The Raw Food Diet
A raw food diet is the dietary practice of eating mostly or only unprocessed, uncooked foods thus avoiding potentially dangerous additives found in processed foods. This way of eating has been around since the 1800’s and has recently come back into popularity again.
For those who struggle with their well-being following the standard Western diet, the raw food diet is an excellent way of maintaining good health. As well as being lower in additives, raw food diets are also lower in trans and saturated fats and tend to be less calorific than Western diets.
Raw food is classified as anything that has not been refined, canned or chemically processed and has not been heated above 48C.
The Problem With Cooking Food
Enzymes play a critical role in our bodily functions, including breathing, walking and digesting food. Our bodies have a natural supply of its own enzymes, however we also rely on the enzymes that we can salvage from our foods. When heating foods above 48C it partially destroys the natural enzymes within the food, meaning the body has to compensate for this by producing its own enzymes, exhausting its energy.
What Is In a Raw Food Diet?
The diet is predominantly based on raw vegetables, fruit and legumes, however depending on the exact type of raw food diet you choose to follow, it can also include fish, meat, eggs and raw dairy produce. You will benefit from the diet even if you do not go completely raw as the consumption of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis is very important for general health.
A good way to start a raw food diet is to gradually increase your intake of raw fruits and vegetables into your diet. Try to aim for 75% raw and 25% lightly cooked foods to begin with and gradually decrease the amount of cooked foods you consume.
Benefits Of a Raw Food Diet
Here are just some of the benefits associated with a raw food diet:
- Decreased inflammation
- Improved digestion
- Provision of more dietary fibre
- Improvement of heart health
- Cancer prevention
- Constipation prevention
- More energy
- Clearer skin
- Maintenance of a healthy body weight
The Raw Food Diet: A Step By Step Guide
In order to gradually move your diet in the right direction try following the steps below:
1. For each meal, your plate should be half filled with fresh, non-starchy vegetables and fruit. Make sure a good proportion of these fruits and vegetables are raw.
2. Lightly cooking food at temperatures below 48C is a great way to supplement your raw food. This can be done via steaming, juicing, sprouting or even through using a slow cooker to gently heat the food.
3. Incorporate good, healthy fats into your diet and lose the bad fats. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and various nuts and seeds are examples of food sources that provide the body with good, healthy fats. These are essential to brain development, hormone production, cancer prevention and the lowering of inflammation.
4. If you must eat animal products, eat these in moderation. Doing so will lessen your exposure to herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones which are present in meats.
5. Remove any refined, sugary foods currently present in your diet. This includes foods such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, pizza, sugary cereals and drinks. Try healthier sprouted grain products such as sourdough bread as a substitute. Eating fruit makes a great sweet treat alternative to refined, sweetened snacks.