Have you ever wondered at the hype around a raw food diet and juicing? Joanne Gerrard Young, holistic nutritionist, medicinal chef extraordinaire, mother, health educator and advocate gives us a detailed and insightful peek into a new world of possibilities.

Name: Joanne Gerrard Young

Instagram: The_Healing_Cuisine (recently changed it back) and Tribal_Kitchens

Project: I am currently working on a new project called Tribal Kitchens. An initiative to bring food empowerment, health and wellness back into First Nations communities. Tribal Kitchens is a creative integration of Functional Nutrition and First Nations (Native American) tradition for delicious nourishing foods, beverages and medicinals. Our food and beverage products contain carefully sourced organic ingredients with highly functional nutrients, providing nourishment and specific physiological benefits to the body, including detoxing, hormone balancing and immune-boosting, or hydrating, stress-reducing and energizing. At Tribal Kitchens we are deeply aware of the practices and processes associated with food, health and nutrition. We understand the impact that our choices have on all of our relations and our own health. Our intention is to create healthful versions of traditional favorite foods, for deep wellbeing in harmony with the Earth.

I also have a cookbook that in its final stages. It is full of delicious and nutritious recipes for all children particularly children with food allergies.

What is the most powerful personal story you’ve seen about the healing power of food?
I have several stories about the healing power of food, raw food in particular. I do have my own, but have not yet articulated it…

I had a designer come from NYC to do a 7 day cleanse in Costa Rica, she was experiencing back pain and skin problems. After completing my 7 day juice cleanse program she took my “Living Food Made Easy” class to learn how to create simple raw foods at home. Upon returning to NYC, she found it quite easy to remain on the raw food regime and wrote me 3 months later to tell me that her back pain was completely gone and her skin had cleared up. One month later she wrote me back to tell me that her grey hair was growing back black!

My mother was suffering from stage 3 triple negative breast cancer. We began with a 7 day juice cleanse and moved on to an organic vegan high raw food diet. Although her oncologist and nearly everyone she spoke to, (including the 85 breast cancer survivors she interviewed) were encouraging her to go through with the chemotherapy, I was advising her against it. My mum is very open-minded and believes in the healing powers of food, so she decided to refuse the oncologist’s recommendations of chemotherapy. The oncologist told her that she was “crazy” and has since apologized and inquired about her alternative choices. Instead of the chemotherapy, in addition to the plant centric organic living food diet, we did daily guided healing meditations. The power of meditation and prayer are so profound. After having the breast removed and maintaining her high raw foods diet my mum is cancer free 7 years later. At 72, she has the health of a fit 50 year old woman, her vision has improved, her memory is focused, and she is thriving.

About four years ago, I taught a workshop in a small town that was very successful. The raw food restaurant that hosted me invited me back one month later. As I was at the market shopping for some organics, a young woman approached me. She introduced herself and advised me that she had attended my workshop one month earlier. She said that her uterus had been riddled with cysts and that after my course she undertook an organic raw food diet. After only one month, the cysts had completely cleared up.

Is there healing benefits of eating raw food compared to cooked food?
Raw and living foods are whole foods in their unadulterated, unrefined state. The act of heating food over 115°F, for an extended period of time, destroys the naturally occurring enzymes in the food and begins to compromise their bioavailable nutrient content. In fact, the nutrients and enzymes are compromised at temperatures as low as 106°F.

One of the simplest ways to improve your health and digestion is to incorporate more living plant based foods into your meal plans. When living or lightly-cooked foods are eaten, the body absorbs the enzymes, allowing you to digest food more efficiently and use the available nutrients to create endogenous vitamins and co-factors. When you consume foods that do not have enzymes present, your body must strain to work overtime in order to digest the food. As a result, your body expends more vital energy than necessary to digest your food. This is why it is so important to eat a diet rich in living foods.

What happens to your body when you eat raw food?
What you fuel your body with has a tremendous power over how you feel both mentally and physically. Integrating more organic raw foods into your meals allows your body to assimilate essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and antioxidants. This instigates cell renewal, infused energy and healing. Consistently eating an organic, live food diet can begin to slow down the aging process, increase vitality and prevent free radical damage.

Our planet is faced with uncertain times and major paradigm shifts. Eating more raw and whole organic foods may not immediately save the planet, but it does help maintain clarity and a happy and healthy lifestyle. Placing intentions for health and well being, appreciation and love into your food before you eat it, or as you prepare it, can exponentially increase your energy and vitality.

How are enzymes affected by cooking your food and what role does this have in digestion and heath?
Enzymes contain the power of life itself and are used for every cellular process in the body. Providing yourself with life-giving enzymes via raw food is essential to longevity and health. Enzymes are living proteins that direct the life force into our basic biochemical and metabolic processes. Enzymes transform and store energy in the body, they create active hormones and participate in their own reproductive cycle. They dissolve fibre, prevent clotting, have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Enzymes are essential in maintaining internal cleanliness, not to mention health, youth and vitality. They are far more important than any nutrient. We cannot live without enzymes. Proteins, vitamins and minerals cannot be utilized without enzymes. Cooked foods draw from the enzymes reserves, depleting the body’s precious “life force”. Vitamins, mineral, proteins and body chemicals all depend on enzymes to fulfill their purposes. Enzymes are the physical activity of the life in our bodies.

Any negative side affects of going raw?
Raw foods should be avoided and you should lightly cook your foods if you have been diagnosed with digestive ailments, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis. Raw fruits and vegetables can be hard to digest for some people lacking certain enzymes or digestive capabilities because they are high in fibre. Even without these digestive concerns, when people begin to introduce more raw foods into their lives, they may start to feel gassy and more bloated than usual. This is due to the fact that the fibrous foods are loosening old mucoid plaque (a combination of mucous material and food residue that coats the gastrointestinal tract and prevents absorption of nutrients). They may also begin to experience headaches and flu like symptoms. These symptoms are due to the detoxification that is taking place within the digestive systems. Suddenly old toxins and bacteria are being released into the bloodstream to be removed. These symptoms are only temporary and will pass once the GI tract has cleared up.

Cooking cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts brings out the real healing properties and blocks the goitrogen compounds, which in excess, can block thyroid function and contribute to hypothyroidism.

What are the main reasons someone would go raw?
A raw food diet is a simple, natural diet, devoid of artificial and processed foods. There are many reasons why people adopt a raw food diet; for compassionate humane reasons, for increased energy, mental clarity, to improve appearance of their skin, to improve digestion, prevent constipation, lower the risk of heart disease, and an ultimate side effect of eating a raw food diet is weight loss and detoxification.
-No calorie counting! We automatically take in more vitamins, minerals and other essential and preventative nutrients by consuming more raw fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods with low caloric density, we can eat as much as we want, feel satiated and lose weight, without having to count calories.
-Lowered toxin load. When we cook foods at high temperatures (baking, frying), a compound called acrylamide is produced. High doses of acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer.
-An instant “clean eating” plan. A raw food diet automatically eliminates junk foods. And generally avoids grains, which are an inflammatory category of food mostly due to the high mold content from prolonged storage.
-Improved mood and decreased inflammation. Decreased inflammation in the gut results in decreased inflammation throughout the body, but most particularly in the brain, improving cognition, mood and memory. The raw food diet contributes to a profound increase in vitality and energy.

What is the main reasons someone would do a juice cleanse?
Juice cleanses are infinitely helpful to assist the natural healing process of the body. Most people will decide to do a juice cleanse to detoxify their body or to reset their digestion. Although weight loss is a natural side effect of juice cleansing, some people do not want to lose weight but do want to clean our their systems.

What happens to your body when you do a cleanse?
Depending on the length of a juice fast, the body goes through different stages of cleansing and renewal that may affect mood and energy levels. A three day juice cleanse helps the body rid itself of toxins and cleanses the blood. A five day fast begins the process of healing and rebuilding the immune system. A ten day juice fast can take care of many problems before they start by fighting off illness and degenerative disease.
Recent studies have shown that a three day juice fast can kick start the immune system. It floods your body with disease fighting cells. A fasting cycle results in the depletion of white blood cells and creates changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.

How can some foods, like juice, “cleanse” your body?
Fruit and vegetable juices alkalinize the system and speed up detoxification while providing a base level of calories and nutrients to sustain energy. In the first two or three days of a juice fast, the bowels are cleansed with enemas or colonics; this greatly decreases the toxic load on the body, and keeps toxins from old fecal wastes retained in the colon from being reabsorbed into the body and the bloodstream.

A juice fast can assist the cleansing and detox capabilities of your body as it allows for a time of rest. This time of rest allows the body to repair and clear our toxins especially from the liver. Juicing floods the body with super nutrition that can immediately be used by the body. These super nutrients contain phytochemicals, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory capabilities. This flood of nutrients allows your body to push out the toxins and start to break down the fats that are stored to protect your vital organs from toxins. We are advised to “chew your juice” to stimulate the digestive enzymes in the stomach to assist in assimilation of nutrients.

What sorts of foods toxify your body?
We are bombarded daily with toxins, in the air we breathe, the products we use on our body, the water we drink and, depending on our choices, the food we consume. It is the toxins found in our food that is the greatest offender. Fast foods, highly processed foods, cereals, refined flours, industrial seed and vegetable oils, particularly corn, cottonseed, safflower and soybean, breads, pastries, muffins, crackers, cookies, soda, fruit juice and other convenience foods are all loaded with toxins. Excess intake of sugars, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, refined white sugar, processed soy products like soy milk and soy protein that are the worst offenders.

Using these food items now and then, in small doses, is not going to cause instantaneous disease but when we ingest these foods on a regular basis they become a problem.

Side effects of a juice fast?
Experiencing feelings of anxiety is completely normal. Other common temporary side effects of a juice fast may include headaches, tiredness, diarrhea, acne, increased body odor and bad breath. Some people may not have many meals backed up in their system and may experience constipation other experience diarrhea.

Frequently, when cleansing the physical body, the emotional and spiritual bodies will begin a process of cleansing as well. Past issues or events may surface unexpectedly to be cleansed and eliminated and a new sense of direction and understanding can begin to emerge. It is particularly important to take some time to relax and reflect. Keeping a journal, breath work, yoga, meditation and clearing your schedule are highly recommended.

What is the safest way/duration to come off a juice cleanse?
Breaking a fast can be difficult. You will quickly discover that breaking the fast may be harder than fasting. A slumbering digestive system is sensitive and although you might want to try every food on the planet, you cannot because your system needs time to get back to speed. The longer the fast, the more time is needed for breaking the fast.

During a fast, you are free from the bondage of food, but as soon as you eat, the battle engulfs you at full intensity. There is a nervous anxiety about eating. Part of you wants to enjoy the food and part of you is fearful of losing control.

There are erroneous beliefs that will destroy your discipline and healthy breaking of the fast. One of these beliefs is, “I have deprived myself; now I get to enjoy food.“ The other trap is the newness of the experience. Flavors and textures of food will be enhanced by super clean nasal passages. Eating will be a brand new experience. There is a desire to try every food just to see how it tastes.

When you break a fast and start to eat, do not expect that the food will give you energy. Often, it is 
just the opposite. After fasting the digestion of food can stir up more toxins. The last few meals move through the intestine like a broom that pushes ahead of it loosening waste from 30 feet of intestines. You can actually go from feeling great to feeling toxic after eating just one small salad. Losing the exhilarating feeling and clear-mindedness experienced during the fast could be depressing. Don’t worry if this happens. It will pass in a few hours. A healthy diet high in raw foods can maintain the benefits of fasting.

Eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables for the up to six days after fasting will allow the body to gently wake up the digestive system. When breaking a fast, overloading the digestive system causes feelings of apathy, depression or sluggishness. However, if you do overeat, the effect can be remedied by fasting until hunger returns, and then continue to break the fast. A trick to breaking a fast is to pretend that you are still fasting but eat the occasional fruit.

Benefits of juice cleansing?
The benefits to juicing are myriad. You get readily available nutrients that your body can absorb and put to their greatest use. But juicing can be an endeavor. You will need to have the correct equipment and use only organic produce. If you are juicing non-organic produce, you are juicing out the chemicals and pesticides that have been used on the produce. Once you remove the fibre from juicing, you are now enabling these toxins to go directly into your bloodstream. Because of the amounts of produce necessary to juice and buying the highest quality produce, juicing can also be expensive and time consuming. You first must shop for the produce, then wash it, juice it and then there is clean up. Be careful not to juice only fruits, in fact, the most beneficial juices for a juice cleanse are vegetable juices only. When we juice fruits we are adding an excess of sugars to our bloodstream, and that sugar could be detrimental in the case of disease especially cancer. Sugars feed yeast, which feeds disease, bad bacterias and parasites. Juice veggies!

Are there any ways to cleanse your body of toxins other than a juice cleanse?
Absolutely! There are many ways to assist the body in detoxing without undertaking a juice cleanse. Just by adding two vegetable juices a day to your regular routine you can have your body begin detoxing within 2 to 3 months.

Dry skin brushing is another fantastic way of cleansing the colon. By using a natural bristle brush to dry brush daily you can remove the mucoid plaque from the colon within three months.

Get the dry skin brush here

​Cleansing diets are very useful for those whose constitutions are too delicate or run down to withstand a quicker, more radical detoxification.

All types of cleansing diets and detoxification programs will assist in creating wellness and restoring the natural balance within the body.

If you wish to become involved in Joannes classes, retreats or cleanses check out her website!!​


Have you ever done a juice cleanse? What were the results? Let us know in the comments!

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