Raw foods

12 Feb 2014 1:55 PMLicensee Person
Raw foods

A quick search on the Internet for "raw foods diet" will yield multiple links to websites and blogs. Benefits vary and include weight loss, better energy, and anti-aging. What exactly is a raw-foods-only diet? And is it mostly another celebrity-endorsed food hype, or is there any sound scientific basis to going raw?

RAW FOOD
A quick search on the Internet for "raw foods diet" will yield multiple links to websites and blogs. Benefits vary and  include weight loss, better energy, and anti-aging. What exactly is a raw-foods-only diet? And is it mostly another celebrity-endorsed food hype, or is there any sound scientific basis to going raw?

Raw Foods Diet: Definition

Those who eat only raw foods believe that foods should not be heated beyond 80 degrees. Raw foodists believe that higher temperatures destroy the naturally occurring enzymes and nutrients in the foods we eat, thereby preventing the body from obtaining the optimal health benefits of the food.

Typical staples of a raw foods diet include plenty of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, sprouted whole grains and sprouted seeds, oils, herbs, seaweed, and some fermented foods.

 

The variations in raw food eating include - avoiding meat and dairy products and are therefore also vegan; eliminate additional foods completely, consuming only vegetables and fruits. Other raw foodists include raw (unpasteurized) dairy or cheese, as well as raw fish or eggs.

Because there is no "conventional" cooking in a raw-foods kitchen, raw foodists make use of food dehydrators to produce items such as fruit roll-ups or dehydrated vegetable "chips" without exceeding the 80 degrese temperature limit. Not surprisingly, food processors and blenders are also popular gadgets. Which you will see advertised everywhere at the moment from nuti bullets to vitamixers – it’s the latest craze to blend.

 

Going Raw: Benefits

One obvious benefit of going raw is the increase of plant foods (particularly the minimally processed type, the leafy greens). If you are eating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, and grains daily, you are way ahead most australians. Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables (brococcoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc) especially raw ones, can be associated with lower risk of certain types of cancers.

 

Other staples of the raw foods diet, such as nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains are also high in the right kind of fats and fiber. Obviously these are  more nutrient-dense than our typical diet of highly refined and processed foods. Sprouting grains or seeds has been shown to improve the bioavailability of some nutrients. In addition, the use of fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut or kefir means regular consumption of probiotics, or good bacteria, which help maintain the right balance of healthy microflora in the gut.

 

Raw food enthusiasts believe that one needs to eat raw to obtain optimal benefits from naturally occurring enzymes in foods. However, the enzymes contained in raw foods are denatured by the hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach once the food enters your stomach, raw or cooked. Our guts are an amazing thing.. if you have digestive issues sometimes raw can be hard to break down.

 

But cooking breaks apart fibers and cellular walls to release nutrients that otherwise would be unavailable from the same raw food. Cooking tomatoes, for example, increases by five-fold the bioavailability of the antioxidant lycopene. Similarly, cooking carrots makes the beta-carotene they contain more available for the body to absorb. Soups are full of nutrients that would not be available in a pot of raw carrots, onions, parsnips and potatoes. 

 

While it's true that cooking (applying heat) to foods can destroy or reduce the level of some nutrients, such as water-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, and some unsaturated fats, other nutrients actually become more bioavailable (better absorbed by the body) once the food is cooked. For example, lycopene in tomatoes and biotin in eggs are more available to your body once they're cooked. The texture and taste of raw egg… well need I say more.

 

If you are thinking about going Raw to lose weight be careful as one of the main ingredients I have noted in a lot of recipes is dates or other dried fruit. dried fruit contains a lot of fructose – sugar; if your body isn’t burning the sugar then it converts to fat. 

 

 

Going Raw: Nutrients to Watch

Some nutrients are usually found in meat and dairy. If you or someone you know is adhering to a plants-only raw diet, the following nutrients will need extra attention. Vegan food choices are suggested below. 

§  Vitamin B12: Nutritional yeast is a popular vegan source. Your body needs only a small amount of this nutrient, but it is required to maintain the health of your nervous system.

§  Vitamin D: Your skin can make Vitamin D during exposure to sunlight.

§  Iron: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains such as quinoa, and beans can provide non-heme iron. Also think of pumpkin seeds, prune juice, and blackstrap molasses. Absorption of iron from plant foods is enhanced when consumed with Vitamin C–rich sources such as kiwi, citrus fruits, strawberries.

§  Zinc: Good sources include whole grains, nuts, and legumes.

§  Calcium: Try tofu made with calcium salt, calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages, tahini, almonds, and leafy green vegetables such as kale.

§  Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA are found mostly in seafood. Also found in walnuts, canola oil, or flax.

 

The Bottom Line

Raw or not, a mostly (or wholly) plant-based diet has been associated with lower risk of certain chronic diseases. While it is possible to get all the nutrients your body needs from a plant-based diet, it is important to keep the following in mind that any diets (not just the raw food diet) should incorporate a wide variety of plant-based foods that are minimally processed. Think whole grains, nuts (as whole nuts or nut butters), seeds, beans and lentils, vegetables, and fruit.

 

In my personal opinion – a raw food diet is good to follow however a balanced diet is something that should be incorporated. I am not saying eating red meat but cooked fish and eggs are a great source of essential fatty acids and protein.