The raw food diet has really gotten a lot of attention lately. With celebrities like Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone and Natalie Portman “going raw,” the lifestyle is becoming more mainstream. Raw food enthusiasts eat mostly unprocessed, unrefined foods from three main groups: fresh fruits, fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens) and natural fats, such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
So why has the raw food movement surfaced recently? In part because America is in a very bad state of health. Heart disease, type II diabetes, childhood obesity—these are treatable and preventable illnesses, and a key lies in what we ingest. For those who are wiling to try the raw lifestyle for even a short period, there can be major health and well-being payoffs—from reduced symptoms of disease to improved sleep, weight loss, clearer skin and even a better disposition!
A main benefit of raw foods is that they have more nutrients and enzymes available for the body to use; cooking destroys these valuable resources. There is also a high water content in foods like fruits and vegetables, which helps to keep the body hydrated. Raw fruits and vegetables are higher in fiber and thus pass through the digestive system much more quickly than meat, processed and heat-prepared items. Finally, our health is greatly enhanced when our bodies are more alkaline. Things like stress, pollution, sugar, animal proteins and processed foods are acid forming; by consuming vegan raw foods, we can help restore our bodies to a healthier, more alkalized state.
So, what’s the best way to begin on this healthy journey? Start slow: You don’t have to go 100% raw overnight. Research “raw and living foods” online to learn more. Also know that what you eliminate from your current diet can make a big difference. By consciously removing packaged foods, meat and dairy, refined sugar and flour, a person can make dramatic improvements in their health. It’s also a good idea to avoid entirely any food that’s been prepared—or even reheated—in a microwave.
For me personally, adopting a predominately raw and vegan lifestyle has been one of the best gifts I have ever given myself. I feel wonderful, I’m happier and I have a ton of energy.
For a unique, low-risk opportunity to test the raw food lifestyle, plan to join us for all or part of Des Moines Raw Food Week, August 19-25. Events include tastings, guest speakers and a film screening. A highlight of the week will be a community dinner on Tuesday, August 20.