What I’m about to say goes against much of the conventional conventional thinking about diet, especially in health-food and natural health circles, but here goes: Eating raw food might not be better for your health, and in fact IT COULD EVEN BE MAKING YOU WORSE!
Now wait, before you start writing to me telling me why I’m wrong, let me explain…
I’m not saying that raw food is a bad thing, or that we should never eat it, just that it doesn’t suit everyone. Raw Food has a specific effect on the body, and if you don’t understand that effect, you can easily make the wrong decisions about your diet, in the mistaken belief that raw is always better.
To decide whether raw food is a good thing for you to be eating or not, you first need to understand what the effects of eating a lot of raw food is, and then you need to know something about your own state of health of well-being to see if the two match up.
Let Me Explain…
One of the most detailed and advanced ways of understanding food ever created comes from China. Over thousands of years, the Chinese came up with a way of classifying foods according to the holistic principles of Chinese medicine.
This incredible system allows Chinese Nutritional Therapists to exactly match specific foods to specific people, depending on their own unique imbalances or health issues.
Raw-Foodists promote the ‘Raw Is Good’ mantra, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s common sense that what suits one person doesn not always suit the next, and Chinese medicine gives us the tools to easily work out exactly what kind of people will benefit from a raw-food diet, and which won’t.
Why Soup is a Super-Food
Take a second to picture the digestive system in a simple form. The food you put in your mouth gets chewed up into a pulp, then goes down into the stomach, where the digestive juices continue to break it down into a kind of a thick soupy consistency. Your body then extracts all the nutrients and goodness it needs, and the bit that’s no use is discarded.
So, it follows that the more like thick warm soup your food is when it goes in the less work your digestive system has to do, and the easier it is to get the goodness from the food. This is why soups are traditionally given to invalids, or people recovering from illness.
At the opposite end of the scale is raw food, which takes a lot of processing by the body before it’s in a useable state. The Chinese would say that we get Qi (energy) from our food, but we also use Qi in the process of digestion. The more Qi we have to use to digest food, the less net gain we have at the end.
There’s no denying that cooking vegetables destroys some of their nutrients. HOWEVER, what we’re talking about here is how available are the nutrients to the body? Although a raw carrot may have higher vitamin levels than carrot soup, it’s possible that the body extracts more from the soup than the raw carrot, because they are much more accessible.
So What Does All This Mean?
Raw food has its place. It is considered Cooling and cleansing in Chinese medicine. On the other hand cooked food is easier to digest, and is more nourishing and Warming.
So, if you have a strong physique, and good energy levels, with a strong digestion, and you tend to be more Warm than Cool, then raw food will help to you to cool down and detox.
On the other hand, if your digestion is poor, or if you are frail or weak, or feel more Cold than Warm, then too much raw food will strain your system, and on balance more cooked and warm food will probably suit you better.
As always, a balance is key, and it’s important that we eat a wide range of foods within the context of a balanced diet. But next time you reach for a salad as ‘the healthy option’ it’s worth considering whether or not it’s the right thing for you considering your personal constitution.