Why Eat Raw Foods?
by Dr. Harlan Sparer, Tempe Chiropractor
Raw food, also called Live food, is therapeutic for some and a lifestyle for others. The history of this movement is ancient, of course, as are many forms of natural healing. The first people to begin popularizing it in more recent times are Norman Walker and Max Gerson, MD. There are many subsequent builders on this, including Anne Wigmore, Viktoras Kulvinskas, and Gabriel Cousens, MD.
Norman Walker pioneered juicing vegetables for therapeutic purposes in the US in the 1930s (Raw Vegetable Juices: What’s Missing in Your Body? ). Max Gerson, MD began utilizing Walker’s work, adding to it on Cancer and Autoimmune disease with great success, well noted in his book, A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases. Ann Wigmore and Viktoras Kulvinskas (Survival into the 21st Century) utilized wheatgrass and raw/live foods, pioneering nut and seed mylks and sprouted food in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Gabriel Cousens, MD continued this trend, applying this work to the treatment of Diabetes and Autoimmune disease. This is, of course, a very cursory overview to help a serious searcher to begin.
The basic premise behind this therapeutic regimen or lifestyle is that as the temperature is raised when preparing food, the biochemical effect of both heat and adulterants cause the food substances we eat to be altered, rendering them either less nutritious , or at times, toxic. My Biochemistry teacher in Chiropractic school taught that when you ingest “food,” your body either classifies it as a nutrient (usable by the body) or a toxin (something unusable to be excreted or stored). Many of us recall the use of heat in our chemistry class and how it alters chemical bonds.
While Organic food is excellent, if it is adulterated, heated, or laced with refined sugar and white flour, it may not live up to its presumed nutritional benefits. Oils in particular degrade dramatically when heated. Proteins and Carbohydrates can become seriously altered by heat in unhealthy ways.
Most of the food we consume may not be composed of what we think. When we keep our foods at near room temperature or colder, we make it easier to digest and use the nutrients present in our food. The goal here is to stay away from heating food past around 100 degrees or so. This is accomplished using the common ordinary refrigerator or freezer, and for the gourmet palate, a dehydrator, food processor, and a very powerful blender.
Sprouting is a powerful process as well. Seeds are converted to enzyme factories by soaking them in water to the onset of growth. Eating a sprouted seed or nut dramatically increases the vegetable protein and enzymes available. Seed Mylks are similar in texture, consistency, and flavor to milk, with a more harmonious complement of nutrients that are more easily digested and absorbed.
Many people view the idea of uncooked food with great discomfort. They feel that flavor, texture, and nutrition will suffer as a result. Once you wrap your mind around trying something different and acquiring a new set of food preparation skills, it actually is both fun and tasty to eat in this realm. Some people eat this diet thoroughly and completely for therapeutic reasons or by choice. Many others utilize Live/Raw food to supplement their cooked food diet. As a Diabetic, I find the desserts enable me to eat “sweets” that have no impact on my Glycemic Index. When I stay on a mostly Raw Food diet, I feel good and can avoid medication when I accompany it with exercise.
If you would like to take the plunge, I recommend joining some of the local groups in the Greater Phoenix Area. I have a meetup group that teaches about Raw Chocolate Desserts. There are several Raw Food groups as well. There is a wealth of information online. There are several restaurants in Arizona that serve this variety of food. There are many resources out there whether you are curious or committed. It’s all at your fingertips if you want to shift your diet.
I also wrote a book with raw dessert recipes and raw dessert articles called, Dessert Before Dinner: A Raw Uncookbook. It is available directly through me only.