Going raw is on the rise among health-minded individuals—and for good reason. Many who try out a primarily raw diet (myself included) tend to find that it helps us feel so much better on the inside—and look so much brighter on the outside.
For some, going raw has allowed them to rediscover how their bodies are interconnected to the natural world. For others, it’s simply helped them to lose weight, eat more intuitively, and learn more about how their bodies process food.
Whatever your health goals are at this time, there’s a good chance that trying out a diet centred around eating primarily raw foods can help you achieve them.
Whether you believe that the Universe or God has steered everything on this planet toward a certain end or credit evolution with helping humanity thrive, the underlying truth remains that many foods found in nature have become optimized to nourish and enrich our bodies without modification; they’re near perfect for us just as they are, straight out of the ground.
On the flip side, eating foods that have been heavily processed, refined, or exposed to high heat may be treated by the body like a poison—something unfamiliar and unnatural given that the chemical compounds have been altered; these foods no longer resemble what they once were and, at best, tend to be stripped of their original nutritional content. As such, our bodies often cannot assimilate the nutrients from these foods as effectively as if we’d just left well enough alone.
And when our bodies don’t properly absorb the things we eat, nutrient deficiencies can take their toll on our energy reserves, our mental clarity, how strong we feel, how mobile our joints are (not to even mention our emotional and spiritual health!) I could go on…but I won’t. (LOL)
First off, in the context of minerals, organic versus inorganic may not be what you think; rather, organic minerals are simply those that are bound to an organic material and/or are paired with at least one carbon atom.
Whole foods—those foods that were once “alive” and weren’t altered on the way to your table—tend to be rich in organic minerals.
So, why should you care?
It’s all about bioavailability—the ability of your body to absorb what you eat—and how important, life-giving minerals require carbon atoms to fully assimilate. After all, we, ourselves, are carbon-based creatures, and so carbon-bound foods tend to be inherently familiar to and usable by our bodies.
While many argue that the right supplements can be as valuable to our bodies as whole foods, whole foods remain the easiest and least expensive way to consume organic minerals (since those supplements would require undergoing appropriate carbon-binding processes in a laboratory, which seems like an unnecessary amount of work when everything you need can be found out in nature, in your garden, at your farmer’s market, etc). And as we’ll discuss below, for nutrients to have an optimal impact on our systems, context is so, so, so important.
I want to share a few quotes from Dr. Robert Morse—noted naturopath and advocate of eating raw—because, in many ways, his words are my belief. His guide to raw eating, The Detox Miracle Sourcebook: Raw Foods and Herbs for Complete Cellular Regeneration, lays out clearly how foods in their most natural forms can help us feel like our healthiest, cleanest, most energetic selves.
I’m going to focus on one “module” in particular: “The Energy of Food.” Here, Dr. Morse opens his arguments with a recognition that food is best found in its most whole form. As he states, “In nature, all things work together and with clockwork precision. When you separate the nutrition in food, and only give back certain constituents, you miss the synergistic properties of the whole.” In other words, nutrients separated from their source (ie, those taken in “pill” form) are unlikely to have the same positive impact on our systems as those that are part of a whole food; after all, those nutrients have evolved to work in tandem with every other atom found in the plant they were stripped from.
As an example, Dr. Morse singles out how calcium must be partnered with a variety of sister nutrients in order to be fully used by the human body; when found in nature, this is not an issue: “If you get the calcium from nature, from raw foods, you get the whole deal—constituents and all.”
He goes on to discuss the “energy” of food, not in the sense of pure calories, but in terms of “electromagnetic energy” which is “rated in units called angstroms.” Foods that give off higher quantities of angstroms can be described as higher energy foods—and foods that go straight from garden or farm to table tend to be the most vibrant: “When you eat foods picked fresh from nature, and eat them without cooking or processing them, the high electromagnetic energy of that food is transferred to your body and its cells.” In turn, you expose your body to loads of health-giving properties.
From there, the opportunities for regeneration are plentiful, especially when you focus on eating a highly varied diet. As Dr. Morse states, “My own clinical studies have shown that fruits will regenerate brain and nerve tissue, whereas vegetables will not. I have found that, as a rule, fruits are brain and nerve foods as well as the cleaners of tissue. Vegetables are the builders, which are suited for muscle and skeletal tissue. Nuts and seeds are structural foods and are strengthening to the body as a whole.”
Is your spirit singing with curiosity yet? Here are a few more things to think about.
When you switch your dietary focus toward eating healthy, organic, whole foods as they’re found in nature, you’ll likely discover solutions to a number of ailments that may have been bugging you for days, months, or even years prior.
For me, the benefits are holistic—I feel better physically, mentally, and, especially, spiritually. This isn’t to say that I eat 100% raw all the time, but when something is starting to feel “off” in my life, I know that tightening up my eating habits and putting more unaltered whole foods on my plate is a fast track to feeling “on” again.
There are also a number of “little” bonuses you may discover while exploring a mostly raw diet. For example, did you know that ingesting calcium from plant-based sources like spinach can be an effective replacement for something like Tums when you’re dealing with heartburn, an upset tummy, or indigestion? Indeed, studies suggest that raw spinach juice can support antacid activity without treating you to some of the less-than-fun side effects associated with highly processed, over-the-counter medications.
Other foods that are especially good raw include olive oil (which can actually be harmful to your body when you cook with it), kale (which is rich in all sorts of vitamins that tend to be reduced or eliminated when exposed to heat), berries (hello, antioxidants!), nuts (seriously—if you want to avoid depleting the health-affirming nutrients in nuts AND avoid adding bonus fat and calories to your meal, eat these raw), and more (Forkly has a great article on what foods to always eat raw if you’re looking for a longer list).
So, what are you waiting for?
I totally understand that committing to a mostly raw diet isn’t something a lot of people want to attempt right away. Going straight from a S.A.D. (standard American diet) way of eating to a fruit-heavy, plant-based diet can seem like a tall order. But I encourage you to at least consider making this change somewhere down the road, and in the meantime, focus on eating more whole, plant-based foods—including lots of greens and LOTS of fruit. Try reducing your dependency on prepackaged, pre-cooked foods and challenge yourself to avoid the oven (and especially the microwave) for more of your meal preparation.
To help you on this journey, I regularly offer events that help you learn about optimal holistic nutrition and going raw. I’ve also got a great raw-food recipe coming up in my next blog post. Stay tuned!