The Raw Food Diet
Some people like the idea of eating food that hasn’t been cooked because they think it helps with losing weight and being healthier. But, experts who know a lot about health say it might not be a good idea and could even be bad for you.
People have been trying this way of eating since the 1800s, but it’s become more trendy recently.
What Is the Raw Food Diet?
The raw food diet, sometimes called raw foodism or raw veganism, is all about eating entirely uncooked and unprocessed foods. When we say ‘raw,’ we mean that the food hasn’t been heated beyond 40–48°C. It also shouldn’t be refined, pasteurised, treated with pesticides, or messed with in any way.
Instead of cooking, people on this diet use other methods like juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting to prepare their meals. It’s a lot like being a vegan because it’s primarily plant-based, including fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. Some people on the raw food diet might eat raw eggs and dairy; a few might even include raw fish and meat, but that is not very common.
People who follow the raw food diet think that cooking is bad because it destroys natural food enzymes, reduces nutrients, and takes away the ‘life force’ they believe exists in raw or ‘living’ foods. Most of the time, people on this diet avoid taking supplements because they think it gives them all the necessary nutrients.
People choose this diet because it helps with things like losing weight, having more energy, managing chronic diseases, being healthier overall, and being kinder to the planet.
Is Raw Food a Healthier Alternative to Cooked Food?
Supporters of the raw food diet believe that mainly consuming or entirely raw food is the best choice for human health. However, this viewpoint lacks strong scientific backing. Research indicates that both cooked and raw foods offer health benefits.
One of the primary reasons for discouraging cooking in the raw food diet is the belief that it destroys natural food enzymes, which are thought to be crucial for digestion and overall health. While it’s true that high heat can alter enzymes, many of these enzymes naturally denature in the acidic conditions of the stomach. Moreover, the body produces its own set of enzymes to support various chemical processes, including digestion and energy production.
Another fundamental belief of the raw food diet is that cooking diminishes the nutritional value of food. While cooking can reduce certain nutrients, particularly water-soluble ones like vitamins C and B, it can enhance the availability of other nutrients and antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta-carotene. Additionally, cooking can neutralise or eliminate harmful compounds in food, such as lectins and phytic acid in grains and legumes, which can hinder mineral absorption. Cooking also effectively eliminates harmful bacteria.
How to Follow the Raw Food Diet?
To follow the raw food diet, you’ll want to ensure that at least 75% of the food you consume remains in its raw, uncooked state. This dietary approach predominantly centres on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. While grains and legumes are sometimes allowed, they require soaking or sprouting before consumption.
Foods that are encouraged on the raw food diet include a variety of fresh fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, and raw grains and legumes that have been sprouted or soaked. You can also incorporate dried fruits and meats, nut milk, raw nut butter, cold-pressed olive and coconut oils, fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut, seaweed, sprouts, and even raw eggs or dairy if that aligns with your preferences. Raw meat or fish may also be included for those who desire it.
Conversely, you should avoid several categories of foods on the raw food diet. These include cooked fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, baked items, and roasted nuts and seeds. Additionally, refined oils, table salt, refined sugars and flours, pasteurised juices and dairy, coffee and tea, alcohol, pasta, pastries, chips, and any other processed foods or snacks are not in line with the principles of this diet.
The raw food diet, while embraced by some for its potential health benefits, lacks robust scientific support, and the practice of consuming mainly uncooked foods should be approached with caution. Understanding the balance between raw and cooked foods and considering individual health goals and dietary preferences is essential when exploring this eating style.