The Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
by Jessica Fenton
Jessica Fenton (also known as ‘Jess Michael’ before she married in May 2008) is ‘The Raw Lifestyle Coach,’ and the raw food coach to the stars. She is the UK’s leading raw food expert, and one of the most inspiring and motivating health food promoters. Jessica is also the co-Managing Director of Total Raw Food Ltd, the UK’s raw and living food resource centre and superfood emporium. It’s her mission to introduce quick and easy raw food recipes to people following a standard UK diet to achieve all round better health.
Jessica cured herself from debilitating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (also known as M.E), which left her bed bound at 19 yrs of age. With an intuitive raw vegan diet, she later went on to run the 26.4 mile London Marathon in 4 hrs. She is a best selling ebook author and health food writer and speaker. Total Raw Food: The Complete Guide for Beginners and Jess Michael’s Christmas Raw Food Training are her current ebooks, whilst her forthcoming DVD, Delectable Desserts, is due to be released August 15th 2008. Her paperback book will be available later this year.
Jess appears regularly in the national media, as a raw food and raw chocolate pioneer. She has been featured on Channel 5 News, ITV News, Tiscali TV, BBC game show ‘Identity,’ Daily Mail, Top Sante, BBC radio, amongst many others. Jessica is a columnist and regular contributor for Lifescape Magazine, The Green Parent, Get Fresh and Funky Raw magazine.
In order to share her passion of raw chocolate with the rest of the world, Jessica and her husband developed their own range of raw chocolate confectionary bars called Real Raw Chocolate. Real Raw Chocolate bars can now be found in over 800 health food shops within the UK. The bars are wheat free, refined sugar free, dairy free, additive free, preservative free and heat free! They each have a unique superfood added to enhance their nutritional profile. Chocolate in its raw state contains seven times the antioxidants of standard organic dark chocolate, more magnesium, and about 45% more general nutrients.
Jessica headlines at all major UK vegan festivals. This includes the infamous Bristol Vegan Fayre, London Vegan Festival and Festival of Life. She also holds her own very successful seminars, workshops and retreats. All of which sell out. She is in constant demand to appear more regularly at these types of events.
What are the benefits of a raw food diet?
In a nut shell eating naturally occurring raw foods can provide you with more energy, allow you to reach your natural body weight, detoxify the system, gain clearer skin, glossier hair and generally fuel your body with food you were designed to consume…
The Raw Food Diet
Most people worry about what they eat between Christmas and New Year, but in my opinion, what these people should be really worried about is what they eat between New Year and Christmas.
Today billions of food manufacturers worldwide seem comfortable to sell what they describe as ‘food’ to the masses. Much of this pre packaged ‘food’ is just beautifully branded junk. Refined sugar, meat, dairy, additives, flavour enhancers, wheat, gluten; the list continues. This is not food that is by any means fit for human consumption. This is a life sentence.
When was the last time that someone you knew died of natural causes? By this I mean they didn’t suffer from heart disease, cancer, or any other illness. They were fine and healthy one day, enjoying a fulfilling, energetic life and the next day they passed away peacefully, without any drawn out suffering and misery. I am 26 years old and everyone in my life who I have seen go, has gone from a body plagued with disease, with varying degrees of suffering. This epidemic has to stop. I have made a pledge to myself that I will not leave a cesspit for a body behind on planet earth, after years of suffering and agony. I will not burden my family with years of neediness and dependence. I will enjoy an action packed, fun filled life throughout my 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and way into my 100s. I will be collecting that telegram!
So, you’ve heard that eating 5 portions of fruit and veg per day as part of a ‘balanced diet’ is healthy. You try your best to avoid the foods that you think make you feel bloated and tired, and you drag yourself to the gym a few times a week. So why on planet earth are you feeling so tired, de-motivated and depressed? Why hasn’t that half of a stone melted away like you thought it would? Why are you making excuses and blaming it on bad genes? And why oh why are you reading this if you and your friends think that you are already healthy? Could it be perhaps that you really want to take your life to the next level? That you are searching for a common sense solution that actually works? Could it be that you want unlimited energy and not to get ill throughout the year? Or maybe it’s because you want to achieve your natural body weight without having to deny yourself anything remotely appealing?
One of the key points to remember is that it’s your life and you are an empowered individual that has the ability to change. No one can force you; it’s just about how much you want it. You don’t have to be a celebrity to look and feel like a dream come true.
What exactly is the raw food diet?
The raw food diet is the most documented popular and trusted diet amongst all species in the world – other than humans. Natural raw food is the exclusive diet of all wild animals, regardless of shape, size or athletic ability. Think bears, tigers, elephants, cows, dear, rabbits, horses, and yes… gorillas!
None of the above listed animals cook their food before eating it. They only eat meat if they have the physical ability to catch their prey themselves without the use of machinery or instruments. If these animals are not physically designed to hunt flesh, then pull it apart with their own claws and sharp fang like teeth, then they simply abstain from even trying. Take a rabbit for example, it knows that it is a vegetarian so it doesn’t try and hunt a creature that is 10 times it’s body weight. If the rabbit tried to hunt a lamb it would look stupid!
I think that we are pretty safe to say that a raw food diet is our natural diet, which has been widely documented throughout the years. Until around approximately 1.5 million years ago when fire was used for the first time for warmth, protection, and wait for it… cooking! I wonder if they knew at the time that this ‘brainwave’ was set to destroy the good health and lives of billions thereafter. I’m sure that it was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time.
Today many people are celebrating good health by simply going back to basics, and not cooking. Cooking is overrated anyway, and takes up far too much time, destroys the taste of natural food, and can burn and destroy an entire meal that you’ve spent ages creating.
Don’t think that for one minute your food choices will be boring, as it’s amazing what you can eat when following a raw food diet. Not only is natural nutrition the most reliable and sustainable way to nourish ourselves but it is also food that the body actually recognises as fuel.
When the average fresh, naturally sourced food is kept below temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius / 104 degrees Fahrenheit it retains it’s natural life force. These vital live vitamins, minerals and enzymes are crucial to your body when trying to achieve optimum levels of health.
What are enzymes?
When reading around the subject of raw food, you will hear many claims that eating natural food under the crucial temperature of 40 degrees Celsius / 104 degrees Fahrenheit keeps the foods’ enzymes intact. I have held many raw food workshops and demo sessions, lectures and public talks, where I ask the audience if they know what enzymes actually are, as they are such an important aspect of achieving higher levels of health.
Enzymes are substances that make life possible. They are needed for every chemical reaction that takes place in the human body. No mineral, vitamin or hormone can do any work without enzymes. They are the manual workers that build our bodies from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Enzymes are vital as they assist in the absorption and digestion of food. By eating foods that have destroyed enzymatic value, your body will struggle to utilise the food, which in turn causes unnecessary toxicity within the body. There are enzymes in the saliva, but these are minimal, and since most people only chew their food for a quarter of the time needed. On a SUKD (standard UK diet), food is entering the stomach with barely any enzymes present to aid digestion.
There are three types of available enzymes. Metabolic enzymes, which run our bodies; digestive enzymes, which digest our food; and food enzymes from raw foods, which start food digestion. Our bodies, all organs and tissues-are run by metabolic enzymes.
“The Food Enzyme Concept” by Dr. Edward Howell is a different approach of looking at disease. It defends the idea that when ingested, the enzymes in raw food, or supplementary enzymes result in a significant degree of digestion, lowering the drain on the organisms own enzyme potential. Dr. Edward Howell defends the argument that by eating raw food the work of the enzymes is less and the result is a healthy body. By eating raw food less stomach acid is secreted.
Enzymes are a highly important consideration when searching for higher levels of health. Eating foods that are abundant in naturally occurring enzymes, for example raw living foods, are one of the key aspects in achieving better digestion.
What do you eat on a raw food diet?
The raw food diet is an abundant diet, which is both physically and environmentally sustainable. As on a cooked food diet, you can enjoy simple foods that take 2 minutes to prepare, or gourmet foods that are more time consuming. Most people are pleasantly surprised as to how much variety there actually is. This variety is dramatically increased once you incorporate the use of a blender, food processor, juicer and dehydrator machine.
Here is a list of natural foods to integrate into your diet:
- Fresh fruits
- Dried fruits (in moderation as the sugars can be too much)
- Dehydrated fruits
- Fresh vegetables
- Soaked nuts (soaked for easy digestion)
- Seeds (larger seeds soaked for easy digestion)
- Unpasturised nut and seed ‘milks’
- Ancient superfoods
- Unpasteurised fresh fruit and vegetable juices
- Raw, dehydrated crackers and breads
- Spiralised root vegetables
- Wild foods
- Raw chocolate!
Why eat raw and living foods?
The choice to include more raw and living foods into your diet, or transition to a totally raw diet is usually made due to the desire to gain higher levels of health, and improved energy levels. As the raw food diet is comprised of foods that are designed for human consumption, the body finds them easy to digest, and the assimilation of nutrients are to your body’s further advantage. Digestion can be a labour intensive process if you are eating the wrong foods or foods in the wrong combination, resulting in decreased energy levels and general fatigue. Whilst the body is run down, your immune system becomes impaired, and you begin on the slippery slope to less than perfect health. Meanwhile your body is trying its best to detoxify and rid itself of toxicity built up from unnatural foods, chemicals, antibiotics (that you may have taken, or that have been present in any meat or dairy that you have consumed.)
This cycle can be avoided by following a natural diet and living a natural lifestyle, as when you eat raw food you are working with your body, as opposed to against it.
Vegan or Vegetarian?
A healthy, modern day, total raw food diet is a vegan diet, for a few key reasons, since humans are not naturally a vegan species. Vegans do not eat anything derived from animals; this includes meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey. We would have naturally avoided these foods in the wild anyway, as they would have been difficult for us to obtain. However, the wild fruit that we would have eaten may have sometimes contained insect matter. Therefore, for this reason alone, we would have been classified as a vegetarian species, as opposed to vegan. It is obviously very beneficial for us to follow our natural diet, but unless you fancy eating raw insects as part of your natural diet, then I would highly recommend a vegan diet for optimum health, happiness and good spiritual karma!
The most popular reasons for choosing vegetarianism and veganism are related to moral, religious, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, environmental, social, economic, political, or health concerns
Detoxification on a raw food diet
Whether you have increased the amount of raw food you have in your diet or not, one thing remains the same, if you cut out the following toxic foods from your diet, your body will naturally begin to detoxify all by itself.
Toxic Food includes:
- Refined Sugar
- Unnatural Additives
- Unnatural Preservatives
- Tea and Coffee
- Soft Drinks, including Diet versions
- Heated Fats
- Drugs (legal and illegal)
This is because these so called ‘foods’ and ‘drinks’ are detrimental to a human’s health. They are toxic to the body, and therefore cause tiredness, irritability, mental confusion, depression, irritability and general disease. When the body is not at ease, it heads in the direction of disease. Disease is a serious matter and so many people treat their bodies as a dumping ground that literally become time bombs just waiting to go off. Yet it’s never too late to improve your state of health. Prevention is more desirable than cure, but I’ve seen some pretty spectacular things happen to even cancer patients who cut the above foods out of their diet, and increased the percentage of fresh, natural raw foods.
Total Raw Food – The Complete Beginners Guide by Jess Michael
The Food Enzyme Concept by Dr. Edward Howell
The Vegan Society