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Well and Good: Raw Nutrition

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Unfortunately,his “food as medicine” philosophy is largely ignored by modern societies. We are now prescribed a pill for every ill, but those pills often do not achieve the quick fixes we so desire.

I think it’s safe to say that Hippocrates was not prescribingchili cheese fries, hamburgers and carbonated, caffeinated big gulps. He was referring tonatural, healing foods: raw, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and herbs.

This way of eating has been called a raw food  diet, something you’ve probably heard of, whether you’ve been to one of the “raw “ restaurants in LA or New York, or just read about famous adherents like Demi Moore or Gwyneth Paltrow.

These foods are far more nutritious than the genetically modified, processed and cooked foods we now typically eat. The convenience food of todayoften leaves us nutritionally bankrupt and therefore more susceptible to disease.

Recent research has confirmed what Hippocrates advocated 2,500 years ago: Certain chemicals in raw plants, called phytochemicals, can help our bodies fight disease, regulate our hormones, and reduce cholesterol. Cooking food often destroys or damages nutrients, such as Vitamin C, several B vitamins and even some essential amino acids.

One of the most important characteristics of a healthy eating plan is to eat raw foods that the body can readily turn into liquid. The human body is an advanced juicing machine; the entire premise behind digestion is to convert food into liquids that can   easily pass through the intestinal villi into the bloodstream. Eating foods that can be naturally and readily “juiced” by your body is an essential key to living a long, healthy and productive life.

“Raw foodists” eat mostly organic food, which is 80%-300% more nutritionally dense than commercially grown food. Organic often equals expensive, but we must think beyond the price tagif we want to modulate the effects of our current dietary habits. As our bodies learn to absorb the additional nutrition and energy of raw, organic food, we will be less hungry which will ultimately reduce food and health care costs. When weeat empty calories filled with toxins, we eventually pay in the form of loss of productivity, expensive pharmaceuticals or extended hospital stays.

Human bodies function optimally when provided with food of the highest quality. We don’t have to wait to get a chronic, degenerative disease to shock us into learning what our ancestors always knew: you are what you eat. So let’s step away from the all-you-can-eat buffetand pick up an apple. Who knows? It just might keep the doctor away.

Vanessa and her husband Brad are former owners of Julian’s Restaurant in Tyler. While no longer involved in the restaurant business, Vanessa’s passion for healthy, savory food is stronger than ever. She enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for the culinary arts with fellow “FRESHies” as a frequent guest chef in the test kitchen. Stay tuned as she shares her practical ideas for bringing FRESH to your dinner table!