Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Healing Power of Raw Food

I know I mentioned before that I think everyone needs to find what works best for their own bodies -- it's individual, I'm not trying to preach or convert or anything like that. But I do feel like a little lab rat at times (or is it the white mice who does all that?) because I'm testing what works for my body and if it can help anyone else to share, I'm thrilled to be able to do that.

When I first tried eating a raw food diet, I made a long list of what was ailing me. Some of it minor and just an irritation (eczema, gassy stomach), others life threatening (severe asthma), or somewhat debilitating (crazy, awful hayfever and pelvic floor problems/incontinence). There, I said it with the incontinence. It's no fun to talk about (well, actually, I have been known to tell people when they really want to know why on earth I'd eat an all raw or high raw diet), but all of my child-bearing years brought some stretching and stress to my pelvic floor muscle and I've had problems with it since my last baby was born. The problems were quite severe that first year and a half until I had pelvic floor repair surgery.

The surgery was only done after visiting several doctors (my first few wanted me to have a hysterectomy along with it and I wasn't game for that), reading several books on the topic, going to a Physical Therapist, and trying some pretty crazy contraptions on my own. Surgery helped quite a bit at first, but once my 3 month probation period of not lifting over 10 pounds was up and I got back to normal life, the leakage began again. It's never been as bad as it was before the surgery, but my OBGYN said that there is still some tilting or rotation going on that could be helped with a new method of surgery that they didn't have when I had mine.

When I was in recovery, I shared a room with a woman maybe 15-20 years older than I am. We did a lot of talking in those three days (funny, we never even saw each other's faces behind the curtain for the first two days -- it just didn't occur to us to have someone pull it back :)). But she had a surgery like mine by the same doctors just an hour after mine. We compared notes and she'd actually had the same surgery 10 years prior, but her problems came back. This time they had to secure her sling (that supports the pelvic floor) by drilling holes in her pelvic bones because she had too much scar tissue to work around from her first surgery. Like me, she said over time the leakage problems came back from lifting things.

This gave me a perspective that I could be a woman who gets surgery every decade (or sooner if I went now), which is no walk in the park. It was a pretty awful recovery. I could write a whole post just about the infection I got on my incision, which I'm sure no one wants to hear about. But I just thought after learning about the healing poer of raw food, if I could fix THAT with just my eating, that would be something I could manage myself for the rest of my life. I'm in my early 40's and hope to live like my grandpa well into my 90's or more. If I do, that would mean I could live my current life over again, but would that be fun with incontinence, asthma, allergies, etc. Not at all. In fact, it's really discouraging to battle any of those.

So I gave the raw food way a try. And I was dry within a few days. Whenever I've added in cooked food, I will stay dry if the food is whole -- like making soup from veggies or making my favorite spinach, salsa, & mushroom omelette. But if I eat even a little refined flour or sugar or even dairy, within an hour, I'll be leaking again and will have to wear as many as 6 or 7 pads a day. It's not a pretty picture. There are occasional times (like a recent Progressive Dinner I went to at Christmas time) when I have a huge leakage problem out of nowhere that, embarrassing enough, no pad can handle). I was starting to get to this point again a few weeks ago and once again, I'm dry as a bone. It's just wonderful. It's interesting because just going back to the raw/cooked/whole plan doesn't get me back to being dry again. It is fine for maintenance, but it takes the all raw approach to get my body back to where it should be.

I've shared this with my doctor on a few occasions and I'm not sure if he thinks I'm making it up or not, but he doesn't see why the results would be so drastic and so complete. He did say that if I could manage it with diet, that's a much better option than surgery (and I agree). But he gets this puzzled look on his face when I talk about it. My only explanation is that raw foods are not only packed with nutrients and enzymes for good cellular health, but they are also anti-inflammatory and maybe inflamation plays a part in my problems.

When I first explored raw eating, I saw online that famous people like Demi Moore or Woody Harrelson were raw foodists. I never found any proof of it, but enough people were saying it that I thought it might be true. Just a few weeks ago, I saw a video clip on-line of Woody Harrelson (from a raw food documentary) talking about raw food and his approach seemed to be more like mine. He said that when he or his kids get sick, they eat only raw foods for a few days to help their bodies heal. It didn't sound like he was 100% raw all the time, but I imagine he's High Raw. It's neat to hear that others are managing their own health and are finding the healing benefits too.

My kids are starting to do the same thing -- not always to the degree of all raw foods, but 3 of my kids have cut out dairy (which was my first step several years ago too). My 8 year old daughter is seeing her cheeks clear up (she was getting little bumps on them) and my oldest daughter is hoping to have a better allergy season this year. It's nice to be able to support them by not buying pizza and knowing how to make so many recipes that usually use dairy without it.

So that's it for now -- I just wanted to get that out there that there is hope for any of you dealing with this. I know there are millions. I've seen the commercials. I've seen Poise Pads (which hold more than the other pads, but I refused to buy because first of all, they're outragiously expensive, but secondly, that just signified surrendering in my eyes) and I know there's a growing market for many suffering in silence. I've really tried pretty much and read pretty much everything that's out there for incontinence and eating raw is the only thing that really works.


  1. Hello, I lurk on VF and found this blog through there. I went raw for six weeks last summer and had the same results with incontinence! I had thought maybe I imagined it or it was due to the fact that I also decreased my caffeine. I am currently following Eating To Live and it helps but not as much as being 100% raw.

    You have given me a lot to think about. Thank you!

  2. Hi there,

    I found this blog through a link on VF. I went raw for six weeks last Summer and had the same results with incontinence! I had thought maybe it was due to also decreasing my caffeine or maybe even my imagination.

    I am currently following Eat To Live and it helps but not as much as 100% raw. You have given me a lot to think about thank you.

  3. You're welcome, Stacey! I actually first heard about eating just raw food while searching online once for answers about incontinence. Some obscure post mentioned some exercises, with a small bit of "of course, you need to be eating raw food too" -- I'd never heard of such a thing. It truly makes a difference though. And so does eating just one processed food. Crazy, but our bodies know what is best for them.

  4. I was pointed to this blog because I have had this happen. This is the third time I've gone all raw and I suddenly realized that 3 days into the program, I'm "dry". Mine started after a severe accident where I was in the hospital for 3 months. I love the cooked foods and really missed them, but then I ask which is more important to me - dry or taste.
    By the way I have eaten a plant based diet for 9.5 years, and that did not affect the problem.

    Thanks so much for the affirmation that someone else has traveled this road.