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Paleo/Raw food combo

by (60)
Updated about 12 hours ago
Created February 06, 2012 at 2:17 PM

I'm thinking of making a shift in my caloric consumption and would like to see what your thoughts would be. I follow Paleo and believe that it is overall the most beneficial way to live for the long term. I also believe in some raw food principles. Im thinking of going to a 80% raw (mainly vita mix "shakes" consisting of vegetables and low glycemic fruit), as well as whole, raw veggies and berries, rounded out with 20% of wild caught fish, chicken, and some grass feed beef. Any thoughts?

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440 · February 10, 2012 at 2:17 PM

A great book on this topic is the World's Healthiest Foods, by George Mateljan. In this book he details 100 different foods, rated by nutrient density, and describes the best way to cook each one so as to retain maximum nutrient content. Basically, he recommends steaming most vegetables only briefly (5 mins or so), boiling oxalate-rich vegetables for 60 seconds, eating fruit raw, and eating nuts and seeds raw or roasted at below 170F (I'd add to this that sprouting also gives benefits). I don't follow his diet principles (he advocates the Mediterr. diet), but his nutritional info is great.

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3450 · February 07, 2012 at 2:18 PM

I'm pulling the numbers from the "Catching Fire" book. I'm assuming he double checked his numbers, since the book is pretty heavily footnoted. But, like any book, it could be inaccurate.

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41460 · February 07, 2012 at 2:55 AM

Really, raw eggs only yield 50% protein? I'd be interested in reading about that.

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37187 · February 07, 2012 at 2:32 AM

@Talldog, most charts I've seen say meat is in the human stomach 3-4 hours.

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3450 · February 06, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Carnivores keep the meat in their stomach much longer. Dogs 2-4 hours. Cats 4-6 hours. Humans only 1-2 hours. Short digestive tract refers not only to length, but time. Food passes through the human digestive system much more quickly than it does other carnivores, preventing us from digesting raw meat as fully.

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8255 · February 06, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Is that true on the digestive tracts? I thought carnivore tracts were shorter than humans ratiowise. But humans are closer to carnivore than herbivores in tract length.

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3450 · February 06, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Eat a raw egg, and you'll digest about 50% of the protein; eat a cooked egg and you'll digest over 90% of the protein. Even though cooking destroys some vitamins, it more than makes up for it by making the remaining ones so much more easily digestible. No, I'm not suggesting we should cover everything we eat (some foods are great raw), but the common wisdom that raw food is better/more-natural for you than cooked food is inaccurate--simply an old wive's tale. Cooking should be viewed as part of our digestive process--a way to pre-digest our food--not as something to be avoided.

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37187 · February 06, 2012 at 5:55 PM

@Mash, good info thanks!

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41460 · February 06, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Some raw foods we humans cannot take advantage of. Most we can. But yes, cooking is quite important for making food palatable and more nutritious.

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8574 · February 06, 2012 at 5:45 PM

From what I understand glycemic index does rise when you 'refine (liquidise)' veggies in a shake.

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37187 · February 06, 2012 at 5:22 PM

I agree somewhat, Talldog, but clearly we can handle a salad of mixed greens and tender vegetables (celery, onion, cucumber, etc.) just fine and that's what I was referring to above. I have days when such a salad and a couple pieces of fruit are all I want. Almost invariably, the next day I transform to a carnivore greedily eating a large chunk of cooked meat. :-))

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60 · February 06, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Thanks for the thoughts!!!

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60 · February 06, 2012 at 3:11 PM

the 80% just means the bulk of my food intake. I live a pretty on the go life style so everything would be a best guess, but 3 of my 4 meals a day would be shakes and one would include some protein. Just to clarify one thing, I would cook my meat.

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6 Answers

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8574 · February 06, 2012 at 5:50 PM

I found this helpful when I was wanting to include more raw ingredients in my diet.

Comparison of vitamin levels in raw vs. cooked foods:
http://www.beyondveg.com/tu-j-l/raw-cooked/raw-cooked-2f.shtml

Looking at the Science on Raw vs. Cooked Foods:
http://www.beyondveg.com/tu-j-l/raw-cooked/raw-cooked-1a.shtml

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37187 · February 06, 2012 at 5:55 PM

@Mash, good info thanks!

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3450 · February 06, 2012 at 5:10 PM

We are designed to eat cooked food.

Richard Wrangham's book "Catching Fire" point out that neither our teeth or digestive systems are typical of animals that eat raw food. We don't have the teeth for tearing raw meats, nor do we have the teeth for grinding raw vegetables. Our digestive tracks are short--incredibly short--compared to both animal carnivores and vegetarians.

Cooking food (1) makes it easier to chew, which explains why we have such small teeth, and (2) makes it easier to digest, which explains why we have such short digestive tracks.

It seems that human beings are unique in the animal world when it comes to our digestive systems. Unlike other animals, we actually don't have the physical ability to fully digest raw foods.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f
8255 · February 06, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Is that true on the digestive tracts? I thought carnivore tracts were shorter than humans ratiowise. But humans are closer to carnivore than herbivores in tract length.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46
41460 · February 07, 2012 at 2:55 AM

Really, raw eggs only yield 50% protein? I'd be interested in reading about that.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247
37187 · February 07, 2012 at 2:32 AM

@Talldog, most charts I've seen say meat is in the human stomach 3-4 hours.

11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb
3450 · February 06, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Eat a raw egg, and you'll digest about 50% of the protein; eat a cooked egg and you'll digest over 90% of the protein. Even though cooking destroys some vitamins, it more than makes up for it by making the remaining ones so much more easily digestible. No, I'm not suggesting we should cover everything we eat (some foods are great raw), but the common wisdom that raw food is better/more-natural for you than cooked food is inaccurate--simply an old wive's tale. Cooking should be viewed as part of our digestive process--a way to pre-digest our food--not as something to be avoided.

11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb
3450 · February 06, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Carnivores keep the meat in their stomach much longer. Dogs 2-4 hours. Cats 4-6 hours. Humans only 1-2 hours. Short digestive tract refers not only to length, but time. Food passes through the human digestive system much more quickly than it does other carnivores, preventing us from digesting raw meat as fully.

11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb
3450 · February 07, 2012 at 2:18 PM

I'm pulling the numbers from the "Catching Fire" book. I'm assuming he double checked his numbers, since the book is pretty heavily footnoted. But, like any book, it could be inaccurate.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46
41460 · February 06, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Some raw foods we humans cannot take advantage of. Most we can. But yes, cooking is quite important for making food palatable and more nutritious.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247
37187 · February 06, 2012 at 5:22 PM

I agree somewhat, Talldog, but clearly we can handle a salad of mixed greens and tender vegetables (celery, onion, cucumber, etc.) just fine and that's what I was referring to above. I have days when such a salad and a couple pieces of fruit are all I want. Almost invariably, the next day I transform to a carnivore greedily eating a large chunk of cooked meat. :-))

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440 · February 06, 2012 at 2:54 PM

I think a mostly raw Paleo-type diet would have a lot of benefits. However, I would also caution you that there are many vegetables, like kale, that cannot be fully digested without some form of cooking or processing. If you use your vita-mix, however, I think this will generally break down the cellulose that prevents full nutrient absorption; but in the case of foods like tomatoes, I think some beneficial compounds are not even formed without cooking.

Raw meat would also have some benefits, but only if you are very careful with it and use only raw meat from the best of sources (such as U.S. Wellness Meats). During cooking, certain compounds are generated in meat (such as Advanced Glycation End-products) that can have somewhat deleterious effects on the body.

I've also been reading a book called "How to Become Smarter" by Nikolai Shevchuk, based on his experiments on himself and others as well as a number of scientific studies on the effects of diet on intelligence. Interestingly (and perhaps unsurprisingly), he reports that the most intelligence-promoting diet (based on measures of clarity, fluid intelligence, and focus) was what he called the "ancestral diet," which is composed primarily of raw vegetables, some nuts and seeds, and raw meat.

When you say 80% raw vegetables, do you mean by mass or by calories?

E6b2501296f0f1fb2c4fa5e04b061125
60 · February 06, 2012 at 3:11 PM

the 80% just means the bulk of my food intake. I live a pretty on the go life style so everything would be a best guess, but 3 of my 4 meals a day would be shakes and one would include some protein. Just to clarify one thing, I would cook my meat.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30
440 · February 10, 2012 at 2:17 PM

A great book on this topic is the World's Healthiest Foods, by George Mateljan. In this book he details 100 different foods, rated by nutrient density, and describes the best way to cook each one so as to retain maximum nutrient content. Basically, he recommends steaming most vegetables only briefly (5 mins or so), boiling oxalate-rich vegetables for 60 seconds, eating fruit raw, and eating nuts and seeds raw or roasted at below 170F (I'd add to this that sprouting also gives benefits). I don't follow his diet principles (he advocates the Mediterr. diet), but his nutritional info is great.

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0 · July 30, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Omg I think we are over analyzing this Paleo versus Raw crap! Isn't the main reason we are all doing this is to be healthy? Why can't he do both? There are recipes that I like Raw. And there are recipes I like Paleo. I don't think we should have to choose between one or the other. When we get into these debates about which diet is better or if a particular ingredient really fits into the diet it takes away from the overall picture of being healthy. I see it from both Raw Foodists and Paleo people. And it's confusing and overwhelming to people who are just trying to make the change from a s.a.d. diet when literally every little thing is analyzed. It sets people up for failure because they are trying to follow such strict diets. Eating healthy should be a lifestyle change not a set in stone diet. We all need to listen to our bodies!! If we look and feel good then we know we're doing something right! You have to do what you think is best for you and not worry about if it's not following the book exactly. Just use these diets as a base to your healthy living and tweak them as needed.

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11557 · February 07, 2012 at 2:27 AM

I associate the word "raw" with crazy hippies in my area who use the word "YUMMMY" (all caps, you can tell by the way their eyes pop out) waaaaaaay too much, and tell my the acid from the meat I ate is going to burn off my face (or something along those lines). They eat a lot of dates.

This sucks, because raw veg is awesome- I love a good julienned raw slaw made from any kind of veg! I survive on big-ass salads during the summer. I find I don't eat that much raw in the winter, probably because my uninsulated windows have a layer of ice on the INSIDE of them. So, I ere to the creamy-steamy root veg.

As far as I can see, eating raw is a personal choice- if you like it, go for it. The solidness of the science/studies behind it is probably shaky. We know that we have been cooking for a long time, and it does increase the bioavailabilty at the detriment of some vitamins rendered mute. If you like raw though, no harm.

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37187 · February 06, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I definitely have days in which most of my vegetables and fruits are raw, but I have others that are 90+% cooked. I think it's fine either way and your plan sounds sensible.

As Curt mentioned, I think your gut flora will have an important vote on this question. Mine clamor for a huge leafy salad one day but may not want any at all the next. If you are now well-connected to the communication channel with your resident critters, they'll probably give you clear signals. For example, I eat my celery stalks/leaves raw but my cabbage and brussels sprouts need to be cooked into submission in the slow-cooker.

Let us know how it works for you!

E6b2501296f0f1fb2c4fa5e04b061125
60 · February 06, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Thanks for the thoughts!!!

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