 8, 2016. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/5/789
4 Keller, J. and Layer, P. “Human pancreatic exocrine response to nutrients in health and disease.” Gut.54. (2005): 1-28. Web. June 8, 2016. http://gut.bmj.com/content/54/suppl_6/1.full