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Raw food
Raw food has become super food fashionable over the past decade.
 
Those who have converted to a raw food diet rave about their increased vitality, energy and overall health.
But there are others in the medical and scientific community who warn against this 'green fanaticism' and recommend a more balanced approach and a combination of raw and cooked foods.
 
Fresh, raw, organic fruit and veggies are nature's gift and undeniably beneficial to our health.
So what's all this fuss about raw food?
History of the 'living food' movement
 
Although many believe that our original diet was raw and vegetarian, there is another view that man is omnivorous and has eaten meat since the beginning of our existence.  Evidence is forthcoming for both arguments.
 
From the late 18th Century, many monks and nuns in France and Germany reverted to a raw food diet to increase their physical, mental and spiritual health.  Aristocrats in Europe flocked to retreats at these monasteries after hearing of the health benefits and from there, the raw food revolution was born.
 
From the late 19th Century, health leaders such as Arnold Ehret, Paul Bragg, Bernard McFadden and Dr Kristine Nolfi were educating the general public on the wonders of pure, raw, living food.  During the 1940s, Dr Nolfi actually healed herself completely from breast cancer after adopting a diet of 100% raw fruit and vegetables and daily sunbathing.  She began treating all her patients with this diet, with astonishing success rates.
 
The western industrial age brought with it the trend for overcooked and processed food along with a startling increase in diseases and cancer.  Was there a connection?
A new wave of health advocates emerged, convinced that diseases and illnesses could be reversed through eating pure, uncooked foods that still contain living enzymes.  Most of these people had recovered from their own illnesses and were living testimonials to the amazing properties of raw food.
 
After conducting many raw food experiments on himself and his family, Dr Bircher Benner opened up a sanatorium in Sweden in 1904 called 'Vital Force' which taught patients to live in harmony with nature and to eat a pure diet of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Another leading proponent of raw foods was Dr Anne Wigmore from Lithuania who advocated the use of growing and eating sprouts, drinking wheatgrass juice and fermenting seeds, after healing herself completely from colon cancer with raw foods.  Dr Wigmore then co-founded the Hippocrates Health Clinic in Switzerland in the 1950s.  
These clinics along with others exposed the overwhelming benefits and healing potential that a raw/living diet has on our health.
Leslie Kenton, a health and beauty editor of Harpers & Queen magazine wrote a definitive book in the mid 1980s titled Raw Energy, which had us all abuzz about live enzymes and sprouting seeds again.
Momentum has gathered in the past decade.  The raw food movement has become fashionable for the health conscious, gym junkie, Lorna Jane generation. 
 
But despite the hype, the evidence is available that thousands of people have been healed from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, Alzheimers, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons, chronic fatigue and many more debilitating conditions through consuming life giving raw foods.

The case against an all raw food diet
 
There is evidence that some foods are more nutritious when cooked, than raw.
 
Take tomatoes for instance -  The nutrient lycopene makes tomatoes red. It is a potent carotenoid antioxidant, long thought to reduce prostate cancer risk. Lycopene is fat-soluble, and much more available for absorption when it is heated in combination with an oil. Tomato sauces with olive oil are ideal, and raise blood lycopene levels far more effectively than eating raw tomatoes.
 
Eggs are a good source of an important nutrient, biotin. Raw eggs contain a protein called avidin which binds and inactivates biotin. Cooking denatures avidin, so that it doesn't bind biotin, making cooked eggs a good source of bioavailable biotin.
 
Cooking corn releases a compound called ferulic acid, which provides anti-cancer health benefits. Ferulic acid, a phytochemical, is unique in that it is found only in very low amounts in fruits and vegetables, but is found in very high amounts in corn. The availability to the body of ferulic acid can be increased 500 to 900 percent by cooking the corn.
 
Even more important than the nutrients that cooking can "add" to food are the things it can take away, namely pathogenic bacteria. Cooking is the best and final defence against salmonella, E. coli, and other microscopic nasties that can hitch a ride on our foods.
Raw milk is having a resurgence, but it can be contaminated by bacteria -- from the cows, the farmers, or farm equipment -- and milk is a great growth medium. Pasteurisation protects us from the attendant consequences, which were once fairly common. Nonetheless, raw milk with correct attention to cleanliness and cow nutrition is a valuable raw food for its taste and nutritional qualities.
 
And finally, there are some truly excellent foods that can't be eaten raw such as beans and lentils. These are nutrition powerhouses, inexpensive, and rich enough in high-quality protein to make a good meat alternative. But they are all but indigestible unless cooked and/or sprouted.
According to a study 
published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, eating a raw food diet is a recipe for disaster if you’re trying to boost your species’ brainpower. They say that humans would have to spend more than 9 hours a day eating to get enough energy from unprocessed raw food alone to support our large brains, according to a new study that calculates the energetic costs of growing a bigger brain or body in primates. Our ancestors managed to get enough energy to grow brains that have three times as many neurons as those in apes such as gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans. How did they do it? The researchers say 'they got cooking'.
 
Keep it simple
 
So how do we navigate through all the contradictory information and opinions about the health benefits of a raw food diet to find the ultimate truth?  No need to, just test it for yourself!
Conduct a 30 day trial, eating at least 70% raw food, and make your own conclusions.
 
There are plenty of books and web resources now with raw food diet suggestions and recipes.  Some are quite elaborate trying to cater for our need for stimulation and variety.  An entire market has been created to sell obscure ingredients for raw foodists and faddists.
But there's no need to do anything other than eat simply, and as nature intended.
The closer it is to it's natural state, the better it is for you.
 
We have a wonderful variety of fresh produce available all year around.  So...
  • Mix all your raw fruit and veggies up into deliciously huge salads.
  • Add nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, and naturally dried fruits.
  • Grow some sunflower, alfalfa or pea sprouts.
  • Experiment with making fermented foods to increase your gut biology.
  • Use local, natural honey to sweeten your food.
  • Drink lots of pure water.
Strawberry and green smoothie popsicles
 
By gradually increasing your raw food intake and decreasing other 'less healthy' food, you'll begin to feel more clear in your head and vibrantly alive in your body.
 
Grow your own and feed your soul
 
If you don't have a food garden yet, consider the health benefits of this investment and make the positive move.  You can then be sure that your raw food is organic and free of harmful chemicals and pesticides.
 
There is no comparison between the quality of food you've grown and picked yourself and the 'cardboard cut out' fruit and veggies available in supermarkets.
Home grown tastes better, is fresher and is nutritionally more dense, not to mention… it's most definitely,  local.
 
Raw food is not a diet or a fad.  It's a proactive, healthy choice to eat what nature provides in abundance for optimum health.

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