The best part about having a plant-based food business is that it allows me to share the insights I've gained through my personal health journey with people who want to feel better. It's so deeply satisfying to help Nüssli118° customers discover a healthier lifestyle while feeding them delicious treats! I love that they can benefit from my knowledge, and see by my example that it's never too late to take your health into your own capable hands. While still eating dessert, too ;)
Experience Life Magazine by Life Time shares my passion for a wholistic approach to health and wellness, so I was absolutely THRILLED when they reached out to feature me in an article! The issue is out now, and in it you'll find my conversation with award-winning healthcare journalist Catherine Gutherie in her wonderful piece "The Raw Story". She asked me about my journey from the Standard American Diet, with all the discomfort and illness it caused me, to discovering the vibrant energy-filled world of plant-based eating. It's a story I never get tired of sharing!
Gutherie threads my story through a larger exploration of raw food, and how eating a raw food diet has different benefits for different people. She includes wisdom from functional medicine provider Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC who says, "A plant-centric, whole food diet will beat out a non-nutrient-dense diet any day.” I agree 100%, and I really appreciate how Guthrie approaches this subject through multiple vantage points. It's not a commercial for going raw, but instead a prompt to listen to to our own bodies as we test out different nutritious options.
As Gutherie writes in the article, “Decades of nutrition research have shown an inverse relationship between daily servings of vegetables and fruits and the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancer.” A diet rich in vegetables and fruits provides a wealth of vitamins and minerals along with plenty of fiber (remember juicing strips away the fiber). Dr. Cole adds, “When we eat a variety of fiber (soluble, insoluble, and prebiotic) we support elimination and nourish the gut microbiome’s flora, which feed on prebiotic fiber. A healthy gut microbiome also transforms fiber into the short-chain fatty acids that are vital for a strong immune system and digestive health. A raw foods diet is going to support bacterial diversity and short-chain fatty acid production… and those two things are the name of the game for people who live long, healthy lives.”
But there can be drawbacks to a raw food diet, too. In the article, nutritionist Jess Hass, CNS, LN adds an important point saying, “Many healing traditions, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine believe that one needs a cast-iron gut to handle raw foods – and it’s best to consume minimally if gut health is an issue”. Hass goes on to say, “Ayurveda sees the digestive process as a cauldron over a fire. The digestive fire needs to be robust so it can burn up, break down, and digest the energy in foods.” She warns that, “A raw-foods diet also can create nutritional deficiencies. It may lack vitamins B12 and D; minerals calcium, selenium, zinc; protein; and omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.”
In my own diet, I have found a nice balance between cooked and raw is ideal. Especially during the colder fall and winter months in New England, warming soups and stir-fries are a staple on my weekly menu. Cole concedes, “Sometimes cooking lowers the nutrient content, but the nutrients are more bioavailable." It's also important to note that there are so many different ways to cook veggies, and some will maintain more of the original nutrients than others. Hass recommends water-sautéing, steaming, blanching and braising – which allow more nutrients to remain in the food. She also saves her cooking water (sometimes called "pot liquor" - I didn't know that!) and uses it to cook rice, beans or stock. I will certainly be adding this to my cooking routine! Another tip I learned from Gutherie's article is to cook cruciferous vegetables with a little mustard seed, wasabi or horse radish that contain a heat resistant enzyme. This will replace the enzyme lost that is necessary to produce sulforaphane, a potent anti-cancer compound.
I was also very happy to see fermentation included in the article, which I think is the best way to include probiotics into any diet. Fermentation expert Sandor Ellix Katz chimes in that fermented foods offer a nice middle ground between raw and cooked foods. The process of fermentation relies on microorganisms instead of heat to soften plant-cell walls and release their nutrients. It's a magical (but also very scientific) process!
Now that the warmer days of spring are here, you might consider trying a raw, plant-based diet. Here are 7 tips from "The Raw Story" to help you get started with success:
- Start with a 1:1 ratio of cooked to raw foods. Keep tabs on your bathroom habits. If your stools are loose, reduce your amount of raw foods. If constipation starts, ramp up on the raw foods.
- If you experience gas and bloating, try eating more fruits as their fiber is gentler than vegetables.
- Add a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to your water. This helps improve stomach acid production for stronger digestion.
- Try a digestive enzyme before meals to help process the roughage.
- Drink plenty of water to keep things moving through the digestive track – something we all should be doing!
- Ginger and turmeric are the Ayurvedic way to keep digestion strong.
- Keep tabs on your energy, mood, cognition and stamina for tell-tale signs that your diet is properly nourishing you or not.
You can read the full April issue of Experience Life Magazine HERE - let me know if you read the article! I'd also love to hear from you if you decide to try a raw food diet.
I'll be leading a 10 day "Healthy Habit Reboot" in May, and that will be a wonderful way to get started or gain momentum if you want the support of a small, health-focused community! I'll be sharing recipes (cooked and raw), ideas for sustaining healthy habits, exercises to integrate into your day, self-care tips and guest talks from health and wellness experts. Stay tuned!