A raw foods diet may ring of faddism and entering into
any diet uneducated can prove detrimental to your health. It is however based
on solid nutritional principals and if carefully planned and monitored has the
potential to treat and prevent a number of diseases including diabetes,
cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
As most processed foods including refined sugars, alcohol and caffeine are omitted from the diet, weight loss naturally occurs.
Motivation for following this regime is to provide the body access to the complete nutritional value of food, in particular living enzymes and vitamins believed essential for proper digestion and optimum cellular activity.
It is believed that high heat (cooking) destroys the natural protective, healing and functional properties of food; therefore the diet primarily consists of plant foods in their most natural state - uncooked and unprocessed.
Very little medical research has been conducted
specifically on a raw foods diet but it is interesting to note that some foods
have been found to contain more nutrients when cooked; for example steaming
broccoli increases its glucosinolates - enzymes that stimulate the body’s own
antioxidant systems - while cooked tomato contains more of the photochemical
lycopene than when raw.
Of equal importance in 2002 the Swedish National Food Authority discovered cancer causing chemicals called ‘acryl amides’ were being formed when plant based starch foods were processed or cooked at high temperatures - hot chips anyone?
Nutritionally, considerations are very similar to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Certain nutrients primarily sourced from animal products such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, omega-3 and vitamin B12 have the potential to be lacking in this diet and identified deficiencies should be addressed with a supplement.
Some animal products however may be included in their raw form such as unpasteurised cow and goat’s milk or cheese and yoghurt made from unpasteurised milk, sashimi (raw fish), fresh oysters or uncooked eggs.
Naturally low in trans and saturated fats, such a plan also contains very little cholesterol, sodium or sugar. Foods are typically nutrient dense and high in fiber.
The use of food dehydrators or sun drying is acceptable if temperatures do not exceed 50 degrees Celsius.
Choosing to follow this eating plan exclusively is an extreme health measure and lifestyle decision. While certainly not impossible, a considerable amount of time, dedication and effort is required to ensure nutritional balances are achieved. However by taking the principals of ‘rawfoodism’ and combining them within a regular healthy diet, many similar benefits may be attained.
Choose gentler methods of cooking such as steaming or
poaching to retaining the natural nutritional value of food, and incorporate
more unprocessed foods into the daily diet in the form of complex salads.
Experiment and let natural flavours and textures feature
in meals rather than heavy dressings or sauces. Certainly avoiding fried, excessively
cooked, processed or refined foods will benefit any diet.
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