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Val's Thoughts on: Raw Foods

I have been teaching healthy, macrobiotic cooking classes for 15 years and in that time I have seen food fads come and go. I used to get many questions about high protein diets. Now it seems I get many inquires about raw foods. Now, it needs to be said with the toxic average American diet that most people consume now a days, any type of diet that cuts out processed foods will improve ones health. Even going on a cleanse will produce feeling better for a short period. And I always teach in my classes that everyone is different, so if a raw foods diet works for you, I will not stand in your way. Still I need to express my knowledge and understanding on the subject because I am always asked questions about it.

First and most important, being healthy is about being in balance. That is what macrobiotics is all about. If you do not understand the energy of food and your energy, please, please learn more. This knowledge of energy is what first attracted me to macrobiotics. I understand the theory of yin and yang. There are so many books written about this subject I will not take the time now to go into detail. Eating all raw foods is not balanced (too much yin). You need to incorporate cooked foods in your diet (more yang). In the summer eat more raw foods, in the winter more cooked. Eating only one way makes you one sided. I emphasizeVariety is the spice of life in my cooking classes. You need to have balance and variety. At one of my Pot Luck Picnics a group of people came who had informed me they were vegan and raw. It was interesting to see that what they ate the most of at the picnic was my grilled vegetables and millet sweet potato and tempeh veggie burgers, all of which were cooked.

There are certain foods that our bodies absorb better if cooked. Mushrooms
contain a carcinogenic compound that is destroyed when cooked. All nuts and seeds contain a particular enzyme that makes them hard to digest. By roasting, toasting, or soaking them they become more digestible, and much more tasty. And you should never consume broccoli or cauliflower raw. Both have a high sulfur content which makes them hard to digest and produce a lot of gas for many people. Most people have digestive problems. Mainly because of the highly processed diet of the average American. Raw foods are hard to digest. Many people can not handle that kind of stress on their digestion.

In history are there any cultures that ate an all raw foods diet? If there are, please let me know. All our ancient ancestors had a diet based on some type of whole grain. They ate many different things, but a majority of their diets were plant based. (Except maybe the Eskimos.)

And please stop saying that cooked food is dead food, or that you kill the
enzymes when you cook food. Some of the enzyme do get destroyed, however if you are eating a healthy (no processed, refined foods), balanced diet with both cooked, raw, and fermented (yes, do not forget fermented foods) you will be getting your enzymes. Why most people lack enzymes is because they do not chew their food. When you chew your food you create saliva. Saliva is full of enzymes. The more you chew, the more saliva and enzymes you create, the better your digestion. And let's see, fire was discovered about 500,000 years ago. So, we as a species have been eating cooked food for a very long time. If cooked food was dead food, we, as a human species, would be extinct! I believe a more accurate statements would be, ‘Processed, genetically engineered, refined foods are dead foods’.

Again, everyone is different. You have to listen to your body and decide if what you are doing is working for you. Any step you can make towards getting rid of the refined, processed foods is a step in the right direction. Understanding energy and balancing it in you life is the key to living healthy.

-----Val----

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