Raw vs. Cooked Food

"Should I be eating raw, isn't that superior in nutrient contents to cooked foods?', I got an email last week, with this question. I thought I'd share my answer with you on a more general note, as I get this question almost daily.

Did you know that even though we tend to think of cooking foods as ridding it of nutrients, many foods actually become more nourishing after being cooked? Cooking actually increases betacarotene bioavailability of carrots!

Did you know that even though we tend to think of cooking foods as ridding it of nutrients, many foods actually become more nourishing after being cooked? Cooking actually increases betacarotene bioavailability of carrots!

The answer is it depends - on your body's current state of health. You need to determine the vessel in which the fuel goes into, before mindlessly thinking that one diet-fits-all will automatically be the best. 

Energetically, raw foods are very airy, energizing and "elevating".

They are NOT nurturing, grounding or calming.

This means, if you are sluggish, heavy and toxic as many of us are, who have been living off to much chemical laden take-away stuff, then going raw can be a God's sent to restore energy and vibrancy.

However, through an addiction lens, raw foods is not ideal for making out the majority of your meals in nutrition in recovery.

The very essence of anyone struggling with an addiction or disordered eating is that the air element is out of whack.

In Western science terms, the air element refers to our central nervous system. This means, you want to eat to feel more grounded, calm and connected - not eating to feel even more airy and disconnected, which is what living off a raw diet will do, if your air element is out of balance.

Raw food offers nutritional benefits but is more difficult to digest, causing gas and bloating in those with weak digestion. Cooked food is easier to digest but destroys some vitamins and enzymes.

Neither is superior in itself.

The right strategy will always depend on the vessel that the fuel goes into - why it makes no sense to say that one way of eating is superior for all humans.
The toxicity created by undigested foods however "healthy" they may be clinically speaking, matters not if your body cannot assimilate them. Indigestible food is considered poison in Ayurveda. Many undercooked foods are hard and chewy, and hard to chew usually means hard to digest.

A measure for healthy food should not just be its contents, but its interaction with your body.

Juicing  and blending make raw foods more digestible. Energetically, however, that food will still have the qualities of air. This is essential to be aware of, as we are all made up of the 5 elements: air, either, water, earth and fire. This does not mean that you should not be eating ANY raw foods or juicing - as a matter of fact, juicing and blending is part of an essential recovery nutrition program in order to replenish nutrients, blood chemistry and remove toxins.

However, in our addictive mindset we tend to solely focus on one aspect and then decide now we are vegan, paleo, raw foodies, juicers, fruitarians, high-fat only etc. The qualities of food is as important as the nutrient contents, different foods and macronutrient rations have different nourishing effects on a body-mind-soul level. I know this is getting a bit abstract, but roll with me here - think balance.

Each one of us is made up of the 5 elements, however we are all unique because we are made up based on different ratios of each, and this means that we need to nourish that specific ratio that determines out set-point balance to truly thrive in this skin. Ayurveda and the 5 elements overlaps with the Western Science terminology of GABA, Serotonin, Dopamine, Acetylcholine. Obviously, because the truth is the truth, whether you call it Chinese Medicine Ayurveda or Western Neuroscience. With addiction it is the air element that is aggravated and needs to be tamed to find balance body, mind and soul - regardless of your basic constitution, you can have an overriding imbalance in one element that manifests a specific disease connected to that element.

Each one of us is made up of the 5 elements, however we are all unique because we are made up based on different ratios of each, and this means that we need to nourish that specific ratio that determines out set-point balance to truly thrive in this skin. Ayurveda and the 5 elements overlaps with the Western Science terminology of GABA, Serotonin, Dopamine, Acetylcholine. Obviously, because the truth is the truth, whether you call it Chinese Medicine Ayurveda or Western Neuroscience. With addiction it is the air element that is aggravated and needs to be tamed to find balance body, mind and soul - regardless of your basic constitution, you can have an overriding imbalance in one element that manifests a specific disease connected to that element.

The qualities of raw food itself are light, cold, rough, difficult, and clear.

Raw food feels cold in the stomach and rough on the GI. It has the qualities of Vata aka heavy on the air elements and can therefore increase this imbalance further if consumed in excess. 

5 Food Rules To Balance Air Element

  1. Moist, warm, cooked foods
  2. Sweet and mild spices only
  3. Limit fermented foods and caffeine
  4. Focus on balancing fats like ghee, coconut oil and sesame paste 
  5. Calming and rejuvenating herbs like kava kava, chamomile, ashwagandha, astragalus and gotu kola