A raw food diet is based on unprocessed and uncooked natural foods, known as “live” or “raw” food. Uncooked food makes up at least 75 percent of a raw foodist’s diet. People following this diet believe that the process of cooking food above 104 degrees Fahrenheit destroys important enzymes, nutrients and the “life force” inherent in foods. Raw foods preserve these vital nutrients and are easy for the body to digest.
A raw food diet includes fresh and dried fruit, vegetables, seeds, sprouts, nuts, beans, grains and seaweed. Fermented and processed foods, like miso, raw soy sauce and raw nut butters, are also acceptable. Most raw foodists abstain from alcohol, caffeine and refined sugar. Some people may be vegan, not eating any animal products, and others may eat raw eggs and unpasteurized dairy products. There are many reasons why people choose a raw food diet.
Raw food is food in its natural state–uncooked and packed with easily absorbed nutrients. Raw food is high in potassium, water, fiber, folate, magnesium and phytochemicals, and low in sodium, trans fats and saturated fats. Phytochemicals are linked to cancer prevention and are destroyed by the cooking process. The cooking process also may increase the risk of free radicals, which have been linked to cancer.
The natural enzymes in raw food assist in digestion and mineral absorption. Raw food presents the best of both worlds: It contains higher levels of nutrients that are easily absorbed so you get more from your food. A 2005 study in “The Journal of Nutrition” showed that a raw food diet lowered total cholesterol levels and the concentration of triglycerides, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Energy and Clarity
People on the raw food diet claim to have higher levels of energy and mental clarity. Raw foodists consider their way of eating a lifestyle rather than a simple diet.
Healthy, Clear Skin
Raw food contains high levels of minerals that improve skin quality. Phytochemicals are said to have anti-aging qualities, sulfur may improve acne and silicon produces healthy hair, skin, nails and bones. All these minerals are abundant in uncooked fruits and vegetables.
A 2005 study in “Archives of Internal Medicine” found that raw food vegetarians had lower body weights (BMI) and body fat than people on an average cooked diet. Raw foodists also had lower bone mass, yet weren’t at risk of osteoporosis.