What a wonderful thing to walk out to a garden, harvest some vegetables and prepare them for a meal. Eating as close to nature as possible is the ideal way to get the most life force from your food, but the life force and nutrients are only available if your body can actually digest the food.
The raw food diet has grown in popularity, spurred by the idea that if food is untouched by cooking it retains a greater number of nutrients, but this popular trend misses a significant component – digestion of those nutrients.
People with a very strong agni, digestive fire, who live in a warm climate and eat in a balanced way may find that they are able to digest raw foods, but for the majority of us, eating too many raw foods overtaxes our digestion. When our bodies can’t digest the food we take in, the excess ferments in our intestines. This creates toxins and weakens agni, making it harder to attain true health.
The most significant health issue that comes up from eating too much raw food is an aggravation of vata dosha. This results in a number of health issues, including mental fogginess, gas, constipation, emaciation, fine tremors, anxiety and much more. Most people living in modern society are already vata aggravated from excessive plane travel, screen time and abundant fear, so eating raw foods can make these issues even more pervasive.
When you cook food, you nurture your body. Warm foods calm vata, and the effects are even greater when you cook with spices that support digestion. Cooking food for a meal also ensures that you get the most life force out of what you eat, pulling you away from relying on pre-packaged raw foods that were prepared weeks prior with combinations of foods that may not support proper digestion.
Ayurveda teaches us to look at our bodies like works of art. Rather than sticking to a label or external set of rules about eating, pay attention to how the food you eat affects your body and mind. What’s touted as the “right” health trend may not be right for you.