Andrew Weil's raw food concerns answered
Just wanted to share this gem. It answers a lot of questions and concerns that seem to often get raised here about the raw food diet.
For those who are unfamiliar with Dr. Andrew Weil he is a widely-known alternative health author and lecturer.
Dr. Graham Answers Andrew Weil About A Raw-Foods Diet
Written by Dr. Doug Graham
Recently, Dr. Graham was asked to respond to Andrew Weil's concerns for the raw-food diet. It is typically not a practice of Dr. Graham's to answer such requests but it was made by a dear friend. Due to the novelty of this occurrance the discussion is here for everyone.
AW: However, I'm not a proponent of the raw foods diet. First of all, when you eat everything raw, you lose much of the best flavor, texture and appearance of food
DG: This is so blatantly wrong. The best flavor is in fresh raw food. Concentrated flavors are created by cooking, for sure, and flavors are perverted, of course, from those created by nature, to which one may acquire a liking. Is there a texture that we don't have in raw food? What could there possibly be about the appearance of food that improves with cooking? Get real. But now he has a premise, based on an assertion which he never proves, and it gives him a foothold from which to proceed.
AW: More importantly, however, is the fact that many of the vitamins and minerals found in vegetables are less bioavailable when you eat these foods raw than when they're cooked.
DG: Approximately 1 in 10,000 nutrients becomes more bioavailable when cooked while the other 9,999 become less available. I challenge AW or anyone else to prove otherwise.
AW: Another disadvantage stems from the fact that many of the natural toxins in edible roots, seeds, stems and leaves are destroyed by cooking.
DG: I see natural toxins in plants as strong indicators that these plants are not truly foods for humans. Certainly in times before we began cooking, these plants were not used as foods for humans, ever, and we managed to thrive quite nicely without them.
AW: Although our bodies have natural defenses against these toxins, a raw food diet can add to the toxic load we're already dealing with.
DG: And what natural defenses do our bodies have against the myriad toxins produced during the cooking process, especially when 99.99% of the nutrients in our foods have been lost due to that very cooking process? We have no natural defenses against the carcinogens created by the cooking process, nor against the malnourishment that accompanies the consumption of any cooked food, nor against the hormonal imbalances that result.
AW: The latest word on raw food diets comes from a new study which shows that vegetarians who eat only raw foods have abnormally low bone mass, a sign that they may be vulnerable to osteoporosis. The study, published in the March 28, 2005 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that other markers for bone health among the raw foods group were normal.
DG: Raw fooders, on average, weigh significantly less than people who eat cooked food. A 20% difference in weight will eventually translate into a 20% difference in bone mass, with zero statistical evidence that this is anything other than normal. Considering that, "other markers for bone health among the raw foods group were normal" it seems quite a stretch to point to lower bone mass amongst raw fooders as a problem. That said, if I am recalling the same study that AW refers to, it was done on an incredibly small sampling of raw fooders (27, I believe) and there were almost no parameters for factoring in lifestyle, fitness activities, caloronutrient ratio, or length of time on raw foods as criteria for determining validity of the conclusions.
AW: However, the intake of calcium and vitamin D was very low (only 579 mg per day of calcium and 16 units of vitamin D) among those on the raw foods diet compared to 1,093 mg of calcium and 348 units of vitamin D among a control group that ate a typical American diet.
DG: Since Vit D intake is primarily (95% or more is considered normal) through sunlight, not food, this hardly seems a valid consideration for cooking food.
As increases in calcium intake on "the standard American diet" decidedly DO NOT coincide with increases in bone density (in fact, just the opposite) this seems yet another rather odd indictment of raw food. If anything, it seems an indictment of cooked foods.
But strangest of all is the reliance upon "typical American diet" nutritional facts when attempting to decry the validity of raw food nutritional value. How ludicrous to cite the nutritional values of one of the world's most unhealthy diets in an effort to make the world's most nutritious diet seem inadequate in any way.
AW: The raw foods group consumed fewer calories than the control group and had a body mass index (BMI) averaging 20 (in the normal range) compared to just over 25 in the control group. While this BMI sounds healthy, 20 was the average, suggesting that it was lower among some of the study participants on the raw foods diet. Those with a BMI of 19.5 or lower are at risk of low bone mineral density because their bones aren't bearing enough weight, a factor that contributes to bone strength.
DG: We begin to see the contradictions coming to light here. The raw food group consumed fewer calories and had a lower BMI, which would lead to the logical conclusion that they would require, and demonstrate, lower bone density, which they did.
According to AW's argument, we are now forced to base our "normal" values upon our national "average" values, even though they do not relate in any way to what is world wide considered "healthy" values. In fact, it seems that we are being asked to base our "healthy values" upon national statistics, whereby being just .5 too low in BMI is considered a significant health risk but being as much OVER the suggested healthy BMI as the average American is should simply be overlooked. At some point I believe it is imcumbant upon our health advisors to look the part.
Weight is a funcion of body fat percentage, water weight, and muscle mass. Most Americans are significantly undermuscled as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. When excess fat and water is lost after beginning the raw food diet, it often takes several years before the desired amounts of muscle mass can be gained. Overall, raw fooders are less fat than most Americans, carry less water weight, yet are better hydrated (fat being only 5% water, by weight, on average.) AW is making this out to be a bad thing, yet there is no evidence of any type that indicates that a body fat level of over 10% for men or 20% for women serves any health benefit, in any way, ever.
The bones need not be stronger than our weight requires them to be. Basing "normal" bone density on the bone density levels of fat Americans hardly seems like a valid assessment.
AW: This recent study adds new information to the risks a raw foods diet presents
DG: Coming from a dyed-in-the-wool cooked fooder, it is easy to understand AW's concerted effort to make raw foods seem like anything other than the health panacea that they can be. After all, it would cast anyone in the poor light of contradictory living if he suggested that raw foods were the best foods but that he simply chooses not to eat them. But then, I can only imagine that any health professional would suggest that fitness is an essential element of overall health, and yet most are quite content to live with their obvious lack of fitness.
AW again suggests that there ARE risks to the raw food diet, but he mentions none of them. In fact, earlier in his comments he stated that he now had a bit of information that cast possible shadow upon the value of the raw food diet, and tried to capitalize upon the false bone density/calcium intake premise. So, his entire argument ends up being nothing more than a scarecrow in Wizard of Oz clothing.
AW: By the way, I've gone to a few upscale raw food restaurants on the east and west coasts. The food was tasty but seemed to me very labor-intensive to prepare and contained way too many nuts.
DG: While I couldn't agree with AW more that many raw recipes contain too many nuts, I certainly cannot use that fact as an indictment of the raw food diet any more than the fact that many cooked recipes have way too much fat is an indictment of the cooked diet. The fact that some raw food chefs choose labor intensive recipes as a method of showcasing their craft certainly also cannot be used as an indictment of raw foods, which are notoriously accessible and require virtually no preparation in order to be deliciously ready for consumption. Many mainstream chefs also rely upon elaborate preparations in order to make their foods unique, artistic, and tasty.
Raw Step by Step
"We can do anything we want to do if we stick with it long enough." Helen Keller
This is great!! Thanks for posting it!
I knew there was a reason I never bought Dr. Weil's books or tapes, even when I impulsively wanted too. Not to be mean but his personal BMI throws me everytime and now his logic throws me even further. Thank goodness to my internal voice and a bit of common or maybe it's rare sense.
It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature.
Formerly lifeAgift aka RAWMamaSutra aka Nettle Rainbowfly when fasting
Thank you for posting this Sharon, great information from Dr. Doug!
Certified Living on Live Food Chef!
(Thank for Alissa for your fabulous certification program!!)
Thanks for posting! Did his book came out yet?
From the last I've heard, Dr D's book is still due out late July. Can't wait! :)
I agree with you!
When I pick up a health book, I always look at the picture of the author. If I don't want to look like them, I don't buy the book. This is the case with Weil's books.
Originally Posted by lifeAgift
I second and third that. While I think Dr. Weil may have a good heart, I look at him and say, "Gee.. he doesn't look like the picture of health... why should I listen to HIM?" He looks a little overweight to me....
Anyway.. GREAT article! Thanks!
PS: I just want to say that I think the scare about "osteoporosis" is a lot of bunk. Bone scans are dangerous, in my opinion. The one and only time I went for one, the woman was training someone. They put me on this table and position this thing that is (I guess) like an Xray machine. They start it at one end of my body. It gets halfway down and she stops it because she made a mistake and starts it again. My stomach is nervous now...
It gets halfway down and she stops it and is getting ready to start again. I jump off the table and say,"Nope.. I think I'm done."
Can you get overexposed to those things? Jeez....
My 91 year old grandmother started taking Fosamax last year and I'm not convinced that THAT is the cause of her recent bout with kidney stones.
Forget it. Do weight bearing exercise, eat RAW, and live!
Oh yeah, and keep moving. It doesn't have to be hard exercise either. I saw on 20/20 last night that some people are now STANDING at their computers and losing weight! Just standing instead of sitting makes the big difference.
One doctor even conducts all of his business on a treadmill doing one mile per hour.... They're doing tests to see if kids really need to sit down during class or if they can stand at their computers, and they're doing better standing! So... I'm walking... every day... to train for my trip, but also just to keep things moving. I can't do aerobics or heavy weights... but I can walk.
Wow.. I'm ranting now. Sorry.. :::sitting down and blushing:::
I agree, Dr. Weil never looked that healthy to me. If he weren't an MD I don't think he'd be as popular as he is.
haul that hammer up over your shoulder.
swing bolder, and bolder.
I've always liked listening to or reading from Dr. Weil's books, but it sounds like he hasn't thoroughly studied (or experienced) the benefits of raw and living eating.
I also like Dr. Joel Furhman's book, "Eat to Live" which is only about 50% to 75% raw, but he does recognize that eating the foods in their raw state gives you the optimal nutrition.
I agree with everyone who says they don't want to look like many of the authors... while I personally did Atkins for a few months, I had it in my head of what HE looked like ... and I quit that diet because I felt like a greaseball.
Dr. Weil may have some good theories about other things but raw food isn't one of them lol.
HW: 184 pounds
SW: 179.2 pounds on May 23rd
CW: 164.4 pounds (14.8 pounds released!)
GW1: 170 pounds MET! :p GW2: 160 pounds :cool: Final Goal: 130 pounds
I read one of Andrew Weil's books and throuroughly enjoyed it. I can't deny he's overweight but that's his problem, not mine. So if I am drawn to read one of his books, I will. He has some good things to teach us. I am sensitive to ppl who are overweight because my husband is and I am very aware of the prejudices our society has toward them. However, maybe Dr Weil has a reason for finding fault for raw food diets--he has his own diet plan lol...check out this link:
It was interesting reading what Dr Graham had to say, thanks for posting.
Maybe he has reason to find fault for....money and to say HIS way is correct? I dunno, just saying...almost everything these days seems to be about money. If no one followed his advice and thought he was right, where would that leave him?
Originally Posted by learningrawways
~Dream For Life~
Incurable means curable within.
I bought one of his books many years ago and was reasonable impressed.
He was on Larry King about a year ago and as I watched it I was surprised and dissapointed by what I considered to be his backward attitude to nutrition.
It was as if I had progressed and he had not. He was still stuck with the data and the attitude that would have been considered progressive 20 years ago before all the accumulated knowledge of the past 20 years of discoveries were taken into account.
There is sufficient in the world for man's need, but not for his greed.
sport, I think you totally hit the nail on the head there. I have a couple of his books from recent years, before I discovered raw, and I liked what he had to say. I liked Dr. Weil for years. I subscribed to his email newsletter. Then a few months ago, something in his newsletter really turned me off. He was quoting a "study" that showed something about health, I forget exactly what it was, but I didn't agree with the study, plus a BIG downfall was that the study was put out by commercial food manufacturers. Talk about bias. I can't believe that any Doctor tauting alternative health can believe any study put out by people that will profit from it. For example, I'm not going to eat Nabisco cereal because a study paid for by Nabisco says it's healthy. Give me some unbiased third-party studies at the very least please. I can't stand that. Anyway, as I've continued to do research on health and nutrition in the past decade I've discovered things beyond what he had to say, and now have discovered raw. I'm evolving in what I've discovered and I continue to do research and probably always will. He seems to be stuck in what he believes from the time of his very first book.