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The Raw Deal.

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Eighteen years ago, David Klein suffered from ulcerative colitis (a rare condition with painful inflammation of the colon) so badly that his doctors wanted to "cut my colon out." Instead, Klein decided to take matters into his own hands and significantly upped his intake of raw, "living" foods. He saw such a quick improvement in his symptoms that he became hooked. Now, the former engineer is a 100% "raw fooder," a nutrition educator, and the publisher/editor of Living Nutrition Magazine.

Nutritionist Ralph Roberts, MS, CHN, also became a raw fooder when his doctor suggested increasing his consumption of fruits and vegetables to help him manage his hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Like Klein, Roberts noticed an almost immediate improvement in his symptoms, and now, four years later, is an enthusiastic supporter of a "living" food diet.

What does the term living food mean? Naturalist David Jubb, PhD, a behavior/exercise physiologist in New York (who prefers the term LifeFOOD), explains that a raw, living food eating regimen is made up of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, organic (whenever possible), in season, and ripe; sprouted seeds, nuts, and legumes; and some fermented foods that are properly combined for easy digestion.

"LifeFOOD is vegetarian and is food that can be found growing wild in nature," says Jubb. Asparagus, for example, can be found growing wild; corn, on the other hand, can't. Most starchy vegetables come under that latter heading as well -- potatoes, turnips, and beets, for instance. "Let starch go," says Jubb, explaining that as it breaks down, starch ferments in your body, which does you no good at all.

Proponents of a raw, living food diet aren't "weirdoes or hippies," says Roberts. In fact, raw food meals are showing up on restaurant menus nationwide, and the movement is spawning books, clubs, and its own restaurants.

The reason for the increasing popularity of raw foods? "What you eat has much to do with how you feel," says Roberts. "And people just want to feel good."

Following a diet of raw, "living" foods can be as complicated -- or as simple -- as you like. You can fill your kitchen with juicers, dehydrators, and raw food cookbooks, or you can do what you need with a cutting board, blender, sharp knife, and mixing bowl.

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