And the battle continues. I don’t think people will ever quite come to the conclusion on this one. Ultimately, there are ups and downs all over the place that can easily be explained. So, here goes.
RAW FOOD is alive. It has enzymes in it. Your body recognizes can utilize more “LIFE” from it. That is, IF you can digest it. If you can’t digest it, what is the benefit? It doesn’t do me any good to munch down a pound of carrots and salad to get a little bit of “raw nutrition.” This is actually a terrible idea for most people. This can be debated, but personally I don’t believe that humans are designed digestive-wise to be herbivores. We are not cows. We are humans. We are not meant to munch on grass all day. That said, it amazes me the variety of food that humans have evolved to eat. Just think about it for a minute. We probably eat a wider variety of foods than any other animal or creature on the planet. Almost like we are supposed to live here =) So as far as vegetables go, you will have to feel it out for yourself. On one hand, a little fiber is good. It helps move stuff through and scrape out the intestines. Too much and you will be left with very low energy, cold, and constipated. So you need to find your own rhythm there. Maybe a little spinach is fine for you. Maybe eating some raw kale and carrots is not so fine. I will give a list of easily digestible raw foods shortly. There are also several techniques you can use to make raw foods more digestible.
So what about COOKED FOOD? I’m not talking about dead, processed food. But cooked. Not fried either. Just steamed, lightly sautéed, baked, etc. Technically if you cook it over 118 degrees or so then the food is no longer “alive.” This is where the raw foodies come to get you. But isn’t the point of food nourishment and energy? I mean the ultimate purpose we eat anything anyway is to get energy and/or enjoyment right? So cooking food softens it. It makes it “mushy.” There is a reason this appeals to us so much. People have been cooking for thousands of years. It turns hard, often unappealing vegetables and foods into something that sits well with us. It can also help break down extremely tough meats. Ok, so the enzymes basically work as far as calories work. By this, I mean the raw carrot does not contain as many enzymes as a spoonful of raw coconut oil. So what do we do here? It’s really pretty simple.
EVOLVE: Don’t focus on 100% raw diet or whatever. It seems that most people striving for this goal have issues with dogmas and being too strict with things. Our ancestors didn’t eat “100% raw food.” Most wise cultures in the world including people practicing chinese medicine and Ayurveda do not eat 100% raw. So do we really need to get stuck on this? Our body knows how to turn things the right way. Also remember that food is only ONE input of energy into your body system. Focus on the others. Deep breathing fresh air, sunlight, clean water, meditation/prayer, grounding, etc. That said, most people eat WAY too much cooked, processed foods. Cereals, pasteurized juices and dairy, breads, cheeses, butters, nuts, granolas, on and on. So let’s focus on the whole foods.
EASY CHANGE #1: FATS. Our bodies really seem to like fats raw. As a general rule, fats digest easily in this state. Of course fat may be a problem for a lot of people anyway after years of abuse with fried foods, vegetable oils, trans-fats, etc. So healthy fats to eat raw would include: coconut oil, olives and oil, avocados, eggs/yolks, butter, raw dairy (if it agrees with you), and soaked raw nuts/seeds (if they agree with you). When it comes to animal fats be careful. This is where animal food gets a bad rep. Take it easy on the cooking. Favor things like crockpots, baking, etc. Think low-temps for a long time. Frying food at high temperatures really damages fats and clogs the body.
EASY CHANGE #2: FRUIT. This one is kinda common sense for most people. But eating fruit raw is almost always easier to digest. This includes fatty fruits such as avocados, coconuts, olives, etc. This also includes things that are often thought of as vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. But mainly things like apples, pears, berries, cherries, bananas, peaches, plumbs, kiwis, etc. Pineapple and papaya have good supplies of digestive enzymes.
EASY CHANGE #3 PROTEINS. Honestly this seems to be the biggest issue for most people. Our bodies just aren’t really designed to digest large amounts of incorrectly cooked proteins. Some do better than others. It depends on the season, etc. Cooking process is HUGE. HUGE. That dry tough chicken breast is ridiculous. The same chicken breast in a crock-pot for a few hours that falls apart and juicy is completely different. Raw food people often seem to act like all cooked food is the same. Well it’s not. The body will always favor juicy, tender, mushy when it comes to digestion. So when cooking meats and proteins, do yourself a favor and cook it properly. For the very brave; some proteins may be eaten raw or rare. This can include eggs, sashimi/sushi fish, and certain other meats. Always make sure the source is trusted and properly handled.
GRAINS: Now I don’t think too many people would attempt to eat raw grains but believe it or not there are some people out there that try it. Most people eat grains. Are they an optimal food? I would say no. But they are especially bad when we quick-cook and process them in the form of cereals, breads, pastas, granolas, “instant-rice,” “instant-oatmeal,” cookies, etc. Sound familiar? A lot of cultures in the past have utilized grains. I would note that this is usually when fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, healthy animal products were scarce. There is simply no comparison in nutrition here. But they would always soak and soften their grains to make them easier to digest. Let’s remember their wisdom and do the same. Soak your breakfast oatmeal over-night and pick the real thing over the instant stuff.
So those are the basics guys. Vegetables are the only one in between. Some people will try to eat raw vegetables a lot. Some will cook them a lot. I find that a combination is usually best. A juicer and/or a blender will help you consume more “live vegetables” without having to struggle to digest the fiber. Just don’t try to juice everything. Does that sound very natural? Although it would be funny to picture our ancestors running around with personal juicers =)
As a general rule you may find yourself more drawn to raw food in the summer and cooked food in the winter. This makes sense. Remember though that sometimes the raw food is unappealing in winter simply because of its temperature. Take your food out of the fridge for a while before consuming it. So RAW versus COOKED? Who wins?