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The best perspective for your health

7 The Transition to Raw Food

Various methods to cleanse the colon, our primary defense organ against diseases. Importance of intestinal flora. Colonoscopy.

Wicker basket with freshly picked vegetables and salad.© CC0, congerdesign, Pixabay
The 10 articles relating to raw food were revised in 2014. All of the other articles are new.


Before you start on a raw food diet, you should prepare your entire digestive system (digestive tract) so that you can more safely benefit from your efforts.

The gut is the system of organs that takes in food, digests it to extract energy and nutrients.© Public Domain, BMK / LadyofHats, Wikipedia

There are several ways to do this, one of which I will recommend here.

I find the others to be mostly unpleasant.

Raw food can, of course, be introduced gently, but colon cleansing is a proven method. See also detoxification.

If you started with the first article in this series about raw food, you have already read why the intestine is probably the most important “health organ” for your immunity against diseases.

Given its important immune functions, it is well worth the effort to cleanse the colon. Afterwards, it will be better able to promote a healthy environment of microorganisms.

You probably are also familiar with the fact that enzymes in the mouth, stomach, and intestine (duodenum and small intestine) break down food, and the body absorbs suitable elements in all of these organs. I assume you understand the benefits, functions, and importance of the gut flora (or gut flora of the colon), which is also called the gut microbiota.

You are familiar with the three phases of transitioning to a raw food diet: the adaptation of the digestive system, your sense of taste, and your body. Changing over to a raw food diet is voluntary; you should not begin until you are convinced of the benefits of doing so.

My recommendation for colon cleansing

If you are older and have not had a colonoscopy for a number of years, a colon cleanse would be good opportunity to do so. The colon has to be cleansed anyway before such an examination.

This can be done, for example, using a "Golytelysolution" or salt mixture. A person has to first drink three liters of this solution within two hours. An outpatient colonoscopy can be done no earlier than 3 to 5 hours after this preparatory step.

PEG (polyethylene glycol or macrogol) or better yet a polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution (PEG-EL) is also used in gastroenterology and two liters of this solution suffice. This is also called orthograde colon cleansing.

People with a chronic illness and also pregnant and nursing women should not undertake a colon cleanse or detox cleanse unless they have consulted their physician. Taking Glauber’s salt or Epsom salts is the simplest method. A more thorough method would only be advantageous if you are particularly afflicted with toxins or overweight. See below.

However, if you prefer not to do the colon examination or cleanse proposed here, you can find a recommendation on where to find recipes for preparing raw food toward the end of this article.

If you have a family history of cancer (colorectal cancer), it is very important to get a colonoscopy as this is an important preventative measure. And, for example, if any colon polyps are found, these can be removed directly. You will receive important information about the condition of your colon. Colon cancer at its early stage can usually be taken care of with surgery. Advanced stages of colon cancer are fatal.

How do I start with raw food?

But you might ask, “How do I start with raw food?”

You will only have the stamina (psychological endurance) if you are actually convinced of the benefits of a raw food diet and understand and maybe even fear the consequences of eating a “traditional diet.”

Unfortunately, you may not know any raw foodists or strict vegans with whom you can exchange ideas. Without a well-conducted experiment, you will not be able to see or even imagine the changes.

Many people consider raw food diets to be extreme. However, they are most likely not familiar with the benefits it has for our body and do not realize that it was actually “our” original diet. They likely believe it to be an esoteric belief that really does more harm than good. This makes the decision more difficult because people usually learn from their mistakes.

By then, however, it may be too late. All I can recommend is that you compare the health and athletic performance of raw foodists and vegans with others in the same age bracket. These vegans and raw foodists shouldn’t be sectarian or adhere to special forms of a raw food diet. Look for ways to get to know other raw foodists and vegans.

1. Switching to raw food is an important step

You might have heard good reasons to change over to a raw food diet, but you may also have heard of disadvantages. Do you know what own health condition is and have you learned how to get advice? If you still have concerns, simply take the time to weigh the pros and cons.

A colorectal polyp in the lining of the colon (ileum) prior to removal.© Public Domain, J. Guntau, Wikipedia

Colonic polyp in the sigmoid colon (ileum) before removal. Such early detection and removal is an important measure to prevent cancer (cancer prevention).

The link includes information on the great importance your diet has in preventing cancer. Cancer protection would be the positive result and animal-based products certainly do not contribute to that!

Meat promotes colon cancer and stomach cancer, a fact that you can now even read on Wikipedia.

Why not spend time in a raw food clinic or at a raw food hotel and meet people who have experience eating a raw food diet? Not quite so personal, but perhaps just as interesting would be to ask questions in a raw food forum on the Internet or follow these types of forums. But then you will really need to have the ability to recognize what is most important and have a good understanding in order to identify recurring themes.

1.1. The switch in general

When switching to raw food, you should know that an existing massive fungal infection in the gut (e.g., candidiasis) reacts differently than with cooked foods since raw foodists often consume quite different types of food. In the beginning, it is important to watch out for enzyme weaknesses or metabolic disorders. Although these may be rare, they do occur. If you think you could have irritable bowel syndrome, you should get an examination.

You can usually tell right away from the way you feel whether a specific type of food agrees with you. If you have difficulties, you may need advice. Through the Internet, you can meet people who are in the same situation. They usually enjoy helping out.

Trust, but be careful whom you trust

Unfortunately, you will also read a lot of nonsense. But you should be able to separate the facts from the nonsense. However, this is sometimes easier said than done because you will need an active mind with good logic and a certain level of knowledge to understand what it is reasonable.

The unconscious defense mechanism, a part of a person’s character (character types, personality, and moral character), also plays a role. Paradoxically, knowledge can also be wrong and lead to incorrect conclusions. Relevance (meaning) and statistical significance should also be considered.

Are you the playing ball or are you playing the ball? Avoid unmoderated forums. If you follow the opinion of the masses or rather public opinion, you are the playing ball.

If you seek out real knowledge, this will allow you in time to play the ball. It is important here to “Trust, but be careful whom you trust” (fide sed cui vide).

Animation of Missing square puzzle.© Public Domain, Trekky0623, Wikipedia

Something on the topic of reason and logic although at first glance it appears very paradoxical. There is a good reason for the empty square even though the individual interchangeable shapes appear to be exactly the same in both cases.

An animated solution to this optical illusion can be found at the end of this article.

In fact, your body weight will automatically return to its “biological ideal weight” within about four to six months of eating a raw food diet.

My experience

Before I changed back to raw food in 2001, I weighed between 163 and 165 lbs (74–75 kg). I am 5'8" or 1.77 m tall.

But after about five months, I was down to 143.3 lbs (65 kg), which is how much I weighed when I was 18 years old.

My biological ideal weight (BMI = 20) is 136.6 to 138.9 lbs (62–63 kg). However, I like to eat, so my weight (2001) usually fluctuates between 143.5 and 145.5 lbs (65–66 kg).

In 2014, after just returning from a vacation where I ate some cooked food, I weighed between 148 and 150 lbs (67–68 kg).

In the summer of 2001, I felt a type of piercing pain around the area of the pancreas and gallbladder for a few weeks and then this same pain on the left side of my stomach. Since I trusted my system, meaning raw food and my body’s immune system, I didn’t go to the doctor. And after a few weeks these pains disappeared on their own.

Today (2014), I know that I have gallstones in my gallbladder and two giant liver cysts in my liver. As long as no real problems arise, a conventional doctor would not advise taking any action. A raw food diet doesn’t heal some issues, but it does improve how your system functions.

People who are truly “poisoned,” such as heavy smokers or people who consume a lot of protein may experience different symptoms. The body begins a kind of detoxification, which may temporarily make preexisting problems worse or bring new problems to the surface.

However, if you have problems during the transition period, I would advise that you find a doctor who has experience with raw food diets. If this isn’t possible, you should look for an understanding doctor who can assist you and, if necessary, check out any “strange symptoms.” Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to provide a list of such physicians.

In this age of the Internet, it is even easy for beginners to share their experiences. Share your experiences with us or the readers at the end of this article, perhaps also your experiences with doctors. We would specially like to list physicians who are interested in raw food as doctors are not allowed to recommend themselves.

1.2. Switching at an older age

When the body has been abused for decades, the transition to raw food is often difficult. Some people are only able to give up old familiar habits and plunge into an adventure after they face a life-threatening health crisis. In addition, many of these people suffer from dental problems, digestive difficulties, enzyme weaknesses, and also a less than optimal gastrointestinal system caused by decades of cooked food.

Make a compromise

At the beginning, it is often difficult to chew the fiber-rich, plant-based foods sufficiently. Bloating, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping can therefore occur. Raw food can, of course, be puréed (mashing) for older people, but they instead often ask for cooked food. This is because things used to be cooked to an extent that people considered it to already be “half digested.”

It may therefore be useful to make a compromise (if possible temporarily) and eat steamed vegetables, potatoes, and the like [217-8] when starting on a raw food diet. However, I believe that this may promote intestinal problems since cooked and raw foods are digested quite differently in the gut. More information on the gastrointestinal tract is found further down in this article.

Book cover of "The Raw Gourmet", Nomi Shannon. See also the article.© CC-by 2.0, Nomi Shannon, Foundation Diet and Health

Numerous books are available on how to prepare delicious raw food.

There is currently a lot more pressure for people to change their diet in the United States than in Europe since the majority of Americans have poorer eating habits. Most people there eat to satisfy their palate, not the needs of their body.

2. Gut flora and nutrition

Few people know how extremely important the gut flora is for the human body. Dysbioses (dysbacteriosis) and intestinal mycoses, in particular, cause immune deficiencies and a lack of vital substances.

Bacteria — friends or foes of humanity?

As early as the 1930s, cancer researcher and biologist Dr. Paul-Gerhardt Seeger wrote the following in his comprehensive work Bakterien – Freunde oder Feinde des Menschen?” (Bacteria — friends or foes of humanity?):

Maintaining anaerobiosis (free of oxygen) in the colon is of crucial importance for the health of the organism, and this is dependent on the type of food consumed. Fresh foods and lacto-fermented foods are very rich in reductions (hydrogen and energy) and pass into a lower-energy state by binding oxygen while releasing energy; this reducing capability is destroyed by cooking food.

Cooked food (e.g., meat and other common foods) harms the environment and flora in the intestine by introducing oxygen and destroying the anaerobiosic condition in the intestinal lumen that is necessary for the metabolism of certain bacteria (bifidobacteria).

The color of a person’s stool indicates whether the redox processes in the gut are normal or not. Anaerobic, healthy stool has a light yellow color because the bile pigments occur only in reduced amounts. When you eat fresh plant-based foods, the feces will have the characteristic pale yellow color of an infant’s stool [224-9].

There are now many books available that deal with intestinal health, but many of these describe the situation quite differently.

In any case, a healthy person has a very different type of gut flora as part of their microbiome as compared to an unhealthy person. But even in healthy people, there are a number of reasons why variations are common.

Colonization by bacteria at birth occurs quite differently for a caesarean (caesarean section) than for a natural birth. After this, the nourishment the infant receives, its eating habits as a child and adult, and some additional factors are of great importance.

There are approximately ten times as many microorganisms in the intestine than there are cells in the human body

There are at least 500–1000 different species of microorganisms active in the intestine of a human adult. This ecosystem is made up mainly of anaerobic bacteria (bacterial flora) numbering in total from 10 to 100 trillion.

The total mass of the microflora in the intestinal tract of an adult is between 1'000 and 2'000 grams. Over 50 % of the microorganisms in stool samples that can be seen with the microscope cannot be cultured.

There are approximately ten times as many microorganisms in the intestine than there are cells in the human body.

There are also some fungi in the intestines, but they need to be of the right type and in the right quantity.

A poor diet and/or the wrong type of gut flora occasionally lead to putrefaction in the colon. Such putrefaction occurs because the passage time for food from the mouth to anus with the “Western diet" is between 7 to 60 hours for men and 10 to 70 hours for women. This information was provided by an internist (internal medicine). Another internist stated that half a day to four days is normal.

The time the food spends in the individual sections

The time the food spends in the individual sections are:

  • mouth 5 minutes (would be good),
  • stomach 1–2 hours,
  • small intestine 1–2 hours,
  • and colon 8–100 hours.

Nevertheless, bowel movements may be regular, in other words, not just every four days at 100 hours of passage time. People who are obese or have constipation or even chronic constipation suffer longer passage times and are therefore at a higher risk for colon cancer. One possible cause of this is malnutrition.

Nuts in their shells: walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, brazil nuts..© CC-by 3.0, Kazvorpal, Wikipedia

Culinary nuts stay good for a long time if they are stored properly, even for years. This image shows nuts in shells, walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts.

Nuts and similar products do not spoil when stored in a dry place for several weeks or months. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, takes only a few days to weeks to rot. But the differences between various types of fruit are enormous. Vegetables do not stay fresh as long, but even so it takes a few days before there are visible signs of the decay process.

But unrefrigerated milk, meat, and fish spoil much faster. An egg would also be attacked very quickly by microorganisms if there were no protective shell or packaging. Cooked food usually spoils faster than raw food.

These processes are also much faster because the temperature inside the body is much higher than normal room temperature. And animal products tend to move through the intestines much slower than plant-based products.

It is not without reason that the colon has to be cleansed

The objection that food is digested within the stomach and the small intestine to such a degree that fermentation or putrefaction would not take place is not quite true. Rather the opposite is the case for many substances. The colon is full of microorganisms that are waiting to feed on the substances offered.

It is not without reason that the colon has to be cleansed aggressively and not just emptied prior to surgery and also prior to a colonoscopy. I don’t know how far we have to follow the different authors with their different views on colon cleansing. Their descriptions of the possible state of your colon and the multiple layers of deposits are hopefully somewhat exaggerated.

If you want to do it properly, choose a method that suits you. I do highly recommend you do a colon cleanse.

Vegan raw food prevents decay in two ways: the gastrointestinal passage only lasts about 24 hours, and the food has a longer shelf life even at 96.8°F (38°C).

If deposits of old stool residues (stagnation) remain in the intestine, the typical smell of feces will not disappear and there remains a risk of “self-poisoning processes” (autointoxication).

I explain more elsewhere about the entire digestive process to help you understand the various relationships. These processes also largely determine your body odor.

According to Gray, foot odor, in particular, is a good indicator of intestinal putrefaction [249-31].

This commonly gets covered up with daily showering or bathing (skin flora), which isn’t good for your skin. Read more on Wikipedia about the dangers of washing your skin too often (April 2014).

3. Colon cleansing

You now know the reasons and advantages of doing a colon cleanse before switching to a raw food diet. It will help you to avoid the problems described above.

Gray wrote: Long-term malnutrition can disturb your digestive system so much that just eating an apple can cause problems. The digestive system should be able to adjust to the much shorter passage time of raw food within approximately one week.

Reasons and advantages of doing a colon cleanse

But even if you don’t experiencing such problems when you improve your diet, it is best to thoroughly cleanse the colon of old residues. A colon cleanse makes the transition from a meat-based diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet much easier.

This excerpt from Wikipedia (German version) describes why it is beneficial to get a colonoscopy after colon cleansing: Colorectal cancer is the second most common type of cancer for men and women in Germany, afflicting more than six percent of all Germans in their lifetime. It is very rare that colorectal cancer initially causes any symptoms, they almost always are caused by benign colorectal polyps.

It should be noted that polyps are harmless when removed. If the cancer is still localized, surgery offers a very good chance for recovery rather than certain death. However, if metastases are present — whether discovered or not — the medical prognosis will be very poor. This is why I advise you to get the condition your colon checked at an early stage.

3.1. Overview of the different methods

For Gray, deposits and sediments in the intestines play a big role. He believes that a colon cleanse before the actual transition to raw food is valuable. Some authors recommend enemas, fasting, and teas made from dandelion or thyme. This is not always enough, says Gray.

Enema, colonic irigation, clay

An enema stimulates the colon and has healing reflexes for many parts of the body. This gives a strong boost to healing itself, but actually cleanses little of the undesirable substances from the colon.

Even a colonic irrigation (colon hydrotherapy) is not much better. According to Dr. Norman Walker and other experts, only repeated colonic irrigations, accompanied by a diet of raw fruits and vegetables, will bring about effective results. The water should always be at about body temperature and must not contain chlorine. Taking clay, pumice, or bentonite supports the procedure.

In German-speaking countries, clay is especially well known as a method of colon cleansing. It removes stagnant material, and if you take psyllium seed husks (Plantago ovata) at the same time, that will support the process.

Photograph of a psyllium seed husks pile.© CC-by-sa 3.0, Bastique (Cary Bass), Wikipedia

However, clay minerals should not be used for too long. Since psyllium seed husks decimate the lactobacilli (alt = lactobacteria), daily use should not exceed two months [249-118].

Coffee enemas (Gerson Therapy) are an especially common method of colon cleansing in the United States.

Taking medicinal herbs is more effective in handling mucoid plaque

Taking medicinal herbs such as aloe, barberry (Myrica cerifera), iceberg lettuce, yellow broad-leaved dock, gum arabic, Irish moss, corn fiber, olive oil, rosemary, chives, grapes, and zucchini is more effective in handling mucoid plaque. Aloe vera, iceberg lettuce, gum arabic, and Irish moss also work to clean the lymph. A brush massage is a more effective method of lymph cleansing.

There are about 24 medicinal plants known to be effective against mucoid plaque, and half of these also have an unclogging effect and can help alleviate constipation.

If you do not want to “endure” enemas and have to gather together numerous active ingredients, then fasting will only result in partial success. There is also a less complex procedure, which I explain after the section on therapeutic fasting.

3.2. The simple detox cleanse

A simple detox cleansing (mechanical intestinal cleansing) with Glauber’s salt or Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) generally suffices. You can get these, for example, at your pharmacy. Glauber’s salt is the common term for sodium sulphate decahydrate (hydrates) and is considered a simple laxative. It accelerates defecation and works against constipation. Laxatives should not be used regularly, unless they are so prescribed by a physician.

Colon cleansing can cause problems — particularly true in the case of children — because of the stress on the kidneys (glomerular filtration rate, GFR). Bowel obstruction, stenoses, unexplained abdominal pain, heart failure, renal failure, or electrolyte imbalances would also be reasons not to do a colon cleanse.

Epsom salts

The use of Epsom salts is prohibited if the person is afflicted with hypermagnesemia. Glauber’s salt irritates the intestinal mucosa.

Wikipedia (German version): Laxatives are the drug of choice if actual constipation (i.e., bowel movements less than three times a week in combination with straining) cannot be treated by a change in lifestyle. A change in diet that includes an increased intake of dietary fiber in combination with sufficient fluid intake and increased physical activity can help stimulate bowel function and improve stool consistency.

Epsom salts are also called passage salts by one company because the additives they contain made it less unpleasant to take these salts. About 100 g of Epsom salts is enough for some time. Add two or three heaping teaspoons to a glass of slightly warm water and stir well. Have another glass of water ready to immediately wash down any unpleasant taste after you drink the whole glass of Epsom salt solution, ideally in one gulp. The effect will be felt in one to three hours as a strong urge to defecate.

Glauber’s salt

Glauber’s salt (Carlsbad salt, sal mirabiis (miracle salt), mirabilite, and Mirabili) is the alternative. Dissolve 40 g of Glauber’s salt in 2 cups (0.5 liters) of water and add a little lemon juice. Then drink this solution sip by sip. After this, drink plenty of water or herbal tea. The effect will set in after one to three hours with this solution as well. If no effects can be observed with either of these methods, repeat or choose one of the methods described below instead.

Tip: Before starting a detox cleanse, give your body two days without any overly acidic foods such as meat, cheese, milk, white flour, sweets, alcohol, coffee, black tea, and green tea. You should eat only fruits and vegetables to give your digestive system a break. To get a real detox process started in your body, this would be followed by a week or two on a strictly vegan diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

4. Alternative therapeutic fasting

Fasting has long been a method of disease prevention and has many other therapeutic purposes. There is also an explanation for its effect on the body. As part of the metabolism, intermediate degradation products (intermediates) are created in a stepwise process from protein, fat, and sugar molecules. By combining these degradation products with oxygen (oxidation) or with the help of enzymes, a healthy body breaks them down relatively quickly to the end products carbon dioxide, urea, and ammonia.

The kidneys, intestines, lungs, and skin excrete these substances. With many diseases, this degradation and the subsequent excretion slow down. The body then accumulates intermediate metabolites. Fasting breaks this vicious circle by reducing the supply of food greatly or, in the case of a complete fast, stopping it all together.

To maintain normal metabolic activities, the body has to make greater use of the stored substances. As a result, “unimportant” substances are increasingly broken down and excreted. The body cleanses itself this way. Fasting is not only used for curing existing diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and allergies), but also for preventing diseases — for example, as part of a spring detox.

Juice fasting, tea fasting, olive oil fasting, fast with betonite

A similar, but probably somewhat reduced effect, can be achieved with juice fasting. It is not impossible that greatly afflicted or vulnerable people may suffer a flare up of gout, but that shouldn’t occur again. There are many different types of fasting therapies.

First, a fast that I would not recommend is Franz Xaver Mayr’s milk-bread diet, which he developed to treat liver, gallbladder, and stomach ailments and also obesity, rheumatism, and skin diseases.

The diet begins with a tea therapy. And after this, only milk and bread rolls are allowed. During the day, you drink orange juice and in the evening herbal tea.

Buchinger developed a fast that consists of tea, sometimes mixed with honey or lemon juice, vegetable broth, fruit juice, and water. He used this method for disease prevention and to treat diseases of the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, skin, joints, and respiratory tract, as well as eating disorders.

Vegetable broth with minerals and a linseed infusion has a healing effect on the intestinal walls. Combined they satisfy the desire for a hot meal.

With a tea fast, you would consume only tea and water. And some teas support the healing purposes of the fast. Unless advised otherwise by your physician, you should drink mint, chamomile, and melissa (lemon balm) teas.

Olive oil fasting is popular in the United States. For a few days, you consume only water and two tablespoons of olive oil with half a glass of orange juice four to five times daily.

A seven-day fast with bentonite (made from volcanic ash) is also popular in the U.S. With this fast, you take a combination of clay, bentonite, or pumice along with psyllium several times a day.

Two glasses of mint tea from fresh leaves. Tastes great and promotes good health.© CC-0 1.0, congerdesign, Pixabay
Peppermint tea made with fresh leaves is delicious and promotes good health. Chamomile is known to have even more effective healing benefits, but is less popular. Melissa tea, on the other hand, is generally well liked.


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