Maybe you’ve seen the reality film titled Raw in 30 Days. It’s a documentary that captures extraordinary results from ordinary people who went on a 30-day excursion with raw, living foods. The health benefits and results of eating raw are nothing short of amazing. One of the takeaways from the documentary, however, is that people don’t have to go 100% raw to see results. Eating a diet that is partially raw can make a significant difference, too.
Speaking of how much raw food is enough… Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a board-certified family physician, was asked his thoughts on eating a 100% raw vegan diet. Fuhrman responds, “A 100% raw vegan diet is unnecessary for excellent health. Obviously, raw foods are an important part of an optimal diet. Any diet that doesn't contain a significant proportion of raw plant foods isn't an optimal diet.”
Fuhrman continued, saying that nutrition is often lost through excessive heating: “Many vitamins are heat sensitive. Twenty to 60 percent of Vitamin C is lost with cooking and 20 to 40 percent of minerals are lost in many cooking methods.” Then he brings it home: “We're in agreement that we should strive to eat a diet with lots of raw food, but we don't want to go so far to think that some cooked food in the diet is poisoning us.”
How food is grown is another consideration. Many raw foodists advocate eating an organic raw food diet as opposed to raw conventional foods. Their premise is that it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to eat raw food for the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content if the food has been raised with chemicals.
Another documentary out on raw foods is called Supercharge Me! 30 Days Raw (2007)—a title inspired by Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me. In contrast, independent filmmaker Jenna Norwood eats nothing but raw food for 30 days to document the effects it has on her health. Her results were astounding—so astounding, in fact, that Harvard University invited her to show her film and share as a guest lecturer. Norwood, who used to be in public relations, is now a raw food educator and chef.
An important part of a raw diet is enzymes. Enzymes break down and remove old, unhealthy cells and tissues from the body to support natural detoxification. But when our enzyme stores are low, unhealthy cells and tissue can remain in the body and wreak havoc. Food enzymes, for example, are found naturally in raw, uncooked foods and help in digesting those foods so that the nutrients can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Food enzymes can be destroyed, however, when heated to about 118 degrees Fahrenheit or above—which is why many of us don’t get enough enzymes in our diets. Interestingly, a diet of overly cooked foods can also adversely affect the immune response, causing white blood cells to increase—a response mimicking a reaction usually caused by infection, trauma or to toxic chemicals.
This white blood cell increase, called “digestive leukocytosis,” was thought to be a normal reaction to eating—until the researchers noted that it didn’t occur when people ate raw, unaltered food. That’s right. Foods that were not refined or overheated caused no reaction. The body receives raw foods as “friendly foods.”
Now that is truly RAW-dacious!