Saturday, 12 June 2010

Mike Geary: Is the raw food hype legit?

I'm writing this newsletter while on a business trip in beautiful Vancouver, BC... what a great city!  This is my first time in Vancouver and I've really loved this city and the friendly people so far.

I just returned from an amazing lunch with friends a few hours ago at a Raw Foods restaurant here called Organic Lives -- on Quebec Street. If you ever visit here, or live near here currently, definitely check this place out!

We sampled all kinds of different amazing dishes that were all completely raw. Some of them used hemp protein, brazil nut protein, or almonds as the source of protein.

For example, we had a raw lasagna that was made completely with vegetables instead of wheat pasta, and used some sort of brazil nut protein as the meat substitute.  Although I love traditional lasagna as a good cheat meal, I have to admit that this raw food lasagna was pretty tasty.

We also had almond cakes, smoothies with fruits, coconut milk, and hemp protein, as well as about 10 other tasty items that we all shared and tasted.

We finished the meal with some fresh papaya (good source of digestive enzymes) as well as a shooter of some sort of blue-green algae shake, which was shockingly tasty.

Nothing at the restaurant used any refined sweeteners or any artificial ingredients.  Everything was organic too.  Also, I don't think anything contained any wheat either, at least for what we ordered (but I didn't confirm that with the owner).

But what's the real deal with the raw food hype that you hear about in certain circles?

Well, here's my take on it...

First, I've noticed that there seems to be a group of people out there that tend to be a little overly "extreme" raw foodists, where they preach that we shouldn't eat any cooked foods at all.

Now don't get me wrong...I think there are HUGE benefits to trying to make a large portion of your diet raw food.  However, I think we have to acknowledge that eating cooked foods as a portion of your food intake can still be healthy, and even beneficial.

For example, certain nutrients in certain vegetables are actually more easily assimilated when those vegetables are cooked.

While some vitamins may be diminished or destroyed while cooking, some vitamins are actually made more available to the body. One example is the antioxidant lycopene, which is made much more highly available to the body in cooked tomatoes vs raw tomatoes.

That's why eating a portion of your vegetables raw has benefits, but also eating a portion of your vegetables cooked can also have benefits.

Plus, we also have to realize that the human digestive system has evolved over tens of thousands of years eating a portion of food as cooked...let's face it, our ancestors DID cook a portion of their food using fire or hot water.

So my big picture take on this subject is that while there are definitely great benefits to raw food and I believe should be included as a good portion of a healthy diet, I think they can be balanced with also eating cooked foods too.

I don't see any reason to be an "extremist" in terms of only eating raw foods and never even touching cooked foods.

Another aspect we haven't covered in the raw food topic is that in some cases, there can also be certain benefits to raw animal products, such as raw milk.  I know that's controversial and I won't go into all of that today (more detailed article coming soon)...

One good example is the Samburu tribe in Africa that subsist almost solely on raw cows blood and raw milk and yogurt, while eating very little plant matter...yet they disply extreme health, strength, and lack of disease.

The big picture is that the human body can adapt and thrive to almost any type of diet as long as the diet is made up of natural unprocessed foods... processed foods are the one type of food that we cannot thrive on.


Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder -

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