EXCLUSIVE: RAW FOOD DIET HAS CURED MY ARTHRITIS
AS THE Daniels family gathers round the dinner table it resembles a scene played out in many households. An evening meal shared with loved ones, a time to eat and talk together.
But there is one significant difference. All the food laid before mum Jatinder, husband Derek and their three children, Raman, 17, Priyanka, 13, and seven-year-old Mohan is raw.
And this unusual diet has been credited with saving Jatinder's life and turning her family's fortunes around. "I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 16 and doctors said my future was bleak," says Jatinder, a healthy 45.
"They said I could be in a wheelchair by the end of my teens, that I would be in varying degrees of constant pain for the rest of my life and, due to aggressive drugs, may not be able to have children. It was like a death sentence.
"But look at me now! I'm a mum of three, perfectly mobile and free from the agony I endured for years. And it's all down to my raw food, low-toxin lifestyle."
Jatinder's teenage years in Nottingham were dogged with frustration and confusion over her stiffness and pain until, after endless tests, she was diagnosed.
"I was a healthy until 13 when I was vaccinated against rubella in school," Jatinder recalls.
"My health deteriorated rapidly afterwards. Suddenly I couldn't do any sports at all. I was persistently tired and regularly in terrible pain.
"There were days when I couldn't walk, dress myself or bathe. Sometimes my jaw was so stiff I couldn't eat at all or just manage soup."
Jatinder went to hospital once a week for six months for injections into her joints yet the arthritis intensified and her knuckles and knees began to deform. She became suicidal.
She says: "The injections offered no immediate relief. I felt alone, angry and full of resentment. I was trying to do my A-levels but I couldn't even carry my own books.
"My condition worsened during the winter. The cold wind went straight to my bones and was agony.
"I became very depressed and often thought about throwing myself into the River Trent."
Despite being in constant pain, Jatinder was determined to live life to the full and at 21 went to London to study computing.
She says: "I needed a walking stick by the time I went to university but I refused to use one out of pride. I felt so vulnerable. I was adamant that I was going to be independent."
Derek, a 43-year-old computer programmer, remembers the difficulties his bride-to-be faced when they met while studying.
He recalls: "She couldn't walk for more than five minutes without pain. I felt helpless and desperately wanted to ease her discomfort.
"It was clear to us that the anti-inflammatory drugs she was taking made very little difference to her discomfort. In fact, the side-effects of stomach ulcers and blinding headaches made her feel worse. I fully supported her decision to stop taking them five years later."
The couple married the year after she stopped taking the drugs and Jatinder summoned every bit of grit to walk down the aisle unaided.
She says: "The days when I couldn't walk at all were becoming more frequent and I was limping more often than not.
"But there was no way I was going to let my illness get in the way of a perfect wedding.
"I blocked out the pain, held my head up high and slowly walked to join my future husband. It was very emotional."
Jatinder and Derek set up home in London and Raman was born later that year. But with their new baby came new hardships for Jatinder.
She explains: "The doctors had warned that I would have difficulty conceiving because of the drugs I'd been taking, so Raman was extra special. But caring for him was the biggest challenge I'd ever faced.
"The normal duties that new mums take for granted like bathing their child was like climbing a mountain. But I had no choice but to cope."
Their second child Priyanka was born four years later and developed chronic eczema and asthma at eight weeks. The lack of sleep and stress that caused only made Jatinder's condition worse.
She said: "I was beginning to think I couldn't go on. I couldn't see myself reaching my 40th birthday and if I'm honest part of me didn't want to if it meant living with constant pain.
"I believed it was only going to get worse."
It was during these dark times that Derek discovered the raw food way of life on the internet.
He read claims that nature intended us to eat raw, who le food and that it is unnatural to consume cooked or processed foods.
Jatinder explains: "Long-term consumption of processed food will lead to toxicity or toxaemia - when the body is overloaded with poisons.
"These e harmful toxins are found all around us - in our environment, treated water, non-organic fruit and vegetables and cooked food.
"Raw foodists believe that major illnesses like cancer, diabetes and arthritis are often a result of toxaemia and can be prevented and greatly helped by a raw food way of life."
Jatinder says she realised the importance of food in relation to wellbeing years ago but the idea of eating only raw food seemed impossible.
"I had stopped eating wheat years earlier noticing that wheat flour made my joints flare up and I had become vegan the previous year for similar reasons," she says.
"I put the fact that I wasn't already in a wheelchair down to my healthy diet and generally positive mindset.
"I believed that food could have a miraculous effects on health, I just didn't believe I could take such drastic measures." When Jatinder conceived her youngest son Mohan, at the age of 37, she knew something had to be done to improve her health.
So, at two months pregnant, she changed her diet to 100 per cent raw for one week. She says: "I had diarrhoea but felt the benefit and the pain reduced.
"I went back to 50 per cent cooked until the following summer when the whole family began to detox."
The family moved to Spain four years ago where Jatinder is a raw food consultant.
They live in beautiful whitewashed mountainside village on the Costa del Sol and the children attend the local school.
"We wanted the children to grow up in a natural environment and I believe sunshine is another key to good health," she says.
And the family insist the raw food diet is fun and tasty. "Now the kids love it," Jatinder laughs. "There is so much variety. I make biscuits, crackers, sweets and some really tasty desserts.
"Just like you learn how to cook, you can learn how to uncook.
"It is amazing what textures you can achieve by using a blender or the food you can create simply by dehydrating it.
"It may sound complicated but once you've got the hang of it, the preparation time is actually less.
"Friends who come around for lunch are amazed when I tell them what they are eating is in fact raw."
Jatinder is keen to stress that to truly detox, your whole lifestyle has to be adjusted.
She says: "Detoxing is not as simple as just eating raw food - it includes being aware of your environment.
"It means changing you hair gel, your toothpaste, the chemicals you use around the house, chlorinated tap water - even your negative thought patterns. They all introduce toxins into our bodies."
After 12 months of raw food, Jatinder's arthritis all but disappeared. She smiles modestly: "I can now walk and ride a bike for miles, prepare amazing meals and look after my family. And I am pain-free.
"We are all so much healthier. Neither myself of Mohan has been treated by a doctor since he was born.
"I don't believe a doctor will treat me again for my arthritis. I am healing myself."
"I couldn't breast-feed as one shoulder was frozen in its socket and my other joints would throb.
Friends are amazed when I tell them what they are eating is not cooked