I got inspired to write about all-raw diets again because I was contacted by a young woman who is having problems after following an all-raw vegan diet for quite some time. She's lost weight and is well under 100 pounds. But, she also complains bloating and digestive sensitivity with food intolerances and systemic Candida. All of that should not be happening to a 29 year old woman.
I am not one to jump on the Candida bandwagon, but there is definitely an element of truth to it. We are all in a constant struggle with yeast. Think of it like a military stalemate- like in Korea. We are most all definitely slightly infected with Candida. We live in a balanced state of push-pull with them. But, nutritional stress can upset the balance, and throw us into a vulnerable state.
What gives Candida the edge? Overly alkaline diets is one thing. Keep in mind that an alkaline diet is definitely a good thing. But if everything you eat is alkaline, you can become over-alkaline. You need acid-forming foods too, such as nuts and grains and beans.
Another thing is protein deficiency. When people try to live on fruits and vegetables and not much of anything else, they can be shortchanged in protein. And that can cause sub-optimal immunological function which can cause Candida to grow excessively.
I regard the raw-food-only movement as misguided. It's all based on an appeal to naturalism. After all, animals in the wild don't cook their food, right?
That's true, but there are lots of things that human beings do that wild animals do not. And on a larger scale of naturalism, modifying nature and our environment is what humans do and have always done. What is natural for us is unlike what is natural for ANY other species.
How long have humanoids been cooking? I say "humanoids" because if you bring it up to homo sapiens, which is our species, we have ALWAYS been cooking. Cooking predates the rise of homo sapiens by the better part of a million years- at least.
But, cooking may go much further back than that. Some paleontologists think that humanoids started cooking several million years ago. The longest estimate I have seen is 9 million years ago. Can you really describe something that our ancestors have been doing for 9 million years as unnatural?
In fact, some paleontologists think that cooking was instrumental in motoring human evolution, that we might not exist today in the way that we do if not for cooking. Cooking has the effect of vastly increasing the variety of food that can be accessed. It has the effect of increasing the digestibility of food, and that of course spurs growth. And cooking can also be said to concentrate the nutritional density of some foods. Does it destroy some nutrients? Yes, but it's not the absolute amount of nutrients that matter, but the amount that you digest and absorb. It's like the difference between the "gross" and the "net" in business. No matter how big the "gross" is, it's the "net" that matters. And that's why they call it the "bottom line." And, we all know what that means, in and out of business.
Now, don't get me wrong: I think that eating a generous amount of raw foods is VERY IMPORTANT. Every single day, I eat generously of raw fruits and raw salad vegetables, and I have raw nuts too. And sometimes I eat raw seeds, although not nearly as often as I eat raw nuts. But, once I've made a point to eat a generous quantity of those foods, I know that I have gotten all the benefits that raw foods have to offer. So from there, if I eat cooked vegetables, and some whole grains and legumes (cooked) I don't see it as a compromise. I see it as a complement.
I am convinced that for most people, including myself, a mixed diet, including raw and cooked foods is best. It's a much more proven diet than an all raw diet. Is it less natural? That is not a point I am willing to concede. I don't think we are doing anything unnatural when we bake a yam or steam some broccoli. I see it as bringing the most out of these wholesome natural foods.
I am going to try to help this young woman, but she is going to have to be willing to change course. That's because if she stays on the course she's on, I know I can't help her.