Many consumers can’t comprehend it, but those who follow raw food diets can’t say enough good things about it. The raw food diet includes mostly unprocessed and uncooked foods. Raw foodists (people who follow a raw food diet) tend to eat mostly organic foods, although organic is not a requirement of the raw food diet. Those individuals whose diets are 75% or more composed of raw foods are considered raw foodists.
Advocates of the raw food diet believe that cooking foods (above 116 degrees F) destroys enzymes in the foods that help with digestion and also that the nutritional elements of the food are diminished within the cooking process. The quality and number of enzymes is of utmost importance to those who follow a raw food diet. The enzymes are considered to be the life force of the food and raw foodists indicate it is a leading cause of why they tend to feel much more energetic than when they were eating cooked foods or other diets.
Advocates of the raw food diet say that because the foods they eat have all of the available enzymes of the foods directly ingested in their bodies, they have more energy available themselves. Some of those who follow raw food diets consider cooked food to be dangerous, inherent to toxicity and as a result, contributors to illness and poor health.
Some of the theory behind the raw food diet is that humans have only been cooking food for a relatively short period of time, say the last 10,000 years or so. The thinking is that it takes a much longer period of time for the human body to evolve and if we were originally designed to eat a plant-based, raw food diet, then actually consuming a diet of cooked foods is not the method that will give us the best health benefits if we have not yet adapted biologically. There does appear to be some evidence that humans have actually been cooking much longer in our history, but the premise is important to the foundation of the raw food diet.
There are different categories of raw food diets, although most raw foodists consume mostly plant-based foods:
- Raw vegan diets
- Raw vegetarians diets
- Raw omnivore diets – both plant and animal products are eaten raw
Raw vegan diets include only plant based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and sprouted plants such as beans. The vegan diet does not include any animal meats or by-products such as dairy or eggs, while the vegetarian diet does allow for animal by-products.
Some raw foodists sprout grains and beans, although some minimize that due to the toxins contained in them. Others also follow a diet that is comprised of a lot of juice, and also others are called fruiterians who eat mostly fruit. While there are several variations of the raw meat diets, this article will focus on the plant-based diets of raw veganism and raw vegetarianism.
There are several benefits that have been touted by raw foodists including:
- Weight loss
- Increased energy
- Improved digestion
- Lowered cholesterol
- Increased health and decreased susceptibility to disease
As with any diet, there are also some things that you may need to consider such as:
- Food poisoning: We are all aware of the safety issues with foods of any kind. Raw foodists are not immune from these concerns and need to take precautions to ensure the foods they eat are adequately washed.
- Decrease in bone density and higher incidence of tooth erosion: There have been some studies that indicate that individuals on a raw food diet may have lower bone density than those on a typical diet.
- Planning and preparation time: Raw food diets are like any other diet; it is important to ensure that you have an adequate representation of the appropriate vitamins, minerals, calcium, protein, etc. There have been some studies that indicate raw foodists tend to be deficient in vitamin B-12. It is also important for proper health that you evaluate the overall alkalinity or acidity of the foods you are eating. Proper planning and preparation on the raw food diet will enable you to most successfully avoid cravings and save time.
Many of the individuals who follow the raw food diet like the aspect that they are not contributing to the abuse or killing of animals in order to find their nourishment. There has been a lot of information recently regarding the sometimes inhumane treatment of the animals who are killed in order to produce the chicken or beef or other livestock that feed us on a daily basis.
To many raw foodists, the fact that they are not consuming anything that has been adulterated or killed is a way of not contributing to that treatment. They also feel that they are helping to contribute to the condition of the planet by eating mostly organic foods. Some individuals even report a greater sense of spirituality as a result of their raw food diets.
There is some amount of controversy with the raw food diet, most of it surrounding whether the diet can actually be balanced, provide enough protein, is healthy for those who use it, and whether it is actually safe. Arguments have been heard that some people who have tried it have felt that they lost a lot of strength, even if they did feel that their energy increased. There is also some concern that because the food is raw and not cooked that there is a greater risk of bacteria and illness that could result from eating the foods.
Whatever diet you personally enjoy, remember to enjoy your food, get plenty of nutrients, and assess how your body feels as a result of a change in diet.
Whenever you are considering a major lifestyle change, also consult with your own health practitioner to ensure you are choosing the best options for your health and well-being.