Raw Food – Is This the Way Forward?

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The Raw food diet has become increasingly popular, lets have a look at what its about and whether or not it can work for you. A raw food diet consists of mostly eating raw food that is only heated below 104 – 118 Fahrenheit (40-47 degrees Celcius), therefore keeping all of its healthy nutrients. Cooking denatures enzymes and diminished its nutrient content. Enzymes are the life force and food and help you digest food and absorb nutrients. You have a certain amount of enzymes when you are born, if you eat too much processed food you enzyme count diminishes and the body has to work harder, therefore eating food with enzymes in it keeps your enzyme count up and enables the food to be digested properly. A lack of enzymes can cause digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, weight gain and accelerated aging.

Certain vitamins are destroyed when cooking food, such as the cancer fighting sulforaphanes found in broccoli; vitamin C and folate are also destroyed with heat. However tomatoes are better when cooked because it breaks down the fibrous portion allowing 3-4 times more lycopene than raw tomatoes. Lycopene is an antioxidant that protects against cancer and health disease. When cooking food in high temperatures it also promotes harmful compounds such as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). AGEs are sugar derived substances that are thought to be the cause of diabetes and HCAs occur when meat is frying, broiling or barbecued and may contribute to cancer A raw food diet can vary, some are vegan consuming no animal products including diary, others eat raw milk and cheese, sashimi, ceviche (raw fish), or carpaccio (raw meat). Some are completely raw food while others may have some cooked food but the percentage of raw is al least 70 percent of the diet. There are different ways of preparing raw food:

Soaking and spouting – raw beans, legumes, nuts and seeds need to be soaked (germination) or spouted to destroy the enzyme inhibitors, which normally occurs during cooking. Soaking should be done anywhere from 2 hours as with cashews or a day as with beans. After soaking the beans can be spouted, they are drained after being soaked and left in a container in room temperature until they have sprouted, they can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Dehydrating is done in a dehydrator to simulate sun drying; this heats the food but never above 118 F. A fan in the dehydrator blows warm air across the food that is spread out on trays. Used to make raisins, sun dried tomatoes, kale chips, and dried fruit.

Blending can be done to chop food in a food processor for soup, pesto, or smoothies.

Juicing vegetables and fruits.

Fermenting and pickling is also used.

Some beans are not safe to be spouted and soaked, such as kidney beans, soybeans and fava beans. Also some say to avoid peas, mushrooms, rhubarb leaves, parsnips, and potatoes. The idea behind a raw food diet is to be healthy so best to avoid food with pesticides, preservatives, food colouring and dye. People that go on a raw food diet feel that the benefits are:

Clearer skin

Increased energy

Weight loss

Better digestion

Fewer illnesses

A raw food diet has less trans fats, free radicals and saturated fats and is low in sugar and high in vitamins and other health promoting antioxidants. A study found that a raw food diet lowered plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations. Other diseases it can help with are cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It also helps with the acid-alkaline balance within your body; raw food helps alkalinity as a body that is too acidic can cause disease. There are concerns about the raw food diet being low in B12, iron, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids.