Living Foods: why a majority of what we eat should be raw, uncooked and unprocessed
“Life in your foods is what counts. Cooked food is dead food!” I heard this again and again during my 12 week course under Dr BK Goel, a naturopath living only on raw/living foods since 37 years. “You can survive on dead food but to live you need living food”, Dr B K Goel would often say. He emphasised that for things to renew, regenerate you need living foods.
Just like everyone reading this post, I initially said to myself, ‘this guy is extreme, a misfit. He was interesting enough (or odd enough) for me to also interview him and a national newspapers to publish him, but he wasn’t the norm.’
Practical and matter of fact in demeanor, I find him to be a very clear and scientific teacher. What stuck the strongest chord with me was his emphasis on experimentation. “Don’t believe me”, he would say. “Just try it for yourself”. I loved that.
Living food and me
In August 2019, I admitted myself to a naturopathy facility at Urli Kanchan near Pune. It was part of my learning journey into Naturopathy. Within 3 days of being there, we discovered I had anemia and B12 deficiency. The Doctor altered my diet accordingly adding sweet lime, and pomegranate to my daily juices and 20 black raisins soaked overnight.
On the 11th day as I was leaving , my doctor gave me a diet chart emphasising that the best diet for me to take care of my deficiencies would be lots of vegetable juices and fruits.
The good Doctor’s advice settled in my head and I ensured a daily dose of raw fresh juices and sprouts and soaked raisins. I followed this daily for about 40 days and got rid of my anemia. It been over a year and I haven’t experienced any recurring symptoms since.
This was all before I had encountered Dr B K Goel and seriously looked at the science behind living foods, some of which I explain later in this post.
Currently, I am trying to ensure that something raw does enter my stomach each day. If I skip one day than I try and add additional fruits or sprouts to the next day. I have managed to trade roasted peanuts with soaked peanuts, cooked lentils with sprouts and currently trying to ensure my breakfast is always raw (altering between fresh juice, fruits and salad).
I call it the ‘food spectrum’ and am endeavoring to move more and more towards the right of this.
Why living foods?
One simple definition of living is everything that is raw or uncooked or untouched by fire. However to make nuts and seeds living, you need to soak or germinate them first.
Waste in the body
In naturopathy, the cause of all disease is the accumulation of toxins or waste in the body. Waste is formed by dead cells, as a by- product of food we eat and various metabolic processes taking place inside the body. Accumulation happens when the quantity of waste produced is more than the quantity eliminated.
Now the deal with living foods is that they generate less waste as compared to cooked or processed food. The body is able to use most parts of living foods and hence their by- product of waste is less.
Vitamins, minerals and salts
The body doesn’t just run on Carbs, proteins and fats but also needs its share of vitamins and minerals. Also called micro nutrients, these play a vital role in the functioning of our digestive system, skin and hair health, hormones and more.
Living foods are loaded with these micronutrients, which is why having raw vegetable juices or eating sprouts or soaked nuts is a good way of making up vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Soak 1 tablespoon spoon sunflower seeds overnight in a glass of water, and eat along with the same water in the morning
- Calcium deficiency: Soak 4 teaspoons spoons white sesame or 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds overnight in a glass of water and eat along with the same water in the morning
- Haemoglobin deficiency: 250 ml of beetroot+ pomegranate juice Soak 20 black raising overnight and eat along with the same water in the morning
There is also the argument of salts. If you have ever had spinach, celery or beetroot juice, you will know that they taste fairly salty. That is because living foods contain enough salt in them, reducing or eliminating the need to add extra. Cooked food in comparison, needs condiments, salts and sugars to be added to make them edible. A large portion of these additions end up as waste inside the body.
“Enzymes are synthesised proteins (their names have an –ase in the end) which act as delicate dynamos. Delicate because they can get destroyed by even light steaming (anything about 40 Celsius destroys them) and dynamos because are powerful catalyst that speed burning or building reactions in the body. “Natural Recipes, Dr T. Leelavathy, naturopath
So when carbohydrates break into maltose and then glucose it is because of enzymes. A lot of your organs from mouth, intestines, liver, all produce enzymes.
Cooked food relies on the body’s enzymes for its digestion and absorption, its own enzymes having died due to the heat of cooking. The more processed the food, the more enzyme the body will need to produce, to metabolise this food. Which is why enzyme producing organs, like the pancreas, can wear out or malfunction if we eat too frequently or too much processed food. Living food comes laden with the enzymes required to split them into the smallest unit that can be absorbed by the body and hence rely very little on the enzymes produced by the body. This makes living food less strenuous on the digestive organs.
Sprouting is a great example of enzyme action, which is what makes the ‘tail’ come out of the seeds. Tip: Papayas and pineapples are two fruits laden with enzymes
I am not a trained scientist, so don’t really have a rulebook to follow when I experiment but I have learned the following things are important:
- Time: when it comes to health, a good number is to look at multiples of 7. Try things for 7, 14 or 21 days to see some difference. For the body to form a new habit, do something consistently for 21.
- Quantity matters. Eating a plate full of fruit or raw salad is different from eating one apple or a quarter of a papaya.
Book a session if you would like help with intergrating living foods into your daily routine.