There is a lot of information online about eating raw foods. Most of it refers to raw fruits and vegetables, but recipes for cakes and breads – with and without using a dehydrator – become more and more popular. While qi energy is certainly in its purest form in food which is consumed raw, and vitamins and enzymes retain their greatest nutritional value, be careful before you jump on the raw food movement bandwagon. According to Ayurveda, our individual constitution determines what and how our food is digested by our body. In TCM the way our food is assimilated depends on the condition of our qi energy and the state of our meridian and organ systems. Simply put, raw food is not for everyone.
A person who has a vata or kapha predominant constitution is one who has less of the element of fire and tends to be more vulnerable to cold. Eating raw food does not provide the stomach with the energy and heat required for digestion and will make the body out of balance. Likewise, in TCM medicine, a yin constitution is one that requires more yang, or heating foods. If you have any cold condition, such as spleen qi deficiency, eating raw foods would necessitate the body working harder to digest them, which would in turn cause more damage and imbalance. Some of the food may pass through the system without being properly digested, and its qi and nutrients would not be absorbed. If you always feel cold, your tongue is pale and swollen, urination is frequent, and you feel weak and fatigued, a raw food diet is not recommended.
However, if you have a pitta or yang constitution, and frequently eat red meat, cheese, alcohol and white flour pastas and desserts, then a fast of raw foods will help cleanse your system. Plenty of green salads and leafy raw vegetables would be a good way to bring a sluggish liver back into balance and stimulate qi circulation.
If you are going to try a raw food diet, remember that parasites and other micro-organisms are still as prevalent today as in ancient times. Even organic food is not always immune to them. To remove any of these unwanted critters, soak the raw produce for 15 minutes in a mild solution of one teaspoon apple cider vinegar per gallon of water. Be extra careful of grains and seeds. Inspect packets carefully for tiny bugs before buying and, once opened, store in sealed plastic containers.
Whatever you choose to eat or how it is eaten, as Hippocrates said “Let food by thy medicine”. Each one of us is different and requires a different diet, according to the constitution we are born with and the conditions we find ourselves in.
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