Donna Karen does it, Alicia Silverstone sells it and it might just be the secret to Demi Moore’s coupling with a gorgeous man 15 years her junior. What is more, you really should know about it if you are looking to lose weight.

I am talking about “raw food”, a movement that has come out of the extremes of the health industry to take its place firmly in the spotlight.

I must admit my first encounter with a “raw fooder” (as they are generally known) was not a positive one. Cornered on my student travels in Thailand by a gaunt, wild-eyed, sandal wearing ‘guru’ in Thailand he told me that raw food was his miracle secret and that I simply must follow his lead.  It put me off for years.

However, a few years later during a TV series I worked alongside one of the world’s most famous raw food chefs, the enigmatic Chad Sarno, who, amongst others, is best mates with raw food fan Woody Harrelson. His menus are eye-poppingly weird but tasted sublime. I had finally succumbed and these days we now have a sublime raw food detox available at the LifeCo venues. 

Having spent the last few years in and out of London it struck me that raw food really is going mainstream. One of the funkier fast-food outlets all over the capital now sells raw chocolate brownies, the ubiquitous juice bar is simply everywhere and the word ‘raw’ is splashed across supermarket packaging much like the organic movement started out a few years back.

But what of the science? The pro-raw frat pack talks enigmatically about enzymes. Enzymes are biomolecules that catalyze (i.e., increase the rates of) chemical reactions. Nearly all known enzymes are proteins. In the 1930's, when enzymes first came to the attention of biochemists, some 80 were identified; today, over 5,000 have been discovered.

Most excitingly for many, lipase, a fat-consuming enzyme, is becoming more popular in weight loss supplementation. But the raw movement itself is focused less on the weight loss and instead on the activity of the enzyme.

The enzymes that concern the raw food movement are the food enzymes. Enzymes are only present in raw foods, and they initiate the process of digestion in the mouth and stomach. So, in a very real way raw food is nature’s neat little bundle, complete with tools to assist its absorption in its most valuable form without robbing the body’s finite resources.

According to the late Dr. Edward Howell, a noted pioneer in the field of enzyme research, a diet reduced in enzymes (a typical western diet) is associated with shortened life span, illness and lowered resistance to stress.

His immortal words may prove why Demi Moore is keeping up with her younger man, biologically at least.

“The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.”  Put simply, eat raw food to stay on the right side of the energy equation.

Hollywood’s elite is not the first society to catch on. Almost all traditional societies incorporate raw, enzyme-rich foods into their cuisine and indeed these diets also traditionally include a certain amount of cultured or fermented foods, which have an enzyme content that is actually enhanced by the fermenting and culturing process.


As a good starting point experiment with 25% of your diet raw. Add a veggie based smoothie breakfast, a large salad at lunch and snacks of crudities in the afternoon and you are easily hitting the target.