I'm thinking of making a shift in my caloric consumption and would like to see what your thoughts would be. I follow Paleo and believe that it is overall the most beneficial way to live for the long term. I also believe in some raw food principles. Im thinking of going to a 80% raw (mainly vita mix "shakes" consisting of vegetables and low glycemic fruit), as well as whole, raw veggies and berries, rounded out with 20% of wild caught fish, chicken, and some grass feed beef. Any thoughts?
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I found this helpful when I was wanting to include more raw ingredients in my diet.
Comparison of vitamin levels in raw vs. cooked foods:
Looking at the Science on Raw vs. Cooked Foods:
We are designed to eat cooked food.
Richard Wrangham's book "Catching Fire" point out that neither our teeth or digestive systems are typical of animals that eat raw food. We don't have the teeth for tearing raw meats, nor do we have the teeth for grinding raw vegetables. Our digestive tracks are short--incredibly short--compared to both animal carnivores and vegetarians.
Cooking food (1) makes it easier to chew, which explains why we have such small teeth, and (2) makes it easier to digest, which explains why we have such short digestive tracks.
It seems that human beings are unique in the animal world when it comes to our digestive systems. Unlike other animals, we actually don't have the physical ability to fully digest raw foods.
I think a mostly raw Paleo-type diet would have a lot of benefits. However, I would also caution you that there are many vegetables, like kale, that cannot be fully digested without some form of cooking or processing. If you use your vita-mix, however, I think this will generally break down the cellulose that prevents full nutrient absorption; but in the case of foods like tomatoes, I think some beneficial compounds are not even formed without cooking.
Raw meat would also have some benefits, but only if you are very careful with it and use only raw meat from the best of sources (such as U.S. Wellness Meats). During cooking, certain compounds are generated in meat (such as Advanced Glycation End-products) that can have somewhat deleterious effects on the body.
I've also been reading a book called "How to Become Smarter" by Nikolai Shevchuk, based on his experiments on himself and others as well as a number of scientific studies on the effects of diet on intelligence. Interestingly (and perhaps unsurprisingly), he reports that the most intelligence-promoting diet (based on measures of clarity, fluid intelligence, and focus) was what he called the "ancestral diet," which is composed primarily of raw vegetables, some nuts and seeds, and raw meat.
When you say 80% raw vegetables, do you mean by mass or by calories?
Omg I think we are over analyzing this Paleo versus Raw crap! Isn't the main reason we are all doing this is to be healthy? Why can't he do both? There are recipes that I like Raw. And there are recipes I like Paleo. I don't think we should have to choose between one or the other. When we get into these debates about which diet is better or if a particular ingredient really fits into the diet it takes away from the overall picture of being healthy. I see it from both Raw Foodists and Paleo people. And it's confusing and overwhelming to people who are just trying to make the change from a s.a.d. diet when literally every little thing is analyzed. It sets people up for failure because they are trying to follow such strict diets. Eating healthy should be a lifestyle change not a set in stone diet. We all need to listen to our bodies!! If we look and feel good then we know we're doing something right! You have to do what you think is best for you and not worry about if it's not following the book exactly. Just use these diets as a base to your healthy living and tweak them as needed.
I associate the word "raw" with crazy hippies in my area who use the word "YUMMMY" (all caps, you can tell by the way their eyes pop out) waaaaaaay too much, and tell my the acid from the meat I ate is going to burn off my face (or something along those lines). They eat a lot of dates.
This sucks, because raw veg is awesome- I love a good julienned raw slaw made from any kind of veg! I survive on big-ass salads during the summer. I find I don't eat that much raw in the winter, probably because my uninsulated windows have a layer of ice on the INSIDE of them. So, I ere to the creamy-steamy root veg.
As far as I can see, eating raw is a personal choice- if you like it, go for it. The solidness of the science/studies behind it is probably shaky. We know that we have been cooking for a long time, and it does increase the bioavailabilty at the detriment of some vitamins rendered mute. If you like raw though, no harm.
I definitely have days in which most of my vegetables and fruits are raw, but I have others that are 90+% cooked. I think it's fine either way and your plan sounds sensible.
As Curt mentioned, I think your gut flora will have an important vote on this question. Mine clamor for a huge leafy salad one day but may not want any at all the next. If you are now well-connected to the communication channel with your resident critters, they'll probably give you clear signals. For example, I eat my celery stalks/leaves raw but my cabbage and brussels sprouts need to be cooked into submission in the slow-cooker.
Let us know how it works for you!