"Haphazardly, depending on trends, publicity, advice from diet-makers, who are generally nothing but clever businessmen, people sometimes eat one way, sometimes another, without ever really knowing if the food they absorb meets the needs of their bodies or is really food in the exact meaning of the term."
For millions of years, our ancestors ate the food that nature offered them in its natural state. They had no choice. Then, about 380 000 years ago1, man learnt to master fire, which was first used by certain populations for heat. Until that time, human food was only composed of raw foods eaten one by one, unseasoned, only one food at a time, and, of course, uncooked. Fire was used only on a small scale, by a still sparse human population. Much more recently, since the Neolithic era about 10 000 years ago, using fire to cook food rapidly became widespread among groups of humans. This change from hunting and gathering of foods to a sedentary and agricultural way of life is called the "Neolithization process".
The first signs of Neolithization were found in the Near-East. Cattle breeding apparently developed there during the 8th millenary BC. Then, at the end of the same millenary, the first cultivated wheat, followed by other graminae and legumes appeared. Later on, goats, sheep, and pigs were domesticated. At the same time, the habit of cooking, mixing, and processing food became widespread. These nutritional innovations served as a basis for the construction of our present civilization. The development of agriculture, cities, the notion of family "hearth" and the settling process generated a new model of society which was considerably perfected and became more complex with time, giving birth to today's modern civilization. Certain innovations resulting from this evolution have changed our lives in a positive manner and can be considered as extraordinarily beneficial progress, particularly technological innovations such the telephone, telecommunications, electronics, computer science, and transportation. Isn't it wonderful to be able to phone a friend on the other side of the planet in an instant? But sometimes progress also generates negative effects: factory work, military missiles, the atomic bomb, and the destruction of the environment. Aren't these part of the negative side of humanity's evolution?
In the nutritional domain, certain innovations can be seen as progress, such as means of transporting and refrigerating food, which enables eating fresh products in
1.Josette Renault-Mikovski, "The Environment in Prehistory," Masson, Paris, 1986.
all seasons even in countries where, or seasons when, absolutely nothing edible grows. Unfortunately, other nutritional innovations can have very negative effects. Artificial lifestyles and the excessive processing of food have harmful consequences. Our modern diet is not well adapted to our species and has led to the increase of certain disorders, the rapid deterioration of our state of health, decreased physical performance, and increased physiological stress. Our pace of living forces us to be constantly running after work and money. We no longer take the time to enjoy life and find ourselves having to live on top of each other in huge cities with all their well-known urban problems: robbery, violence, transport problems, overpopulation, etc. In this reckless race for work and money, people end up by quite involuntarily devastating the natural resources of the planet, and, even worse, they destroy their own lives and damage their health. Environmentalism can help us to be become aware of the ravages of the chemical and agricultural industry with respect to pollution. In the same way, dietary environmentalism can help us to become aware of the ravages of progress with respect to nutrition.
Scientists, doctors, nutritionists, and biologists all assert the same thing today: civilized man's diet is disastrous. We must urgently change our dietary habits. Back in 1977, the American Senate published a report1 in which Senator Mac Govern wrote: "Our diet has changed radically in just over fifty years, with significant and sometimes very serious consequences for our health [...]. In all, six of the ten major causes of death in the United States are linked to diet". It is enough to see to what degree our eating habits have changed with time to measure the extent of the task to be accomplished. Just two examples: in the last half-century, the annual average intake of yoghurt and milk-derived products in North America as well as in Europe has been multiplied tenfold, and between 1900 and 1980, the annual average consumption of industrial sugar (candy, cookies, etc.) increased from 1.7 to 36.4 kilograms per inhabitant2.
In Europe, 827 food additives are authorized3: coloring, preservatives, stabilizers, flavoring, acidifying agents, acidity modifiers, fluidizers, coatings, etc. Present everywhere in our food, these food additives can, in some sensitive or predisposed persons, bring about intolerance reactions. We know nothing about their long-term
1 Dietary Goals for the United States.
2 Average consumption of sugar per year and per inhabitant in Western Europe.
toxicity or their combined effects with other molecules (the effect of several additives ingested at the same time or accumulating in the body).
Sodas did not even exist half a century ago, but are now the drink that young people consume most. A 33 centiliter can of cola contains phosphoric acid and 35 milligrams of highly addictive caffeine, that is to say nearly as much as a cup of tea or coffee. What will eventually happen to the health of these youngsters who drink a liter a day? Drinks called "tonics" or "bitter" do not contain caffeine, but quinquina, and a significant amount of refined industrial sugar: one liter of soda contains the equivalent of fifteen lumps of sugar.
Faced with the danger of our eating habits continuing to drift towards an increasingly adulterated diet, we have to revise the whole nutritional process: from modern methods of production and preservation, which decrease the quality of food (industrial agricultural processes should be replaced by the concepts of organic and natural agriculture), to the way in which we choose our foods (who should choose what we eat and according to what criteria?), not forgetting the ways in which we prepare our meals (processing, mixing, and even seasoning foods is open to question). This book proposes a simple answer to these questions: we have all to gain by choosing a healthier diet, eating better quality food, relearning which food can be eaten in its natural form, and discovering raw menus.
This book is addressed to the general public, to doctors as well as health practitioners, because we all need to better understand the fundamental principles of human nutrition. It is presented in four parts:
The first part explains what dietary environmentalism actually is, and why we should eat our foods raw ather than cooked. You will find a lot of information on the vitamin content of various foods and epidemiological surveys that compare the health of various populations according to their diet. You will also discover the results of scientific research, such as that of Professor Abrams and Doctor Pottenger in the United States, who have devoted their life to studying the benefits of a more natural diet.
The second part describes what raw food therapy is all about, the advantages for our health, of course, but also for our well-being, beauty, and vitality, to lose weight, to have a perfect figure, to be the best in sports, for the sake of planetary environmentalism, or simply to gain time and money!
The third part is practical, it teaches us how to eat better, practise raw food therapy, how to organize raw meals, how to balance a raw diet, how to preserve raw foods, which food combinations are good and which are bad, how to prepare seed sprouts, etc.
Finally, scientists (anthropologists, biologists, doctors, cancer specialists, nutritionists, professors, etc.) explain, each from his own point of view, why it is essential to eat better quality raw food for our health and well-being. A healthy and natural diet is not an environmentalist utopia: the most recent scientific knowledge shows that it has become vital for our health.
At the end of the book, there is a bibliography and a list of useful addresses for those who wish to go a step further.
The aim of this book is not only to explain why we should change our diet to raw food, but also to show what happier lives we can lead if we eat better.
Why I wrote this book
"The amount of knowledge it takes to discover wisdom is very small, and it is of a very simple type."
So that you understand why I wrote this book, I have to tell about my personal itinerary in relation to nutrition. I was a greedy child with a tremendous appetite. When I was 20, I was a student at the prestigious French "Polytechnique" school, and as greedy as ever; I loved chocolate and cakes and ate them whenever I could. My favorite dessert was lemon meringue tart. I not only enjoyed refined dishes in great Parisian restaurants, but also plain food, like a nice plate of mashed potatoes with plenty of butter. The pleasure of eating played an important role in my life and I believe that has not changed since then. At that time I was far from imagining that natural food could be much more delicious than the best French cooking. I did not know, for example, that an avocado pear could have an infinitely more delectable savor than a salmon gratin, that cherries in season could taste better than lemon tart, and that the taste of a cricket far exceeded foie gras in the gastronomic hitparade. Which all goes to show! Read this book carefully, forget any preconceived ideas you may have, and you will discover a great many things about nutrition, as I did myself during in the last fifteen years of research, questioning, doubts, discoveries, experiments, and observation.
There I was, a student particularly attracted by basic sciences (mathematics, physics, computer technology, electronics, astronomy, etc.) and by nature (biology). As one learns fast when one is keen, my studies did not take up too much of my time, and I devoted most of the year to sports. During the summer vacation, I was a sailboard instructor in Corsica or Ireland, and at weekends during the rest of the year, I participated in university competitions, skiing in winter and sailing or windsurfing in summer. Because of all these activities, I had no time for cooking. But, above all, I suffered from rheumatism in my knees as soon as the weather turned humid, which bothered me when I did sports. This rheumatism first appeared during an attack of rheumatoid arthritis when I was thirteen, in 1973.
From this time on, the rheumatic pains in my knees first occurred occasionally then regularly and, in 1980, became a nearly permanent discomfort not only during the day, but also sometimes at night. This was not a catastrophe, but very often I was unable to go jogging or had to stop halfway when climbing up the stairs. The pain increased with effort. I was therefore limited in sports by this rheumatism.
During my military service in the Navy1, the pain in my knees spread to other joints: my wrists, ankles, shoulders, and hips. From time to time, I had difficulty in walking and I found it harder and harder to run or even walk up stairs. At night, the pain was sometimes so intolerable that I could not stand the weight of the sheets and blankets on my legs. I had, of course, consulted several Parisian doctors during those years, but none had been able to explain or relieve the rheumatism. Examinations, X-rays, anti-inflammatory treatment, more exercise, less exercise, I had tried everything they suggested, but nothing seemed to work. None of these doctors had advised me to change my diet, or had even questioned me about what I ate. The pound of chocolate I ate every day between my heavy and far from raw ecological meals obviously (seen from today) had something to do with my joint pains and a very simple question ("What do you eat?") would have soon pinpointed my excessive greed. Although apparently in good health, I also had, like everyone, a whole series of little disorders I had become accustomed to and considered inevitable; migraine, backache, haemorrhoids, a heavy feeling or "pins and needles" in my legs, a constantly blocked nose which meant I had to breathe through my mouth all the time, eye strain that often prevented me from working on a computer, foot odor, tiredness after meals, etc. At the time, I thought these slight disorders were more or less normal. Everyone has their share of little health problems, don't they?
After having sought other solutions in vain, I wondered if my rheumatism had something to do with my diet. Mainly motivated by a wish to perform better in sports and solve the pain in the joints, I completely changed my diet after a emotional disapointment one day. I then decided to change my life and become a new better person, and started reading a short book called "Nourish Your Body" about vegan diets. In his book, the author claimed that most of the ills of civilization, rheumatism included, were the consequences of our dietary errors. He explained how he had personally cured himself of a serious illness (chemical gas
1 The diet of the Navy seamen and officers on board the warships was particularly rich and mainly based on frozen and canned foods. In addition, we would eat too much, as meals were our main daily entertainment and helped us to forget the monotony of the work, the hot climate, and the stress of the operations (our warship was in charge of the military surveillance in the highly strategical Strait of Hormuz in the midst of the first Iran-Iraq war in the Persian Gulf in 1980-1981 - this zone was a war-operation zone, both Iraq and Iran in turn were menacing us and Occidental countries of stopping all oil production and sinking any civil or military ships on the zone, and the psychological tension there was fairly high). Our main distraction after the stress of operating the ship and accomplishing our mission in these difficult circumstances, was to eat endless meals composed of rather unhealthy foods.
poisoning during World War I) by eating fruit, raw vegetables, nuts, bean sprouts, and wholemeal bread. This book by Henri-Charles Geoffroy recommended eating more natural food of "organic" quality. Intrigued, as these ideas were not so popular then as they are now, I decided to immediately experiment with veganism for a given period. The diet was based on raw food with no animal products such as meat or dairy foods. It did me a world of good: in less than a week, my migraines and the practically continuous pain in my knees had completely disappeared. I understood later, as I re-introduced them one by one into my diet, that my consumption of chocolate and dairy foods triggered off my migraine and rheumatoid arthritis. With this new diet, I felt much lighter and much more energetic. For the first time in my life, I could breathe normally through my nose, which had become unblocked in just 48 hours. I felt as though I had begun a new life! As for sports, the result was almost magic: I was able to jog 12 kilometers with no pain at all in my knees after only ten days. A few months later, I easily passed my federal windsurfing instructor exam.
Encouraged by these first positive results, I started reading all the books I could find on human nutrition and various natural diets, over 200 books in all, and thousands of magazines and scientific literature on dietetics. All these publications seemed interesting, but in my opinion, none of the diets they proposed appeared to follow a simple and coherent scientific logic. The basis of these diets was either philosophical (vegetarianism, veganism, macrobiotics), or experimental (diets with a specific purpose such as slimming or reducing cholesterol). I did not need to lose weight, I had no desire to philosophize that much, and my cholesterol level did not particularly bother me. I still had to spend a lot of time cooking organic pizzas and make my bread on the vegan diet. All I wanted was to learn how to eat in a simple scientific and logical way which would develop my capacities in sports, be tasty, maintain the beneficial effect on my health and my knees, and which would not take up too much time, as I detested spending hours shopping, cooking, or washing dishes. I am not at all the sort of person who will appreciate cooking all week-end, weighing everything he eats (as in some weight losing diets), or spending hours in front of the stove cooking delicacies. I continued Geoffroy's 90 % raw diet several years and felt all the better for it, although I had a tendancy to become somewhat nervous and intolerant about the diet over time. This, I realized later, after developping the Stressometer, was probably the result of consuming fairly large amounts of organic whole bread and cooked cereals that overstimulate the nervous system. During this period, I often attempted reintroducing some industrial food and dairy products into my diet, and was always surprised to see how quickly -sometimes the same day- my migraines and rheumatism came back each time1.
During the summer of 1985, a combination of circumstances allowed me to experiment with a 100 % raw diet for the very first time. I was spending my last student holidays after completing my university degrees, as a sailing and windsurfing instructor in Corsica, for a French sailing school, the UCPA. My new dietary habits were not compatible with the oily cooking being served at the local canteen, so I took the opportunity to experiment with a completely raw diet. I had no stove and no cooking utensils available, except for a plate and a knife, and I was therefore unable to prepare my food in any way. I discovered that nothing is really indispensable. The only modern accessory I could use was a small refrigerator. In addition to fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts, I bought cereals from a local farmer and would let them sprout in a little water in a dish or small jar according to my needs. For those three summer months, I ate plenty of tomatoes, peaches, plums, other fruit and vegetables, all raw, as well as nuts and sprouts for protein. This three-month 100 % raw food experience for the first time did me the greatest good: I had never been so happy, so well, and so fit in all my life! Sea, sun, surfing with a lot of fun, many friends, and a raw diet: everything was perfect.
During those months, I noticed that unseasoned tomatoes from the beautiful Corsica island could taste better then pizza. They were so delicious that one day I bought two full cases of them and started eating more than usual. They tasted so good that I couldn't resist them and ate more than I usually would, unseasoned because they were so delicious. I even remembered questionning myself about why people usually add seasoning to tomatoes if they taste so delicious in their raw form. But, after a dozen of these delicious "better than pizza" tomatoes, at the end of the meal, they started feeling very acid, biting my tongue, although they were exactly the same tomatoes as a few minutes before, bought in the same market and picked in the same field. I thought maybe the tomatoes had changed, tried two others (still acid) and wondered whether the tomato's taste had changed or if it was my body's perception of the tomatoes that had changed. The meal was over and three half-eaten acid-tasting tomatoes were abandoned lying on top of the case. On the next day, after a few hours of swimming and windsurfing, the tomato case looked and smelt very attractive again. The three broached tomatoes were still lying there on top and I almost threw them away. But I bit into one of them and was surprised to notice how it tasted delicious like pizza again, not acid at all any more. Same for the other two. But they were the same tomatoes that tasted acid on the previous day!
1 This improvement was not just a psychological placebo-type effect, since I did not expect these results and, as I then enjoyed cakes, cheese, and elaborate cuisine, I would have much preferred to continue eating everything.
How strange! How can the same food be overripe, taste acid and then become perfectly delicious and sweet-tasting again? The idea then struck me that in fact the tomatoes hadn't changed at all, but that it was only my body's perception of them that had changed depending on the body's needs. At the end of the meal, after eating a dozen, I didn't need tomatoes any more, and this was the reason why they tasted acid, not the change in the tomatoes themselves.
The body's reactions and our perception of the taste and smell of food give us at each moment precious indications about whether or not we should eat a specific food : when the food is raw, it seems adequate to EAT IF GOOD, DON'T EAT IF NOT GOOD, AND BE AWARE THAT THIS WORKS ONLY WITH NATURAL FOODS, and is an automatic built-in food regulation system to tell us what we need to eat.
In another domain, emotionally, I had noticed the previous year that my girlfriend Véronique generally looked very attractive, but that sometimes she also, the same person, looked and felt like an ugly witch, when I had enough of her. But she was always the same person! Maybe some similar mechanism was happening with the taste of these tomatoes: they tasted good or bad depending if my body needed them or not. Experiments on the next days with various other raw foods showed that this "attraction-repulsion" mechanism also worked with peaches, apples, apricots, nuts, sprouted grains and various vegetables. However, the taste of fruit salads seasoned with vinaigrette and of chocolate bars (even organic chocolate from the best healthfood stores) seemed to be always attractive and never came to an "stop" by the taste, even when I ate too much. I then realized that I usually ate too much of these organic chocolate bars because they were always good and never came to the point where they tasted bad: the natural food may have stopped me if it was natural, but the "stop" did not work on artificial foodstuffs. And, unfortunately, organic chocolate is not a natural food, being industrially processed, and composed of various ingredients mixed and cooked together.
After this wonderful summer windsurfing and raw eating period, I started work as an engineer for Electricité de France (the national French power utility), still continuing my experiments in the nutritional field. I discovered fasting and fasted one full day a week as well as one whole week each year. Little by little, by dint of observation, bibliographical research and experimentation, I came to the conclusion that I could improve my vegan diet first by eating less, second by cooking my food less or not at all (more raw food), third by mixing them less, fourth by choosing better quality food, reintroducing some raw meat and raw fish as well (the insects came in only a few years later), and finally by totally eliminating dairy products, which were the cause of my migraines and pain in the joints1.
After several years of further research and practise, I started teaching other people about a raw diet and its benefits, and finally decided to write this book in the early 1990's.
In 1988, I wondered why humans, who used to eat many insects, like other primates still do today in nature, had disregarded this particularly abundant natural source of protein2. With some difficulty to begin with, I do admit, I then started tasting crickets, locusts, and other insects which, to my surprise, I found absolutely delicious! After considerable bibliographical research into the dietary use of insect protein as a possible solution to hunger in the world, I systematically undertook experiments in insect gastronomy (also called entomophagy, from the greek "entomos": insect, and "phagos": eating) that consisted of smelling and tasting about 300 species of insects. They proved to be much tastier than I initially expected and since it seemed to me that they could contribute to solving the problem of protein shortage in the Third World (over one billion of the planet's inhabitants are protein deficient), I then introduced insects as a regular source of proteins into my diet and decided to write a book on the subject, Delicious Insects, which was published in 1990.
During this time, in the framework of the research laboratory I had set up in the Paris region to scientifically investigate man's dietary behaviors, I was able to observe and follow several thousand people to whom I taught how to eat raw foods. Some of these people simply wanted a better diet, others came to lose weight, and still others were there on the advice of their doctor for therapeutic reasons, including a number of severe cases of immune diseases referred by their physician. This laboratory that I founded, funded, and directed until 1993,3 was a unique research facility from the epidemiological and sociological points of view, since it was as far as I know the only place on earth where a group of people eating a 100 % raw could be observed. Today, all ethnic groups on earth alter their food by mixing and cooking it, even the last primitive tribes living deep in the Amazonian forest. I was a very lucky scientist to be able to live through this unique personal and scientific experience, participating in, and observing the only raw eating tribe of the planet, making fascinating observations on the effects of a raw diet and natural lifestyle.
1 It was only later, after having met and observed several thousand people who had improved their diet that I realized that a well-balanced, natural diet following these simple rules was profitable not only in my own case, but, to all those I have observed (thousands over the years) who followed it correctly.
2 Insects make up 80 % of the biological animal mass living on earth.
3 The author's researches, focused not only on diet but more generally on a natural lifestyle, are being continued in a new framework, that of the Bruno Comby Institute.
I was thus able to observe a total of about 10.000 people, knowing about their personal history, and making daily observations, taking down some written testimonies, sometimes being confided in by patients in desparate condition (who were, of course, receiving medical treatment from their usual doctor at the same time). I did the best I could, held their hands, helped some of them to pass away when they started the diet in extreme cancer or Aids conditions, noting the evolution of all sorts of illnesses in relation to the diet, without intervening from the strictly therapeutic point of view (which is the affair of the patient and his doctor), and giving general health advice. I dedicated much of my life to this research, and thus learnt a great deal from both the human and scientific points of view. Awareness of the importance of a more natural diet and its results deeply and positively transformed the lives of all those who, general public and doctors alike, accept to put it into practice.
Raw food nutrition, and a natural approach to lifestyle in general (including also sleep and the practise of the siesta), appears to be a major revolution in our understanding of the human condition and of the medical science.
As I was rereading this manuscript, a doctor friend of mine faxed me an article from a medical journal under the title "A Strict Diet More Efficient Than Corticoids"1. Many new articles now confirm our initial findings (see bibliography). However, this does not mean that we intend to oppose or criticize medicine in general, since modern medical science is very useful in some cases, but it must be admitted that the importance of diet and lifestyle has long been under-estimated.
Today, I would like to share the fruits of these years of personal research, reading, experimentation, observations and instruction, applied to the field of nutrition. The application of a natural lifestyle to sleep or human relations may be the object of other future books. This volume will therefore concentrate on the food aspects. My sole wish is that after reading it you too will be able to eat better so as to live better. That is the only purpose of this book.
As for me, I now feel much fitter than before my change of diet. I no longer have rheumatism in my knees, although I had suffered from it for years. My migraines and eye strain in front of a computer screen have also disappeared. I can spend hours on end working on a computer screen without the least tiredness. In fact, I work more than before, more efficiently too, and with less stress. I am also, I believe, without false modesty, pleasanter, more open, more optimistic. No more
1 Dr. Bertrand Lalardie, "A Strict Diet more Efficient than Corticoids: A Random Study of 136 patients," Impact Médecin, No. 474, pp. 7 & 8, November 1993.
acne or pimples on my face, no runny nose in winter, heaviness in my legs, tooth pain, and tiredness after meals. I think I have attained my goal: a simple, efficient, and logical dietary system. In my previous books, I have already described natural and efficient methods to live a happier and healthier life: how to stop smoking, free oneself from stress, reinforce one's immunity, enjoy an inexhaustible source of protein (insects), get better results at exams (for students), use afternoon napping to reduce stress while gaining time1. It was therefore logical for me to then write this book to enable others to benefit too from the advantages of a better diet.
The layman must forgive my use of a few technical terms that cannot be avoided for accuracy's sake. The scrupulously scientific reader, on the other hand, must forgive me for presenting certain ideas in simplified form so as to make this book accessible to all.
This book is the result of intensive research put into practical experience, and, at the same time, it is a synthesis of research carried out by many other researchers and precursors in the field of nutrition, such as professors Joyeux, Abrams, Moeller, doctors Price, Pottenger, Gerson, Shelton, Kousmine, Wigmore, etc. Use this information well and you can live a much better, more energetic, happier, and perhaps longer life. If you are sceptical, all I can say is try: for at least a month, try eating better, try a raw nutrition, and see for yourself.
1 See, by same author: How to Stop Smoking, 1986, Stress Control, 1988; Maximize Immunity, 1989; Delicious Raw Insects, 1990; Power Sleep, 1992; Exams in your pocket, 1994; Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy, 1994.
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