I often get asked whether raw food is the be all and end all of healthy eating and my answer in short is always……no.
Nothing in immediate extremes is going to be the answer to all our ills unfortunately, and crashing into restrictive ways of eating is usually a recipe for disaster but there is definitely something to be said for including a range of different types of foods into our diets, as just like the myriad colours of fresh produce, each will hold its own benefits depending on how it has been prepared.
Raw food, as the name would imply, has not been exposed to heat and as such those temperature dependant components – water soluble vitamins, enzymes, probiotic bacteria, anti-inflammatory fats and some antioxidants will all be preserved in the foods we then eat. Now just to clarify here I say some antioxidants because others like lycopene will actually be more abundant in foods like cooked tomatoes, so again just another pointer that we actually benefit more from variation rather than a singular form of eating.
But now back to today and the #justaddraw campaign that the lovely team at RAW Health have asked me to collaborate on. This fabulous company makes small batch organic products that are all, well raw, obviously! The idea behind this collaboration being that through putting our heads together we could show how easily we can all include a little more raw food into our diets to gain those benefits I mention above, and then of course I thought I’d share a few of my more clinical considerations when it comes to easing the transition.
One of the major things people can struggle with when including more raw foods is that they are naturally richer in insoluble fibre, that crunchy texture, the need to chew a little more, well this is true further down the digestive tract and so a sudden burst of raw things into a tummy not quite expecting it may trigger some bloating, gas, slight cramping, basically a selection of things we would hope to avoid when making what we assumed to be a healthful swap.
So my advice is always to go slowly with these things, and to support the digestion as much as possible along the way. Start off with a combination of raw and lightly steamed veg, possibly add in a digestive enzyme and probiotic supplement, or just the enzymes and some fermented foods to boost your commensal bacteria levels, and perhaps a little apple cider vinegar before your meals to give the stomach acid a gentle helping hand.
I also just want to mention fats here particularly too as you will have no doubt seen me talking about the potential issues when it comes to heating these vital nutrient dense foods. Fats in their unadulterated forms are fantastically nourishing, the flexibility of a lovely cold pressed flaxseed or olive oil will be incorporated into your cell membranes allowing for optimum communication between them and optimal health as a result. But when we start to heat these they will oxidise and those nourishing properties can turn against us instead, becoming pro-inflammatory and potentially damaging. So when looking for your healthy fats then opting for cold pressed, raw options is always going to be of benefit, and this is true of anything containing nuts and seeds to as they are naturally incredibly fat rich – so your whole nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters should always be raw (or at least organic, most definitely unroasted, unsalted and unsweetened!).
For a little simple inspiration I include some recipes below for you, and for others see the RAW Health Instagram page.
With healthy wishes,
Apple Cider Spritzers
RAW Romanesco Sauce