raw

Changing to a raw food diet believed to help with fat reduction, energy levels, cholesterol, digestion and overall health

Friday, December 27, 2013 by: Joséphine Beck
Tags: raw food diet, weight loss, digestive health

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(NaturalNews) Because the raw food diet is based on unprocessed and uncooked plant foods, this diet is considered to be very rich in nutrients needed for health improvement. But medical studies on raw food diets have shown some positive and negative health outcomes. Here is a resume of what the raw food diet consists of and the benefits and risks of eating raw foods.

What does the raw food diet consist of?

The raw food diet consists mainly of fresh fruit and vegetables. Sprouts, seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, seaweed, beans, nuts, dried fruit and young coconut milk are also part of the diet. Most followers are vegan, but some choose to consume raw animal products, like raw (unpasteurized) milk, cheese made from raw milk, sashimi, raw fish and certain kinds of raw meat.

At least 75% of the diet should be raw, and the rest can be heated as long as it stays below 116 F. Heating above this temperature is believed to destroy enzymes and decrease the nutritional value of foods. Some nutrients are lost in cooking, such as vitamin C and certain B vitamins.

The raw food diet also consists of alternating several cooking techniques: juicing and blending fruits and vegetables, sprouting seeds, grains and beans, soaking nuts and dried fruits, and dehydrating fruits. The idea is to make food more digestible and allow organs to work better.

Sweeteners should be avoided, especially table sugar or even maple syrup and agave nectar which are not raw. Stevia or raw honey may be used as an alternative. The raw food diet is a detox diet which helps accumulated toxins be eliminated. While on this kind of diet, it is best to stay away from foods and other things that lead to toxin build-up (such as alcohol, dairy, vinegar and products containing trans fats).

Can the raw food diet help improve health?

When food is baked at high temperatures - and especially when it is fried or barbecued - toxic compounds are formed and important nutrients are lost. Most people have very good results with the raw food diet. Proponents of a raw food diet claim that there are many benefits to eating raw foods, including weight loss, energy levels, cholesterol, digestion, skin health and improved overall health.

On the other hand, studies show that the body absorbs much more of the beneficial anticancer compounds (carotenoids and phytochemicals - especially lutein and lycopene) from cooked vegetables compared to raw. For example, a study (published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2002) found that cooking actually boosts the amount of lycopene in tomatoes. Similarly, cooking carrots makes the beta-carotene they contain more available for the body to absorb.

Any risks?

Eating only raw foods can be quite aggressive for the system and may not be appropriate for everybody: for example, pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and people who have anemia, have bone issues or live in colder climates. So always consult your practitioner before attempting a raw food diet or if you experience unusual symptoms.

One must also be aware that certain nutritional deficiencies can occur on the raw food diet, including deficiencies in vitamin B12, calcium, iron or zinc. The Vegan Society and Vegan Outreach, among others, recommend that vegans either consistently eat foods fortified with B12 or take a B12 supplement.

Also, studies have shown that raw salad greens, such as lettuce and spinach, can harbor harmful bacteria due to irrigation and fertilization. Therefore, there is a safety issue surrounding raw foods, because they may contain harmful bacteria that typical sterilizing processes such as cooking would normally kill.

Sources include:

http://health.usnews.com

http://vegetarian.about.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

About the author:
Originally from France, Joséphine Beck has qualification in digestive care and nutritional product advising, and holds a master degree in communication and information. She now lives in BC, Canada.
Joséphine is the founder of the website OptiDerma.com, through which she helps people find natural remedies for skin problems.

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