Part II: Karen Ranzi
Author, lecturer, Health Coach, Raw Vegan Chef, and speech pathologist, Karen Ranzi, M.A. authored and published her book Creating Healthy Children in 2010. Her fresh plant-based recipe book and a book about healing acne naturally will be available in 2013.
Karen travels throughout the United States and abroad delivering her impassioned message about raising healthy families. She has presented for universities, schools, health institutes, and associations. In June 2012, Karen was the keynote speaker at a health congress south of Moscow, organized by the Russian Association of Naturopathy.
Karen received enthusiastic audiences during her health and wellness workshops at the University of South Carolina, Penn State University, and Ramapo College. She was keynote speaker at Lesley University’s Obesity Fair in Cambridge, MA. She is a staff writer for Get Fresh Magazine, VegWorld Magazine, Vibrance Magazine and SAFbaby.com. Karen has been a featured guest on numerous TV and radio talk shows including several episodes on Dr. Gary Null’s Progressive Radio Network. She was the featured speaker on The Living Healthy Show of New Bedford, MA in the Fall of 2012, and that show is currently being viewed on Peg Media and 14 cable networks across the U.S.
Karen is also a speech pathologist working with children for over 30 years, and specializing with autistic children for the past 12 years. She incorporates health coaching into her program and has seen significant progress in the children’s communication skills and ability to focus and learn.
Karen found the natural path that enabled her son to heal from asthma, chronic ear infections and multiple food allergies in 1994. By means of her education, life-changing personal experiences and sincere desire to share her message, Karen has been able to guide thousands of families toward developing excellent health.
Hey, it’s Caryn Hartglass, we are back its March 19, 2013 and we are talking about food, my favorite subject. It’s All About Food. I am here in the studio with Karen Ranzi. I haven’t seen Karen in a long time, but it’s good to have her here in the studio. She is an author, lecturer, Health Coach, Raw Vegan Chef, and speech pathologist. She has authored and published her book Creating Healthy Children in 2010. Her fresh plant-based recipe book and a book about healing acne naturally will be available in 2013. There is a whole lot more about Karen and you can go to www.resposibleeatingandliving.com and read it. Right now we are just going to be talking.
Caryn Hartglass: Welcome to It’s All About Food Karen.
Karen Ranzi: Thank you Caryn. It’s exciting to be here.
Caryn Hartglass: Now I met you maybe 8 or 9 years ago when I was going through my raw food journey. I was all raw for about 2 years.
Karen Ranzi: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: But I am not anymore.
Karen Ranzi: We met at a raw foods, well vegan café that had half the menu raw.
Caryn Hartglass: Which one was that?
Karen Ranzi: Caravan of Dreams.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, Right. Caravan of Dreams has a wonderful, wonderful menu of raw food and vegan food.
Karen Ranzi: I think that is the best way to go about it because it really gives people a choice. Everything is vegan. That way people who want to follow through with raw foods, there is plenty of raw vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s still one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan. It interesting because it’s been around since the 90’s I think and there have been so many other restaurants that have either come and gone or come and stayed that are vegan. It still has, I think, my favorite menu.
Karen Ranzi: Really. They have a great menu there.
Caryn Hartglass: They have, I wasn’t even thinking about talking about this and now I am really hungry. Laughs. They have wonderful salads on their menu.
Karen Ranzi: They have so many choices. It’s fantastic. It is really a vegan paradise.
Caryn Hartglass: Vegan paradise. I used to go there a lot in my raw days.
Karen Ranzi: Yeah, definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you have been, you’re on an all raw diet?
Karen Ranzi: I am on an all raw diet.
Caryn Hartglass: And how long have you been doing that?
Karen Ranzi: 19 years.
Caryn Hartglass: 19 years! Oh my goodness!
Karen Ranzi: It started with my son. I made a lot of mistakes and I don’t necessarily recommend..
Caryn Hartglass: They are not mistakes, Karen, they are learning experiences.
Karen Ranzi: They are learning experiences, exactly. Yes. At the beginning, what was really a powerful and meaningful experience was my son’s healing from asthma, ear infections and multiple food allergies. We were already vegan, but we were eating a lot of processed food. Pasta and bread was our main staple. I was sick a lot. When my son was an infant, really young, 5 weeks old we were at the hospital.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the worst places you want to be. It’s so dangerous in the hospital and it’s worse now than it was then.
Karen Ranzi: He was only 5 weeks old. It was so scary. For the next 3 years of his life he had wheezing all day long and it got much worse at night. I would sometimes sleep with him on top of me I was so fearful. We were running to doctors. He had chronic ear infections, he was in pain all the time and he was allergic to almost everything; pollens and foods and animal hair. Having this child out in the world was really difficult. We tried everything. We tried allopathic medicine. We tried alternative kinds of therapies that had validity in and of themselves, but they weren’t taking care of cause of the problem. After 3 years I just hit rock bottom with going to practitioners. I realized there had to be another way. That’s when I realized that what my own grandmother had done, right in my very own family, really was the spark for me to take off on doing raw foods. As a young child my grandmother had told me all about the benefits of eating very high in raw fruits and vegetables. She didn’t say the word raw, she said natural. They didn’t have that word raw back then. It was just natural, uncooked, getting all the nutrients. I ignored her, growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.
Caryn Hartglass: Better living through chemistry.
Karen Ranzi: Yeah, my father and grandmother, they ate fruits and vegetables all day long and big salads and some steamed vegetables. They didn’t go to medical doctors and they were always healthy. My family, my other extended family, ate differently, my friends ate differently and I ignored that. My grandmother had asthma and emphysema in the early 1920’s.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, did she smoke?
Karen Ranzi: She did not smoke. No. They gave her some rounds of penicillin at the hospital and that didn’t do anything, just made her worse. They gave her only several months to live.
Caryn Hartglass: Been there.
Karen Ranzi: So you can relate to my story. My grandmother was a single mom. My father was only 4 years old. For most people, as Margret Need says, it’s easier to change your religion than to change your diet. That’s why I also think that it’s hard. A lot of people want to go vegan and then they try and they bounce back an fourth. My grandmother was more determined because of her situation and so she turned to a friend who had healed and she got some information about a book that had just come out at that time, by a German professor named Arnold Ehret. The book is called The Mucusless Diet and Healing System.
Caryn Hartglass: I have it.
Karen Ranzi: So she had someone bring her that book when she was in the hospital. She read it and said “I have nothing to lose”. She became a vegetarian overnight. Then she moved to vegan and then she moved to a diet that was very high in fresh plant foods. So she still had some steamed vegetables, maybe some vegetable soup or something like that, but she had most of her food was raw fruits and vegetables, some nuts and seeds. She healed in under a year. So when my child was sick later on after trying everything else I could, I eventually came back to that.
Caryn Hartglass: And it worked.
Karen Ranzi: And it worked. So we did green juices and green smoothies and fruit and vegetables.
Caryn Hartglass: You were ahead of your time. Now people are more about green juicing and green smoothies. It is becoming trendy.
Karen Ranzi: Yeah. We did it back then when nobody was. A few people, but not much out there and there weren’t really any support groups, festivals or food expos for families. There was really no support group for my kids. I just learned from experience. There was a group in Manhattan that was run by a man named Matthew Grace and that group brought me into Manhattan on Monday evenings to get together with other raw foodists and hear their success stories and help to transition. I made a lot of mistakes along the way or have some life changing experiences, but eventually I think I found my way. When I work with people though, I don’t really ask them to go to 100% raw. I feel that just adding significant amounts of raw food is extremely beneficial and can certainly create a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, especially for children, there can be social ramifications of going 100% raw. I tell the parents to leave that up to their kids.
Carryn Hartglass: I like to say, I said it earlier in the show, one thing is certain that is: nothing. We are learning a lot about nutrition, far more than we have ever known and unfortunately people get educated about nutrition by commercials more often than anything else. Our doctors don’t know much. We hang on to one word here. We listen to Dr. Oz or the doctors shows and that is not a place to learn about healthy food. Occasionally they will have a good program on, but they also bring on information about sensational things that are just nonsense so it gets confusing. There are magazines that have articles and sometimes there is good information, but usually it’s kind of mingled with some other stuff that’s nutty. One thing is certain, that nothing is certain. There are things that we know now today. We know that humans need to live on a primarily plant based diet. We know this. Now we don’t know if a 100% vegan diet vs. a primarily plant based diet with a little bit of animal food in it is better. We don’t have that information in terms of clinical tests. I personally think that eating all plant foods is superior and it’s superior not just for health, but also for other reasons ethical and environmental.
Karen Ranzi: Oh right and we’ve seen this in the longest lived cultures. The Okinawans, they are known to have about 1% of animal products.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, a very small amount. Underline small.
Karen Ranzi: The same as the other long lived cultures like the Costa Ricans who live on the Nicoya peninsula. They are also 1-2% animal products.
Caryn Hartglass: In the last 50 years or more now we’ve started to get into trouble because technology improved and things became more convenient and things started to get processed. It’s interesting because we are learning more about diet and nutrition more than we ever learned before. There is more bad things for us to eat at the same time. It’s confusing everything.
Karen Ranzi: In addition to that the meat and the dairy council…
Caryn Hartglass: So strong.
Karen Ranzi: Have a monopoly over the school system. So kids are learning in school that they definitely have to have meat and animal products to get enough protein. They are not taught about all the protein you can get from eating plant foods. There is plenty of protein in the plant world.
Caryn Hartglass: Can you say elephants and gorillas? Where do they get their protein from?
Karen Ranzi: Exactly. That was one of the things I really direct people to do is look at the animals out there. The biggest animals, big beautiful muscular animals, are plant eaters. The horse the cow the bison the rhino the elephant, they’re all plant eaters.
Caryn Hartglass: They should be plant eaters. Unfortunately the ones we raise for food we feed them all kinds of things that they shouldn’t be eating.
Karen Ranzi: The domestic animals get the same diseases that humans get because of that.
Caryn Hartglass: I come from a scientific background and when I read information I like to see the science. It makes me feel better. I like to see clinical studies. I don’t believe in all the clinical studies I see either because very often when I read the original report I see flaws in the study. They didn’t compare the right things in order to come to the conclusion that they did. I still like to see studies. That being said, there is plenty that we don’t know. People that we both respect like Dr. Fuhrman for example, he recommends that we eat at least 50% of foods should be raw plant food. We know that they are important. We don’t know exactly why and I think it’s just that science isn’t there yet. Raw foodists get a bad rap a lot of times because they are using terms that are not based in science and scientists might roll their eyes. When people say this food is alive or this food has an aura to it or something. That’s because we don’t have the science yet to measure what’s in these foods that we know are so important.
Karen Ranzi: I think also that some of the talk about enzymes, which I had believed for so many years, is not really accurate.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
Karen Ranzi: What I do know and what I truly do believe, is that it makes a tremendous amount of sense that raw plants and foods are more nutrient dense or most of them are more nutrient dense because when you put fire to something it’s got to take away some of the nutrients. There have been studies that have shown that for many of the foods that are cooked, that somewhere around 70-855 of the nutrients can be void from those foods. So that I think is the thing that really drew me in to really believe in that it was going to be better for me.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I was drawn in to the raw food concept too around 2004 and I did it for about 2 years. I fell out of it for a lot of different reasons and one is because I got advanced ovarian cancer. My belly started growing and I was trying all different kinds of things with my diet because I thought I had uterine fibroids and I didn’t realize it was this giant tumor that got out of control. That’s a long story I’ve talked about it a bunch of times on this show. What drew me to the raw food diet was, originally I thought I want to eat what humans are meant to eat. I started thinking this is the most natural thing. I’ve changed my mind. I realize I was romanticizing a bit about the whole vision of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and all of these lovely luscious fruits and things. Here it is 2013, and then it was around 2006, I don’t live in that world. This world is very different than the world of a thousand years ago or when was fire created, I don’t know how many millions of years ago.
Karen Ranzi: I don’t know.
Caryn Hartglass: So we live in a very different world today. I just think we need to be open about all kinds of things, our food is not as nutrient dense as it was originally because our soils are so poorly cared for even if it is to grow organically. There is a lot of things that are not natural anymore. That lead me to believe maybe I don’t need to be eating entirely raw. I realize that raw foods are really powerful, but sometimes when you cook food you make other nutrients more absorbable. So there is this whole conversation of what really is best. We don’t really have the answer to that. We all have to do what is comfortable for us.
Karen Ranzi: We have to do what feels best. For me I’ve had so many powerful examples and so many observations. I work with pregnant women and I’ve observed women who’ve had raw pregnancies. I just interviewed a couple who had their second child. For their first child she ate much differently. She had more of a conventional diet. By the end of that pregnancy she was vegan. She gradually went towards it. She was eating, especially before that pregnancy; she was eating the standard American diet. Her first pregnancy was a four day labor and very difficult childbirth. She had a totally raw pregnancy for her second child and she gave birth, she had a very easy birth and it was just wonderful. She had a home birth and she’s nursing. She’s got this beautiful, big baby. She’s nursing him and it’s only from her milk. She’s got a plentiful breast milk supply. Whereas with the first child she had a hard time with breast milk supply and she and her husband are just really quite sure it was from their total change in diet. Her husband lost about 100 pounds and she also lost weight. They were both extremely overweight. So there are a lot of positive things. They chose to go 100%. What I believe is that people can do really well just by increasing the raw plant foods in their diet from where they are. For me, not only did it make a lot of sense because of the nutrient density, but also because of the water. When we cook our food we are depleting the water. I don’t really need to have studies for that kind of observation. I know that I need to drink a lot more water when I was eating cooked food. When I went to raw foods, I am getting so much of my water from my green juices, my green smoothies, my big salads, and my fruit. I feel that I’m getting the protein that I need. I think that with raw food there are some things that we need to be careful of. First of all there are many people who go totally gourmet.
Caryn Hartglass: I was going to bring this up next, some of your learning experiences. Just like any diet, vegetarian, vegan, raw there are so many different shades. The fifty shades of vegan.
Karen Ranzi: I have seen some very haphazard raw food diets. Mine was that way for the first years. I did eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables just the way they were, but I also ate a tremendous amount of nuts, loads of nuts. I could sit there with two cups of nuts a day. It didn’t do well by me. I just didn’t feel well after a while.
Caryn Hartglass: I remember going to some of the gourmet raw restaurants and eating and just feeling really heavy afterwards form all the nuts, the oil and the nama shoyu.
Karen Ranzi: Definitely and these are not health foods. We need a small amount of nuts and seeds, but we don’t need to have these huge amounts of nuts and seeds. Nuts are acid forming. The only one that is alkaline forming is almonds. Our blood is slightly alkaline. We need to be eating the foods that are more alkaline forming. That is why I believe in a diet that is very high in green leafy vegetables. I didn’t do that at the beginning either. I ate mostly fruit. I still believe that we need to have fruit. I eat fruit. I upped my greens significantly over the years.
Caryn Hartglass: Greens, greens, greens. You know how much I talk about greens on this show.
Karen Ranzi: I am sure you do.
Caryn Hartglass: I have a food show called It’s All About Greens on my website. The thing about fruit; when I started on an all raw diet a long time ago I was eating a lot of fruit. I think that was part of my problem. Eating a lot of fruit you can get a lot of sugar and sugar, if you are not entirely healthy can aggravate some problems that you already have. Some of the other scary things about fruit these days; I was talking to Adam Gollner who wrote a book called The Fruit Hunters. He was talking about what we do to tropical fruit to bring it to the United States or fruit in general. There are so many things; a lot of the tropical fruits actually get a little cooked before they bring them in.
Karen Ranzi: Yes, I know the mangoes that they eat.
Caryn Hartglass: When I think about all those things I think well maybe I should just wait until I get to Costa Rica and eat the foods that are there.
Karen Ranzi: Right. When I was in Costa Rica the bananas ripened. We would take off a whole bunch, but they ripened on the plant. It was just a whole different experience than the bananas that we eat here, but I still feel that we need not only the vitamins, but we also need the calories the glucose from the fruit. So I certainly don’t believe in giving up fruit. Some people say that if they have cancer they should give up fruit. I have also observed people heal cancer with fruit.
Caryn Hartglass: I was eating only berries during my treatment period; the not so sweet, high cancer fighting properties kind of fruits.
Karen Ranzi: Low glycemic.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, in your book, Creating Healthy Children which came out 2-3 years ago, you reference a lot of different people who have a lot of different things to say about a lot of different things.
Karen Ranzi: That’s right and some of them differ greatly.
Caryn Hartglass: A lot of them differ greatly. I wanted to bring up a few of them and maybe some of the things I didn’t agree with. Clearly we agree on the power of raw fruits and vegetables. Everybody has to be eating them, greens, kale is king and there is nothing that kale can’t do. I can’t say that enough. I eat soy foods and I think that organic minimally processed, tofu, tempeh have some preventative protective qualities when it comes to cancer. You mentioned Sally Fallon in the Weston Price people. They do not promote a vegetarian diet.
Karen Ranzi: They don’t. The only thing that I agree that they do talk about is the problems with soy.
Caryn Hartglass: So my question to you is: when they are so anti-vegetarian diet, how do you find their information on soy credible? Because I don’t. I just wondered.
Karen Ranzi: Well I do believe because it is not only their information. I also quoted Dr. Gabriel Cousens, who has done quite a lot of research on soy and he is vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: And raw. Is he all raw?
Karen Ranzi: Yes, and raw and vegan. I put their information in there because I felt that from all of the different observations that I’ve made and people that I’ve spoken with that their information on soy was accurate. I do feel that tofu and soy milk, that those products are highly processed. I feel that tofu is no better than eating white bread.
Caryn Hartglass: It depends on where you get it from. There are some that are better than others.
Karen Ranzi: Maybe if somebody is making it locally and you know exactly how they are making it and it’s not so processed. I think that the majority of the tofu out there and the highly processed soy products.
Caryn Hartglass: I tell people that there are plenty of plant foods out there if you don’t want to eat soy foods that’s fine. I am very comfortable eating the minimally processed tofu, tempeh and miso.
Karen Ranzi: Tempeh is better because it’s fermented. I never recommend tofu and the other more processed foods. They are all so highly allergenic. I know a lot of children who have been given soy early on and they become allergic. It’s also very hormonally unbalancing; it’s very high in estrogen.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a difference in opinions. Some medical and professional people believe that it helps to balance the hormones. It depends. There is a lot of interesting information about that. So we just have about another minute or two left. You don’t just talk about food in here; you also talk about attachment parenting. We just have a minute where you might talk about it, but I think it’s important.
Karen Ranzi: Oh, it’s so important. What a lot of people ask me because half of my book is about getting those raw living plant foods into your family lifestyle and the other half of the book is about following the needs of the child. The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the child through attachment parenting. What that is, is after the child is born the child doesn’t know where he or she is in the world. The child needs to be connected to the most important person in that child’s world and that is the mother and being held against the mother’s skin. Certainly not to be put in a crib at the end of the hall to scream it out, but to be connected to staying with the mother to be held against the skin as much as possible in those first hours days and even weeks after birth. Following that child as the child grows and develops. At each level there is a different aspect of attachment parenting that caters to the child’s needs.
Caryn Hartglass: Karen, we could talk about this all day. Unfortunately we are out of time. I can’t believe how quickly the half hour went. Thanks for joining me. Where can people find out more about you? You have a website.
Karen Ranzi: My website is www.superhealthychildren.com.
Caryn Hartglass: superhealthychildren.com.
Karen Ranzi: I also have a You Tube channel super healthy children
Caryn Hartglass: May all children be super healthy. Thanks for joining me and It’s All About Food. I am Caryn Hartglass and visit my website ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com and swingingourmets.com and have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Mary Schings, 4/4/2013