Is there merit to natural, organic, raw foods?
I sometimes reflect back to the days following the intensive radiation therapy I underwent. That was almost fourteen years ago, but it left a distinct imprint in my memory. Following a diagnosis of cervical cancer, I was sent to an 8 week course of radiation therapy. Nothing could prepare me for the ill health I would suffer due to this barbaric treatment. I had 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments, a one week reprieve, and then a final blast of a surgically implanted radioactive seed near the tumor site that lasted for four days.
I remember how weak, tired, and gray I looked and felt when I checked out of the hospital that day. But I have a fighter’s spirit in me that was determined to claw my way back to health, whatever that entailed. The first thing I did upon returning home was to put my two dogs on their leashes and take them on a walk down my street. It was a beautiful May day and the sun felt so warm on my skin. I felt the energy of the sun infusing my body, immediately improving my disposition.
My mother tells me that upon receiving my cancer diagnosis, I immediately began asking her for this book and that book that I knew she had, relative to natural nutrition and healing. My first memories of going to a health food store were as a young girl, tagging along beside my mother as she shopped for natural bread and cookies for us to enjoy. Now, I was insistent that this information would help my recovery. And I was correct.
The short version is that I first changed to an all organic diet, despite some of my friends’ comments that it’s better to eat pesticide sprayed food and not get bacterial parasites…What? Whatever. I didn’t have time to let that nonsense slow me down. There’s never a shortage of opinions to go around.
The city I lived in in Mississippi didn’t have much selection for organic food, so I drove an hour and a half to New Orleans where I could shop at Whole Foods Market. (Which I was already familiar with after learning to feed my child with multiple food allergies, but that’s another story!) I soon decided to give up meat altogether. My diet consisted of organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, mostly raw. My health began to come back and I felt fantastic! I had energy to spare, glowing skin, and I knew I had unearthed a passion of mine. It’s hard not to be excited when you feel like you are on death’s door and then due to dietary changes your whole life changes!
I didn’t know the science behind a raw food diet at that time. All I knew was that I was seeing myself come back to life. I am still a fanatic for natural nutrition. Just ask any of my family members or friends. I am a bit obsessed with all things natural. But, for a very justified reason. Natural living has given me my life back. I now understand that raw food contains enzymes that are essential for many of our body’s processes. Our cells cannot function without enzymes. Enzymes are destroyed by pesticides, herbicides, food preservatives, additives, colorings, and flavor enhancers. (Hence, the importance of natural, organic food)
A healthy body requires a rich supply of enzymes. Raw foods are a good source because plants produce enzymes to sustain their own metabolic activities. You don’t get the same benefit from cooked foods, because the heat destroys enzymes. Good sources of enzymes include: raw fruits, vegetables, herbs, and seeds, fresh juices, fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and miso, wheatgrass, chlorella, spirulina and raw honey.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition and diet information, as we are all made uniquely. But I am living proof that fresh, organic food is healthful and helps the body to repair itself. And I am still learning and realizing all of the whys behind the natural food way.
To that mother at the soccer field one day who teased me about my natural organic obsession I say, you are not saving money by not buying organic food for your family if you are compromising their health and well-being. To me anyway, there is no price tag or inconvenience on feeling great and being healthy!