While eating raw foods and detoxification have become increasingly popular over the past decade or so, and while many think of these ideas as “new age”, both have been around for a very long time, indeed.
Back in the 1940s, as the holistic health and wellness movement began in Europe, Ann Wigmore began promoting the benefits of wheatgrass juice and other raw foods as a way to “detox” the body here in the US. She believed that removing what she considered to be the poisons of “unnatural” cooked foods and food additives added by industrial society, we would help the body to heal itself. She believed that fresh wheatgrass juice and fresh vegetables, (especially chlorophyll) retained more of their original energy and potency (a form of vitalism) if they were uncooked and eaten as soon as possible after harvesting them.
Though Wigmore had few credentials to back up her claims as a holistic healer (none of them medical in nature), her ideas took hold and continue to be spread around the world. Among many others, the Ann Wigmore Health Institute in Puerto Rico continues to promote a raw food diet, now labelled as the Living Foods Lifestyle®, combining raw, organic, living, and cultured plant-based foods, proper food combining, mindful eating, internal cleansing, yoga, meditation, and relaxation.
What is a Raw Food Diet?
Today, a raw food diet includes uncooked, unprocessed, mostly organic foods, with the basics including: raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Some raw food advocates will eat unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, meat, and fish. These foods can be consumed cold or even a little bit warm, as long as the internal temperature does not exceed 118 degrees.
The goal of eating more raw foods is to obtain plenty of nutrients in an easy-to-digest manner, one that our bodies are naturally suited to absorb more fully. The idea of consuming a raw food diet has actually been around since the 1800s, though it gained in popularity in the 1940s, as mentioned above) and both studies and anecdotal evidence show the benefits of a raw food diet include:
- lowering inflammation
- improving digestion
- providing more dietary fiber
- improving heart health
- helping with optimal liver function
- preventing cancer
- preventing or treating constipation
- giving you more energy
- clearing up your skin
- preventing nutrient deficiencies
- lowering the amount of antinutrients and carcinogens in your diet
- helping you maintain a healthy body weight
The most important feature of a raw food diet is that no foods that have been pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents or chemical food additives are included. This means avoiding, or at least greatly reducing, most popular packaged and processed foods sold in the grocery store like breads, bottled condiments, cereals, crackers, cheese, refined oils and processed meats.