Here are some of the most common questions and answers about the Raw Food diet. In modern culture, eating healthy, fresh raw food can be a lot more difficult than you may realize. With hybridization, genetic modification (GMOs), pesticides and chemical fertilizers, modern food is much less nourishing, causes more “diseases of civilization,” and is often grown in very unsanitary conditions in far-away countries then shipped to America on cargo ships. In fact, it can actually be dangerous to eat raw food in some places.
To be a raw foodist today you need to eat mostly organic food or at least non-GMO food. In the U.S. and Europe, we are very lucky to have these alternatives readily available, but that’s not true for a lot of the world.
What is the Raw Food Diet?
Raw food, or live food, is the most natural diet on the planet! Virtually all creatures on Earth eat nothing but whole, raw food. The only exceptions are people (and pets or farm animals). Generally speaking every natural organism on the planet eats nothing but raw, live food. In fact, even people (homo sapiens) didn’t “invent” fire for cooking until about 50,000 to 200,000 years ago, depending on who you ask. That means early humans probably evolved eating nothing but raw, live food for thousands of years before that!
Why would you ever follow such an extreme raw food diet?
As medical science gets better at keeping us alive we are living longer. Only a few decades ago most people died before they were 50. Now we live well into our 70s, 80s and even 90s. But we seem to be plagued by all kinds of diseases and health problems as we live longer. Many of these may be caused by what we eat — which has also radically changed with the times! In the 1950’s chemically-based agriculture didn’t even exist. Most food was grown naturally on small family farms. Today, most food is grown on huge, corporate, chemically-enhanced GMO farms.
When I was a younger I had a friend with an autistic son. I was shocked because that was so very rare. In the 1970s only one out of every 2,000 children had autism. Today, the CDC estimates that one in 150 eight-year-old kids in America has an “autism spectrum disorder.” Something caused this! Personally I believe it has something to do with what we eat. That’s just one example of the numerous diseases and cancers that have been escalating in modern times. So I choose to eat mostly raw, organic (or non-GMO) foods as much as I can (at least 75%).
Do you ever eat raw meat?
Humans don’t have the ability to hunt wild animals, take them down, kill them and then tear out their guts with their teeth! We are not biologically carnivores or even omnivores. If you gave a child a banana and a rabbit, it would eat the banana and play with the rabbit every time.
We can eat meat easily now because we just buy it in the market — right around the corner from the “fresh” fruits and veggies. The “fresh” packaged meat looks almost identical, but there is nothing “farm fresh” about any of that. The meat or fish may be farmed as far away as China, then frozen. The “fresh” produce is usually genetically modified to look fresh on the shelf, perhaps as long as months. In fact, that is one of the main characteristics the GMO scientists actually are looking for in their labs! The last thing these scientists care about is the nutritional value of their fake food. So it really isn’t fresh or even nourishing. Is it? So I buy only organic or non-GMO produce, grown as close to home as possible.
What are your credentials in the nutrition field?
I have been a nutrition author and speaker for over 25 years. I first studied nutrition at U.C. Berkeley in the 1980s. At the time, I was a nutritional writer for the Shaklee Corporation. I also was a vegetarian by then. In the 1990s I started to explore the raw food lifestyle. I worked at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego, a raw food retreat center, for 6 years teaching raw nutrition classes to thousands of guests. In 1996, I started this website, RawFoodLife.com. In 2001, I moved to Florida where I gave free talks on raw food, covering many questions and answers, at various health food stores, juice bars and restaurants for years.
What’s wrong with cooked food?
Cooked food is “dead.” Most of the nutrition is too damaged by heat to be usable by your body. In fact, eventually clogs up your whole body with all kinds of toxins created by heat. The molecules themselves have been altered by heat and no longer resemble food molecules at all. Many of the diseases of civilization, from cancer and heart disease to diabetes, are often attributable to the consumption of cooked food and all the toxins cooking creates. For example, a 1 oz. serving of potato chips exceeds the established safety levels for a cancer-causing compound created by cooking called acrylamide. In one analysis a few years ago they tested 12 brands of potato chips — one contained 6.5 parts per million of acrylamide, 910 times higher than the levels considered unacceptable.
Do you eat anything that is cooked?
Personally, though I prefer 100% raw diet, I believe that many people will have trouble maintaining that. However, they can do very well on a diet that is 75% raw. At that level, I think the body can excrete all the toxins from the cooked portion of the diet. Of course, it is best if you just don’t consume those toxins to begin with.
Haven’t people adapted to cooked food?
What You Don’t Know About Raw Food is that you can eat depleted, toxic cooked food and live long enough to talk about it — but thaat doesn’t make it good for you. Cooked food has a cumulative effect on the body. It builds up over time, eventually damaging your internal organs. Just because you don’t immediately get sick does not mean it is not damaging. Also, medical “science” has found numerous ways to suppress your body’s natural reactions to health problems. If you get a headache, take an aspirin — or even better try acetaminophen! On the other hand, if you can’t pronounce it you may want to avoid it!
I feel healthy now so why do I need raw food?
Do you ever get a cold or have an allergies? Normal society’s standards are actually warped by what we consider normal. Today, many dangerous health conditions may be caused by eating cooked food. I’ve read many reports about someone with cancer that refused chemotherapy but lived for years on a vegan or raw food diet
How about steaming vegetables?
Once you heat your food over 118°F, you change it biologically. Essentially, you kill all the enzymes needed for good health. Then the heat actually changes the chemical structure of the organic compounds in the food so they more closely resemble plastics instead of food…and your body is not well-adapted to actually digesting these very effectively.
Where do you get your protein?
Protein isn’t any more important than any other nutrient in your food. Cooked protein is so altered by heat that it probably doesn’t contribute to your body’s nutritional needs at all. But it is a bit like a drug and can become addictive.
All vegetables and fruits have some protein. And, fresh sprouts, seeds and nuts have all the protein you’ll ever need. Imagine a a cow eating nothing but grass…how much does it weigh? Cows can weigh hundreds of pounds — of protein! Yet all they ate was grass…a vegetable.You see, it isn’t the protein that we need — it’s the essential amino in raw fruits and vegetables that we need, and there are plenty of those available in all fresh, raw foods.
What you don’t know about raw food is that the meat and dairy industries have been running an elaborate media campaign for decades to promote that your need for more protein from milk and meat. Even the nutrition charts in schools are provided as a “Free Public Service” from the meat and dairy industries. But it’s just is not true — nobody ever has a protein deficiency! But people die every day from too much protein causing numerous heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and more — the results of excessive cooked animal proteins in our diet.
The strongest, most powerful creatures on the Earth are always herbivores, from elephants to gorillas. A gorilla can bench press 4,000 lbs. and never eats anything except raw plant foods.
Isn’t a raw food diet too difficult for the average person?
This depends on what you consider difficult. I believe that a life wracked with disease is far more problematic than shopping around a bit to find fresh, healthy, live food. A raw food diet is basically very simple — much easier actually than diets based on toxic animal products. Every kid knows how to buy apples. Buying meat is much harder — is it fresh, frozen, farm raised or raised in a “concentrated animal feeding operation” or CAFO? What people must do is learn the facts for themselves then make their own informed decisions.
Is you raw food philosophy rather extreme?
Raw food isn’t an extreme idea at all when you understand all the questions and answers. Remember, every single natural creature on our planet without exception has been eating nothing but raw foods for like…forever! The extreme position is to actually avoid fresh, healthy food and eat mostly world cooked food, smoke tobacco products and buy prescription medications loaded with terrible side effects without giving it a second thought!
There was a time when everyone thought the world was round was considered to be insane. Thirty-five years ago, being a vegetarian was even thought to be extremist. There are many more raw foodists in the world than you might imagine — I am continually surprised. Our numbers are growing all the time.
How is diet related to environmental issues?
Interestingly, the best diet for you and me is also the best diet for the environment! Our food choices are the #1 cause of many of our environmental problems. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy and water, causing terrible suffering for animals. A whopping 51% of worldwide greenhouse gases are related to animal agriculture, (Worldwatch Institute). Just drive by a CAFO some time and take a big whiff. That smell is the waste products from the pigs or whatever is inside. Our chemically-based “fake” food industry is polluting the entire planet with GMO’s — many grown exclusively for animal feed. In fact, if you are an environmentalist and still eating cooked food you may be a hypocrite. If you actually care about cleaning up the environment start by cleaning up your own body!
How much does technology contributes to a cooked food diet?
What you don’t know about raw food is that virtually all technology harmful to the environment is related to our addiction to cooking! Of course, I support any technology that supports a natural diet and lifestyle without causing pollution or destroying our aquifers.
Is there a connection between diet and violence?
In a 2002 study by Oxford Bernard Gesch entitled “Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behavior of young adult prisoners,” volunteers received a daily vitamin, mineral, and essential fatty acid supplement or a placebo. The average number of violent incidents dropped from 16 to just over 10 in the active group — a 35% reduction (the placebo group only dropped by 6.7%).
A Dutch research team led repeated the study in “Effects of Nutritional Supplementation on Aggression, Rule-Breaking, and Psychopathology Among Young Adult Prisoners.” Behavior issues were linked to deficiencies in omega 3 fatty acids, low levels of magnesium and low zinc levels:
“Epidemiological research … shows that major changes in dietary patterns over time have taken place, especially in industrialized world during the last century [Cordain et al., 2005; Crawford et al., 1999; Muskiet, 2005; Simopoulos, 1999]. These changes resulted in (micro)nutrient intakes that are significantly lower than in the ancient, Paleolithic diet. Indeed, some ecological studies show correlations between diet and behavioral outcomes [Christensen and Christensen, 1988; Hibbeln, 2001; Peet, 2004], including criminal behavior [Hibbeln, 2001]. A major limitation of epidemiological studies is, however, the impossibility of making causal inferences. For this reason, the findings mentioned above must be judged with caution and experimental confirmation is needed.”
What kind of water do you drink?
The purest water in the world is the living water in live plants. A raw foodist may have little or no need to ever drink a lot of water as long as there is plenty of fresh raw food. The only real reason that people need to drink so much water (the 5-7 glasses that doctors recommend) is because cooked food extracts most of the “living” water (and vitamins, minerals and enzymes) from what they eat. So in effect many cooked food eaters are massively dehydrated. NOTE: distilled water is an unnatural human-made creation and actually can leach essential nutrients from you body. So if you really want an abundance of the purest water on the earth eat melons, citrus fruits and plenty of raw, fresh organic veggies!
Do you recommend juicing?
Though juicing may seem a bit unnatural, remember that most people have spent decades polluting their bodies and need an extreme approach to getting rid of a lifetime of toxins accumulated in their bodies. Juicing is excellent for the transitioning to a raw food lifestyle. Drinking fresh, raw juices will help you get the raw nutrition you desperately need into your body. Always try to make sure you juice is fresh and made in a slow speed masticating juicer like an Omega, Samson or GreenStar Elite. Avoid bottled juices that are always pasteurized, i.e., cooked and dead. Remember, though juicing is great to clean out your system, it is better to eat actually eat your fruits or vegetables whole and intact.
Can we eat raw food in the winter when it’s cold outside?
After a lifetime of eating nothing but cooked foods you may get a false sense of comfort eating something warm in the middle of a cold winter. But think about it a minute – does a hot shower really make you more resistant to cold weather? Actually, it does NOT. It may be the opposite for some people, who feel warmer after a cold shower and more depleted after a hot shower. Many wild animals actually survive harsh, cold winters in places like Canada eating nothing but grasses and shrubs! Be like a raw, wild animal!
Is a diet of just raw fruits and vegetables unbalanced or too alkaline?
Our natural instincts for eating raw foods have been corrupted by a lifetime of eating cooked foods. However, once you cleanse your body of what I call the “toxins creating by cooking,” your natural instincts for raw fruits and vegetables can be restored. Remember, your body is like an alkaline battery, running on electrons. Life-giving chemical reactions can only really happen when electrons or energy flows between atoms. Cooking or food processing causes fruits and vegetables to actually lose some electrons – the source of the energy your body needs. All things that are healthy for you to eat actually “contribute” electrons or energy. So these are called “alkalizing.” Things that are unhealthy or steal electrons are called “acidic” or “oxidizing” (which means to burn up, rust, break down or decay).