The raw recruits
Proponents of a diet of raw and uncooked plant-based foods say it can help the body heal itself of the most feared illnesses – including cancer, writes Clodagh Mulvey
WE HAVE BEEN bombarded for years by the marketing campaigns of the fad diet industry. Drink a slimming milkshake here and you’ll lose weight. Eat only protein there and you’ll lose weight. Eat pineapple morning, noon and night, and hey presto, you’ll lose weight.
Few, if any of these diets, have focused on the nutritional value of the food regime being employed by an army of people desperately trying to drop a few pounds before the summer bikini holiday or after the Christmas binge.
Even fewer have dared suggest that ill health and disease can be overcome by eating in a particular way. Yet this is precisely what Brian Clement, author of Living Foods for Optimal Health, is doing.
He claims that by eating a “living food” diet, consisting of raw and uncooked plant-based foods, the body can and will heal itself of the most feared illnesses – including cancer. Furthermore, he says, this way of eating is not a fad diet but rather a lifestyle choice.
Clement, director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida for the past 30 years, insists: “We don’t cure cancer, but we help hundreds of thousands of people reverse their cancer and other diseases.”
The institute’s ethos, Clement says, is holistic, also including exercise programmes, positive-thinking education and non-invasive therapies such as reflexology to help individuals attain their optimum health.
“Your emotional state is important, your spiritual state is important, exercise and movement are important. But the fuel behind all of that is raw, living food,” he explains.
The living food diet comprises uncooked, fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, sprouted grains, seeds, legumes and juices such as wheatgrass. The theory is that once any food is cooked above 47 degrees all enzymes in it are killed, and the food, in effect, becomes nutritionally “dead”.
Animal products are also considered to be “dead” foods, energetically, and are said to be difficult to digest, producing high levels of toxins in the body as they are processed through to elimination.
Cooking also affects the subtle energy of the food, Clement says. “When you eat food that contains its electrical frequency, which moves throughout cells and into the neurons in the brain, it profoundly moves negativity out of the system.”
This, he suggests, can raise one’s level of awareness and assist with spiritual connection.
Natasha Czopor agrees. The colourful owner of Natasha’s Living Foods raw food company says eating a raw diet “helps us connect with our bodies in a very deep way” and enhances our “total vitality”.
Having turned to raw food when she was just 19 years old to help her gain control over her weight, Czopor says eating “living foods” – which should be “fresh, fresh, fresh” – is natural and encompasses “the whole cycle of nature”.
She explains: “All a seed wants to do is to sprout and grow into a plant. That’s what makes it happy. So eating sprouts when the plant’s vital force and energy is high, is really good for you – you’re getting optimum nutrition at that point.”
Far from being a fad diet, Czopor says raw, living food has “been around for millions of years”, but the awareness of the modern Living Food movement is around “the bigger picture” – holism and ethical production of food.
“A living food diet requires a switch of attention,” she says. “It is an attitudinal thing, where the focus is on the vitality of your food and the chemical construct of vegetables taken straight from the earth and put into your body.”
Bernadette Bohan began putting “living food” juices into her body when she discovered she had cancer for the second time. “I began to read and do a bit of research, and I discovered that nutrition had a big part to play in combating the effects of the disease,” she says.
The author of The Choicesays she juiced during her chemotherapy treatment and found that after four months her arthritis disappeared, along with her need to wear glasses, as her eyesight had improved so much. Ultimately, she says, her cancer also went away.
Recovered from the disease for nine years and busy teaching seminars and running her “wellness programme” in Cork, Bohan says: “The fact that I’ve stayed so well for the last nine years is down to the food I’m eating.”
However, concerns are raised over the diet’s lack of Vitamin B12 – a water-soluble vitamin found in animal products, but not in plants – which is needed by the body for red-blood-cell formation, neurological function and DNA synthesis.
Bohan says she takes a B12 supplement and argues that meat eaters should also do so, to ensure adequate vitamin levels.
“Vitamin B12 is probiotic. It’s a bacteria that comes from the soil,” she explains. But with modern farming practices and the use of pesticides on the land, the bacteria are killed, thus livestock may not be ingesting it either, she argues.
Registered nurse and living food nutritionist Ciara Murphy says a living food diet is effective in giving the body’s cells the chance to rejuvenate.
Having worked in St Vincent’s oncology department and more recently as a colonic hydrotherapist, she believes a meat and dairy diet is extremely difficult for the body to process and puts a great deal of pressure on the system.
“Natural, raw, enzyme-rich foods are far superior,” says Murphy, but warns that a raw food diet is a “totally different way of eating” and recommends people do their research first.
A living food lifestyle takes “an emotional commitment”, Clement admits. But, he insists, for those with illness, “It’s the only way someone permanently gets well – by doing it themselves”.
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