The thrust of the raw food diet is the consumption of unprocessed, whole plant-based, ideally organic foods. A minimum of three-quarters of the person's diet should consist of uncooked food. A Raw Foodist- somebody who follows the raw food diet - believes that the higher the proportion of raw foods in our diet, the healthier we will be.
A significant proportion of raw foodists are also vegans - no foods of animal origin are consumed. Some raw foodists consume raw meat and raw animal products.
This article is part of a series called What Are The Eight Most Popular Diets Today?
There are four broad branches of raw foodism:
- Raw vegetarians - only animal products consumed are eggs and dairy; most foods consumed are raw
- Raw vegans - no animal products consumed at all; most foods consumed are raw
- Raw omnivores - both plant-based and animal based foods are mainly consumed raw
- Raw carnivores - meat products are eaten only raw
What foods are included in the diet?
- Dried fruits
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Freshly made fruit and vegetable juices
- Milk from a young coconut
- Other organic or natural foods which have not been processed
- Purified water (not tap)
- Sun-dried fruits
Depending on the lifestyle, the following may also be included:
- Fish (sushi, sashimi)
- Milk and dairy products (non-pasteurized/non-homogenized)
According to raw foodists1, if you consume mainly uncooked foods you will achieve significant desirable weight loss. They also believe that a raw food diet enhances your body's ability to prevent and fight diseases, especially chronic diseases. Raw foodism says that raw and living foods contain essential food enzymes that are destroyed if the food is heated to above 116 Fahrenheit (47 Celsius/Centigrade).
Foods are prepared in a special way. Sprouting grain seeds and bean seeds are consumed, as opposed to the whole uncooked grain or bean. Nuts are soaked, some fruits are dried. Many fruits and vegetables are juiced. The only heating that is allowed is with a dehydrator - this blows hot air through the food, never above 116 Fahrenheit. Raw foodists also may also blend and chop up their foods.
What are the benefits of a Raw Food Diet?
Raw foodists say that enzymes are the life force of a food. Nature has given each food its unique perfect mix. These vital enzymes allow us to fully digest our foods without having to rely on our own digestive enzymes. According to the Vanderbilt University Psychology Department2, raw foodists say that the cooking process destroys or alters these enzymes, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
Raw foodists believe that cooked foods take longer to digest and clog up our digestive system and arteries with partially digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
The following health benefits are highlighted by followers of a raw food diet:
- You will have more energy
- Your skin will have a much better appearance
- Your digestion will improve
- You will lose weight
- Your risk of developing heart and cardiovascular diseases will significantly drop
A report published in Food Technology in October 2012 explained that plant-based diets either significantly reduce or completely eliminate people's genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Beware of some potentially unsafe foodsNutritionists and dietitians say the following foods should be consumed with caution:
- Buckwheat - greens are toxic when raw. If juiced or eaten in large amounts they can be toxic for people with fair skin. Buckwheat has 'fagopyrin' which triggers photosensitivity, as well as some other skin problems.
- Kidney beans - have a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin. Raw kidney beans and sprouts may be toxic.
- Alfalfa sprouts - the toxin canavanine is present.
- Cassava - some types may be toxic, this may include cassava flour.
- Raw eggs - Avadin, which is present in raw eggs but inactive in cooked eggs, is a vitamin B7 inhibitor. The consumption of 24 egg whites may inactivate the vitamin B7. In addition, salmonella bacteria is present in some eggs3, which can cause serious illness if they are not cooked.
- Peas - raw seeds of the genus lathyrus (Grass pea, Kesari Dhal, Khesari Dhal or Almorta) may cause a neurological weakness of the lower limb (lathyrism).
- Apricot kernels - contain amygdalin which contains cyanide
- Parsnips - contain furanocoumarin, a chemical produced by plants as a defense mechanism against predators. Many furanocoumarins are toxic.
- Meat - when raw may contain harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses.
- Milk - when raw may contain Mycobacteria bovis, which can cause non-pulmonary TB (tuberculosis).
Pros and Cons of the Raw Food Diet
At Medical News Today we have received many comments by people who have been following or continue following raw foodism. Below is a list of the Pros and Cons they have sent us:
- Much better skin
- More energy
- Weight loss
- Sustained weight loss
- Better blood test results (for example, cholesterol and lipid levels)
- Requires a lot of organization
- Motivation - Hard to keep it up, especially when going out to eat
- Requires a lot of preparation
- Digestive problems, such as irritable bowel. Some commented that this improved after a while.
Recent developments on the raw food diet from MNT news
Raw food vegetarians have low bone mass, but may be healthy - A research team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis revealed that raw food vegetarians have biological markers indicating their bones, although light in weight, may be healthy.
The world's first superfood recipe book - Rawcreation Ltd, the UK's leading raw food company, released the world's first ever superfood recipe book; 'Raw Magic' by Kate Magic Wood. Containing an assortment of raw superfood recipes.
Video - How to start a raw food diet
This video below explains, in ten easy ways, how to succeed in living a fully raw lifestyle.