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How to Transition to a Raw Food Diet

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:17pm

Welcome to tonight’s raw food teleseminar. This is your host, Mike Snyder from

My special guest tonight is one of my biggest health inspirations. I first met him about seven years ago at the Oregon Raw and Living Foods Festival.

Paul comes around a couple of times a year and gives presentations and seminars. He lectures and conducts classes nationally and internationally. He is the author of six books, including his latest book Health According to the Scriptures. So I would like to welcome Paul Nison. Thank you and I’m happy you could join us this evening.

Would you like to start out by telling us a little bit about yourself and how you discovered your passion for the Raw and Living Foods diet?

Paul: I grew up in New York City, in Brooklyn, New York, actually eating the typical standard American diet. I didn’t know much about nutrition, but I did know a lot about being sick.

I was a gym rat; I would be in and out of the gym. When I was 20 years old I started developing some bad stomach problems and later found out it was actually Inflammatory Bowel Disease, also known as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Doctors wanted to put me on drugs for the rest of my life. They told me there was no cure and that I would have to take these drugs. The drugs had serious side effects. I left New York and I moved down to Florida. I ended up moving right next to a place called Hippocrates Health Institute, which was started by Ann Wigmore in Boston years ago.

It talked about the raw food lifestyle. I learned about it, started eating this way and got better immediately. I then moved backed to New York, joined a support group and started running that support group. I had a television show on cable access T.V. and became a raw food chef. During the years I was doing that I got to be friends with all the leaders of the raw food movement, people who had been eating this way for 30 and 40 years.

I interviewed all those people for my own knowledge, but the interviews were so helpful and good that I put them all into a book. I then started doing lectures all over the country and then all over the world.

Now I just finished my fifth book which I feel is the most complete and greatest thing I’ve done so far. It is helping a lot of people. That is where I am now. I spoke in every state except two states and I’m going to continue to do this and continue to help people.

Mike: Can you tell us your definition of a raw foods diet? Is it 80% or 100% and how long have you been eating this way?

Paul: If more people want to know, I’ll be happy to tell you that. I have web sites which are and and I started eating this way when I was 21 years old. I started at 80% and then I went to 100% a couple years later.

It has been well over ten or twelve years now and right now I found from traveling all over, from experimenting with a lot of people I work with and myself, and looking at the people I’ve become friends with who have been doing this for a long time, I’m convinced that the best way to eat this way is that a person doesn’t have to eat 100% raw foods to be healthy.

A person just has to look at the two things that get most people sick. Those are overeating and under sleeping. The quality of the food is tremendously important, but if somebody is going to overeat even on good food they are going to end up sick. The best way to eat is small amounts of the highest quality foods they can find and they will be healthy.

If somebody is sick with a disease, I think 100% is important, but the average person can get by with 80% with the 20% cooked food being steamed vegetables or some other vegan food that is not too bad. A person could definitely live on a vegan diet and be healthy. There is no question about that. There are many people who have done it. If one person has done it that means it is possible.

Because of people’s lifestyle and where they live, supplementation is not always necessary but sometimes it is needed. Our Creator gave us everything we need in fruits and vegetables for us to thrive.

However, we can’t always get what is needed because of where we live and our lifestyle.

In that case, supplements might help, but I always recommend taking food first as a vitamin and mineral source.

Mike: Last month here in Portland you gave a wonderful presentation. I really enjoyed it. You mentioned that you made a few changes to your diet in the past year.

One of them was to eat the best foods that had four qualities: raw, ripe, fresh and organic. You’ve added one category to that, haven’t you?

Paul: Yeah, raw, ripe, fresh and organic is very important to make sure we have the highest quality food we can have. The highest quality food would have all four of those, but we want at least two or three of them. If you ever eat a food that doesn’t have any of those or only one of those, you want to avoid it.

Over the last year or two I’ve learned that there is something even more important that can make the food an even higher quality. That is live foods , also know as life foods . The big difference between raw food and live food is this. Raw food is growing on a tree and once you pick it, it starts losing its enzymes and starts losing its vitamins and nutrients.

If you eat it pretty close to the time it was picked, that is excellent. Most people don’t get to do that because it is sitting on the shelf at the health food store for a couple of weeks. The best foods we can eat are live foods which, after they are picked or after they are grown, they are still growing more nutrients, they are still growing more enzymes and they have natural probiotics in them.

Those would be foods such as sprouts; wheatgrass; sunflower sprouts; fermented foods like Rejuvelac which is a fermented wheat berry drink; nut and seed cheeses, which actually aren’t cheeses but nut pates which are fermented; almond milk, fermented almond milk; yogurt, fermented yogurt made non-dairy.

Everything I recommend is vegan. These are the foods that Dr. Ann Wigmore survived on and from what I see her information is the simplest and the easiest information out there for people to follow.

Her books today are the cheapest and the simplest to follow and they are the ones that get the most results. People can do a lot of complicated things and make this really complicated. But you can keep this really simple and just get her books and follow her advice.

Mike: Do you think sea vegetables are important to add to the diet too?

Paul: When I interviewed people in my first three books, they were people who had been eating this way for a very long time.

Not all of them, but a majority of them all said that the most important food in the diet was sea vegetables, also known as seaweed. The reason why they say it is so important is that the food grown today even on organic soil is demineralized because of hybridization and the environment and also the lack of the nutrients in the soil. ( )

It doesn’t have the amount of minerals it should, so many people suffer from a mineral deficiency. We can get that from supplements, but sea vegetables are loaded with many minerals that can’t be found in today’s foods. It is definitely helpful.

Mike: And if a lot of top soil is being lost and the soil is over farmed, one of the best ways to put the minerals back is using that o cean grown solution, the seawater…

Paul: The seawater is great. They actually get it here in Ft. Meyers. There is a guy that gets it. It is great. When I grow my trees and my plants I use the seawater when I can as a fertilizer. It definitely helps.

We want to make sure we are getting our minerals. By far the cheapest and best way to do it is sea vegetables.

A lot of people have a tough time getting adjusted to the taste of sea vegetables, but I think if you stick with it there are tremendous, delicious things you can make with sea vegetables that I’ve learned over the years and tasted over the years that are truly delicious. And I never liked sea food before, so I’m saying that they could be made to be delicious.

Mike: In the past you also have recommended that people eat whenever they are hungry; that they should listen to their instincts. But you have changed this recommendation too, haven’t you?

Paul: I definitely have. I used to tell people to just eat when they are hungry. But people used to come to me really sick and they said, “I listened to your advice,” and I said, “Well, how much are you eating?” They were eating all day.

People are eating for emotion. They are not eating for true hunger. Most people in this country never even get close to true hunger.

Now I tell people to have set times to eat. Eat the food at those set times. For example, tomorrow at noon I know I am going to have some fruit. I am going to look and find what fruit is the highest quality I can get. If it is not raw, ripe, fresh or organic, or it doesn’t have at least three of those things in it, I will skip that meal. I don’t know exactly what fruit I am going to eat, but I know that tomorrow at noon I am going to have fruit.

I know that tomorrow at 5:00 I am going to have a big salad. I don’t know exactly what I am going to have in the salad, but I am going to look and see what I can get that is good quality.

I recommend that people have a set amount of times to eat. For some people it might be two times a day; for some people it might be four times a day. Have that set amount of times to eat and only eat at those times. If you are hungry in between those times, you can do a green drink or a green juice, something to keep you until the next time.

But we have to give our bodies rest and enough time to digest the food we ate before we eat something else.

It is very popular today for people to go on diets where they are eating all day or they are fasting all day, but they are not allowing their bodies to digest the food that they

previously ate in the last meal. It causes a lot of problems.

People require more rest from that and they are not getting the proper amount of rest that they need. Resting is another word for healing. So they are overeating and they are under sleeping. That creates a tremendous amount of problems.

Mike: I recommend that people avoid snacking in between meals.

Paul: Sure, the body doesn’t know the difference between a snack and a meal. It just knows food is coming down; it is going to take what it needs and get rid of the rest.

But if we consistently eat low quality foods or eat foods we don’t need, the body is not going to need a lot of it and it will have to get rid of it.

People like to say that the body is like a car and like gas is the fuel for the car, the food should be our fuel. So, yes, we want high quality fuel, but remember, the car also has an engine and if that engine dies out, it doesn’t matter how good the gas is.

It is the same way with the body. We want good food, good fuel for the body. But no matter how good the food is, if we overwork our body, it doesn’t matter. We have to make sure we are not overeating or doing these things.

I don’t necessarily recommend counting calories like some other people do. I just recommend finding the highest quality foods we can eat and make sure we are getting that.

Disease is simply a deficiency or detoxification, but the signs are very similar. The way to know if it is one and not the other is simply by taking a blood test. I wouldn’t trust the doctors translating it, but let somebody who knows how to read a blood test, who understands the raw food diet and heath, tell you what you are missing and what you need more of.

Try to get it from your food and, if you can’t absorb it or if you have an absorption problem, that might be a need to take supplements. But you should be able to get it from your food.

If you are not missing anything from your blood, then maybe it is a detoxification, you are getting too much of something. When it comes to supplements, I think everyone should be taking enzymes with everything, even if they are raw foods, like I said. Even after the food is picked, it starts losing its enzymes; not like when it is cooked and you lose all your enzymes, but you are still losing a lot.

Probiotics I definitely recommend. Our doctors give us antibiotics, which go against the body. Probiotics work with the body and are very helpful. I love the E3 Live probiotics.

I think people need more greens in their diet. If you can get them from juices or from foods, that is wonderful. But if for whatever reason, you can’t like myself when I travel alot and I am in the air many times, I take green powder with me to make sure I am getting the greens I am missing that I can’t get from the juice all the time. But when I am home I definitely drink juice at least once or twice a day. It definitely makes a big difference.

Mike: Those three main supplements: enzyme supplements , probiotics and maybe a green super food.

Paul: The super food is not necessary if you are getting the green juices or salad. But if you are not, I definitely recommend it. As a matter of fact, wheatgrass or E3Live is an excellent liquid algae and it comes frozen and has more chlorophyll than wheatgrass.

Drinking one tablespoon of those or one ounce of those is almost equivalent to five salads. It is very helpful and it has chlorophyll. That is why we want the greens is for the chlorophyll.

Our bodies are lacking oxygen when we overstuff them with food. The chlorophyll opens that up. It is almost like drinking liquid oxygen, clean liquid oxygen. On my web site I sell E3Live, which I recommend everyone try. It is a money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose. I’ve seen it help everyone who has tried it.

Mike: You mentioned probiotics; can you get enough through foods such as fermented foods and sauerkraut?

Paul: Depending how much somebody eats fermented foods, yeah, but it doesn’t hurt to take a supplement.

Dr. Fred Bisci, with whom I have been traveling for years, and he’s been eating a raw diet for over 50 years, he has his own brand of enzymes and probiotics and green foods that I have on my site.

I highly recommend those and they are what I take. I would tell people to make sure they are getting a probiotic supplement.

Mike: What about B12?

Paul: B12 is a good point you brought up there. I recommend everyone take a B12 supplement even if they are eating meat. I think it is very important. I know just as many meat eaters as I do vegetarians who have deficiencies.

We don’t need a lot. We need a very small amount. For some reason, though, it is more of an absorption problem than it is getting it. When we take a supplemental vitamin, we are able to absorb it much better.

Hallelujah Acres is a company that has a good vitamin B12 supplement. I have that on my site as well. I think it is very helpful to take. There are some people out there who say, “We want to be all natural. We don’t want to take supplements.”

You are better safe than sorry. It is not doing any harm to take it and a lot of people are ending up with deficiencies. Until we figure out why, we need to take that. One of the reasons I figured out why we have problems is that we are not clean enough. We don’t do enough cleansing and we are just not clean enough. When the body is clean, it can actually make and utilize its own vitamin B12.

So deficiency is not so much from not getting enough as it is an absorption problem. There are vegetarian sources of B12, by the way. The algae, Spirulina, the wheatgrass even, and some seaweed are vegetarian sources of B12.

Mike: I use a probiotic supplement, but what I do is make my own sauerkraut with it.

Paul: Sauerkraut is excellent. I make fermented almond milk. Sauerkraut is great. That is all great.

You can monitor your body and you get to know your body. You should be feeling good on this diet. You shouldn’t be bloated; you shouldn’t be having gas; you shouldn’t be feeling lazy and tired.

If you are, then you’ve got to question what you are doing.

Mike: Salt is another big topic. Gabriel Cousens mentioned that Himalayan and Celtic sea salt have 70 minerals or so that are angstrom-sized, which our body can absorb.

Paul: I wouldn’t use the salt as a supplement, personally. But I don’t see any problem with people putting some salt in their raw food meal to make it taste a little bit better. If they are going to do that, the Himalayan salt and the Celtic sea salt are the ones I would recommend.

It can be overdone and a lot of people on a common diet definitely get too much salt and sodium. On the raw diet a lot of people get a good amount of potassium and they can balance it out with a little salt. It wouldn’t hurt.

With the Nama Shoyu and the Braggs liquid aminos, people are getting way more salt than they should be getting. There is no problem with putting a pinch of salt in your blended salad or on your salad.

I think the best place to get salt is from sea vegetables. We can get exactly what we need right from there.

If I am making a recipe for someone and it calls for a pinch of salt, I don’t have an issue with that. But when people are putting tons of salt; most raw food restaurants around the country put way too much salt in their dishes.

If you are going to eat there once a month then that’s okay. But once a week, you want to be careful with that.

Mike: What about durians? Do you recommend those?

Paul: Of course, but then again, durians are soaked also. The frozen aren’t really, but you have to be careful.

Any food that comes from another country, you have to be careful, not only for the reason that that country is spraying and doing things that are illegal to spray here, but also when they come into this country they are sprayed with things that are legal, but they are still not anything we want to put into our bodies. You have to be really careful with produce from other countries.

With durians, I used to eat a lot of durians. Then I started eating some organic durians which I was getting in California.

I know somebody who actually ships organic durians around the country from California. It’s a bit different. I notice the difference tremendously so I definitely cut back on eating inorganic durians.

It’s not a definite rule but for the most part if food comes from another country, unless it’s organic I try to stay away from it.

Or unless I know it’s grown from somewhere like in Haiti where all the mangoes are organic even though they don’t say it. They just can’t afford all the pesticides and everything else. So there are some foods that I know are okay

Jenny: I know durian is a good source of dietary fat. What are some other good sources?

Paul: Well hempseed oil is a great source of fat as well. You could just take a tablespoon of hempseed oil every day and that’s fine.

Avocados are a great source. Olives are a good source. There are many different sources. Even coconut oil is a good source.

Jenny: So hemp seed is okay?

Paul: Hemp seed is excellent. That is one of the most perfect foods for man. It has all the essential fatty acids and it has chlorophyll. It’s a great food and it tastes great.

Jenny: You can’t get high from it?

Paul: No, you can not.

Jenny: There was a controversy about that also.

Paul: No, there’s no controversy with people who know what is going on. It’s impossible. The only high you are going to get is feeling great.

Jenny: Great.

Paul: Feeling great health-wise.

Mike: I’d like to talk about restoring health and improving health. One of the best ways to do this is through detoxification.

Paul: Yes, most people don’t do enough cleansing. In the first five years in a row on this diet they do great or even ten years they do great, but then they start running into problems later on.

Most long-term raw fooders are dying at the same ages as people eating the standard American diet because they are not doing enough cleansing and detoxing. It is definitely helpful.

Now that is not saying that a person needs to go on a thirty-day fast every year. A person doesn’t need to do that.

But colonics and enemas definitely help. An herbal cleanse will definitely help. We all know where our weaknesses are and if we don’t we can do some research and find out. But just to know is one thing. We have to clean up some after we find out.

Mike: What are some of the best and quickest ways to detox?

Paul: A lot of people rush things. It depends on what the problem is with somebody. Someone who has metal poisoning might want to go in an infrared sauna. That will help them detox.

Someone who has cancer issues might want to get in a hyperbaric chamber. That will help them clean out.

Someone who has liver or kidney problems might want to do a fast. That might be better for them. Somebody with intestinal problems might want to do some colonics and things like that.

All these things will help everyone but depending on a particular case will help somebody much quicker than somebody else.

I asked Dr. William Esser years ago if he ever fasted. This is a guy who lived into his nineties and he ran a fasting retreat. He even ate some cooked food but he was mostly raw.

I asked him if he ever fasted and he said, “No, I don’t need to because I don’t overeat like everyone else.”

So the best, quickest way to detox is to cut down the amount. I think everyone who is eating high quality food could cut down the amount of food they are eating by half and the amount of meals they eat in half and be much better off.

Mike: Do you practice fasting?

Paul: Yes, I try to fast one day a week. Sometimes I fast more and sometimes I don’t make it one day a week.

Pam: Is that total water fast?

Paul: Sometimes it is juice and sometimes it is water. I go by how I feel. I pray about it and see how I feel about it.

But I would like to get in the practice of eating as little as I need to eat and not overstuff myself. So sometimes it is water and sometimes it is juice. I think juicing is very helpful and great. It’s something I do most of the time, but not 100% of the time. There’s a little challenge when I am on the road and there is so much good food around.

It’s hard especially when I go and they have a durian sitting on the table for me. But I usually don’t eat all day. I usually just juice all day and then I’ll have one meal at night. So it’s pretty easy to fast when I do that because on fasting day I am just missing one meal.

Pam: You mentioned about herbal possibilities for cleansing. I did a lot of studying in herbology many years ago.

I’m very confused now because sometimes I think it is really great, but then I read other things about how they are not good. For example, TC Fry. I’m sure you are familiar with him.

Paul: Yes. There are a lot of people out there who don’t believe in supplements and don’t believe in herbs, but the bottom line is the herbs have medicinal properties and they can help the body when the body needs help.

If the body doesn’t need help then we don’t need them. But all of us are in a condition today from what we have been eating and the environments we’ve been living in where we can definitely be helped from a cleanse, from herbs, and from supplements. I see people who overdo supplements and overdo these cleanses. But I think the bigger problem is that there are far more people who aren’t doing it that need it.

Mike: Where I was leading earlier with detoxification, there are four techniques such as fasting, blended foods, mono meals and food combining.

Paul: We have control over how quickly or slowly we detox depending on how much food and the density of the foods that we put in our bodies.

The quickest and easiest way would be water fasting. The next best way, which would be a little slower but would still be cleansing, would be juicing. I don’t recommend fruit juice. I recommend the green juices.

The next best way after that would be a blended diet, which is having all your foods blended.

The next best way after that, which would be a little less in the amount of time but still cleansing would be a mono diet of eating just one food at a time.

Then the next best way after that might be having properly combined raw food. Then after that it might be improperly combined raw foods. You are continually cleansing as long as you are eating raw foods.

But when you stop eating the raw foods and start eating the cooked foods that is when your body shuts down and it has to go more in a defensive mode instead of a cleansing mode. Is that what you meant, Mike?

Mike: Yes. Good.

Paul: Mike is blessed to be living in Portland, Oregon, where they have a store called Food 4 Less where they have durians 24 hours a day.

Mike: Yes, and if I have a midnight craving I can just walk down the street and pick up a durian.

Paul: And they are not frozen. They are usually thawed out. That is pretty amazing.

Mike: Yes, ready to eat. I love it.

Paul: By the way, everyone, I don’t recommend eating too late at night….

…To be continued in part II.

This is an excerpt from my eBook “The Health Evolution: Getting Started with the Raw Foods Diet”

To read more from Paul, please sign up for my free raw foods newsletter at The Raw Diet dot com

Have a wonderful day!

Mike Snyder

Portland, OR

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