How to Eat Your Vegetables Raw (With NO Gas or Bloating!)

Posted December 18, 2006. There have been 44 comments

Not all raw vegetables are created equal. Did you know that raw broccoli can harm your health?

Many people assume that all raw vegetables are good for them. But raw vegetables are only beneficial as a food source IF you can digest them, which is more of a widespread issue than most people realize.

Additionally, some raw vegetables are better than others, so be careful with what you munch and learn to choose the best raw vegetables of the bunch.

Vegetables are nature’s most perfect foods and are also the most abundant foods on earth. They are alkaline-forming and rich with the vitamins and minerals needed to heal your body.

Raw vegetables are said to be enzyme-rich and are therefore widely believed to be an excellent source of enzymes that aid digestion. However, many people’s digestive systems are simply too weak to digest raw vegetables in spite of all their natural enzymes.

Are YOU Digesting YOUR Raw Vegetables?

For many, digestive distress like gas, bloating and abdominal pain are common reactions after eating a meal that includes raw vegetables. Tune in to your stomach the next time you eat a raw vegetable and see how you feel.

Poor digestion of raw vegetables is more common than you might think, yet the popular raw foods movement has many of us convinced that we must eat raw foods to be healthy.

Yes, raw foods do contain enzymes, but raw vegetables also contain cellulose, a fiber that is poorly digested by humans. Though fiber has little nutritional value, it is very important for intestinal health and for helping form a healthy stool. But unlike cows and other ruminants, humans simply do not have the enzymes in our bodies necessary to properly digest the fiber in vegetables.

The enzyme needed to digest cellulose is called cellulase and it’s produced by intestinal bacteria. Cellulase enzymes break cellulose fiber down into blood sugar. Since humans cannot digest cellulose, taking a digestive enzyme like the specially formulated Assist digestive enzyme is not only necessary but vital for healthy cells. Fermenting raw vegetable is also key because this process breaks down or pre-digests the fiber.

What the Ancients Knew about Raw Vegetables

The ancients were well aware that raw vegetables were difficult to digest; in Chinese Medicine, for example, it is well known that raw foods are best eaten by someone with strong “digestive fire.” A major cause of poor “digestive fire” is that our adrenals and thyroid are both poorly nourished and taxed by toxins and daily stress. It takes energy to digest foods but they are not doing the job.

The Body Ecology system of health and healing focuses on creating this “digestive fire” by creating a healthy inner ecosystem; the foods recommended on the diet are teeming with friendly microflora (good bacteria) that reside in our intestines and keep us healthy and strong.

Until your inner ecosystem is healthy, you may have trouble digesting raw vegetables. For this reason, we suggest cooking your vegetables by baking, simmering, sautéing or lightly steaming them to make them more digestible. Simultaneously focus on strengthening your digestive fire by eating cultured foods. Cultured vegetables have an abundance of enzymes and contain beneficial bacteria that are very helpful at digesting all the foods eaten in your meals.

The 7 healing principles profiled inThe Body Ecology Diet show you how to heal your digestion and create health and vitality!

Fermented foods like raw cultured vegetables will provide you with important plant enzymes and healthy microflora to populate your inner ecosystem to build your digestive fire. The Body Ecology system of health and healing provides many other solutions to heal your digestion and create energy and vitality. Stay tuned to this newsletter for our upcoming feature on the 7 healing principles of the Body Ecology Diet.

Following the 7 principles and adding fermented foods and drinks will get you on your way to strengthening your digestive fire so that you can get the most from that raw vegetable platter!

Here’s a recap of some key ways to make digesting raw vegetables easier:

  • Include fermented foods and drinks in your diet so you can build a healthy inner ecosystem to help you digest your food and assimilate the nutrients. Cultured vegetables allow you to get all the benefits of fermented foods and raw vegetables.
  • Chew your vegetables completely — at least 20 times per bite.
  • Bake, simmer, sauté or lightly steam your vegetables to make them more digestible.
  • Blend your vegetables in a raw vegetable smoothie (link to this week’s green smoothie recipe that is included in the newsletter.
  • Take Assist Enzymes to boost your digestion (link to this week’s article ‘The Smartest Ways to Assist Your Digestion in Assisting Your Health’

Beware! Some Vegetables Should ALWAYS be Cooked

Eventually as your digestion improves, certain raw vegetables can become a part of your daily diet. However, there are some vegetables that you will always want to consume cooked or fermented. This includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards and brussel sprouts — all members of the cruciferous family that in their raw state are considered to be “cooling” and suppressing to your thyroid.

Again, it is very important to ferment or cook these very nutritious vegetables. (When we added collards as one of the many super-nutritious ingredients in our Vitality SuperGreen Drink, we went to the extra expense and effort to have them fermented.)

Remember, when you ferment any food, you increase its nutritional value. For more information, read “Why You Need to Cook These Vegetables For Maximum Nutrition.”

Meanwhile, here are a few vegetables that most people can comfortably handle raw.

But remember you are unique, so see if they work for you.

  • Cucumbers
  • Celery (a high-fiber vehicle for your favorite dip)
  • Carrots (still difficult for some)
  • Red, yellow and orange bell pepper (not green, which is typically immature and difficult to digest)
  • Summer squashes like yellow squash and zucchini.

Post Categories: Fermented Foods Raw Recipes Thyroid Health

44 Comments

  • I did raw for a year with supplemented (dairy based) probiotics and ended up with SIBO. I am an athlete, no kids and have always has a flat rock hard stomach. Now I look like I'm pregnant with half a banana in my small intestinal area. We are doing a lot of experimenting with food which is great but I just wanted to share my nightmare because it's been 2 years and no medical professional, MD or ND or diet has been able to help me reverse it and the blogs and stories I read reveal most people are at the 2 and 3 year mark with no luck either. For those wanting to try new things i suggest consulting a healthy certified nutritionist.

    Posted on Sep 6 at 5:16 pm

  • What the hell is wrong with you people?! Lol. I eat raw and cooked anything, whenever i want to with no problems. Put down the tripledouble and chips my friends.

    Posted on Jul 22 at 4:05 pm

  • Another way is also to drink water with a tablespoon of raw unpasteurised organic apple cider vinegar
    It helps the digestion , acid reflux, constipation , acne and weigh loss
    Best brand : Bragg
    :-)

    Posted on Jun 4 at 1:35 pm

  • I have been doing all raw organic for 4 years now and yes there is going to be a transition period after years of the highly processed food mostly all people eat and give to there little children so unknowingly negligent. So when you make any drastic changes to your diet isn't it logical that after years of treating your body so poorly your body is going to have to lean what changes it needs to make to get back to eating the foods human were intended to consume. All things like intestinal discomfort poor digestion low probiotics and enzyme count is all in response to the years of abuse you've put on yourself considering all the garbage you've been consuming as food your whole life. In essence people need to keep a list of what aliments ones having and search out whats needed to fix the individuals problem. You can't tell me that cooking your food is ever whats best, sorry bro but thats just not the case and you should not eat the same foods everyday like yes you can eat green smoothies everyday but you can change the fruit and greens of choice so everyday is totally different with exceptions like avocados. Sorry Barb W but fruit yes you can eat with greens, Fruit just doesn't go with root vegetables and avocados.

    Posted on Jun 2 at 12:36 pm

  • This article makes raw kale sound bad for you, that is wrong. "Lightly baking or saute-ing" removes all the nutritional value. It is pointless to eat cooked kale. Pointless. Just juice it or blend it, I had terrible gas the first few months of being vegan. I just wanted to know if I could eat raw squash and ended up reading this bs. Raw kale is the best veggie for you.

    Posted on May 28 at 6:36 pm

  • Everyone has a different reaction to eating certain foods. You have to listen to your body and eat only those raw veggies that agree with your system. Maybe someone that is primarily a meat eater would have a problem adjusting to immediately eating a plant based diet. I know that for me I eat mostly a plant based diet ( I'm not a vegetarian) , and if I eat too much meat my body doesn't react well. Raw veggies do heal. Check out Dr. Wahls great story. She cured her MS by eating four cups of raw greens.

    Posted on Apr 15 at 8:55 pm

  • I think this is hilarious! In my attempt to become healthier, I found that making raw kale salads was a simple way to get my veg in daily. It had immediate impact on hair and skin. 2 weeks later my stomach got hard bloating and this morning I woke up to nightmarish painful gas. I researched away and lo & behold. It's the kale. I haven't eaten it for 2 days. My stomach is starting to soften up and I've been burping a bit all day.

    I read that raw kale should be kept at a minimum of 1-2 per week, tops and it's wise to hand massage it. Cooked kale seems like it's ok daily. Now, I'm just going with my gut here (pun), I'd say it's best to eat a variety of veg as the week plays on. I'm going to add sweet potatoes tomorrow. Painful lesson, but now I know. Eating the rainbow through the week from now on. Sautéed kale one day, sweet potato next, beets the following, avocado over mixed salad with onions the next, etc.

    Posted on Mar 18 at 9:05 pm

  • I drank a smoothie made by raw kale + berries, banana and little coconuts milk. I got a lot of gas and pain so, I will not eat raw kale until my body becomes better and used to this. Is sad cos the kale in the smoothie was delicious. But since I started to eat fully vegan food a week ago, I must give time to my body to adjust.

    Posted on Mar 3 at 1:35 am

  • I eat raw veggies all the time celery, carrots and broccoli. ...Never had a digestive problem....I always make sure i chew til everything is grinded really well and then swallow...Its works great for me.

    Posted on Jan 31 at 11:54 am

  • If you have problem digesting raw veggie, stay away, just lightly boil the veggie and ensure to throw out the boil water, just eat the veggie, this work for me, good luck

    Posted on Oct 2 at 11:40 am

  • @Mary said: "Urgent care visits and ultrasound reveals gallbladder sludge and now want me to see surgeon in a few days! I think it is the raw asparagus... "

    The recent onset of the symptoms of a gastro issue does not necessarily mean that the actual underlying illness is also new. You may have been developing this condition for years, it merely chose now (perhaps triggered by your shift in heating habits - or not) to present symptoms to you.

    Good luck in your journey!

    Posted on Sep 7 at 11:48 am

  • I have been eating raw vegetables including the cruciferous ones for at least 8 years. The difference is that I use a Vita-Mix and blend them into liquid: banana, apple, mango, strawberries, blueberries, kale, collards, avocado (including the pit) carrots and spinach. years ago I had gas and bloating but my system is used to it now and I also add home made goat milk yogurt and kefir and whey from my goat milk cheese making. I advise people to start slowly and allow your system to adjust. I am 71 years old and have the energy of a 45 year old. My skin is unblemished, my hair is thick and I do not take one medication!!! I also eat all organically.

    Posted on Aug 1 at 7:04 am

  • I ate cooked Brussels Sprouts and threw up. (No one else who ate them did.) I finished the rest of my dinner a bit later, minus the sprouts, so this was not an upset tummy problem.

    It seems just like you can be allergic to peanuts, you can be allergic to some of these as well. If you look at the taxonomy of cruciferous vegetables, I seem to be OK with things outside of the oleracea epithet and definitely much better with ones outside of the Brassica genus.
    (Like horseradish or arugula.)

    Just something to keep in mind if adding small amounts & trying to work up to larger does not seem to be working out for you....

    Posted on Jul 31 at 7:36 am

  • I found new information regarding veggies.

    I sometimes have spasms in my abdomen that leads up my back along with an unhealthy bowel movement that causes me to holler.

    I never In My life had heard that some veggies you should not eat raw. I had been doing exactly that to keep the vitamins from going into the air.

    I had also never heard that some foods encourage sun damage. After years of health problems, I now try to live as a vegan.

    Posted on Jul 15 at 2:40 pm

  • you get used to eating raw vegetables. the symptoms subside after long term use and it will become normal eating for you. I manage to eat large platters of raw veg now with no effort and no negative side effects.

    Posted on Jun 27 at 5:12 am

  • When I started a 3 day detox (shown on Dr Oz) 13 days ago, I felt so amazing that I have continued it with a meal at lunchtime. I knew the raw vegetables may cause problems, but since I have been blending them, the gas isn't as bad as when it was when I ate them cut up in a salad. I am now on the "21 day CLEAN Nutritional Cleanse", by Dr. Alejandro Junger and I have had to push through some of the 'effects' into a healthier program. But, I am off of coffee, big accomplishment.(Headaches went away in 3 days) I am not eating raw brocolli anymore.(No more gas) So, it's been a process of elimination to figure out what works for me. On day 2, when I thought I had been hit by a truck, and came down with chills and flulike symptoms, I thought....Oh no....not again...this always happens when I make drastic dietary changes. But, I pushed through it and by day 6 I really feel like I have gotten into a great rythym with a shake at breakfast, a mixed salad with chicken or fish for lunch, and a shake for dinner...and a few supplements. It's been so easy, especially knowing I am getting enough valuable nutrition each day.

    Posted on Mar 27 at 9:29 pm

  • I left a pan of Broccolli ,carrots ,cabbage ,onions ,and green ,spring onions, with ceilery slightly covered in water intending to make a soup. I had added a little salt and pepper all ready to simmer and make this soup anyway in the night i was peckish and thought after lifting the lid that smells really nice it had been soaking all evening it tasted fantastic too as id put a chicken stock cube into it to. verry refreshing really tasty and i bet ive got lots of energy tommorrow hope i don't end up with bad side effects like wind and stomach pain if i dont get this ive cracked it saving me on time and energy in gas and getting maximum out of my food. wish me luck....

    Posted on Mar 6 at 6:00 pm

  • I started on a drastic diet change all at once not realizing... I am 47 years of age and need to lose weight (40pounds),an want to get in shape. Started eating almost nothing but raw or very lightly steamed veggies and lots of them for at least 3 weeks! Last week SEVERE left upper side stabbing pains and spasms! Urgent care visits and ultrasound reveals gallbladder sludge and now want me to see surgeon in a few days! I think it is the raw asparagus... that has caused the problem as I know some did not digest. Please ,any thoughts? Have NO symptoms of gallbladder atack just left side pain.

    Posted on Feb 2 at 9:43 am

  • Hmmmm...how to eat your vegetables raw? Lightly steam them. Interesting logic guys.

    Posted on Dec 27 at 10:45 am

  • I would like to recommend to everyone the delicious taste and easy digestibility of BE Vital Greens and Potent Proteins. Spirulina (in the Potent Proteins) helps you lose weight and have energy. They are a great way to add chlorophyll from plant foods and be able to digest them as well!

    Posted on Dec 27 at 7:35 am

  • I love raw veggies in a salad. What is a good healthy salad dressing? So many are really bad for you? Carrots steamed a little bit are very good for your colon because of the fiber. Remember never eat fruit with veggies or any other foods. Fruit is only to be eaten alone and first thing in the morning on an empty stomach as fruit does digest very quickly and gets into your system quickly.
    Make sure also that you clean your fruits and veggies throughly to remove all pesticides and unhealthy toxins.

    Posted on Dec 27 at 7:26 am

  • Well from what i gather, water is also an essential part of the raw diet. So when you increase your fibre intake you increase your water intake...

    Posted on Oct 27 at 1:11 am

  • Just a warning about when beginning a diet that includes fermented vegetables. It can give you gas! Seriously. However, that just means your digestive system is out-of-whack, to say the least, so don't be discouraged. Just continue to regularly eat these fermented veggies and eventually you will not only build a resistance to colds and flus, you will also build a better system that resists getting smelly ole farts! Your stomach will stomach the stormy weather, so-to-speak and you'll be unaffected by the fermented stuff, which means you'll be well on your way to better health and immunity.

    Posted on Oct 14 at 4:02 am

  • Remember Donna's principal of uniqueness, I have a cold congested liver. My Dr. of Chinese Medicine told me to eat all my foods warm right now. I could lightly steam them if I want them closer to raw. But, at this time cold foods are working against my healing. You are an experiment of one.

    Posted on Sep 27 at 3:11 am

  • This information is good, but also a bit skewed. The more vegetable juice and salads you consume, the stronger you digestion will become. I have a community of raw vegans in my city and we all eat cruciferous vegetables raw on a regular basis. I have raw broccoli almost every day, and my husband eats raw kale almost every day.

    Posted on Sep 16 at 2:28 pm

  • My mother and I love raw foods and kale is wonderful raw. I got sick once with stomach cramps, as the lady said before, I felt like I had food poisoning. My mother went through this too once during our early experiments with raw foods like Kale. But like someone else said earlier, I think it was a detoxifying purge because like I stated we only got sick once. Never since.

    Posted on Sep 13 at 3:23 pm

  • Well today was my start to a strict body building diet, introducing raw vegetables to 3 of my meals, had broccoli, carrots and cauliflower and now (this evening) I am missing training to lay in bed with horrendous stomach cramps.... Almost as if I need to be sick, so background reading led me to this site and these answers! Apparently your body gets used to the intake of raw veggies after a period of time, but then I see that broccoli should never be eaten raw????

    Posted on Sep 8 at 3:07 pm

  • Everyday for the last 4 months, my breakfast has been 1L worth of blended not juiced- Broccoli, apple, Carrot/Banana/ spinach, I mix it up, only the last 2 weeks I had started using Kale - the most bitter variety and I try to buy these veges/fruits in organic form. I have not experienced any bloating. 1 year before these 4 months, 5 of 7 days were with eating broccoli raw for breakfast. On a good nights sleep, you get so much energy from the raw veges, its great.

    Posted on Aug 30 at 4:25 am

  • I was suffering through constipation problem for last 6 years and it was really a great trouble for me to get relief but recently I started fasting and break my fast with fresh vegetables. I am surprised to see the amazing results now I am fine enough by the grace of almighty Allah.

    I also mixed yogurt in vegetables

    Posted on Aug 10 at 1:05 am

  • i decided to juice raw vegetables and fruits, primarily in a 40 day fast. the first week i did well and was never hungrey, and lost 9 1/2 pounds. but the 2nd week, i began to have bloating and constipation. why would that happen when i drank my food. i would nibble throughout the day and eat cherry tomatoes, carrots and spinich, mushrooms. and keep my fruit in the morning meal. This was suppose to be away fo me to loose unwanted pounds and rid my body of toxins. the second week i lost 1/2 pound and was bloated, had an extended tummy, and was constipated. why would this happen?

    Posted on Jul 16 at 2:56 pm

  • What is the meaning with these comments. I do not see any replys or are they private. If so then there is no education in it except for us common people educating eachother? Perhaps I have missed something here.
    I have both Donnas Books and uses her products. I like them a lot but I find it difficult to follow her diet. It is too booring and I cannot drive on it. If I follow Donnas tips alltogether I would do fine but loose even more pounds and I do not want that. I have problems with gases, nothing else, Although I would like to put on some weight and I do not have a clue how to succeed. By training I loose even more.

    Posted on Jun 28 at 10:49 pm

  • There is a long explanation to the subject of not eating some raw veggies because they slow down the thyroid. It's a long explanation but, it can be read about here: http://tinyurl.com/cbs4cg7 Short story: It's a problem that occurs if you have an iodine deficient diet

    Posted on Apr 18 at 9:56 pm

  • Hi, I eat a lot of raw veg. Including broccoli, turnip, sprouts and cabbage to name a few!! As long as I can remember I have always ate these. Never have any problems with my stomach or digestive problems. In fact it's quite the opposite. My metabolism is great and my health is very good.

    Posted on Apr 18 at 11:18 am

  • Hi, I would love some advice about raw juice drinks please.
    I have recently started drinking one first thing on a morning, I use a juicer. Unfortunately I am having awful trouble with gas and stomach pain. I don't know if it is the juice or the juice is making my stomach more sensitive to the food I eat afterwards. Any advice would be really helpful. Thank you

    Posted on Apr 2 at 9:24 am

  • Do we have any concrete study around this subject? Like if you eat X, Y, Z raw vegetable for M no. of days, you will get so and so benefit ?

    I am particulary looking for some help with my eyes. I have read on many forums that eating raw vegetables improved their vision. Though didnt find any info on what they ate and for how long.

    Any specific help here highly appreciated.

    Posted on Mar 20 at 6:26 am

  • One thing about the body's digestive system - you can't change up on it so quickly. If you are not used to eating raw cruciferous vegetables - and you suddenly eat a meal with them - you might get some gas or stomach upset. It does not mean you should not eat them. You are supposed to introduce a small amount and see your bodies reaction. Eventually you can eat a larger amount. kale can be delicious raw depending on which varietal you grow or purchase. Red russian kale is quite delicate and can be eaten raw. Other like the leafy green kale that is most commonly seen in grocery stores - try it in a salad with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, avocado and diced tomato - if you don't mind using your hands to mix the ingrediants even better - the combination starts the process of breaking down the kale before it is eaten making it soft and more digestible and it is delicious.
    Beans are a nother example - if you suddenly eat a bean dish when it is not part of your normal diet - you get gas. Start with a small serving and gradually increase.
    Same with exercise - start with stretching and gentle exercise and build up into a routine.
    Just because your muscles get sore the first time does not mean it is bad for you or that your body can't do it! It just means you have to introduce correctly and let your body adjust into good health. It is not an instant gratification but one well worth pursuing.

    Posted on Mar 12 at 7:48 am

  • I'm eating mostly "non gas producing" veggies and chicken with some turkey that's not organic. I've decreased my symptoms of IBS and notice lately much gas. For some one to begin taking Vitality Super Green who does not daily eat fermented foods, is there a criteria on how many capsules to take starting out?

    Posted on Jan 24 at 7:39 pm

  • I like cruciferous vegetables raw though. Is it really that bad for your thyroid to eat them raw? Is there anyway to safely eat them raw?

    Posted on Jan 5 at 5:06 pm

  • I was amazed that eating a raw broccoli salad with a bit of dressing could cause me so much pain!! About two hours after eating it I had an overwhelming pinprick sensation in my stomach, which has become bloated, and today, nearly twenty four hours since I ate the broccoli, I am still in complete pain, like I have a brick in my belly. It did not make me constipated, I have managed to "go" several times since I I ate it. I just feel heavy in my gut and very uncomfortable. Awful.

    Posted on Jan 5 at 1:41 pm

  • This will aid me in my detox diet I am about to start an continue for a week.

    Posted on Dec 30 at 4:00 am

  • I haven't eaten broccoli raw in a long time and recently made a broccoli salad, which was delicious. Within 5-10 minutes after eating it I got horrible stomach cramps and strange sounds coming from my stomach that could be heard by other people. I felt like I needed to pass gas but couldn't until much later on and many hours of suffering. Needless to say I will not be eating broccoli raw ever again!!! Really glad I'm not the only one to experience this.

    Posted on Dec 14 at 2:20 pm

  • I had no idea that kale should not be eaten raw. I had broccoli and kale in the same day-- the kale was eaten raw-- and that evening, after having broccoli, I experienced horrible stomach paid and flatulance, which I attirbuted to the broccoli. Something told me to check out kale on the i-net, and wouldn't you know-- it is cruciferous and should not be eaten raw. I already take a probiotic to help aid in digestion, as I do not have a fiery digestion system. I cannot believe I've done this to myself two days in a row. Yesterday was horrible. Today will be a repeat, because I did not think to check kale until after I started eaten another raw bowl of it for lunch today. Uggghhhh!!!

    Posted on Nov 14 at 1:17 pm

  • I eat small amounts of raw collard leaf, and have no problems with it. I might go along with the digestive enzyme idea, because I love the crisp texture. I put a 2 inch square onto my sandwich stuck to the veggie mayo. No pains, or flatus. hee hee.....

    Posted on Oct 13 at 1:22 pm

  • Hi and welcome Yes raw veg are good for intake but remember some of them you have to be careful with cucumber is best peeled some people can take the seeds some cant so it's best to write down what you eat then you can work out whats best to digest. I find apples peeled cut in slice's are better than just eating it plums are best peeled too easy enough boil water and let them soak but to make it easy'er justjust cut a score line then it's easy to peel. nuts hazel nuts are good but do have good chew it's better that way pine nuts almonds but do chew on them just like you would with a cocconut peeled way better for the system. i find potatoes not really good for the system nomally effects the legs in some people. so like I said do make sure you make a note what you eat. drink two teas two coffee's then mixed fruit drinks the rest of the day. mind you i dont drink the big stuff or beer or smoke and I am 65 in feb and feel 45yrs good eh and just get out into the garden look after the wild life and it will look after you .

    Posted on Jul 13 at 3:54 am

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