The raw food diet, also known as the raw vegan diet, involves consuming uncooked plant foods in their natural state while excluding animal products and by-products.
However, some people may also prefer unpasteurized dairy products or raw eggs. In other words, the raw food diet can be defined as consuming only uncooked fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts (among other foods) and eliminating processed foods, animal products, and preservatives to promote better health.
This diet may seem extreme to some people who are used to eating cooked or preserved foods. The raw food diet has advantages that make it worth trying out if you’re interested in improving your health, but it definitely has some cons that may affect your decision. It involves significant lifestyle changes, and thus it’s important to understand what you can expect from the raw food diet before you attempt it.
The science behind the raw food diet is still controversial; there are some things you should know about following this type of eating plan before making your decision. Here are the basics of raw food diets and some pros and cons to help you decide if it’s right for you.
The Raw Food Diet Basics - What is a raw food diet?
The raw food diet is essentially a plant-based whole foods diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and occasional sprouted grains and legumes. The idea is that cooking—which involves heating above 118 degrees Fahrenheit—destroys many essential nutrients in our food and makes them less digestible. Advocates of raw food diets claim that eating raw can help you lose weight, improve digestion and boost your energy levels.
How does a raw food diet work for the body?
The raw food diet can be summarized as a way of eating that allows fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds – but, not meat or animal products – in their natural form (inclusive of unpasteurized dairy products or raw eggs) and encourages frequent meals.
Also known as living foods, uncooked foods, or whole foods, they’re high in fiber and water content while low in calories and cholesterol, filling you up without adding weight. It’s believed that certain nutrients break down during cooking, making them less beneficial for our bodies.
Raw food diets have been gaining momentum in recent years as people look for healthier, more natural eating methods. But can a raw diet live up to its name and deliver optimum health? Here’s an overview of how a raw diet works for your body, what benefits you may see from eating raw foods, and some caveats about following such a restrictive lifestyle over time.
Benefits of consuming raw food diet
Raw foods are more energy-dense than cooked foods, meaning that you get more nutrients in a smaller amount of calories, making weight loss much easier to achieve. According to research published in The Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Raw food eaters tend to be thinner than those who do not consume raw foods.
#1. Raw food diets are a great way to detoxify your body
It can be very beneficial in weight loss and overall health. Raw foods help cleanse your body because they contain enzymes that aid in digestion, allowing you to absorb more nutrients from your meals than you would otherwise. This is also why many people who switch to a raw diet experience weight loss—their bodies can process and absorb more nutrients from their meals, so they don’t feel hungry or tired after eating.
#2. Raw food diets promote healthy skin and hair
Consuming raw fruits and vegetables helps keep your skin looking young, as they contain high levels of antioxidants (which prevent free radicals from forming) and vitamin C (which helps produce collagen). Likewise, consuming many raw fruits and vegetables can give you stronger hair due to an increased intake of vitamins A, B6, C, E, K & folate (all essential for healthy hair growth).
#3. Raw food diets help you live longer
A raw vegan diet is one of the healthiest ways to eat, as you’re consuming good amount of fruits and vegetables (which are packed with antioxidants and other vitamins). According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke & diabetes—all conditions that cause premature death.
#4. Raw foods help you lose weight and keep it off
When you switch over to a raw vegan diet, you’ll likely notice that your body begins burning fat more quickly than before. This is because raw foods contain high levels of fiber and enzymes, which aid in digestion, keeps you fuller for a longer period of time, and help your body absorb more nutrients from your meals (meaning you won’t feel hungry or tired after eating).
Also check: Fat Burners-Food, Exercises, and Diet Plan
Possible risk factors and disadvantages of the raw food diet
1. Takes longer to digest
- Raw fruits and vegetables take longer to digest than cooked food because they need to be chewed properly and consume a lot of energy. Overconsumption of raw fruits and vegetables may upset your stomach.
- Eating only raw food can lead to gastric problems like gas and bloating, etc.
2. May lack nutrients
- Some nutrients are better available to the body when cooked.
3. Maybe unsafe
- Some foods are not safe when eaten uncooked. Cooking destroys toxic chemicals present in such foods.
- Eating raw foods can increase your exposure to harmful bacteria like salmonella and E-coli. To minimize your risk of infection with pathogenic organisms, wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them raw.
A good rule of thumb is to wash produce in a solution of one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice per quart of water. You should also avoid cross-contamination by not using utensils that have touched raw meat on raw produce (or vice versa). Be careful about storing raw meats and vegetables together; if you choose to store them together, be sure to use separate cutting boards and separate storage containers to avoid contamination.
The raw food diet has a lot of pros, but there are some cons you have to consider before following such a drastic change in your eating habits. If you are not careful, you could very well end up malnourished and sick if you do not know how and what foods will be in your raw food regimen or what supplements you may need to take.
What is an 80-20 raw diet?
In an 80-20 raw diet, you eat mostly raw foods, with 80% of your diet being uncooked vegetables and fruits, nuts, and seeds. The remaining 20% has been cooked at low temperatures to minimize the loss of nutrients while preserving taste and texture.
Please note: According to nutritionists, following this diet for a longer period of time is not considered idle. Please consult a dietitian before making any dietary changes.