In the documentary Food Matters David Wolfe, a raw food guru, states that when you eat meals of 50%+ cooked food the immune system bolsters. This means, if the majority of your meal is cooked, body defenses behave as if they are being attacked. Learning this, my interest was sparked and I started educating myself about the differences between raw and cooked foods.
Raw foods have enormously higher nutrient values than foods that have been cooked, as at temperatures over 116 degrees F enzymes are destroyed. Besides dramatically dropping enzyme content, cooking food changes the molecular structure and can render it toxic. One common scientific observation is that cooking creates free radicals which are a major cause of cancer. When you lower the number of free radicals your cells are bombarded with, you lower your risk of cancer. Eating a diet of raw foods has been shown to reverse or stop the advance of many chronic diseases, including heart disease. From my father, a holistic doctor, quite some time ago I first heard the Hippocrates quote - "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food". A beautiful truth indeed.
In November of last year, I decided to go raw for 30 days and personally experience any difference that could be noticed. Those 30 days proved so beneficial that transitioning to a fully raw diet has become my goal. Whether the transition to raw is immediate or takes 5 years, the pace of change must be comfortable and effortless. I don't like the feeling of "missing out", and denying myself per se is not the real goal. A fabulous meal, especially in good company, is one of the great pleasures of life. The day when I marry the satisfaction of eating with the joy of a fully raw diet will be the day of that wonderful transition. :) At the moment, I eat a high percentage of raw foods (sometimes I go all raw for single meals, days or weeks). For fun (or to lose a few pounds for bikini season ;), I enjoy the occasional raw challenge. Starting today, I am undertaking a 90 day commitment. You can look forward to many raw posts in the next three months. Topics such as "So what do you eat?", "Don't you worry about protein?", and "Isn't it expensive?" will be addressed. Below you can read the personal benefits that I experienced on a raw food diet. Perhaps it will trigger a desire to do your own research and to embark on a new dietary path!!
During my first 30 days, I noticed a marked increase in energy. Between school and work, I sometimes felt quite lethargic, tending to rest on the couch watching TV during downtimes. After I went raw, I noticed I would go to the couch out of habit, but 5 minutes later found myself doing the dishes or finishing a chore. It was as if I couldn't sit still. Coffee used to be a big part of my daily regime. Although I enjoy the occasional cup of joe, I credit daily juicing (with my Jack LaLanne, RIP) for helping me quit the bean.
I also observed a very curious side benefit to going raw: I slept 2 to 3 hours less per night, yet still had more energy than I'd had in years. Many raw foodists mention this effect and attribute it to less energy required for digestion. Digesting cooked food can hog up to 80% of a person's daily energy expenditure. Raw foods are extremely easy to digest and require significantly less energy. Whatever the reason for my change in sleep patterns, it was pretty cool to have an extra 3 hours per day. That adds up to an extra 1,095 hours per year! What could you do with all that extra time? ;)
I also received an unanticipated watershed in weight loss. Without counting calories, and eating to my heart's desire, I managed to lose 15 pounds in 3 weeks. I literally ate as much and as often as I wanted, but cravings for cooked foods were non-existent.
And perhaps the most profound change was in my mind and spirit. It's hard to describe a spiritual high, but I was on one. We all struggle with our ups and downs, and I personally am hit with self-doubt and insecurity about the future from time to time. Usually they are just small thoughts, but some days I would mentally beat myself up because I hadn't accomplished "this" and wondered if I could ever accomplish "that". About halfway through the challenge, it dawned on me that I was experiencing a true sense of peace and happiness. I felt like a person of value who deserved to live a rich, abundant life. My life had greater meaning and I had deeper purpose. It was as if nothing could keep me down. The negative thoughts that sometimes made their way into my head had vanquished. The kind of spiritual calm and peace I felt were simply indescribable and definitely the number one reason why I aspire to become a 100% raw foodist. And to you my reader, I hope you find inner peace if you have not already found it, no matter how you come to find it...