What Does Chinese Medicine Think of Raw Foods? : The Renegade Health Show Episode #769

Friday Feb 25 | BY |
| Comments (39)

There were a lot of opinions about what diet is best in the Great Health Debate…

One that wasn’t covered was the Chinese medicine approach.

In this episode, Dr. Williams talks about what Chinese medicine thinks about eating raw foods.

Take a look…

Your question of the day: What do you think of the Chinese Medicine view on raw foods?

Click here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave your comments now!

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Patty says:

    I think the health of the traditional culture speaks for itself. I don`t think there`s one total way to eat. I think there are alot of variables and each individual differs so what works for one doesn`t work for another.

  2. There was a doctor on Jonathan Landsman’s last live event called Cancer Expert Speak out who was debating the China Study and I agree with them. What is good for a Chinese person might or might not be good for me. Listen to your own body and determine by experiment what works for you.

  3. For me the issue is making sure what i eat is fresh, organic, fair trade …all that. And no animal abuse…factory farms etc…i don’t support any of that. not sure where china stands on animals and their comfort, and people….are the chinese people being paid enough for their work…all of that is more important to me than if the food is cooked or not….i’m a vata….so cooked food is good for me….i have great respect for chinese traditions.

  4. Julie Lynn says:

    Having lived in China, I can tell you that it would be unsafe to eat most food there in its raw form. Thus, Chinese Medicine’s view of raw food in Chinese culture is probably spot-on.

    Honestly, while I do eat a very high-raw diet, I do not think it is ideal for everyone. As others have said, there is not a single perfect diet. We must do what works for us during the season of life we are in. Being flexible (food and lifestyle-wise) also keeps one in good health.

  5. Sherri says:

    Cultures create a belief system (mind-programming) which are adapted and applied for that group. If you notice that as long as they are conformed, then it works for “ALL” of them – no matter what it is or what they eat, etc. I think it’s the power of that collective mind and system as a whole, and food is only a small part of it.

    However, when one seeks outside the box, all things change… this is freedom in my opinion? We just need to get all the chemicals, crap out of all the foods and water, and then all will thrive. I think it’s obvious that raw foods are a pure source of nutrients. Really, we as a collective, “health-seekers,” we need to rally together on clean sources and stop the rape from food corporations instead of all this food-diet-health studies…. I mean that doesn’t take a degree, or a book written to figure that one out? Simplify… we over think to much!

    I do believe that we were meat eaters, and that is changing as the global consciousness is shifting, we will eventually become plant based… not because it’s wrong but because we’re headed that way. It is good to listen to all this information, but that still doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong… We do need to pay attention to our bodies “on our own” and it will tell you what we need.

    I cleared my mind one day and listed all foods I felt good about. Being as first thought as possible, listening to the body “not taste.” I later made a list of all my bodily issues and nutrients needed to heal them…. It was a total match! Not only was it a match it was the highest nutrient rich foods for that issue… I was amazed. Funny cuz seaweed and sauerkraut was on my list even though I don’t like them – but my body does 😉

  6. andy says:

    A better Asian practitioner match for you might be Mikio Sankey, author of Support the Mountain. In his book he explains the reason culturally Chinese avoid raw foods historically is to remove parasites from the diet by heating the foods. They respected the value of raw by the style of flash heating that kills the surface bacteria yet allows the inside of the vegetables to remain unchanged ie uncooked, preserving the healing nature of the vegetables.
    He also looks at the consciousness issue regarding foods.
    Much of what we know and study regarding Asian concepts of food energetics and healing with foods is not correct, and is misunderstood by almost all TCM practitioners. You should interview me sometime and I will explain/assist.

  7. Lora Price says:

    Ayurvedic Medicine also is mostly cooked foods.

  8. Jason says:

    There is a reason for everything. Water borne illness is highly prevalent in China, which is why even they do not drink their own tap water. This affects their fruits and vegetables too, which it should be mentioned that in some places that use *human* waste as fertilizer, even today. It’s true. I lived in China for two months during the Olympics and unfortunately picked up a water borne illness myself that literally felt like I was on the verge of death for about a week.

    There is a reason for everything. We should keep this in mind. Water safety is HUGE issue in China even today, and over thousands of years, you can see how this can affect their culture and their beliefs about the safety of cooking foods.

    Truth be told, no dogma is correct. 100% of anything is wrong, including raw foods. BUT we do know that raw foods have nutritional value. That is why I believe so strongly in approaching nutrition from a raw food perspective of low temperature processing and then adding cooked foods that we *know* are better absorbed after cooking or are safer after cooking (fish, meats, eggs) or that we know are otherwise still very beneficial for our health (boiled quinoa).

    Approaching nutrition as a raw foodist is smart in that it gets people in the right mindset IMO. Then we use our knowledge to perfect our own diets.

  9. radha says:

    It all comes down to consciousness and energetics. The more raw, the more energy, the more consciousness. One feels the life force.

    In both the Chinese and Indian cultures they eat mostly cooked for hygeinic reasons. Our cultivating practices are different and so are less suseptible to dangerous parasites. So cooking is practically a given in these cultures.

    Eating raw also helps saves the trees. I lived in India and due to all the cooking in the poorer regions there were hardly any trees left.

  10. Dejana says:

    As someone who lived 7 years in China, I’ve also earned that the reason chinese eat cooked was to kill bacteria. Something that was solving a certain problem a few thousand years ago doesn’t mean it has the same usefulness today. Also, they do have lots of stir frys that they heat quickly and they stay crunchy so I think Andy’s got the point there.

    However, as someone who desperately tried following raw food for 2 years and constantly failed it was a relief to learn that the reason for it was my weak spleen and thyroid, both of which don’t like raw food. During raw period my thyroid issues got worse and now I am on almost all cooked, especially in the winter with no sun and no ripe fruits.
    It is still a puzzle for me how certain people managed to heal thyroid on raw food. It could be that their spleen is in better state so that helps when going raw.

  11. Kristine says:

    We have the wisdom of the past, much of it colored by the need for safe, thus, cooked foods. Now we have the ability to build on that knowledge and incorporate what we know to be optimal, i.e. a diet of mainly raw and fermented foods with lots of greens and herbs. Meanwhile, each of us has to adapt it to our own circumstances and characteristics. It makes sense to me. Another aspect of this is the past and present reliance on sub-optimal sources of food like processed (and now GMO) grains. We, who have a choice, are so fortunate…

  12. Frances says:

    The Chinese people I know do eat small amounts of raw food – mostly limited to whole raw fruits as deserts. They don’t generally eat salad. I think even in modern China, there is a lot less trust that fresh produce isn’t contaminated due to less rigorous regulation and inspection, and probably due to the regulators assuming that the food will be cooked anyway. One friend of mine assured me that she does indeed stir-fry cucumber, which I can’t really picture.

  13. Interesting. I don’t know what to think anymore

  14. Lola says:

    Thanks again, Kevin, for providing this venue for information and discussion. In remembering what I’d heard about the Hunzas who live more or less completely cut off from the outside world, and who are found in the mountain peaks of the Himalayas, I researched and found their diet and lifestyle to be quite interesting. They are a very healthy, STRONG, and happy people. See:

  15. Lola says:

    Oh yes, Kevin, I wanted to say that I share your respect for Dr. Williams. Just listening to this gentle man speak the wisdom he has learned is inspiring! He is so non-confrontational and at ease I find that very attractive and helpful.

  16. Catharina says:

    I was going to say the same: the Chinese just cook the vegetables and greens very lightly so that the inside is still raw. It is not what we call cooked food! The inside of the vegetables and greens remain uncooked, preserving the healing nature of the vegetables as Andy said!

  17. Thomas says:

    Sometimes urban myths can go a long way.
    Here is a report from a writer who went to Pakistan to visit the Hunza people:


  18. roni says:

    Historically, Chinese small gardeners would use the waste from the family (humanure) on their gardens. This might be a really good reason to cook your food.

    Often the fruits are cooked or preserved too.
    (lychee, kumquat as examples) This might also help with reducing parasites.

    The Chinese diet has traditionally been mostly vegetables with small amounts of animal protein and lots of varied seasonings, and no dairy.

    For the way food was grown and the safety of the food, I think that cooked foods are a healthy and valid response considering the Chinese culture. Now, it might be changing, with safer methods of growing, and more intercultural exchange. I understand Fred’s book has been translated into Chinese.

  19. casey says:

    A chinese doctor that I would go to back in minneapolis, who back in the 80’s was treating many people with AIDS in africa very successfully. Even though so little was known about AIDS at the time. One thing differently that he did vs other chinese doctors I had gone to was he ground up the herbs and putting it into a rice capsule.
    I dont know if the herbs had already been dried at high temperatures or not. But when the herbs were directly digested instead of the tea. I noticed the difference.

  20. As a practitioner of Oriental Medicine based here in Austin, Tx, I would like to weigh in with my opinion. What Dr. Williams said was accurate in as much as he is following the ancient traditions of Chinese Medicine. Yet, we all know that Chinese Medicine has evolved over centuries and many beliefs have been challenged and subsequently changed, while others have held true. As Chinese Medicine reaches beyond the borders of China and is more broadly applied to people of different ethnicity it continues to evolve. It will naturally morph to adapt to the different cultures. A practitioner prepares a diagnosis based not only on tongue, pulse, and symptoms, but takes into consideration the ethnicity, gender and physical constitution of the patient. The climate, season and even the time of day all play a roll in diagnosis and treatment protocol. In my practice here in the south, I have found many clients with far too much heat and Qi stagnation. The cooling properties of raw vegetables are often “just what the doctor ordered”. I have found that the energetics of the foods and how they are prepare is more important than whether they are cooked or raw. Even patients with Spleen Qi (digestive qi) Deficiency can benefit from blended and fermented foods. In other cases, patients may need more warming foods and that can be achieved through herbs and spices. NOTE: Its also important for people to understand the properties of herbs and spices they use. Having too much ginseng, for example, could be very detrimental to many of my over-heated-qi-stagnate clients. I could go on, but will summarize by saying that, while cooked food has its uses, I think there is a place for raw food in the treatment of patients in Chinese Medicine.

  21. Bashi says:

    Do you think Chinese would have developed such extensive medical system if they didnt have a need for it???
    It was developed by observation.To observe you have to have the conditions and symptoms. There was plenty of sickness back then as it is now in China – good reason enough for me not to take advice on raw food. I studied Ayurvedic medicine and found it very curious that it and chinese medicine have total different views on some things – eg. one says sour taste is damaging to liver while the other says sour taste is beneficial.They cant both be correct, so someone got wrong observations.Then what else could be incorrect observation???
    Can you be comfortable believing anything they say without much investigation and experimentation on your own part???

  22. michael says:

    My friend claimed that once he tried eating raw food and it almost killed him. He didn’t go into details but it does put me off a bit. Also I like meat and don,t want to stop eating it, so I think I will respectfully decline to join you.

  23. JASON says:

    Anywhere near or closer to the mountains of China – I would imagine raw food uncooking would become more scarce.
    (I also support an interview for Andy – sounds interesting)

  24. oreganol says:

    If it works for them then it must be good for them.

  25. Marge says:

    They learned that cooking kills bacteria and parasites. It was better for them to cook the vegetables than to eat raw and die of some bacteria or parasite.

  26. Eve says:

    Kevin, thanks for alwasy posting such interesting and provocative shows. I learn so much and continue to realize that the more I learn, the less I know. LOL! Anyway, just wanted to say that you glowing and looking healthier than ever. As we learned last week, it’s really what’s on the inside that counts, but what you’re doing now sure appears to be good for you – at least to this healthseeker/follower.

  27. JW says:

    Hi Kevin! What does Dr. Williams eat? What are his diet parameters? What supplements does he take? Thanks!

  28. AK says:

    Aren’t the Chinese the ones who are systematically killing dogs and cats to eat – and furthermore, ripping their skins off their bodies ALIVE?

    And, if that weren’t enough, the Tiger population has suffered beyond belief, bordering on extinction, because the oh so knowledgeable Chines use the “penis” of these beautiful animals to enhance their sexual abilities? The adult Tiger population has so much diminished as a result of this disgusting trade, that they are now killing BABY TIGERS for their PENIS!!

    Sure, we really need to look at the Chinese for health remedies – give us a break!!!!!

  29. Ralph Karner says:

    I liked your tnterview with Dr. Williams as well as your other interviews. But you need to give your guest a mike so everyone can here him when he talks

  30. marc says:

    I think there is so much misinformation in the health communities… a few years back, a chinese coworker of mine saw me eating some goji berries (raw)… I then said that this is medicinal and the tibetan monks and chinese ate them. She then said that her grandmother used to boil them in tea, and add them to dishes like pork soup… Hold up!! “pork soup??” Hmmm… then she told me that she never recalled the chinese eating them raw like how it’s marketed to be consumed these days. If you ask me, I’d much rather err on the side of history (5,000 years) and tradition.

  31. Zakiyyah says:

    Hey kevin,

    I think it works for them. They have always been healthy people,so it’s like we always say:one size don’t fit all.

  32. Michelle says:

    I am also a practitioner of Chinese Medicine here in Austin, and what Sharon said is very well put. I have done my own experiment of 3 years of 100% raw food, and I am currently on a “high raw” diet, with great results. I do include herbs in my regimen which are proper for my state/constitution…I also agree with Andy’s comments. I am a huge fan and student of Mikio Sankey. Please do check out “Support the Mountain.” PS it was sweet to see you and Anne-Marie at Casa today in Austin – how auspicious! I am always happy to chat more about this subject…have safe travels!!!

  33. sesameB says:

    Thanks for wonderful interview. I agree with Dr. Williams, one hundred percent.
    Dew, barefootin’ and drinking wild water
    rural south central sunny Arkansas

  34. sean says:

    There culture has not explored the use of blenders as much as ours in the U.S.

    I think chin ease people think raw foods are dangerous because of pathogens that can be carried on them. I though I had herd that it was more common practice two use human manure in china, which can be dangerous if not composted properly.

  35. Paul says:

    That’s a very sweeping view of Chinese food and diet.
    China is a vast place, and the Chinese have great variations in their style of food and cuisine. The northerners eat quite differently to the southerners, and having spent time there, they do have a fair amount of salads, mainly based on cabbage, lettuce, or grated Chinese radish.
    The south i think has mostly cooked foods, as mentioned before due to how the crops are fertilized there. The west is different again, having being influenced by Muslim culture, they are big on kebabs and noodles, not to mention this is the fruit bowl of china, and during the warmer months there are successive abundances of strawberries, peaches, melons, apricots etc, and I’ve been there and eaten many dishes based on salad as well !!


  36. Lawrenz says:

    Farmers for Forty Centuries was the turn of the 19th 20th century book that gave rise to Rodale and his Organic movement..it was about the Chinese agri system w/photos..excellent window into the sustainable farming of the past at a local level…however one of the primary negatives of raw food consumption in the Chinese diet was the use of human feces for fertilizer and subsequent release of pathogens..into the food chain…however “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”..a tablespoon of rich soil has a billion organisms in it…I am concerned that spyrochetes will migrate into ones system without processing raw food properly = hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, UV, Lemon, Solar exposure etc which in our fast food nation is problematic…however there is no faster food than pick n eat…truly a joy if you grew up on a farm however

  37. sheri says:

    I agree that adding herbs and spices to the diet is good. I feel stronger when I do this, moderation and basic knowledge are good too, as too much for example licorice can be bad. The Chinese are very knowledgeable in the use of herbs. It would be nice to know Dr. Williams favorite herbs and spices.

  38. Sarah says:

    I am a nutritionist and I specialize in digestive issues. As such, I do a lot of lab testing for parasites. Please do not think that parasites are only an issue regarding food and water from foreign countries. We have many parasites here in the U.S. What I see in my practice on a regular basis would shock you! And many of my clients are vegetarians and many have been raw foodists.

  39. Barry Smith says:

    was in a bogus MLM for a while claiming that the suppliments were raw chinese herbs;add water & oila! instant raw meals!Turned out to be REALLY dangerous after a few months of the directors “recommended” WAY overdoses.Anyway,the story was, the chinese have all been 100% raw always.Went to a chinatown restaurant;asked manager;said “yeah,right”;he’d never heard of raw food eaten in china.Who knows.

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