Challenging conventional ideas and prevailing orthodoxies in health and nutrition, the raw or living foods and “superfoods” movement keeps gaining converts. Many raw foodists see the contemporary Western diet as a disaster – condemning us to increasingly poor health and ever-more complex, unpleasant, and expensive medical conditions as we age. The combination of dairy, wheat, meat, alcohol, starch, and coffee that is the common fare for many has the effect of blocking arteries and “acidifying” the body, making us more prone to cancers, bacterial and viral infections, leaky guts, and other nastiness over the course of decades. Industrially produced food and consumption of meat also do great harm to the environment.
While we don’t notice the effects of all of this when we are young and feel relatively immortal, it catches up with us over time. What and how we eat also directly affects our mood, our ability to concentrate, and our state of mind. Foods that alkalize the body include fresh vegetables, green juices, algae, and sprouts. Raw food adherents believe that cooking has a negative effect on the healing and nutritive properties of food – that it destroys crucial enzymes and vitamins while creating many chemicals that may be bad for us.
“In nature, is a gorilla boiling up grass and eating it?” asks David Wolfe, one of the leaders of this movement. “No. The natural thing is raw.” Wolfe calls himself a “renegade nutritionist” with a passion for “superfoods, super herbs, tonic herbs, and spring water.” A compelling speaker with a large international following, Wolfe is the author of a number of books including Naked Chocolate, Superfoods, and Eating for Beauty. He writes regularly for his websitewww.longevitywarehouse.com , which sells many of the products he supports.
“Raw is simple, clean, pure and authentic,” says Wolfe. “Raw foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seaweeds, grasses, sprouts, flowers, and herbs, also fermented foods. Cooking must have been originally invented as a food preservation technology. We can ask ourselves: Do we still need that technology today? Cooking allowed us to eat foods that were otherwise inedible, such as potatoes and beans. Do we need to eat beans? Is this what’s best for us?”
Along with other pioneers in his field, Wolfe has scoured the world for foods that provide optimal nutrition, such as hemp seeds, goji berries, spirulina, chlorella, and wheatgrass. He waxes rhapsodic over the benefits of raw cacao – the bean that produces chocolate – which he calls the “number one anti-oxidant food in the world,” full of potent minerals such as magnesium, chromium and zinc. Maca, a root from Peru, “improves thyroid health and function.” Chlorella “detoxifies heavy metals and is a complete protein.”
Reasons to integrate super foods, herbs, and live foods into your lifestyle, according to Wolfe, is to increase vitality, feel better, and get more “connected to source. How you and your family feel moment to moment is far more important than the value of your stock portfolio or what your boss thinks of you.” Perhaps the change of consciousness confronting the modern world also requires a revolution in our approach to diet and nutrition – from indiscriminate consumption to choosing to maximize energy and health, for the long term.