What Is the Raw Food Diet?
People call this diet raw veganism or raw foodism with only quite simple rule NO cooked food.
Raw food by definition is the food which hasn't been cooked/heated over 104–118°F (40–48°C). It cannot be processed in any way (not pasteurized, not refined,etc.). There are a few options though such as soaking, sprouting, blending, dehydrating or juicing.
As veganism this diet is 99% plant based, you can consume veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. Some people do add to the diet raw eggs, dairy and even meat and fish. Generally supporters of this diet are against of any supplements, as they consider diet to provide with all the necessary nutrients. The reason that followers consider processing food unnecessary as cooking "kills" natural enzymes which food contains, decreases content of nutrients and totally destroys "life force" as it's believed that all raw foods contains it.
The key benefits of this diet are loss of weight, vitality improvement, energy increase, general health improvement, and reduction of environment impact.
How to Follow the Raw Food Diet
The main rule of this diet is pretty simple 75% of your intake is supposed to be raw. Mainly it's fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Legumes and grains are not forbidden, but they need to be properly sprouted or soaked before consumption.
• Any fresh fruits
• Any raw vegetables
• Raw nuts and seeds
• Dried fruits and meats
• Raw grains and legumes, sprouted or soaked
• Nut milks
• Raw nut butters
• Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut
• Cold-pressed olive and coconut oils
• Raw meat or fish, if desired
• Raw eggs or dairy, if desired
• Pasteurized juices and dairy
• Coffee and tea
• Cooked fruits, vegetables, meats and grains
• Roasted nuts and seeds
• Table salt
• Baked items
• Refined oils
• Refined sugars and flour
• Other processed foods and snacks
Is Raw Food Healthier Than Cooked Food?
Followers of this diet do consider that consumption of raw or mostly raw food is more natural thus more healthy. Though this opinion was never proven by scientific researches.Key reason for denial of
Key reason for denial of the foods preparation is that supporters are trusting that putting foods under the influence of temperature is "killing" the enzymes. But on the other side there are people who are actually considering enzymes to be vital to human's digestion and health in general.
Another core belief is cooking leaves foods with no nutrients at all.
Absolutely processing does reduce the amount of nutrients especially those which can be dissolved in water such as vitamins B and C.
But it was proven that cooking activates certain antioxidants and nutrients (e.g. lycopene and beta-carotene). And let's not forget that cooking "kills" harmful components. (e.g. processing grains and legumes decreases lectins and phytic acid, by the way at large doses they can prevent your body to absorb minerals).
In conclusion it's significant to eat both kind of foods: raw and cooked.
Health Benefits Review: Pros and Cons
In general there are no scientific proven facts on the health benefits of following raw food diet. Mostly the researches speak about negative influence, instead of the positive one.
One of the studies did show the reduction of triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels, as well as it led to lowering "healthy" HDL cholesterol levels and vitamin-B12 deficiency. One more research showed an increase risk of tooth erosion. But weight loss was proven by most of the researchers.
However, certain amount of people who were participating in these researches were also very underweight. In addition, women were experiencing menstrual cycle irregularities, and even amenorrhea, complete stop of menstruation. Some people were suffering from low calcium, vitamin D and protein intake. And in some cases it led to low bone mass.
In conclusion, yes, this diet might lead to health improvement and to weight loss, but also there are numbers of negative effects which outbalance the positive benefits of following it.
Is the Raw Food Diet Safe and Sustainable?
If you follow this diet for a short period of time it's not going to influence your health heavily in a negative way. But if you decide to follow it long-term there might be consequences.
It's next to impossible to get enough protein, calories, certain vitamins and minerals and protein when following this diet.
It can be fixed by consuming supplements, otherwise you may suffer from lack of vitamins and minerals as your body stores will be worn out. The most complicated to receive are vitamins B12 and D while on a raw food diet. But even special supplements cant cover you up with all the necessary calories and protein.
Plus it might be rather stressful in general as food choice is rather poor, and most of the people are not really flattered in consumption of cold food at all times. And it gets simply boring to eat a short list of allowed products, plus going out with friends loses any sense, which also influences the mood. And last but not the least, it's rather expensive and time taking as fresh organic food is not so reachable.
The Bottom Line
Fresh, raw foods are definitely valuable for healthy diet. But there is such a thing as too much good.
Cooking is important to make certain foods and nutrients more digestible.
Raw diet is going to bring such a desirable result as weight loss, but also will bring you a number of problems due to nutritional shortage.
And to conclude mixing cooked and raw food is way better for your body and health.
For further reading have a look at this article from Fitness Volt!