Raw food diets have been propounded for a number of years now, and some people swear by them. So what's the go with making a go of them?
What is the raw food diet?
The fundamental premise of the raw food diet is to eat 75 percent uncooked food, as the cooking process destroys enzymes that help us with our digestion. Foods include fruit, vegies, nuts, seeds, legumes, seaweed, dried fruit, juices (if freshly made) and mineral water.
Dried food is allowed as the drying process doesn't reach a temperature high enough to kill off enzymes.
What's right with the raw food diet?
Most raw foods are very high in vitamins and minerals, giving you an excellent balance of the nutrients you need to stay alive and prosper. They are also quite easily digested by the body, leaving you less sluggish and lacking in energy than, say, after a big meal of meat and potatoes. Fruit and vegetables are also high in water, leaving you less likely to experience symptoms of a high-fibre diet, such as constipation.
The high fibre and vitamin-mineral content of these foods make it less likely that you will suffer from "western" diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. Externally, also, many people claim that they have clearer skin and stronger hair and nails.
What's wrong with them?
Raw food diets tend to suggest that meat should be avoided and that nuts and seeds should be eaten in its place. Although these do contain protein, they don't contain as many different amino acids as meat does and so a greater number of vegetable and nut products need to be eaten to make up the same number of amino acids (these acids make up what we know as protein). The busy lives that we lead today don't often leave much time for extensive meal planning and shopping, thus leaving us at risk of nutritional deficiency if we get this wrong on a consistent basis.
Eating cooked foods with raw foods can also lead to indigestion, as different stomach acids are produced. A high-fibre diet, and particularly if your guts are not used to it, may also lead to excessive flatulence, which can be socially embarrassing and uncomfortable. Some people may also feel uncomfortable with increased visits to the toilet.
Fruit and vegetables often have pesticide residues on them and, as your intake will be stepped up, it is likely that your liver will have an additional load on it from these pesticides. Buying organic fruit and vegetables will be helpful, though the cost of these may send your supermarket costs soaring. Always wash or peel your fruit and vegetables, as appropriate.
If your previous diet was high in toxins, you may also find that you get headaches, nausea and other detoxification symptoms. These should pass within three to five days.
Although fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds have enormous variation, the diet is still quite restrictive making it more likely that you will get bored and stop doing the regime. In addition, some components of fruit and vegetables are better absorbed if cooked such as lycopene in tomatoes, which has been shown to be beneficial in preventing prostate cancer in men.
What would I need to do the raw food diet?
Unless you have oodles of time on your hands, you'l probably find that a food processor and juicer may come in handy. Containers to soak foods in may also be useful.
Where can I find more information?