Presently we see all kinds of raw regimes from fruitarian to “anything goes as long as its raw” even including meat, and all have gained followers in recent years. Some for shorter periods than others! The enduring backdrop to this sometimes hit and miss, rather experimental attitude to eating styles has always been the balanced, scientific Living Foods Programme, which Ann Wigmore started in the 60’s in the US. In the UK, so often considered by our American friends as rather backward in matters of nutrition, we did nonetheless catch on to this a long time ago. For at least a quarter of a century there has been a band of committed followers of Ann Wigmore, using sprouts and chlorophyll-rich food, juicing, blending and fermenting. In the early days we brought back manual wheatgrass juicers from Boston, ran our trusty Champions and early versions of dehydrators and Vitamixes on transformers, and discovered that we didn’t need American standards of central heating to grow our indoor greens and wheatgrass.

Since the mid 90’s with the help of popular books on raw food, the founding of the Fresh Network and the latest in juicing and blending tools, now compatible with UK voltage, often imported from the States, life has become easier in the Living Foods kitchens of the UK. With all these advantages there has been nothing to stop the literal explosion of interest in raw and near raw eating styles.

Has it become simpler though? I think not. Along with the imports of clever machines, we have seen many different ideas from experienced naturopaths, nutritionists, both sound and unsound, right through to individuals who have tried something out for themselves, find it works for them, write a book telling the rest of us to do it, but then do not have the answers when their chosen regime does not work for some people!

During the last two decades or so we have become aware in the UK, of vastly increased levels of harmful chemicals including carcinogens, in food, water, air, and household goods, while world wide research has linked declining health and some diseases to vaccinations, medical drugs and radiation hazards. At the same time nutritional status has declined with the increase in processed food and chemicalised agriculture. We cannot overcome ill health or maintain good health, let alone energetic vitality, without the basic nutritional building blocks.

It is not surprising that there has been a corresponding response throughout the field of alternative therapies, including nutrition, matched by a bewildering array of literature in the public domain. A lot of it is imported, like the juicers, but also it is increasingly homegrown. This is far from simple for the individual to find a way through, especially in the face of increased environmental challenges to health. Many people now turn to dietary regimes to improve their health, but an increasing number, alas, start from a more difficult position than many of the people Ann Wigmore helped in the 60’s.

We are just beginning to hear it said publicly that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to healthy eating patterns, apart from the basics of lots of water, take your flax oil, eat lots of greens, and don’t eat sweets! Commonsense. However commonsense alone cannot rescue the individual who is already several years down a path of declining health, with or without a named disease condition. Nor can it compensate for the inherited problems of children whose parents have had faulty nutrition throughout their own growing years.

There never has been one general scheme of eating which suits all individuals, at all stages of their lives. What the advocates of this or that regime overlook is the wonderful uniqueness of each individual, and that under different pressures and at different stages in life, individuals’ needs may change.

This is why we need to turn back to first principles. One, the Naturopathic approach, which is truly wholistic, considering every single factor in the individual’s makeup, inheritance, lifestyle pressures and eating patterns. Two, the acknowledgement that only a tailor made curative and maintenance regime, will give long term results for anyone. This is where the Living Foods Programme comes in, not to be dismissed as a crash course to detoxify when needed, but as the long term, ongoing basis of a long and healthy life.

So the question “Where Next for Living Foods?” is more a question of “How do I use Living Foods for my best short and long term benefit?” We have to be both committed and vigilant, that we eat everything we need to supply vitamins, minerals and trace elements on a daily basis, to make up the shortfall and establish a plateau of excellent nutrition for ongoing health, resisting infection, recovering from trauma, and weathering stress,

Let’s be plain about this. Eating anything we fancy on the justification that the body knows best and will tell us what not to eat, is not a sound enough formula. For example, we need to take account of the metabolic processes in the body, which uses protein more efficiently in the first half of the day, and carbohydrate in the evenings. We also need to know about our individual metabolism. Some people need a lot of protein, others need and can handle more carbohydrate and very little protein, in fact suffer when eating too much. I suspect Ann Wigmore was one of these low protein types, and I know I am, which makes us naturally happier and healthier on a diet of plant protein. Another factor is the personal constitution, including one or more patterns described as miasms by homoeopaths. These patterns are seen as serious imbalances needing correction. For example the symptom of never feeling hungry for breakfast. This is not a natural pattern, to be used to justify a “fast until lunch” regime, but a signal that the metabolic pattern is disturbed, leading to endocrine imbalances. The good news is that it only takes patience to re-establish the healthy balance.

If you decide to accept the restrictions of a wholly or largely Living Foods diet in order to gain higher levels of health and energy, you will have to work hard to establish your required level of nutrition. If you have a demanding job, or a challenging home life, you will need a high level of determination. Some people find the rewards so early on, and so valuable, that they find this comparatively easy. Others have a harder row to hoe. It has been my personal experience and observation of others over a quarter of a century, that adequate nutrition, if you want to try being long term raw, or largely raw, has to include the following on a daily basis. The essentials are: 1) a large proportion of chlorophyll rich food; 2) the daily use of a juicer and a blender, to achieve the quantities you need; 3) as much freshly picked produce, including herbs and weeds, as possible; and 4) supplementation as well. Not health shop type supplements, but what have recently been labeled as ‘superfoods’, for example chlorella, spirulina, barley grass, seaweeds, kelp, pollen, sea salt in moderation, some good cold pressed oils, especially flax, rosehip powder. Even so, not everyone can tolerate them all, so avoid complex formulae, and test them separately to see if they are helpful for you. (Your body does not stop needing its minerals, just because you decide to have a tea, toast and cake day! )

Whichever category you find yourself in, the advice is the same. Do the complete Programme for a while to get yourself on track. Do it long enough for you to feel you have established yourself on a healing path. If you are fighting cancer, for example, this is until all signs are verified as having gone. Then get expert help in assessing your individual dietary needs. This is not simple, and it is not achieved by consulting nutritionists who rely on supplements and therefore prescribe according to their manual. You can do some of it yourself, over time, by recording what you eat and observing any reactions, when you feel good and when you don’t. If you can do some muscle testing, or if you can teach yourself to dowse for food compatibility, these are reliable, simple methods to decide day by day what your body actually needs, or would prefer you not to give it.

It is surprising what these little tests show you about the food you were about to eat because it made sense in a well written book or article. There is good information out there in the literature, but all you should care about is “is it right for me, or my child, to eat this today?” Over time, you can work out what foods are right for you, and at what intervals. Something which tests negative when raw may be ok for you if cooked, and vice versa. Testing yourself like this may uncover hidden food sensitivities, and as soon as you drop that item you will feel much better. In this way the body truly tells you the truth, which it is not able to do through the fog of cravings, comfort eating and sheer force of habit.

So this is where we go next with Living Foods — INDIVIDUALISE IT! and use as much of it as is compatible with your own needs. Whether a healthy youngster, starting out on this path, someone of any age showing signs of wear and tear, or acknowledging a named chronic problem, dealing with physical life changes such as puberty or menopause, or endocrine imbalances for other reasons, we need to tailor the 100% Living Foods to support our needs. W also need to review what we eat from time to time, because needs change, as discussed earlier. Ask your body through muscle testing, or via dowsing and it will tell you the truth every time. If your mind would like you to be 100% raw for ever, fine, it is a good aim, but you may not be able to maximise it safely. The important result is the best health you are capable of, and that may mean being at a transitional stage for a long time, or to go back to a well balanced transitional diet for a while periodically. If you do all this within the framework of Living Foods you will get the best of both worlds. The complete programme, which time has shown to be a reliable healing tool and your own individual additions and variations.

There is excellent precedent for this. Look up combination salads in Bernard Jensen’s books, the raw food healer of many people. He said this was easier on the digestion and helped some people to heal faster. There is also the wisdom of Chinese medicine, which says cold food can be injurious. So blend the energy soup with a little warm (not hot) water.

Don’t get me wrong. I remain convinced and know from personal experience that a complete, 100% Living Food diet, with therapeutic use of wheatgrass, is the swiftest nutritionally sound way back to a clean strong system, and consequent recovery from ill-health. Long term however, it may not be for everyone at this point of our evolution. It is emphatically not a question of failure if you need to be 60% or 90% Living Foods, but still need some steamed veggies or a baked potato. Those of us who do well, long term, on 100% raw regimes, without cravings, or excessive use of some foods, are simply the ones who have got our metabolic needs sorted, by chance, or inheritance, and who stick to what we know we need. We can all get it sorted if we pay attention to the body’s true needs, not what the books say or what our cravings dictate. When the cravings go, and you feel both satisfied and energised by your meals, you know you have got the overall nutrition right, especially the balance of protein to carbohydrate and you needn’t look back.

Elaine Bruce