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Is It Important To Be All Raw?
By: Victoria Boutenko
There have been lots of discussions lately on whether it is important to stay all-raw or not. In his thorough and sincere article, “The Hallelujah Health Tip (SM) Issue #404: Why Not All Raw?” Reverend George Malkmus presents an overview of the reasons not to eat an all-raw diet. While I strongly agree with Rev. Malkmus on the psychological side of his perspective, where he states that, “Most people find it extremely difficult to go ALL-RAW,” I would like to comment on the two main reasons he gave for not eating 100% live foods: “…too rapid a detoxification and too rapid and too great a loss of weight.” Then you may decide on your own what works best for you.
I agree that it is challenging, almost impossible, for many people to shift to a 100% raw food diet. We have a saying in Russia: a habit is one’s second personality; meaning that our habits are deeply engraved patterns of behavior. Not only have our own lives been adjusted to living on cooked food, but the lives of everyone around us. Every modern day event revolves around eating. Thus, living on a 100% raw food diet presents a social challenge. When one decides to go on an all-raw diet, one has to not only change his or her own habits, but very often to alter multiple aspects of life such as: changing one’s circle of friends, the places one goes, and sacrificing some favorite activities. I am aware of cases when families have even separated because the partners had different dietary preferences. Some people became lonely and isolated in order to maintain the all-raw diet. These are the worst-case scenarios. Some, like myself, were lucky to have their whole family doing this together. Others happened to live in already existing, strong, raw food communities. There is a growing number of people who have been raised on a predominantly raw diet and didn’t have much to change, like my office manager Vanessa. I agree that to be all-raw, or not to be, is not a simple question. It is not only about diet. This decision encompasses many profound changes in the whole spectrum of a person’s life. I think such a change must be considered seriously and carefully. Still, the truth is that on 100% raw food diet, one feels distinctly better. That is why this diet is most likely to be used by people who have serious health challenges.
“To be or not to be [all-raw]?” That was and still is the question. I believe that it is a matter of everyone’s personal preference. I personally have several close friends and relatives for whom I know becoming raw would be next to impossible. They would have to compromise too many of their daily values. From time to time I have presented them with nice vegan books and even steamers to encourage lighter cooking. I have observed that they use these books and utensils and do benefit from better eating. At the same time, my friends know that if they ever wanted to make further changes in their lifestyle, I would be there to help them.
The part about the difficulty of changing one’s lifestyle is true, and I totally agree with Rev. Malkmus that this could be a real challenge. However, I do not agree that an all-raw diet is less beneficial to human health than a diet consisting of some cooked food in addition to predominantly raw foods. Rev. Malkmus states that, “While this ALL-RAW diet brought wellness to my body, it also brought about too rapid a detoxification and too rapid and too great a loss of weight.”
I think that a too rapid detoxification happens not as a result of an all-raw diet but rather a consequence of inadequate fiber intake, especially when consuming large quantities of juices. Insoluble fiber is particularly vital for cleaning the toxins through the bowels. It is found primarily in greens, peels, nuts, seeds, beans and skins of grains. The human elimination system is very complex. It has been perfected by nature to every minute action. I’ll try to explain this complicated process with a very simple example. Insoluble fiber under a microscope looks like a sponge, and indeed it serves us as a miraculous sponge, because every piece of it can absorb many times more toxins than its own volume. Have you ever wondered why we always like to have a sponge in our kitchen? We never use something smooth, like paper or plastic to wipe dirty counters clean. Sponges are fibrous. They make the job of cleaning easier by absorbing dirt. So does insoluble fiber. It grabs the toxins and takes them out of the body and into the toilet. Insoluble fiber is much better than any sponge because it can hold several times more toxins than its own size. I call it a magic sponge.
If we do not consume fiber, most of the toxic waste accumulates in our body. Our body is constructed in such a marvelous way that all the toxins are directed to the bowels. This is the human body’s sewage system. We need to understand that we have to eliminate many pounds of toxins regularly.
Just as one cannot clean a kitchen without a sponge, the human body cannot eliminate without fiber. Picture yourself being challenged to clean some large, dirty space like a garage, with nothing but plastic wrap. I would give up. The human body won’t give up, but if there is no fiber, the first thing that happens is our skin tries to take on the elimination “job” and as a result the skin becomes rough and bumpy. When our bowels are clogged, our body attempts to excrete more mucus, through our eyes, nose, and throat, we sweat a lot more --the body uses every possible channel to eliminate, but it’s like pushing the garbage out through the screen window instead of the door. By consuming enough insoluble fiber we unlock the door to eliminate toxins from the body the easy and normal way. From my own observation, I conclude that when we consume enough fiber we do not develop fast and violent detoxification.
The American Food Administration recommends 30 grams of fiber daily. The average American consumes only 12. If you would like to read more about fiber, you may read my up-coming new book, Green For Life.
Rev. Malkmus also discusses the reasons why some people become too skinny on a raw diet. He explains this phenomenon as not having enough calories. To be honest, I also used to think this way for several years. Only in the recent years, while experimenting with blended greens in the form of green smoothie, have I developed a deeper understanding of this subject. I think the main reason that some of us rapidly lose too much weight on an all-raw diet is because we do not have the necessary concentration of hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. When our hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) is low, it is then likely that we develop multiple nutritional deficiencies. In order to produce hydrochloric acid, the human body has to work very hard. As we grow older, our body becomes weaker and cannot produce adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid. That is why most people have less stomach acid as they age.
As we grow older, we develop gray hair. I have observed that most people diagnosed with very low stomach acid had noticeably more gray hair, which is an indirect sign of nutrient deficiencies. On the other hand, there are numerous well-documented accounts of people’s natural hair color returning as a result of consuming blended greens on a regular basis, Ann Wigmore being one of them.
Blending is similar to chewing, therefore, eating blended food can make a dramatic improvement to our health. After being broken down in a high-speed blender, pieces of food become the perfect size for assimilation. As a result, the body doesn’t keep the food in the stomach as long but sends it right into the small intestines, allowing the body to produce less hydrochloric acid. Consequently, consuming blended foods saves us energy and keeps us youthful despite of aging.
For many years I couldn’t understand why some people quickly loose too much weight on a raw food diet. These people simply cannot stay on a raw food diet because they feel uncomfortable living their lives with constant remarks from their friends and relatives about being too thin. I agree that humans shouldn’t be too skinny. After doing a lot of research about the impact of hypochlorhydria on assimilation of food, I asked some of my friends with this weight problem if they had ever checked their stomach acid level. Several of them got back to me and reported that they were diagnosed with very low or no stomach acid at all. Their doctor prescribed HCL pills to take with their meals. A close friend has been trying to eat raw for several years and became so thin that her husband became concerned for her health. She went to a doctor and was diagnosed with achlorhydria (no stomach acid). Her doctor put her on HCL pills and she continued her raw food diet. My friend gained all her weight back.
In order for nutrients to be absorbed, the food has to be broken in the stomach, both mechanically and with acids, into very small pieces of 1-2 mm. Raw fruits and vegetables have the most valuable nutrients in them, but they are especially hard to digest because their tough cellulose structure has to be ruptured in order to get all the nutrients out. If there is not enough stomach acid, the body is unable to receive all needed nutrients, especially proteins, and deficiencies start to develop. I have encountered several people with such a problem who felt as if they were trapped. While eating only raw food they were able to eliminate symptoms of certain illnesses that they had, but they became very skinny. Then they would add cooked food to their diet to gain their desired weight, but their unwanted symptoms would return. Puzzled, they kept going back and forth not knowing what to do.
That is why I felt great joy when, after teaching a couple of classes about green smoothies, I began receiving letters like this one:
“ Though the raw food took care of my arthritis I was never able to stick to it longer than two months because on raw foods alone, I dropped weight so quickly, down to 135 lbs, that my wife panicked thinking that I was dying, so I had to go back to cooked foods which made my arthritis return. When I started drinking green smoothies, my weight stabilized! I have been raw now for six months and keep my normal weight of 155 lbs. Thank you!”
(N. H., Canada)
I have already witnessed many cases in which people with digestive problems were able to greatly improve their assimilation by adding blended greens to their diets. While cooking makes the food softer and easier to digest, in the process of heating, most essential vitamins and enzymes in the food get destroyed. Blending is a lot less harmful than cooking because it saves all the vital nutrients in the food.
Based on everything I wrote above, I believe that a 100% raw food diet is greatly beneficial to everyone’s health. Adding one quart of green smoothies to one’s daily food makes staying raw essentially easier. If you would like to learn more about green smoothies, you can find it among our previous monthly newsletters on our website: www.rawfamily.com
I would like to mention how grateful I am to Rev. Malkmus for discussing such important subjects and persistently digging for the truth. Being a health minister myself, I deeply respect and admire Rev. George Malkmus for his immense contribution to human health.
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We are the Boutenko family, also known as the Raw Family. The four of us embarked on a diet of entirely raw foods in 1994, when we became seriously ill. Victoria had arrhythmia and edema and was obese and depressed. Igor suffered from painful rheumatoid arthritis and had severe hyperthyroid. Sergei was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and was supposed to go on insulin. Valya had asthma. After we went on a raw diet, we healed all of our health problems. You may read our complete story in our book Raw Family at: www.rawfamily.com