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Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

by Contributing Writer
  • Overview

    Raw food diet is a health food diet that consists mainly of plant foods that aren't processed and cooked. An effective raw food diet consists for foods that are 75% raw or living. The foods eaten in this diet subsist of fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouts, seeds, grains, nuts, beans, dried fruit, and seaweed. Many people who hail the benefits of a raw food diet claim that cooking above 116 degrees F destroys natural enzymes in food. These enzymes help the body digest and absorb food.
  • Health Benefits

    The health benefits to a raw food diet are plentiful. Many believe that it helps energize the body and improves the skin and its appearance. Those who eat a raw food diet are better able to digest what they consume, lose weight, and see a reduction in more serious health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Nutritional Benefits

    The reduction to some serious health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are likely due to the nutritional values that a raw food diet have. A raw food diet tends to have fewer trans fats and saturated fats, which are found in the standard American diet, and have been known to be high in cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. It is also low in sodium, a major cause in some forms of diabetes. The nutritional benefits of a raw food diet include foods rich in potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber, and phytochemicals, which are natural plant chemicals that aid in reducing health risks in certain kinds of cancer.
  • Considerations/Warnings

    There are some things to take into consideration before beginning a raw food diet. There are some side effects that can occur. A person who has had a previous diet heavy in meat, sugar, and caffeine, might experience symptoms such as mild headaches, nausea, and food cravings at the beginning. A raw food diet might also be inappropriate for children, pregnant or nursing women, and people with anemia. It might also increase the risk for osteoporosis in others. While a raw food diet can be nutritional, it is low in other nutrients such as calcium, iron, B12, protein, and calories. Therefore, supplements in these nutrients might be necessary to complete a fully balanced diet. Processed ingredients used to fill out a raw food diet, such as sprouted flour, date sugar, young coconut milk, carob powder, Celtic sea salt, might not be readily accessible to the average consumer.
  • Criticisms

    While many who consume a raw food diet boast of its benefits, there are others who criticize it. Some of the criticisms against the diet target its overall benefit: that it enhances digestion and absorption of foods. Critics claim that the body naturally creates enzymes on its own to digest food and that certain phytochemicals, such as beta-carotene found in carrots, are easier to absorb once cooked. Changes in the body have also followed the route of thousands of years of evolution that corresponds with humans consuming food that has been cooked. Today humans have smaller jaws, teeth, and stomachs, and longer intestines, which all help the human body to consume, digest, and absorb foods that have been cooked.
  • Expert Insight

    Studies have provided varying insight into the health and nutritional benefits of eating a raw food diet. A study conducted by the Journal of Nutrition concluded that the "consumption of a raw food diet lower(s) plasma total cholesterol and tryglyceride concentrations." But the same journal also found that the those who ate a "raw food diet" found "increased levels of homocysteine due to vitamin B12 deficiency." Washington University also did a controlled study on groups of people who ate a raw food diet and found that they "had lower bone mass," but in levels that were consistent with those who "ate a standard American diet."

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