Finding Your Raw Food Balance

by Susan on January 24, 2011

A good friend of mine posted a comment today on her Facebook page. She made tacos with walnuts and her ph level was more acidic. She was wondering if it was the walnuts. It could very well have been because walnuts are very acidic. But they also contain tons of health promoting nutrients. The good and the bad?

Let’s look at spinach, one of the most nutrient rich vegetables out there. It is full of vitamins, minerals and phyto nutrients. Spinach contains nutrients that fight inflammation and cancer. It also is full of anti-oxidants. Calorie for calorie it is said to have more nutrients than any other food. Sounds perfect? Not quite.

Spinach is one of the vegetables that is on the dirty dozen list, meaning one of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that pesticides are most frequently found on. Spinach also has measurable amounts of oxalates. Oxalates can cause problems for people with kidney issues and also interfere with calcium adsorption. It also contains purines which can lead to a build up of uric acid.

So, here we have the good and the bad of spinach. And lately, it seems you can read negative and positive about almost everything we put in our mouths. And I am talking about the healthy stuff.  So what do we do? Stop eating all together? Well, then we are left with air and water and everyone knows about the pollution issues associated with that!

Ok…I was a little tongue in cheek there but I think you can catch my drift. How do we deal with all of the information that bombards us? Moderation. Balance. Eat your spinach but not every day of the week, or at the exclusion of other greens. Mix it up. Go for variety. Eat a lot of different foods so you can get the different benefits from all of them. Cover your bases, so to speak. Oh…and buy organic spinach.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

chefJOSEPH January 25, 2011 at 12:08 am

Lately I’ve been dreaming of a place and time where all food is pure and life giving without the taint of disease. I’ve dubbed this place… Heaven. Sounds original huh? Want to go?

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Nadia January 25, 2011 at 1:51 am

I actually do buy organic spinach and most of the other products… I try to buy organic as much as possible, just in my country the diversity of organic ingredients is not that huge.

As for the acid /alkaline diets, the Glycemic index diets, etc I would recommend them only to someone with a decease that requires it, they are not meant for life. The healthy person should eat everything in moderation and balance of course, but an acidic salad now and then won’t kill us :)

P.S. Nice post and I really like your point of view!

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ivy January 25, 2011 at 3:57 am

Hello. Like Nadia, i like your articles very much, they are always so interesting. And like Nadia : eat organic ;-) I’ve been eating 100% organic for three years, and that’s why i now eat partly raw : not to waste all the good things you can find in organic veg when you cook them ;-)

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Serenity January 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

As with anything, anything in excess is bad for you. Proper combination and moderation will alleviate the deleterious effects of said vegetable. And if you are truly concerned…. Grow your own.

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Faith January 25, 2011 at 10:57 am

This is a very important topic- thanks for posting about it… I want to note that Norman Walker, who wrote one of the first books on fresh juicing, felt that the oxalates in spinach were only a problem once the spinach was cooked, not in the raw state, and I think he could very well be correct. Consider that most of our nutritional information is based on cooked foods.. I agree about balance though, and the importance of organically grown foods.

Also regarding pH, I have heard from some experts that one should only be measuring it in the first morning urine, not continually throughout the day after various meals, as tempting as it can be when there is a roll of pH paper in the house. I have found one major factor in getting an alkaline reading is being well-rested, not always an easy thing to obtain…and of course green smoothies seem to be good for alkalizing…

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Mapuana January 25, 2011 at 11:11 am

Aloha Kakou/All, Great article Susan, good point about what Norman Walker said, Faith!

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Susan January 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Wish it were true but oxalates are in fresh, raw spinach. The point really was that everything we eat probably has positives and negatives. Balance is what is important.

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Angie January 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Apparently, spinach is also a top de-polluter, which means it totally absorbs anything being mixed within the soil where it grows, hence why some people tend to get sick with it easily too. (from pesticides and other substances)

Now, I guess it’s also a matter of balance, a little of something is always good, and excess is always bad. And agreed with Faith about the pH, it should be an average too, as it changes throughout the day. I wouldn’t base my opinion on a single dish, it is more interesting to see eating habits as a whole ;)
Like you said Susan, balance !

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Blaine January 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm

It’s important to also realize that your body buffers against strong changes in pH, so although there may be an “acidic” reading, it may be your body releasing reserves that counter the alkaline change from the food itself. Body chemistry is very complex and confounded by very many factors just to just pee on a strip and read it like tea leaves.

One shouldn’t be running to the bathroom immediately after they eat, they will just worry themselves. Eat whole foods and be healthy! :)

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Molly January 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm

This was a good article, thank you. I have found I have tummy troubles after eating nut-based dishes or marinades made with an oil base. Olive oil is the worst for my system. I still enjoy eating them but I pay for it later, just as if I had eating the same type of food in the SAD form. So I am learning how my body reacts to certain foods. It’s all a learning experience.

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Kira January 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm

It is interesting, I have eaten raw for months then recently due to travel embarked on a cooked food “bonanza”. Did I feel awful??!! not really, but then I have to say …not as good. As much as I love delving into oxalates and antioxidents…I’m a biochemist so it speaks to my soul, I have to quantify what my body holistically FEELS after a change. To date, cooked is not evil, but raw “feels” better, at least in the short term (less than 6 mois).

Cheers, Kira

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Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day January 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

You make a great point here. It can be totally crazy making to worry about the negatives of every single food we eat! I’d say the worry and stress can be at least as damaging as any negative ingredient in the food to begin with.

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Sia January 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

The best path is to follow your body’s lead. If you get still and listen, your body will surely “talk” to you telling you exactly what will nourish it. Ideally, fasting for a few days to prep your intuitive skills and your synergy with your inner body is the way to begin.

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Candy Stauffer January 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Susan, thanks for timely article. I always enjoy your to-the-point info.
Faith and Blaine, good points. I enjoy reading through the comments, brings more depth to things that concern all of us re: eating raw. At the risk of repeating a comment I left in a previous post (Why Raw?), DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Don’t depend on someone spoonfeeding info, no matter who. That being said, there’s not a ton of research-based raw info out there. SO what to do? As Sia commmented: Listen to your body. Evaluate. Keep notes and logs, if you have existing health issues. You’ll soon find your balance.

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Fawn January 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Like others have said, great point, Susan. We are bombarded with the negatives of every food. Yin and yang. I eat a better variety of foods now that I’m raw than I ever did eating a SAD diet. But it’s still tempting to rely on my favorite raw dishes when I’m ravenous or in a hurry. As long as I stay in an experimental mode with recipes, variety is never an issue. Thanks for the breakdown on spinach.

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