Meal preparation can be a hassle and a time-consuming activity for most people. Most people are not in the mood to prepare a great dinner at the end of a long day at work. This is the reason why a raw food diet can be appealing to some people. Just mix in a combination of raw food like fruits, veggies, grains and nuts – and that’s it. No need to use stoves, pots and pans or ovens.
In a nutshell, a pure raw food diet is a modified vegan diet that limits you to foods that are cooked below 116 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. But you can still juice, soak, puree, or sprout your foods. This kind of diet was developed based on the idea that the natural enzymes and nutrients are destroyed by the cooking process. According to theory, heat breaks down some vitamins and phytonutrients, and destroys important enzymes in foods that helps us absorb and digest our food.
The main benefit of going on a raw food diet is it gets you eating fruits and vegetables and other healthy one-ingredient food that are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. This way, you reduce your risk for inflammatory diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disorders. Eating more healthy foods also work wonders for your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Observing this diet also helps you cut down processed foods and deep-fried foods, which are high in calories and unhealthy ingredients. This reason is enough for some to make it their diet routine for weight loss and staying lean.
What you eat on a raw food diet
Following a raw food diet means eating things that are uncooked, unprocessed and mostly organic. Your staples will be fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, grains and beans. Coconut milk, seaweed, sun-dried and dehydrated fruits are also included. Instead of cooked whole grain or beans, you eat sprouted grains and beans. Nuts and seeds are also soaked or blended to make nut milks or cheese-like products. Some raw food dieters eat unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, meats and fish.
Your food can be a bit warmed, as long as it doesn’t go above 118 degrees. Juicers, blenders, food processors and dehydrators are used to prepare foods.
Downsides of 100% raw diet
Though there are stories of people who benefited by taking a pure raw diet, many nutritionists are against it. The theory that cooking destroys enzymes in food is valid, but most food enzymes are destroyed in the gut with stomach acid anyway. Nutritionists believe that the theory behind the pure raw food diet is an oversimplification. It is true that heat can break down antioxidants like vitamin C, but other nutrients like zinc, potassium and lycopene – which is found in foods like mushrooms, asparagus and tomatoes – can get a nutrient boost from cooking. Cooking food still has a lot of benefits. This is why there are healthy cooking techniques like steaming, boiling and grilling.
Also, a pure raw food diet very difficult to commit to. There are people who tried to go eat 100% raw, but they ended up giving up completely after a few days because it’s too hard.
Restricting yourself with other foods just to commit to a 100% raw diet can also put you into a great risk of nutrient deficiency. It’s hard and almost impossible to maintain a pure raw diet and still get the nutrients you need. Missing out on meat, dairy and fish cuts can make you lack healthy proteins and fats, as well as vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium and selenium. Avoiding cooked grains and beans can also make you miss out on good sources of fiber.
Gas and bloating can be an unpleasant side effect of going full raw. A lot of raw veggies rich in insoluble fibers that can’t be digested by our body gets fermented in the gut by bacteria, which causes gas. Cooking cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help soften the gas-causing fibers. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can especially find that a raw food diet can cause digestive distress.
A raw food diet can be non-vegan, too. However, drinking uncooked animal foods can also be dangerous to your diet. Dairy products, when unpasteurized, can carry listeria and other kinds of bacteria that can cause sickness. Meanwhile, raw eggs and meat can carry food-borne pathogens that can harm a weak immune system or pose risks during pregnancy.
Why 50% raw is better
The main reason why you don’t need to go eat 100% raw food is simply because you can get a lot healthier by just deciding to eat 50% raw foods. Even just eating 10% raw is a big step if you don’t eat raw food entirely. Also, a few raw foods is better than eating no raw food at all. However, you’ll just achieve the best results for your health and body if you eat around 50% or even more, if you want to.
The 50% raw food diet has originated in the late 1800s, as advocated by a Swiss nutritionist and physician named Maximillian Bircher-Benner. According to his book, The Prevention of Incurable Disease, it is good to eat 50% raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and the rest of your diet must consist of “conservatively cooked” eggs, meats, veggies and whole grain breads.
Adapting a 50% raw food diet can improve your health because first of all, it gets rid of the junk food you take. Going 50% raw means cutting out the bad stuff, because you need to include healthy, raw food in the diet, and have other healthy and cooked foods for the rest. Just ditching the usual junk food like fast food, chips, donuts, sodas and the like can make a big improvement to your health – but replacing them with healthy, raw foods can do a lot more advantage.
For many people who are overweight, adapting a 50% raw food diet can help them lose weight. It seems logical because it means getting rid of those foods that cause excess fats, and it adds better foods that help in better digestion and faster metabolism. If you’re not overweight, adapting a raw food diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid all the health problems that are common these days.
This diet can also help people who want to regain their health and vitality because of raw food’s ability to cleanse and detoxify the body. Eating raw foods can help you avoid degenerative and inflammatory diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and diabetes. Eating raw foods can also help you achieve better, softer and clearer skin.
Unlike diet fads that come and go, the 50% raw food diet is different. It’s a holistic way of dieting that will allow you to eat healthy, tasty and nutritious food. It’s a way of getting back to the basics and giving your body what it really needs – high-quality nutrients near their natural state as possible.