It is common understanding that adding raw vegetables and fruits to one’s daily diet has many health benefits. They add roughage to our system, are richer in certain nutrients and minerals and improve the health of our skin to name a few. While some dieticians suggest that only a portion of what you eat should be raw, some of the most popular diets today recommend that almost eighty percent of your total food intake should be raw.
What are the defining characteristics of a Raw Food Diet?
- 80% of what you eat has to be raw and preferably anti-inflammatory.
- Animal Protein and animals products are allowed in limited quantities (this characteristic differentiates it from Vegan Diets)
- Items can be cooked only in temperatures lower than 45’c, i.e., steaming, juicing, sprouting, poaching, etc.
- Hydrogenated oils, processed nut and vegetable oils, etc. (Bad Fats) are replaced with good fats like cold-pressed coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, etc.
- Processed food items like condiments, white sugar, refined grains, canned foods, etc. are completely eliminated.
- Fermented products like sourdough bread (in moderation), Kombucha, Yoghurt, Kimchi, etc. are permitted.
Raw Food Diets have several benefits. Cooking or excessive heating destroys a lot of essential nutrients (Like Vitamin C) our body needs and can get from fruits and vegetables in its natural form. Therefore eating those items raw, juiced or poached is definitely a healthier option. However, certain fruits and vegetables become more potent when cooked like in the case of the nutrients present in Mushrooms and Peppers. Further, cooking and heating kills bacteria and pathogens that can be very harmful to us if consumed, e.g.: Tape Worms are present in many leafy vegetables.
Any adaptive change to one’s eating pattern, when done in excess, causes more harm than good. To lean towards any one extreme is bound to create a certain level of imbalance within the body. Also, such diets are expensive and inconvenient to follow if on a budget and hectic schedule. Lastly, finding reliable and healthy alternatives to obtain the nutrients you miss out on consuming by virtue of following such diets can be quite a challenge.
Many dieticians refer to the Raw Food Diet as the anti-diet because it meant to be a lifestyle change and not a mere quick fix. The concept of eating healthier, which is eating mostly plants and limiting your animal protein intake to the minimum is definitely a step in the right direction. However, just how much of a move you should make depends entirely on what your body needs and can handle. Many people with weak digestive systems and / or certain nutrient deficiencies might suffer when put under such diets. Therefore, it is always advisable to seek medical guidance before hand.