Beginner’s Guide to Raw Food Detox
Ready for some spring cleaning? For your body? Then, you’re in the right place!
Today’s interview is all about using raw food to cleanse and detoxify your system to feel lighter, more energetic, and better than ever.
Sara Grove: Hi, and welcome to another exclusive Raw Food Magazine presentation. My name is Sara Grove and today we have a special guest for you. His name is Adam Graham; he’s a well-known raw chef and instructor who has taught classes, led retreats, done chef expos all over the world, and he’s also the author of “The Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox,” which is what he is here today to tell us a little bit more about.
So if you’ve ever heard about raw food detox or doing a raw cleanse and if this is anything that you’ve ever thought about doing in your own life, or maybe even if you’ve done detoxes and cleanses before but want to learn more, you are in the right place. So in this interview, you’ll get to hear right from Adam Graham himself and hear a little bit about what raw food detox is, what that means, what it looks like, how you can get started, some of the symptoms that you might experience, and how to know when it’s just a sign that it’s working and that your body is cleaning itself out and when you might need to be concerned.
Adam also shares his experience of first getting started and diving right in. He was on vacation in Thailand doing a full-week immersion experience with raw food detox and fasting. And also, at the end of the interview, you’ll get to hear about a beginner’s option for if you’re not quite sure you’re ready to jump in and do a 100 percent raw-vegan cleanse just yet. There are still steps that you can take to prepare your body for cleansing and start feeling those effects of Stages One and Two of detoxification, which you’ll get to learn more about. And last but not least, you’ll also get Adam’s favorite smoothie recipes and his advice for how to sooth your detox symptoms and ease off if this cleansing process becomes too intense. So thank you so much for being here, and take it away Adam Graham!
Adam Graham: So, here we are in 2015 and people have made it through the holidays, so that New Year’s resolution oftentimes is starting to peter out. One way that folks have been resolved in the new year is to modify their diets, upgrade what they’re putting in their bodies, potentially do a cleanse fast or detox; this is the time to sure up and rededicate yourself. So one of the things that I recommend is, you know, oftentimes people say, “Oh, I’m gonna do a spring detox or spring cleanse.” That doesn’t mean you just eat a bunch of junk during the cold months in the winter; you’ve got to hang in there, you’ve got to build that foundation. So like I said to you [Sara], I took the time to go get some tea; even though it’s warmer here in California, it’s still a little chilly—some warm tea, hot water with lemon, hot water with ginger, using a little raw honey if you’re partial to that or some Stevia, some sort of healthy sweetener if you like it sweet—but just getting that warm liquid into the body and allowing stuff to get flushed down, staying hydrated and staying warm in the cooler months is really important.
Sara Grove: I’m interested to learn a little bit more about that, that but let’s back up for just a second and introduce you so everyone can get to know you a little bit. So you’re the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox.” You’re also a raw food chef and it seems like you’ve been all around the world, chefing, demo-ing and teaching classes in the last four years. You’ve been the head chef at Camp Rawnora in Michigan, leading retreats there as well. Is there anything else we should know about you?
Adam Graham: Let’s see, that’s good for now. I mean I produce some content for the web, I do some videos and a website called LiveFoodExperience.com, so, that’s one way I share stuff. One of the things I really enjoy is making food prep videos and things like that.
Sara Grove: That’s wonderful. We’ll make sure we add those links at the end of the interview so people can go check those out. And so prior to writing your guide on raw food detox, when did you first experience a detox or start becoming interested in raw food?
Adam Graham: Well, that’s a great question. I, prior to 2006, didn’t even know what a raw foodist was. When I got introduced to raw foodism, cleansing, detoxing, fasting, colonics, juicing, like all that stuff, it was literally at the same time, and it just kind of dropped on me like a piano from a 10-story window; it was just like, “Oh wow, okay!” And I was in a really receptive and open space at that time. I was in a long-distance relationship with a woman who lives in Taiwan and I was living in Florida, and I got the bright idea to move to Taiwan and live with this woman and teach English overseas so, that’s kinda the backstory on how open I was for change, because I literally moved out of my apartment, sold my car, told my parents and everybody, “Hey, I’m moving across the world, and I’m just going to go teach English.” Prior to that, I was working in the film industry doing video production and I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna be an English teacher. I’m gonna live with this woman, my girlfriend.” So when I got over there, we took a vacation to Thailand, and that’s kind of the equivalent of someone from Chicago going to Hawaii or going to Florida or the Bahamas. That region of the world, they go vacation in Thailand; it’s easy, cheap, and tropical.
So we were going to do a little holiday there and we went to a fasting-retreat center, a spa. And that’s where I met my first raw food teacher. His name is Francis, and we did a seven-day fasting cleanse. It was all new to me. Prior to that, I ate meat, I drank beer, I drank liquor, you know, there was nothing off the table in terms of food and drink. And at this retreat, at this spa, I learned all about alkaline versus acidic diets, fluoride in water, cooking and denatured oils. I just kind of got a schooling in just about every aspect, in mild introductory things and really extreme stuff, because there’s different levels of involvement and fanaticism that you can take things to. So I was just kind of allowed to experience and hear about stuff. When you’re doing a seven-day cleanse on a little tropical paradise, you just kind of sit in sun and drink your little detox shake and you do your colonics, and you go and do the sauna or the steam room, and in between, you read and talk to people. And I talked to the raw food chef most of the time, and just picked his brain; I was full of questions.
I had my first cleansing reaction the day before I started the seven-day fasting and cleanse. And it was because my girlfriend at the time and I, we took an all-day class with the raw food chef, so we ate raw food every day; we ate everything that we made. So we started out the day with papaya with coconut yogurt on it and and bee pollen for breakfast. And then we did this class with Chef Francis all day where we were making raw pizza, we made nori rolls. I have pictures—I actually chronicle all of this is an ebook that I made called “Zen and The Art of Gadgeting”—so we ate this raw food all day and I’d never done anything like that, and I felt great.I felt really light, and all of a sudden my elimination was great; prior to that, we were traveling, so I was constipated and feeling kind of icky. All a sudden, we ate raw food all day and I was like, “You know what, I’ve got to go to the bathroom.” It was like a religious experience. Demon be gone! And so by 8:00 in the evening this day of making raw food in the kitchen with Francis and my girlfriend, I started to feel fatigued. I basically had all the characteristic symptoms of the flu coming on. I got the shakes, I felt weak. Prior to that, I was feeling super. So I tell the chef, “I’m kinda feeling weird right now,” and he was like, “Yeah, you’re probably having a cleansing reaction”—it was very casual—and I’m just like, “Cleansing reaction, what’s that?” Oh my God! Here am I in a tropical island and I was like, “I got malaria!” He’s like, “No, no, don’t worry about it. You’re fine.” I’m like, “Really?” and he’s like, “Yeah, it’s fine.” I asked, “We’re starting the fast tomorrow, should I not do that?” And he said, “No, it’s perfect. Go to sleep tonight, and when you wake up in the morning, you’ll feel better than you’ve ever felt.” And sure enough, I did. It was a rough night sleep because I went through all those cleansing stages where, like I said, I had fatigue, I felt weak and funky, and then all of sudden, I was super cold. I couldn’t have enough blankets on me, I was shivering. And then in the middle of the night, I got really hot and threw all the blankets off me. And then eventually, everything evened out, I slept like a baby, and woke up the next morning ready to rock and roll. Fortunately, I can’t imagine any other way to have been exposed and had this whole kind of diet, lifestyle, health and wellness thing introduced to me, because how can you pay for that kind of experience where everything kind of aligns? I wasn’t just reading about it, I was doing it and then feeling it, immersed in it, and then had somebody there who said, “Oh yeah, don’t worry about it.”
Sara Grove: Oh right, you’re fine, it’s normal.
Adam Graham: So I really feel for folks that pick up a book and try to dive into this, because I don’t know if I would have had the self-discipline or if I would be able to last if I didn’t have all that kind of support. The universe kind of set a safety net for me and resources that I don’t know where I’d been able to find.
Sara Grove: Yeah, you kind of had that whole immersion experience at the beginning where you could have your questions answered and have social support. That’s a really amazing experience.
You don’t want cancer to be your motivation to do a raw food detox. You want vibrant living to be your motivation to do a raw food detox.
Adam Graham: You know, when you go on and do a self-administered colonic, they’ll give you a bucket and a tube, and they give you instructions, and then you go into this room that’s built and designed for doing these bucket enemas, basically. And it’s like, “Okay, have at it. Whenever you’re done, come out, turn in your bucket, hose everything down and sterilize it,” and you just have to be okay with that.
Sara Grove: Right.
Adam Graham: Once you do it once, it’s really empowering. And then you find out going to a colon hydrotherapist costs 60 to 80 bucks, and you’re like, “Wow, I can do this on my own.” You have this level of confidence. Where reading it in a book is one thing, doing it is another. So I applaud everybody who makes the efforts, and all the little steps add up. It could be very empowering.
Sara Grove: And so from this first experience to now, obviously you’ve had a lot more experiences since then with raw food and with detoxing: what led you to write the book?
Adam Graham: Well, I started amassing recipes and writings, blog posts, pictures, and videos—all these things start cumulating and I was like,”Wow, I can probably put a book together,” and I started. I’m kind of self-taught in almost everything I do including becoming a raw food chef. I was just like, “Okay, I’m going to just read books and make food,” and eventually, people would ask me to make food and teach them, offering to pay me to do this. The next thing you know, I was a chef and a teacher. It wasn’t like I went and got some sort of certificate. I just started doing it. I find a lot of chefs who doing that; they start doing it for themselves, their friends and family get really curious, try the food, and if it’s not terrible, they go, “Oh my gosh, I love these. We’ll pay you to do this for us,” and the next thing you know, that’s your job.
Sara Grove: Yeah, it just kind of snowballs.
Adam Graham: Yeah, so I put together a basic, the “Zen and The Art of Gadgeting” book. It was my attempt at writing something like 30 pages and seeing how easily I could put it together and if it would be engaging and fun. So I did that on my own and I sold it on my website, and printed copies and sold it at events. And then I connected with a publishing agent and submitted the ebook to them after I told them what I was doing and what I wanted to do, and they said, “Hey, this is cool, you can write. We’ll get back to you.” Eventually, a woman got back to me and said, “‘The Idiot’s Guide’ is looking for a raw food detox. Can you put something together that focuses on that?” What I was working on was a broader, standard introduction to raw food with recipes and information about the background, history and that stuff. “The Idiot’s Guide” specifically wanted raw food detox.
Sara Grove: So let’s start with the basics here. So from your perspective, what is the difference, or maybe they’re the same, between raw food detox and doing a raw food cleanse?
Adam Graham: It’s all semantics and jargon. Cleansing and detox are practically synonymous. It’s just, you can look at it as, detox is the removal of toxins and cleanse is cleaning something—so they mean the same thing. “Removal of toxins; oh, clean up that and that.” So in the world of buzzwords and Doctor Oz, “What’s this week’s hot topic,” these words just get swapped and switched around.
Sara Grove: But essentially, it has the same goal and same purpose, which brings me to the next question: Why do it? Why do a raw food detox, why cleanse? What’s the goal, what’s the point?
Adam Graham: Well, there is no way to get around the fact that we’re exposed to chemicals and toxins and free radicals and all kinds of non-life sustaining things. You know, everyday environment, interactions—you can make the best effort in the world to eat the most homegrown vegetables that are planted in unicorn manure with pixie dust and water filtered through some sort of magical spring machine that vortexes it; in the end, you’ve still got to breathe the same air everybody else is breathing, you’re exposed to EMFs and this and that. In the end, just like the practice of living, you’re kind of exposed to wear and tear and things build up, and actually taking time and specifically targeting and saying “Hey, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna eat this way. I’m gonna set aside time to do certain practices, whether it’s reading exercises, or yoga, or getting a massage or going to a sauna”; doing things like that and saying, “I’m preserving this time for myself and doing a cleanse or a detox,” which is the same thing, you give yourself that “money in the bank” kind of thing. You’re investing time and effort to create health and wellness that can carry you throughout the years. It’s preventative maintenance. You don’t want cancer to be your motivation to do a detox. You want vibrant living to be your motivation to do a detox. Now yeah, if you have cancer, okay—
Sara Grove: —might be a good time to—
Adam Graham: —you know, that’s a little ways away. Now you gotta deal with the problem. As opposed to waiting for problems to happen, why not just live a problem-free life and adopt certain practices that are preventative and supportive of upgrading?
Sara Grove: I love your perspective there, the way you talk about that, because I think, in thinking about doing a cleanse or raw food detox, it’s like, “Wow, who’s it good for?” I really like the reminder that you don’t have to wait for a problem. You don’t have to wait to feel really sick or to have some diagnosis to be a wake-up call to clean the engines, to clean the system. Even if you feel fine or you’re just used to your level of wellbeing right now, it doesn’t mean there’s not another level of vibrancy that you can’t reach. And like you said, no matter how strictly you try to control your diet, we’re all exposed to toxins on a daily basis. Yeah, so I think that is the goal.
Adam Graham: Upgrade your quality of life. “Quality of life” is the term. There’s always little improvements that can be made. You can go about it in a way that’s strict and militant and is counter-productive; but if you [could be] approaching it in a way that’s accepting and flexible and you’re learning as opposed to a strict regimen. And part of that is how some people were raised; there is a level of some kind of programming that we’re subjected to in our educational system and parenting systems that aren’t conducive to personal wellness and personal growth and independence. We’re raised in a society that is dependency around every single corner, and it’s kind of not really out in the open. It’s like this stealth dependency. We’re all heavily domesticated. That’s great for a dog or a cat, but they’re dependent on their owners. We don’t want to be dependent. If we are domesticated then somebody owns us to a certain degree. We’re dependent on certain systems. So it is a holistic view. We’re not just talking about food. Food is kind of the introduction, it’s the welcome mat. What you find out after you cross that threshold is it’s not just food; it’s the music you listen to, it’s the company you keep, it’s the air you breathe, it’s the sheets you sleep on, it’s what you clean your dishes with, and your laundry. It can be overwhelming, and that’s why it’s little steps and stages and why it’s transformational in so many levels.
Sara Grove: Health has a lot more to do than just the food that you’re eating, but food can be a great introduction, and I think that’s what we try to emphasize with Raw Food Magazine is the whole range of healthy lifestyle topics. But at least I found that, and maybe you found, that a lot of times shifting your diet, shifting that fuel that you’re putting into yourself can have pretty fast and pretty significant changes. You kind of lift that mental fog, and like you said, it almost always inevitably leads into other areas of your life that you start making changes. But let me ask you this, Adam: First of all, for anyone who might be listening who’s not familiar, what would you consider a raw food detox? Is it the period of time that you eat nothing but raw foods, and how long would you recommend doing something like that for your first one?
Adam Graham: Okay, in this consideration is what was were eating prior to this idea of doing a detox or a cleanse. It has to be individualized. You have to take into consideration who you are and where you are from a mental, physical, dietary and even, if you want to get into them, spiritual element. You have to do a personal assessment if you’re capable of that. If you’re eating what’s referred to as a “standard American diet” and you’ve come to the realization that you want to do a detox, then awesome, good for you. Be careful though, because if you go too hard too fast, you’ll get discouraged. You’ll get some reactions that aren’t very pleasant and then you get discouraged. So if you’re going from a heavily processed food diet where you might be eating fast food and fried food, and canned food and microwaved foods, and then you go and say, “Hey, I’m gonna do a juice fast!” and you go and you do green juice, kale and celery and cucumber with some apple and carrot or something, you might think you’re going to die within 48 hours of doing it, maybe even 24 hours of doing it. For someone that has an extremely processed and extreme diet in the other direction in terms of the standard American diet, you could just eat raw-vegan cuisine—we’re not even talking drinking green juices or anything like that—and you would experience a dramatic shift. And you might get this out of a meal plan. If you’re in a town that has that kind of support in terms of chefs or restaurants that provide meal plans where you say, “I’m gonna do a week, a seven-day meal plan,” and you eat good food that is not calorie-restricted, it’s just all plant-based and raw-vegan stuff—it’s going to be transformational.
We are talking about holistic health. Food is just the welcome mat that leads to transformation on many levels.
Sara Grove: Save that! Like when you said the dramatic shift and there will be a transformational experience, what type of things do you expect or have you experienced or most people experienced when they undergo a cleanse?
Adam Graham: Number one is number two: You’re gonna poop your brains out. You’ve got to be prepared to actually have what’s known as regularity, which most—and when I say most I’m talking like over 60 percent of people in the “civilized” world eating processed foods and breads and grains and meats— they’re lucky if they defecate once a day. I knew someone in the healthcare field, she worked in senior care, and she would talk with some older patients and ask, “What’s your regularity?” And they’d say, “Oh, you know, two or three times.” And she was like, “Two or three times a day? That’s great.” No, two or three times a week. They would have a bowel movement two or three times a week.
Sara Grove: Wow.
Adam Graham: And that’s insanity. Where’s all that food going? So elimination is one of those taboo things people don’t like to talk about. Once you do a seven-day fast and cleanse at a cleansing spa, you get this camaraderie with the other fasting and and cleansing people, and by day three, you guys are talking about what’s coming out of you. “Oh yeah, man, it looked like this sort of slime, some sort of alien autopsy in the toilet”—and this is what you’re talking about over your breakfast cleansing shake. You realize, “This is my body, this is what’s was inside of me, this came out of me; I can talk about it.” It’s not like “Oh my gosh,” second grade “Girls have cooties.” Hey, grow up. This is part of your health or your sickness. I’ll give you an example. At Camp Rawnora, it wasn’t very frequently that we did juice fasts or any really deep-level detoxing events. I enjoyed just having weekend retreats, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, people would come and I would feed them amazing raw food cuisine. Really fresh greens from our garden, I would make lasagnas, I would make pizzas, we made soups. But everything was high vibration, very fresh, fresh-made and raw-vegan. Some of the stuff was served warm, especially when it was a colder time of the year; breads, flax seed crackers, I made onion bread. People would eat and they would love the food, and they would swear that were going to gain weight—oh, desserts; I made pies and cheesecakes and things like that. These were are all raw-vegan.
Sara Grove: Alright. That’s amazing.
Adam Graham: And they would insist that they were going to go home and weigh more than when they came out. And in three days, every single time, I never found a person that didn’t loose like two pounds. They were dumbfounded. I was like, “How many time did you go to the bathroom today?” “I don’t know man, it’s just been going right through me.” It’s like, how do you feel; it’s not going through them like you’re sick, it’s just going through you because it’s got so much fiber and hydration, and your body recognizes it as nourishment, and it’s purging all this the other stuff that’s gummed up the plumbing.
Sara Grove: That alone, of having more regularity and having a more efficient digestive system, that alone is going to change the way that you feel and contribute to weight loss if that’s what your goals are.
Adam Graham: Yeah, you’ve got to be comfortable talking about and pooping. Because you can’t not. “I want to do the raw food detox where you don’t have to deal with pooping.”
Sara Grove: Good luck with that one.
Adam Graham: Right. I’m not talking about painful or messy or anything, but it just happens, and it’’s going to happen more frequently. It’s a healthy part of being alive, and the more you do it, the better you’re going to be healthwise. I mean, if you read any literature about the biology and physiology of animals and their elimination process, most mammals, herbivores or omnivores—carnivores are different because of their physiology—but herbivores and omnivores, they eliminate within 45 minutes of having a meal. So if that’s the case, people should be going to the bathroom three times, eliminating solids three times a day. A lot of times I get asked, “How raw are you? Are you a 100 percent?” And I’m like, “How raw? I don’t have a phone app to look up and tell me my percentage of rawness.” That would be a pretty cool idea, I think I should work on that, the raw food app—“Oh, I ate a rice cake today. I made 97.6 percent.” No, but I notice that when I do have some cooked food, my elimination and regularity changes. When I’m eating in the summertime, when I’m high-raw and I go days and weeks where I’m just eating fresh stuff, like eating tomatoes right off of the vine and making pizzas and certain raw things, my elimination was clockwork. I wake up in the morning, do my skin brushing, tongue scraping, then I have a bowel movement; then I go drink some water with lemon and I eliminate again; and then I eat some fruit and then I go again. It’s like, wow. If I have a day job, this would be strange, because people would say, “Dude, that guy goes to the bathroom like every hour, in the toilet; what’s going on with him?” This is crazy, because most people would think I’m a freak, but this is what it means when you read a book and it says that animals, typically in the wild, eliminate literally within less than an hour after eating anything. I eat an avocado and 45 minutes, it comes out of me. It’s a meal from two meals prior, but it does need to be in a timely manner because what you get when you have a diet that’s void of fiber and has all of these constipating and complex foods, chemicals and things that prevent proper elimination, you get fermentation and you get putrification and rancidity, all these other things that then cascade into health issues; a lot of them cascade into inflammation, chronic inflammation. You know, there are a lot of holistic health advocates, like Doctor Bernard Jenson said that all diseases begin in the gut and that chronic inflammation is basically the foundation of all illness. Auto-intoxication, where you introduce toxins that are self-generated, it’s from basically eating stuff that’s supposed to give you life and energy, and if it doesn’t get eliminated in time, then it starts to putrefy and create gut flora, then becomes unbalanced; then you’re getting all this physiology and chemistry and biology of gut bacteria. If you just eat a natural diet that’s balanced—if you eat dates all then you might be in trouble—but if you work on the dates and you have some nuts, then some avocado in this balanced way, then you have this balanced digestive process and all these things just seem to be in harmony. But then when you swing too far one way or the other, then you’re going to get into this chemistry and biology and next thing you know, you’re in the doctor’s office and they’re cutting out your gallbladder or something. One of the reasons I do this is because it keeps thing simple. You can even destroy your health on vegan food. French fries are vegan, technically. “I’m a vegan, I’m going to eat french fries and potato chips all day.” No, you’re not going be healthy. You’ll be more compassionate and save the planet maybe more so, but you’re not going save yourself so much. I don’t know if I got off on a bunny trail there, but…
Sara Grove: A little bit, but it’s a good trail to go down. Yeah, and I think probably the fastest results that you’ll notice once you switch and start eating raw food and doing your first cleanse or your first detox is that regularity and those bowel movements and just feeling lighter.
Adam Graham: Okay, a second thing is the skin. Your skin will also reflect. I think David Wolfe mentions it in a lot of his writings, that the reflection of your inner health is your skin. So you can expect changes in your skin, your face, your arms and things like that. It might be a little shocking at first, you might have a rash or break out or something like that, but that’s characteristic of a cleansing reaction, some sort of skin eruption. The one that’s past, and what helps facilitating getting through that would be some sort of colon hydrotherapy, whether it’s enemas, colonic cleaning, going and seeing a colon hydrotherapist.
Sara Grove: And what kind effect does that have? Why is that important?
Adam Graham: The bowels are your greatest, the most effective way of eliminating large amounts of toxins from your body. So if you can assist that in any way, then you’re going to get the most amount of toxins out at one time; colon hydrotherapy just kinda helps that along. What you’re getting when you have this cleansing reaction is you eliminate the toxins that are sealed away in fat. That’s the body’s efficient way of kind of quarantining it, it’s like it puts it in a timeout, but them forgets about it. So it stores some fat around it and puts it in your thighs or your hips or around your stomach, then kinda forgets about it, and that’s where you get this accumulation. So when you go and let’s say do a raw food detox, and you’ve been eating smoothies and salads and these really hydrating and fiber-rich foods, after 24 or 48 hours, your body goes, “Holy cow, I’m getting everything I need to do some cleaning.” So you have what’s called Stage One detox and then Stage Two. The Stage One is where fat cells are broken down; they convert some of that fat to energy, burn it, and then, once that fat has been dissolved, basically it lets what I like to call the prisoners out of their cells. So the Stage Two portion of this detox is escorting those prisoners from their cells out of your body. And that’s through typically urination, defecation, through your skin—so perspiration is a form of detox, it comes out through your skin pores—respiration—your lungs are also a part of the detox process. So I like to say that if you expect to detox through your lungs and your kidney and your skin, and you just kinda forget about the GI track, about your defecation, perspiring the toxins out is like pushing a banana through a screen door. Can you get the visual there? You just kinda smooshing it through there; defecation is opening the door and throwing it out, literally just swinging it into the backyard to do whatever it’s gotta do. So you want to use all the tools but you’ve got to realize some are more efficient than others. And that’s why part of my little detox protocol is the enemas, colonic skin brushing, sauna, massage, cardiovascular exercise, and even breath work with pranayama breathing. So you’re basically engaging all the detox organs in a balanced way, and you can move through, you know, the skin eruptions will go away. Oftentimes, one symptom you know that detox is happening when you get what I call “the spins”: when you’ve been sitting down and you stand up and all of a sudden, you get a head rush. That is very typical when someone is on a juice fast or some sort of water fasting.
Sara Grove: And what is generating the spin? What’s behind that?
Adam Graham: What’s happening is your body is flushing toxins. What I was describing was the fat cells break down and the toxins are being released into the bloodstream. They go into the bloodstream and then eventually, they transfer into the large intestine; that deliver also releases toxins. They go from certain parts in the body and typically end up in the highest concentrations in the gut, but they have to get there first and they travel through the bloodstream. So what happens is the blood becomes a little thicker than usual. And so this change in viscosity of the blood, though it’s small, it’s discernible. You notice it because when you stand up, the body is not able to compensate like it typically does. It takes a few seconds longer for the body to compensate and get enough blood to the head, so you get light-headed.
Sara Grove: One of the very first interviews we ever conducted for Raw Food Magazine was with a woman named June Lawn who used raw juice fasting to heal herself from stage 4 breast and bone cancer. And one of the things that she mentioned, because she was having to get tested and have blood drawn on a regular basis since the cancer had been spreading, and one of the first thing she started to noticing from one check-up to the next, after two weeks of doing the raw vegan thing, her blood, the viscosity of it and the color of it changed dramatically.
Adam Graham: Okay, well that’s good.
Sarah Grove: Yeah, so there’s definitely something to it. I love that you’re talking about these things because obviously, there’s the whole slew of positive, physical effects that you start to feel when you’ve done a detox. But there’s also these things we’re talking about right now that are detox symptoms, which in a lot of ways are telling you, “Hey, it’s working.” You’re not introducing so many new toxins at a time, so your body is finally able to releasing those things that are stored in your fat cells and process to your liver and kidney and all of those things. And so you’ve talked about the spin, maybe some headaches, flu-like symptoms, lethargy, that kind of thing. My concern, maybe if I was someone who has never done it before, is how do I know it’s normal? At what point, at what severity should I be concerned? How long can I expect to have these detox symptoms? What would you recommend to a first-timer?
Adam Graham: Well, one is to read about that stuff. Folks that can be really headstrong and impulsive and they just kinda fling themselves at this, they’re going to likely have a more unpleasant experience, and unexpectedly unpleasant. Because you know, they just rush into it and they don’t know what to expect. There’s tons, tons of literature, whether it be books at the library or you go online on forums or blogs or whatever. Then talk to people have done it, so know what to expect, and then take it slow. Step by step. Like me? I’m one of those people who, if I go and get a massage, I need somebody that’s 250 pounds throwing elbows for me to even feel anything. So with a detox-type thing, I needed to eat raw foods all day long to feel it, and then that convinces me. After the fact, someone might say “I told you so,” but I’m not going to hold it against them because it’s cool, it’s nice to know that this works. I don’t want to be in a situation where all my teeth fall out of my face and then I go, “Oh wow, this really works.” If I’m going to get a headache, a cold, the spins, then fine, I can handle that, but if it’s something like you might lose your gallbladder, I don’t want to press that. So in terms of how to proceed for somebody, they educate themselves on what to expect and then have a game plan. Have a journal as well, so you can document what’s going on. And then, as you experience the symptoms, you can check in and see if other people are experiencing that. Have some sort of support because doing this by yourself, which I did when I was in Taiwan, I had the opportunity to experiment on myself and I did some extreme stuff like water fasting, I did dry fasting. None of those things I recommend doing, because they create such extreme reactions that you might be think you’re on death’s door, which I did. I mean, I experienced one that I journaled about where everything was going straight through me to the point where it was coming out like weird, clear little gelatin things. It was strange stuff. Kinda scary. I caused that to happen because I was doing water fasts. I was doing really intense stuff and I was getting really intenses reaction, so once everything cleared and I made it through that, I felt great. It was kind of like strength training, where you have these periods where you plateau and you hit a wall and you think, “Oh my gosh, it’s not going to get any better.” And then, all of sudden you’ve kind of upgraded.
Sara Grove: But it’s nice to know at least that it’s not necessary or even necessarily advisable to jump in and go that extreme. You can ease into it and still have a lot of benefits.
Adam Graham: It doesn’t have to be horribly unpleasant, but it’s kind of like the karma of eating. There’s no free rides. If you ate fried Snickers and corndogs for 15 years of your life and then you change your diet dramatically and you want to do detox, you’ve got to pass through corndog and fried Snicker land to get to the promised land, to new, vibrant health. You have to revisit some aspect of that, and it’s going to be unpleasant. But you can spread it out over time or you can go through it really fast. It’s kind of what you’re capable of doing. But keep in mind you know to expect something along those lines and you don’t get discouraged or you don’t get freaked out and scared. One of the ways I found to remediate or slow down a cleansing reaction was just to eat something cooked. And specifically, I found that making an “In case of emergency break glass,” and there’s a sweet potato behind it; you pull that sweet potato out, you put it in the crockpot or the oven and you bake that sucker and you eat it, and everything kind of normalizes. And that’s the body switching from Phase One and Two detox to, “Oh, here’s a complex carbohydrate.” The stomach stops all the other stuff. “We’ve got to digest this cooked food.” Sweet potato is great nourishment, but you’re not going transform your health eating sweet potato.
Sara Grove: Right, you won’t be in the detoxification stages.
Adam Graham: Yeah, it’s just going to maintain wherever you are. Your body will use it as energy and nourishment, but what we’re talking here is raw food detox or juicing or doing smoothies is something that allows your body to go above and beyond, to engage in processes of cleansing and renewal that it typically does not have the capacity or is not equipped to do any other time. And that’s why you set time aside and you say, I’m gonna do this, take a week off. And when you’re experiencing discomfort from doing things like fasting, your will is going to be weakened and you’re going to say, “Okay, you know, I did two days of fasting. I’m good, let’s go to the ball game,” or whatever you do.
Thats what its all about — transformation from the inside out using what is natural, simple and available …it’s the future of food.
Sara Grove: I think it’s a great thing to point out because as you were talking about when you were reflecting on your Thailand experience and your seven-day fast and retreat, when you’re in a setting like that, where you’ve got the support, you’ve got the juices and meals being made for you, you’ve got time to relax and you’re in a the beautiful environment, it’s easy to stick with it. Everyone around you is doing it too. And so being really mindful of when and how you’re choosing to do it and being mindful of those detox symptoms. And I love that you’re threw in—I was going to ask you how you can relieve some of those detox symptoms—and I love how you throw in the sweet potato idea. If someone is trying it at home and they have their family, their kids, their job, it’s not always going to be practical to handle severe fatigue or headaches or things like that that might come up. So an easy way to ease yourself off is doing that, introducing a baked sweet potato or you know, some cooked vegetables, it’s going to lessen the symptoms a little bit. Is there anything else you suggest that might help people find comfort during these detox stages?
Adam Graham: If they’re comfortable doing enema, that will actually help move you through the next stage as opposed to stopping everything from happening. But you could do an enema and have a big sweet potato afterwards as well. So one, flush everything, and then stop things from happening. In terms of comforting and stopping things, one way of stopping it is eating. And then your choices of the things to eat, there’s bad choices and better choices; so like I said, there’s the sweet potato, it could just be a big white potato, butternut squash, steamed vegetables, quinoa. You know, keep it simple. And then, to continue cleansing but try to remediate the effects and push through it and keep going, like I said, the colonic and enema tends to be the most effective. Now I’ve read and heard people that say that they’ve not felt the relief they expected after doing a colonic or an enema. Then, staying hydrated too. That helps to flush stuff out. Some people, if they’re doing a green juice fast, they become so disgusted by the green juice that they don’t want to go on anymore because it makes them nauseous to drink green juice. I’ve heard people that had success then switching to water with lemon, that their body just says, “Stop giving me the juices.” It’s kind of like the nausea people sometimes feel when they have wheatgrass juice. So that might be a way. But these are ways to continue the detox process but to switch it up a little bit. Now, the Gershin approach from Doctor Kellog, he uses coffee enemas, and there’s recipes for that online and in books; that’s an enema with filtered or distilled water and then there’s an ounce or two of organic coffee concentrate. The theory behind why that works is that the chemical compounds in the coffee when introduced to the large intestine are absorbed through the intestinal walls and they stimulate the liver into flushing more toxins that might be recirculating in the body. Some people do feel the effects of the caffeine potentially from doing coffee enemas. I personally never, and I felt lighter and had more energy after doing a coffee enema, but I couldn’t really attribute to the caffeine; I think it’s more that I eliminated whatever burden was on my liver and the toxins in my intestines. And I’m actually really sensitive to caffeine. If I drink coffee, I’m totally loopy and jittery and wired, and knowing that if I drink it I feel this way and then when I do any type of colonic irrigation with it and I don’t get that, I can’t say that it’s the caffeine. Those are two things. But these are things that a little more advanced. Your average person, like I wrote “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Raw Food Detox,” the average person that picks this book up might not be ready for that. I mean, I put it in there. It was really a blessing to be able to write this book because it allowed me to honor multiple approaches. You know, this worked for me, this didn’t work for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to include it. For example, the 80-10-10, Doctor Doug Graham approach, high-carb raw-food diet where it’s predominantly fruits, it’s kind of more in line with the natural hygiene approach. I tried that for a period of time and I didn’t find it to be ideal for me. Now, if I were to talk to someone that’s a fruitarian, they might argue with me that I didn’t do it long enough or I did it wrong. That’s fine, I might be willing to do it again with some guidance. But right now it’s like, “Okay, hey I’m doing it this way and it works for me. I honor what you’re doing, I acknowledge it.” I give people information, and in “The Idiot’s Guide of Raw Food Detox” you can look at that and you know there are people called fruitarians and they do this. And then there’s people that follow more of what Gabriel Cousens teaches at Tree of Life, which is low-glycemic and individualized according to people’s constitution, whether they’re a fast oxidizer or slow oxidizer or parasympathetic-dominant. This is all kind of mumbo-jumbo jargon, but for someone who’s looked into that and experimented with it, it totally makes sense for them: “Okay, well, I’m a fast oxidizer so I need so I need to eat proteins and fats in higher amounts in comparison to carbohydrates.”
Sara Grove: For someone that’s then preparing to do a detox, and we’ll just start simple, moving into just all raw food for a period of time, whether it’s seven, 10, or 21 days. Let’s say it’s a couple weeks away. Do you have any recommendations for how someone can prepare themselves physically, mentally, emotionally to undergo a detox so they can have the most success with it?
Adam Graham: Yeah, if I were to turn back the clock and I wanted to embark on a raw food detox, and that’s one of the things when I started writing this book is I put myself in those shoes and said, “If I didn’t have the situation where I went to Thailand and got to do the seven-day fast and cleanse, then how would I go about this?” One, I would set the date that I was going to start, whatever level, if I was just going to do all raw food for a week, seven days, I would set the date and be excited about it. I’d start making plans and my menu. And prior to that, I would work on an elimination diet, where I would substitute things that were part of my daily routine and habitual, and not say I’m never going to eat these again, because your ego side will tend to battle that: “I’ll show you; I’m gonna eat this whole bag of potato chips.”
Sara Grove: Yeah, backfire. I love how that happens sometimes. As soon as you’re really committed you end up eating more junk. Yeah. That’s a great point.
Adam Graham: You say, “Okay, it’s not never ever again, but I’m not going to have it in the house this month. And you kind of do a purge thing and you substitute it. If you were doing potato chips before, you switch that out and do something a little more friendly, like baked crackers or rice cakes or something like that. And you kind of ease yourself into it instead of going from the cooked heavy foods to “Hey, I’m doing this raw food for a week.” So yeah, you start to add salads or you may do steamed vegetables. In “The Idiot’s Guide,” there are four stages of menu plans, and they’re labeled A,B,C and D. The A menu is the introductory one, and there’s cooked food in that, but it’s all raw vegan. I’m looking at Program A, Day 1 menu. It’s mostly raw; in the morning you have couple pieces of fruit and then you have some sprouted whole grain bread, and you can toast that or you can have it the way it is. But that’s a cooked element, that bread. Midday you have a raw lunch, lettuce wraps, some flax crackers. You have a smoothie for a snack. And then in the evening, you have butternut squash, baked squash or something to that effect. That’s something you could do, whether you want to do five days eating like that prior to your all-raw or just a couple of days. It’s going to help whatever degree you do it.
Sara Grove: It won’t be quite as shocking to the body.
Adam Graham: Yeah, and so the symptoms, any type of reaction that come on will be milder, but you’ll experience them. As we said before, the number one cleansing reaction will be number two. And you’ll notice that even just by shifting to a simpler cooked fare. And eliminating animal products a week prior to doing the cleanse will help. The meat, dairy, eggs; if you can say okay the week prior to this, you eliminate that and then, the following week then you go all raw vegan, that’s going to help take the edge off too, because flesh foods tend to be acidicfying to the body and mucus-forming. So if you can give yourself a week of mucus-free eating and more alkaline foods, your body is going to have that period of time to make a gradual shift. Going from eating meat on a Sunday and on Monday you’re doing all greens, that’s going from highly acidic food to “Wow, I just ate the most alkaline meal I’ve had in my entire life.” Everyone is familiar with the volcano science project, where you take baking soda and vinegar and you put them together. Can you imagine that in your body? It’s not literally like you’re going to foam over like a fifth grade paper-mache volcano, but…
Sara Grove: It’s a really great point because there’s a counterintuitive of instinct to say “Okay, I’m going to start my detox tomorrow, so I’d better hurry up and cram all my favorite junk in now.” But that’s only going to hurt you later. If you want to have a pleasant experience, it’s easier if you give yourself that space to transition.
Adam Graham: And coming out of it too is really critical. People neglect to think about that. “Oh well, I did seven days. I’m going to reward myself with steak and potatoes” or something like that. That’s going to put a hurt on you big time. The perspective I have on this kind of change in diet and lifestyle is that you’re gaining trust and rebuilding your relationship with your body. And so, after seven days of having this really wonderful reunion and almost like this new relationship with your body where you’re giving it high-fiber, hydrating, nourishing foods—and then all of sudden day seven comes. And then day eight,the next day, you betray everything you did. Your body is going to be like, “What just happened? I’m breaking up with you. You’re in timeout again.” So if you feel like, “Hey, I’m going to go and reward myself with something that’s counterproductive to my health,” expect to get a dramatic reaction. So you want to come out of it gradually if that’s what you want to do. I found that I didn’t want to come out of it at all. I didn’t wanna see what would happen if I did re-introduce certain foods that were kind of flagged, like, “Oh, people say that this causes inflammation and it’s not good. Well, I’m going to try it and see what happens.” Like I had dairy ice cream after abstaining from diary for three months. It went through me like… I felt like a goose. It just flushed right through me. So I quickly found out that there was something about dairy products that my body wasn’t really happy with. It took me three months of abstaining from it for it to be able to tell me that, because I was having it on a daily basis for decades. The communication can’t really come through when it’s drowned out by this constant presence of some sort of food substance. It has to be gone for a while, then you reintroduce it and the signals are loud and clear.
Sara Grove: Yeah, I’ve had a similar experience, and I know a lot of other people have too. You know, you’ve heard and you can know in your head that a lot of things aren’t good for you, but you don’t actually know it with your body until you’ve gotten rid of it for a period of time. And then trying it again is a surefire way to be like, “Oh yeah, that’s why I don’t want to be eating that. I remember now. I have a renewed commitment.”
Adam Graham: Yeah, so the flagged foods that are likely going to give you some sort of reaction are meat products, dairy products, soy. Oftentimes even when folks are vegetarians and have been doing soy all their lives or for a long period, if they eliminate it for a while and reintroduce it, they might find that they have a soy allergy. Soy is a really tricky one, especially when you’re talking about vegetarians and vegans and health and wellness, that kind of thing. You have the folks that are meat eaters and are really attached to meat. Once you have folks that have given up meat and you get folks that become attached to soy, and you try to have a discussion about, “Is soy really an ideal food?” some people can get upset. “You’re going to take away my soy? What’s left?” But I have come across, and personally I find that if I have tempe, it sits better with me than soy and other forms, and that’s, I believe, because it’s fermented. Fermentation is an amazing food-making natural process that has the ability to transform certain nutrients or even anti-nutrients into things that are healthy or digestible and usable.
Sara Grove: Probiotics in fermentation are only recently starting to have a resurgence in the United States whereas there are other parts of the world where fermented foods are fairly common.
Adam Graham: Fermented foods are highly prevalent in all cultures and all foods, but unfortunately in United States, we have fermented foods that have been highly processed, so they’re dead ferment, which is kind of like, “Well, we kinda half way of it but…” Beer, wine and vinegar are present in everybody’s homes, or most people’s homes. Unfortunately, most of them are all dead. So you’ve got your dead beer, you’ve got your dead wine, you’ve got your dead vinegar. I tell people at least get apple cider vinegar, then you’ve got something living, that’s a worthwhile ferment. And then sauerkrauts and things like that too. A lot of times if you get that in the deadzone, that middle area of the grocery store, you know that if it’s technically “shelf-stable,” then you know it’s been killed.
Sara Grove: Yes, probably not still living.
Adam Graham: If they’re in the cooler, then you know there’s a good chance that this is alive. That’s where you find your yogurts and your sauerkrauts, your misos, your kimchis, your things like that are potentially alive.
Sara Grove: Sounds like we’ve gotten a really good picture of what it looks like to undertake a raw food cleanse. I would say before I let you go, for the beginner, like in your book, for the “raw food idiot” who’s trying that for the first time, or maybe they’re on the fence still; they’ve heard a lot about detox and cleanses and always wanted to try one but never quite made that plunge. Is there any advice or encouragement that you have or that maybe someone told you? What would you tell someone who’s just really not sure if they want to go there or not?
One of the reasons I do raw food is because it keeps things simple. Because you can even destroy your health eating vegan food. French fries are technically vegan!
Adam Graham: Okay, I’m glad you asked me that. It’s a great question. My recommendation for someone is, I’m all about ease. What’s easy into adopt, to bring into my routine, and something that’s going to give me some results? There’s nothing worse than getting some supplement or some juice in the bottle that’s got all these claims and you drink it for three months and you spent $300 on it, and you don’t feel or experience anything, and you’re investing all this voodoo whatever. Smoothies. I’ve found that smoothies are great first step introduction. The one challenge with smoothies is to get a really smooth smoothie, you need a high-power blender. You can adopt or add smoothies into your daily diet for whatever duration. Give it a week at least and try it out. You’ve got to get a menu, you’ve got to get a smoothie you like. There’s nothing worse than adding something to your diet that you hate to drink every day. So if you can’t make it taste good then get some help.
Sara Grove: Do you have a favorite? What’s your favorite smoothie?
Adam Graham: Let’s see… For one, spinach. If you’re not really a spinach fan, you could use other types of greens, but I find spinach to be the easiest green to put in a smoothie that is the least dramatic in flavor in terms of affecting the taste. It’s kind of a neutral green. Spinach makes smoothies creamy, which is a neat aspect. If you’re making a smoothie, it’s nice to put in filtered water, good clean water, or if you have some coconut water; you want to have a bit of liquid in there, so your smoothie is sippable, unless you want it really thick so you can eat it with a spoon. Spinach being the main green in a smoothie, I’ll take spinach and maybe a couple of oranges, cut them in half and pop out the seeds. Then I like to put a little bit of fresh ginger; if your blender is not super powerful, you might want to grate it first maybe using a microplane or a little box grater. Ginger is really great in smoothies. You can add some banana; oftentimes it makes it extremely sweet. With oranges, I like to add either half an apple or maybe a little pineapple.
Sara Grove: That sounds delicious.
Adam Graham: Right. And then I enjoy putting a little bit of cinnamon in there. If the oranges are organic or grown in your own backyard where you know they haven’t been sprayed, put a little orange zest in the smoothie. And blend that guy up, tweak it to where you like it, but that’s kind of the foundation. Most people’s exposure with smoothies is like they go to some fast food smoothie shop and they get mango-banana-pineapple-smoothie. That’s a sugar bomb. It tastes great but the key—and Victoria Boutenko blessed us with her book “Green For Life,” which was the first green smoothie book, I think. Maybe there might have been something earlier out there that she learnt from, but she started the green smoothie revolution, which many other chefs and folks have taken up and expanded on. But getting the greens in the smoothie is really critical, because the fruits, where you do one of these super fruit smoothies, the fruit initiates detoxification; the greens help with remineralization, and you can’t do one and not do the other, or you’re going to end up in trouble. Because when you detox, you lose some of your mineral as your system is flushing out, and most people are already deficient in minerals. So they do a fruit smoothie detox thing, they’re going to end up demineralized at the end of it all. So you’ve got to get the minerals with the green, and that’s why you get these heaping handfuls of spinach in there. You can also put herbs, you can put some basil in a smoothie. There’s sweet basil; you can make amazing smoothie with fresh basil in it. If you’re a fan of cilantro, cilantro in there with citrus is nice.
Sara Grove: I love cilantro!
Adam Graham: Some people hate cilantro.
Sara Grove: Yeah, it’s a polarizing food.
Adam Graham: Tarragon’s really interesting. Smoothies can be the gateway drug to raw food detox. It kinda open the door. Once someone really experiences it, give it a week; just do a smoothie in a morning. I’ve found people that do smoothie in the morning and stop drinking coffee. They were like, “Oh my gosh!” If you can break a coffee addiction, you pretty much can do anything, because coffee, next to cigarettes; coffee and cigarettes are two of the most addictive substances. There’s a lot of support out there in terms of smoothie recipes recipes and smoothie menus and stuff. A smoothie detox is brilliant. For me, because I like things easy, it’s like, “I’m just going to drink a smoothie. I’ll throw a bunch of stuff in the blender, make it taste good.”
Sara Grove: And you’re done.
Adam Graham: Pineapple, mango, you know. All of these things I love, and then if I just throw a ton of spinach in there, I’m not really going to taste it, it just turns into green. Learn to embrace green. Most people see something green and they’re like, “Oh no, I don’t want to drink that.” But if you give them a brownie, they’re going to eat it. It’s like a turd. They won’t drink something green. What does green look like that makes it so offensive? But yet they’ll eat something that looks hideous.
Sara Grove: Like purple Lucky Charms.
Adam Graham: Like that, or things that are brown or black or like a hamburger. If you’ve ever actually looked at a hamburger that’s been cooked, it got a little fats and it’s full of grease and it’s all gristly. It’s like wow, it’s a really hideous thing, and yet people are mesmerised by it. Now you have to be prepared for a total shift in your perspective, and it’s okay to be kind of reluctant at first. But if you want to do this and you want to be really be open to the benefits and the positive change, you have to overcome some of these little fears and be like “I’m going to try this, I’m going to give it a shot.” If you just shut it down—“Oh, well that’s green, I’m not going to touch it”—you’ve lost.
Sara Grove: That’s a great one for someone who’s just getting there. Starting out with just a week of green smoothies for breakfast is a great way to get started and more often or not at the end of the week, the way they’re feeling is you’re gonna wanna do more. So, I like that. Well, before I let you go, Adam, tell everyone where they can find out more about you, where they would be able to pick up a copy of “The Idiot’s Guide To Raw Food Detox,” all that good stuff.
Adam Graham: Oh I will. “The Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox,” I can’t beat the price on Amazon, so I mean, I would say, “Hey, go to my website and I’ll send you a signed copy, which I will if you contact me through my website: LiveFoodExperience.com.” I also have a website, All Roads Lead to the Same Place, ChefAdamsCreations.com. If you contact me through that or find me on Facebook at Adam A. Graham, I have an “Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox” page on there. You should be able to track me down. I can send you a signed copy but I can’t beat the prices on Amazon for “The Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox.” But I can, if you do contact me, I’ll send you a copy of “Zen and The Art of Gadgeting.” I’m part of that support community out there. I’m more than happy to share information, share my experiences and connect. I do demos around the country and as I like to say, “Have vitamix, will travel.” If you want to schedule an event and can hold of me, I’m more than likely to come out and participate and blow your mind. It’s all about transformation from the inside out using what’s natural, simple, available, and the future of food.
Sara Grove: Thank you so much. This is Adam Graham. Again, track him down on Youtube, Facebook, visit his website LiveFoodExperience.com and you can even email him and ask for a signed copy of “The Idiot’s Guide To Raw Food Detox.” And if you want him to come represent an event near you or invite him to your area, go ahead and get in touch with him as well. Thank you Adam for sharing your experiences and knowledge with us today. We really appreciate it.
Adam Graham: Yeah, thank you Sara and Raw Food Magazine. It’s great to be able to get this information out there and connect to readers who are interested in this way of living and eating and being.
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