Raw food when you have serious digestive impairments
Does anyone else here have severe digestive impairments, and have you been able to find a way to digest raw food? My digestive tract is really, really damaged due to some childhood medication. Raw food makes me incredibly bloated and painful, and ... well, you don't want to hear about morning in the bathroom. Let's just say it's obvious that raw food isn't digested. It is not a matter of getting a little extra gas due to eating more veggies, or something that can be easily fixed with digestive enzymes. It's a serious digestive order to overcome. So I mean people with Irritable Bowel Disease, Crohn's disease, NSAID toxicity, Celiac disease, and conditions where digesting *anything* is difficult. Especially if your doctors and alternative health practitioners don't know how to fix it.
I know everyone has a personal opinion and ideas, but I'm specifically looking for stories from people who have had serious digestive impairment but managed to somehow get past that long enough to start a raw food diet and succeed. I welcome any tips and hope that if someone has gone through something similar, they'll share what helped them.
Please be kind. It's a bad situation and I'm doing my best.
ide suggest using a blender to make nut / seed milks , almonds / hemp / sunflower / sesame / etc / etc can be used to make milks . you strain the pulp out after first grinding without water - then adding water and blending . to this nutricious milk you then add sweet fruits like banana / strawberry / blueberry / etc / etc . hemp is really getting big raves these days as its both omegas plus very high in protein . also get a water filter if your source is civic and has additives as waters of big importance . but obviously thusly then the filter would be too and i cant say best filter type . i also find manually squeezed tomato juice with other vegis you like added to be a very appetite satisfying drink thats easy on g.i. tract . and certain soft fruits such as oranges digest easily . then eating a mild green such as spinach or romaine with a simple seed milk or citrus fruit dressing would get you rest of nutrients needed while digesting easily . my fave smoothie thats easy on tract is almond milk with bananas - carob powder - dry dates or pure maple syrup to sweeten . yes maple syrup isnt raw but its straight from tree and soothes my gut . daily deep breathing to relax . RAW IS RIGHT DIRECTION , JUST FIND YOUR NEEDED PLANTS
I know exactly how you feel! I had severe ulcerative colitis which ended in a full colectemy, so digestion is a major issue for me. I don't feel that books or ideologies are helpful for someone in this situation--more than for the inspiration factor. It is VERY individual! I can only tell you what has helped me, since I digest little.
First off, I feel that the body digests more than you think, even if it doesn't look that way :)
I avoid raw root vegetables, including carrots (unless juiced or very thinly peeled as a garnish/splash of color in a salad). I don't go near raw broccoli. I'll have the odd raw cauliflower because I love it so, but only in small doses--again, small amounts mixed in a salad. Absolutely no cabbage of any kind (the last time I ate it, I landed in hospital because it blocked my digestive tract) and no raw garlic! I rarely eat nuts. I avoid fruit that has too much "skin". For instance, I'll rarely eat grapes and black currant berries due to their thick skins. Also, Clementines are fine, but navel oranges are not. The membrane covering the segment is too thick, so if I eat it, I'll eat it like I would a grapefruit.
Things that I think help my digestion is adding fresh herbs to salads like parsley, mint, and cilantro. I've heard, that cumin also is de-gassing, and I've been thinking about doing an indian style dressing to go along with those sallads that have cauliflower. Eating lots of berries (that have easy to digest skins) like strawberries, hawthorn berries, raspberries, red currant berries, and wild blueberries by throwing them in salads or smoothies. Eating yogurt with live bacteria. Eating vegetables with high water content. Drinking smoothies and juices. Chewing well. Drinking a lot of water with your meal--taking a small drink after every mouthful of food (recommended by my doctor and very effective).
If I do eat something that makes me bloated or even puts me in pain, I lay down and relax by breathing very slowly. It seems to slow my intestine down and makes the digestion easier. I take a B-12 supplement because I am unable to absorb it (since I have no colon) and will take the occassional multi-vitamin.
You dont want to supplement with digestive enzymes, to start they can eventually shut the bodies own natural supply down. Not only that most formulas contain cellulase and hemicellulase which breaks down fibers into sugars. Fibers are essential for many different reasons.
Bitter herbs on the back of the tongue are good for aiding digestion. Fermented foods to repopulate the gut flora also such as water kefir, cultured veggies etc.
I have digestive issues... I see my naturopath regularly. Apparently my stomach does not create any digestive acid anymore. I do not have a digestive disease, but digestion is something that i've struggled with for about 6 years now - a year prior to going raw. I find that most importantly, i have to have my 2 protein shakes per day. I like to use Life Basics Unsweetened Vanilla powder. I add a 1/2 banana, some frozen blueberries and a teaspoon of spirulina - and add water to make it drinkable. This is the only way i can stomach the spirulina. Talking to my naturopath, everything seems to make sense. I have Adrenal and Thyroid problems, but they all stem from my body not digesting. Apparently digesting is a bigger deal than most people think - it messes up every other body function when it isn't working properly. So, for the past 2 weeks i have been taking 1 dropper full of Bitters - this was absolutely horrible the first couple of days, but now it's just bitter to me. I have to wait 10 minutes and then i take a Metagest or a Hydrochloric Acid Tablet. I take this right as i'm starting to eat. I do take a digestive enzyme because i find that it does help me with my bloating and such. The other good thing to do is to take a Slippery Elm powder and make it into a tea. I take 1 tsp of Slippery Elm Powder and mix with boiling water. I do add a little bit of unsweetened apple juice to it. I think it tastes good. The slippery elm has a cinnamon taste to it as it is, so adding apple juice just made sense. I drink this every morning and it really does seem to help. This combination is helping me a lot! But, the protein is key. My body was pretty messed up for a long time (because of medicines i was previously on), but i have a good feeling that i'm on the road to recovery now :) I hope this helps a little bit! Good luck to you!
Oh, and try to stick with pureed or blended foods for a while - raw soups, smoothies, green juices, etc. I know it's not raw, but i also eat some cooked Quinoa - it has protein and is pretty easy to digest for me. And, if you eat flax, make sure to grind them first - whole flax are pretty hard to digest. As are nuts and seeds. Coconut Oil is also great for you!! I add mine to my protein shakes ;)
Remember to try get the bitters to come in contact with the back of the tongue as much as possible this is where the bitter receptors are located.
Also zinc and certain b vitamins are needed for stomach acid formation, these are acid dependent for absorption also.
Repopulating your gut flora will also help, i had similar problems with lack of HCL. Watch the digestive bitters though like i say above.
Thank you everyone. I really appreciate the comments and ideas.
Nell, funny you mention your cabbage experience. Yesterday I was so incredibly bloated and in pain and I couldn't figure out why--now I recall that I ate cabbage. I should have known better :) How do you know which foods are hard to digest overall? I would have never imagined that an orange might be too difficult, so now I wonder what else I'm not thinking about. And strangely, my acupuncturist and naturopath both told me NOT to drink water during meals because it would dilute the digestive enzymes. Perhaps I will try your way and see what happens.
Carrie, thanks for the Slippery Elm idea. I had heard that before but hadn't tried it. I will look into your protein powder suggestion, too. I currently use one that's just pea protein but I don't like it much.
I'll look into bitters, too. I tried them once and they tasted terrible! But I'll give it a shot again. Anything that helps.
Bitter herbs are pretty horrible tasting but they are one of the best supplements for poor digestion, not only that they are the best tool for cleansing the liver.
"How do you know which foods are hard to digest overall? I would have never imagined that an orange might be too difficult, so now I wonder what else I'm not thinking about. And strangely, my acupuncturist and naturopath both told me NOT to drink water during meals because it would dilute the digestive enzymes."
Because of my colectomy I have a lot of scar tissue in my abdomen and small instenstines. This has literally made parts of the passages of my small intestine more narrow. Food that is very fibrous (long fibers) can easily clog me up. Think bad plumbing with small pipes. Cabbage(s), some sorts of sallad, thick skins on fruits or berries, membranes of oranges, etc. Drinking water helps the food pass through without getting stuck. It is also important to chew well.
Like I said before, digestion is very individual. I understand that some people have their focus on digestive enzymes and their importance, but for me it is about not clogging my plumbing, which is literally a life and death situation for me. I took extra digestive enzymes once when traveling abroad, and got so sick and stopped up! Everyone is different.
I hope this helps.
Thank you, Nell, that makes perfect sense given your situation. I wonder how much of my difficulties with raw foods in the past has stemmed from eating loads of hard-to-digest items.
If it isn't too much trouble, could you list some foods you eat regularly? Maybe a sample menu for a day? It helps to see what others do in this situation, since it's not common.
@KShine I think it is important to say that I'm not 100% raw--more like 80%. In the mornings I usually make a fruit smoothie with banana, berries, and fresh-pressed juice or almond milk. Sometimes I throw in yogurt with acidophilus bacteria instead of the juice/almond milk. Eating grapefruit is also good. Sometimes I eat (lightly) boiled eggs.
I love soups and sallads so the rest of the day I usually eat these. Here are a few recipes I ate this past week. A lot of the ingredients below are repeated. This is because I've been working on keeping a budget and shopping smart. A challenge when eating so many fruits and vegetables! I write my weekly menu on Sundays and go shopping on Mondays. Last week I cut my food budget in half!
If my meal isn't filling enough I snack on fruit, eat an avocado, or throw together my own "trail mix" with some nuts and dried fruits. I also drink herbal teas, like pepparmint tea which is supposed to be good for digestion.
--zucchini pasta with pesto and chopped tomat (a raw classic)
--gaspacho (there are loads of recipes online)
--baked potato topped with fresh vegetables
--Mango Avocado Sallad
1 Ripe Mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 Large Avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 Tablespoon Lime Juiced
2 Teaspoons good light Oil
a handful of Cilantro Leaves (I usually put in a lot)
1 Tablespoon Black Sesame Seeds
--Cucumber, Zucchini & Mint Sallad
1 large cucumber, seeded and cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
½ medium red onion, sliced very thin
leaves of fresh mint, bruised and minced
2 t. dried or fresh thyme
1 T light oil,
1 T orange juice,
and 2 t orange zest
1 T. mild rice vinegar
2 t. kosher salt or more to taste
1 t. fresh ground black pepper or to taste
Whisk the herbs, liquid ingredients, salt and pepper to make a dressing. Adjust the proportions and amount to your liking. Toss with the vegetables and let marinate for a half hour before eating.
--Asparagus and Spinach Sallad
1 package asparagus
paper thin slices of red onion
a generous amount of spinach
salt and pepper
vinaigrette: 1 part good light oil, 1 part fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, 1/2 t. grapefruit zest, salt to taste.
Massage leaves with dressing. (This helps break down the fibers). If you want the raw version, cut the asparagus in thin-thin slices and add to sallad. If you have a problem digesting the asparagus, you can roughly chop them and steam for a minute before throwing them in.
Thank you so much--I really appreciate the ideas. It helps to see how someone put them into practice for real :)
Sorry to hear about your difficulties, but I also think raw is a step in the right direction. Perhaps you should try green smoothies as a few others recommended before me. A wheatgrass supplement is a natural digestive aid and tastes great in the blender.