Nutrition perspective: Life in the raw


Raw vegan Ann has been a vegetarian for most of her life. Far from experiencing the health enhancing benefits usually associated with being vegetarian, Ann was borderline obese with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and dangerously high body fat. In addition, she was suffering from chronic constipation and kidney stones that she describes as more painful than childbirth. Ann was also suffering from quite severe depression; looking back, she realises now this was mostly due to her diet, which was massively lacking in vital nutrients.  Ann had been living on a diet of (mostly) bread and cheese, with very few vegetables other than potatoes. After a series of tests revealed she was at high risk of a number of chronic diseases, Ann vowed to turn her life around and discover the best version of herself she could be and achieve optimum health. Not wanting to compromise on her vegetarian values, she extensively researched the best alternative lifestyle she could get without including animal products in her diet. Seven years ago she embarked on a journey into raw veganism and has never looked back. Her body weight has dropped by over 20kg and her BMI is down from nearly 29 to 21.5, which is considered ideal and her blood pressure is now in the healthy range. Recent testing has had Ann’s doctors stunned by the amazing results; she is, in some respects, now one of the healthiest people they have ever tested. Ann is now a high energy, very happy, fit and healthy 55-year-old woman with health stats that could rival many 20 year olds.

All of this has not, however, come easy. Ann has dedicated the last 7 years of her life to making sure she is not one of the 70% of the population who will fall foul of a myriad of age-related disorders and that she will enjoy optimal health well into old age. Integral to Ann’s health is a carefully planned and diverse diet containing a huge range of raw ingredients to provide all her nutrient needs. In addition, Ann exercises every day and helps keep stress levels low with daily meditation. Below, Ann shares with us her daily routine for achieving optimal vegan health.

“On rising I skin brush to stimulate the lymphatic system and drink a pint of warm water (1/4 pint of boiled water topped up to a pint with room temperature filtered water) with 1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar- this is to stimulate my digestive juices and hydrate my body. I then prepare another pint of warm water to take outside with me to start my exercises.

My exercise regime has increased considerably since the beginning of this year following an injury I sustained to my lower back (I was trying to help lift a wood burner out of a car boot and it was much heavier than expected!). I was so shocked at how incapacitated I was, I couldn’t even get my own shoes on, that I was determined to strengthen my core muscles so that I would not end up walking like an old person.

My youngest son is a personal trainer and he gave me some weight resistance exercises to do to strengthen my core. I have subsequently added:

  • Bouncing on a rebounder for 10 minutes broken down into 4, 4, 2; this is amazing for strengthening the bones and pumping the lymphatic system, thus boosting the immune system.
  • Leg Master to firm up and shape my leg muscles, as well as tighten my buttocks and stomach. I do 1 minute before the rebounder and a minute between each set of bounces and a minute at the end. They say that a minute a day will work wonders so I think that 4 will work even quicker!

Before I do the next section of my exercise regime I have a 1/3 of a Cantaloupe melon cut into cubes providing vitamins A, C, and folic acid.

I then do a series of stretching moves as my knees have become arthritic and I found it impossible to sit on my heels; going up and down stairs had also become painful.  I can now do the resting Swan posture in Yoga, which is brilliant.

Following my stretches I eat a previously prepared fruit mousse. The one this morning was:

  • Blackberries, blackcurrants, red grapes, black cherries (from fruits of the forest frozen selection) blended with cashew nuts, coconut oil and maple syrup: very high in antioxidants, thiamine and zinc. Coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid, which is used by the liver  for energy, will not be laid down as fat and is fabulous for lubricating the joints..

After this I meditate for half an hour; this always leaves me feeling fabulous and knowing that all is well.

Next I prepare either a Green Juice or a Green Smoothie, using ingredients like these:

  • Juiced: Spring Green leaves; 1/3 cucumber; 2 sticks celery; 1 large carrot and 1 Braeburn apple. I then transfer the juice to a blender and add 1/2 avocado. To this I add my supplements:
    •  Vitamin B12, Juice Plus Veg, fruit and berries (I empty the content of the capsules into the juice. This adds 26 varieties which have been proven to be bioavailable through 27 scientific studies*) zinc, glucosamine sulphate, grapefruit seed extract and powdered kelp
    • After blending this I take out a spoon of the mixture and drip 2 drops of vitamin D3 onto it and take that directly so as not to lose it in the mixture, then I have 2 Echiomega capsules, made by Igennus Healthcare Nutrition.
    • All of this gives me vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid and biotin plus manganese and molybdenum from the cucumber juice and amino acids from the celery juice, and essential fatty acids.
    • This will help to regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, treat eczema, acne and water retention.

I ‘chew’ my juices, as saliva is part of the digestion process and people who gulp tend to end up with more gas.

Later in the day I have my equivalent of tea and cheese on toast, which is what my standard daily diet used to be. Now I have one slice of organic sunflower seed rye bread and two slices of sprouted Spelt bread lightly toasted and spread with pure sunflower spread (free from trans fats). Onto those I spread my homemade spreadable cheese.

  • In a small bowl mix 1 tbs nutritional yeast flakes; 1 tbs tahini; 1 tsp Tamari and a drop of water. Mix well.  This is high in all of the B vitamins including B12 if you get the Blue Engevita or Red Star version of yeast flakes; these are what Raw Vegans use for a cheesy flavour and as an ex cheese addict I can tell you that I would never go back to the dairy version, having tasted this. The tahini provides calcium, copper, iron and potassium.

When I ate the standard versions of tea and cheese on toast I used to suffer with terrible sinus issues and chronic constipation and bloating. Now I have none of those problems!

The tea I drink is always herbal, usually Liquorice Mint, so I don’t have milk and sugar and I haven’t had any caffeine in 12 years.  Caffeine adds to stress on the adrenals which in turn increases the stress levels in the body, raising the cortisol levels and interfering with the production of insulin, which can make losing weight very difficult.

Despite the changes I have made, I love the fact that I can still eat in similar ways to how I used to but now I have discovered or created healthy versions.

For example, I love chocolate, even more now I’ve discovered that raw cacao is incredibly good for lifting your mood as it contains theobromine and serotonin and is very high in Magnesium, so it’s really good for your heart too. I often make raw vegan chocolate orange brownies – not only are they not cooked but they don’t contain any wheat or sugar either. For special occasions I have found a whole range of chocolates including a delicious range of truffles by “Booja Booja” that are also, of course, free from sugar. I consider myself to be a decadent epicurean as I love quality food and eat whatever I want to but without any repercussions.

This evening I will eat a mixed green salad made with spinach, Chinese leaves, coriander leaf and rocket as these will give me so many amino acids I will be busy making my own protein out of them.

My energy levels and health have soared with each step I have taken and this will just keep getting better and better!

Since increasing my nutrition levels and ensuring that I am in the optimum state to absorb them, my depression has completely lifted and I no longer have any of the health issues that used to plague my life.”

Ann is so passionate about the health benefits of living as a raw vegan that she has trained as a Raw Food Coach as well as a Law of Attraction life coach and now uses her skills and knowledge to help people to achieve their health dreams.

To find more about Ann’s journey and how raw vegan foods could help you achieve optimal health, together with some delicious recipes, visit Ann at www.sparklingenergy.co.uk.

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