There have been many fad diets promoted over the years as the next best thing to keep you healthy and trim. From low carb diets to high protein diets, the range of dietary practices is vast, and often confusing. Advocates of the raw food diet claim that only eating raw food is the most healthful and best way to stay disease free. While this type of diet does provide numerous health benefits, there are also many potential health hazards to be aware of. Here’s the skinny on the raw food diet.
What Are the Benefits Of a Raw Food Diet?
Advocates of the raw food diet claim that essential enzymes and vitamins are destroyed during the cooking process, preventing a person’s body from benefiting from the nutrients within most foods. The raw food diet has been shown to have many health benefits in some individuals, including increased energy, improved digestion, weight loss, reduction in inflammation, clearer skin, and a reduced risk of heart disease. Raw foodists point out that the diet generally contains fewer trans fats and saturated fats, in comparison to the average Western diet. In addition, the diet provides plenty of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Raw foodists also claim that cooking foods produces advanced glycation in food substances, which can lead to increased inflammation in the body.
What Foods Can Be Eaten On the Raw Food Diet?
While there are some raw foodists who are also vegan, avoiding all animal products, other raw foodists eat raw cheese, raw eggs, drink raw milk, and even eat raw meat. For most raw foodists, however, a typical meal might contain foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, seeds, grains, beans, dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, juices, or seaweed. Many raw foodists sprout and germinate nuts, seeds, beans, and grains before eating them. This helps to make the food’s nutrients more bioavailable, as well as release phytic acid (a mildly toxic chemical found in most nuts, seeds, grains, and beans, which scientists believe act as a natural defense mechanism, warding off insects, mold, and fungus).
What Are the Risks Of the Raw Food Diet?
One of the biggest concerns of eating only raw foods is the potential for nutritional deficiency. Because animal proteins are often avoided in this type of diet, it is possible to become deficient in vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids. Getting adequate protein with a raw food diet can be challenging as well, as most plant based foods are lower in protein than animal sources of protein. A side effect of going raw is what many people refer to as a “detoxification reaction,” whereas your body begins cleansing and letting go of residue from overly processed foods. This is particularly likely if your previous diet contained high quantities of sugar, meat, or caffeine.
What Are Other Considerationgs To Eating Only Raw Foods?
According to Chinese medicine, eating only raw food can lead to a yin imbalance, having a cooling effect, and creating stagnation in the body. Ayurveda and Chinese medicine both provide guidelines for proper diets according to body type, and neither system of health supports the idea that everyone should eat only one type of diet. The best diet for you is likely just as unique as you are. While raw food diets may work for some people, believing that a set of rules will lead you to good health may prevent you from listening to your body, and actually nourishing yourself in the most effective manner. Talk to a naturopath, or other health care practitioner before going raw, and don’t believe the hype that there is any one diet out there that is perfect for everyone.