What Is a Raw Food Diet?
You have probably heard about the raw food diet because it gained in popularity during 2013. Proponents of this diet mostly eat raw fruits, vegetables, and grains. The idea behind the diet is to recognise that heating food often destroys nutrients and natural enzymes within the food. These enzymes are actually good for digestion and help us fight disease and infection so destroying them is not a good idea. Many fans of the diet claim that a raw food diet will clear up headaches and allergies, boost your immunity and improve memory, while helping with chronic illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes.
Food is considered raw food when it is uncooked (that is, it is never heated above 42C or 118F). Raw food followers prefer that food is fresh, wild or organic, as well as unprocessed.
Why Eat a Raw Food Diet?
The most important reason to eat a raw food diet is so that you don't kill all those helpful enzymes. While your body can create its own enzymes to replace the ones that you have killed in your cooked food, the digestion process does use up a lot of energy and will leave you feeling sluggish and tired. In any case, the enzymes that are created by your body are not thought to be as effective as the ones in raw food.
Without these useful enzymes, food does not get broken down so well in the body and digestion is more difficult. The net effect is that food is left in your intestine to rot which allows parasites to flourish. Without a good supply of fresh enzymes your organs do not function as well and eventually this accelerates ageing.
All cooked food is dead food, whereas much of what you eat raw is live food containing live energy. Dead food will leave you feeling heavy and tired. Live food will give you energy, therefore most people on a raw food diet will have more energy and a stronger immune system than those who are not.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Raw Food?
The main benefit of following a raw food diet is that you will see weight loss and improved overall health. You are also more than likely to:
- Have more energy
- Need less sleep
- See an improvement in skin quality
- Have a clearer mind and improved memory
- Boost your immune system
- Improve your fertility
- Prevent or reverse diabetes
- Eating a vegetarian diet reduces the world's CO2 emission by an estimated 58%.
What Foods Should You Be Eating?
People on the raw food diet eat at least 75% of raw fruits, vegetables, (germinated) seeds, (germinated) nuts and sprouts. These can be eaten as salads or they can be blended into a smoothie or a juice, which often makes them easier to absorb and concentrates the mineral content.
The best source of minerals on a raw food diet can be found in green leafy vegetables, sprouts, seaweeds and germinated seeds and nuts. Calcium can be found in sesame seeds, almonds, broccoli, cabbage, collards, dandelion greens, kale and prunes. Iron is found in spinach, Swiss chard, prune juice, beetroot, sesame seeds, cashews, raisins, apricots, watermelon, kale, sunflower seeds, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, seaweeds and flax seed.
Which Foods Should You Not Eat?
Those following the raw food diet choose not to eat food that is processed, or sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. They do not eat genetically modified food. Too many foods these days contain chemicals and hormones that contribute to disease and a sluggish immune system in humans.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
There are certain drawbacks of following a raw food diet. You may not get enough protein, iron, calcium, or other vitamins and minerals such as B12. This is generally because people who eat raw foods tend to exclude any and all animal products. You may need to take vitamin supplements to make up for any gaps in your diet. Bear in mind, also that cooking food can also boost certain nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lycopene and it will kill many sorts of bacteria, which helps avoid food poisoning.
Other disadvantages to think about include that organic ingredients will be more expensive to purchase than your usual shop, and you will need to have access to kitchen appliances such as juicers and blenders.
Where Can I Get Some Raw Food Diet Recipes?
There are a number of websites available to help you with raw food diet recipes. Here's a few to get you started.
How Do You Start a Raw Food Diet?
Quite simply, just start your raw food diet by adding raw foods to your diet and build up from there. Start the day with a glass of pure water, and add some fresh lemon juice. You could have a juice or a smoothie too.
Lunches and dinners can consist of salads containing a mix of vegetables, fruits and seeds. Consider a raw soup as a starter. In between times, feel free to snack on fruit and vegetable sticks, or juices. Drink pure water in between meals and make sure you are eliminating processed and unhealthy foods from your diet including caffeine, alcohol and white flour. Reduce and eliminate animal products and starches such as wheat.
Alternatively you could start softly by aiming to go raw for just one day a week and building up from there until you can manage it every day.
Image credit: satina / 123RF Stock Photo
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