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Vibrant Living, Issue #165 Raw Food Diet Pitfalls...crucial knowledge for long term success
September 24, 2017
|Greetings Health Seekers,
Welcome to the VIBRANT LIVING NEWSLETTER
Here in the northern hemisphere summer is on the way out and the brisk early mornings of autumn are upon us. The fruits and vegetables are changing with the seasons and life goes on. I hope all is well with all of you and that you will enjoy this particularly important message I have for you today.
I feel this is one of the most important newsletters I have ever written and that has necessitated me writing a slightly longer article. In light of this I have taken it upon myself to leave out the usual smaller supportive articles, quotes, and raw recipes in order to value your time.
But I have one quick plug before you read the main article. This newsletter/blog was chosen by the panelists at Feedspot as one of the top 50 Raw Food Blogs on the web. Specifically number 15. So you can rest easy knowing you’re enjoying some of the best raw food diet info on the web.
Raw Food Diet Pitfalls….crucial knowledge for long term success
Over my 17 year learning experience with a raw or high raw diet I have learned many things. The first and foremost is that there are many subtle nuances with the diet and what works wonderfully today may not work at all down the road. The second thing is that we are all different and one diet does not fit everyone. Each of us has an individual genetic history, and even within families, say identical twins for example, the biome can differ greatly. And another often overlooked issue is that just because we eat something doesn’t mean we’re able to access any or all of the nutrients within that food.
My ideas about the raw diet have changed dramatically over the years because of what I have personally experienced, what I have discussed with and witnessed in others, and the huge amount of research on diet and its relationship to all aspects of health that I have poured over.
These days it seems there are a plethora of raw food “gurus,” some with as little as 6 months experience, sharing their well-intentioned advice on a blog or other social media platform. I can remember back at the enthusiasm I had 6 months in and how very wrong I was about so much.
Today I want to share with you what I have found to be some of the major raw food diet pitfalls. Most of which I have not seen adequately covered elsewhere. They may have been but I am not aware of it.
Eating Too Much Cold Food
This is something I have seen touched on here and there briefly, but I think this is a huge raw food diet pitfall for many people. I have always strived to eat room temperature food and have always shuddered at the thought of eating raw sherbet or frozen banana desert as I have seen others do and rave about. However, life circumstances sometimes dictate protocol. I have enjoyed a morning green smoothie for the past 12 years or so and must admit to taking greens and perhaps ripe fruit directly from the fridge to my smoothie on many a morning.
I always tried to swirl the smoothie in my mouth to warm before swallowing, but let’s face it, after a while my mouth was cold and cold food was making it into my system. The reason this is harmful is because in order to digest cold your body must warm it up, which retards digestion. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a form of natural health and healing 2500 years old, many raw foods are in themselves considered “cold.”
The spleen dislikes cold. The spleen is responsible for breaking down your food through the process of digestion, which requires warmth. Eating cold food drags down spleen energy and makes it difficult to build blood and process nutrients from the foods we are eating. So we can eat all the high nutrient dense foods we like, but if our spleen is taxed then they may just be going to waste or worse yet gumming up the system.
Over time a poorly functioning spleen can congest the liver and cause further issues all leading to a decline in one’s health. As with everything there are exceptions to every rule, but for most people I think the intake of cold food is very important to pay attention to particularly during the winter months.
TCM says that moist red lips are a sign of a healthy spleen whereas pale lips would show the opposite. Chronic low energy is also a sign of a compromised spleen, which leads to a congested liver. Health issues related to liver congestion are brain fog, low energy, age spots, thin or brittle nails, thinning unhealthy hair, premature aging in general, the poor assimilation of nutrients, other digestive issues, and the die off of mitochondria throughout the body. In other words, a congested liver will have us moving towards dis-ease and the grave at an accelerated pace. Keep in mind this can take years of eating cold food to manifest and show symptoms.
I’m not entirely sure, but this may be one reason so many long term raw fooders find adding in some steamed veggies or other cooked food makes them feel better. If you have followed my writings over the last 4 or 5 years you know that I feel a high raw diet as opposed to a 100% raw diet is best for most people long term. It took me many years to come to accept that, but I have found that seems to work best for most people and perhaps it is due to a healthy spleen.
When I was a speaker at a raw food expo years ago I remember attending the presentation of Dr Craig Sommers, author of the book, Raw Foods Bible. He shared with us that even though he ate loads of greens, which are high in magnesium, and ate a well-balanced raw diet including other foods rich in magnesium, his body was unable to take up that magnesium and he had to supplement. Now I’m not saying Dr Sommers had spleen or liver issues, but what I am saying is that sometimes there are things we cannot see or know that can compromise our health. Fortunately Dr Sommers was big on testing and caught his deficiency before it caused severe problems.
An Imbalance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 Fatty Acids
This is another pitfall that I have seen mentioned, but usually it’s just about an omega 3 shortage. This is incredibly prevalent in modern society today and is also very easy to remedy. Standard thinking on this is to simply add some omega 3 fats into the diet as they are severely lacking in most cases, however lowering omega 6 fatty acids at the same time is important for most people. The balance is key.
Although vital to good health, an excess of omega 6 fatty acids can lead to inflammation, which is associated with a multitude of diseases. In addition, too many omega 6’s in the diet actually block receptors for omega 3’s.
Experts can’t really agree on what the ideal ratio of 6’s to 3’s is. The general consensus is that somewhere between 1:1 and 5:1 is good; however, with further refinement by people I trust (Dr Gabriel Cousens, Dr Brian Clement, Dr’s Rick and Karin Dina and others) 2:1 or 3:1 is probably the best range, although individual needs may vary.
A great way to calculate your intake and ratio of essential fatty acids (and all foods/nutrients) is cronometer.com. It’s easy to use and helpful in monitoring your nutrient intake. Once again remember what you take in is not necessarily what you assimilate.
I believe maintaining a good ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids is incredibly important to enjoying a good long healthy life.
Good vegan sources of omega 3 fatty acids are:
Marine algae (Already in the long chain DHA and EPA form.)
Hemp seeds (These have a
near perfect ratio!)
Eating Too Many Foods High in Lectins
This is a topic that is relatively new to me but it does make sense. I have read on it and am trying to follow a 100% lectin free diet to see if I notice anything, or more likely if I notice anything when I reintroduce some back into my diet.
Some of you are probably asking what the heck are lectins, but you are probably already familiar with some of them. Nightshades like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are lectin containing foods. So is gluten and wheat germ agglutinin, another wheat protein, which can be highly destructive to the human body. I remember in the late sixties taking tablespoons of raw wheat germ because it was a super health food for athletes like myself. Funny how things change.
According to Dr Steven Gundry, “Lectins for the most part, with one important exception are large proteins found in plants, and they are a crucial weapon in the arsenal of strategies that plants use to defend themselves in their ongoing battle with animals.” Corn, legumes, squash, grains, and peanuts are all lectin containing foods.
Dr Gundry has done much research and has had fabulous success in his clinics healing people from all types of diseases and disorders. Arthritis, age spots, allergies, cancer, dementia, diabetes, fibromyalgia, IBS, migraine headaches, heart disease, depression, Parkinson’s and obesity to name a few.
These lectins are the plant’s way of insuring that the animal/human doesn’t eat too much of it so it can continue to live and multiply. Dr Gundy’s theory is that over time, a very long time, an animal or human’s immune system can build up a tolerance to these lectins so these plants can be safely consumed.
As humans, many of us have only been eating foods from The New World for 500 years or so and we have not had ample time to build up a tolerance. Foods like the nightshades, certain legumes, squash, quinoa, and corn are imports from the new world. For thousands of years around the world indigenous people had ways to deal with lectins in their environment, whether it be through fermentation or refinement of grains like rice or wheat. In more modern times pressure cookers are also used to render certain lectins harmless.
Dr Gundry’s book The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain is a very interesting read and full of all types of useful information beyond that on lectins. I know some people dismiss his research and ideas, but it’s hard to argue with his success. I’m not all in yet, but I thinks it’s very compelling information. I can’t recommend his book enough.
As raw fooders I think we may be extra susceptible to the lectin issue because we tend to buy in bulk and eat large quantities of the same food or foods. Think about it. The average family may have one medium size tomato in a dinner salad for four people whereas we may eat 4 large tomatoes or more in one meal. That’s a lot of lectins. I know I used to love dry farmed early girl tomatoes and when I would eat any more than a few my mouth would break out with canker sores. There’s the plant protecting itself.
Some would say that the plant would want the fruit consumed so it could spread its seeds and that may be true, however perhaps the plant doesn’t want to gamble on one creature spreading the seeds, but rather many creatures spreading the seeds would give a better chance for survival of the plant species.
Just because we don’t particularly notice side effects from eating lectin containing foods doesn’t mean they’re not contributing to ill health. I think excluding them from the diet for a period of time and then re-introducing them one at a time is a great way to see if they are an issue or not.
I consider myself an extremely healthy person and lectins may or may not be taxing my system, however I want to check and see if there is more to it for me than a few canker sores after eating tomatoes. That could be a symptom of some deeper damage being done at the cellular level elsewhere in the body. Maybe I’m OK with some and not with others, or maybe this has been a raw food diet pitfall for me all along and I didn’t even realize it.
Eating Too Much Fruit
Now this is one you probably have heard before unless you are very new to the raw diet, however because I think it is so important I am writing about it here again today.
For about the first 4 to 5 years on the raw diet I basically followed an 80-10-10 diet, meaning 80% of calories from carbs (mainly fruit), 10% protein, and 10% fat. At that time I thought that any other raw diet was unhealthy and not pure. After all, what could be more cleansing, healing and enlightening than a high fruit diet? I felt great and could physically outperform many lads half my age, but as it turns out the road to failure on the raw diet for many is paved with fruit, and lots of it.
There are many people who are just not suited to either a high fruit diet or a high carb diet in general. They can read all the raw food books, attend all the lectures and festivals, but their bodies are just not programmed to efficiently run on these diets. They may have some success short term, but the body ultimately knows what it thrives on long term.
Many that rely on blood glucose levels to determine how they handle fruit should also be checking fasting insulin levels as this tells the real story. Your glucose levels could look good, but if your system is pouring insulin into your bloodstream then that’s not good at all. Excess insulin is a heavy duty ager and overall destroyer of good health.
I still believe that it’s possible that a short term high fruit diet can be great for cleansing, and perhaps for some very active people or those genetically adapted to be on a high fruit diet for longer periods. I don’t think I know any raw fooders today that I knew back then who are still eating a high fruit diet. And this includes many raw food leaders, teachers, authors, etc. Some of them still eat moderate fruit and many eat steamed veggies or such to make up those calories and get better assimilation out of tougher greens like kale and broccoli.
Over the years I began to add more greens and more fat to my initial high fruit diet and felt much more balanced. After 15 years 100% raw I began to steam some greens to go with my evening salad as well. I also dabbled with some cooked lentils and quinoa in an effort to help “warm” my spleen and aid digestion of the more fibrous veggies.
These days I am back on a 99% raw diet leaving out lectins as part of my experiment. I’ll keep you updated on this over time and of course when I re-introduce lectins back into my diet.
As with most things connected to diet it can take time to see results from any changes. My advice is to make changes (large or small), keep a journal (what you eat, how you feel), look at and listen to your body (I’m a big believer in blood tests, they’ll tell you what you can’t see or feel), and be patient. This is not to say some of you will not see dramatic results in just a few days or weeks, but for most of us, well, we’re playing the long game.
I hope sharing these raw food diet pitfalls with you has been helpful and will help you on your journey to greater health.
I'm always happy to receive new recipes at the site, but please send along a photo of the recipe and a paragraph or so telling about the recipe, i.e. nutritional value, why you like it, the story behind it, etc. Just do your best and I'll do the rest. Having a photo is really important so please make that happen. If for some reason it won't load send it by email and I'll add it on this end.
Most days I’m posting health information, recipes, testimonies, etc on the facebook page of RAW-FOODS-DIET-CENTER.COM, so if you’re interesting in checking that out you can do that here.
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. 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.The following resources may be helpful for you.
The Raw Food World, the Fresh Network, Vitacost, and sometimes Amazon can be a good source as well for good deals on green powders and such. The important thing to remember is that fresh is best and these products are supportive and should not be your mainstay. Enjoy!
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.
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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