Leslie Kenton On Raw Foods

This is my summary of a talk given by Leslie Kenton, from October 2003:

Leslie Kenton is one of the best known proponents of raw foods and juices. Among the topics she covered were the importance of eating raw and natural foods, the effect of chemicals on our hormones and why hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not the answer for menopause problems :

Mankind has been evolving for 1,000,000 years, but the recent changes in our ways of eating have been so massive in such a short space of time, that our bodies can’t deal with them. So, the closer our diet is to traditional ways of eating, the better our bodies work. For example, grains have only been cultivated in the last 4000 years, so many people are unable to assimilate them. Some people do very well on a completely vegetarian diet that includes grains & pulses. But for some people this way of eating is not appropriate, and they do better on a combination of fresh fruit & vegetables & animal proteins, like meat & fish. Ethnic origins & ancestor’s traditional ways of eating can affect this.This is one reason for the large incidence of wheat allergies. Another reason for this is the way wheat is treated & stored. Firstly, it can be stored for long periods of time (as it is bought when it is cheap), giving time for micotoxins to breed. Then it is separated into different parts & only part of it is kept. When we eat whole foods, everything needed to assimilate that food is in it. So when we eat whole grains, the nutrients needed to digest & process that grain are all present. When wheat for example, is milled, the wheat germ, which is high in nutrients, is discarded, as is the bran, which provides fibre. This makes it harder for the body to process the wheat & it must call on its stores of the missing nutrients, which then depletes those in the body.

Another example of this is sugar. In the form of sugar cane, sugar is highly nutritious, filled with fibre and lots of minerals, particularly chromium. When sugar is processed, all the fibre & nutrients are discarded. The amount of sugar eaten in the average modern diet is so large that chromium stores in the body can be severely depleted

Fats are another very important example. We need essential fatty acids for a variety of reasons. When we eat unsaturated fats as part of a whole food, they can be utilised by the body. But when the fat is extracted from the whole food, the usual way of doing this is using heat, which turns the fat into a trans fat. Trans fats cannot be absorbed by the body, and even worse, they clog up the fat receptors, so that what good fats are eaten are also unable to be absorbed. Then, because all the nutrients have been taken out, the oil starts to go rancid, and must be filtered through solvents to get rid of the smell. Margarines are also bad as the oil is hydrogenated to make it solid, which turns it into the same form as a saturated fat. Despite the hype about butter, it is much better tolerated by the body than margarine. Even people who are milk allergic can usually eat butter.

Cold pressed oils are better, but even they become unstable when heated. So if using a little oil for stir frying, always use extra virgin olive oil, as this is the most stable. This also makes a good salad dressing, having a good flavour. Flaxseed oil is a very good source of essential fatty acids, the best being Udo’s Choice, which is a blend of flaxseed & other oils, giving the perfect balance between Omega 3 & 6. (½ butter & ½ Udo’s choice, by weight, make a good spread. This should never be heated.) Other than these oils, it is best to get our fats from whole foods like nuts & seeds. Note that nuts can go rancid quite quickly. Once they have been deshelled, they should be refrigerated.

Apart from processing foods, there are other things we do to it that make it unsuitable. Pesticides, herbicides & plastic contamination create xeno-estrogens, which raise estrogen levels in the body. In men, this lowers the sperm count. But, in women, it puts the estrogen/progesterone levels out of balance, which results in a variety of disorders, like osteoporosis, ovarian cysts, cancer of the womb, fibroid tumours & endometriosis. This is why HRT is not the answer for menopause. Excess estrogen also thins the skin.

The other toxins that are present in food that has been treated in these ways are at too high a level to be processed & excreted by the body. They then get stored in the fat cells, in an attempt to keep the body stable.

When the body is detoxified, it is possible to listen to what the body is telling you about what foods are needed. This will change from day to day. When the body is loaded with toxins, these messages get distorted. For example, we often crave for what we are allergic to – that can be a clue as to what allergies are present.

Leslie has tried various ways of detoxifying. While fasting is one way to do it, in her experience raw food detoxification is better. This will include giving up foods that may be allergens, for a while. This can result in improvements not only in physical symptoms, but also with mental conditions, like depression. Dry skin brushing also helps with detoxification.

Eating foods that are out of season is also bad. Foods are often picked before they are ripe, so that they will keep better. This means that they have not developed all the nutrients that are needed to make them complete. For example, strawberries have a number of carcinogens in them. But fresh, ripe strawberries also have everything needed to counteract those. Strawberries grown on the other side of the world, picked unripe & stored for long periods of time do not. So food that is in season, locally grown, organic & unprocessed will give us the optimum diet.

Care should also be taken with supplements. Although athletes do need to supplement with extra anti-oxidants, to cope with the extra stress placed on their bodies, in general Leslie prefers to get nutrients from food. For example, the more Calcium you take, the less your body absorbs, as it busily excretes the dangerous excess. Too much calcium can be deposited in the joints. It is better to get calcium from green foods. Even spinach is OK as long as it is raw – oxalic acid only becomes a problem when it is cooked. In some cases, however, magnesium does need to be taken – it should be taken in the chelated form, 220-250mg, 3 x a day, for four months. This is how long it takes to get into the cells. Good food sources of magnesium are whole grains & animal products.

For milk intolerant people, good alternatives to yoghurt are other naturally fermented foods like miso & tempeh.


What Leslie says makes good sense to me – while we all have different dietary needs, it is better for everyone to eat foods that are organic, fresh, ripe, in season and as close to their natural state as possible. For more info on NZ organic foods, see a link on the links page.

As most of us have a less than ideal diet, though, in some cases we can supplement a little more than she says, with antioxidants and appropriate vitamins & minerals for our metabolic type. And while good eating can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to start healing, carefully chosen herbal supplements can help this process.

For those people with Hunter-Gatherer metabolism, both fasting and raw food detoxification can be dangerous, and should be undertaken with great care.

For those women approaching menopause, or already there, her book “Passage to Power” discusses all aspects of menopause, the dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy (which increases estrogen) and natural ways of dealing with hormone imbalances. I highly recommend reading it.