What's all the excitement about raw food diets? Well if
your idea of a good meal is a vegetable laden salad and you
relish the crisp textures of fresh fruit and the tastiness
of nuts, you just might be interested in the lifestyle and
health benefits of raw foodism.
Most people who decide to become a "raw foodist" try to
ensure that at least 75% of their diet consists of raw,
uncooked and unprocessed foods and 25% or less cooked food.
A raw foodist typically adheres to this 75/25 breakdown
with relative gusto because the belief is that improved
health is linked to greater consumption of raw foods.
The old adage "you are what you eat" has taken on
renewed significance with the raw food movement. Raw
foodists believe that eating food that is raw or alive
helps to create energy in the person digesting this food.
Whereas consuming cooked or "dead" food offers less
opportunity for the body to absorb vital nutrients and
enzymes that can help the body to digest food.
Researchers have confirmed that food cooked above a
certain temperature (generally above 112º F) kills enzymes
that can help the body with digestion. As a consequence,
raw foodists believe eating raw food helps to increase a
person's energy levels and natural vitality.
Think about a plant sprout and the energy within a seed
that causes that sprout to erupt. That growth is caused by
living enzymes in that seed. Only raw food has functional
live enzymes like that found in a seed. To eat food that
can release that kind of energy is a powerful concept that
many say passes on significant health benefits including
improved digestion, healthier weight levels, and reduced
risk of heart disease.
Is a raw food diet sustainable? I agree with many health
advocates that it is more difficult to maintain a raw food
diet without some variety or offerings from the cooked food
group. Meat, eggs, fish and cheese are often difficult
dietary items to drop especially when many of these food
groups contain significant nutritional value even in their
cooked form. For this reason, I and many raw foodists
include a small percentage of cooked food in our diet. A
typical raw foodists' diet may, therefore, include a
selection of raw fruits, vegetables, beans, seaweed, nuts,
seeds, eggs, fish, meat, and un-pasteurized dairy products
(e.g., yogurt and raw milk).
What also makes this "lifestyle" so appealing is that so
many of the food choices available are already widely known
to have significant health benefits. For instance, many raw
foodists include chocolate beans in their diet, and these
beans are believed to foster a feeling of wellness while
suppressing appetite-no surprise there. A little less
familiar food item that is gaining great popularity in the
raw foodist community is algae. Algae is rich in minerals,
vitamins and a substance that many believe removes toxins
from the body.
The nature and degree of health benefits may vary
between individuals but there is little to dispute about
the attributes of the foods included in a raw food diet. By
and large raw food diets contain fewer trans fats and
saturated fat than the typical Western diet.
While some argue that human beings have been cooking for
hundreds of thousands of years and our bodies have adapted
to the digestive challenges of cooked food, there is
consensus that fresh fruits and vegetables provide
necessary fiber that ultimately helps the body to better
absorb key nutrients in our food.
Some interesting cooking techniques that can be
incorporated to make a raw food diet interesting include
juicing fruits and vegetables and blending or pureeing
vegetables and herbs to create interesting flavors and
One of the best "byproducts" of raw foodism is that it's
an environmentally friendly lifestyle. There is far less
wrapping and packaging involved in the transport and retail
of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts than processed
foods. Once raw foods are consumed, peels and seeds can go
into the compost or can be used in other ways.