face Raw Food 101 - Osha Key
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Raw Food 101

By January 14, 2014 4 Comments

When I first found out about raw food I got so fascinated that I read every single book I could put my hands on, watched hours and hours of videos, and made my body a living laboratory where I tested everything on myself.

There is so much information, a lot of which is very confusing, overwhelming and contradicting. If you want to spend four years reading and testing everything on yourself, it’s fine. I am sure you will enjoy the experience. However, if you want to know the basics, without any scientific language and confusing information, you are more than welcome to read my raw food summary in layman terms. I hope this will inspire you to explore the living foods further.

1. You are what you eat

You are what you eat, or to be more precise, you are what you ATE. The food we put in our bodies, become our cells. If you put a lot of unhealthy food in your body, your cells slowly get clogged with toxins and eventually you could get a disease like cancer. Even if you don’t have a disease yet, you might still feel a lack of energy, motivation or have excess weight. Sometimes even if you eat less and exercise more, it is very hard to lose weight! Why? Because toxins are trapped in your fat tissue.

2. Cooked food and toxins

What does cooked food have to do with toxins? More than 90 toxic substances have been identified that are formed when a potato is cooked. Some of these toxins are mutagenic and/or carcinogenic. Potatoes are just an example: toxins are formed while cooking all carbohydrates, proteins and fat. Especially dangerous are animal products and fats, as they are extremely carcinogenic. You might not feel anything for years, but these toxins accumulate in organs and body tissue and will give you trouble in the future. At the moment they might be causing you to carry extra weight and might be sabotaging your attempts to lose it. Toxins are waste. And waste = weight.

Cooked food has lost its water content and is very dense; therefore it is so much harder for your body to digest it. When you eat heavy food, your body draws most of its energy into digesting it. Hence you don’t have a lot of energy and motivation for exercising.

When you start eating more raw food, your body doesn’t need as much energy for digestion, so you feel more energetic, and also your body starts to heal itself and clean itself from the inside. The consequences will be weight loss, more energy, healthier skin, nails and hair, more positive outlook and more motivation!

3. Body pH

Most cooked food makes our body pH acidic. Animal products like meat, eggs and diary are extremely acidifying, meaning that their pH is not necessarily acidic, but its effect on a body is acidifying. In order to neutralize your blood’s pH balance your body needs to draw alkaline minerals (like calcium, potassium, magnesium) from your bones and teeth. Your body will do anything to sustain the blood pH at a narrow range around 7.35-7.45, otherwise you could die. It’s so ironic that many people drink milk in order to get calcium, but the calcium in milk is very low in bioavailability (due to improper calcium-phosphorus and calcium-magnesium ratio. Even if we get calcium from it, your body loses more of it from your bones, due to the acidifying effect milk has). Many diseases, like cancer, thrive in this acidic environment. Plus, acids are waste in the organism and get stored in the body tissue, which contributes to excess weight and inability to lose it. Remember, waste = weight.

On the other side, raw fruit and vegetables, especially greens, are very alkalising to your body. Due to high content of alkaline minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron) they make your body pH more alkaline. When you alkalize your body, it starts to get rid of toxins, therefore your body starts healing itself and you start losing weight.

Cooking food destroys some of the nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes). We all know why we need vitamins and minerals. But what about enzymes?

4. Enzymes

Enzymes they are essential for all body functions, i.e. digestion, cell regeneration, tissue building, breathing, nutrient absorption, etc. We are born with a number of enzymes and we deplete them with years. There are plenty of enzymes in all living organisms (plants and animals, including humans), but we destroy them by heating food.  Enzymes start dying at 115 degrees Fahrenheit or around 46 degrees Celsius. When you don’t supply enzymes with food, your body will need to use its own reserve enzymes to digest and process food (your body also uses enzymes to fight disease, stress, etc.). When you deplete your enzymes, you could die (it will happen eventually). Therefore, younger people are more likely to survive chemotherapy and heal from cancer, than older ones – older people have already depleted most of their enzymes therefore healing is harder.

5. Fiber

There is plenty of fiber in all fruits, vegies, legumes and grains. You probably know that fiber is very important for assimilating nutrients, proper elimination and detoxification. Unfortunately, there is no fiber in meat or dairy products, therefore people who eat a lot of animal products and not enough vegies, fruits, legumes, or grains, store their toxins in their body for a long time, get constipated, have funny body odor.  (You can’t live without deodorant or they will lose all their friends).  Eventually you could develop colon diseases, such as diverticulosis, colitis, Crohn’s disease or even colon cancer.  A healthy human should eliminate waste at least 3 times a day, or as many times as you eat meals. If you don’t, where is it going? And what is it doing to your body?

6. Fat

Fat. If you are eating an omnivore diet and think that you don’t eat a lot of fatty foods, chances are you are wrong. There are fats hidden everywhere! For example, while you might think nuts are healthy and have protein, actually about 60-90% (depending on the type of nuts) of their calories come from fat!

In order to be healthy and stay away from heart disease, we should keep our fat caloric percentage low, i.e. up to 20% fat, though your goal should be 10% and less. Of course, fats in nuts, seeds and avocados are a lot healthier than saturated fat in animal products or fried food. However, if you consume too many calories from fat, you can expect digestion, assimilation, skin, energy or weight issues.

7. Protein

People are often mistaken that they need a lot of protein. There is plenty of protein in fresh fruits and vegetables which your body can easily use and assimilate. Your body doesn’t build muscle or any other tissue from the whole protein but does it from amino acids. Your body needs to break protein from food into amino acids, and animal protein molecules are very hard to break down. Therefore, after eating a big steak, you want to lie down on a coach, not go for a run. I still cannot figure out why people say they need meat for energy, but after eating it they go lie on a coach or drink coffee! Strange, isn’t it? Protein in fruits and vegies is easier to break down and easier to assimilate.

8. Carbohydrates

Your body uses carbohydrates as its primary source of energy. They are easily converted into glucose and stored as glycogen in every single cell of your body, mostly in muscles and the liver. It’s very important to emphasize that our brain also run on glycogen.

However, not all carbs are created equal. Refined carbs (white or brown sugar, white rice, white flour, etc.) are not good for your body. They are empty calories as their essential nutrients and fiber have been removed. They cannot be properly digested without fiber, plus they are very mucus forming. The best source of carbohydrates are raw fruits and vegies, second best – whole grains and legumes.

9. Calories

The most important fact of this lifestyle ( and you might be surprised) is that you do not have to restrict your calories! Quite the opposite – you need to make sure you are getting enough. When you cut fats and eat mainly raw fruit and vegetables, they have less calories per bite. This means that you will have to eat more bites. But people are used to determining how much to eat in volume – so the most common mistake done when starting eating raw food – is under-eating. That was my mistake when I started eating raw food. I had a green smoothie in the morning and a salad for lunch. The smoothie might contain 400kcal and the salad (if without oil) – around 100 kcal, so the total is about 500 kcal!! No wonder I used to be so hungry after work and go binge on nuts before dinner! Sometimes I would even go eat a cooked dinner because I was so hungry. Fruit and salad did not look appealing to me!

10. Other Common Mistake

Other very common mistake – is consuming too much fat, not enough carbs. Many people are misled and think that fruit has sugar so it will make them fat, so they avoid fruit. Vegetables have very little calories and cannot sustain one’s body. So to compensate that, raw vegans start eating lots of nuts, coconut flesh, seeds, avocados, oils, etc. Then they feel lethargic and have weight issues. Your body cannot use protein and fat as energy, it needs to convert it to glycogen, which burdens your kidneys and liver. So your body uses a lot of energy for this process, hence you do not have energy to do your thing!

Conclusion and recommendations

Basically, it’s just commonsense – the more plant based foods you eat, the better. The more unprocessed food, the better (e.g. vegan soy “meats” might be plant based but they are very processed so not optimum for your health, although better than animal protein or fat). The more raw foods, the better, as you get plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes to keep you young and have  proper digestion and build muscle and other body tissue). The lower the fat percentage in your diet, the better. It’s as easy as it sounds.

You will find a lot of contradicting info. Some people will even tell you not to eat fruit (nature’s food) and eat processed animal fat (really “makes sense”). Before believing anyone, think for yourself first. Fruits and vegies are the most nutrient dense foods on planet Earth, full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (to fight toxins, diseases, viruses, free radicals). Enzymes and fiber ensure healthy body functions. Nature has left us with all we need to stay healthy and heal if we need to. It’s pretty self-explanatory what the best food is, isn’t it?

It’s not about perfection, it’s about the progress. Educate yourself, and you will find yourself naturally making better decisions on a daily basis. I know we are all very busy, but not stopping to read, research and prepare yourself a proper meal because of a lack of time is the same as saying “Yes, I can see my petrol is running out, but I’m too busy driving to stop at a gas station”. When you run out of your gas, you can’t drive your car anymore. If you run out of health, it might be too late. As Karyn Calabrese said, ‘Your body is the most magnificent machine you’ve even been given. If you don’t take care of it, where will you live?’

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Sarah says:

    Great summary!

  • Christine Giles says:

    I love raw food, and I loved it how you put it in such an easy to understand summary. Do you follow a raw food diet, Osha?

    • Osha Key says:

      Hey Christine, I follow a plant-based diet, which is high in raw foods, but not 100% raw at the moment. I always start my day with raw foods – green juice and then a green smoothie. But then have some cooked veggies and legumes in the evening. I talk more about my diet on the blog post ‘What’s the best diet in the world’.

  • Really a great summary. You touched the base of the most important things :)

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