Dangers of a Damp, Raw Food Diet
I often tell clients to stay off cold, damp, raw, sweet food. Which covers such foods as dairy, milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, sugar, soft drinks, raw fruit and raw vegetables. The dairy and sugar a client can accept, but they look at me as if I'm crazy when I mention raw fruit and vegetables. Especially when every other naturapath, chiropractor etc. tell them to eat more fruit and vegetables. However I then pose some questions - What does cold do? ( It constricts and slows down, causes stuckness ).
Have you ever been able to buy raw fruit salads or raw vegetable salads in a Chinese Restaurant? - No! Why not? Because the Chinese have learnt over thousands of years the dangers of eating too much raw food especially cold, sweet food. They have learnt to treat their food as medicine by using a balanced diet of cooked foods.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the stomach is called the cooking pot. It cooks the food so it is more easily absorbed. The funny thing is it isn't too far from what actually happens in the stomach. When food goes into the stomach it has already been broken apart by chewing (very important to chew well) this mixes the food with the enzymes in your saliva. The food hits the stomach ready for processing. The stomach secretes Hydrochloric acid which produces heat (calories) and releases the calories (heat), minerals, vitamins, proteins etc. The food is being cooked by acid. The chemical reactions are breaking the food up in to molecules that can be absorbed by the intestines.
The spleen/pancreas produces enzymes to further help the process. Now imagine what happens to stomach acid that is constantly being neutralised by cold, raw, alkalised fruit and vegetables. Acid is neutralised by an alkaline solution. So now the stomach has to produce more acid to get the balance right. If this continues to happen over many meals and many months, even years, then eventually the acid glands become exhausted and the food begins to move into the digestive tract only partially broken down, partially digested.
of digestive processes can result in an imbalance of gut microflora.
The inflammatory reactions triggered by these organisms and the physical
and chemical damage they inflict on the (usually semipermeable) gut
mucosa produces the condition of increased permeability known as'Leaky
Gut Syndrome'. This 'Gut Dysbiosis or leaky gut syndrome" may produce
enterotoxins, the toxic waste of living bacteria or endotoxins, the
cell wall fragments of dead bacteria".
Extract from Metagenics Practitioner guide to Integrated Detoxification.
The body now thinks it is being attacked by foreign bacteria and goes on the alert, producing more enzymes from the pancreas and the immune system starts to attack the food particles. This is often the cause of allergies, chronic fatigue, sinus, etc. During the overactive acid stage the body's microflora gets destroyed and the stomach lining is now being eroded by stomach acid, so the stomach creates more mucus to protect the lining.
Now we have high acid, high mucus production. Once the acid glands (parietal cells of the stomach lining) become exhausted and the microflora destroyed, there still is a large amount of mucus being formed - this is what the Chinese call 'dampness'. Dampness also means bacteria, moulds, fungus, phlegm. What usually accompanies dampness are Parasites, Parasites love damp conditions. The client will experience symptoms that related to dampness or excess mucus.
You can easily see if you are effected by dampness. Does your stomach/abdomen swell up after you have raw cold, damp, sweet food? Do you worry excessively? Do you feel tired after eating? Do you bruise easily? Do you suffer from odema or fluid retention? Ever eaten a beautiful big salad hoping to lose weight and find that your lower abdomen swells up, or you get a sinus attack where nothing but clear mucus comes out of your nose, or your bowel movements go from hard to diarrhoea and back to hard again? Do you ever feel tired after eating a salad, or a bowl of fruit or cereal with sugar and milk? Are you someone who can't lose weight no matter how much raw food you eat? All of this can be put down to cold damp, sweet, raw food causing an internal damp condition.
Damp food and the Mind and Emotions
Let us take it one stage further. The Chinese don't separate the emotions from the body's organs. They see the emotions as being directly connected with each organ. That each organ has an associated negative and positive emotion. They pay particular attention to the negative emotions of each organ because they either cause illness or are usually the result of illness. Each emotion has a vibrational rate that is attuned to a particular organ i.e.
- Liver/Gallbladder - Anger/frustration
- Heart/Small Intestine - Lack of Joy
- Lung/Colon - Grief/Sadness
- Kidney/Bladder - Fear/anxiety
- Spleen/Pancreas/Stomach - Worry/Reminiscence of the past
As an example we know in Western Medicine that if someone worries too much they get a stomach ulcer. But what came first? Was the stomach upset by worry, or did a upset stomach cause the mind to worry?
In Chinese Medicine the brain is directly effected by stomach/pancreas energy and worry will be the predominate emotion experienced. So an excessive raw diet will upset the stomach and pancreas and eventually effect someone at the emotional level. They will become worried and find it hard to stop thinking about the past. This is why people often get physically and emotionally knocked around by sticky humid weather. Damp people often prefer a dry hot climate - somewhere like a dry desert climate is perfect for healing Damp conditions.
Are raw foods bad for you?
Don't get me wrong I'm not saying raw fruit & vegetable are bad for you. In the right situation they are very important in healing. They cleanse the body of toxins etc. It's the temperature that is important and the length of time someone has been eating raw, cold food.
The problems that may occur often take 2 to 3 years to accumulate, the symptoms come on subtly and slowly. This also means that the healing process can take a long time to clear the Body of the problem. Because there are two aspects/stages -
- High Acid and High Mucus which will lead to acute Damp Heat and
- Exhausted acid and high mucus which leads to the Chronic 'Cold Damp'.
So each condition needs to be treated differently.
- Damp Heat needs to be cooled and damp removed.
- Cold Damp needs to be warmed and Damp removed.
Cold damp takes the longest to clear up because it has taken years to get the condition and the body is usually exhausted in such areas as spleen/pancreas/stomach. E.g. is Diabetes. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, diabetes is called the wasting disease, and late-onset diabetes will generally have a Cold Damp Connection.
So what can we do to fix the problem
- My first suggestion is cook everything. This can mean just gently warming the veggies, stewing the fruit. Just add some heat. Even sprouts only need to be thrown onto the food after you take it off the stove.
- Stay off Cold Iced Waters, Cold Drinks - Have as much water at room temperature, or teas/infusions.
- A wok (or large fry pan) is an ideal way to cook - fast and fresh. Also crock-pot cooking is often used in China. Something that is slowly cooked is the best. It is predigested and easily assimilated.
- 'Congee' is rice that has been cooked for 2 to 3 hrs on a very low heat. It is excellent for removing dampness. Anything can be added to it and it makes a great alternative to those sweet breakfast cereals.
I have written this paper because I am seeing more and more clients suffering from this Internal Dampness. If we continue to think that a raw cold, diet is the only way to become healthy we will slow our ability to heal, to feel well and be energised.
I like the direct approach of strengthening the body's energy with Acupuncture treatments and potent Herbal Medicine. Remember, food can often be the slowest way to change our level of health. Diet may often be a slow, arduous path back to optimum health but when you strength the energy system the body will start to use the minerals and vitamins in your food and speed up the process. Using Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine is the best way to accelerate the healing process. We must always remember we are using techniques that Chinese Doctors have developed over 30 centuries, that is a lot of 'clinical trials'.
Article by Robert Kendall B.Ac. Dip.Med.Herb
I recommend the book "Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford (Atlantic Books,Berkeley,CA USA.p.268-74,299-306) for a comprehensive look at food as medicine using the Traditional Chinese approach.