Are We Getting Enough Nutrients?

April 24th, 2009 by Tonya Zavasta

People do things for their own reasons—not yours, not mine. And so with raw food diet—people adopt the lifestyle for a hundred different reasons, each personal. The most common, perhaps the most fundamental, is simply to ensure we are getting all the nutrients we need for superior health.

We soon learn that by not cooking the nutrients out of our food, we can consume it knowing that everything beneficial and useful to our bodies is still intact. Eating your food raw gives you the most nutrition from every bite. Current recommendations are that we eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But what happens when the food is nutritionally compromised in the first place?

We must consume even more than 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables if we want to be sure we are getting our nutritional requirements met. If you are attempting to eat just two meals a day, that can appear a daunting challenge.

My first advice…Practice caloric restriction by following the Quantum Eating plan, eating only twice a day. My second…Be sure to get ample servings of vegetables. But wait! Which is it? Calorie restriction? Or maxing out your veggies? Answer: It’s both!

A little food for thought: Most fruits and vegetables found in regular supermarkets today contain between 5% and 40% less minerals than those harvested in previous generations, according to an article in the February issue of Journal of HortScience. Most so-called improvements in food production serve only to increase yields while making the food less nutritious. For instance, selective breeding to increase size and yield results in higher carbohydrate content, but lower mineral and amino acid content.

Chemical pesticides and fertilizers not only strip nutrients and imbalance the soil, but retard maturing and ripening, because crops are grown quicker for harvesting sooner. This reduces the time plants would otherwise use to absorb nutrients from the soil. And just because a vegetable is big doesn’t mean it contains more nutrition. A larger size often serves only to dilute the vitamin and mineral content amid the bulk which the produce industry calls ‘dry matter.’

Experts—perhaps we’re here using the term loosely—sometimes claim there is no nutritional difference between conventional and organically grown produce. A plethora of studies has been done to dispute that claim, including one long-term study headed by a food chemist at the University of California. Organically grown tomatoes were there found to contain 79% to 97% higher levels of flavonoids alone. Virginia Worthington, a champion for the organic food movement, compiled the results of thirty different studies which compared 300 vegetables. Worthington’s compilation showed that 40% of the time organic produce had higher nutritional content, and commercially grown produce won out about 15% of the time.

One study from Columbia Teachers College showed that, even where both growing methods produced the same nutritional results, the organic produce won out in terms of what if didn’t contain—pesticide residues and lower nitrate levels, to name a couple. I sometimes question the cashiers at the grocery store: “How come the organic produce costs so much more when there’s less stuff on it?”

Aside from the importance of buying your produce locally and organically grown to increase your chances of maximum nutritive content, there’s one other way you can ensure that you are eating at the very least the recommended 5 to 9 servings a day…Juicing! I sing its praises every day. Juicing gets a mention in all of my books because it is such a vital part of the raw food lifestyle. You’ll find several delicious juice recipes in Beautiful on Raw: Uncooked Creations. The book Rawsome Flex shows you how to turn them into lovely nourishing soups as well.

The argument for high doses of vitamin and mineral supplements is that it is impossible to eat as many vegetables as you need for adequate nutrition, especially if nutrient content is depleted. Juicing not only eliminates the need for munching huge quantities of greens and vegetables, but also minimizes the body’s digestive effort, since nutrients get absorbed into the bloodstream in minutes.

One 6-ounce glass of fresh carrot juice is the product of about one pound of carrots. Juicing breaks down fibers in the vegetables, making it easier to absorb nutrients. Vegetable juice is a simple, easy way to boost your nutrition. You’ll get more minerals, vitamins and enzymes in just one glass than you might normally get in several days on an average cooked food diet.

If you have been less than diligent with juicing, or you need extra incentive to jump on the juicing bandwagon, now is the time to increase your consumption of vegetables, especially with all the wonderful organic produce becoming available as the season unfolds.

So…Drink up your living foods!

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