365 Raw: Days 81 & 82 with “Conflicting Information”

I’ve been thinking about changing the format of my weekend posts, simply because I would like to have a day or two off from blogging all the little details about this journey 🙂 So, since a friend asked my thoughts regarding a post she read, I thought I would address that out here for my days 81 & 82 post.

The question the author intends to answer is “Are green smoothies good for you?” She is completely right to say that not everyone agrees on the health benefits of green smoothies. My thought on this is, “well, of course they don’t.” Things would be far too easy if all the “experts” agreed on what’s best for human consumption. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of all the confusion.

Often, the bulk of the confusion comes when we focus on just one aspect or component of something without looking at the whole picture. For instance, she cites that the “oxalate content of some greens can cause kidney stones.” Ok, so, that might be a valid observation in some study somewhere. Oxalate or oxalic acid (as mentioned in this post) is singled out for some reason, but what about the rest of the diet of these people plagued by kidney stones. My experience has been that people with chronic kidney stones don’t eat a lot of greens. Most often they eat a lot of meat and dairy. This was me before cutting out meat and dairy 18 months ago. Since then, I’ve had green smoothies almost daily and I’ve stopped having kidney stones. Do I think green smoothies magically made my stones go away? No. But, I figure if it was oxalate in the greens I rarely ate causing my stones, then I certainly would have an increase in stone activity with my increase in green intake, especially already being prone to them, right? Apparently not. I often feel like we’re “tossing the baby out with the bathwater”. We hear “oxalates” and “kidney stones” (which are sooo painful by the way), and suddenly greens are to be avoided?

Although the post is about green smoothies, she talks about raw vegan diets being bad for digestion (certainly not what I’ve experienced, although maybe some do) and the need for fat (particularly full-fat dairy) to uptake vitamins. I respect her thoughts on it, but I don’t entirely share the same view. Many people are thriving on a raw food diet, and so I certainly couldn’t dismiss it as “bad” for you, like so many do. I’ve spent a lot of time out here talking about the raw food diet, so I won’t dive off into that pool today.

Yes, you will find studies that show cooking your food is better, and you will find studies that show raw food is better. Whatever you’re against or for, you can find something that will back up your reasoning. You’ll find studies that focus on one nutrient alone, which will cause people to run out and buy bottles of the stuff in the hopes for lower cholesterol, better moods, weight loss, better thyroid function…etc. And then there are the “studies”, “articles”, and “blog posts” warning us of naturally occurring substances in veggies that may or may not be harmful in a whole food setting, and we shun them. Honestly, what it really comes down to is common sense. Whether you cook your food or not, whether you believe you need dairy to uptake vitamins from your raw veggies or not, what we’ve lost sight of is the “whole food”, common sense aspect. Americans eat foods laden with chemicals, hormones, and toxins, but we tell them to turn their nose up at a natural green smoothie because someone says it might cause kidney stones in some people? Experts argue over whether cooked or raw is better when what we should be saying is, “just eat them”! However your body tolerates them best (cooked, raw, blended), just eat your fruits and veggies. People don’t need more excuses to avoid organic, living fruits and veggies. We’re easily tempted to avoid them without any help whatsoever (we’re “lovin’ it“, right?). I enjoyed what Sue Kemple said in her post, How Green Smoothies Devastated My Health:

“Big Macs will devastate your health.  Diet Pepsi will devastate your health.  The regular consumption of highly processed pseudo foods, eating pints of ice cream at a time, smoking cigarettes and choosing a sedentary lifestyle will all devastate your health.

But green smoothies?  Not a chance.”

Sue is addressing a different post than the one my friend asked me about and she goes on to say, “Hysterical hyperbole like what we find in this post only serves to confuse and distract from the basics of living a healthy, happy life, which aren’t confusing at all.  Eat real food, drink lots of water, get your rest, move your body, and do what you love in your work and your life.”

Although I personally can’t agree with Holistic Squids take on the meat/dairy and raw veggie thing, I do agree that we shouldn’t get caught up in dietary fads. As she points out, “Green smoothies are not going to forgive all your sins, so if you’re still eating a diet high in processed food, you are only scratching the surface on your way to optimal health.” I completely agree! Is it a step in a more positive direction? Absolutely, and we should encourage those making these brave steps. I also believe like Sue, Squid, and Sarah, that we need to listen to our bodies, which is rather difficult to do when we’re hopped up on processed food.

One thing this raw journey has done for me is to make me more aware of what my body likes and what it certainly does not. For example, my taste buds think raw cashews and raw cashew butter are awesome. My stomach, however, thinks they are a bloating, gaseous nightmare. I wasn’t able to recognize these signals when my gut was full of so much other junk. My husband, on the other hand, has no issue whatsoever with cashews – Ok, so not everyone is exactly the same, and what works for one, may not for another… but we already knew that (are you saying, “duh”, me too).

Personally, I’m tired of all the conflicting information and constantly second guessing what’s “healthy”. I’m tired of wondering if a “diet guru” or “scientist” or “industry” has some ulterior motive for promoting something. We need to take a step back and say, “what makes sense”? Eating fresh, whole, real foods is an undeniably healthy practice. The last thing we should feel conflicted over are fruits, veggies, and greens. If we listen to what our body says when we eat them, and respond in kind, do we really need to make it more complicated than that? I don’t think so.

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