January 27

The Raw Foodist’s Digestive Curse?

Filed under More Than Raw Foods, Raw Food & Health, Raw Food Controversies by Frederic Patenaude

I’ve had a lot of personal experience in the raw food movement. Much of my adult life I’ve been actively seeking information and learning from others on the topic of nutrition and raw foods.

Over those years, I’ve heard many things said about what is the healthiest way to eat: like how your body supposedly reacts to certain foods and what is the healthiest type of water to drink, among many other things.

But one thing that always caught my attention was digestion people experienced on a raw food diet, and how a raw food diet may impact it.

Raw Foodists and Digestion

Any health-orientated person has taken a greater interest in their digestion, or how your body utilizes and absorbs nutrients from the food you eat, once they started to get in tune with how largely it impacts how you feel.

We all know the feeling of a sour stomach, and when your stomach isn’t happy, it’s hard to think about anything else.

Raw foodists, Natural Hygienists, and many Indian and Eastern health philosophies all put an emphasis on the importance of digestion.

Some stress the importance of eating certain foods together at the same time, or specifically not eating specific foods together at one time.

Food-combining has been written about for decades now, and is something I personally used to follow relatively rigidly for several years.

Specifically, the Natural Hygiene approach to food combining, like not eating melons with other foods, acid foods with sweet foods, and so on.

The Digestion Industry

Digestion has become so important to the general public now that it’s become a bit of a food-marketing gimmick.

Everything from probiotic-boosted green powders to endless brews of kombucha and lacto-fermented yogurts line the shelves of most grocery stores and supermarkets today, all touting a specific amount and strain of probiotic bacteria.

They’re sold with promises of improving the balances of bacteria in your intestinal tract, in-turn allowing you better digestion, sharper mental performance, clearer skin, etc. etc.

I think to a large degree, many of the benefits of these specific strains of bacteria and the packaged foods that are “boosted” with them are overall exaggerated to market them.

Naturally fermented foods like raw kombuchas, kimchi, and sauerkraut are much more likely to have truly beneficial bacteria in them vs. powder-boosted items too.

You can make these foods in your own home from your own garden!

It’s also questionable as to how many of the once-living probiotics actually survive from the time of packaging to you eating it, after transit and shelf-time.

I’m not saying that they may not offer some benefit to your digestion, but I feel that truly healthy gut flora starts with an otherwise healthy gut via eating and living healthfully, not a reliance on supplemental bacteria from packaged foods.

Some raw foodist will go as far as buying digestive enzymes in powdered form to supplement the enzymes everyone’s body naturally produces.

This could be a topic for a whole other article, but for now I’ll just say that the body produces all the digestive enzymes you need perfectly fine by itself, given you take care of it.

The Raw Curse

There is something that at one time felt like a phenomenon, but now just makes more logical sense as a natural progression of human adaption.

“The raw curse” is something I’ve written about in my books, “The Raw Food Controversies” and “The Raw Secrets”.

One thing I noticed amongst fellow raw-food-enthusiasts was that there seemed like a predictable decline in digestive abilities the longer they followed a strict raw food diet.

The longer they followed a raw food diet, the less ability they had to digest any other foods than raw foods.

The longer they followed that path, the types of raw foods they ate started being limited, too.

In many circles, you see people eating mostly mono-meals of one type of sweet fruit and tender, leafy greens, for most of their food intake. These are among the easiest foods for the digestive system to digest, as they are mostly composed of simple sugars.

This is a good and a bad thing.

There are valuable nutrients in fruits and tender leafy vegetables that can be easily absorbed by just eating them as they naturally come to you, from the garden or your nearest produce aisle.

But when you eat these foods and absolutely nothing else, you body quits producing the proper digestive enzymes and gastric juices to digest other foods, like dense proteins or starches.

Humans can eat and absorb nutrients from proteins and starch-dense foods just fine, but your body needs to “get used” to digesting them first.

Tuning Up Your Body’s Digestive Fire

I’ve come to the conclusion that many of the so-called digestive imbalances and woes that many people face amongst the vegetarian, vegan and raw food scenes may not always be caused by a complex imbalance of specific digestive bacteria, and more to do with the individual’s inability to digest foods that other people can digest, without any supplements.

The raw foodist who gets knocked out by eating a bowl of rice for the first time in nine months isn’t necessarily a sign that rice is bad for them. It could just be their body wasn’t used to digesting the rice.

You can observe this by the same person eating rice (and many other things!) in the years before and digesting them at least relatively well enough to still function and not be doubled over in pain.

Whether they are incredibly happy to admit it or not, there are many people who previously swore by a 100% raw food diet and now eat cooked foods of many different kinds. The same foods that people swore at one time would wreak havoc on the system are now being eaten and digested perfectly well.

Did their body magically gain the ability to digest the previously “poison!” cooked food from all of that meditation?

While the meditation probably doesn’t hurt anything, it’s mostly just a matter of the body producing the same digestive acids again, in the proper balance, once the new foods are reintroduced into the stomach. The body re-learns how to digest them again.

Like riding a bike!

Keeping Your Stomach Strong

Even basic activities like regular walking and movement/exercise of any kind improves the muscles in your stomach, leading to stronger, more efficient digestion and absorption of the food you eat.

You digestion is much more multi-faceted than some may lead you to believe, so when diagnosing your own circumstances, I encourage you to consider all points of view.

What have been your experiences with digestion, supplements promising to improve your digestion, or anything else you care to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

4 Responses to “The Raw Foodist’s Digestive Curse?”

  1. Why no mention of the layer of sludge from cooked starch foods such as rice and breads, pastas that build up on the lining of the intestinal villi? This is the most responsible in my experience as a raw foodist for almost 14 years. After a month of adding some cooked quinoa, potato and some rice (the rice was the worst digestive and assimilative offender) I noticed increased stomach discomfort together with lack of health and athletic performance when compared with using sweet fruit as the main calorie source. No comparison in fact. Eating 100% raw (fruit as calorie base, and eating much greens also of course) after several years resulted in health and performance beyond anything I had ever experienced. I never knew that the cooked foods were limiting me so much, and that I was not fully assimilating them due to a thick layer of mucus “sludge” in my digestive system (colon etc.) But it goes farther if you research this. The cells in your body also are compromised. Your entire lymph system is over-taxed with this “toxic” mucus, that prevents total assimilation of nutrients. This is well discussed by Shelton and many others of the natural hygiene era of medicine, famous doctors of the time as well as current doctors such as Anderson. Those who return to eating cooked will have to eliminate that layer of mucus as they begin to reverse the process again and return to a system that must work harder to digest, and thus assimilate nutrition more efficiently, But the price is reduced health and performance. I experienced it, and it is hard to miss! Sure, we can all “adapt” to cooked food again, but that does not mean that it is a good thing. It is impossible to enjoy optimal health eating cooked food, but at least people know what to do when they get sick… if they listen to logic and more importantly to their bodies.

  2. Linda says:

    I am currently taking digestive enzymes and betaine hcl, they seem to be making a great difference. They are supposedly teaching my body to make enough enzymes and more stomach acid so that I can eventually not take them anymore. I will stop enzymes first and see how it goes.

  3. Justin says:

    I think that eating foods that may require more work to digest like raw kale, starting out maybe with it blanch steamed and then moving to completely raw, may help as well as eating tuberous vegetables like raw carrots as well as grains like soaked bulgar, raw oatmeal, may help. I eat raw oatmeal.

    I remember when I severely restricted my diet several years ago and then tried to eat some raw kale. Oh my stars, it created a nightmare in my stomach.
    Now, thanks to God, I can eat raw kale, raw adult kale, everyday and it causes me no woes. Maybe teas like orange spice tea with spices that stimulate digestion may be helpful too. Hope this helps.

  4. Karen says:

    Yes I tend to agree with Chris. I recently read Dave Klein’s book Digestion Perfection – the natural hygiene approach. I feel after reading that book that I now understand the reasons for eating mostly fruit and greens with some steamed veges etc.. basically the 80/10/10. Very little condiments, no refined oil, no salt etc… I no longer crave sweets and feel I am eating what is right for my body. The fruit sugar immediately fuels my brain and body. I am still not perfect at it of course and if I occasionally eat a more elaborate meal I take digestive enzymes and HCL to support digestion. Recently I was on the road and had a salad roll and then a falafel roll and 3 days later I still feel gummed up with the gluten grains…

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