Raw Food for Better Digestion

It amazes me that when our stomachs don’t feel good, we rarely look to what we put in them for the cause.  We keep putting pop, coffee, alcohol, junk food, and processed foods with ingredients that we can’t even pronounce into our bellies and expecting them to just take it all in stride.  In an earlier post (5 Steps to Better Digestion) I wrote about some actions that will improve your stomach activity.  Today I want to tell you about how you can improve digestion by what you put in your stomach.

Raw food for better digestionMost of us eat primarily a cooked food diet.  Think about it for a minute.  How much fresh, raw food do you really eat?  Maybe an apple for a snack?  Some salad at lunch if you’re lucky? We need to eat more raw food.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not proposing that you all become “raw-foodists”.  While the Raw Food Diet works for some, it takes very careful planning and preparation in order to get all the nutrients your body needs from an exclusively raw food diet.   That said, we all could add use a little more fresh, uncooked food.

It is well known that cooking can destroy some of the nutrients in our food.  It also destroys something called enzymes.  Our bodies use enzymes for a whole range of activities and processes, one of which is the digestion of our food.  Our bodies make the enzymes necessary for digestion, but when you eat a primarily cooked-food diet, it puts a pretty large burden on that enzyme manufacturing system and eventually wear it down.  Raw foods contain enzymes that may actually help digest them.

Here are some ideas for incorporating more raw food into your meals:

  1. Nuts and seeds – many of us buy pre-roasted and salted almonds, peanuts, cashews and others.  Try them raw. Top stir-fries with raw cashews or peanuts, soup with sunflower or pumpkin seeds (pepitas), salads with almonds or walnuts.Raw food for better digestion
  2. Honey – most grocery store honey is “pasteurized”, meaning it’s heated (usually in attempt to destroy bacteria).  Farmer’s markets and individual apiculturists sell their honey raw.  Use it instead of sugar in baking, on yogurt, in your tea.
  3. Vegetables – this is an obvious one.  Try some different vegetables to mix it up.  Add sliced fennel bulb to your coleslaw, baby Swiss chard to your salad, sugar snap peas to your veggie tray.
  4. Fruits – another obvious one.  Incorporate fresh fruits to cooked food in different ways.  Add fresh berries to your waffles, mango chunks to your curry, serve pineapple chunks alongside ham or pork.  Your kids may even prefer a serving of fruit with their dinner if you can’t get them to eat their vegetables.
  5. Grains – if you soak grains overnight, they soften.  Bircher’s muesli, made from soaked oats, makes a quick and delicious breakfast.  Mix 1/3 cup oats with 1 cup of milk (dairy or other).  Add a tablespoon of raw nuts, seeds or coconut and some fresh fruit.  Make this before you go to bed and it will be ready by breakfast time.
  6. Protein sources – sushi is a great way to get raw fish (of course, make sure you choose a reputable restaurant, or fish monger if you make your own).  Sprouted beans and legumes are a raw plant source of protein.  There are lots of how-to guides out there for sprouting all kinds of things yourself but you can also buy alfalfa, bean and other sprouts at the grocery store.

I challenge you to add more raw food to your diet.  Try just one of these ideas this week.  Your stomach will thank you.

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