There's a statement that I've seen made by a few of the leaders in the vegan and raw vegan movement: "People are dying, not so much from deficiencies, but from excesses".
I used to agree with this statement without question. I have since updated my viewpoint to include deficiencies as a very real issue that needs to be taken seriously.
I am studying to get my PhD in Natural Health, specifically, Natural Hygiene. The basic tenet of NH is that "all diseases are caused by toxemia". The theory basically says that we poison ourselves with drugs, both prescription, over-the-counter and recreational, as well as with foods that we are not biologically designed for such as animal foods, processed foods and fats such as oils and saturated fats in animal products.
While the above is absolutely correct, the theory causes it's adherents to be a bit myopic in view with regards to the need to "cleanse" the body of all toxemia and fasting is a popular method to achieve this end and fruit is seen as the ultimate cleansing food.
While we do need plenty of high water content foods for the body to cleanse itself of cellular and metabolic debri, the body also needs some fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that are ESSENTIAL--- in that the body cannot manufacture them itself and MUST attain them from the diet. If the body does not recieve those nutrients in adequate amounts, then it will not be able to rebuild the different cells of the body and repair itself adequately and the result is slower healing and compromised function of various systems.
Being vegan or being raw vegan is not enough, if it does not include the right types of foods in the right amounts with enough of all the nutrients that the body needs. It's possible to be a junk food vegan and focus only on macronutrients and ignore the need of the body for the micronutrients that are equally important. And there are many vegan and raw vegan foods that when eaten in excess, can lead to imbalances.
Deficiency diseases such as Beri Beri (a deficiency of Thiamin or B1), Scurvy (a deficiency of Vitamin C) and Pellegra (a deficiency of Niacin or Vitamin B3) are not common today like they might have been in the past.
However, did you know that the majority of the population are still deficient in these nutrients while not manifesting these symptoms because it's a matter of degree and symptoms don't show up until there's a significant deficiency? There is a continuum of deficiency starting with mild symptoms and then progressing to more severe and yes, these diseases can eventually end up in death.
Many people don't know that many of the B Vitamins can help a person overcome alcoholism and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. All are needed, and a few play key roles. Many skin disorders are also affected by the B Vitamins which are refined out of processed foods.
Selenium and Zinc as well as Pantothenic acid are needed by people under a great deal of stress and Pantothenic Acid especially is needed for support of the adrenals as well as Vitamin C.
Vitamin E, an important anti-oxidant is especially hard to get on a raw vegan diet if one does not include either an enormous supply of leafy greens, mangoes or nuts and seeds.
The Essential Fatty Acids are crucially important in our diets for health and need to be in the right balance. Fruitarian diets can often have way more Omega 6's than Omega 3's unless one highlights melons, leafy greens and includes flax seeds. This often results in dry skin and inflammation problems of the joints and tissues.
The cleansing model of health has it's limitations and can even be dangerous if taken to extremes. Water fasting, especially for extended lengths of time and done repeatedly, can deplete the body of precious resources especially if one starts out already depleted after having eaten nutritionally depleted foods for many years.
A far safer alternative is feasting on fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies. I prefer smoothies because I feel that the fiber is an essential nutrient and keeps the bowels moving--something that doesn't happen most of the time during a water or juice fast. When one is eating a healthful diet of raw fruits and vegetables, enemas or colonics should not be necessary. The fiber and water in the foods makes for very complete evacuations that make extra "cleansing" unnecessary. The digestive tract is still able to rest, but the body is not stressed from the depletion of important nutrients and is able to rebuild an repair that which it has cleansed out. Rebuilding is equally as important as cleansing.
I have since completely changed my view of white flour, white rice and all refined foods. They are not foods. They have only MACRO nutrients, which are fat, carbohydrate and protein, but they provide ZERO, and I am not exaggerating here, of MICRO nutrition: there is no Vitamin C, A, E or B vitamins in any of these foods. No minerals and no EFA's. This is what is meant by an empty calorie.
This is also what sets up CRAVINGS. When we get cravings while on a reducing diet, we often berate ourselves for lack of "will power". What is actually happening, is that the body, in it's wisdom knows it's not gettng an ESSENTIAL nutrient from what is being eaten and thus sends out a signal for more food. Overeating is nothing more than looking for more nutrients. Even emotional eating results from this. You will be amazed at how your moods and emotions even out and your blood sugar normalizes when you give your body ALL of the nutrients that it needs.
You will achieve a level of satiation and satisfaction that will surprise you. You will be offered "junk" foods and there will be no attraction whatsoever. Nil. Your moods will level out and your energy levels will be even.
Under-nutrition and Over-eating are kissing cousins. You are not bad, you are just mis-guided. And who can fault you? The information you are given is from doctors, most of whom had little to none nutritional schooling, the four food groups model from grade school, courtesy of the meat and dairy industry lobbyists, and commercials from giant food corporations that make claims about the nutritional food benefits of their foods that are very misleading. No wonder you are confused.
So, with this up-coming juice fast, I have put in hours of time researching which foods will give the RDA and ABOVE of all the needed nutrients and have carefully designed which foods will provide what my body needs.
I have spent the last few months looking into what nutrients help my specific symptoms and have noticed a change for the better.
I will be blogging about what I've learned and I hope that you benefit from the process and as and that it forever changes the way you look at the various "foods" offered to you.