The Raw Food Diet has become increasingly popular in recent years, but is it really better for your health? If you're thinking about going raw, before you make the switch, it's important to understand the pros and cons of a raw food diet. In this article, we take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of eating raw.
Are you considering switching to a raw food diet? Before diving in, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of this unconventional eating plan.
What is a Raw Food Diet
The raw food diet is composed of completely raw and unprocessed foods.
Food is considered raw if it has never been heated over 104°F (40°C).
The raw food diet allows dehydrating - using either a dehydrator or an oven set at a maximum temperature of 104°F (40°C). It also allows juicing, blending, soaking and sprouting.
This diet is based on the belief that uncooked and unprocessed food can help you to achieve better health and prevent diseases.
One of the main reasons the raw food diet discourages cooking is because of the belief that cooking destroys the natural enzymes in foods. That’s why in French this diet is also called « alimentation vivante » (which literally means « living food »).
Raw food diet is often touted as a cure-all for a variety of health issues, from weight gain to chronic disease. You might also have heard that it can boost your energy levels, clear up your skin and improve your overall health.
While there are some potential drawbacks to a raw food diet, there are also many benefits that make it an appealing option for some. One of the biggest benefits is that it can be a great way to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods. Raw foods are often rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help to boost your immune system and protect against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Additionally, the high fiber content in raw foods can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Raw foods are also high in nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and enzymes, which can be destroyed during cooking.
Eating raw food versus cooked food
Raw foods may contain harmful bacteria, like E.coli and Salmonella, which can cause serious health problems. This is especially true for raw animal products, such as raw eggs, meat and seafood. It is important to carefully wash and prepare all raw foods to reduce the risk of contamination.
Furthermore, cooking certain foods can increase the availability of certain nutrients , such as cooked tomatoes containing more lycopene than raw tomatoes.
Cooking kills bacteria and while it decreases some nutrients, it increases others.
It might not be suitable for you
Ayurveda Point of View
At the beginning of my natural healing journey, as I wasn’t getting the results I was expecting, I was obsessed with finding the right diet for me. So I kept documenting myself a lot, and of course, I read and heard tons of people saying EVERYBODY should eat only raw food. I don’t know why but I didn’t really like this idea. I guess my intuition was telling me that eating only raw food wasn’t good for me. Problem was, I was consistently second-guessing myself on this.
Each time I was cooking my food I was feeling guilty about it, thinking "I'm destroying all the nutrients". Until I heard that in Ayurveda (the traditional Indian medicine) people with a Vata constitution are least able to tolerate raw foods.
As it is explained in the article "Raw foods: an ayurvedic perspective", when you are Vata you have to keep raw food intakes to a minimum.
As it happens my Ayurvedic constitution is Pitta-Vata with an imbalance of Vata.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Point of View
Later on, I also found out that according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body transforms food by heating it with “digestive fire.”
In TCM, there's a saying that says: "what the saucepan hasn't cooked, it's your body that will have to cook it".
Which means that you need to have a strong "digestive fire" in order to be able to digest raw food.
In other words, according to TCM, cooked food is easy to digest, whereas cold and raw foods take up extra energy, causing the digestive process to work less well.
So, if, like me, you have a weak digestive fire you have to keep your raw food intake to a strict minimum.
My point is, a diet based on raw foods seems like a healthy choice for anyone, but that's not necessarily the case. Depending on your own constitution and your own body's strengths and weaknesses, a complete raw food diet might not be the best option for you. What is good for one person’s physiology will not always be beneficial for someone else. One person's food can be another one's poison. Experiment with some raw foods and find what works best for YOUR body.
And anyway, it doesn't have to be one or the other: you can eat a combination of cooked and raw foods. Find out what is ideal for YOUR health.
If you want to know more about Natural Living, you can read about how I've been Healing Naturally My Autoimmune Disease or about the link between Gut Health and weight loss or find some more Natural Health Resources.