RAW FOODS AND JUICING
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© June 2015, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
This important article explores the pros and cons of raw foods versus cooked foods. It also discusses the topic of juicing.
Please read this article with an open mind. Many people advocate eating a lot of raw food because animals eat raw food and stay healthy, or because raw foods contain a little more of some nutrients. However, the subject is more complex. I was once a fierce advocate of raw food. However, with 35 years of experience with thousands of clients, I have learned differently.
We are not like the animals. We think more, we worry, we go to work and many people do not rest and sleep enough. Unlike most animals, most people’s digestion is very weak.
Vegetarian animals, in particular, often have very complex or multiple stomachs, such as cows and goats, in order to digest raw vegetables. Human beings lack these.
Many animals such as cows and horses spend most of their day eating and chewing. We do not do this.
This article will suggest that a little raw vegetables and raw dairy products are excellent and necessary for some people. However, eating more raw food than this is not needed, makes the body too yin, interferes with mineral absorption because we cannot break down the tough vegetable fibers, and has other problems as well.
MEDICAL ARTICLES ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF COOKED FOOD
The assertions in this article have been studied by scientists and researchers. Here are a few articles that support eating cooked, rather than raw foods:
1. Link LB ; Potter JD. Raw versus cooked vegetables and cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004; 13(9):1422-35.
2. Ismail A ; Lee WY. Influence of cooking practice on antioxidant properties and phenolic content of selected vegetables. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004; 13(Suppl):S162.
WHICH FOODS SHOULD BE EATEN RAW OR CLOSE TO RAW
As a general rule, I find that cooked food is best, except for:
1. Raw dairy products from reputable sources are definitely better than pasteurized and homogenized dairy products. In fact, pasteurized and homogenized dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt are often of poor quality and should be avoided. Also, cooking milk and cheese at home in dishes such as quiche should be avoided, as well. Cooking the fats in cheese and milk destroys most of their benefits.
2. Everyone needs a little raw vegetables daily. These are easy to obtain, however, even without eating whole vegetables. You can add to your food mustard, garnishes of parsley, lettuce or other vegetables, garlic powder, cayenne or other spices. This is often enough raw vegetable energy for many people.
If you don’t eat mustard or fresh or dried herbs on your food, then I suggest:
a. Two slices of raw daikon or white radish.
b. OR one or two small red radishes.
c. OR one slice of jicama.
d. OR if you cannot get any of these, a slice of raw turnip is good.
These are better than other salad vegetables because they are more yang. One of the biggest problems with eating a lot of salad is that it causes the body to become yin, which is usually not good at all today.
3. Do not overcook food. Vegetables can be soft, however, for best digestion. Meat should be cooked just enough to make it safe to eat. Eggs should always have the yolk runny – never hard.
Let us discuss this subject in more detail.
PROBLEMS WITH RAW FOODS
1. Low mineral and vitamin absorption. Many nutrients are locked within the tough fibrous matrix of vegetables. These are biounavailable if eaten raw because:
a) Human beings cannot digest cellulose and other fibrous starches. Humans lack the enzymes to digest cellulose and other vegetable fibers. This is a fact, even if one does not like it. Taking a cellulase enzyme might help a little, but will not overcome this problem.
Vegetable-eating animals tend to have longer digestive tracts than we do. Some also have three or four stomachs to assist digestion. A few such as cows regurgitate the food several times to help them digest raw food.
b) Many people also have very weak digestion, making it even harder to digest vegetable fibers.
Cooking breaks down the starch and cellulose and other fibers, releasing the minerals, in particular, and perhaps other phytonutrients.
While raw food provides more of a few vitamins such as vitamins C and E, this is more than offset, in most cases, because we cannot digest vegetable fibers very well.
As a result, many fewer minerals are absorbed from raw foods. Also, less vitamin A is absorbed from raw food, and this is vital today.
2. Raw fruits and vegetables are extremely “yin”. Yin means cold, expanded in Chinese medical texts and in macrobiotic theory. Cooking tends to make food much more ‘yang’ because one adds heat to the food.
A severe problem today is all of our bodies are already too yin. This is due mainly to radiation toxicity, poor quality food, toxic chemicals, toxic metals and electromagnetic stress, among other factors. Adding more yin energy is therefore quite harmful, even if the food itself is of very good quality.
This problem is relatively recent, and only occurred in the past 50 years or so. Older books, including even some of Weston Price’s work and many others, suggested more raw animal protein, for example, and they were correct! However, things have changed drastically in the past 50 years due to ionizing radiation in the environment, and planetary contamination with toxic metals everywhere. For this reason, raw food is no longer nearly as healthful as it once was. It may produce certain positive changes in the body, but over time, it unbalances the body severely due to its more yin quality.
Also, note that the system I use to evaluate the yin and yang qualities of foods is Macrobiotics, and not the older Chinese method. This is quite controversial, but I find the Macrobiotic method of determining yin and yang foods and food qualities to be more accurate today.
3. Cooking concentrates some foods, allowing one to eat much more of the food. For example, spinach and other leafy greens “cook down”, allowing one to eat more of them without getting full. This is very helpful for everyone today, as everyone is very low in vital minerals and hundreds of other phyto-nutrients found in many foods.
4. Raw foods are somewhat irritating to the digestive tract. I am not sure of all the reasons for this. However, it is undoubtedly true, in my experience. It may be due to the raw fiber content of salads.
Sugars found in fruit and other sweets are also irritating, in my experience. One reason for this may be that they feed improper intestinal microorganisms such as yeasts and parasites.
A third possible reason is simply that they are too ‘yin’ in Macrobiotic terminology. This concept is explained in one of the paragraphs above.
Green drinks. These are particularly irritating to the intestines. They are often bad food combinations, they contain too much liquid, they are very yin, and are often sugary, as well.
Exception. An important exception is raw dairy products. These are far less irritating than pasteurized or cooked dairy for most people, unless one has an allergy to them. If that is the case, a nutritional balancing program that excludes most raw foods will usually heal the intestines and then one can tolerate some raw dairy products well.
5. Raw food fills up the stomach, reducing the amount of other food that one can eat. This may sound like a silly reason to avoid raw foods. However, the bodies today are so nutrient-deficient that filling your stomach with large salads, for example, is not healthful at all. One does not obtain enough minerals from salads, and there is little room left for other more nutrient-dense foods.
Many who want to lose weight eat lots of salads. I maintain this is a serious mistake. I find it much better to eat mainly cooked vegetables with a little animal protein, a little whole grains, no wheat products and no sugars, and the weight falls off rapidly. You can read more about this in the article entitled Weight Loss And Weight Gain.
6. Raw foods are generally lower in etheric energy. This is a subtle topic, but an important one. Correctly cooked food has a higher level of a particular type of energy called etheric energy. Very fresh food also has more of this energy or quality, whereas frozen or canned food has less of it. For more on this topic, read Etheric Energy.
7. Cleanliness. This is a problem today with some raw foods, including salads at salad bars. It is mainly a problem in restaurants, where one does not know how clean the vegetables are.
It is also a serious problem with all meats, fish, eggs and seafood. Please do not eat these raw, no matter what anyone claims! They contain bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms, many of which are killed by proper cooking.
Exception. The exception to avoiding all raw animal products, once again, are raw dairy products from reputable sources. These are generally very healthful if they are produced properly.
Certified dairy products. You will notice I did not say raw certified dairy products. This is because I do not believe that all raw dairy needs to be certified. Certified raw dairy is a federal government program in the United States, and perhaps in other nations. It is very costly for the dairy farmers, so small dairy operations simply cannot afford it. This does not mean their products are not the best, and the milk and other dairy products may even be better than those from certified dairies if the farmers are caring in the way they raise and treat their animals and their milking equipment.
8. Raw food must be “warmed up” in the stomach, unnecessarily using up energy. This is related to the yin quality of raw foods. It just takes extra energy to consume it. This is a less important reason for avoiding most raw food, although it is important for people who are ill and whose “digestive fire” is low to begin with.
9. Raw food generally has much less “elixir’ in it. Cooking adds more etheric energy to most food, as stated above. When this occurs, certain souls are more attracted to the food and enter it. This enhances the nutritional and other qualities of the food. This is the meaning of “elixir”, in this instance.
Here is another interesting perspective on raw foods:
AREN’T MOST VITAMINS AND MINERALS DAMAGED BY COOKING YOUR FOOD?
At one time, I was an advocate of Natural Hygiene, which recommends eating mostly raw food and publishes a lot of literature on the subject. I am very familiar with the rationales for eating raw foods. However, since then I have learned more and shifted my views about raw foods.
The damage to food that occurs due to cooking depends greatly on how the food is cooked, and for how long. Here is a brief summary of the main damage that can occur in food due to most cooking methods.
Protein. The structure or shape of proteins is changed, to some degree, by cooking. Some protein becomes less digestible such as egg white, and milk protein. For this reason, only cook eggs and meat lightly, and eat most dairy products in the raw state. However, the amino acids themselves are not damaged by cooking.
Most protein is very yin, and in this regard cooking helps it to be a more balanced food. This is one of the problems with protein powders, for example.
Fats and Oils. Some fats are altered by cooking. However, if the cooking is mild – less than an hour, for example, at low temperature, the fatty acids are not damaged and become more yang, which is healthier.
For this reason, meats and other fat-containing foods should not be overcooked.
Butter and olive oil are much more stable when cooked than are other vegetable oils. Meat fat is often more stable as it is more saturated and therefore less affected by cooking at low temperatures. High temperature frying, however, can change all fats and oils into harmful products. On the other hand, higher temperature cooking such as stir-frying is fast, and this preserves many nutrients, which is why it is used in Oriental cooking, in particular. Steaming is gentle and does less damage to fats and oils for this reason.
Starches. Uncooked and even most fermented starches found in grains, cereals and vegetables are not able to be digested well at all by human beings. Most starches are not damaged by cooking at all, and should be cooked until they are soft.
Avoid granolas, trail mixes with raw oats, muesli cereals, many food bars, and other foods containing raw or undercooked grains.
Sugars. I suggest avoiding all sugars in the diet today for many reasons. Read articles such as Fruit-Eating and Sugar Addiction on this website for more on this topic. Fruit can be cooked, but I would avoid fruit and all sugars in all forms at all times for the best health today. This has to do with its yin quality and its higher sugar content and lower etheric energy content in most cases.
Minerals are not affected by cooking. In fact, they are often made much more bioavailable by cooking because the cooking breaks down fiber in the food so that the minerals contained in the food can be absorbed more easily. This is the main reason for cooking vegetables and some starches, for example.
Vitamins. The vitamins most damaged by cooking are C and E. Cooking for about 10 minutes begins to destroy vitamin C, but plenty remains for about half an hour. Vitamin E is destroyed in about 20 minutes or a little more, depending on the temperature of cooking and the way the food is cut up, at times. However, stir-frying for under ten minutes can preserve most vitamins C and E. Steaming for 20 minutes or so also preserves some vitamin C and E.
Enzymes. Man people advocate eating raw foods to obtain the “food enzymes” they contain. My experience is that this is not very important, and the concept is blown way out of proprtion. It is true that all foods contain certain enzymes that are damaged or destroyed by most cooking. Gentle steaming preserves a few of them.
However, food enzymes are not the same as the digestive enzymes that are required to digest your food. It is not true that foods contain the enzymes needed to digest the food. Your body, not the food, must supply the bulk of the enzymes needed to digest the food. This is the important point.
Juicing with only 10-12 ounces of carrot and a leaf or two of a green vegetable such as Swiss chard or spinach each day is recommended in nutritional balancing science. An alternative is to have one or two ounces of wheat grass juice, which is an excellent source of some nutrients. However, most people need mostly the carrot juice, so I would only suggest wheat grass juice once or twice a week, at most, if you wish.
More juicing than this is highly detrimental in most cases as it is too yin, too sugary and upsets the digestive tract in many people. While juices have many benefits, they have these drawbacks that causes me to want to limit them.
Benefits of juicing are that it concentrates the vitamins, minerals and other phyto-nutrients by eliminating the fiber, and it allows one to consume a lot of nutrients quickly and easily. Unfortunately, juicing also has many of the problems of raw foods. These are described below.
PROBLEMS AND CAUTIONS WITH JUICING
1. Cleanliness. This is the same as with other raw foods. For example, never have carrot juice from a juice bar unless you are sure the carrots and other ingredients are thoroughly washed in very clean water and soap.
Also, juicing machines must be washed well after every use, as it can harbor molds and bacteria. Otherwise, you could easily pick up parasites, bacteria or worse from a glass of even very fresh juice. Packaged or store-bought juice can have the same problems, and can become moldy easily if not consumed in a few days at the most.
2. Very, very yin. Juices are extremely yin products, even more so than other raw foods. The food is fragmented and more watery, and this tends to make it a lot more yin. Fruit juices are even more yin than vegetable juices due to their sugar content, and this is one reason to avoid all of them. A little goji berry juice or other berry juice may be okay once in a while, say once a month, but not more often as it is very yin. It is simply not needed in our experience, although it can be nutritious. This is an aspect of nutritional balancing that is not well understood, but quite important if one is to heal at the deepest level. Very nutritious products may need to be avoided. This may seem stupid or needless, but I find it works.
3. Very low in etheric energy. This is essentially the same as the problem with raw foods.
4. Too much is very upsetting to the digestion, especially when taken with food. Some people drink a lot of vegetable or fruit juice. It is very high in sugar and overloads the system with certain nutrients. Therefore always limit the amount and do not add sweeteners or fruit to vegetable juices.
Also, always drink vegetable or wheat grass juice alone, and not with a meal.
5. Juices can concentrate toxic substances found in fruits and vegetables. This is often a hidden problem with juicing today, even when organic vegetables are used. It is hard to overcome. For example, pesticides may be concentrated in juices. Fiber in foods helps prevent absorption of some of these chemicals. To help prevent this, use only organic carrots and other vegetables for juicing.
6. Juices with high sugar content, including even carrot juice to a degree, can upset the blood sugar level. Be careful with juicing if your blood sugar is unstable. Ideally, carrot or green juice should be taken without other food for about 15 minutes on either side of it for best absorption. Ideally, swish the juice in your mouth to help you absorb some of it in your mouth.
If your blood sugar is unstable, drink half and leave the other half in the refrigerator and drink it later in the day. This is not ideal, either, because fresh is best. However, it may avoid upsetting your blood sugar too much if this is a problem for you.
The milk industry, which often sells unclean milk that is ‘fixed’ by pasteurizing it, lobbied heavily to eliminate the competition of the raw dairies throughout the world. Today, certification of dairies is costly and small farmers may not be able to afford it. For this reason, I recommend all raw dairy products, as I have not heard of any problems with these raw dairy products, even when the farm is not certified by the government.
I suggest that two to three cups of cooked vegetables should be the major part of each of three meals each day. That means eating 6 to 9 cups of cooked vegetables every day. Here are some tips for cooking vegetables:
1. Low temperature cooking is best. This includes steaming, crock pots, and some boiling. Stir-frying, roasting and baking use higher temperatures. I would not do this all the time, though some is fine. Pressure cooking is at a somewhat higher temperature but is generally fine.
2. If you cook with water, generally drink the water rather than throw it away. This is not necessary with steaming, however.
3. Ideally, add sea salt and spices after cooking, not before or during cooking. Some foods do not react well to the addition of salt, for example.
4. Cook vegetables until they are soft, and no longer crunchy. This is important because some people do not cook food enough to break down the tough fibers so the minerals can be absorbed easily.
5. Do not overcook food so that it is just mush. Food should be cooked until it is soft, but not falling apart.
Eggs. Most adults may eat 6 to 8 eggs per week – and no more. Eggs are best eaten soft with the yolks runny. The yolk is a fat and fats are best eaten raw or very lightly cooked. Also, hard boiling an egg makes the protein very difficult to digest, as well. Good ways to cook eggs are poaching, soft boiling, soft-scrambled or even lightly fried over easy. However, do not overcook the egg so it is rubbery.
Meats. Most adults need to eat meat once daily. Please do not eat meat or eggs with every meal! The best meats are lamb, chicken, turkey and a little free-range beef. Canned sardines also count as meat.
Meat should be lightly cooked, just enough to kill all surface bacteria and parasites, and cooked through enough to kill most germs in the meat itself. Do not overcook meats. None need to be cooked on a stove top more than 10-30 minutes or in an oven more than about 2 hours. A problem with crock pots is it is easy to overcook food, though otherwise crock pots are excellent. Add the meat near the end, or take out the meat when it is cooked.
Whole grains. Most adults should eat some whole grain once a day or a little more, especially slow oxidizers. Fast oxidizers must not eat much grain.
Avoid all wheat in all forms, although pasta is better than most breads. Grains such as rice, millet, oats, rye, barley and quinoa should be cooked thoroughly so they are soft and easily eaten.
Avoid all raw grains. These are found in museli, trail mix, granola, and some health food bars.
I do not recommend most sprouts. Some are slightly toxic. Mung sprouts are fine, however.
In restaurants. I do not recommend eating any raw food in restaurants. Most is not fresh, and it may not be washed well, either. In America, you can safely drink carrot juice from a health food store or most juice bars. I would not do this in Mexico, however, or some other nations.
Bottled fresh juices are usually cleaner than most juice bars, if the juice is produced under healthful conditions. Unfortunately, however, it may be pasteurized to preserve it. This is not as bad as pasteurized milk, because carrot juice does not contain much fat, but it is not ideal.
For more about The Essene Gospel Of Peace, Volume I, which recommends a raw food diet, read The Flood Of Noah And Your Health on this website.
WHAT ABOUT FERMENTED FOODS?
Fermented foods are similar to raw foods in some ways. They are very yin, unclean in some cases, and somewhat toxic in many cases. For these reasons, I only recommend eating a little of them, and only a few that do not seem to contain aldehydes or other toxic chemicals.
The ones that are okay are yogurt, kefir, raw cheeses, miso, and sauerkraut. Please avoid kombucha tea. For more on this topic, read Fermented Foods on this website.
IS IT BEST TO JUST SOAK GRAINS, NUTS AND SEEDS INSTEAD OF COOKING THEM TO PRESERVE NUTRIENTS AND MAKE THEM EASIER TO DIGEST?
Soaking any food makes that food even more yin. This is the big problem with soaking your foods before eating them, no matter what benefits it provides. For this reason, I do not recommend soaking foods, in general.
An exception is soaking seeds overnight, if you wish, but it is not necessary. Soaking seeds destroys enzyme inhibitors that prevent the seeds from sprouting in dry areas. Getting rid of these chemicals is helpful. However, seeds are not part of the nutritional balancing diet because they are quite yin. So please do not eat many seeds.
Soaking grains overnight does not break down the fiber enough, and leaves the food very yin, so I do not recommend it. Soaking nuts makes them a little easier to digest, perhaps, but also makes them even more yin, and thus less healthful.