Sometimes deciding what to eat can be downright confusing. Especially if you pay close attention to health trends like I do. Each and every day there are more and more wholesome eating styles than ever before. Diets like vegan, vegetarian, paleo, pescetarian, macro-biotic, eating for your blood type, high protein, low carb and gluten free are just a few. The more information out there, the tougher it can be to make the right decisions. One particular diet may benefit a friend or family member but not work for you. We are all unique which means we must figure out what’s best for us as individuals. There is however, one exception; going raw. Eating more raw foods will have immense health benefits for the majority of people who try it.
What does going raw mean exactly? When I first heard about this trend years ago it didn’t sound very appealing. After all, I was brought up on meat, potatoes and well-cooked vegetables from our garden. Eating only uncooked foods seemed rather limiting and boring. I was so wrong.
I have since learned that eating more raw foods doesn’t mean we have to suffer a lifetime of monotony. In fact, there are a plethora of wonderful, tasty options which we can easily incorporate into our daily routine. And instead of going totally raw, why not do what I’ve done…be a part-time raw enthusiast!
Raw refers to foods in their natural state such as uncooked fruits and vegetables, unroasted nuts and seeds, whole grains and unprocessed oils. Anything that has NOT been heated above 115 F or 46 C also counts. The closer we eat a food in its natural state, the better for our bodies. Fresh, unprocessed foods contain life-preserving phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and beneficial oils that literally feed our system live energy. The farther we get away from raw foods, the harder our bodies work to process and eliminate what we eat.
Many people who follow a raw diet report more energy, weight loss and improved skin as well as better sleep. Studies show positive links between eating raw and reducing the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
My advice is to begin slowly. Consider a diet that consists of at least 30% raw foods. Learn about the benefits of eating more fruits, vegetables, and unroasted nuts. Visit health food stores that sell a myriad of raw alternatives, including protein and green powders; meal replacement bars, and raw, healthy snacks.
One of the simplest ways to ensure that you get live nutrients is by incorporating at least one raw, green and alkaline-friendly drink into your day. I have included my favorite recipe below that is simple, delicious and uses mainly raw ingredients.
Use only organic ingredients whenever possible.
3 cups of rice, hemp, or almond milk
½ peeled avocado
1 freshly-squeezed grapefruit (juice only)
1 tablespoon of chia or hemp seeds
1 peeled lime
3 teaspoons of coconut sugar
2 cups of fresh spinach
½ English cucumber with peel
¼ cup of coconut milk or baby coconut meat
½ cup of ice
*1 scoop of superfood greens
Blend together in a blender or Vitamix and serve with a cucumber wedge
*Look for a raw superfood green powder at your local health food store. My favorite is Perfect Food Raw by Garden of Life.
Eating raw may produce some unpleasant side effects in the beginning such as gas and bloating. These are normal and will wear off as your body acclimates. In the beginning, try combining raw fruits, nuts and vegetables along with moderately cooked foods. Don’t go all uncooked at once. Give your body time to adjust.
If you have food allergies or sensitivities, eating raw can be frustrating in the beginning. You may have reactions to certain raw items. Note what food seems to cause these reactions and then choose to eat those items in moderation or slightly cooked. Or avoid them altogether.
Here are the top 10 foods to eat raw. They contain some of the most potent phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes on the planet. Again, buy organic whenever possible:
Fresh or frozen berries are low in sugar and rich in antioxidants not to mention delicious and easy to digest. I always do my best to start the day with fresh blueberries.
High in fiber, potassium, vitamin E, and healthy unsaturated fats, avocados also provide protein and live enzymes. Enjoy in a salad, shake or sandwich.
Coconut water is high in electrolytes and rich in potassium. The meat contains protein and healthy fats with four times more fiber than oat bran. Try coconut ice cream. It is rich and delicious.
4) Raw green juice
Fresh, raw juice of celery, parsley, cilantro, kale, spinach, cucumber, and other greens nourishes our body with enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The juice acts as a wonderful detoxifier. Try using a blender to keep all of the healthy fiber intact.
5) Wheat grass
Very high in chlorophyll, minerals, and other nutrients, wheat grass or any type of sprouted juice gently detoxifies our bodies. You also can choose raw superfood powders that contain wheatgrass and other essential raw greens.
6) Raw honey
Raw honey is the ONLY 100% predigested food on the planet. It works to promote healing, healthy digestion, and immune strength.
7) Chia seeds
Chia contains high levels of phytonutrients, fiber, and essential fats and acts to lubricate our joints and bowels and remove toxins. Add chia to your cereal, salad or a blended drink.
8) Olives and extra virgin olive oil
Olives and olive oil are very high in antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamin E. They assist the body and skin with inflammation and work to reduce cholesterol in the blood. I love olive oil and lemon dressing.
9) Raw dairy products
*Raw dairy is not easy to find for legal reasons especially in certain provinces and some states. Raw dairy products such as kefir, yogurt, milk, and cheese from cows, sheep and goats are rich in vitamins, live enzymes, probiotics, healthy fats, and protein.
10) Marinated raw fish
Sushi, sashimi and ceviche (marinated fish) are loaded with live enzymes, probiotics, healthy fats, and fat-soluble vitamins.
*It may not be advisable for people with compromised immune systems to consume raw, unpasteurized dairy products. Always consult your physician before starting a new diet.
As I’ve mentioned, start slow. Begin by incorporating a greens drink into your daily routine. Choose raw vegetables, salad or fruit along with your lunch or snack. Select a few of the 10 items listed above and begin introducing them immediately. Small steps along the way WILL have a positive, long-term impact on the way your body looks and feels. Raw, fresh foods are the key to keeping your system healthy. Your skin, immunity, digestion, brain, and literally every cell in your body will say THANK YOU! You will experience more physical energy to do the things that you love and increase your odds of living a longer life. As an added bonus, you will look younger too!
Jay Bradley is an Anti-Aging, Wellness, and Lifestyle Expert living in Los Angeles.