The raw food diet has been around now for some time within the vegetarian/vegan scene, many in fact swear by it, however in recent times it appears to be gathering more momentum especially in light of the fact that many packaged food are somewhat overprocessed whereby much of it's nutrient content becomes questionable. There is no denying the health benefits of raw food preparation however before considering such changes one must look at the pro and cons.
So what exactly is the raw food diet?
The basic premise being that our regular diet should consist of approx 75% uncooked foods. The process of subjecting foodstuffs to heat starts to destroy it's valuable vitamin and mineral content. Loss is increased both with heat or temperature applied and also the duration of the cooking method. Raw foods would include however although not necessarily limited to fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, seaweed, dried fruit, juices (if freshly made) and mineral water.
So what is the advantage of a raw food diet?
Most raw foods as previously mentioned contain the highest levels of valuable vitamins and minerals as well as other important components such as phytohormones and
which are all vital for good health. Also because they are in their `natural state' they are easily digested by the body which in turn hinders the `feeling sluggish' effect that we feel after eating a stodgy cooked meal. Plus the high water content in fruit and vegetables aids in digestion also. Couple this with the high fibre content and you can lower the risk of suffering from `western' diseases such as arthritis,cancer or heart disease and certain allergies. Also a point worth mentioning is that many processed foods contain sugar which can have a tendency to cause a blood glucose spike, wherein this would be prevented by eating raw fruit and vegetables as the natural plant sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream due to the time taken to metabolise them.
what is the downside of a raw diet?
Well the most obvious one being that a high fibre diet especially if one is not used to it can cause some excessive flatulence, which can be socially embarrassing to say the least. Also most true raw food eaters usually abstain from eating meat, the problem here is that meat which includes naturally red, white and even fish contain good levels of amino acids (which make up protein) whereas fruit and vegetables are relatively low so if these are to be omitted then other sources would need to be included within the diet such as dairy products.
The other aspect is time. Such meals would always have to be created from scratch which is not so easy if you have a very busy lifestyle however using a degree of time management it can be done like preparing some ingredients the day before etc. In stepping up on fruit and vegetable intake one must consider that most produce have pesticides on them so they will need to be washed and or peeled though ally before use, another option is to purchase organic produce from a trusted supplier.
Given the amount of food additives and preservatives in processed foodstuffs can mean that moving over to a healthier diet so suddenly can possibly have a detox effect as `impurities' are purged from the system. These could includes headaches, nausea and other detoxification symptoms. Another important aspect is that a good repertoire of recipes would be needed with plenty of foodstuff variation so the diet would not become boring, this should not be too much of a problem given the amount of good information on the topic to date in particularly when it comes to recipes.
The raw diet food provides the best natural medicine the body needs so therefore is highly recommended. Certain foodstuffs still benefit from the cooking process such as tomatoes for instance where lycopene (which also serves as a good anti carcinogenic agent) is thus released only under the application of heat. Many foods are also much more palatable when cooked. So a balance needs to be addressed wherein what needs to be cooked is only just cooked rather than overdone, this goes for red meat, fish in particular. But like I mentioned the information is out there so some diligent research will pay off.
Living and raw foods
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