Having congestive heart failure from a terminal condition called CTEPH, I have had to adjust my lifestyle to treat symptoms of diseases that complicate my health. After two years of research, working with a nutritionist and doctor, consulting a dietician, and lots of reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that eating whole foods is the answer to many health problems-both for curing and preventing-including cancer, diabetes treatment and prevention, obesity, and much more.
Whole Foods are Part of Raw Food Dieting
Whole foods dieting means not eating processed foods. Instead, you process them at home, knowing every ingredient that goes into it. You can still have applesauce, but you make it from apples yourself. You can have yogurt, but you make it with your own raw milk. You can have nut butters, but you grind the nuts. Sure, it takes more time, but the flavor, pleasure and health benefits are immeasurable.
Raw Food Diets
Raw food dieting or a raw food diet is taking the concept of whole foods a step further by actually eating foods without processing them by cooking. Extreme raw dieters still eat meat, but they eat it fresh and uncooked, completely raw! I don’t necessarily recommend this when eating meats you buy from the supermarket though, as bacteria and aging of the meat can make you quite ill or even kill you.
But for fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, eating raw foods adds health benefits to your diet that are amazing. WebMD reports that one study indicates eating raw foods helps decrease your chances of getting multiple types of cancer, due to the isothiocyanates in raw foods, the very thing that is removed when raw foods are cooked.
Purists on a raw food diet will eat nothing but raw foods, and doing this can be done safely, but it takes some work to ensure you’re eating enough protein and fat in your diet. For example, if you’re only eating raw food, you’ll need to be certain to get plenty of nuts and healthy ‘oils’ from seeds as well. Avocado would need to be a staple in the diet, to add some healthy fats, and you’ll want to be sure you’re getting plenty of plant-based protein, so adding some pea protein to your diet would be a good idea too (which you can make from dehydrating the peas and crushing them to powder).
However, if you’re aware of the limitations of the purist raw food diet, and you plan to accommodate the body’s needs, eating a raw food diet can be super nutritious and healthy.
If you’re like me, though, it’s tough to go to a completely raw food, plant-based diet. Even so, the more you eat of raw foods, the better so try to add raw foods into your diet at first, and slowly increase the amount of raw foods while decreasing the amount of cooks and processed foods. You don’t have to cut out meat completely, but try to reduce it and eat only healthy, free-range, locally raised, grass-feed beef.
Then you can add fresh, raw vegetables to your diet. For crunch, you get crisp veggies, full of their nutritious nutritional content, plenty of fiber and lots of great flavor.
‘Cooking’ Raw Foods
But eating a raw food diet is tough when you can’t really change the flavors of things that much. A carrot is a carrot, and it’s how you cook the carrots that matters for flavor, but when you can’t cook foods, it might seem impossible to add that flavor in, right? Wrong! You can absolutely add flavor to a raw food diet, by cooking without cooking! In fact, some of the raw food ‘cooking’ methods make the foods even more nutritious and healthy!
For example, rubbing kale leaves with salted lemon juice will ‘cook’ the kale much in the same way that lime and lemon cook fish and seafood for ceviche. This will take the bitter ‘bite’ out of kale and make it quite flavorful. Vinegars help ‘cook’ vegetables, and depending on the flavors used in the vinegars, such as making fruit vinegars at home with real fruits (raspberry, blackberries, cherries, etc.) are divine for flavoring raw foods.
You can also soak vegetables and fruits in flavored juices, waters or oils. For example, cauliflower soaked in garlic oil overnight is really good and nutritious too. You can make your own oils by pressing seeds and nuts, using a cold pressing method (you can do this by hand or buy equipment for pressing oils yourself at home).
There are so many options for flavoring up raw foods; you just have to be a bit more creative to make it happen.
Dehydrating Raw Foods
Another way to ‘cook’ your raw foods is to dehydrate them. The nutritional content stays, but all the bulk and water leaves. You can use natural spices and herbs to flavor your raw foods prior to dehydrating them, making them even stronger in flavor. Plus, this is a great way to add your favorite ‘processed’ foods into your life without being processed. For example, kale makes amazing ‘chips’ when dehydrated. You can make chips out of potatoes and sweet potatoes too, with all sorts of fresh spices like turmeric root and garlic, sea salt, pepper, whatever you like. Banana and apple chips are a nice crunchy snack.
Adding Raw Foods to Your Diet
For just a week, try adding some raw foods into your diet. Instead of cooking that broccoli, put some fresh on the side of your plate instead. Add raw veggies into your salad and eat it with your normal meals. Juicing raw vegetables and fruits is another way to add raw foods to your diet.
Using seeds and grains, dried or dehydrated fruits and veggies, you can make fruit and nut bars for snacks that are completely raw and unprocessed. Soaking certain grains overnight can make them edible just like cooking them (heat/cooking speeds up the process of grains softening, but it’s not required), and then they can be used with the other raw foods to make dishes you’re used to eating. Beans and lentils can be sprouted by soaking in water for 3-5 days (replacing the water regularly) and then you can grind them or mash them once they sprout, because they will soften. At this point, you can use them to make dishes similar to refried beans, dahl or hummus, but with raw foods instead of cooked foods.
If you’re creative and put just a little bit more work into preparing of the foods, you can easily add healthy raw foods into your diet and increase your nutrition without increasing calories or bad fats and processed things. The changes to your health, energy and illnesses will likely amazing you. I know it certainly has made a huge difference in my life while dealing with a terminal illness, and I regret not having considered eating this way before I got sick.