it can be a little frustrating to try to answer questions about raw food nutrition with facility, when one is, such as I am, no scientist, no nutritionist, and really with only the sketchiest true understanding of the premise behind raw nutrition.
the popular theory of raw food is that cooking depletes food enzymes. Enzymes aid in digestion. ergo, raw food aids in digestion and provide the body with ready-accessible energy and nutrition.
however, to me, that’s sort of a bunch of cerebral gobbledygook. I don’t ‘really’ know what it means or how to be confident it’s true.
I’ve been reading the China Study, which proposes good health and disease-free states are achieved by eating plant-based, unprocessed diets, with little to no animal protein. Basically, the less animal protein, the healthier a person is with regards to cancers, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, according to the book. To me, the findings seem a bit remarkable. If those results, which appear to scientifically demonstrate that veganism prevents and reverses cancers and heart disease, were reflected in society at large, you’d expect someone might have noticed that vegans don’t get sick. However, I know this isn’t true…vegans do get sick. Additionally, they are sometimes obese.
My theory about raw veganism is that it ‘works’ in a way veganism doesn’t primarily because there are no mass market raw vegan foodstuffs (yet- except larabars, thank you, general mills. [that was sarcastic.] ) So, unlike vegans, people who decide to eat raw CAN’T eat processed foods.
Cooked veganism can be pretty gross, in my opinion. All the fake meat and fake milk are really, really, really processed and full of mystery ingredients.
The questions I get asked most are:
how do you get enough calcium?
where do you get your protein?
what about b12- you can only get that from animal products, right?
So I recently had some pretty extensive blood testing done. I’m not sick, nor have I been. It was more for curiosity’s sake. And no, I don’t use insurance for this stuff.
(by the way, I use health insurance with the highest deductible possible, which in Maine has a rate of ~$140 a month for my age bracket. In my opinion, the chances for me of getting sick are really low, and I take the gamble on paying for any accidental injuries. Something I’ve been taught by my dad- if you have enough money, carry the least expensive insurance possible. Over the course of your life, you’ll pay more in premiums than you will probably use it. So, if a $15k deductible won’t bankrupt you, take the risk and pay the lowest premium.)
the bloodwork had detailed results for all amino acids, fatty acids, B complex vitamins, Minerals, other vitamins, and toxic elements. I’m including a sampling below, the entire workup was 10-12 pages of charts.
I’ve been eating exclusively raw vegan + raw honey + black coffee (of late) for 16 months now.
the tests compare my results to a reference range.
Calcium- my result 44%- reference range- greater than 38% (i.e. i’ve got a normal and healthy reading)
Vitamin B12- my result 19% – reference range- greater than 14% (a normal and healthy reading)
I am slightly deficient on Zinc, with a result of 37%, where the reference range should be greater than 37%. The dietary sources are beans and seeds, but reflect the soil in which they were grown- so soils that have been unsustainably farmed and are depleted are going to grow plants with less Zinc.
My Iron and Magnesium levels were slightly low. Iron dietary sources are beans (argh, again), and Magnesium is found in leafy greens.
I was slightly low, though still normal, on iodine, which explains the seaweed cravings.
Many of my Fatty Acids were on the high side (again, against a reference range)- especially the Omega-6, and some of the saturated fats that relate to coconuts. (remember, saturated fats are not all bad.) My trans-fats were, not surprisingly, very low, which is desirable.
Protein intake can be interpreted through the Essential Amino Acids levels, where I had normal readings on Arginine and Histidine, which relate to getting enough quality dietary protein. I had low readings on Lysine and Phenylalanine. Lysine is common in beans, which I eat almost none of (I’m not really a fan of sprouting, but plan to try it a bit more) and spinach. I go through spinach phases- sometimes I’ll eat a box a day, but for the past few months it’s been very low.
Interestingly, Phenylalanine is related to depression and mood- where lower levels relate to lower moods. Additionally, according to wikipedia, Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, is a source of the amino acid. I gave up Aspartame (and all artificial sweeteners) completely when I was 22, but ate it frequently before that point. Immediately after I gave up the artificial sweeteners, I experienced an intense positive good mood that lasted for about six months (which appears to be the inverse of what one might expect.) Phenylalanine is also found in beans and seeds, to a greater extent than in animal products.
So- the dietary directions all seem clear: add some sprouted beans and lentils, and eat more leafy greens. (The latter doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve gotten very lazy on that count, and eat far fewer leafy greens than I used to.)
I think the real point of this post is: all that propaganda about calcium and dairy, should, by this day and age, be recognized for what it is. Additionally, b12 deficiency, while a vegan possibility, is really a pretty low risk. I don’t supplement b12, I drink kombucha and eat sauerkraut a few times a week.
Protein is something I can work on- this is because I don’t really like beans (raw or cooked.) I might also try some spirulina- which I love, when made into cookes or bars.