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The Benefits Of A Raw Food Diet

By Melissa Foster

Eating foods that have not been cooked, microwaved, processed, genetically engineered or irradiated has become increasingly popular in recent years. This is due to the belief that these processes cause the destruction of natural enzymes and a reduction in nutrient content. Alternative methods such as juicing, dehydrating, sprouting, soaking and blending are used. A raw food diet is usually plant-based.

This eating style is believed to improve digestion as it increases the amount of dietary fiber consumed. The body becomes more alkaline than acidic, reducing inflammation. As foods move more quickly through the gut, they do not sit there and become fermented, causing bloating, gas and toxins to accumulate. Heart health benefits too because of weight loss and lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A less significant benefit but one which can make a difference to the appearance is a lovely, clear skin.

This way of eating is largely plant-based. The oils that can be used include all cold-pressed ones such as coconut oil and olive oil. Nuts, seeds and sprouts make an important nutritional component as do fresh fruits. Vegetables can be prepared in many other ways, besides cooking them. Sauerkraut and other fermented foods are frequently used. Sea vegetables such as seaweed add an interesting source of nutrients.

Foods to be avoided include all cooked grains, meats, fruits and vegetables. Baked items and refined sugars, grains and flours are also avoided. Coffee and tea, alcohol, pasteurized juices and dairy are on the banned list as are foods with the words baked, toasted, cooked, dry-roasted or toasted on the label.

Cooked eggs for breakfast may be replaced with a nutritious green smoothie containing almond milk, spinach, chia seeds and almond butter. This gives energy and a good dose of nutrients to start the day. Snacks may consist of nuts, apples, freshly squeezed juices and carrots. Salads containing sunflower seeds, avocado and nuts are healthy options for lunchtimes. In the evening, portabello mushrooms can make a great replacement for steak.

Changing to this type of lifestyle can be difficult. It is better to approach it gradually and it is also important for those who are pregnant or suffering from some disease to consult a health professional before making the change. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many people feel much healthier when eating like this but there are others who do not.

Experts agree that weight loss needs to be monitored. Losing weight can be good for the health but losing too much too quickly is not advised. Evidence shows that those who lose weight slowly and steadily have more chance of keeping it off.

One of the challenges of eating largely plant-based foods is that it can result in a deficiency of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, meat, fish and some grains and many people trying to eat uncooked foods eliminate these foods because they taste better when cooked. Vitamin B12 supplements may be added to counteract this problem. The protein and iron found in animal products can be replaced with other options.

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