Medicinal Raw Foods
One of the great things about eating raw food is that a much larger portion of the food nutrients are still intact, as they haven’t been destroyed or diminished by heat. Not only is this good news for our nutrition, it also means that many of the medicinal properties of the foods are at their peak. Modern food, much of which has been processed until unrecognisable, is responsible for so many illnesses and health complaints but the reverse is also true: healthy whole foods in their natural state are often the best medicine to heal what ails us and bring our bodies back into balance.
Here are just a few of the raw foods that have huge potential to act as medicine. They are packed with nutrients and they have a soothing effect on lots of common health complaints. But you don’t have to wait until you’re sick to eat them! They will help protect and fortify you against the onset of illness.
No raw food household (or any household!) should be without a good stockpile of fresh herbs. Adding flavour to any raw meal is so easy when herbs abound, whether it’s savoury or sweet.
They aren’t just flavour bullets though. Every herb has something healing to offer, which is why they have been used as medicine for centuries in the form of teas, balms, compresses and potions.
Here is a tiny snapshot of the medicinal qualities in some common household herbs:
- Parsley – Aids digestion, reduces bloating and gas, reduces bad breath, promotes kidney longevity, is antibacterial.
- Basil – Soothes insect bites and minor cuts, settles stomach upsets, promotes appetite, natural antidepressant, is antifungal.
- Coriander – Soothes aches and arthritis, reduces infection, natural sedative, is anti-inflammatory.
- Rosemary – Natural stimulant, reduces blood pressure, promotes circulation, reduces muscular and joint pain, eases asthma.
- Thyme – Eases congestion and coughs, soothes sore throats, natural sedative, is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
Often touted as a miracle food, apple cider vinegar’s uses seem to have no bounds. Aside from helping conditions such as heartburn, arthritis, fatigue and discoloured teeth, the fermented goodness in this amazing liquid means it promotes good gut bacteria (and a healthy gut is the foundation for all health).
Many people make a daily ritual of taking some apple cider vinegar – some have it straight out of the bottle, or you can dilute it in a glass of warm water. Of course, using it in recipes is also a favourite option, whether it’s in a salad dressing, a tangy veggie pickle or as lovely acidity in a raw soup.
It’s well known that citrus fruits contain high quantities of vitamin C and antioxidants. That means that getting these fruits (preferably whole) into your diet not only helps reduce the severity and longevity of sicknesses like colds, flus and infections, it also helps boost your immunity and prevent illness in the first place.
But did you know that the bitter pith under the rind of citrus fruits is highly medicinal? In Chinese medicine, bitter flavours are known to assist the liver. So although the white part of lemon, lime, orange and mandarin skin is a bit unpalatable, if you can find a way to eat some regularly, you’ll get the health benefits from the entire fruit.
A great tonic for cold and flu is a whole lemon (flesh, juice, seeds, pith and rind) in your high-speed blender with a small chunk of ginger, a cup or two of water and your choice of sweetener (Manuka honey is high in antibacterial qualities but you could also use rice malt syrup or stevia). Blend until thoroughly combined. You could also add chilli or garlic if you like. Drink the whole thing once per day during flu season to stave off sickness, or if you have a cold, drink two per day until you recover.
Sour fruits like limes and lemons are also highly alkalising (apple cider vinegar has this property too). So even though their flavour is acidic, their effect on the body is alkalising. Eating more alkaline foods is so important in our modern world because so much of our food is acidic and most of us are out of balance. An acidic environment is one that encourages bad bacteria to thrive and is a hostile environment for good bacteria. Drinking fresh lemon juice in a glass of warm water each morning is a fantastic way to promote alkalinity and prevent disease.
To encourage healthy gut bacteria, there is no beating fermented foods. Alkaline foods help create the right environment for good bacteria to thrive, but fermented foods actually help repopulate a depleted microbiome. The fermentation process literally brings foods to life and when we eat fermented foods we are taking natural probiotics that enhance our immunity and digestion. We also easily recover when illness does take hold.
Fermented raw foods and drinks include:
Fermentation is being rediscovered as more and more people realise its benefits, but it’s actually an ancient tradition. If you take a look at the diets of some of the oldest surviving civilisations, most of them have some form of fermented food in their traditional diet.
There are lots of resources available to help you try fermenting your own foods at home. These days you can also purchase lots of fermented foods from health stores and specialty stores like Asian grocers.
As well as being tasty and nutritious, lots of raw foods have powerful medicinal qualities. The above barely scratches the surface – there are just so many! Do you think food can be used as medicine?