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As someone who eats a great deal of raw food, for me soaking my nuts before I eat them is imperative. When I get busy, lazy, or careless I sometimes forget, but my digestion always pays for neglecting that essential step. Adopting a high raw diet is about trying to consume foods with as much life force as possible. Nuts and seeds are full of enzymes while in their raw, natural forms but when they are toasted, roasted, fried, or boiled the enzymes are destroyed. Raw nuts and seeds are plant foods which also contain the ingestible substance phytic acid, which acts as an inhibitor developed to form a protective barrier from bugs or insects, but in humans can block enzyme function. Nuts and seeds will not break down into their simplest forms during digestion when protein inhibitors are present. Phytic acid also prevents us from using and maintaining key micronutrients as the molecular structure causes essential minerals (including calcium, zinc, niacin, copper, iron and magnesium) to bind to it, thereby preventing their absorption. Soaking nuts releases phytase, allowing the phytic acid to be neutralized and making the nuts easier for our bodies’ to digest. If you are feeling lazy or pressed for time, soaking your nuts overnight is a great way to prep for the morning especially if you are making nut milk. If you want to take your nuts as a snack on-the-go and want them crunchier, pop them in the dehydrator and go about your business for the day. For extra fun add spices or even maple syrup to your nuts when dehydrating. -XO Raw Girl
Gupta, R. K., Gangoliya, S. S., & Singh, N. K. (2015). Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52(2), 676–684. http://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y
Raw Nuts & Seeds High in Enzymes. (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2017, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/raw-nuts-seeds-high-enzymes-1213.html
Kornfeld, M. (2017). Review of preparing nuts. [Lecture Slides]. Retrieved January 30, 2017 from MUIH NUTR 684 module 2.
Nagel, R. (2010, March 26). Living With Phytic Acid. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/
What mineral is required for thyroid hormone synthesis, regulates cortisol and immune function, and is a powerful antioxidant? Iodine, which may seem like an insignificant mineral is required for all of those things and more. Currently the world is using less and less iodized salt for preparation in food, and this places many of us in danger of becoming iodine deficient. Deficiency in iodine causes abnormal swelling of the neck or goiter, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, autism, weight gain, depression, and in women, iodine is essential for maintaining breast health. Breast cancer incidences in Japan are virtually nonexistent because women consume twenty five times the amount of iodine that American women do. Iodine deficiency is also the most preventable cause of brain damage. Pregnant women who are deficient are at higher risk for having a stillborn child or one with birth defects. For veggie lovers who are vegetarian or vegan, if you are not including seaweed in your diet, you are putting yourself at greater risk for deficiency. Is it me, or did seaweed all of sudden get really sexy? Keep in mind you can add seaweed to soups, make nori wraps or veggie sushi, sprinkle dulse flakes on your salads, and more to ensure you get your iodine in.
The recommended daily allowance for adults over 19 years of age iodine is 150 micrograms daily. It’s important to not consume too much iodine because toxicity can also cause health problems such as gastrointestinal upset, acne, increased salivation, fever, nausea, vomiting, and elevated levels of thyroid hormone. The best way to boost your iodine intake on a vegetarian diet is to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet such as: kelp, dulse, nori, wakame, arame, hiziki, kombu, irish moss. Black eye peas and navy beans also have a decent amount of iodine, strawberries, cranberries, organic yogurt, navy beans, cheese, and potatoes.
Most minerals have inhibitors, or nutrients that can block the proper absorption and uptake by the body. In the case of iodine, goitrogens are substances in chemicals, foods or drugs that can interfere with iron uptake in the thyroid gland. Goitrogens are found in soy products, cassava, sweet potato, peanuts, pine nuts, raw cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips etc. Don’t get spooked about consuming these foods, which have other nutrients that are beneficial to the body; just take care especially if focused on increasing iodine intake to not consume meals with these foods at the same time of iodine supplementation.
Ensuring that your iodine intake is optimal can prevent radiation induced thyroid cancer, decrease the pain of fibrocystic breasts, and also prevent mental retardation, which is a direct result of iodine deficiency. Although it is not always the first mineral that comes to mind are essential, clearly the lack of iodine can have a drastic impact on health. Hope this article inspires you to do a double take when you pass the seaweed in the grocery store! Just make sure that the seaweed you choose to consume is organic and free of heavy metals. -XO Raw Girl
7 Foods Rich in Iodine. (2015, February 25). Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-foods/
- National Institute of Health. Iodine. Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.
- Gastaldi R, Muraca M, Beltramo A, Poggi E. Iodine deficiency and its consequences for cognitive and psychomotor development of children. Italian Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;40(Suppl 1):A15. doi:10.1186/1824-7288-40-S1-A15.
- Zimmermann MB, Boelaert K. Iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015 Apr;3(4):286-95. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70225-6. Epub 2015 Jan 13.
- Ross, A. C., Caballero, B. , Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K.L. & Ziegler, T. R. (2014). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. (11th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
- Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
For the next couple of months I’m completely immersed in the study of micronutrients, also known as the yummy minerals and vitamins your body needs to function optimally. So I’ll be posting some articles to shed a little more light on micronutrients, and perhaps get you thinking about supplementing with food or at the very least ensuring you are getting in your daily multivitamin. Macronutrients are the essential dietary staples the average person worries about ie: fats, carbs, and protein. However micronutrients are so incredibly essential that deficiency in certain ones can literally stop hundreds of necessary chemical reactions in the body! The danger of talking about micronutrients in isolation is that we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. Your body needs a wide-range of nutritional goodies to keep you functioning at your best, so please do not take the focus of these articles as a sign to start supplementing in excess one particular nutrient. It’s important to get regular blood testing with a doctor to ensure you are not deficient in key minerals or vitamins your body needs.
Are you aware that iron deficiency is not only the most common deficiency in the United States, it’s actually the most common deficiency worldwide? Which means most of the people you know including the man in the mirror, may be iron deficient. Iron serves as a catalyst for many redox reactions in the body, is important for energy metabolism, oxygen delivery, oxygen transport and storage, and even DNA synthesis. It is essential for exercise and athletic endurance/performance because of its role in oxygen delivery. Female athletes or those that are endurance runners or participate in a mix of anaerobic and aerobic activities are more likely to need additional iron because of menstruation. Sorry ladies! Unfortunately because “Aunt Flow” comes to visit us every month we lose more iron than our male counterparts. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron for men 19-50 years of age is 8 mg and for women in the same age range is 18 mg. If you are vegan or vegetarian you also may need 1.8 times more iron than your meat-eating friends.
How do you know if you should supplement? Symptoms of iron deficiency can include: fatigue, increased heart rate, palpitations, impaired exercise and work capacity, pica (you know those people who love to chew on ice?), spoon shaped nails, and more. The thing about iron supplementation as you may well know is that it can cause constipation, nausea, abdominal pain and host of uncomfortable side effects. So for those that are physically active it may be best to ensure you are getting more iron from your diet and not from an over the counter supplement. When you increase iron consumption also keep in mind that vitamin C actually helps to increase iron absorption, while oxalates (found beets, spinach, etc.), calcium, and manganese can inhibit or decrease the absorption of iron. This is what makes pomegranates an iron supplying superfood, they have a rich source of vitamin C and iron the perfect combination to make sure the iron is absorbed by your body. Below are some great food sources of iron. If you are anemic, you should consult your doctor and ensure you supplement but do not overdose on the amount you need to get your levels back up to normal. -XO Raw Girl
Some great VEG food sources of (non-heme) iron include: quinoa, legumes: lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo, pinto, tofu, soybeans, soy milk, tempeh, fortified cereals, cacao, Nuts and seeds: cashews, pumpkin, pistachio, almonds, peanuts, sunflower, sesame, tomatoes, swiss chard, collard greens, kale, spinach, black strap molasses, dried figs, raisins, pomegranates, whole grains, cacao.
Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
Alauntye, I., Stojceska, V. & Plunkett, A. (2015). Iron and the female athlete: a review of dietary treatment methods for improving iron status and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 38. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31829a6f6b.
WebMD: Foods High in Oxalates
Until my travels to Ghana, I knew nothing about one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, one of the most nutrient dense fruits on the planet, baobab. African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) has been dubbed the “tree of life,” due to it’s exceptional nutritional profile and all parts of the tree being used for food, drinks, to feed animals, medicine, and even fibers used for weaving. Baobab grows on large and strangely gorgeous trees that look like something out of a fairy tale and take up to 200 years to mature and produce fruit. YEP that’s right, 200 years. Meaning if you planted a baobab tree today you would not live to see it grow into its full glory. Not only do they take a long time to mature, but they live long: the oldest recorded living baobab tree thus far was 1,000 years old. The fruit of baobab is football sized and the pulp of the fruit is white and powdery with a sweet, slightly tangy taste.
This strange but fantastic fruit packs in a jaw-dropping amount of nutrition: it has four times the potassium of bananas, two times the calcium of milk, and twelve times the fiber of an apple. Baobab is made up of almost 50% fiber that is soluble and pre-biotic; meaning ingesting it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the guy. The fruit actually has more soluble fiber than psyllium, which is used in laxatives to boost elimination and maintain a healthy digestive tract. You can consume baobab in powder form, adding it to shakes, smoothies, and even use it as a natural sugar replacement. Now that the word is spreading you will find bars and nutritional supplements with baobab as an ingredient as well. I’m sure if you have the chance to try it, you’ll understand why this unique fruit with a funny name is aptly called the “Queen of Superfruits.”
XO Raw Girl
One multivitamin a day, may keep the doctor at bay and get you closer to achieving the goal of optimal health if combined with a healthy diet. Yesterday I watched “That Vitamin Movie.” I found the film absolutely riveting and believe it is a must-see for every human being on this planet right now. Most of us in the health world are already of the mind that we should, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” as Hippocrates once said. But the inevitable truth is that in our modern times not only is the Standard American Diet horrifying low in any real nutrition, even those of us living on plant-based organic diets can still fall short of the mark because the nutrient density of food is diminishing over time. It’s also really difficult to juggle work, life, school, babies, and whatever else life throws at us and still manage to create a meal plan for ourselves that gives our body the nutrition it needs. Unless you have a fabulous chef named Francisco on call, (which I dream about all the time), you know exactly what I mean. And our body will not function optimally without vitamins, which serve as coenzymes for major chemical reactions. If we don’t get the micronutrients we need, some reactions in the body simply won’t happen and this will leave us running on empty and susceptible to disease.
The great news is vitamin supplementation can save the day! Do you take a daily multivitamin? After watching the vitamin movie you will realize that taking one after every meal may not be a bad idea. In fact, they gave a cheap multivitamin to prisoners after every meal and it significantly altered the mental state of those who partook. Megadose vitamin therapy, which is basically taking seemingly very high dosages of vitamins that can’t necessarily be found over the counter is something many of us have never thought of doing when we get ill. Why do this? Well, people have cured cancers, chronic fatigue and pain problems, depression and even yeast infections by taking high doses of vitamins. The best part? No one has ever died from taking too much of a vitamin, while millions are dying from taking prescription drugs. Vitamins are not only cheaper than drugs, they can also be more effective. There was more than one account in the film of people with cancer who took megadoses of vitamin C and recovered. There was even a young girl who had an adverse reaction to a vaccine and was having convulsions, who was cured by a doctor in Japan, with high doses of vitamin C.
After one year eating 100% raw, I realized that my health was not optimal because I was not supplementing. That is when I started the practice of incorporating superfoods into my diet daily to ensure my body was getting adequate nutrition. Vitamins are just as essential and even more useful especially if you don’t have time to make a superfood smoothie. In the film it’s recommended that EVERYONE take up to 16,000 mg of vitamin C daily, and also ensure vitamin D levels are met in order to boost immunity. Getting enough vitamin C can also improve athletic performance. In the film they told the story of the Puerto Rican basketball team that beat the American Dream Team at the Olympics after taking intravenous vitamin C therapy. Two separate studies conducted on HIV patients, one of which was at Harvard University medical school showed that HIV patients who took vitamins were half as likely to progress to AIDS as those who did not take any vitamins.
Physical health is not the only facet of wellness that can be affected by taking your vitamins. Niacin or vitamin B3 has been shown to dramatically accelerate recovery from alcohol withdrawal related depression. Taking Niacin can also naturally lower cholesterol without the same dangers and potential side effects as taking prescription drugs. Studies have proven that there is a brain-gut connection; and the healthier your gut is, the easier you will be able to deal with stress and more likely you are able to withstand the unexpected with level emotions. In that same vein, certain micronutrients in the right combinations and doses can help treat depression and even severe mental health problems such as dementia and bipolar disorder. Here’s a great example from the film: an older woman diagnosed with dementia was given high doses of vitamin B12 and recovered completely within a few weeks.
Hopefully you are inspired to start popping some vitamins like I was after absorbing this information. Please watch the film online and spread the word. It may seem like a funny thing we’ve all taken for granted, but vitamins can definitely improve the quality of your health.
-XO Raw Girl
When I returned to South Africa this year, I have to admit I fell into a panic about food. Since last year I have been traveling non-stop, without my usual arsenal of veggie-friendly appliances: blender, food processor, chef knives, and last but never least, my glorious dehydrator. At the grocery stores here in Cape Town like Spar, Woolwooths etc. I started to realize after asking questions that it was more than likely that none of the produce was organic. While grocery shopping, I would ask about it and get a puzzled look or shrug in response. For the first week I had no desire to eat at all until I was saved by grace at a cute veg-friendly restaurant called Sexy Food. One of the lovely waitresses told me about Oranjezicht City Farm. After googling I was overjoyed to find out the farm held a weekly farmers market rain or shine just a block away from my pad. So every weekend since March I’ve been skipping with glee over to the market to grab some fresh produce and delicious veg food. There’s something really special that we lose when we confine ourselves to shopping at a grocery store. We miss out on the connection with people who sweat and toil to yield the harvest, and the direct connect with nature. We miss out on the reality that there are seasons, and sometimes we must eat only what will grow. If you are in Cape Town check out the farmers market on Saturdays (you may spot me there). Wherever you live, do a little research to see if you can buy your veggies locally, or try starting your own garden. If you make the effort I’m sure you will reap a harvest of not only good health, but joy in supporting the cycle of life as mother nature intended it. -XO Raw Girl
#GOTVEG GIVEAWAY !!! Starting September 7th until September 28th, 2015 enter to win a FREE EBOOK copy!!!
I’m excited to give away some free books packed with information and inspiration sure to jumpstart your healthy lifestyle. To enter the contest:
- Sign up for the Raw Girl email list here: http://bit.ly/1JBgAwK
- SHARE this post with 5 friends on Facebook or Instagram (Tag me on Instagram @therawgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/therawgirl)
- Email a picture and 400 words or less about your personal health journey
Winners will be announced every Sunday and will receive their ebooks the same day! XO
#TestimonialTuesday: Akosua Peprah (on Instagram as @eloquent_feminist) was kind enough to let me know yesterday that she has lost 60 lbs in 6 months using the principles she learned in Raw Girl’s 7 Day Detox for Beauty, Weightloss, & Rejuvenation!!!! She says: “First of all let me thank you. Your page, your blog, and your book has made a very huge change on my life. I started my journey early November last year, and have lost 60 pounds in all. I was 255 and I am now 195 lbs. The 7 day detox book was the best thing I used my money for.”
First of all Akosua I am so proud of you!!!! For doing the work. For not just reading but taking action on what was written. You are gorgeous at every size and I am so humbled and grateful that my writing could have such an impact. Yesterday when I received your message I literally wept, as I thought about my journey and how just five years ago I didn’t have a dime to my name. I had lost my job and was pretty much unemployed and without steady work for almost two years straight. It was a very tough period but I decided to use my time doing everything I always said I wanted to do. During that time I wrote The Acne-Free Diet, Raw Girl’s 7 Day Detox, and Parasites Be Gone! I prayed for God to use me, because I had a vision but at that time it seemed so far off. So to receive your photos and hear your testimony was HUGE. The message you sent drove home for me that no matter how rocky the journey has been, it was all worth it.
Your testimonial allowed me to reflect and bask in gratitude for the fact that I am now self-employed, about to release my third book, and working with an incredible team. I continue to pray the little I can do in the world continues to have an impact. The testimonies and positive comments from YOU readers all over the world have always kept me going, so THANK YOU. If you have a story please reach out and let me know! I LOVE YOU ALL so much for your continued support. -XoXo Raw Girl
Mellow Yellow Refresher
3-4 yellow carrots, 1 lemon, 1 head celery, 3 apples, ginger root (to taste)
Wash & prep all fruits and veggies. Run through juicer, strain, & enjoy! -XoXo Raw Girl
P.S. Want more recipes? Over fifty awesome raw and cooked vegan recipes in my forthcoming book Got VEG? Preorder Now!