About an Outside-the-Box
By Don Bennett,
you came to the raw vegan diet primarily for the recipes, or just
for improved athletic performance, and your adoption of this diet
wasn't so that you can have the best health possible now and in
the future, this article is not for you. It is for those who place
a high value on their health, and who want the best health their
genetics will allow. If this is you, you'll likely find that this
article offers some enlightening and empowering information.
great idea whose time has come will eventually catch on. And this
is what has happened with the concept of eating as we were meant
to eat, as opposed to eating what certain industries would like
us to eat. These so-called "food" industries take advantage
of our natural sweet tooth and our desire for enough fat and sodium
and design foods that push our taste and "mouth feel"
buttons. But while people may love those foods, those foods do
not love us back; instead they are a contributing factor to degenerative
disease. And while that's not great for us, it is great for the
medical-pharma industry. So because all these industries benefit
in one way or another from the Typical Western Diet, and they
are very influential, it has been a challenge to get truly helpful
health improvement information to the general public for those
who are wise enough to value their health, and future health.
But thanks to the Internet, this is getting easier.
as with any area of science, the science of healthful living has
improved with time as more discoveries, observations, and realizations
have come to light. But as with many areas of education, some
educators fail to keep up with the times, and instead simply teach
what they've always taught... what they originally learned. Being
that even medical doctors peer-to-peer with each other to discuss
what's working well and not working well for the sake of those
they counsel, you'd think that the educators in the alternative
health improvement community would do the same, but sadly, this
has not been the case. And unfortunately, this has resulted in
"raw food fails."
it's time for Raw Vegan 2.0; some cutting edge education
that goes beyond the Raw Vegan 101 information that many raw food
educators teach. In this article, we'll cover some issues that
you won't hear a lot about. And you don't hear a lot about them
not because they are crazy, unsubstantiated notions, but because
many educators are not thinking about these issues, and there
is no peer-to-peer process in place to allow for the sharing of
information... and even if there was, while some educators would
be all for it, it's a sad fact that some wouldn't participate.
sure, I could offer this information as a for-a-fee course, but
when it comes to health information that's of a general nature,
I feel it should be as widely disseminated as possible, and therefore,
free. So if robust future health is high on your list of priorities,
you'll likely find this information to be invaluable.
First Question People Should Ask Themselves
deciding what health program to follow or whose advice to embrace,
the first thing someone should decide is: How healthy do I want
to be? The answer to this question will make it very easy for
you to figure out which healthy lifestyle program will be best
for you. On a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 is the worst health you can
have, and 10 is the best health your genetics will allow, if you're
fine with a level of 6, you'll have more options than if you pick
8. But if you want a level of 10, there are no options... you
simply have to live as best you can in accordance
with your biological imperatives. But considering that at a level
of 10 you'll have the best odds of never getting a diagnosis of
something serious and life-threatening, if you're a forward-thinking
person, this way of living may be exactly what you want. More
on this topic in the article How Healthy Do You Want to Be?
Second Question People Should Ask Themselves
next thing to get clear in your mind is: What should I base my
the items in the right column are the ones that will be in your
best interest, health-wise.
here's some outside-the-box thinking about our outside-the-box
way of life.
and Nightshades: Okay for Some People?
come to realize that there are cultivated fruits and vegetables
that taste good but may not necessarily be good for us (cruciferous
veggies for one). Now that we're no longer living in our natural
biological "echo-niche" we can't base our decision of
what to eat and not eat on taste alone as we were once able to
do. And basing it on availability has its own issues. The obvious
example of this are all the processed "designer" things
there are to eat (e.g. donuts, ice cream), but we shouldn't simply
assume that if a soil-grown food tastes good to us, we're meant
to eat it. Or that everything in the store's produce department
is "our food". This is why critical thinking skills
need to be applied to the foods of our diet if optimal long-term
health is the goal. And this is what RV 2.0 is all about.
people are of the belief that if they eat something that gives
other people problems, but it doesn't give them
a problem, then it's okay to eat it because it's harmless. And
while this may seem like a sensible conclusion, it isn't necessarily
true. Just because you can eat something that doesn't cause an
immediate, noticeable negative reaction doesn't mean that, over
time, damage won't be done.
people are said to be gluten intolerant because they have a problem
digesting a protein found in most grains, and these folks can
be thought of as being "gluten sensitive", but they
really should be called "gluten hypersensitive" because
they will react more vigorously than those who might consider
themselves as "gluten tolerant". In-other-words, it's
been postulated that gluten affects everyone negatively to some
degree, it's just that some people are more sensitive to gluten
than others, so they will react more quickly and more noticeably.
Why does it make sense that gluten affects everyone? Because we
are not designed to eat grains, and therefore grain-containing
products are not "our food". So just because you can
eat foods containing gluten without reacting, doesn't mean the
gluten isn't doing some level of damage that, over time, can contribute
to a condition.
the same can be said for Nightshades. Foods like tomatoes and
red bell peppers can cause a noticeable reaction in some people,
so they steer clear of them. But just because you can eat foods
of the Nightshade family without any noticeable reaction doesn't
mean that harm isn't being done over time. If you want to avoid
arthritis, gut issues, and/or a diminished healing ability many
decades from now, you may want to take the approach: If it's
not a food I am biophysiologically adapted to eat, I won't include
it as part of my diet... a "better to be safe than sorry"
approach. And if you're waiting for multiple, peer-reviewed, double-blinded,
placebo-controlled studies of thousands of people over many decades
that show that you should avoid foods like tomatoes, potatoes
(not sweet potatoes), eggplant, and red bell peppers, you'll be
waiting forever. Just as with studies on the raw vegan diet, these
studies will likely never be done, so we're left to think for
ourselves, using some outside-the-box thinking about our outside-the-box
should be noted that Nightshades contribute to osteo arthritis,
with rheumatoid arthritis being caused by autoimmune
reactions (which can occur from the eating of cooked foods).
bell peppers, and potatoes (as well as avocados, squash, pecans,
cashews, and blueberries) are all New World crops, and
have only been on the dinner table of African and Eurasian populations
for about ten generations of their evolutionary history. Being
that these are not foods we evolved to eat, it makes perfect sense
that tomatoes and bell peppers should not be part of our diet
since they contain a substance (solanine, a glycoalkaloid toxin)
which is injurious to the body (blocks cholintesterase, an important
enzyme in nerve cells), even if you don't notice the effect when
eating them. And tomatoes contain a particular lectin an
agglutinin that's actually used in vaccines because it
stimulates the production of antibodies. This has the potential
to set off a low level antibody response when eating tomatoes;
you may not notice anything, but, again, that doesn't mean harm
isn't occurring, with damage being cumulative over time if you're
a regular consumer of tomatoes.
not saying we can't make use of foods that we didn't evolve with
I'm sure stone fruits have benefit it's just that
we shouldn't be surprised when a food that we didn't evolve with,
that tastes good, turns out not to be good for us, all things
considered. So we can't necessarily go by what the USDA recommends,
or what is available to us in the produce department, or even
what our own taste buds have to say when we're no longer living
in our biological "eco-niche".
we look at foods on balance, we'll be able to see the downsides
of the cruciferous veggies and Nightshades. And if we want to
be as healthy as our genetics will allow us to be, it would be
wise to not eat those foods that have the potential to damage
us in some way, even if it's slowly over time. And to this point
of "chronic damage" occurring over a long period, many
Nightshade articles will say...
to tell if you shouldn't eat them? Eliminate them from your
diet for at least 30 days (no cheating). Then, reintroduce
them into your diet as a test and monitor your symptoms for
72 hours. Did you improve during the 30 days? Did you have
a negative reaction when you ate them again? If yes, you're
Nightshade-sensitive. If no, you're not."
piece of advice, this time from a popular raw vegan educator,
Nightshade plants can be hazardous to your health. These fruits
are good unless you are one of those rare individuals that
has a negative reaction."
these two pieces of advice sound like they make sense, they do
not consider that damage can still be done even though you don't
have an immediate negative reaction when eating the food, and
empirical evidence bears this out. So the "what I don't know
can't hurt me" way of thinking should not be part of health
I began eating a raw food diet last month following Don's
recommendations, I thought giving up tomatoes and peppers
would be extremely difficult. They were always in my salads
and I currently have at least six tomato plants growing on
my deck. Surprisingly, it was very easy to quit. And I quickly
noticed a decrease in some of my arthritis symptoms."
Defines "Enough" When it Comes to Nutrition?
doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that if we want the
best health our DNA will permit, we need to get enough of all
the nutrients our bodies require to provide us with this optimal
level of health. No debate there. But how is "enough"
determined? If your first thought is to look at the RDIs or consult
Cron-O-Meter or FitDay.com, you're in for a shock. More on why
these are not reliable sources of this information in the article
Why We Shouldn't Rely on Cron-O-Meter and Fitday.com to Assess
Our Nutrient Needs (link below). But this section delves into
a more basic level of "enough", and it applies logic
to the question, which is one of the tools we all have in our
toolbox... a tool we should be using more of considering the amounts
of misinformation regarding diet and nutrition.
can be only three scenarios regarding getting an amount of nutrition.
1) we get exactly the right amount of all the nutrients
we require, no more no less
2) we get less than we need
3) we get more than we need
Since it is virtually impossible to eat in such a way for you
to get exactly the amount of calcium your body needs in a day,
week, or month, and the same is true for all the other essential
nutrients, we can disregard that first scenario. So we're left
with either getting less than the body needs or more than the
body needs. Which do you think the body would prefer? More on
this very important topic in the article With Nutrition, Enough
is NOT Enough (link
and EAAs: Is it Impossible to Not Get All You Need?
sure you've heard this notion: If you eat a raw food diet of fruits
and greens, it's impossible to not get enough protein and fat.
And while lovely notions such as this that fall into the category
of "don't worry about it" are comforting, they are not
always true. In reality (which is where your body exists), it
is possible to not get enough of one or more of
the Essential Amino Acids (the building block of protein), and
possibly not enough of an Essential Fatty Acid like Omega 3 (needed
for EPA and DHA). But how many raw food health educators are teaching
this instead of the "don't worry about it" version.
Since it's been shown that these scenarios are possible (because
they've happened), there must be an explanation. And here are
the top three that you need to be aware of.
Your body has a certain carbohydrate requirement, and as you might
imagine, this requirement correlates closely with your level of
physical activity; the more active you are, the more food you
need to eat. But fat and protein are not primary fuel sources,
and are used for other things by the body, so they do not correlate
with your level of activity in the same way that carbs do. So
let's say you've studied all about diets, and have chosen the
diet all humans are best suited to eat, and are now eating this
way, but you haven't yet researched what the body requires in
the way of physical activity, and you happen to be way too sedentary
(from your body's perspective). But because you don't want to
be overweight, you're careful to eat only as much food as you
need to support your ideal weight, and this amount of food will
obviously be based on your level of activity (and on hunger).
So while you're happily getting an appropriate amount of calories,
if you're inactive enough, and you're eating foods that are thought
of as being "low" in fat and protein, you may not be
getting enough of some EFAs and/or EAAs. A way to make sure you
are? Be appropriately active, which will warrant you eating an
appropriate amount of food that should supply you with an appropriate
amount of EAAs and EFAs. But there is a caveat with this advice...
Another way you could be flirting with an EFA insufficiency
and therefore not enough EPA and DHA is if the fruits you're
eating are Temperate Zone fruits and not the creamier Tropical
Zone fruits that we evolved with (they contain more fat than apples,
pears, grapes, berries, etc). If you simply don't have access
to Tropical Zone fruits, there is something you can do to make
sure you get enough EFAs. And no, it's not eating avocado every
day (more on this in a moment). To deal with the unnatural scenario
of not being able to eat the specific foods of your biological
adaptation, you can employ an equally unnatural scenario: add
equal amounts of some raw hemp
seeds to a banana smoothie. By doing this, you'll essentially
be consuming the equivalent of a fattier banana... more like the
varieties of banana that grow in the tropics that most of us don't
get to eat because these bananas are not commercially viable (I'm
fortunate to be able to eat them, and they are way creamier than
the common Cavendish variety sold in stores). You can add the
hemp seeds directly into the blender and blend on high for a few
seconds, but grind the chia seeds in a seed grinder and then immediately
pulse them into the smoothie as the last step. Try 1-2 tablespoons
of each. I mentioned equal amounts of those two seeds because
between them you'll get a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3s to 6s.
But that isn't the only ratio that a discussion of fat should
address... there's also the ratio of the three categories of fatty
acids: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated (PUFA,
MUFA, SFA). The creamy tropical fruits have a higher SFA content
than do the hemp and chia seeds, so a way to tweak this ratio
more towards "tropical" is to add a small amount of
coconut pulp (first choice), or coconut oil (second choice) to
the smoothie, and now you're consuming the equivalent of the fruit
we have a symbiotic relationship with (but this doesn't have to
be done to every smoothie' maybe twice a week is enough for enough
saturated fat). And if you're concerned about combining fat and
sweet in the same meal, keep in mind that you do that whenever
you eat creamy tropical fruit. If you ate seeds and bananas separately
at a meal, then you'd have some digestive issues.
Another way to get an Omega 3 insufficiency is to consume too
much Omega 6. The same enzyme is used to process both 3s and 6s,
and you only have a finite amount of that enzyme on any given
day. So even if you consume the amount of 3s that your body needs
in a day, if you consume too many 6s, all of the 3s will not be
processed due to "competitive inhibition" (all those
6s using up a disproportionate amount of that enzyme), and this
can result in an Omega 3 insufficiency even though you're technically
consuming enough of them. And the reason I mentioned that avocado
is not a good way to ensure that you get enough EFAs is because
it has an Omega 6 to 3 ratio of 17:1 !!!
And that's way too "6 heavy". We're designed for a ratio
closer to 1:1, and even mainstream nutritionists recommend no
higher than a 3:1 or a 4:1 ratio of 6 to 3. So you can imagine
how much 6 versus 3 competitive inhibition is going on when you
eat lots of avocado. This is why avocado should be eaten sparingly
and not as a main course, assuming you want the best health possible.
(Also of note: Almonds are 2010:1, sunflower seeds are 311:1,
pumpkin seeds are 113:1, and cashews are 125:1 so these should
be eaten sparingly if at all. BTW, walnuts are 4:1)
6s are the pro-inflammatory Omegas (which we need so the body
can make inflammation when it needs to), but too much of that
and not enough of the "dial it back down once it's no
longer needed" anti-inflammatory Omega 3s can contribute
to joint inflammation as a secondary contributing factor (the
first being Solanine or an autoimmune response to cooked food,
both of which can cause rheumatoid arthritis). So to have
the best odds of never getting arthritis, avoid eating avocados
or Nightshades, since they're not really "our" foods
Q: 6-to-3 ratio, correlation
or causation? A: Contributing factor
Slide from Michael Greger
both "Supply & Demand" when thinking about nutrition
of the things that can be considered when looking at a diet is
what the diet supplies in the way of nutrients. Will the diet
provide enough protein (the most common question), enough calcium,
enough B vitamins, etc. And you can find tons of charts that will
tell you how much magnesium is in one gram of romaine lettuce.
Never mind that these charts are pretty much useless (you'll see
why below), but even if they were spot on, when you use these
charts, how do they know how much of a particular nutrient you
need? Well, of course, they can't. But we must have these charts,
so they have to say something. The fact is that,
although we're all designed for the same diet, our nutritional
requirements can vary.
reasons for the individuality of our nutrient needs are not hard
to understand. There can be genetic issues that affect our ability
to utilize one or more nutrients, we can have vastly different
levels of physical activity which will require different levels
of certain nutrients, our stress levels can vary as well, and
this will affect things like our B12 needs, and if you look at
two people who are eating the same diet of the same foods from
the same store, one person may get enough of a particular nutrient,
and the other person won't get enough because he came to the diet
with a fairly deep deficiency of that nutrient. My point here
is that demand can vary almost as much as supply.
The article (link below) about the issues with relying on Cron-O-Meter
to figure out if you're getting enough nutrition goes into more
fascinating detail about the Supply & Demand issue.
"misinformation" is defined as "false or misleading
information that the provider of the information doesn't know
is untrue", the misinformation that the raw food community
is rife with is not provided with malicious intent or intended
to mislead. So, many people are basing a portion of their lifestyle
on inaccurate information without knowing it. And since most of
those folks who have come to adopt a raw food diet have done so
to improve their health to either deal with an existing health
issue or to avoid a health issue in the future, following incorrect
health information is presumably the last thing they want to do.
distinction needs to be made between disinformation (where the
educator knows he is lying and is just out to scam you), and "irresponsible
misinformation." This happens when an otherwise well-intentioned
educator, who is teaching something that has been found to be
inaccurate, finds out about this and does nothing to investigate
the contention that what they are teaching is not correct. And
not only does he or she do nothing to see if there is any truth
to the claim, but often doubles down, digging in their heels,
defending their teachings, and even trying to discredit the contrary
information; and thus the "irresponsible" label. Thankfully
this type of educator is the exception and not the rule. But if
this type of educator is also a popular educator, this has the
potential to result in damage to a lot of people.
of the most potentially damaging pieces of misinformation is the
notion, "Once you start eating enough fruits and vegetables
you don't have to worry about nutrition." And while this
is a lovely notion, the fact remains that you should
be concerned about getting enough of all the nutrients the body
requires for optimal health when eating the best diet, if you
want optimal health. And this is because unlike many millennia
ago diet and nutrition need to be looked at as individual
subjects. And this is because most of us are no longer eating
foods that Nature grows for us; we're eating foods that are grown
for us by an agri-based food industry that grows
for appearance, yield, size, pest-resistance, shelf-life, growth-rate,
sugar-content, and profit, but not for nutritional content because
to do so is more costly, and they are not being mandated to do
so by government or asked to by consumers, so why should they.
The only nutrients they add back to their soils that we need in
our diet are potassium and phosphorus, and they only do this because
if they didn't, their crops wouldn't grow at all. But what about
the dozens of other nutrients that we need to grow
new cells and to be robustly healthy? Are there none of these
other nutrients in those agri-based foods? Sometimes, for one
or more of them, the answer is 'yes'. But even if there were always
some of all of them, "some" is not necessarily enough
for optimal health. Enough for surviving, yes. But not enough
for thriving over time. And while it's nice for a raw vegan to
survive better than 95% of the general population, I'd rather
thrive (because the difference could be getting or not getting
a diagnosis of something serious at some point later in life,
like during those last ten years).
reason why the above piece of irresponsible information (that
every animal species in the world can get enough nutrition so
why should humans be any different) is potentially damaging is
because some popular raw food educators teach this, and some of
those people they teach this to go on to teach it to others. This
new wave of educators are no doubt sincere, enthusiastic, and
well-meaning, they simply are not aware of the misleading and
potentially harmful information they are passing along because
they learned this info as a student and not as researcher. So
even when taking a course that claims to prepare and educate you
to go on to teach others, you should still vet the information
being taught to you as a researcher in case any
of the info is incorrect. And a tenet of a proper researcher when
vetting information is to employ the ethos of science:
open questioning, no authorities, no biases or personal preferences,
honesty, transparency, and reliance on evidence. And this is done
with a respect for rational and honest discussion, a desire to
peer-to-peer, the ability to change your position when the evidence
merits it, an intolerance of distortion and misrepresentation,
and most important, a skeptical interrogation of accepted notions.
of the other problems with our efforts to disseminate accurate
health improvement information are those people who come to the
defense of educators who have been found to be teaching some incorrect
info. Think about it: let's say you had a worsening illness that
mainstream medicine was unable to help you with, and someone offered
you a book by an alternative health practitioner, saying that
this book helped them when nothing else could, and out of desperation
you gave the book's program a try, and lo and behold, you got
well! Might you feel a debt of gratitude toward this educator?
And if this educator came under fire for continuing to teach something
that was said to have the potential to harm those he/she taught,
might you feel that you should defend the person who helped you
heal? And might you do this without giving any thought to investigating
the contentions made? Sadly, but understandably, some people do.
And this serves to create a confusing mass of conflicting information
in forums and the blogosphere.
add insult to injury, there are educators who appear to care more
about building their lists than they do about teaching accurate
information. And some of them, realizing that people are running
into conflicting information, use this to their advantage by addressing
it in their promotional material. Have you seen this?
you ever been inspired by a raw food educator who makes a
lot of sense, only to find another inspiring speaker who says
something completely different? We know how confusing this
can be. Attend our summit and cut through the raw food confusion,
learn how to maximize your health results, our speakers will
share with you their success strategies for creating successful
real-world approaches to raw and plant based eating.
am familiar with these approaches, and let's just say the real-world
info you're reading here in this article conflicts with some of
them. And yet they are described as being "real-world approaches".
Folks, there can't be contradictory real-world approaches. Different
ones, yes, but not ones that say opposite things.
example of a sincere, well-intentioned raw food educator teaching
some things that are not quite true can be found in the article,
Some Well-intentioned Misinformation (link below).
example of a raw food educator digging in their heels when they've
painted themselves into a corner can be found in the article,
My Rebuttal to Comments About a Barley Grass Juice Supplement
line: The most popular raw food info is not necessarily the most
is Not Just for Vitamin D
is important for its impact on health, but it's not the only thing.
You could be eating the most perfect diet of the most perfect
foods, but if you're not paying attention to the other equally
important basics of health, it is physiologically impossible to
be as healthy as you can be. So since the Raw Vegan lifestyle
is about more than just diet, let's look at two non-diet related
issues you don't hear much about.
meant to get our vitamin D from the sun. This is not new information.
But if sunshine just made D in our skin and nothing else, we could
get our D needs met from a supplement, and indeed, those people
who live in areas where the sun isn't strong enough to make D
in their skin all year 'round should be mindful of maintaining
an optimal D level (which by-the-way isn't what conventional vitamin
D lab tests display in their reference range). But here's what
most people aren't hearing: vitamin D is not the only thing the
sun makes in your skin when it shines on it. Two other vital nutrients
are made: D sulfate and cholesterol sulfate. There has been research
that's shown that when your D level is low, so is the functioning
of your immune system, and no good will come of that. But we're
now seeing that this immune system "boost" is more likely
due to D sulfate, and this was discovered because those study
participants who took a D supplement didn't improve as much as
those who sunbathed (and they were both getting equal amounts
of D). Also consider that most people consume too much cholesterol
from eating animal "foods", but if you're a vegan (which
technically we all are by nature), since getting enough cholesterol
is important, so is making enough cholesterol sulfate. And since
there are no D supplements that also contain D sulfate and cholesterol
sulfate, this makes getting sunshine or its equivalent
vitally important if you want to be at an 8 to 10. More
on how to do this at the link below (The Importance of Sunshine).
Can Certainly Be Underactive, but Can You Over Exercise?
all aware that it is entirely possible to eat more than you should.
Many people do it every day. But is it possible to exercise
more than you should? The human body has a physical activity requirement,
and it's not like sleep, where you can get too little but can't
get too much. Physical activity is in the same category as fat,
water, and sunshine, but it's not as self-evident on the "too
much" end of the spectrum as those things are. More on this
important issue in the article, You Can Over-Eat But Can You
Over-Exercise? (link below)
Study of the Science of Health
you're wondering what school of thought my thinking most resembles,
it would be "Natural Hygiene". This is the study of
the science of health, but some people who consider themselves
Natural Hygienists or Hygienic Practitioners have adopted a narrow
view of Natural Hygiene or have misinterpreted what the tenets
of Natural Hygiene state. I won't attempt to go into this here,
but if you're curious as to what Natural Hygiene means in today's
world and hopefully you are you can find out from
the link below (Natural Hygiene).
hope you find this first installment of Raw Vegan 2.0
a help to you on your learning journey. More insights and empowering
information to come. Your feedback is most welcome here.
Reading Mentioned Above
Healthy Do You Want to Be?
We Shouldn't Rely on Cron-O-Meter to Assess Our Nutrient Needs
is "Enough" When it Comes to Nutrition
Rebuttal to Comments About a Barley Grass Juice Supplement
Importance of Sunshine that You May Not Know About
Can Over-Eat But Can You Over-Exercise?
Hygiene The Science of Health
Raw Vegan 2.0 Topics
Do Vitamins Come From?
for Thought on a Raw Vegan Diet
a Child Be Raised Raw Vegan?
Whatever Works for You A Bad Philosophy?
is Unnatural a Good Thing?
10 Requirements for the BEST Future Health
All the Anti-Raw Vegan Chatter?
101 Educational Resources