Benefits of Raw Food
The raw food diet is based on the belief that food is most healthful when it is uncooked (not heated above 118C/48F) in order to preserve the enzymes. Enzymes are the life force of food, they are responsible for every metabolic action in the body and they are the catalysts that enable cells to work and chemical reactions to happen without themselves being consumed in the process. Every food contains the perfect mix of enzymes necessary for complete digestion; however cooking above 118C/48F destroys these enzymes forcing our bodies to generate their own. And our bodies cannot produce the same quality enzymes as nature does, therefore we cannot always digest our food properly and we are all familiar with what can happen when we don’t digest our food properly. Also certain vitamins are destroyed above 118C/48F such as vitamin C and folic acid.
A raw diet is composed of the purest wholesome ingredients which are unprocessed, unrefined, no synthetic flavourings or preservatives and therefore are broken down slowly and feed the body with sustained energy.
Raw food can be prepared in a variety of ways, chopping, blending, slicing, shredding, juicing or dehydrating and usually requires advanced planning for example nuts and grains might need to be soaked, some seeds are best sprouted and some dishes need to be dehydrated for several hours. You can’t just throw a meal on the table without prior planning and being organised.
Some of the reasons to include more raw fresh food in your diet
- They contain anti-aging enzymes
- Aid effortless weight loss
- Have better flavour and texture than cooked counterparts
- Generate super levels of health
- Diminish tiredness
- Provide more nutrients
- Give more energy and endurance
- Promote healthy skin, hair and nails
- Better sleep patterns
- Increased mental clarity
- High water content prevents dehydration
- Buy and eat organic whenever possible and always wash fruit and veg.
- Have raw food at every meal and for snacks ( for example a smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch and dinner, snack on fruit or vegetables)
- Include a full spectrum of colours and all five tastes-sweet, salty, sour, pungent, and bitter
- Avoid processed, fast and fried foods
- Reduce dairy products
- Introduce freshly made vegetable juices and fruit smoothies to your diet
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat sprouts and algae
- Introduce more dark, leafy green vegetables this can be easily done by juicing or making smoothies (green is the colour of healing)
- Experiment with new ingredients and recipes
- Change your eating habits slowly to allow your body and lifestyle to adapt, changes made too quickly can put stress on the body
Even a small proportion of raw food in your diet can have significant health benefits.
Alfalfa Sprouts are a good source of chlorophyll and vitamins especially vitamin E and beta carotene. Also contain digestive aiding enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates and minerals.
Avocado is one of the most complete foods, with plenty of fibre and the perfect balance of essential fatty acids.
Beetroot is high in beta carotene and folic acid, it helps cleanse the liver and prevent heart disease when eaten regularly.
Cucumber is an excellent diuretic and system cleanser rich in vitamin B calcium and folic acid. Thanks to its high water content it aids the function of the kidney, liver and pancreas.
Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, rocket/arugula, spinach, and watercress are among the most under consumed but most nutritious vegetables with lots of fibre, enzymes and antioxidants. They are a rich source of iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium, vitamin C, E and K and B vitamins. They protect our cells damage and may help prevent heart disease and disease. Eat them with a little fat as it helps the absorption of fat soluble vitamin K.
Dates are rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants such as beta carotene, lutein and minerals including potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and copper. They replenish energy and revitalise the body immediately due to a high concentration of simple sugars like fructose and dextrose.
Ginger has many health giving essential oils which improve digestion and have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It is a very rich source of many essential nutrients and vitamins such as B6 and B5 and minerals including potassium, copper and manganese.
Kale is the dark green powerhouse high in calcium, vitamin A, and C, a powerful detoxifier and is known as the king of juicing.
Parsley is rich in vitamin A and C, iron, calcium and potassium, as well as chlorophyll. It is of great value as a diuretic. Add a bunch to all fresh juices.
Spinach is rich in Vitamin A and K, folic acid and iron. It also contains flavonoids, compounds that do double duty as anti oxidants and cancer fighters.
Sprouts are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are said to be rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and a tr4easure trove of plant enzymes, which are at their most abundant in the early sprouting stage. When you sprout seeds or beans what you produce is an enhanced package of the nutrients already present in the original seed. Seeds, beans, nuts and grains such as chickpeas, mung beans, lentils, adzuki beans are all easy to sprout at home in 3-4 days and can be done in jam jars. Only use whole seeds and beans split ones won’t sprout.
Watercress is a rich source of vitamin A and C, iron and calcium. It plays an important role in combating cancer and some research has shown it to have natural antibiotic properties. Add it to your salads, juices, and smoothies on a daily basis.
Store cupboard ingredients
Agave nectar is 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar resulting in fewer calories as you use less. It is also slightly lower on the glycaemic index.
Chlorella powder is a single celled water grown micro algae widely known a s a powerful super food. It contains all the B vitamins, vitamin C, E and beta carotene, amino acids, magnesium, iron and other minerals. It binds toxins and carries them out of the body. It cleanses the blood, optimises oxygen and increases white blood cell count.
Coconut oil/butter is a great multi tasker. You can smear it cook with it and eat it! It has powerful anti bacterial and anti viral properties and it makes a great moisturiser and scalp and hair conditioner. You can use it in smoothies, desserts and as a lip balm and it is fast becoming very popular for oil pulling! In its solid state it is butter so melt gently to get oil.
Himalayan rock salt is minimally processed, maintains much of its mineral content (over 80 minerals!) and is highly alkalising.
Nama shoyu is unpasteurised soy sauce and although it is heated well above standard raw temperatures it still retains live enzymes.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast sold in flakes or powder. It is a complete protein and contains B complex. It has a nutty cheesy flavour and is often used by vegans as a cheese.
Oils. When buying oils go for cold pressed which is the first press and not heated or exposed to chemical procedures therefore they have more flavour and offer more nutritional value. Look for oil in dark bottles and where possible buy from the fridge in your health food store.
Spirulina powder is an algae and the highest natural protein food on the planet with all of the essential amino acids required for optimum health. Among its many benefits it contains 50 times more iron than is found in the same amount of spinach.
Water. I recommend that you use filtered water for sprouting, soaking, smoothies, drinking and all food recipes that call for water especially if like us Irish fluoride is being added to your tap water, also we have no idea what is in our tap water from medications etc… showing up in recycled water.
Nuts and seeds
Almonds are the healthiest nuts with calcium and magnesium for strong bones. Vitamin E and phyto chemicals which may help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer. Almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk.
Cashews are mild sweet nuts that are packed with energy antioxidants minerals and vitamins. They are a good source of selenium, copper, zinc, B5, B6 and B1.
Chia seeds are not widely known in Europe but that is changing as people learn more about this great energy food. They are rich in Omega 3 oils, including alpha linolenic acid, fibre and essential minerals. Soak in water and add to smoothies and juices.
Pumpkin seeds contain measurable amounts of zinc, iron and calcium. They are an excellent snack food supplying protein and B complex vitamins.
Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and are also a good source of B1 and phytosterols which are believed to reduce cholesterol, enhance immunity and decrease the risk of certain cancers.
Walnuts have the highest content of Omega £ oils among all the tree nuts.