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Going raw isn’t as difficult as you think, and doing so can do you a wholesome lot of good.
What is a Raw Food Diet?
Madonna, tennis superpower Venus Williams, and rapping business mogul Russell Simmons, who incidentally does zen and yoga as well, all have a raw vegan diet, meals that are uncooked, unprocessed and unheated above 40 °C (104 °F) to 46 °C (115 °F).
And, they’re on the right track, health-wise. See, heating above 118F degrees breaks the food’s nutrients down and kills the live enzymes we need for optimum digestion and health. Using a microwave kills whatever’s left of it, arguably, but that’s another story.
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Raw Foodists believe in consuming food at its most natural state, the way we are meant to have them, thus giving our bodies maximum nutritional value and allowing them to function in the way they are meant. We are what we eat, after all, so the efficiency with which our body functions depend on what we feed it.
Our bodies are not used to anything that’s adulterated, hybridized, manipulated, packaged, and processed with chemicals, preservatives and other unnatural, harmful ingredients.
Our bodies are not built for digesting antibiotics, artificial additives, chemicals, hormones, plasticized fats, refined carbohydrates or any ingredient that we can’t pronounce.
Yet, we continue to put these things into our bodies, which are already going through a tremendous amount of stress. It starts when we starve ourselves for the summer’s beach trips, ends when we stuff ourselves silly during the Christmas holidays, only to start again in the next year. In between, we binge on food to compensate for broken hearts, insecurities and other stressful conditions, issues and situations that have nothing to do with eating.
The result: We are sicker now more than ever in human history.
Cancer, diabetes and obesity, for example, were extremely rare a hundred years ago, but as food production improved in terms of increasing shelf life through modern technologies, it ushered in these modern diseases.
What we need in our diets are antioxidants, clean protein, enzymes, essential fatty and amino acids, good fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that simply do not appear in a bag of chips, no matter how good those chips are.
How do we start?
It may take a diet of 75-100% live food to be called a raw foodist, but we don’t need to have that much in order to realize its benefits. Having raw food at least 51% of the time will already give you enough energy from what you eat, allowing you to eat less and thus manage your weight more easily. Having food in its natural state benefits more than just our digestive systems – we look younger, our skin is more vibrant, our hair becomes stronger.
Let’s take it a step at a time.
1)Improve your breakfast.
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The journey toward raw usually begins with the most overlooked meal of the day: breakfast. One tapsilog meal contains 91 milligrams of sodium, 247 milligrams of cholesterol, and 364 calories, which may lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Starting your day off with a piece of buko from a vendor on the street, on the other hand, sets you back for a measly PhP35, yet packs your body with Calcium, Dietary Fiber, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Riboflavin, and Vitamin C. And, that’s just one cup of coconut water.
2)Increase your intake of green smoothies.
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If you don’t like munching on vegetables, drink them.
Raw food optimizes our health by alkalizing our bodies, which basically allows it to get rid of all the toxins we ingest when we have cooked, canned or even fast food. Put simply, having only cooked meals all the time makes us more susceptible to weight gain, disease and ageing.
The Internet has tons of recipes for green smoothies.
3)Introduce more fruits in your diet.
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We usually need something easy to prepare, quick and filling. What could possible be more difficult than peeling off a banana, for example, which is a good source of calories (they don’t stay in your body to turn into fat like white rice), fat (zero, compared to 7 grams from a fried egg), and Vitamin B6 (zero, in beef tapa)? A banana, like most raw food, will stay in our bodies for about 3 hours; while a big serving of beef tapa could stay in there for 3 days.
Choose fruits that are indigenous to where you are. Hard-to-grow fruits often have tons of fertilizer. Do your research.
Photo by Lyka Gonzalez
The next time you go to the grocery, avoid everything and go straight for the fresh produce section; choose fruits, plants, nuts, seeds and vegetables, organic if possible; and, enjoy looking and feeling better.
And, you won’t just look better with a raw food diet. According to raw-food-for-the-beginner.com, a raw food diet also promotes the healing of ailments from minor to life-threatening – such as acne, allergies, arthritis, asthma, cancer, congestion, constipation, diabetes, herpes, infertility, menopausal symptoms, obesity, thyroid problems, and ulcerative colitis.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Troy Bernardo is a yogi, filmaker, writer, artist and muay thai practitioner . He recently won the Manhattan Film Festival for his documentary Fields of Hope, a film about the recovery of three boys from the trauma of Typhoon Yolanda (in Tacloban) through a grassroots soccer program.