These are foods that have been prepared in a way that breaks down anti-nutrients (such as gluten, lectin and phytic acid) making them easier to digest.
Nutritionist and chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin says methods such as soaking, sprouting, fermenting and activating foods can boost their nutrient value.
“We talk about live food as being raw, enzyme-rich food,” she said.
“By sprouting foods we reactivate those living enzymes in them and they become easier to absorb, so your body can break them down more easily.
Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. Source:News Limited
“The way we’ve got to think about it is that our digestive system was designed to eat raw foods. It’s very well equipped to do this. Most of the time (digestive problems occur) because we have other underlying issues such as allergies, not chewing our food, eating too much food, eating on the go or other elements that prevent digestion.”
The star of Ten’s Good Chef Bad Chef says the live food movement, which is most commonly linked to vegan diets, isn’t new but has become “fashionable” again.
“It’s gathering speed because people are making these changes and feeling so good,” she said.
While the nutrient density of some foods – such as carrot and capsicum – increase when heated, two-thirds of our diet should come from living foods, she says.
“You can look at incorporating things like sprouted legumes which are a great source of protein and B vitamins. You’ve also got your live foods like raw fruits and vegetables. Then you’ve got activated nuts and seeds where we’re breaking the protein down.”
Raw foods like sashimi are also great but unsafe for pregnant women.
“Fermented foods are so rich in beneficial bacteria. Things like your kimchi and sauerkraut are brilliant – they’re raw foods but the fermenting process has increased their beneficial bacteria and there are lots of enzymes.
“If someone’s really prone to bad irritable bowel syndrome or has certain types of allergies I’d say ‘stay away’ … but I think that for the greater population, having a good combination of raw foods in your diet is very important.”
The 35-year-old, who runs cooking classes on how to prepare live foods, says they’re easy to include in the diet.
“It can be as simple as just making a raw salad, a raw soup or making a vege juice,” she said.
“You can just do simple things like having a little bowl of miso soup before your main meal or making a little bowl of sauerkraut as a side. You might use yoghurt as a dressing or miso. They’re really interesting yummy flavours, but really nutrient dense foods, that are a little different to what we’re used to having.
“You can just make adaptations; you don’t need to be 110 per cent about it.”
While sprouting legumes and activating nuts can take days, some live foods can be bought at the shops.
“Just read the label and look for a good quality product that’s not full of preservatives and hidden nasties,” she said.
Bingley-Pullin said that if you’re keen to create a live food lifestyle, a few key kitchen tools can help.
“It depends on your budget. A true traditionalist would only be using something that’s cold pressed,” she said. “You don’t want to conduct any heat so if you are using a juicer, just pulse it.
“I’ve got a yoghurt fermenter. They’re great things and they’re cheap. You could also get a dehydrator. They’re all great investments.”