Living or Raw foodism refers to any diet of primarily unheated food, or food cooked at less than 40°C (104°F) to 46°C (115 °F). Raw foodists can be divided between those that advocate raw veganism or vegetarianism, and those that advocate a raw omnivorous diet.
Human beings have been eating raw foods since evolution and way before the advent of fire. Our original diet was uncooked and vegetarian. The history of raw, living food diets stretches back thousands of years. “In the late 18th century and well into the 19th century, the monks and nuns of France and Germany employed raw-food-eating and fasting to gain greater physical and spiritual health”1.
“Philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras forbade his followers to eat meat, and supported a raw vegetarian diet to derive health of body and acuteness of intellect. Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, father of medicine whose name and principles are the foundation for modern medicine’s Hippocratic Oath, used a live vegan diet for healing circa 400 BC”2. Herodotus, the father of history, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all thrived on living foods.
Sylvester Graham, creator of graham flour and namesake of the graham cracker, was a staunch advocate of a raw vegan diet as early as the 1820’s. Hermann Sexauer, a sporadic raw foodist, founded Sexauers in Santa Barbara, one of America’s first health food stores in 1934. John and Vera Richter founded the first American raw food restaurant in 1917 called Eutropheon, (Greek for “good nutrition,”) in Los Angeles. John held weekly lectures on raw food at the restaurant and wrote Nature the Healer in 1936. Vera wrote Cook-Less Book in 1925, one of the first American raw recipe books2.
By the early 20th century some other innovative thinkers like Bernard McFadden from Canada, Paul Bragg from America, and Denmark’s Dr. Christine Nolfi were all fully enthralled with spreading the word about pure uncooked food. Dr. Nolfi actually coined the term ‘living food’ some 75 years ago, after healing herself of breast cancer1.
Raw foods as a dietary health treatment was first developed in Switzerland by medical doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner, inventor of muesli. After recovering from jaundice while eating raw apples, he conducted experiments studying the effects of raw vegetables on human health. In November 1897, he opened a sanatorium in Zurich called “Vital Force,” named after a “key term from the German lifestyle reform movement, which states that people should pattern their lives after the logic determined by nature”. It is still treating patients today.
As mentioned earlier the term live food refers to eating raw, uncooked, and sprouted vegetarian foods, not heated above approximately 115 degrees Fahrenheit, consumed for optimizing health, reversing disease, as well as delicious taste. Live, raw, living foods are not cooked, microwaved, or irradiated, and ideally are organic, that is, grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or genetic modification. Heating above 115 degrees destroys the beneficial enzymes, micronutrients, chemistry, and life force energies of plants crucial to human health.
Some of the benefits of eating Living/Raw Foods are listed below.
High in Antioxidants:
Raw foods such as fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which can help to stifle signs of aging. “Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of “Eat To Live”, says that uncooked cruciferous vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer effects of all foods. He also says that most of the phytonutrients function as antioxidants in the body, meaning they neutralize free radicals, rendering them harmless and reducing cancer risk”3.
Active Enzymes, Vitamins and Micronutrients:
Cooking foods depletes their vitamins, micronutrients and enzymes, whereas raw foods are in their natural state keeping these nutrients intact. Because the natural enzymes of raw foods remain active, the body’s ability to utilize the nutrients of the food is greatly increased.
Our modern lifestyle tends to create an acidic situation within the body. When the body is acidic, the immune system doesn’t function as well. Raw foods, including raw fruits and vegetables, help keep the body alkaline.
Glow & Vitality:
After consistently incorporating raw and living foods into their diets, many people report a feeling of enhanced energy and vitality, as well as other benefits such as a strengthened immune system, a youthful feeling and appearance, and optimal health. This is at least in part due to the high quality and quantity of the nutrients available in raw foods.
Free of additives:
Processed food and convenience food often contain excitotoxins (such as flavor enhancers) that can cause excitotoxicity. Foods with added chemicals, preservatives, additives, colouring agents/dyes of any kind can have adverse effects on the body.
Incorporating raw foods into diet4
Adding more raw foods into the diet will result in leaving out an equal amount of health depriving foods from the diet. That is perhaps the most powerful aspect of a raw food diet; it replaces the harmful foods one is eating with foods that are easier to digest, are not processed, and have more nutritional value.
The easiest way to incorporate raw foods into a diet is to add more smoothies, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, as well as salads. Leafy green vegetables contain minerals that will be needed as the body detoxifies and will help to rebuild a healthy strong body. They’re loaded with phytonutrients, chlorophyll, vitamins and fiber, all of which support the body in healthy ways. Green juices are a great way to get large amounts of greens into the body in a way that is easy for your body to assimilate.
Much of the general population in developed countries is deficient in vitamin B-12, vitamin D (which you can usually get from exposure to sunlight), and essential fatty acids (which can be gleaned from flax, chia, and hemp seeds) so when starting the raw food diet it’s important to keep an eye on these issues.
Some so-called super foods have a great place in the raw food diet. Super green powders such as Vitamineral Green or Amazing Greens are not a substitute for fresh juice, but are a great way to get minerals and other nutrients into your system easily. Other foods like spirulina, chlorella, blue-green algae, sea vegetables, goji berries, and coconut can be beneficial as well depending on your particular needs.
Trend diets come and go, and controversies about what to eat for optimal health go on and on, but there is no disputing the fact that raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts have always been an important part of a healthy diet.