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Taking The Mystery Out Of The Raw Food Diet

Feb 28, 2008
What's all the excitement about raw food diets? Well if your idea of a good meal is a vegetable laden salad and you relish the crisp textures of fresh fruit and the tastiness of nuts, you just might be interested in the lifestyle and health benefits of raw foodism.

Most people who decide to become a "raw foodist" try to ensure that at least 75% of their diet consists of raw, uncooked and unprocessed foods and 25% or less cooked food. A raw foodist typically adheres to this 75/25 breakdown with relative gusto because the belief is that improved health is linked to greater consumption of raw foods.

The old adage "you are what you eat" has taken on renewed significance with the raw food movement. Raw foodists believe that eating food that is raw or alive helps to create energy in the person digesting this food. Whereas consuming cooked or "dead" food offers less opportunity for the body to absorb vital nutrients and enzymes that can help the body to digest food.

Researchers have confirmed that food cooked above a certain temperature (generally above 112 F) kills enzymes that can help the body with digestion. As a consequence, raw foodists believe eating raw food helps to increase a person's energy levels and natural vitality.

Think about a plant sprout and the energy within a seed that causes that sprout to erupt. That growth is caused by living enzymes in that seed. Only raw food has functional live enzymes like that found in a seed. To eat food that can release that kind of energy is a powerful concept that many say passes on significant health benefits including improved digestion, healthier weight levels, and reduced risk of heart disease.

Is a raw food diet sustainable? I agree with many health advocates that it is more difficult to maintain a raw food diet without some variety or offerings from the cooked food group. Meat, eggs, fish and cheese are often difficult dietary items to drop especially when many of these food groups contain significant nutritional value even in their cooked form. For this reason, I and many raw foodists include a small percentage of cooked food in our diet. A typical raw foodists' diet may, therefore, include a selection of raw fruits, vegetables, beans, seaweed, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, and un-pasteurized dairy products (e.g., yogurt and raw milk).

What also makes this "lifestyle" so appealing is that so many of the food choices available are already widely known to have significant health benefits. For instance, many raw foodists include chocolate beans in their diet, and these beans are believed to foster a feeling of wellness while suppressing appetite--no surprise there. A little less familiar food item that is gaining great popularity in the raw foodist community is algae. Algae is rich in minerals, vitamins and a substance that many believe removes toxins from the body.

The nature and degree of health benefits may vary between individuals but there is little to dispute about the attributes of the foods included in a raw food diet. By and large raw food diets contain fewer trans fats and saturated fat than the typical Western diet.

While some argue that human beings have been cooking for hundreds of thousands of years and our bodies have adapted to the digestive challenges of cooked food, there is consensus that fresh fruits and vegetables provide necessary fiber that ultimately helps the body to better absorb key nutrients in our food.

Some interesting cooking techniques that can be incorporated to make a raw food diet interesting include juicing fruits and vegetables and blending or pureeing vegetables and herbs to create interesting flavors and recipes.

One of the best "byproducts" of raw foodism is that it's an environmentally friendly lifestyle. There is far less wrapping and packaging involved in the transport and retail of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts than processed foods. Once raw foods are consumed, peels and seeds can go into the compost or can be used in other ways.
About the Author
For over 20 years, Diana Walker has assisted people like you in using natural, safe options for creating vibrant health and well-being. Get her gems of wisdom and healthy recipes mini- e-book via her free newsletter at: www.diana2.com
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