The Raw Food Lifestyle and Why Did People Start Cooking?

Kevin: So, Dr. Doug Graham. I want to welcome you.

Dr. Graham:: Thanks. It’s a pleasure. Truly a pleasure.

Kevin: For those people who may not exactly know who you are, which are probably very few, why don’t you just give a brief introduction of who you are and then we’ll go from there.

Dr. Graham:: I’m Dr. Doug Graham. I’m Doug Graham basically. I’ve been a health enthusiast now for 40 years. Not by choice at first, but I was standing on a jetty on the beach one day, I was 16 and the concept of health hit me so strong that I couldn’t deny it. I tried. I tried to ignore it. I stayed on that jetty for an hour, and I’m not saying that God talked to me, or anything like that, but I just couldn’t get the concept out of my head that health needed to be my pursuit. I’d already made the decision to pursue some type of medicine, which eventually became chiropractic medicine, and then eventually got my doctorate as a hygienist as well, as a professional hygienist. So I’m a doctor of health and a doctor of chiropractic medicine.

I got my undergraduate in sport science, physical education, and health and nutrition. I worked as a gymnast for many, many years both high school and college, teaching gymnastics and then afterward as a professional coach in gymnastics and trampoline. I coached a bunch of national champions in trampoline.

Since I’ve gotten out of chiropractic college in 1983 I have worked helping people regain their health, not really paying that much attention to chiropractic, although I did have a private practice for 20 years. I’ve continued my education in terms of nutrition which has interested me since 7th grade, when my health teacher in 7th grade just caught my notice. I don’t really know why he did, but he did. And ever since that time I’ve just been pursuing nutrition.

So by college I’d gone vegetarian, and shortly after college went vegan, while I was still in my mid-20s switched over to what would today be considered a raw diet. We didn’t really have that name for it at the time. But, by the time I was 30 I was already looking at being an all raw vegan and talked to all the leaders about how to do that, all five of them. And pursued them, and they said, “We don’t know anything about being a vegan athlete. We know how to help sick people get well.” And I go, “Yeah, I understand how to do that too. Restrict their calorie intake and give them lots of rest and sick people get well. But how do we get athletes to improve their performance?” And I asked around and eventually the only congruent answer I got, and the only consistent answer I got was, “Raw food, raw food, raw food. Look to raw food. You’ll see an improvement in athletic performance.”

I pursued the sport science behind that, discovered what where the presiding principles and started applying nutrition and sports science to the raw vegan diet, ending up at 80/10/10 in 1986, but not coining the phrase, really, until almost 15 years later. It was in between that time that I started to develop the terminology and application and explanation so that I could make it a clear enough program that people could understand, why does this specific application of the raw food diet work so well for little old ladies, world class athletes, people trying to regain their health, people with every health condition, people who are already healthy but want to feel better? Why does it work at any caloric intake? And essentially because it’s a species specific diet, it works for our species; and then just how to apply that uniquely and individually to each person, because we all have specific preferences.

So it’s been a growth process, totally a growth process, a learning process. I’ve enjoyed working with the sickest of the sick, and the well-est of the well, the fittest of the fit, and helping them improve themselves. Essentially what I do is help people improve their health so that they can do whatever else they do at a higher level.

Kevin: Right. So let’s start. There’s a lot to cover here. I want to start with your learning path. Who did you learn most from? And you also mentioned off-camera before that the raw food movement is far from new, that it was actually fairly bigger than it is now. And so, explain that, and explain who you learned from and then how you synthesized what you learned into what you have now.

Dr. Graham:: That’s a good question. I believe in mentoring. I have sat at the feet of some of the great teachers in the world of health, hygiene, sports science. I’ve been fortunate to have good teachers, certainly in the raw food movement as well. I count all the leaders as my friends and learn as much from each of them as I possibly can. But I’m also quite willing to go back in history and read. I was raised with a gift of being an avid reader, and a fairly rapid reader so I can cover a lot of ground. So I’ve gone back as far as writing allows, in terms of science of raw foods, philosophy of raw foods, and the art of raw foods. And I would count all of the early authors as, at least, teachers to some degree. I sat at the feet of Dr. Keki Sidhwa for quite a long time and had him explain to me some of the history of the Raw Movement. He’s been involved for, now, almost 60 years, very quietly, over in England. And certainly listened to tremendous amount of great influences, Dr. Vivian Virginia Vetrano, whose specialty is cellular physiology, but also, since age 20, a raw fooder since age 20, now approaching 80, and count her as a good friend. But I’ve studied as much as I can, really, over the years, and just keep reading and keep learning, and enjoy the fact that the insights keep coming.

Yes, the Raw Movement was much bigger 100 years ago than it is today. It came and went in a flash, when the word ‘germs’ was introduced. And the medical people managed to scare the populace away from raw foods, saying, “Cook everything. Cook your tomatoes before you eat them, cook your apples before you eat them. Germs.” And it’s interesting that people would fall for such a thing, when they know full well that you would never ever, ever eat a tomato that was bad, if it was raw. You can sense it. If you touch it and feels wrong, and you smell it and it smells bad, and if it gets past those clues you look at it before you eat it hopefully and you see that it’s off in color or texture or something. But if it even gets past all that and you put it in your mouth, you spit it right out and go, “Oh, that’s bad.” But if you cook a tomato, and put that bad tomato into a tomato sauce, and put it on top of something else, you’ve very likely going to eat bad food. And this is where you come into the expression, “It must have been something I ate.” Whereas when you’re eating whole, fresh, ripe, raw organic plants, simply, exactly as they came in off the tree or the bush or the vine, bad food doesn’t get past all those initial clues. So you don’t really need to have that same concern about germs that you would when you’re cooking food. Cooking food allows you to take bad food and present it as if it was good.

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