What if I told you that you could have a raw food diet for lunch or supper? What would your reaction be like? Well, of course, the questions that might come through your mind are; whether this kind of diet is healthy, tasty, safe, and if it can satisfy you or not.
People who support the raw food diet believe that eating raw foods comes with several benefits including improved health, weight loss and reduced risk to chronic diseases.
This article brings you a wrap-up of the raw food diet, looking at the food to eat, food to avoid, the benefits and the downsides of the diet.
What is a raw food diet?
Raw food diet, rawism, or raw foodism are practices that involve the eating of mostly uncooked and unprocessed plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seed or organic food.
According to Wikipedia, the first documented evidence of practicing the raw food diet was by the Ethiopian monk Qozmos who in the late 1300s CE decided to put to end sensual pleasures to pursue spiritual goals and resorted to eating uncooked food.
Contemporary raw food diets were first developed in Switzerland between the 19th and 20th centuries by Oscar Benner a Swiss physician together with his German lebensreform movement that advocated for the back to nature lifestyle insisting among others raw food, organic food, nudism, and alternative medicine.
The proponents of this kind of diet consider raw food as that which has not been heated above 40 degrees Celsius, non-refined, non-pasteurized, and has never been treated in any form.
However, it allows alternative forms like juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting.
How do you transition to a raw food diet?
Getting started on a raw food diet could be as interesting as it is overwhelming. Whether you are a newbie trying to shift to a raw diet or you have been on and off, you will meet challenges along the way.
There is no exact formula to help you shift from your junk-eating habits and cooked food to this kind of lifestyle.
All you need is support, inspiration, and time to adapt to this new habit.
Below are some of the tips that can help you to easily transition to the raw food diet.
1. Start slow
You don’t need to go raw overnight or suddenly abandon the cooked food lifestyle. It is important to start slow and let the body get accustomed to the changes. Begin by adding fruits and vegetables day by day and with time, you will be there.
2. Learn about nutrition
When you do some research about nutrition, you will come to know about the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that your body needs to be healthy. With all this knowledge, you will courageously attack the diet knowing precisely what you need from this kind of diet.
3. Get a food processor and Blender
Once you have a blender and food processor, preparing raw food will be less cumbersome and will take you a few minutes. You only dump your favorite ingredients in the blender and within no time you have a raw food recipe.
We have an article on blenders and what to consider when you want to buy one. Most of the blenders we have recommended in this article are affordable as all are under $100. Check out this list of recommended blenders to guide you on buying your best one here.
4. Start with your favorite recipe
With cooked food, we normally choose or pick foods or recipes that are tasty and appetizing. The same applies to raw food. Do not begin with foods that you hate. This will kill your appetite and eventually discourage you from the whole idea of raw food.
For example, if you don’t like cabbage, don’t start off with it. You can introduce it later, slowly, especially if you are being driven by its health benefits.
5. Join support groups
Being on the raw food diet can feel lonely especially when your spouse or family members do not embrace the idea. Find your fellow foodies in the neighborhood where you can share ideas. You can also find support groups over the internet like you-tube, Facebook, and Instagram. This will keep you moving.
6. Keep a diary or food log
When you begin the raw food diet, you may experience so many changes. The mood, energy, and many more may change when you eat particular foods.
With the help of the diary, you can take note of the foods that you eat and also take note of the before and after changes. This will help you to determine the foods that don’t go well with you so you can minimize them.
Documentation also points out other aspects of life that need improvement
What to eat and what to avoid on the raw food diet
While different people interpret the raw food diet differently, the framers of the raw food diet insist that; to follow this kind of lifestyle, make sure that 75% of the food you eat is raw.
Below are the foods to eat
- All fresh fruits
- All raw vegetables
- Raw grains and legumes, sprouted or soaked
- Dried fruits and meats
- Raw eggs or diary
- Raw meat or fish
- Fermented foods
The foods to avoid
Anything that has been processed is not acceptable as part of the raw food diet.
- All cooked food
- Refined oils
- Table salt
- Refined sugars and flavors
- Coffee, tea, and alcohol
- Pasta and more
What are the health benefits of the raw food diet?
Since the raw food diet is plant-based, it is dubbed with a variety of nutrients that have potential health benefits. These include;
1. Help digestion
The raw food diet is plant-based and high in soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool so that food moves faster through your gut. This helps constipation.
The soluble fiber nourishes good bacteria in the intestines which trigger the production of nutrients like short-chain fats that help gut inflammation.
2. Aid weight loss
For those of you looking to lose weight, the raw food diet is the way to go. It is low in calories and rich in fiber. The fiber keeps you full for longer hours which reduces your calorie intake. Reducing your food intake eventually leads to weight loss.
3. Improve heart health
Studies show that the consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Since the raw food diet is more of the fruits and vegetables, following the diet implies reduced heart diseases.
4. Reduced risk to diabetes
Fiber and fruits are low in sugar compared to processed foods. The intake of raw food will lower your blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. This will reduce the risk of type 2diabetes.
5. Raw food is rich in enzymes
The proponents of the raw food diet attest that cooking food alters the natural enzymes and essential vitamins. Therefore eating the food in raw form will provide the body with the essential nutrients and the enzymes good for digestion.
6. High in nutrients
The raw foodism is plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. All these foods are a natural store to plenty of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and natural fats, unlike the cooked food.
Some water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, B are destroyed at high temperatures. So eating them raw is far much better.
What are the downsides of the diet?
Much as the diet has health benefits, there are downsides associated with this diet. These include;
1. Food poison
According to the center for disease control, uncooked animal products are most likely to cause food poisoning. They may include raw eggs, uncooked meat, and unpasteurized milk. However, this is less likely to happen in the case of cooked food since bacteria are killed.
2. Nutrient deficiencies
Since the diet discourages the use of supplements, people practicing the diet may experience nutrient deficiencies. Essential nutrients like vitamin B-12, omega-3 fatty acids may not be efficiently provided with the diet since they come from animal products.
3. May reduce fertility
One study showed that 70% of women who followed the raw eating plan experienced irregularities in their menstrual cycle and one third stopped menstruation entirely.
4. A drastic decrease in calories
As we have seen above, the raw food diet is low in calories. Someone switching from cooked food to a raw diet may experience a dramatic decrease in calories.
5. Tooth erosion
Another study found that people practicing this kind of diet over long periods had an increased risk of tooth erosion
6. Time and preparation
The raw diet requires quite some time to put together especially if you are going to put into consideration all the necessary food nutrients.
7. Digestive problem
Because it is a new diet to the digestive system, digestive problems like cramping and gas may occur even though this does not stay for so long.
The diet is too restrictive and impractical which might be pressing towards an individual.
Can you live on raw food?
The answer is yes, a human being can live one raw food. If I can take you back to the Stone Age, before the discovery of fire, people used to eat raw vegetables and fruits.
Our bodies are created in such a way that we can adjust. We have evolved to digest food as we have now adopted different ways of cooking.
It is possible to survive on raw food, only that there are risks associated with this kind of diet. People tend to be underweight, mineral deficiencies, low bone density, food poison, and more.
What is the difference between the raw food diet and a vegan diet?
Raw food diet includes plant-based foods, raw animal products, and raw or dried meat while the vegan diet eliminates animal-derived food of all kinds such as meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products.
The raw food diet being plant-based provides numerous nutrients like proteins, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. All these have health benefits, such as helping diabetes, heart disease, and weight loss.
However, with this kind of diet that does restrict supplements of any kind, you may be prone to nutrient deficiencies since the diet can not provide all the nutrients.
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