by Jordan Maerin
(Published in Zengers newsmagazine, November 2003,
as "What a Raw Food Diet Could Do for You")
Unbeknownst to many San Diegans, we live in a city that has become information-central for a new brand of dietary radicals known as "raw-foodists."
Not that they're literally new. Rather, they're as old as food itself. They like to remind us of our animal roots, while helping us fulfill our human potential.
They're after "Paradise Health," a state whereby all of the body's cells are functioning optimally, resulting in peak energy and vitality. Health concerns become relics of the past, with an immune system in prime condition, and an enjoyment of complete health confidence, with all mental and sexual faculties intact until the day death comes naturally, somewhere between the ages of 100 and 140.
This is the positive vision of health that fuels this dietary trend and turns it into a movement. This is the state of health enjoyed by the authors of books like Never Be Sick Again [by Raymond Francis, M.Sc.] and Nature's First Law. Books like these, in addition to various local resources, offer firm support for anyone seeking Paradise Health here in San Diego.
Many people turning to raw foods do so out of desperation: they've been diagnosed with a serious illness, and they want to try raw foods in an attempt to avoid more toxic or invasive allopathic options. According to some of the testimonials shown in the orientation video at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) in Lemon Grove, which opened in 1976, significant results can be noticed in as little as two weeks.
Dr. Ann Wigmore developed the regimen of wheatgrass and sprouts used at the OHI in order to heal her own conditions of chronic colitis, headaches, and arthritis. Kristine Nolfi, M.D., author of Raw Food Treatment of Cancer, healed from breast cancer, as did Dr. Lorraine Day, whose video, Cancer Doesn't Scare Me Anymore, is a courageous indictment of allopathic cancer "treatments". Jay Kordich, "The Juiceman", healed from cancer using The Raw-Food Diet and juice therapy of Dr. Norman Walker, author of Colon Health: The Key to a Vibrant Life, who lived to be 118. Bob Owen wrote Roger's Recovery from AIDS, an inspiring true story of a medical doctor's recovery from AIDS through fasting and natural diet.
Raymond Francis, M.Sc., R.N.C., author of Never Be Sick Again, returned from the brink of death from liver failure and chemical hepatitis. He sums up the miraculous healing properties of raw foods most succinctly: All human disease has a singular cause, cellular malfunction, which itself has only two causes, malnutrition and toxicity. It is only by eating raw foods that our cells receive all the vitamins and enzymes (destroyed by cooking) that they need to reach optimum health. This principle, coupled with detoxifying our bodies (through colon cleansing) and our homes, is the key to complete health confidence.
Nancy Gordon was a licensed social worker living in Portland, Oregon, when she developed debilitating fibromyalgia. Upon moving to San Diego, she signed up for the three-week course at OHI. After years of searching in vain for a cure, she found that the OHI program miraculously resulted in "restored sleep, less pain, and a ton of energy" for her. While at the Institute, she met many people who were successfully healing from "many different kinds of late-stage cancer, chronic pain, arthritis and MS."
These testimonials are anecdotal, of course, in that the methods by which raw foods heal have not been tested in the manner of mainstream science. As stated in the Institute's literature, "We do not offer 'treatments' at the [OHI]. We believe that the body can heal itself if given the proper tools."
By offering effective tools, the Institute thrives, attracting an international clientele via word-of-mouth and the Internet. The San Diego facility houses from 80-170 people in any given week, year-round, and in 1997 a second OHI campus was opened near Austin, Texas.
Nature's First Law [now Sunfood Nutrition at rawfood.com] is an international online resource for raw-foodists. Their extensive catalog of foods and educational materials is also available in hard copy, and many of their products are available for purchase at their Superstore and global headquarters, located at 1567 Cuyamaca Road, in El Cajon.
This online venture was pioneered by the three authors of Nature's First Law: The Raw Food Diet, a manifesto that declares that a raw-food diet is the key to saving our disease-ridden world. Co-author David Wolfe is a public speaker, a leader of raw-food retreats, and the author of The Sunfood Diet Success System. Stephen "Thor" Arlin works as a consultant to raw-food body-builders, and has authored the authoritative guide, Raw Power! Fouad Dini is listed as being responsible for the "no-compromise" approach of their book, and is also the author of Raw Courage World.
None of the three had major health concerns when they started eating raw foods, although Fouad Dini lost 156 pounds through the transition. In fact, Stephen Arlin states in Raw Power! that he was originally curious about how raw foods would serve a healthy person, given their obvious healing properties. The list of health benefits these men experienced upon going raw includes elimination of allergies, improved eyesight, sense of smell and hearing, invulnerability to sunburn, increased energy, reduced sleep requirements, clearer thinking, and an improved memory.
Aaron Howard has worked for Nature's First Law for almost two years. After being a vegetarian for ten years, he decided to transition to raw foods after reading the book, Fit For Life II: Living Health. That was three years ago. Some of the benefits he noticed include, "increased energy, clearer thinking, clearer skin, never being sick... and feeling a greater connection to nature and Spirit."
THE PROTEIN FACTOR
Two theories of health that are critical of the raw food lifestyle include Oriental or Chinese Medicine (CM), and the eat-right-for-your-blood-type proponents.
Teresa Hall, Lac, MSOM, cautions, "According to CM theory the Spleen (Yin/cold) and Stomach (Yang/warmth) are paired organs. An excess of cold [food] will damage the Spleen... If one experiences cold hands and feet, watery diarrhea, increase in gas and bloating of the stomach, loss of libido, a decrease in energy, easy to bruise... then consult with a practitioner of CM, to discuss healing options."
On the other hand, the authors of Nature's First Law remind us that the processes of detoxification from a cooked, processed food diet include temporary discomforts for most people, which include some of the symptoms listed above. They ask us to trust in nature, and they reject theories of health that place blame for any ill health, in the long run, on raw foods: "The mere idea that natural nutrition may be followed by unnatural and harmful results is a most absurd notion..."
CM practitioners, like the eat-right-for-your-blood-type proponents, theorize that there are only some body types that raw foods may benefit. CM practitioners divide body types into being either more cold or yin, or more hot or yang, with the more hot or yang individuals faring better on a raw food diet. Body types can also, of course, be divided by blood types, with the type-O's reportedly needing the highest level of protein, as is commonly believed to be found in meat and dairy products, according to the best-selling book Eat Right for Your Type.
Nancy Gordon is a type-O, and yet she fared well on the raw food diet offered by the OHI. "I still think I do well with high protein, but the trick is to replicate that with raw food," she concludes.
Raychel Solomon, founder of the OHI, asserts that on a raw food diet, "there is no need to worry about not getting your protein." She explains that proteins are basically amino acids, and "there are eight amino acids that are considered the most essential. These eight and many more, are provided in your raw foods, especially wheatgrass juice and alfalfa sprouts." These are two foods the OHI serves in abundance.
Stephen Arlin, who consults with raw body-builders and is himself a beefy 6'2" and 225 lbs., lists the gorilla as his inspiration: the strongest animal pound for pound, and one that thrives solely on fruits and leafy greens. Stephen lists as his primary sources of protein, heavy greens like romaine lettuce and dinosaur kale, as well as the raw sources of essential oils, like olives, avocadoes, young coconuts and flax.
The most exciting addition to San Diego's raw food resources is a raw food restaurant, Cilantro Live!, that opened recently on Third Avenue in Chula Vista. It features a fresh vegetable juice bar and a creative menu, which includes items like Nori Rolls with carrot-pine nut pate, Chili Rellenos, Roma Tomato Raw-violis, and a Coconut-Carob Dream Parfait (raw "ice cream"!).
Another source for fresh vegetable juice is Jimbo's Naturally in Del Mar, and fresh wheatgrass juice is available locally from Jamba Juice and the OB People's Food Co-op. The Co-op stocks various books about raw food, as well as Living Nutrition magazine [from the Natural Hygeine perspective]. They carry Nature's First Law raw olives, and often have creative raw salads available in their upstairs deli. Appliances like juicers and dehydrators, and sprouting equipment, can be purchased from the public store at the OHI, as well as from Nature's First Law.
One great source for keeping abreast of San Diego's raw food resources and events is the LivingFoods yahoogroup. The email lists currently boasts 356 members, and between 30-50 messages now travel to the list members each month. That's up from only 5-10 messages per month in early 2001.
Don't know where to start? Need more variety in your raw diet? MaryBrenda is a co-leader of Sufi Dancing in Encinitas. She is a 10-year student/teacher of A Course in Miracles who has practiced a raw food life style for 4 years, and now teaches raw food prep classes.
Raw food prep classes are also available from Celestial Raw Goddess Enterprises. Its founder, Angel, is a Homeopath, Master Herbalist and Nutritionist, who has run Joyful Hands Holistic Pet Care for the last 18 years. She recently decided to start a new career as a Living Foods Certified Chef, Nutritionist, and Coach.
The raw foods movement and the concept of "Paradise Health" present a challenge, encouraging each of us to reach for a more positive vision of personal and cultural health. According to Aaron Howard, "We are born with a certain birthright, and that birthright is one of perfect health!" Who wants to argue with that?