David Wolfe, raw food guru and author of several best-selling books including Eating for Beauty and Naked Chocolate, recently asked, ‘With all the conflicting information on diet, what makes sense? Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, larvicides, genetically modified organisms, chemical fertilizers, microwaves, pasteurization, homogenization, hormonally injected animals, colour dyes, artificial additives, and high fructose corn syrup? Or raw, organic, sun-ripened plant food?’. More and more of us apparently believe that it is the latter. Indeed, a long list of high-profile celebrities (including Demi Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Cher), have adopted the raw food diet in some shape or form.But what is raw food and is it really healthy?
What is raw food?
Before you can determine if the raw food diet is the right choice for you and your family, it’s important to first understand the answer to the question: what is raw food? A raw food diet can incorporate practically every type of food imaginable including raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, and non-pasteurised/non-homogenised dairy products. The emphasis is on the fact that the food is uncooked, uncontaminated (by pesticides and fertilisers etc.), unprocessed and never heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. This not only protects the live enzymes and nutrients contained within the ‘living’ food, it also prevents it from being tainted by the type of harmful compounds (such as carcinogens) that are often generated through heating.
Raw foodists believe that consuming food in this natural state is the most healthy way to feed and cleanse your body, but is this actually true?
What is raw food and what about the negative publicity associated with it?
You may have heard about a number of drawbacks associated with the raw food diet. To understand exactly what is raw food and whether or not the raw food diet is a sensible option, it’s therefore important to know about the downsides.
When we ask ourselves what is raw food the instinctive reply is – food that hasn’t been cooked. Whilst we now know that this is only part of the picture, eating food raw does imply an increased risk of food poisoning. This can however, be easily mitigated by implementing rigorous hygiene standards in your kitchen. And just like vegetarian or vegan diets, a strict raw food diet may lead to certain nutrient deficiencies. The most common are the vitamins B12 and B9, protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. You can actively overcome such deficiencies by supplementing your raw food diet with superfoods or by following a restricted raw diet. In fact eating around 80% raw will enable you to enjoy all of the benefits associated with raw food, without the corresponding lack of nutrients. Lastly, it is true that you may experience a number of mild side effects when you start your raw food diet, such as headaches, nausea, stomach upsets and minor skin rashes. These unwelcome, yet mostly harmless symptoms are usually only temporary and are caused by the natural detox that your body is undergoing. They can be managed to some extent by gradually increasing the amount of raw food you eat, in order to allow your body to acclimatise gently.
What is raw food and what are its advantages?
As you can see, most of the disadvantages associated with the raw food diet are easily conquered. For the majority of raw food devotees the countless benefits far outweigh these risks. To fully answer the question; what is raw food and is it really healthy, we must therefore highlight its many merits.
As well as being free from the long list of artificial ingredients routinely added to regular food and produce, raw food is still living and subsequently contains an optimum amount of beneficial enzymes and nutrients. That’s why eating raw food can:
- Rid your body of harmful toxins
- Reduce your risk of chronic disease
- Help you lose weight
- Increase your energy levels
- Promote healthy skin, hair and nails
- Aid digestion
- Strengthen your natural immunity
- Slow down the aging process
What is raw food and is it really healthy?
So, what is raw food? You now have all the answers and can draw your own conclusion to David’s question, ‘what makes sense?’