Welcome to the VIBRANT LIVING NEWSLETTER
This month’s newsletter is all about the Frequently Asked Questions…and of course a few tasty recipes for your culinary enjoyment. I hope you’re all enjoying life and great health no matter where you are in the world and which season of the year you’re experiencing. Here in north America we’re in the waning weeks of summer and headed into fall and all those delicious foods that come with it. Gretchen has two very yummy recipes for you this month that are simple, quick, and easy. Enjoy!
“‘If we could live on uncooked food alone, we should be saving so much time and energy, as well as money, all of which may be utilized for more useful purposes.” - Mohandas K. Gandhi
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does following the raw diet mean I can’t eat any cooked food?
A. No, not at all, any additional raw foods you can add to your diet will help, and if you build up to at least 50% raw foods you should see some very good results. If you’re able to eat somewhere between a 75% to 100% raw diet you can expect to experience great results. If you’re having difficulty on the raw food diet then adding some lightly steamed vegetables, squash, quinoa, or rice can provide some calorically dense foods without adding additional fat to your diet.
Q. I’m confused about juicing, and I hope you can clear things up for me. Some people say it’s good to juice and others say it’s not healthy at all. What’s the truth?
A. I personally think juicing is very important for long term success on the raw food diet. More specifically, vegetable juicing and predominately leafy greens. Fruit juice is far too sweet with all the fiber removed and can be quite a sugar rush to the system which is not healthy. On the other hand green juice is low glycemic and loaded with bio-available minerals that are required for thousands of metabolic functions and with the fiber removed are easily assimilated in the form of juice.
Other than a few fruits, vegetables are the main source of alkaline minerals on a raw food diet. And alkaline minerals are critical to good health and therefore success on the raw food diet. When we eat salads it is very difficult for us to chew long enough to extract the juices from them. Most of the time we swallow our food when there is still a large percentage of juice yet to be extracted so do not receive the full nutritional value. Even if we put an extra effort into this endeavor it is extremely hard to liquefy our greens before swallowing.
It’s true there are some juicers better than others at extracting juice and preserving nutrients, but I believe any green juicing is better than none at all. In my opinion consuming green juices daily is perhaps the most important part of the raw food diet and particularly for those that are just starting out.
Q. I don’t have a juicer, and even if I did I don’t think I would have the time to juice every day, isn’t there anything else I can do to get my minerals?
A. Check around to see if you have a natural market, health store or cafe that serves fresh green juice. Many places like Jamba Juice sell shots of wheat grass juice which is super nutrient rich. I’m fortunate enough to have 3 natural food markets that have fresh organic green juice so I partake everyday even though I have a pretty good juicer at home. I can buy a 16 oz. juice for $5 which is darn near what it would cost me to buy the veggies myself.
Green smoothies are a good source of easily digested minerals as well. Blending doesn’t remove the fiber, which I think is a good thing for my morning smoothie, but they do reduce the fiber to near liquid which makes the minerals easy to digest.
You can see one version of a super green smoothie here. http://www.raw-foods-diet-center.com/super-green-smoothie.html
Green powders like ‘Greener Grasses’ and ‘Ormus Greens’ can be very valuable as well. They can be mixed with water, juice, or smoothies. I add at least 2 tablespoons of one of these to my morning green smoothie every day. I feel amazing when I keep up on my greens and on the odd occasion I don’t get enough green juice, smoothies, or super greens into my diet I can feel that as well, a little out of balance to say the least.
Sprouts are another super source of minerals and can even be juiced if you have a wheat grass juicer or a juicer that will do leafy greens.
Q. So what’s the big deal with minerals, are they really that important?
A. Minerals are absolutely Critical to good health. According to David Wolfe, “95% of all body functions rely upon minerals. Minerals orchestrate the delicate biochemistry of our bodies.” Today health educators in the know will tell you that all disease is either caused by toxicity or deficiency, and if you think about it you’ll realize it’s true. And the full spectrum of minerals required for good health are very deficient in a majority of the population today, in America perhaps 95% deficient.
Crops grown on mineral deficient soil, food processing techniques, food choices, and food preparation techniques are responsible for this deficiency. These are some of the reasons people follow a raw food diet, and why I recommend people consume plenty of organic green juices and sea vegetables which are great sources of bio available minerals. In short we are a mineral deficient society and our rising negative health statistics and the ensuing global health crisis reflect just that.
Q. If you’re not eating meat or dairy, where do you get your protein?
A. The same place a 400 pound gorilla gets his protein, from plant greens. To be completely honest, gorillas do eat some grubs and bugs that derive some protein from, but 95% still comes from the vegetation they eat. And depending how carefully you wash and look through your fruits and veggies you’re probably getting your fair share of little critters as well. lol
It’s important to understand that we may not need as much protein as we’re told. The dairy and meat industries and their powerful lobby are responsible for the strong prevalence of those foods in the so called food pyramid. Dr T. Colin Campbell writes in his landmark book, the China Study, “The story of protein is part science, part culture and a good dose of mythology”. Depending on individual lifestyle needs a person may need only 25 -45 grams of protein a day or even less.
Every day our bodies break down old cells and recycle many of the amino acids to build new cells and carry out bodily functions. Drs. Rick and Karin Dina, D.C. and nutrition educators, have shown that it is quite easy to fulfill daily protein requirements on a raw food diet. All raw foods, even fruits contain protein although greens, sprouts, nuts, and seeds will have the highest levels of protein.
Q. Where do you get your calcium?
A. Leafy greens are loaded with calcium in an easy to assimilate form without the heavy acid burden that comes with dairy products. It’s interesting to note that the countries with the highest rates of Osteoporosis are also the highest consumers of dairy products; where as the countries with the lowest incidence of Osteoporosis have the lowest consumption of dairy products.
Fruits like figs, oranges and raw olives also contain high levels of calcium. It’s also interesting to note that when we find these foods in nature they contain all the cofactors needed for uptake of the nutrient profile. Science shows that it is quite easy to fulfill all your nutritional needs on a raw food diet, with the possible exception of vitamin B-12 and vitamin D, which is also true of the general non raw food population.
Q. During the colder months of the year I have trouble keeping warm now that I’m following a raw food diet. Why is that, and what can I do about it?
A. The diet you’re on is a cleansing diet and hopefully contains considerably less fat than your prior diet. This means less fat on your body and less toxins, mucus, and other junk that was not really part of you but was contained in your body and acted as an insulator. The good news is you’re becoming healthier, however if you live in a climate that gets cold, you now have less insulation against that cold.
Try consuming more warming foods; I’m talking about the thermal properties of foods, not the temperature. By incorporating more warming foods into the diet during the colder seasons you will find it easier to stay warm on a raw food diet, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. Adding ginger, rosemary or other warming herbs to your green smoothie will create balance with the greens and help keep you warmer during the cooler seasons. If you’re really looking to get warm on a cold day then fresh ginger juice added to your fresh fruit or veggie juice will warm you in a hurry. Check out this list of warming and cooling foods here.
You may find you’re drawn to eating a higher level of fat and dense foods during the colder months which may also help. Drinking some warm herbal tea or water can warm you up in a hurry. Eating steamed veggies or a baked potato, squash etc. will be quite warming and will be better for you than giving up on the raw diet altogether because you were too cold over the winter months.
Of course in the meantime you can bundle up and dress in layers. Over time you may become more acclimated to the cold weather, or may decide to move to a warmer climate. After all man’s origins were a warm climate in the heart of Africa, so a warmer climate is really more natural for us anyway.
Q. I’ve been on a mostly raw food diet for almost a year now and I am still experiencing digestive discomfort, mainly gas. Am I doing something wrong or is this diet just not for me?
A. First off you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re asking questions and that’s a good thing. Knowledge is power and in this case the path to digestive relief.
Experiencing digestive stress and gas when first embarking on the raw food diet is not uncommon due to the poor condition of most digestive systems from years of abuse. Generally those that are younger will able to be get their digestive systems back into good working order quicker than those who have been breaking all the tenets of good digestion for decades. There are of course exceptions and also many other factors that affect digestion.
Quite often those over 40 will have low Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) which can be a definite cause of digestive stress. Drinking green juices and green smoothies should help with elevating HCL levels and improving digestive energy overall, but an HCL supplement may be required at least for the short term. You can try taking digestive enzymes with meals to see if that makes a difference for you. Low enzyme levels, low B12, and low vitamin D can all contribute to poor digestion. You can experiment with supplements, but I would recommend you get tested to find out what your current levels are.
Q. So what about B-12, do I need to supplement?
A. There are a number of raw fooders who do supplement B-12 and those that believe we can derive it from food sources and or that our body can produce it. Vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is a water soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and regulation, but also fatty acid synthesis and energy production.
Some symptoms of deficiency are numbness in extremities, poor digestion, seeing stars, and poor mental recall. The best way to tell your B-12 level is to go to a natural health practitioner and get tested, and then you will know for certain. And just because your levels are good now does not mean that they will be good down the road. It’s accepted that the body can store vitamin B-12 for a number of years so even if you test good now you may just be running on reserves and not taking in adequate amounts in your diet to sustain you down the road.
Adequate B-12 levels are responsible for a myriad of metabolic functions, and a lack of this vitamin can cause permanent neurological damage. This is nothing to fool around with. Pregnant or new mothers should check with a health care professional before for supplementing with vitamin B-12
Q: I thought I got my vitamin D from the sun?
A. In a perfect world your skin naturally produces your body's supply of vitamin D from direct exposure to ultra violet rays from the sun. These rays interact with the cholesterol under your skin and transform it into a hormone that we call vitamin D. This “vitamin” is responsible for approximately 2600 known metabolic functions including balancing mood and fostering good mental health.
Vitamin D deficiency is suspected to be the #1 cause of juvenile diabetes, and increases your body’s ability to absorb calcium by 40%, which is critical to healthy bones and teeth. It also helps your body produce cathelicidin, a natural broad-spectrum antibiotic.
Vitamin D is known to impact the function and development of at least 36 different organ tissues, and influences over 2,000 genes in your body. It is responsible for letting your cells know when to die, so new and healthy ones can replace them. This is one way that Vitamin D helps prevent cancer. Cancerous cells are cells that grow and live beyond their expiration date.
Depending on where you live, the time of year, your personal biological make-up, and the amount of sun exposure you’re getting you may or may not be getting sufficient vitamin D. According to Dr Joseph Mercola, research suggests that up to 85% of people could be deficient in vitamin D without knowing it. His research also indicates that washing with soap within 24-48 hours after sun exposure might destroy the effects of the sun exposure. Once again, no guessing here, get to a natural health practitioner and get tested, then you will know for certain.
““There is so much we do not understand about the subtleties of nutrition that we are essentially shooting in the dark when we start to alter and process our foods.”- Dr. Gabriel Cousens
Tomato hemp seed dressing:
In a Vitamix or other blender, add 1-2 pounds of tomatoes. Early girls are especially flavorful, but I love heirlooms this way too. Blend first. Then add 2 Tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds (or hemp seed butter) and blend again. Makes a creamy, tangy, wonderful dressing, ample for even a huge individual salad.
This is a great dressing for any green salad and perhaps many other types….let your imagination run wild on this one.
Zucchini pasta with tomato-peach sauce:
Spiralize some young zucchini squashes into a large shallow bowl. If you don't have a spiralizer, cutting thin strips with a vegetable peeler also works well (this will make the pasta more like fettuccini instead of angel hair.) You can peel the squashes first if you don't find the skin appealing, though it's fine to leave the skin on. For one person, try 1-2 pounds of zucchini, or just make enough noodles to fill your bowl. The young, smaller squashes are more tender.
Make a sauce by combining tomatoes and yellow peaches in a blender. Blend briefly on low to keep a nice texture. Pour over zucchini noodles. Mangoes are a wonderful substitute for peaches. Processing in a food processor is also nice and gives a chunkier textured sauce, or you can chop finely by hand too. Depending on how large your bowl of noodles is, try 1-2 pounds of each. I tend to like a lot of sauce.
If desired, snip some basil leaves over top to finish.
Feel free to change or add anything to these recipes. I was pretty vague about quantities, just because I don't really know - I just add until it looks good, lol.
Please contact me with your questions, feedback and comments here.
Be Well and Wonderful, Hugh
The contents of my website and my newsletter are gleaned from my experiences and observations, meant only for educational purposes and not intended to replace medical advice, consultations, or treatment of any kind. I recommend you see your professional health care provider if you suspect you have an illness or disease of any kind. I'm not medically trained, and I would never suggest or imply that I know what is best for someone else's body or overall health, ultimately each of us is the only one who knows what's best for us.
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