My 7-Day Rawvelation
By Janet Podleski, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
I’ve just returned from one of the most interesting, transformative and rejuvenating vacations ever. Uh, actually, I would call it an “edu-vacation,” because I not only escaped to a warm, sunny climate for some much-needed R&R, but I also crammed a lot of knowledge and experience into this wee Polish brain of mine.
Remember good ol’ Hippocrates, Father of Medicine, of the famed Hippocratic Oath? Or his even more famous words of wisdom: Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food? Well, I’m fresh from a one-week stay at The Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, where they take those words and put it into practice. Boy, do they ever!
The Hippocrates Health Institute has been a cutting edge leader in the field of natural and complementary health care and education since 1956. Folks come from all over the world to transform their health, and their lives, through the Institute’s innovative Life Transformation Program. Most people with serious health challenges stay for three weeks and some (like me), who just need a good “detox from life,” stay for one week. Short stay or long stay–either way–there was a whole lotta transformation going on!
The philosophy at Hippocrates is based on the belief that raw, living, enzyme-rich, antioxidant-loaded, plant-based foods—plus exercise, fresh air, positive thoughts and non-invasive therapies—are the optimum way to optimal health. It’s literally a 99% raw food diet when you’re there. They basically load you up with fresh sprout and vegetable juices, wheatgrass juice and heaps of colorful veggies and salads—a diet that’s beyond plentiful in alkalinity, oxygen and biophotons. (Biophotons are “light energy” from the sun that’s in living plants, or the “life force” of the plant, and that light energy is literally a spark plug for our very electric human cells.)
If you have a sweet tooth, get ready to have it yanked! There is NO sugar or anything sweet in sight. (Many with cancer are taking part in the program, and cancer cells feast on sugar.) You won’t even find fruit on the buffet table, and the only way you can get it is if the “nurse” writes you a “prescription” for it, based on your initial health consultation when you check in. So someone with hypoglycemia or diabetes, for instance, might be allowed to have an apple in the morning so they won’t drop from low blood sugar. Oh, and there’s NO breakfast, either. That’s because the hours between 11pm and 11am are prime time for the body to repair, restore and rejuvenate, so you let the liver and its other organ pals go about cleaning house, free from digestion duties.
Upon rising, you drink only lemon water. At 10am, you drink green juice (celery, cucumber, pea sprouts and sunflower sprouts). Those particular sprouts are super-absorbable sources of protein that your body loves, loves, loves! Then for both lunch and dinner you eat from the raw buffet of vegetables and sprouts, all organic and local. Fresh sprouts, bursting with live enzymes are the main event on your plate. Live sprouts contain 10 times the nutrition of the best organic vegetable! Wow!
But the cornerstone of the wellness program at Hippocrates is wheatgrass juice. Did you know that just 2 ounces of wheatgrass juice is the nutritional equivalent to 5 pounds of fresh vegetables? It’s the richest source of chlorophyll, which is the “blood” of plants, and its molecular structure is very close to the hemoglobin molecule of human blood. The list of health benefits of wheatgrass juice is as long as Lance Armstrong’s list of lies and cheats—from boosting the immune system to building red blood cells to detoxing heavy metals to balancing blood sugar to weight loss to purifying the blood to promoting youthful, healthy skin and so much more. At Hippocrates, they have a wheatgrass juice hut, and every day, twice a day, you make your own wheatgrass shots. The wheatgrass is grown right there in mineral-rich soil, it’s cut, you juice it, you drink it, and voila! You charge your cells BIG time!
In all honesty, I’m not sure you could find a more optimal, more healing diet than what they’re serving up. I also have to admit that you probably couldn’t find a more bland diet. Flavor-wise and variety-wise, it was nothing to write home about. I’m a cookbook author, after all, and flavor matters! But the health benefits far out-weighed the flavor-factor for me this week. It only took a couple of days before I started to feel leaps and bounds better—way more energy, better sleep, better mood, clearer eyes, clearer thinking, clearer skin—clearly, something was going on. Oh, and as a gift with purchase, I effortlessly dropped five pounds! Sweet!
For over ten years, I’ve been incorporating lots of raw food and juicing into my daily diet along with healthy cooking, but I’ve never completely immersed myself 100% in a raw lifestyle before. Could I do it 100% all the time? Nah. Probably not. The raw food lifestyle takes some getting used to because it’s fairly time-consuming to prepare raw foods. As much as I loved eating this way, I can’t imagine finding the time to grow my own sprouts or to harvest trays of wheatgrass. But if I were Jennifer Aniston or Halle Berry, I would definitely hire my own personal raw chef and I’d have no problem eating like that most of the time. Let’s hear it for the joy of not cooking! Raw! Raw! Raw!
Although I don’t eat a lot of meat, sometimes my inner, prehistoric carnivore just needs a little hint of animal protein. Might be my O blood type that calls for it. I dunno. And in the winter, when it’s minus a thousand degrees in Ottawa, where I live, some warm, cooked food seems like a basic physiological need. Warm food, shelter, clothing. Soup, chili, stew—Ladle Gaga! A diet that’s at least 50% raw and 50% cooked probably does the trick, and it’s sustainable and completely doable and realistic for the long haul. Since most North Americans are eating out of packages, boxes and bags—processed, man-made, chemicalized, “dead” foods make up the majority of meals—living in the raw more often (even getting to 70% cooked/30% raw) would be a vast improvement. For optimum health and longevity, go ahead and get eatin’ alive!
Last week, I met so many lovely and courageous souls who arrived at Hippocrates with various types and stages of cancer, or who were there to recover from chemotherapy. This was serious stuff. I was inspired and humbled and honored and grateful for the opportunity to talk to them, to hear their stories, and to witness the incredible progress and healing that was happening right before my eyes. I can tell you that they aren’t fooling around at this place! They know what they’re doing. The diet, the treatments, the lectures, the staff, the facilities, the lush, tropical location set you up for success and for achieving vibrant well-being.
If I ever had a major health issue, or if any one of my family members or friends did, I know this is where the compass would point. Even if you’re just in need of a deep detox, or stress relief, or you simply want to chisel off some cellulite, I guarantee you’ll leave feeling lighter in body, mind and spirit.
Hey, I’m no Trip Advisor, but for what it’s worth I give my eduvacation at the Hippocrates Health Institute five out of five stars!