Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH

The raw foods diet is another raw and unrefined diet based on the idea that living (uncooked) and fresh foods, are much healthier. It therefore, limits the consumption of processed and cooked foods to less than 25% of their overall diet. It may include any diet which consists of mainly unheated food, or food cooked or heated to a temperature below 45 °C (115 °F). The followers of the raw food diet are mostly vegans, but there are also some other approaches that include raw animal products. A fraction of raw food eaters include usually about 30 percent of cooked foods.

This dietary approach was first developed in Switzerland by medical doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner who after recovering from jaundice as a result of consuming raw apples conducted a series of experiments demonstrating excellent effects of raw vegetables and fruits on human health. Another prominent physician who used raw plant foods and vegetable juices to successfully treat degenerative diseases such as cancer was Dr. Max Gerson. Encouraged by excellent results Gerson opened a clinic in Mexico, where he cured many cancer patients.

The key argument which is used to supports the raw foods diet is the idea according to which during cooking or processing certain important enzymes are destroyed. Therefore, in order to obtain enough essential nutrients and enzymes necessary for good digestion the body increases appetite forcing us to consume more foods thus leading to obesity.

Switching to any unrefined plant-based diet you need to keep in mind that these diets eliminate toxins from your body. This initial detoxification process which usually last approximately one week may cause some unpleasant side-effects such as headache, tiredness, or inability to concentrate.

Below you will find a very encouraging example of a Person who in spite of being morbidly obese managed to regain normal body weight by following the Raw Food and Exercise:
“I have spent most of my life morbidly obese. Yes there were thin times, but to be that way required either no food, drugs, or a combination of barely any food and too much exercise. At 15 years old I weighed 185 pounds. I’m only 5’1”, so you can imagine how I looked. Through drugs and walking 8 miles three days a week and not eating, I dropped 60 pounds between my sophomore and junior year in high school… I ate cheese, had a gallbladder attack, started having hot flashes, and gained over 100 pounds within a year. My top weight was 264 pounds. For fifteen years, I tried every diet out there, I exercised my heart out, and all that would ever happen was I would lose about 10 pounds of water, then slowly gain more weight as I increased my exercise. There was one short spurt of starvation in all that where I lost 50 pounds, but you know how that goes, as soon as I started eating normal it all came back.
In May of 2005, I was sitting at home contemplating the probability that I would never lose the weight and be morbidly obese the rest of my life. I was depressed, actually shocked at the revelation that nothing would help. My mind wandered around bariatric surgery. My interest grew in the final fix of gastric bypass surgery. Luckily, I saw a news article around that time that said people on raw vegan diets are thin but their bones are strong. I hadn’t heard of any such diet, but my curiosity was peaked. Then I saw the movie AFTER SUNSET with Woody Harrelson. In the behind the scenes footage, Woody was talking about his Raw Food diet. His raw food chef was getting people to try smoothes. It was then I started my research and began this miraculous journey.
I won’t lie and say there hasn’t been times when eating only raw food was hard. Cravings happen as they do on any diet. There are mornings I wake up and don’t want to exercise. But I steadily lose half a pound a day. Some days I don’t lose anything. I have even gained half a pound a few days, but on average I can count on that 1/2 pound every day. That is an average of 15 pounds a month, 180 pounds a year.
I eat more food now than I have at any time in my life. I never worry if it’s too much, or too little. I eat until I’m full and whenever I am hungry or just feel like it. I think nothing of sitting down and eating four oranges one right after the other, or a whole pound of grapes. My salad can fill a two-quart bowl, what do I care. As long as I eat raw fruits and vegetables with some added nuts and seeds, I will reach my optimal weight. No doubts no worries. That’s what raw food can do for you.
And when you are done losing weight, and you are no longer suffer from morbid obesity, you won’t have to worry about gaining it back because raw food gets to you. You come alive with energy, see possibilities that had been out of focus for so long. You will change how you view food, naturally. And if by chance you don’t maintain a raw food lifestyle after you lose the weight and you gain some back, all won’t be lost. You will always have raw to fall back on.
I feel as though a fairy godmother has tapped me on the head with her magic wand and said: “Okay, its time. You can be thin and healthy.” I watch TV or the news and see how many diet pills and bariatric surgeons are out there trying to snare us, the morbidly obese, into risking our lives for their unproven techniques. We all know the only safe way to lose weight is through diet and exercise. And now, I’m telling you, there is a diet out there that works.
I have started a website, RawFoodBootCamp.com, for us, the morbidly obese, to support one another in a journey to health. I beg you, if you are contemplating bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery for fast weight loss, please give raw food a try before you risk your life for something you can achieve on your own in the same amount of time. Gastric bypass surgery can kill you. Eating raw foods will make you healthy. Both offer fast weight loss. Both will let you post before and after pictures. One offers a life-time of malnutrition, the other offers abundance, joy, energy, and a glow of well-being so strong everyone will ask how. Choose wisely. I know I did, and I beat obesity, once and for all.”

Below you will find another excellent example of how effective the raw food diet can be:
“After struggling with chronic fatigue for years, which slowed my metabolism, I gained more weight than ever before. I got most of my health back on a diet that averaged about 80% raw foods, with lots of cleansing and detoxifying. But after four years eating mostly raw, I still had a long way to go. I finally woke up one day and realized that it was time to go 100% raw – it was like stepping out of a fat suit into my real body. The fat was disappearing, almost magically, virtually overnight. I didn’t even exercise (though I do now). Of course, years of cleansing, detoxifying and rebuilding my digestive and immune systems prepared my body for losing a lot of weight and – even more importantly – keeping it off. In fact, I was dropping weight so fast I had to eat lots of nuts, olives and avocados to slow it down. Over the next few months I lost 75 lbs. I kept that weight off for almost two years. Since then, it has been an ongoing struggle – yes, even for me. Though I have kept most of it off on a mostly raw diet (90-100% raw), I have a tendency to occasionally fall off the wagon – like most normal people! So last year, after gaining back about 50 lbs., I did a 3-week cleanse and a strict raw diet, and lost about 35 lbs. in about two months. Of course results vary from person to person, and may change with what’s going on in your life – like they did for me. This isn’t magic – it’s enzymes! My metabolism slows down when I make less-than-optimal food choices, then kicks back in when I go back to what I know is right. I think it’s perfectly normal to slip occasionally, so long as I get back on track eventually. Raw food works for me, and I decided to make it my life’s mission to help it work for you, too!”

If you are concerned about the strict nature of the raw food diet, do not choose the wrong all-or-nothing approach but instead incorporate the best principles from this diet by consuming more raw vegetables to your diet and reduce cooked, processed, and refined foods.

Although the raw food diet can bring amazing results yet there are some reasons why I believe the optimal plant diet should also include cooked foods. Of course it is usually safe and sometimes even better to consume only raw unrefined plant foods for a month or so as it usually quicken the recovery but in the long run it is reasonable to include foods which are cooked. On the other hand, the effects of this diet also depend on the ability of human organism to adapt to this specific approach. Although being on the totally raw diet for a long time it is possible to experience certain negative side effects yet there are individuals who feel great even though they haven’t consumed processed or cooked foods for years. I even know one young man who can fast for over a month drinking only water and doesn’t feel so bad while many others wouldn’t survive without food after such a long period of time.

The followers of the raw food diet argue that the inclusion of cooked foods eliminates the healing and therapeutic effect of this diet. But this assumption has been already proved wrong by the Hallelujah Diet which brings better results in spite of the fact that it includes 15% of cooked plant foods. Also Dr. Fuhrman in his excellent book “Eat to Live” suggests that eating only raw foods is not a good idea, although he agrees everybody should consume a large quantities of raw vegetables and fruits.

Many experts wouldn’t advise going on a totally raw diet over a long period of time because it may not provide enough calories to maintain a proper body weight. But I don’t think this should be regarded as the reason to avoid this approach because people on the 100% raw diet can easily obtain more calories by including some nuts, seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocados, or sprouted grains and legumes. I personally believe that the optimal plant diet doesn’t have to be totally raw because it should include some grains and legumes and it is difficult and even not safe to consume these foods (especially legumes) unless they are properly cooked. Dr. Agatha M. Thrash even suggests that, “grains and legumes should never be taken raw because there are toxic substances in both of them that are destroyed by heat. Sprouting may also eliminate most of these toxins… Because of the presence of enzymes in raw foods, some individuals feel they will benefit from using raw foods. Physiologists say, however, that the enzymes in raw foods are digested before they can be of any assistance to the individual who has eaten them. Nevertheless, the eating of raw foods does promote the production of enzymes within one’s own gastrointestinal tract. In this way enzymes may be increased, but not from the raw fruits and vegetables themselves.”

In summary, any 100% plant diet should include as great variety of healthy plant foods as possible. For this reason it should include grains and legumes (pulses). Grains, however, and especially legumes definitely require cooking. It seems that we still need some more data and scientific investigation in order to solve the dilemma whether regular eating uncooked soaked grains is safe or whether it is healthier to consume cooked or only soaked overnight grains (such as oats). I myself usually cook oats, millet flakes, barley flakes or other grains in a slow cooker (to prevent overheating) or mix them with hot water in a thermos flask and leave overnight. In the morning I consume them with dried fruits, some soaked nuts or seeds, and sometimes with a little bit of honey. As far as vegetables and fruits are concerned, we have more than enough scientific data to be sure that they should be consumed mostly raw.

For more information concerning the raw food diet go to: www.rawfoodtalk.com/forum.php




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