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he Natural Diet Primer
by Don Bennett, DAS

A "raw food diet", sometimes referred to as a "living foods diet", has many proponents around the world. This way of eating appeals to those who want to be as healthy as possible.

Organic, natural plant foods make up this diet. Some advocate 100 percent raw foods, others say a high percentage of raw foods in your diet, while not the optimum, is still beneficial (any cooked food that is consumed in this diet is plant-based, i.e., a vegan diet). Your ratio of raw:cooked will depend on how healthy you want to be, now and in the future.

Cooking food does the following:

Proteins coagulate and are denatured making them unusable (see this video)

Carbohydrates caramelize, making them harder to process

Overly heated fats generate numerous carcinogens including acrolein, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and benzopyrene (one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known)

Natural fibers break down, and they lose their ability to "sweep" the intestines clean

Vitamins and minerals are damaged and/or destroyed

100% of enzymes are damaged causing the body to direct its enzyme production to making digestive enzymes instead of metabolic enzymes which are needed for tissue and organ system maintenance and repair. The body has a finite enzyme production ability, so the more digestive enzymes it makes, the less metabolic enzymes it can make, and you don't want your body to get behind on its fulfillment of its metabolic enzymes requirements.

Any pesticides on the food are restructured into even more toxic compounds

Free radicals are produced

Pathogens created by cooking burden the immune system

Cooking causes inorganic mineral elements to enter the blood and circulate through the body which settle in the arteries and veins causing them to lose their pliability

Chemicals from cooked food damage cells and can cause tumors: Nitrosamines are created from fish, poultry or meat cooked in gas ovens and barbecues as nitrogen oxides within gas flames interact with fat residues; carcinogenic heterocyclic amines can form from heating proteins to the temperatures normally associated with cooking

Mucoid plaque in the intestines is caused by uneliminated, partially digested, putrefying cooked fatty and starch foods eaten in association with protein flesh foods

And it should be noted that cooked animal foods contain hormones (both natural and synthetic), antibiotics, toxins, and pesticide concentrations higher than that of non-organically grown plant foods. The uncooked, organically grown, plant-based foods that make up a raw food diet do not have these health damaging aspects.

Here is a breakdown of how the diet differs among its proponents

"Living food" proponents advocate the consumption of sprouted seeds, nuts, and beans, fermented foods and beverages and wheatgrass juice as the most healthful foods one can eat. They round out the diet with other raw fruits and vegetables, and advocate regular colon cleansings. Some say this diet is for healing only, others advocate it as a lifestyle.

Comments: Some maintain, myself included, that fermented foods and wheatgrass juice should not be part of a regular diet. Some go further to say that wheatgrass juice is not a "healing food", and that only the body is capable of healing – there is no such thing as "healing foods". I agree. Wheatgrass juice can evoke feelings of nausea, and hives and adrenal gland damage can result if enough is ingested. There is a place for a green juice in the diet, but not wheatgrass juice.

"Natural Hygiene" is the science of health, and its advocates are called, "Natural Hygienists". They follow a raw food diet but believe regular colon cleansing is unnecessary, and can be detrimental. There are two main schools of thought among Natural Hygienists. Advocates of true "unadulterated" Natural Hygiene maintain that all cooked food is harmful, and abstain from eating grains and animal products. They believe that green leafy vegetables should be consumed in addition to fruits. The International Natural Hygiene Society chooses not to define the best, most optimal diet, instead they mention several "theories" which include the Paleolithic low-carb animal food diet, and a milk and egg vegetarian diet, and they downplay the fruit and green leafy vegetable diet, which is the healthiest diet.

Comments: A healthy weight and energy level can be maintained on a fruit and vegetable diet if the diet is done correctly. Some people make the mistake of eating far more vegetables than fruit, and therefore may not get enough calories to maintain weight. Although a small part of the diet, enough fatty fruits should also be consumed during the month. The INHS's stance gets them a wider membership base but is never-the-less irresponsible given what is known about human nutrition today (interesting to note that the INHS was originally named the ANHS, and originally promoted only the healthiest of diets, but with new leadership often comes new policies that may not be in the best interests of its members). For an accurate definition of Natural Hygiene and a little of its history, click here.

"Fruitarians" believe in the consumption of only raw fruit and seeds. It should be noted that a fruit is anything with a seed or seeds. Many fruitarians understand the importance of, and consume green leafy vegetables.

Comments: While a healthy diet can consist of a large percentage of fruits, some green leafy vegetables like romaine lettuce should be included if the nutritional quality of the fruit is in question. Additionally, a worthwhile nutritional adjunct to the diet should be consumed (a green powder) being that the greens most people are eating are grown in the same nutritionally sub-par soil as the fruit. This helps to ensure that you get enough of all the nutrients your body requires for optimal functioning, and thus, optimal health. Some fruitarians include non-sweet "vegetable fruits" like cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes, but while cucumbers are fine, fruits of the nightshade family can be problematic because they contain a toxin that can cause arthritis over a long period of time.

There are some people who eat raw animal foods, and the fallacy of eating this type of diet is discussed here.

Related articles:
Why Most Diets Don't Work
The Benefits of Eating Uncooked Foods
Raw Foods - What People Don't Know
Raw Food Studies
Why Eat Raw Foods?

Healthful, Raw-food Trend is Picking Up Steam - USA TODAY
Research Yields Surprises about Early Human Diets

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