The Raw Food Diet

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The term Raw Food refers to all naturally occurring foods that have not been cooked or processed. In many ways, the Raw Food movement seems to have grown out of a critique of modern Western convenience-based diets – processed meats, cheese, white bread and refined sugars. So the move away from over-processed foods and the increased leaning towards Raw Foods has been pretty much in tandem.


[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

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The Raw Food Diet is believed to have noticeable positive effects. After being on this diet, people report a definite increase in energy levels, glowing skin, weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Compared to the typical Western diet, Raw Food contains fewer trans-fats, saturated fats and Sodium. It is high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. So regular consumption of the Raw Food diet could result in a reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that consumption of a raw food diet lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Raw Food proponents argue that from thirty to eighty-five percent of the nutrition in foods is destroyed in cooking. Cooking, they believe, diminishes the "life force" of food. Raw Food, in comparison, contains very high levels of enzymes, which catalyse an infinite number of chemical reactions that occur in the body.

The rationale is simple – since the human body is made of living cells, how can dead (read processed) food nourish it properly?

[edit] How does this affect me?

Proponents of the Raw Food diet claim that when we put cooked food laden with contaminants into our body, we are starving our living cells of the food they actually need. The gradual breakdown of the body that does not receive enough Raw Food, manifests in problems that range from minor (colds, tooth decay, earaches, upset stomachs and acne) to major (arthritis, hypoglycemia, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancers).

So a typical American dinner of grilled steak, baked potatoes, boiled vegetables and a sugary cooked dessert may satisfy the calorific needs of the body, but it does not satisfy its nutritional requirements. Even though one might have a full stomach after such a dinner, one’s body cells are slowly starving.

Cooked foods and dry convenient diets … are devoid of enzymes- life-promoting elements. While they may maintain life they do not promote optimum health or longevity!

Alicia McWatters, Ph.D., C.N.C

[edit] All about The Raw Food Diet

The Raw Food diet consists of unprocessed, preferably organic, whole foods, which typically, must make up at least seventy five per cent of the total food intake. These include –

[edit] Side effects

The last word on Raw Food is not yet out, according to nutritionists. There is no doubt that the diet may be useful in reducing triglycerides, cholesterol and certain types of cancers. However, the diet could have some serious side effects. For instance, many nutritionists believe that if followed for a prolonged period, this diet could result in iron and calcium deficiencies. A Washington University study found that people following a raw food diet had lower bone mass. That is why this diet may not be appropriate for children, pregnant or nursing mothers, people with anemia, or people who are at risk for osteoporosis.

The Raw Food diet is not the most convenient diet to follow, requiring a lot of time, energy, and commitment. Many foods have to be made from scratch, while others (sprouted flour, date sugar, young coconut milk, carob powder and Celtic sea salt) may not be so easy to find outside of specialized health food stores.

[edit] Criticism

Another critique is that the human body has evolved to adapt to cooked food -- jaws and teeth have become smaller, stomachs have shrunk, and small intestines have grown longer, lengthening the digestive surface area. This means that human beings may no longer be able to reap the benefits of raw food that their ancestors may have.

Other alternative diet theories like macrobiotics, Ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine suggest that people in colder climes may not be able to live on a raw-only diet.

[edit] Raw Food for pets

Off late, many veterinarians have come to believe that processed pet food is the biggest cause of illness and premature death of pet dogs and cats. A research paper published by the British Journal of Small Animal Practice in December 1995, argued that processed pet food actually suppresses the immune system and results in liver, kidney, heart and other diseases. In contrast feeding animals, raw food is more in tune with their natural nutritional requirements, and keeps them energetic and healthy for a longer time.

[edit] What can I do?

  • Easy preparation techniques

Even though these foods can not be heated beyond 116 degrees Fahrenheit, Raw Food practitioners use different techniques to make their dinners easier to digest and add variety to their diets. Commonly used techniques include sprouting seeds, grains, and beans; juicing fruit and vegetables; soaking nuts and dried fruit; blending and dehydrating food.

  • Required equipment

Other than a dehydrator -- an appliance that blows air through food at a temperature of less than 116 degrees F, most other equipment required for the Raw Food diet is found in most kitchens. Here is a list --

  • A good-quality juice extractor for juicing fruit and vegetables
  • A blender, food processor, or chopper
  • Large glass containers to soak and sprout seeds, grains, and beans
  • Mason jars for storing sprouts and other food

[edit] 90 degrees

Raw Food proponents commonly believe that eating fruit and vegetables raw is better than eating them cooked. However, research has shown that some phytochemicals are more easily digested after they have been cooked. For example, the lycopene in tomatoes is enhanced after cooking, in fact, tomato ketchup is supposed to be a better source of lycopene than tomatoes in their raw form.

Some people experience mild headaches, nausea, and cravings in the first two weeks of starting a raw food diet. This especially happens when their previous diet was rich in meat, sugar, and caffeine.

[edit] See Also

[edit] References

  • Holistic Health for People and Animals
  • What is Raw & Living Food?
  • Raw Food Diet

[edit] Additional Information

  • For some raw food recipes, go to The Raw Food Diet
  • For FAQs on Raw Food, go to Raw Foods