A raw food diet is exactly what it sounds – a diet consisting of unprocessed and uncooked food sources. Ideally, food should be as untouched as possible, meaning that cooking above a temperature of 118’F should be as limited as much as possible. Primary sources of nutrition on this type of diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, grains, and beans. It is considered raw food because they aren’t processed. Generally, roughly 75% of the diet should consist of uncooked food when transitioning to this type of diet.
One of the most commonly asked questions in regards to the raw food diet is why is cooking the food unacceptable? Basically, when you heat food over 118’F, you kill enzymes in the food. These enzymes are what help your body to break down and digest food. The body can produce these enzymes; however, it takes a large amount of energy to do so and will leave you feeling lethargic and with less energy than before you ate. It also kills a large percentage of vitamins and can make minerals more difficult to extract from the food source during digestion.
There are many benefits from engaging in a raw food diet and include:
• Weight loss and detoxification
• Increased levels of energy
• Improved immune system
• Reduced risk of sinusitis, allergies
• Control diabetes without the use of insulin
• Better digestion
• Healthy skin and hair
• Decreased cholesterol
Eating a raw food diet requires a bit of time at the beginning to become accustomed to proper portion sizes, good choices, and how to plan ahead. Many people find it difficult to get used to not cooking or heating their food all the time by popping it into a microwave. It will require you to effectively plan out your meals everyday as well as overhaul your kitchen to create a raw food environment.
Issues regarding food safety often come up due to the recommendation not to cook your food. When choosing to eat foods that come from animal sources, such as meat, fish or poultry, be sure to cook it before consuming. Bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella grow on raw animal sources and can cause severe food poisoning. Be sure to refrigerate any unconsumed food immediately and be sure not to leave edibles out of the fridge for more than two hours. If you need to disinfect your food, use food grade hydrogen peroxide which kills more bacteria than cooking alone.