Heat damages the delicate macronutrients, micronutrients and enzymes in food, as well as its subtle yet all-important energy field.
It begins its demolition job on all of these – and in many cases finishes it – at a fraction of the temperature at which most food is cooked.
In addition, heat causes the formation of substances which can damage our cells when they come into contact with them – and as these substances are not naturally occurring they add to our toxic load.
These are just some of the reasons it makes sense to eat as much of our food raw as possible.
But unfortunately there are a number of dangerous myths circulating in the raw food world. Get taken in by any of these and they can really diminish the results you get on your raw or high-raw regime.
So today I want to share with you the five raw diet myths I consider most dangerous, and why.
1. “There is no nutrient we need that we can’t get on a raw vegan diet.”
This statement is quite correct – except, that is, for vitamin B12, vitamin D and the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA. And then there is the longer list of nutrients that are challenging to get enough of on a raw vegan diet – chief among them zinc.
Veggies and fruits are loaded with phytonutrients and are at least “adequate” sources of most other nutrients if you consume them in variety and in large enough quantities, along with small amounts of nuts and seeds. But no matter how much plant food you chow down on, you’re not going to get enough vitamin B12 or vitamin D – and a chronic deficiency in either of these can undo all the good of eating raw vegan and quite literally ruin your health.
2. “You can never do too much detoxing.”
Not true. Overdoing the detox can deplete you, big time. For example, as fantastic as it can be to flood your body with just raw juices and nothing else for a few days every now and again, this regime doesn’t give you all the nutrients you need, so go easy.
Also, many raw food enthusiasts use juice fasts and similar detox regimes as a way of managing disordered eating. There is this notion that a period on just raw juices is the surest way to break a pattern of overeating. But it can and does often have the opposite effect, especially if you set yourself a target of weeks or months on just juice, as many do.
Deny yourself solid food for a prolonged period and the deprivation factor coupled with the likely deficiencies can see those out-of-control cravings return worse than ever once the fast is over. The best way to learn a healthy attitude to food is by practising a healthy attitude to food.
3. “You don’t need to bother with salad or green juice – what you really need is my [raw guru reels off list of expensive packaged supplements raw guru happens to sell].”
If you’ve never heard this one you may think I’m making it up. I’m not – and it’s so patently untrue that anyone saying it either:
- Does not have a basic grasp of nutrition, or
- Is prepared to lie to you – with misinformation fairly likely to make you less healthy if you believe it and act on it – in an attempt to make money out of you.
Top-quality superfood powders and potions absolutely have a place in the optimum nutrition lifestyle. They are a fantastic supplement to fresh, vital, alive, water-rich foods, but they are never a substitute for them.
Catch any guru trying to convince you otherwise and in my opinion, anything and everything they say is suspect. You don’t need me to tell you how important your health is – and that if you are going to follow anyone’s advice about what you should be eating it is essential they (a) know what they’re talking about and (b) are ethical enough to tell you it like it is.
4. “There is one ideal diet for everyone.”
There is an ideal diet for each of us, but it’s not the same for all of us. How could it be? Here are just a few of the things that make you unique:
- Your metabolic type
- Your constitutional strengths and weaknesses
- What you have eaten in the past
- Your current level of health
- The amount of exercise you do
- The amount of sun exposure you get
- Where you live and what grows in your locality
The take-home message: just because “Joe Schmo raw food guru” looks fantastic and swears by the plan he teaches doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Fall for the “one ideal diet for everyone” myth and you pay far too much attention to what other people are saying and far too little to what your own body is telling you.
I’ve seen people whose health has deteriorated dramatically on a raw regime that was wrong for them, and I’ve seen some carry on regardless, especially if an “expert” they were consulting convinced them to ignore the warning signs. I’ve seen some of these people eventually deterioriate to the point where blood tests revealed they were suffering from multiple chronic deficiencies and other serious imbalances.
Don’t let it be you.
5. “You can eat as many nuts as you want, as long as you eat them raw.”
Not true. While nuts and seeds are great in small quantities, it’s easy to overdo them – and not a good idea, as they contain a number of substances we need to limit our intake of, including lectins, phytic acid and omega-6 fats. A handful of almonds or pecans: good choice.
Those raw gourmet blow-outs where you end up eating half a kilo in a sitting: not so much.