Welcome to the VIBRANT LIVING NEWSLETTER
I’m excited about this issue of Vibrant Living because Gretchen has written a stellar article explaining the calcium to phosphorus ratio that has been a huge revelation for her in improving her health and it may be for you too. I have found that a sufficient and well balanced mineral intake is key to success on the raw food diet, and Gretchen’s article really helps to explain the basic premise of balancing macro minerals.
There’s a great recipe for an EZ raspberry pie that you’ll want to check out, and a snippet on body temperature and longevity. Enjoy!
“You can’t always control what you breathe, what touches your skin or what you see. And you don’t have complete control over what goes into your mind. But you do have total control over what you put in your mouth. Your health and longevity depends primarily on what you eat. What you eat determines mainly whether your body is healthy or diseased. Simple and absolute.” ~ Roe Gallo
"Raw foodists find their bodies become colder than "normal" people. In November 2006, a team of scientists from the Scripps research Institute reported that reducing the core body temperature of mice by 0.3º to 0.5º C lower than normal extends their median life span by up to TWENTY PERCENT !!! Raw foodists also eat less and less as they become cleaner and their bodies require less fuel to run longer. This dovetails directly with another fact that scientists have known for a long time- that calorie restriction is the only other proven way to lengthen life spans. So don't worry guys- that colder body and less appetite is natural and normal. It's those other people out there who aren't "normal" haha!" ~ Markus Rothkranz
Eating some warming foods, particularly during the colder months can help a person feel warmer and more comfortable. Here’s a helpful list of
warming, neutral, and cooling foods.
Easy Raspberry Pie
My Adventures with Calcium and Phosphorus
By Gretchen Koles
Over the past few years I've become mildly obsessed with the amounts of calcium and phosphorus in my diet. Fortunately for me, Hugh loves to talk about health and nutrition, and he is willing to listen to my reflections and help me navigate the challenge of finding a healthful, balanced diet.
My awareness of this issue began when I started eating raw. I came to a raw diet from eating a low fat plant based diet (inspired by Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. McDougall and others), so I knew I didn't want to eat the high fat raw way. Thus I read Frederick Patenaude and Doug Graham's books and adopted a very low fat raw vegan diet. And if you're eating a low fat raw diet, that almost always means a high fruit diet. I was good about eating my greens too, but I ate lots of fruit, and the kinds of fruit and greens varied over the course of the year as the seasons changed.
The first clue was that I'd feel great during the winter and then get unbalanced during the summer. You'd think it would be the opposite eating raw since there are so many more raw foods available during the summer. But during the winter I had lots of energy, I had a normal amount of hunger, and I felt balanced and solid. Then as the summer would progress I'd start feeling hungrier and hungrier, and I'd eat and eat and never feel satisfied. I would crave salt, but even when I'd give in and eat it, I wouldn't feel better, just dehydrated the next morning. It would reach a peak when I'd go back and visit my family in the Midwest in August, and for three summers in a row I returned several pounds heavier than when I left.
When I finally started thinking in terms of calcium and phosphorus, I began to understand what was going on. During the winter months I'd eat a lot of navel oranges, plus plenty of tangerines. Citrus fruits happen to be one of the few fruits that are higher in calcium than phosphorus. In my salads at night I'd include tatsoi or mizuna, two types of mustard spinach that I can get at my local farmer's market, which are both very high in calcium and low in phosphorus. In the summer I would turn to stone fruits and melons as my staple fruits, and I wouldn't get the dark greens as much. Back visiting my family, I'd make lots of corn salads, and stock up on bananas and nectarines. This diet pattern is very high in phosphorus and low in calcium. The darkest green I'd get was spinach, but with its high oxalic acid content probably most of the calcium would end up bound up with that and thus unavailable to my body.
So finally it became clear that I have a very strong drive to get lots of calcium in my diet. I haven't yet figured out whether it's the ratio of calcium to phosphorus (Ca:P) that is most important, or whether the absolute amounts also figure in. But my goal is to eat about 1.5:1 Ca:P, and then even if I fall a bit short, I'm getting over 1:1. Eating this way is really working for me. I know I need more calcium when I feel a return of the symptoms listed above: an excess hunger that I can't satisfy by just eating more food, a craving for salt and fat that isn't satisfied by eating more fat or having a natural form of sodium like celery, or gaining weight. I don't know if it's so important for everyone. I found out in the past year that I have really low bone density, probably as a result of having undetected celiac disease into my 40's. Happily, now that I've stopped eating gluten and my ability to absorb my minerals has hopefully returned to normal, my bones have gotten denser over the past year. So I'm guessing that I have a particular need for bone-building minerals. There are many minerals and other issues to consider for bone health. It's possible that the Ca:P ratio in my diet is a marker for all these other minerals as well, and I may start to think about magnesium and other issues in the future.
So how do I achieve eating a high ratio of calcium to phosphorus? It's actually not that easy, and I've had to study and learn which foods are higher in calcium than phosphorus, and which are lower. I think of foods now in a continuum, all the way from foods that are about 1:10, through foods that are roughly even, to foods that are 2:1 or higher. And I actually don't know how people eating a regular diet can hope to get anywhere near 1:1. Grains, potatoes, and meats are roughly 1:10, so these are all very unbalanced in the wrong direction. And these foods make up the bulk of most western diets. In a raw vegan diet, peaches, nectarines, most nuts and seeds and corn also have a similarly low ratio.
As we move up to foods that have a better ratio, we get to bananas (about 1:4), tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, persimmons, and beans (1:3 or 1:2), to foods that are roughly even (carrots, lettuce, dates) and finally to foods that have more calcium than phosphorus (citrus fruits, figs and papayas, celery, cabbage and the dark leafy green). I really recommend Cron-O-Meter, an online tool to analyze your diet. It's very easy to use and has been invaluable for me.
Most of my meals are now based around a fruit or cooked starch, balanced with a raw or steamed green leafy vegetable for balance. It's not that I never eat nectarines, bananas, grains or potatoes anymore, but I keep these as special treats and just eat a modest portion since they are so hard to balance.
The next important issue to consider is that it's not just eating the greens, it's making sure that you are able to digest and absorb them too. If you have access to tender greens that are high in calcium, like tatsoi, mizuna, purslane or napa cabbage, you can probably just eat them and be mindful of chewing well, and you'll do well. However, these greens aren't available everywhere. The ones that are (like kale and collard greens) are too tough for me to digest well, and I don't like to eat them raw. So I've been experimenting lately with adding some steamed vegetables to my usual all raw regime. Especially when I was back in the Midwest, this was a life saver, and this was the first summer that I didn't spend the week with my family feeling unbalanced and starving, and I didn't return home to find that I'd put on several pounds either. Bok choy is a little more tender, and I can digest that raw, and I'll add it to my green smoothies in the mornings sometimes, but it is kind of peppery, and then I like to add a lot of sweet fruit to balance the flavor.
Chopped salads make a wonderful lunch or dinner option. I love to chop up red or napa cabbage, carrots , celery and cilantro or parsley as the base of a slaw. I'll add some beets or raisins for sweetness, and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and everyone always loves this when I make it for a family dinner or bring it to a potluck.
Making green smoothies or blending your evening greens into a savory soup is another way to make your greens easier to digest. For a smoothie, I love to start with several oranges, then add a more concentrated sweet fruit like dates or figs, and then lots of greens. For a savory stew or raw soup, a few tomatoes and/or cucumbers gives the moisture, and then blending up your greens with the possible addition of some herbs or spices offers infinite flavor options.
If you're including some cooked foods in your diet, I feel that steamed greens are the healthiest cooked food option by far. Kale, collards, bok choy, mustard and turnip greens are commonly available, and are delicious steamed, perhaps with a squeeze of lemon juice. Okra can be eaten raw or steamed, and is quite high in calcium. All cabbages can be cooked as well as eaten raw, and broccoli rabe (or Chinese broccoli) is another great choice. And keep in mind that while many vegetables like steamed broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and asparagus are full of wonderful healthful nutrition, that do have a ratio less than 1:1, so they can't be used to balance other low foods.
If you are eating cooked starches, keep in mind that grains and potatoes are really low (around 1:10). Beans come in around 1:3, sweet potatoes around 0.7:1, and winter squashes are the only starchy vegetable that I know of that have more calcium than phosphorus. I love to cook a big winter squash in my slow cooker. It cooks at a nice low temperature, needs no fussing over, makes the house smell yummy, and is a breeze to clean up.
As a final word, I just want to remind you that there are many many issues to consider when you're thinking about balancing your foods. The acid/alkaline balance is a key issue that many people are aware of. Most fruits and greens are alkalizing, as they have lots of alkalizing minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Thus, even though I usually focus right in on Ca:P, because I'm eating whole foods, all those other alkalizing minerals are also present in my diet, hopefully in an ideal balance as well. Also, it's important to understand that we all need phosphorus as well as calcium to build strong bones and to have our bodies functioning properly. It's pretty easy to get phosphorus and other acidifying minerals in our diets, but you don't want to go too low in these either. There's also the balance of sodium and potassium to consider too.
Calcium to phosphorus has turned out to be very important for me, and it may be to you as well. Or you may find that your energy, bones and teeth are fine eating a lower calcium diet, and something else is really important to you. I tend to get tunnel vision when I find something like this that explains so many issues in my diet, but Hugh is constantly reminding me that keeping a varied, balanced diet is best for overall health and energy, and helps us avoid falling into nutritional pitfalls.
This list of raw foods gives a nutrient profile which you may find helpful when planning meals.
List of Raw Foods.
“Raw foods are Magnetic because all the rays of the Sun are included in them.” ~Paramahansa Yogananda, from Health through Union with Cosmic Life
Discount Super Foods and Such
Although I believe strongly in a diet comprised mostly of fresh raw foods, I do supplement with super green powders, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, and the occasional dried fruit such as goji berries. If you’re like me you’re always looking for a good deal on quality food whether it’s fresh from the farmers market or purchased online, so I thought I would share with you where I make most of my online purchases.
You may already be aware of the Raw Food World and their “at cost” specials, but if not here you go. When you go to purchase supportive foods like those listed above you can save money and get “at cost” special pricing by going to the link below and clicking on the “at cost” specials tab. This also allows you to save up to 14% on every order of their already good deals. The important thing to remember is that fresh is best and these products are supportive and should not be your mainstay. Enjoy!
The Raw Food World
Continuously Updated Web Pages:
There are a number of new testimonies at the website which I hope you will read and pass on to others when you feel they would benefit. And please feel free to leave your own story if you feel moved to do so.
You need not be 100% raw to share a testimony; the fact is most people on the raw diet are not 100% anyway. Your story may inspire someone else, perhaps from the other side of the globe, to give the raw food diet a try.
Please send me your health questions, they can be submitted anonymously if you prefer, and you may help someone else improve their health and quality life.
Please contact me with other 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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