The Joy of Not Cooking
"Generally the raw food diet works because it is a synergy," says Donaldson. "Vitamins, enzymes, a healthy bowel, balanced emotions, positive outlookall of these components come together in a living way. People overcome arthritis, allergies, cancer, you name it. I am still amazed by the testimonials."
Rose Lee Calabro knows what Donaldson is talking about. Before turning raw she suffered from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, allergies, candida, chronic fatigue, joint pain, depression, mood swings, gallstones, hair loss, hearing loss, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, chronic sinusitis, insomnia, gout, and early signs of cancer in breasts and lungs. Although her transition to a raw foods diet was gradual (first vegetarian, then vegan), she truly began to notice changes after going raw. "In less than two years, I lost the weight I wanted to and cured myself of my health problems," says Calabro. She recently published a recipe book entitled Living in the Raw (Rose Publishing, 1998) and co-produces the annual Living Food Health Expo in San Francisco.
To Cook, or Not to Cook
Going raw does have its drawbacks. One is that some people find this type of diet leaves them hungry for, well, something more, something warm. "In the winter months," says Havala, "calorie needs may be greater due to the cold, and low-calorie, water-dense foods such as many fruits and vegetables might not provide enough calories for some people. In that case, greater reliance on starchier vegetables may help, but many of those are typically cooked."
And the raw foods diet did come up short on protein and one vitamin: B-12. "It is difficult to get sufficient B-12 in the raw food diet," says Donaldson. "A recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that even seaweed isn't an adequate source of vitamin B-12; in fact, it suggested that foods such as spirulina, dulse, and blue green algae actually reduce the body's available supply of B-12. Some nutritionists recommend supplementing the raw foods diet with nutritional yeast or a sublingual B-12 tablet once a week. Another disadvantage of the raw diet is that it tends to be low in protein, roughly an average of 40 grams a day for women, 50 grams for men. However, adequate protein requirements are probably lower than most researchers think. After all, the requirement for men is 60 grams, and this is an average, meaning many men do fine with less."
You don't have to go 100 percent raw to enjoy the benefits. Start adding more raw foods to your diet until you find a combination that feels right. Who knows? Raw could be right for you.
Blake More's articles have appeared in Alternative Medicine Digest, Intuition Magazine, and Utne Reader. She has also coauthored two nonfiction health books.
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