The Raw Foods Debate

raw foods in chinese medicineNot too many days go by without someone asking my opinion on Raw Foods diets.  My reply: most people are not strong enough for raw foods diets!  Learn why.

Digestion is basically a warm process.  Most often raw foods diets consist of mostly cold foods.  The more cold things you eat, the harder digestion has to work.  In a healthy person, this is not an issue.  In many people, its one of the biggest issues!

What are cold foods?  Cold in Chinese medicine is more than temperature, but includes it. When we say foods like fruits, vegetables, sprouts, and juices are cold, we are talking about their energetic nature as well as the fact that they are uncooked.  Much more about this in my article on temperatures in foods.  Not all uncooked foods are cold, for example walnuts, cherries, and mango are example of some foods that are considered energetically warm.

Cold directly hurts digestion, but there’s more.  Cold foods, especially in someone with compromised digestion, lead to internal dampness which introduces a whole range of other problems.

So the reason why I dont think most people should do a raw foods diet is because most people have weak digestive strength.  Especially if you already have or have had chronic health problems.   So its great that all the nutrients are intact and alive in raw foods, but if your digestion is like the average person these days, you are not able to extract those nutrients!  Heating up food starts the digestive process and makes it easier to assimilate its nutrients.

Of course most people fall somewhere in between having very bad digestive strength, to being very strong.  How much raw and cold foods you should be eating depends mainly on that strength, but also on the climate, the season, and how physically active you are.

If you often feel fatigue, weak, cold, and/or have watery stools then I would definitely call your digestion weak and advise you stay away from raw foods diets.

Some people get good results, at least initially, from switching to a raw foods diet.  Most often I’ve seen that its because they are also going from eating bad junk foods to whole vegetable and grain based foods.   Thats always going to be a help, its not so much the raw-ness of it thats the big factor.  Also, another angle is that they are going from eating predominantly over-acidic foods to more balanced alkaline foods (this issue is intimately tied with what we call dampness in Chinese medicine.)

Let me know what YOU think.



    Do you think that some of the digestive problems might be due to micro-organisms that would normally be killed by cooking the food?


      There’s that too I guess. Now I’m curious HOW true that is…


    Thanks for this article! I totally agree and usually am bringing up these same points to people. Thanks for eloquently and intelligently stating this information.

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