Raw food diets have been around for a number of years now with many people swearing by them. But what exactly is a raw food diet and are they as healthy as people claim?
The basic part of a raw food diet is that 75 percent of the food that is eaten is not cooked, as cooking destroys the enzymes in the food that helps with digestion. These foods include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, seaweed, dried fruit, freshly made juices, and mineral water. Dried food is allowed as part of the diet as the drying process doesn’t get hot enough to kill off the enzymes.
Cooking techniques that are used as part of raw food diet include:
• sprouting seeds, grains, and beans
• soaking nuts and dried fruit
Most of the raw foods that are eaten as part of the diet are very high in vitamins and minerals which are vital to good health. As a bonus, they are easily digested by the body, meaning that you feel higher in energy. There is also a high water content in fruit and vegetables, alleviating the constipation that can sometimes accompany a high fibre diet. Because you are getting so many vitamins and minerals, you are less likely to suffer from disease, and you may have clearer skin and stronger hair and nails. A raw food diet can also assist with weight loss. There are less saturated and trans fats in a raw food diet so you may be able to reduce your risk of heart disease.
A raw food diet encourages its followers not to consume meat if possible, and to replace the meat with nuts and seeds. Even though nuts and seeds contain protein, they don’t contain the same amount of amino acids that meat does, meaning that you need to eat more of these to make up the amino acids that the body needs.
Cooked foods eaten with raw foods can cause indigestion due to the different stomach acids that are being produced and the high amount of fibre in the diet leads to increased toilet visits, and can also increase the amount of flatulence that you suffer from.
If you are switching to a raw food diet from another diet, you may find that you are going through the symptoms of detoxification. This is due to the toxins that are found in many standard diets, such as additives, preservatives, pesticide residue, and so forth.
Be aware that some foods are actually more nutritionally valuable when they are cooked as the cooking process can actually release their nutrients. One example of this is lycopene – much more is available in cooked tomatoes than raw ones.
Raw food diets may not be suitable for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with anaemia, or people that are at risk for osteoporosis. If you do not have the time to devote to a raw food diet, maybe it is best that you do not follow one as many of the foods need to be prepared from scratch, and ingredients may be hard to find.
Nutritional deficiencies may occur if the diet is not followed properly including deficiencies in:
• vitamin B12