The combination of traditional Chinese nutrition based on the five elements and modern raw food.
"The attempt to combine raw food and the teachings of the five elements of traditional Chinese medicine."
In this article I want to, if you are rawfoodist, make you more aware of the different effects of raw foods. If you do not eat raw food, but like healthy eating, you too can benefit from this article, whether you eat 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% or 100% raw.
Part 1: Local vegetables, herbs, nuts and seeds, and grains
This attempt to present the combination of rawfood with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) in a clear way is not that easy. There are only a few points where you can see equality in both nutrition philosophies, or at least can find a common denominator. However, there are many areas in which TCM has a completely different view on food than the "modern" rawfoodism. The main reason, among other things, is probably that the raw food and vegan food in TCM is only one part of a larger body and the raw food philosophy, how we perceive it today is a stand alone system. When I hear the term 'raw food', I often catch myself thinking about an old, limited picture of cold raw vegetables and cold fruits. However, modern rawfood includes raw nuts, seeds, sprouts, green salad leaves, herbs, dried fruits, and basically everything that is not heated above 42 degrees Celsius, for a some including also raw eggs and raw fish, and even raw meat. This standalone system is continuously developing and currently also includes Chinese herbs, seaweed, green grasses and exotic roots, to name just a few. Important to say is that all the nutrient-rich raw foods also can make a significant contribution to a balanced diet in TCM.
What is raw food?
Some rawfoodists differentiate themselves from others by example by eating no animal proteins - the "raw vegan diet." However, Nelly Rheinle Carayon, author of "Rohköstlich", describes the kind of raw food that she herself practices, as follows:
"When heated, important nutrients (including enzymes) are destroyed. This way about 85 percent of the nutritional value is lost. Raw foods are not heated above 42 degrees Celsius, which does not mean that only cold foods are eaten. A soup, heated in a dehydrator, for example, belongs to it as well. This diet supplies all the nutrients that are important for cell function and provides a good acid-alkaline balance. A vital food (a "lifefood") should not only act as a stimulant, but it should also meet our nutritional needs. Raw food is the ideal foundation for optimum health and brings you into harmony with your life energy. The amazing thing about this diet is that you immediately feel a positive effect, and you are in harmony with yourself and your body. Intuition becomes clearer and thus decision making ('gut feeling') is stronger. "
Besides Nelly there are also people like Christian Opitz, who in his book "Befreite Ernährung" (Liberated Nutrition) talks about raw eggs, raw butter and coconut oil as a very good source of poly-unsaturated fats. Frederic Patenaude is a vegan rawfoodist, without oils, and very little fat (some avocado, almost no nuts and seeds). He believes that too many fats are the reason why many people have no success with the raw food diet.
I am myself a 'TCM fan', but also 'Lifefood fan'. I use the enormous advantages in the thermal properties of foods, as well as the enormous advantages of the vital substances in living raw food. According to TCM I'm a Yin type and have a "spleen-chi-weakness" and to me both diets in combination work absolutely great. I eat a 40% raw food diet, make sure to remain "thermally warm", and I love superfoods such as maca, Chinese herbs and green plant powder/green smoothies.
I would like to take this test to combine Raw food and TCM ("Milan's RAW TCM") and each reader can decide for himself on how to deal with this information. I encourage an individual approach.
Differences between modern raw food and TCM
The notion of a healthy diet differs greatly between raw food and the theory of the 5 elements, since the factor of cooking is interpreted very differently on both sides. For rawfooders, it's best to eat the highest quality fresh organic foods and don't heat them above 42 degrees, because they believe it kills 85% of all valuable ingredients and enzymes. In TCM cooking is considered an important principle to provide energy/heat to the food so as to provide energy/heat that builds and strengthens the body. Especially when suffering from yang weakness, according to TCM, cooking is very important to strengthen the yang. Despite this view on cooking food, TCM also categorises certain vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and grains in their raw state as "thermally warming" and thus strengthening for certain organs, meridians, the Qi (pronounced 'chi'), and Yin and Yang. In fact this is only a small part of TCM and would on its own never be recommended by a professional TCM doctor. He would always recommend certain herbs and food that has been cooked for a long time, when it comes to weaknesses and strengthening the Yin, Yang and Qi.
In my opinion it's worth a try to test it individually and to use the thermally warm foods in their raw form by theirselves. Don´t expect major healing though, if you are not taking high-quality Chinese teas and tonics along to restore the Yin-, Yang- and Qi-energy. (Furthermore the Jing, that belongs to the kidneys and the Shen, that belongs to the heart.)
On the other hand TCM also recommends raw food with lots of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and amino acids, as the ideal diet to help boost the Yin and take good care of it. As we see, TCM includes both cooked and raw diet.
"The warmth of the food is provided by its nature (thermal properties) and also by the type of preparation." (Daverick Leggett)
Important differences in my personal experience
It should be noted here, that the western cooked diet (also with TCM-ers) differs a lot from the original diet of the five elements and the "longevity diet". The degree of balance in the diet of Asians and the real TCM and Longevity experts is far more extensive than that of most normal TCM recipe books in the West. If you reduce your diet to vegetables, spices, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, sprouts, fruits and some algae, you can not enjoy the diversity that is part of a healthy balanced diet in the original sense.
To mention just a few important, often almost forgotten factors, that I've found in my eight years of research into healthy eating:
Healing foods such as fermented Barley Miso, Ume boschi, and fresh raw pickled cabbage (raw sauerkraut). Note: Normal cooked sauerkraut, even organic, contains basically as good as no more nutrients. The healing power of raw fermented vegetables has been know for hundreds of years in many cultures in the world. In addition to their delicious taste fermented vegetables also provide cultures of living bacteria, which ensure a healthy intestinal flora and strengthen our defenses. Basically, almost any vegetable can be fermented: carrots, beets, cabbage, garlic, onions, etc.
Healing marine plants such as marine phytoplankton, AFA algae, spirulina and chlorella. These algae that are superconcentrated with nutrients (microalgae) can assist the body tremendously with cell regeneration. Ideal for detoxifying, building diets, and the daily supply of essential green vegetables. In addition to these super algae there are a number of marine plants which are very popular in Asia. Kelp, Dulse, Nori, Wakame, Kombu Royal, Iwanori, Mozuku, Matsumo, Mekabu, Arame, Aonori, Sea spaghetti, Sea lettuce. Most of these popular sea plants contain B-vitamins, folic acid and vitamin K.
"Algae have plenty of magnesium and iodine, improve thyroid function and thus increase our metabolic activity. The ingredients of the brown algae are also medically interesting: fucoidan (the slimy substance of the algae, highly present in Funori, Mozuku, Mekabu) strengthens the immune system. Alginic acid binds and excretes the toxins in the human body. The nutrients in Kombu bind cholesterol in the intestine and thus prevent its absorption. The species of Porphyra (Nori) has an inhibitory effect on the proliferation of bacteria, and Wakame dilutes the blood." (Source: www.sojahaus.com)
Healing roots like maca, korean ginseng, astragalus (tragant root), ginger, horseradish, dandelion root. Also normal root vegetables like parsnips and carrots have a very good strengthening effect. According to TCM, they are are sweet and warm, and strengthen the spleen. Horseradish moves Qi and cleanses the arteries, dandelion root is good for the liver, and maca and ginseng give strength and endurance. Astragalus is especially recommended for the spleen.
Healing vital mushrooms like Reishi, He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti), Chaga, Polyporus and Shiitake, as well as Agaricus bisporus (common mushroom), Auricularia (Jews ear), Coprinus (Inkcap mushroom), Cordyceps, Coriolus, Tremella, Hericium, Maitake, Grifola Frondosa, etc.
Vital mushrooms are like medicinal herbs. They have a very intense action and not all of them should be taken without the supervision of a knowledgeable medical practitioner or physician. Reishi, Chaga and Fo-Ti are generally very easy-going invigorating vitality mushrooms, which I myself am also taking without supervision of a doctor.
Healing oils and fats such as 100% cold-pressed flax oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, krill oil, sesame oil, raw black tahini, raw almond spread etc. For me, these oils and fats are a very positive asset for my well-being. There might be constitutional types that don't tolerate fats and oils.
Healing antioxidants such as OPC (oligomeric proanthocyanidins), that is found in Sangre de Drago and is a wonderful anti-inflammatory. Camu Camu, Açai, and also raw cacao (cocoa) contain a number of valuable antioxidants, which definitely enriched my diet in a joyous way. I especially love Camu Camu and Sangre de Drago!
(We will continue in Part 3 and Part 4 with healing superfoods, healing herbs, healing fruits)