Why Eat Raw

Why Eat Raw

Food sustains us,… Yet what we eat may affect our risk for several of the leading causes of death for Americans, notably, coronary heart disease, stroke, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and some types of cancer. These disorders together now account for more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States.” -former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop

It is estimated that 60% of disease is caused by the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). If food is the culprit, I believe that food can be the answer. As we become mindful about what we eat, we can start to make choices that promote our health over illness. Food is consumed for nutrition but it is also consumed for pleasure. What happens if we learn how to satisfy our pleasure receptors with healthy food? Our lives improve.

veggies

What do our bodies need to eat raw?

What are the building blocks that our bodies need to function? Enzymes, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, protein, essential fats and fiber. These are all provided by our food and are involved in growth, repair and maintenance of the body. Let’s take a quick look at each of these and what they do for you.

Enzymes

Enzymes convert the food we eat into chemical structures that can pass though the membranes of the cells lining the digestive tract and into the blood stream. Their job doesn’t end there. Enzymes are the living proteins that direct the life force into our biochemical and metabolic processes. They help transform and store energy, make active hormones, dissolve fiber and prevent clotting. They have anti-inflammatory effects. Enzymes help balance and restore the immune system, and heal many diseases. Enzymes even help repair our DNA and our RNA.

When we cook food, we destroy many of the enzymes that help us naturally digest it.

Vitamins

Without vitamins our cells would not function properly and thus our organs would suffer and eventually we would no longer be able to survive. Vitamins help regulate metabolism, help convert fat and carbohydrates into energy, and assist in forming bone and tissue. Guess what happens when you cook food? You got it, a large percentage of the vitamins are destroyed.

Viktoras Kulvinskas in his book, Survival into the 21st Century, estimates that the overall nutrient destruction is as high as 80%. Tests have shown that we will lose 50% of the B vitamins while B1 and B12 can lose up to 96%. 97% of folic acid is destroyed as well as 70-80 % of vitamin C.

Minerals

Seventeen of the thirty elements known to be essential to life are metals. Mineral deficiencies cause disease in humans. Minerals also have a synergistic relationship with vitamins. They help each other help us. When foods are cooked, many of the minerals are destroyed, or altered, rendering them useless and also unable to assist our friends the vitamins.

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients are what give fruits and vegetables their color. Phytos protect the body and fight disease. They also fight cancer and help your heart. Phytonutrient are at leading edge of research on nutrition. They provide medicine for cell health. And once again, Phytonutrients in freshly harvested plant foods can be destroyed or removed by cooking.

Why Eat Raw?

It just starts to make sense. If cooking destroys the vital and essential nutrients that we need to stay healthy, eating our food raw does the opposite. It provides us with what we need for our health and well being. I know from experience that when I am eating at least 80% raw, I have more energy, more mental focus, and all of the pesky things that irritate me on a daily basis, like acid reflux and my daily aches and pains, dissipate. I also know that I am feeding my body what it needs to thrive, not just survive.






{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Davy February 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I have nothing against eating raw – but does it have to be all-or-nothing? Many important foods nutrients are only accessible to humans by cooking. Also, the method of cooking can have an additive or negative affect on food. Some foods certainly should be eaten raw for maximum benefit, but others are better for you cooked.

Susan February 27, 2010 at 12:11 am

Of course it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you read further into the site, you will realize that I promote eating as much raw as you can, not being 100% and having no judgment if you are not 100%. I promote doing what you can to replace foods that are not healthy with foods that are healthy. We are inclusive here, not exclusive.

Sarah March 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Hi, I’m a college student and love some of the recipes on this site, but I do feel the need to correct an erroneous statement. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in our cells (you got many of the functions right), and they basically carry out all the reactions needed to make humans live. The part that you may have wrong, however, is that our supply is exhaustible. Our DNA codes for all the enzymes that we need, and our cells synthesize them (remember, enzymes are just special proteins) out of amino acids (which are the components of all proteins). What we need from our food are the 8 essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make, and our digestive systems are designed to break *all* the protein we eat down into amino acids. This means that even if you eat enzymes, unless the enzyme is designed to work inside your digestive tract (and can pass through your stomach’s acid without being broken down), it will not reach the cells that need it. It’s component parts (amino acids) will, however, and your cells will put them back together into exactly what your body needs, which may or may not be the enzyme or other protein that you ate in the first place.
To make sure you get all the amino acids you need (without eating meat), I’d reccommend eating a good variety of plant foods, as most plants are missing at least one or two. Try mixing legumes and grains.

brit April 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Hi,

First, Id like to say that I am very impressed with this site and all the recipes. You have done an amazing job at making raw more accessible and informative to people. But I was wondering if it is ok to eat any meat at all. And how do you feel about organic meats?
Thanks!

Susan April 17, 2010 at 9:56 am

Brit: Personally I don’t eat meat. But I am not here to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t. That is a personal decision.

Jerry April 25, 2010 at 12:59 am

Susan, I have to echo Brit and say that this site and the information and recipes you have put together are really awesome. I have been raw for about two months now, but not as completely as I would like. I am currently living in the Philippines and have plenty of raw fruit and vegetables available, but the only additions I have are rolled oats from the local store and processed honey (neither of which are raw, but as close as I can currently get). That’s how I came across your site. I was looking for recipes on how to make due with what I do have.

I guess the question I have, though, has to do with food combining. As I have researched eating raw and such, I have also read about how certain types of foods don’t combine well when eaten together. One site I found had “Nine Rules for Proper Food Combining” By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton. It talked about how eating certain foods together can cause the body distress. Is this something you have heard about? And if so, do you know of any new research into this area? Dr. Shelton wrote his information back in the 1950′s, though that doesn’t negate the truth of the information. He also wrote a book called “Food Combining Made Easy” which I am only part way through.

Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

Susan April 25, 2010 at 7:04 am

Jerry, thanks for the kind words. Honestly, I have not delved much into food combining. Simply by eating raw, I feel I have eliminated many of the issues that I, personally had. I am curious if when Dr Shelton devised his rules, he was talking about cooked food. Also, the rules are pretty stringent. But if this is something that speaks to you, learn more about it.

Cari April 26, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Thanks for the great breakdown!
To address some of the comments, the way I see it – we all need to get a wide variety of veggies and fruits in daily. Eat your rainbow.
Of course it is way more complicated than that but generally speaking – many of us could improve our health so much by doing just that. I started by adding green smoothies, then green juices, more salads, then eliminating meat (chicken, fish, and grass feed red meat because I learned how contaminated they are and how hard it is on our environment and my body to digest).
The proof is in the pudding! =) I added greens, eliminated animal products = I feel better than I’ve felt in years. I suggest people try adding green smoothies/juices and salads for a month and see how you feel.
Thanks for the website Susan! Love it!

tim April 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm

@ Jerry I actually just started eating a 100% raw food diet after years of horrible digestive problems. I researched a lot of information online and after trying tons of other things I read a book called “The Raw Secrets: The Raw Vegan Diet in the Real World …:”. It talks about food combining and Shelton actually. The book had great reviews and although I am still feeling very sick (my digestive symptoms are even worse than usual which I was warned about in the book as a symptom of detox that should dissipate shortly) after only a week, I am hopeful that my symptoms will begin to improve. Already I have more energy and wake up about an hour earlier than usual way before my alarm goes off. Anyways, you may be able to find some more info you are looking for in this book and it is only like 10 bucks on Amazon.

Sara May 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm

“It is estimated that 60% of disease is caused by the SAD diet (Standard American Diet).”

From where, exactly, did you get this statistic? Is there some sort of study I can see? And where did the acronym/name SAD diet come from?
Also, doesn’t dehydrating food take just as much of the nutrients out of it as heating it to cook it does? If you dehydrate it, isn’t that a form of cooking? Doesn’t that make the food NOT raw?
I am a little confused about some aspects of your diet. Thanks for enlightening me!

Susan May 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm

You might want to read some of the articles on the site. Dehydrating isn’t the same as cooking, as we keep the temp under 116, keeping all the enzymes vitamins and minerals in tack. The quote came from C. Everett Koop, the former surgeon general of the United States, as for SAD, it is a common expression. Google it. Many of your questions will best be answered if you actually read the site. :-)

tony fore May 26, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Iam a diadete how would i know how much food to eat

barbara June 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Great information!!! Wonderful recipes,

francesca June 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm

i have been raw for couple of years now and was wondering if its bad to be raw ion the cold weather i was informed by a couple of poplw that this is bad for you and cause serious problems des anyone know

Mary Goff August 9, 2010 at 8:58 am

I’ve been on & off eating Raw Foods for 6 years. Every time I wander too far off, I go back to the aches and pains of the horrible Fibromyalgia I experienced in 1996 which had me in bed for several weeks. It’s clear at this point that 100% works best for me and I can eat as much as I like, & only eat when hungry. Becoming certified to teach this amazing lifestyle has increased my motivation to stay RAW! I realize that several friends (6) have actually reversed disease symptoms and in two cases are deems Cancer-free! Thank you for your delicious recipes which are so encouraging, especially for folks newly Raw! ox

Lori Gordon August 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I just found your website and love it. I’ve been raw – about 95% for the past 3 months and have lost 30 lbs, wake up before my alarm and have time to walk 2 miles each morning before getting started. I have so much energy! Thanks for the recipes and info – you’re awesome!

Sandy Vallone September 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm

BEAUTIFUL and YUMMY site… Your tempting recipes motivate me to try out this healthy way of eating. A wonderful bonus would be experiencing the reduction of joint pain and weight loss described — I’ll give it a try! Thanks!

Karleen September 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I saw a recipe for pecan bars using raw cashews and almonds. The recipe calls for coconut oil and coconut butter, but I am not a fan of coconut. What other oil and butter can I substitute for the coconut oil and butter?

Susan September 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I don’t have a substitution for those that will be raw and give the same taste and consistency. If it helps, you really don’t taste the coconut.

Laura September 15, 2010 at 4:42 am

Susan, congratulations for this amazing website and the recipes also.

Davy said in the first comment that “Many important foods nutrients are only accessible to humans by cooking.” where did you get this information ? and what important food nutrients are you talking of ?

Naomi Merthe October 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm

So excited to find your site! My family and I will be taking the 21 day raw challenge starting this Monday. We have had some health and weight issues for some time and hope to see some great results at the end. We will be logging everything so should be insightful Thanks again!

sandra October 14, 2010 at 8:23 pm

I like the part about going raw, how raw food gives you energy, currently, i live with my brother who eats lots of meats, so pray for me

dawnalee November 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Is there a particular “list” on this site, or someplace you know of, that sheds some light on what is considered raw? I’ve been sticking pretty closely to veggies and fruits, but I realize after perusing your site that there is potential for so much more. Things like teas from tea or herbs? Yeast? Is there a raw gelatin-type thing? I’m supposing there’s no low heat roasted version of coffee beans. . . :) Anywho. . .hoping to figure out what may or may not have adequate life still in it. Thanks for any help!

Serene November 8, 2010 at 2:57 am

Just wondering if you have any links to resources for people with chronic medical issues? I am having trouble navigating the site, my internet connection is a bit funky today… CHeers,

Serene

Susan November 8, 2010 at 7:17 am

No…I do not give any medical advice or recommendations here. Only nutritional information and recipes.

Jessie December 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Hi Susan,
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family. By the way I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE. so BEAUTIFUL.
Jessie Rawji

Jeanne January 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm

To Laura and Davy–it’s not true that some nutrients are *only* accessible through cooking; however, it is true that some nutrients are only accessible through fermentation. Cooking is the fast-food form of fermentation, in that heat is used to activate the enzymes that break down the food the way fermentation would. Cooking food makes it much faster to prepare than fermenting food (hours or minutes instead of days) but is also much less healthy because the enzymes and nutrients are destroyed in the cooking process and cooked food spoils whereas uncooked fermented food only gets better with age.

To Francesca–if you only eat exotic fruits and veggies in cold climates, you’re not eating optimally or in harmony with the seasons, and this food will often make you cold. But if you ferment winter vegetables such as root vegetables (beets, turnips, rutabagas, celeriac, parsley root, etc. but NOT potatoes unless heirloom) and vegetables such as cabbage and kale, then you’ll stay warm. :)

To ferment: cut up veggies into bite-sized pieces, press down, pour water such that water just covers the veggies, put a weight on the veggies to keep them pressed down in the water, cover container with cloth (so the insides won’t get dirty), wait for about a week for the veggies to rise and turn soft and cook in their own juices, and voila! Salt-free, refreshing, flavourful, warming winter raw food!

In general, the raw food world has to be more aware of fermentation…those who still crave cooked foods really crave fermented foods, which are must more flavourful and satisfying and the real deal, whereas cooking is just a quick fix. Fermentation is a staple of all traditional diets and ought to be a mainstay of raw foodism as well.

Jeanne January 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Oh, I almost forgot: what a great website!!! I love the recipes and the photos. mmm :)

Candy Stauffer January 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I just taught several classes on Winter Vegetables and Lacto-Fermentation. Lots of fun and very enlightening to research and teach! Just a comment re: Jeanne’s info. I know from personal experience, and that’s all that counts with your body, right? that when I include a daily dose of fermented food, be it a flavorful kraut or other savory ferment, I DO NOT HAVE ANY CRAVINGS, other than craving RAW delicious veggies and just a little fruit! I find that very interesting and provocative.
And not to beat a dead horse, but I heartily agree and encourage folks: DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and respond to WHAT RESONATES WITH YOUR BODY. We are all dealing with different nutritional issues; if you pay attention your body will tell you what you need. You just have to be willing to do some experimenting! Tasty experimenting! That’s where sites/blogs such as this one are helpful, to give you ideas and directions to explore.

We tend to be a society that expects to be spoon-fed information. Don’t take anyone’s word as gospel. For the most part, not always, they are passing on personal anecdotal info. That’s OK, to a point. We owe it to our health to search, ponder, experiment and determine what works for us personally.
There’s a ton of info out there, very little is research based. If its important to you personallly, try to find that sort of info, then experiment, then make up your own mind what works for YOU :)

Kerim February 16, 2011 at 11:52 am

I would like to comment to Sarah who comments on Enzymes explained in this website. Perhaps Sarah also notes that current medical students only gets 4 hours of nutritional education in their entire 8 years education. Also current science has no answers about raw food. They study everything in a laboratory where they “cook” them.

brandon February 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I want to thank you for this great website. I started a 30 day raw food challenge for myself about a week ago. It was really difficult at first, but now I feel the desire for cooked foods has diminished.

This challenge is especially difficult for me because meat has always been a large percentage of my diet. I dont know if I will be able too say bye to meat forever but this experience will definetly change my eating habits.

I am off to buy my dehyrdator now.

Carolyn March 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Hello!

I am a huge fan of this site and have made many of the recipes here. although i have a health question that i can’t seem to get answered. I am a teenager (16) and love eating raw when i can, however i am a bit stumped about calories and fat intake for someone my age. According to my doctor i am slightly overweight and i would like to get my weight down a bit. A lot of raw recipes involve nuts, and i don’t know if i would be able to eat nuts and loss some weight at the same time. :D thank you and keep it up!

Susan March 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

Yes, you can eat nuts and lose weight. But there are so many other factors involved. And each individual is different. I would suggest you contact your health provider for your individual needs.

Mazekah March 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I love the enthusiasm I read here for eating live food. I eat “high” raw (80% or higher) and have noticed that the longer I do so, the less I want cooked food, and the less winter bothers me. I include cooked legumes a couple times a week. I’ve also noticed that my food choices change with the seasons – more high quality fat and fruit in the winter and more greens in the summer. I am trusting my body more. It sends me very clear information on what I need when I eat raw. When I eat cooked, the information it sends me becomes garbled. Worse if I eat refined sugar and flour (besides body aches and pains). So, back to raw. My weight has remained stable for 8 months eating high raw, and I know I’m in transition to eating less fruit and raw sweets. That’s one of the messages, and I trust the timing. Thanks!

Pennagirl March 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

What do you eat if you are allergic, anaphylaxis (breathing) to food like kiwi, nuts, honeydew?

Susan March 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I would eat what you are not allergic to. There are lots of fresh, raw foods out there.

Lisa April 2, 2011 at 1:09 am

Thank you for this website. I have found that eating raw food kills my cravings for sugar and carbs, it has increased my energy level. I crave less and feel great! I don’t plan on going full RAW because I do believe that I body needs meat proteins..but I absolutely love the recipes on here and plan on buying the book soon!

caitlin May 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Susan,

I thought that for the recipe to be called “raw” we needed to never heat the food to above 114 degrees, but some of your recipes seem to start with an initial dehydration temp of 140 for a short time and then a lower temp for the rest of the dehydration time…

Was I misinformed? Wouldn’t this 140 degree spurt kill the enzymes we’re trying so hard to maintain?

Thank you for all the recipes and inspiration. I have your granola in the dehydrator as I write this :-)

Susan May 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm

There are quite a few articles here on dehydration…you can search “dehydrate” in the search function. Or start here: http://www.rawmazing.com/dehydration-primer/ for an explanation. It has to do with food temp and by starting high you are not compromising the enzymes because the food temperature never is out of the safe zone.

debbie malina September 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm

hi Susan………..i ‘ve been 85 % raw for the last 2-3 months…..eating lots of fruits and vegetables…………juicing and smoothies…i’ve been staying away from nuts…..i use chia and hemp seeds………..very rarely beans….tonite i did have edamame for dinner……..as of yet i have not lost 0 lb…if anything i’ve gained weight………….i know you don’t have to count calories on a raw diet and i don’t feel like i over indulge that much……just discouraging to hear how the weight is falling off of people….don’t know what i’m doin wrong…..HELP………………..

Susan September 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I think one of the biggest myths is that when you eat raw, you don’t have to worry about how much you eat. If you are trying to lose weight, you will need to adjust what you are eating. Everyone is different. Some people can eat what ever they want, including lots of nuts, etc. I can not. You have to experiment and stay very balanced to find your “sweet spot”.

Ray September 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Nice site you have here. I watch Dan The Man McDonald the liferegenerator on youtube. He got me into the raw food movement here. I find myself actually leaning towards being more of a fruititarian. I think its because the green juices I make taste well……horrible. Im going to check out some of the recipes on your site see if I can get some better results. Thanks for the site. I know deep down raw is the way to go. Peace out….

Kris October 7, 2011 at 5:27 am

Hello “Ray” ! I finally got myself to begin with the “green-drinks” ! Gosh….my first drinks were …gheee… ;)
However , trying to keep them “green” in color as well , with lots of lemon and fresh orange and perhaps a spoon of ” acacia honey ” it’s much better ! But even the grape-blueberry-greens combination of susan is nice. I do add something sweet …..Best off all ; I’ts TRUE ! You feel full of energy drinking them every day :)

Lucy October 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Great and informative site!! Question that I have – I am allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs, almonds, peanuts, mushrooms, red kidney beans and pineapple and have been researching and leaning towards eating more raw foods to help with several health issues, so can I substitute almond milk with coconut milk and almond butter with coconut butter? I was interested in the choclate mousse.

Thank you!

Susan October 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

It completely depends on the recipe. I am not sure coconut butter or oil would be a good substitution for the almond butter in the mousse. :-)

ToeKnee November 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Nice Site. Good Recipes. 30 days tomorrow at about 95% raw. Thanks.

Lauren November 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I love the site. I can’t wait to try a raw cashew cheese (I’m waiting for my raw, organic cashews to be delivered). I started 100% raw vegan (formerly 80% macrobiotic vegan for three months, and before that 100% SAD vegetarian for 11 years) on Monday and I am adapting to the experience. I’m not sure how I feel about fermented foods. I’ve read that they become toxic when they ferment (eg alcohol). Is this not the case or is the idea that fermented foods in small amounts is not toxic?

Joanne January 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I want to say that you are a true inspiration. Your recipes are far the best raw vegan recipes I have found on internet. I LOVE to “cook”, but I mostly love to get inspired from life and I put that inspiration in my creations and you are an artist with food.
Thank you for helping me through my raw vegan journey – I am not 100% raw vegan… yet :)

Nora February 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm

To Carolyn who posted back in March – A wonderful book entitled, “Eat To Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman recommends that we consume one ounce of nuts or seeds per day. That includes those who are overweight. This book is so enlightening! I would recommend anyone to read it and his latest book, “Super Immunity”

Susan, I just discovered your site and am loving what I see. Thank you!

Tracey Tula February 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

I have only been eating raw for a few weeks. As a emotional eater, I have been on some sort of diet for years. I started this phase with the same mentality. What I did not expect was how great that I would feel! I have been very diligent in making sure I eat enough/ not too much. I have stuck to fresh fruit and veggies. Sure it is a bit boring but the physical effects are just too amazing. I look forward to visiting this site to get ideas and stay raw! Thanks. : )
Great web site!

Leave a Comment

{ 8 trackbacks }