Another Article in my Misinformation Series

misinformation: false or misleading information that the provider doesn't know is untrue

disinformation: knowingly false or misleading information that is purposely shared by someone with ulterior motives

No one would be surprised that there is misinformation and disinformation about the human diet; the meat and dairy industries are full of it. And no one should be shocked to hear that the alternative health movement has its share of info that wasn't in your best interest health-wise. But it might surprise some folks to learn that mis- and dis-info exists in the raw food community as well.


Some Well-intentioned Misinformation
By Don Bennett, DAS

Here is an example of some misinformation from someone who I believe to be a sincere and well-meaning educator, but who, nevertheless, has adopted some miseducation that sounds good on its face, but is not entirely true in reality.

The following excerpts and comments are regarding the article, "Why I Eat 100% Raw. Should You Eat 100% Raw?" by Ariel Belloso.

"There's a saying in Natural Health that goes: 'You don't get healthy because of the food you eat, you get healthy because of the food you don't eat.' It's a phrase I repeat to all my coaching clients..."

This sounds good, but it is an unbalanced approach. The truth is, you get healthier because you stop eating what is unhealthy to eat, and you start to consume what the body requires to be able to provide you with improved health; what I call a "stop-start" approach. Both approaches are needed if your goal is optimal healing and optimal future health. (And by-the-way, anyone who attempts to place a "percentage of effect" on these two scenarios is demonstrating their lack of understanding of the complexities associated with each... so it's best to simply assume that they both can have a profound effect on your health and well-being, and to pay equal attention to both.)

"The confusion is not made easier by many 'teachers' in the raw food movement selling 'supplements', 'superfoods' and 'magic pills'. They advise people to eat diets which are not based on any science, but serve only their own commercial interests."

There is much to agree with here, but there is a misinformative portion as well. There's certainly a ton of confusion in the health improvement community because of the conflicting information that can be found when one is doing their due diligence and doing appropriate research; enough conflicting info that warranted an entire book being written about it (fortunately it's a very thin book).

I've found that sometimes the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, there are some health educators who sell what are, in reality, worthless supplements, and they do so either because they themselves have been sold a bill-of-goods and they honestly believe the product to be a good one, or because they are running a "profits-before-people" business, and they only care that the supplements make them money. But as it turns out there are also some worthwhile supplements too, and to help recognize these, if an educator recommends a supplement but doesn't sell it or participate in an affiliate program, that can be an indicator that this may be one of the worthwhile nutritional supplements that should be part of people's diets (and lifestyles, in the case of the non-food-provided nutrients such as B12 and D).

So although about 95% of supplements are garbage (or worse), and 95% of those selling supplements do not have your best interests at heart (or have been conned into selling something that they'd never sell if they knew the real deal), it's best not to throw the baby out with the bath water and assume that all nutritional supplements are bad and unneeded. And this assessment is based on many decades of empirical research and experience.

"A true raw food teacher will not sell you anything but their time and knowledge, as the only food we are meant to thrive on is whole fresh fruit and vegetables, and nothing else."

Again, part one of the above statement is very true, but part two is misleading, even if unintentionally so. It is true that we are meant to thrive on a diet of uncooked (undamaged) fruits mainly, with some leafy greens too. But being meant to and being able to are two different things. Many millennia ago we were able to do both, but 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, and sugar-content 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. But what about the dozens of other nutrients that we need to grow and 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).

So we need to ask ourselves: What if the fruit and vegetables we're eating today aren't providing enough of all the nutrients the body requires for optimal functioning and thus optimal long term health? Do you stick to lovely sounding notions that are in reality a dogmatic philosophy such as, "Once you start eating enough fruits and vegetables you don't have to worry about nutrition," or do you provide your body with what it requires to provide you with optimal health even if that means adding something to your diet of fruits and greens?

"Natural Hygiene" is the study of the science of health, but some people who consider themselves Natural Hygienists or Natural 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 at the end of this article.

"You might think you need lots of willpower to eat this diet? Not true. You don't need any willpower because by stopping eating junk food you will start to feel better. Sure, some people might take time to master a raw food diet, but not willpower."

While it's true that when you transition to a much healthier diet, and you reap the rewards of doing so, since these rewards include feeling better and resolving health issues that were plaguing you, it doesn't take huge amounts of willpower to stick with it, especially when you're still eating delicious food as Ariel mentioned. But some people may need some willpower if some of the foods that you want to stop eating have a "hold" on you because of psychological reasons (they're the foods all your friends and family eat, or they are foods that are associated with good and happy feelings which you desperately need right now because of your "blue" emotional state).

Also consider that you may have cravings for things that you want to stop eating because these things are providing a nutrient(s) that you are not getting enough of when eating only fruits and veggies because of the way they are grown, as mentioned above. These cravings are physiological in nature, and obviously no amount of willpower will adequately deal with them. I speak to one example of this – salt/sodium – in my article on why we get cravings and what we can do about them (link at the bottom).

"I eat 100% raw not only because I enjoy the taste of raw food much more than cooked food, but the fact is I feel amazingly healthy on a raw food diet."

Yes, there is that aspect to eating what your body is best suited to eat: You eventually feel great! But we can't get away from the fact that some cooked meals and "foods" taste amazing! Why? Because they are designed to taste amazing... they are designed to push our "taste buttons". Give a child a choice between a ripe piece of sweet fruit and a sweet candy bar, and after he's sampled both, he will usually choose the candy bar. Why? Because it's sweeter than the fruit, and we're designed to want, not only sweet things, but the sweetest things. This is how the "food" manufacturers take advantage of our natural sweet tooth (and our natural desire for enough fat and sodium).

So we need to remember that the "foods" of the typical Western diet are designed to grab us and hold on to us, therefore they can be very appealing, and those who eat them can truthfully say these foods are "delicious" and they enjoy the taste. Yes, the foods we are best suited to eat will also make us eventually feel a lot better than the foods that most people are eating, but as this is not an overnight phenomenon, I find it helpful to say that a raw fruit-based diet is delicious, and is made of foods that you will not only come to love, but will love you back (unlike the foods we are not biologically adapted to eat). And who doesn't love a win-win scenario. (And if someone is not convinced, I'll share with them how certain food industries are taking advantage of them, for the sake of profit, at the expense of their health. No one likes to be taken advantage of.)

"100% raw in the correct combination, and with the correct fat levels will always be the ideal diet."

"Diet" is commonly thought of as a collection of different foods. But "food" is merely a transport medium for the essential nutrients we require: vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids (protein), fiber, water, etc. So when a diet of specific foods – even the ones we're biologically adapted to eat – do not provide enough of all the nutrients a person's body requires for optimal functioning, if we want optimal functioning, we need to make sure that our diet includes enough of all these nutrients... and this, then, would be considered the ideal diet. So the "ideal diet" consists of both our ideal foods and ideal amounts of nutrients. And there was a time when both of these were part and parcel of the same thing, but most of us are not living in our biological eco-niche where those foods are available.

"You must remember that in order to thrive in good health there are other elements to our wellbeing that are as important as food, such as good rest, exercise, mental poise and so on."

I would add as a very important part of the "and so on" sunshine or its equivalent (for D, D sulfate, and cholesterol sulfate), and the non-food-provided nutrients that many people aren't getting enough of (like B12), and the food-provided nutrients that the foods of our ideal diet aren't providing enough of for reasons of Supply & Demand (two very important factors when looking at nutrition).

I applaude the work Ariel is doing, and I hope he applies the ethos of science to his research: 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 above all, a skeptical interrogation of accepted notions.


Don Bennett is an insightful, reality-based author, and health creation counselor who uses the tools in his toolbox – logic, common sense, critical thinking, and independent thought – to figure out how to live so we can be optimally healthy. More about Don's books, which have more delicious food for thought, at health101.org/books


Articles mentioned above:

What is "Natural Hygiene"

What Causes Food Cravings

Original article by Ariel Belloso

Additional, thought-provoking reading:

How Healthy Do You Want to Be?

When is Enough Nutrition Really Enough?

Where Do Our Vitamins Come From?