Raw. mmm. Sounds delicious. No it doesn’t, though it is a food topic/avenue you should definitely investigate and look to at very least, introduce to your current food choices. I have good reasoning for this I assure you. Time and again, and when you think about it, you also will hear people saying they’re always so tired, no energy, “I’ve had a long day/week/month/year/millennium” Including perhaps you, the reader, feels this way. Energy slumps and the incessant desire to just drop your body weight into the crevices of your sofa and pillow. Such is life.
Such is life.. The statement is synonymous with giving up, giving in, acceptance and conformity to societies struggles. It resonates our inadequacies in knowing what on earth to do about it. Work less? We can’t do that can we. So where do we go? The most popular avenues we frequent are coffee, energy drinks, sugar and supplements. What do all these things have in common? They’re temporary. They bandaid the problem and barely teach us how to save our money and really get to the root of the issue. Great for business, rubbish for your wallets, energy and long term health.
Some even venture into the gym to get “fitter” in order to realise better energy. Which in itself, doesn’t really serve much. Since we are merely hoping it works. Better energy from training isn’t exactly something you’d bet your car on. I could even batter you on pad work and strength training 4 times per week, if you're not eating the right foods, you won't realise better energy or health. In actual fact, energy can be found without even lifting a weight. This is the problem, we either don’t know what is making us tired, we don’t really know how to stop getting tired, or we don’t even realise we shouldn’t be this tired. This is where I’d like to tactically place one of my favourite analogies.
Hitting yourself on the head with a hammer, repeatedly, all day every day – You’ll likely get a headache. So we reach for the painkillers. Why not put the hammer down? If you liken the painkillers to supplements, sugar, energy drinks and coffee. The hammer? Well, this is what I aim to reveal to you. What is the hammer? Knowing this will greatly empower you and dispel the misguided myths and preconceptions we currently operate in.
So I’ll ask again, why is raw food best? How on earth is raw food going to make any difference to my energy levels. How am I supposed to eat a load of raw food every day? Good questions indeed. This is where I invite you to forget everything you currently know and think about food. Remove the picture of attempting to eat an iceberg lettuce for breakfast, forget about the idea that it is impractical and unreasonable to make it work, forget about the question “But where do I get my protein?” Forget it all, blank canvas, fresh approach.
Vitamins & Minerals
Firstly I’ll talk about why raw foods work, you see. When we go to the supermarket in search of lets say, foods with vitamin C. We almost always have an orange pop into our imagination. Which highlights my point, forget everything you currently know and think. It has been marketed into us that oranges are THE staple vitamin C source. Though, when a papaya fruit on average has four times the amount of vitamin C, it begs the question. Why do we all think of an orange?
Staying on point though, oranges from supermarkets have been tested for vitamin C concentrations. The vast majority were found to have little to no vitamin C left in them whatsoever. This is part due to the fact the soil that these were grown in have depleted mineral levels from over farming. Partly due to the sprays of fungicide, herbicide, preservatives.. lord knows what else they have been subjected to. Also, part due to the fact that they have been shipped about for nearly a week before it arrives in your chops. All this heavily depletes the nutritional value of the food. It’s not just oranges either.
So is our failing health and energy because we are not ingesting adequate levels of vitamins and minerals? Precisely, well, almost. There is another huge issue which amplifies the long term damage associated with nutritional deficiency at work too. You see, we all rage about protein and carbs and a little bit about fat. Though we don’t really understand these properly. Even less thought goes into vitamins and minerals and even less is understood of their importance and role in the body. The hammer? Chemicals, additives, trans fats, refined carbs, meat, dairy, gluten and sugar. That’s a lot of hammers.
Every single person – with the information we have available to us today should absolutely trump this subject. We don’t though. The ramifications are a society of mostly knackered and lethargic human beings, or maybe you feel great? So did I before I stumbled upon some controversial and paradigm shifting literature, put it to the test and enjoyed an immediate boost and clarity to my own body. I already thought I was in decent shape with all the training, martial arts and competing I do. So, you may be surprised. I think it is worth learning about, which is why I aim to condense everything I have learned and translate it to you in a language you can understand and utilise. Allowing you to make correctly informed decisions with your food choices.
Once you have your good food in front of you, you need to understand that any kind of cooking, even boiling, will further deplete nutritional content. The two worst, most savage culprits of this are microwaves and high temperature frying. God they’re awful. You’ll be left with a plate of pure calories. Now you’re beginning to understand how we are virtually haemorrhaging the health promoting, energy promoting goodness out of our foods. I want to delve into why vitamins and minerals are in actual fact, all the rage.
Without getting overly technical and confusing, I want you to realise that vitamins and minerals hold the power to optimise your immune function, muscular function, neurological function, (magnesium deficiency usually manifests itself as a migraine or a headache) digestive function, everything function! It can provide your body the power to utilise the energy within the macro nutrients (Fat, carbs & proteins) with far greater efficiency too. Here is where a lot of us turn to – vitamin and mineral supplements. I cannot begin to even stress how absurd and pointless this is and in some cases, detrimental to your long term health.
The unfathomable labyrinth
The reason these do not work involves a bit of an appreciation for just how complex we are. The nuts and bolts of how supplements came about is through a study involving lets say, a lack of vitamin C. Some Ben Smith has depleted levels of vitamin C for whatever reason, so some scientists have come up with a way to extract vitamin C and concentrate it into a pill. Then some company sticks a barcode on it, markets why vitamin C deficiency is bad and how you can do something about it. Buy these bad boys and your life will be saved by science. Why not establish the reason for the deficiency? Well, that’s not good money making skills is it. Bioavailability is the keyword here. I want you to breeze your eyes over this diagram of glucose metabolism.
I know what you’re thinking, complicated right? Blows straight over your head. Here’s the thing though, this is merely our best understanding of glucose metabolism, in 2007. What’s more, whilst this model is useful for understanding the basics, it doesn’t reliably correspond to reality. Nutrition is far more complex than a static diagram might imply. Nutrients generally don’t follow a single predictable path after entering the trillions upon trillions of cells in our bodies. The route taken will normally branch out depending upon billions of different states and variables, all acting in an unimaginably complex, orchestrated symphony as part of the whole. It is the dominant pathways that will usually determine whether we enjoy energetic health or disease. Since 2007, more clusters of reactions have been uncovered and added to this diagram. Winding up with this.
Cor, blimey. For me, this graphically demonstrates the impossibility that we can ever reliably come up with a drug that not only cures or alleviates a given ailment, but doesn’t potentially have long term side effects. Better, than what a nutrient dense diet can do. Especially when the ailment stems from insufficient nutrition and a battery of chemical assaults, combined with pro-inflammatory food products derived from animal protein. It’s madness.
The right forest, the wrong tree
How can anybody conceivably believe they can outsmart such a function? This doesn’t even account for the variables of minerals and vitamins entering this pathway. This is a product of our evolution starting out from just a single celled organism. Millions of millennia have passed before we have arrived at this point. Once again I state, this doesn’t reliably translate into what really goes on in our system, merely it allows us to put into context the sheer complexity of our bodies.
Whilst this appears to be a polemic against the medical and pharmaceutical establishments. I don’t want to take anything away from the countless triumphs that these giants have achieved using a reductionist approach to the scientific method – Simply meaning an under the microscope, isolated variable approach to research. As apposed to a wholistic view – reductionism has gifted the world a myriad of immensely valuable and life changing advancements. The eradication of Smallpox, incredible technology, space exploration, our battles against HIV, Malaria, Polio, Typhus, Cholera, Yellow fever, Bubonic plague, Tuberculosis, which collectively have claimed countless millions of lives. But.
We must understand however, it is not the be all end all approach to science. Especially when we talk about the role of nutrition in the body. It is so understandably easy to have such endless faith in science, to deliver us yet more incredible advancements in our fights against disease. Though our current society faces a different battle, with diseases of affluence. Cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, Gout, Hypertension, Osteoporosis, Endocrine and Digestive Cancers, Autoimmune diseases, Arthritis related diseases, which are all convincingly linked to our food choices.
When we have glaring clues that a lack of whole foods in our diet is leading to a multitude of chronic diseases in the western world, a wholistic view is paramount to readjusting our health and energy correctly. The wrong and prevalent approach seems to be the hammer on the head, take the pain killers method. Which only aids in the growing financial prowess and paralleled marketing influence of the industries. Never mind education, let’s profit from this. My question is, do you honestly want to contribute to this mass rip off? This world wide mug off is not something we’d all vote for in a ballot is it. Yet we provide these industries with the tools by buying in.
What does raw food have to do with this? Well, raw foods are whole and immensely beneficial to us. A banana, for example, isn’t as simple as we like to think. Sugar, potassium, carbs etc. A single banana will posses a profile equally complex, with countless chemicals we have yet to even identify. Also a product of evolution, it is these intricate profiles of foods we have adapted to and thrived off for well over 70,000 years. Since our last significant evolutionary jump and subsequent migration out of central Africa, where plant produce was varied and abundant.
The key to health and brilliant energy, which are diminished by poor nutrition, then exacerbated by animal products and chemicals, cannot be found in products of man, of which are only decades old. How can anyone reasonably expect a 40 year old product like protein supplements to compete with nature, 4.7 billion years in the making – only if you trace back to the formation of earth – you can’t. The key to energy is in whole foods and plant based. Good intakes of the myriad of different vitamins and minerals found in their natural profiles, which are recognised and optimally metabolised in our bodies, are going to serve you really rather well.
Without the addition of chemical additives, farming sprays and the like, as throwing all these unrecognisable ingredients into the mix is inevitably going to have consequences. Plus the aforementioned damage of cooking too. Then there’s hydrogenated fats, the body has no idea what to do with this produce of man. It has been cited that it can take up to 51 days to fully break down and discard hydrogenated fats. Which are commonly used to replace flavour lost in “low fat/fat free” products, cakes, cookies and biscuits too. You’re being utterly mugged off my friends.
Then there are enzymes. We generally know what they do, they catalyse reactions within the body. A simple way to imagine them as is factories, of which they greatly enhance the speed and efficiency of a reaction with far less energy demands. I say factories as a typical enzyme will be around 10,000 to 20,000 times the size of a single substrate. These guys are pretty fundamental to our bodily function. Less factories means, well. Less energy. Fruit and veg, seeds and nuts and superfoods are ripe with enzymes. Though they serve minimal function once ingested, as the harsh environment of the stomach denatures these enzymes and subsequently breaks them down.
Point to note, many scientists who study enzymes wax poetic about the incomprehensible speed with which enzymes configure themselves to perform their tasks. Here’s a typical entry, from the New World Encyclopaedia:
“For an enzyme to be functional, it must fold into a precise three-dimensional shape. How such a folding can take place remains a mystery. A small chain of 150 amino acids making up an enzyme has an extraordinary number of possible folding configurations: if it tested 1,012 different configurations every second, it would take about 1,026 years to find the right one… Yet, a denatured enzyme can refold within fractions of a second and then precisely react in a chemical reaction… [I]t demonstrates a stunning complexity and harmony in the universe.”
The author cites numbers for a relatively small (by enzyme standards) hypothetical model in his attempt to describe the indescribable. What I wanted to demonstrate with this little biology lesson, is the sheer audacity of which man believes he will ever come up with a medicine, energy booster, gym protein shake, BCA’s, that betters or even remotely comes close to the naturally formatted product of nature. Who’s under utilised power to stave off illness and promote awesome health and energy is so vastly under appreciated and misunderstood.
The delicious key
Moving on, I want to tackle how to adopt an increase of raw foods into an every day diet. There are a number of methods I had adopted which I’d like to share in order to give you some ideas. Whilst I’m not 100% raw food – as a transition from my previous diet of April 2015 being largely conventional and meaty, to 100% raw foods plant based – is quite a leap. I took it in small steps, gently adding in new foods I had discovered through searching. Aiming to get as close as is reasonably possible, to raw whole food plant based. So I do cook! Just low temperature and not on a dominant basis. This allows me to enjoy the new eating habits I have adopted, whilst also being practical and very tasty. Which you’ll agree, is important.
The best recipe website going has to be awarded to Ella Woodward, here is a short bio about her journey.
“Ella Woodward, author of Deliciously Ella , wants you to feel good about healthy food, without being ‘smug’! The idea of Deliciously Ella developed last year after Ella was diagnosed with a relatively unknown autoimmune disease, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTs). At that point she faced some pretty interesting challenges. Her entire nervous system had shut down, to the point that she was unable to walk between her bedroom and the kitchen without blacking out. She decided to try a natural approach to healing. To learn to love and nurture her body through food, which has been the most amazing success. The more she understood the more she wanted to share, to show how unbelievably creative, exciting and delicious nutritious food could be. Through her blog she inspires people to love healthy eating, to seeing it as a wonderful way of life, not as an imposition. All of her recipes are gluten, dairy, sugar & meat free. They use the purest, most natural foods to create the most delicious meals.”
Now Ella had an extremely powerful incentive to make such a radical change happen right away. With the adoption of a diet which is whole food plant based, omitting gluten, dairy, sugar and meat, increasing her vitamin and mineral intake to an optimum, her energy and health has absolutely soared to a forefront envied by millions. She takes the seemingly difficult and impractical task and turns it into a delicious and rewarding reality. – http://www.delicouslyella.com
Through these recipes you will discover some superfoods and alternatives you maybe didn’t know existed, which is fantastic, you’ll be learning some really key foods and ingredients and how to throw them all together. Personally, I have a cupboard at home which is home to exclusively healthy food stuffs I’m rather proud of! Here is my list –
Spirulina – http://www.naturya.com
Macca Powder – http://www.naturya.com
Raw cacao nibs – http://www.naturya.com
Raw cacao powder – Bioglan
Ground Flaxseeds – Linwood’s
Ground Flax, Sunflower & Pumpkin seeds – Linwood’s
Shelled Hemp seeds – Linwood’s
Brown rice flour
Psyllium husk powder
Pine nuts, Macadamia nuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pecan nuts
Homemade Nut butters
Hazelnut milk, Coconut milk, Almond milk, Rice milk
100% Maple syrup
Fruit & Veg
This list is an example of my own personal necessities, of which I use to construct lots of different recipes or simply blitz raw in my Nutri-bullet. Of course I can fetch a few other items should I play around with a new recipe, though this is the standard model from which I draw from. It is healthy, nutrient dense and allows for lots of different ideas. Through trial and error and persistence, you will discover your own staple ingredients list. I can assure you it is a worthwhile endeavour. You can learn to create some absolute wonders.
I am hoping that this post has been beneficial to you, I am hoping for you to come away from this wiser and above all eager to dig deeper into this remarkable and underestimated world of optimal nutrition. Though remember, it is only when the whole comes together in your life, that you will radiate the energy and vibrancy you deserve. In some cases, if you’re suffering from an ailment that thus far medicine has not provided the answers and solutions, this adaptation just might change your life markedly. That is my objective with this post after all.
Retract the misplaced responsibility on others, in order to achieve good health and energy, to live life to the fullest.
Be your own hero.