What is the Raw Food Diet?
Have you started hearing about the Raw Food Diet? It’s gaining popularity and buzz, not just as a diet to lose weight, but a diet for a long and healthy life. We eat so much in the way of processed food that we don’t even stop to think about what we’re putting into our bodies, and how far we’ve come nutritionally from our ancestral, agrarian roots.
A raw food diet means consuming food in its natural, unprocessed form. There are several common-sense rationales for why this is a good idea. Processing and cooking food can take so much of the basic nutritional value away. Think of some of the conventional wisdom you’ve heard about for years, such as: If you cook pasta just to the al dente (or medium) stage, it will have more calories, yes, but it will have more the nutritional value in it than if you cooked it to a well-done stage. Or you probably remember hearing not to peel carrots or potatoes too deeply, because most of the nutrients and values are just under the surface.
The raw food diet means eating unprocessed, uncooked, organic, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc. It means a diet that is at least 75% uncooked! Cooking takes out flavor and nutrition from vegetables and fruits. A raw food diet means eating more the way our ancient ancestors did. Our healthier, more fit ancestors. They cooked very little, and certainly didn’t cook or process fruits and vegetables. They ate them RAW. Their water wasn’t from a tap; it was natural, spring water. Maybe they drank some coconut milk on occasion.
Doesn’t it just make sense that this is how our bodies were meant to eat? It’s a way of eating that’s in harmony with the planet and in harmony with our own metabolisms. Our bodies were meant to work, and need to work to be efficient. That means exercise, certainly, but it also means eating natural, raw foods that require more energy to digest them.
Raw Food and Skin Health
What’s the largest organ in your body? It’s your skin! It provides a protective covering for the other organs of the body. It changes to regulate your internal body temperature. And it’s a good indicator of overall health and well-being.
People spend thousands of dollars on skin preparations to make your skin look vibrant and glowing. They’re all topical products – products that we put on top of our skin. But if we spent just a fraction of the money we spend on these preparations on RAW FOODS, we’d begin to see an immediate change in the texture of our skin.
When you eat raw foods, you put more of the essential vitamins and amino acids your body needs into it. You’re also adding moisture – naturally. Raw foods have a much higher moisture content than cooked foods, simply because the cooking process takes out so much essential moisture.
Your skin is a mirror of what’s going on in the rest of your body. And when your organs and blood are fed the nutrition they need to function properly, that shows in your skin. Get your vitamins and moisture from foods like apples and carrots. When you do, then phrases like “inner beauty” and “inner glow” will be applied to YOU. Your skin is what’s presented to the rest of the world and healthy, glowing skin makes the best first impression.
When you start adding raw foods to your diet, things will just naturally fall into place. You’ll feel better. You’ll look better. People will react to you more positively. You’ll have so much more energy for your work, your friends, and your family. And this kind of energy is a self-perpetuating thing. You don’t need self-help books and expensive moisturizers and plastic surgery. When your body and skin are getting their essential nutrition with raw, uncooked foods, you’ll look and feel your best, NATURALLY!
Raw food, less water
When you start eating more raw foods, you may find you’re not as thirsty or don’t need as much water or other beverages as you normally do. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, raw foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables have a higher volume of water in them, so your body is getting the hydration it needs from foods.
This doesn’t mean you should stop drinking water or juices. You don’t want to adopt some of the more radical elements of the raw food trend. First and foremost, listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs. If you’re overweight, sluggish, tired, depressed, your body might be telling you to make some dietary changes, and raw foods might be one way to alleviate some physical disorders.
But if you’re overweight and have symptoms of Type II diabetes, overwhelming thirst can be one symptom. When you start consuming more raw foods, with a higher fiber and moisture content, you may start to lose weight, and that can go a long way to reducing your blood sugars.
If you’re not overweight, or don’t have Type II diabetes, you still might find you’re not as thirsty as you normally are. First of all, if you’re drinking water and juices, you’re not consuming caffeine, which is so dehydrating and makes you thirstier. And by not consuming as much in the way of cooked foods or especially highly processed foods, which have astronomical sodium counts, you won’t be as thirsty either.
By consuming more raw, uncooked food, and pure water and fruit juices, you’re putting your body into balance. Keeping sodium to normal levels found in foods means you’ll start to require a more balanced amount of water. Don’t think of this as changing or taking away. Think of it as adding balance, and it will make the process of eating healthier much easier.
Vegetarian compared to raw
Is there a difference between vegetarian and raw food diets? A raw foodist is a vegetarian, but one who generally is not going to cook his vegetables or fruits. A vegetarian is someone who simply doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but only consumes vegetables, pasta, and rice. A vegetarian might eat meatless spaghetti sauce or order onion rings in a restaurant. (Not the healthiest choice, but sometimes it’s hard to find something to eat in a restaurant if you’re vegetarian – even harder if you’re a raw foodist.)
There are different categories of vegetarians, like vegans, or fruitarians, and raw foodist is a category of vegetarianism. We haven’t seen anything about sushi being considered a raw food, but it is. Raw food, though, generally means eating raw, uncooked fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc.
But to be a raw food purist means raw broccoli, not steamed. To a vegetarian, someone committed to not eat meat or fish or animal products, steamed vegetables are just as good, although everyone would agree that steaming can take out nutrients from foods, rendering them less nutritious. A vegetarian might consume dairy or egg products; however a vegan will not consume any animal products at all. And a raw foodist is a vegan who consumes only uncooked, unprocessed raw foods.
Proponents of the raw diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.
It is also thought that the cooking process destroys vitamins and minerals and that cooked foods not only take longer to digest, but they also allow partially digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates to clog up our gut and arteries.
Followers of a raw diet cite numerous health benefits, including:
increased energy levels
improved appearance of skin
reduced risk of heart disease
A diet is considered a raw food diet if it consists of at least 75% raw, uncooked fruits, vegetables, sprouts, etc. Raw and living foods are believed to contain essential food enzymes (living foods contain a higher enzyme content than cooked foods). The cooking process (i.e., heating foods above 116°F) is thought to destroy food enzymes.
People who follow the raw diet use particular techniques to prepare foods. These include sprouting seeds, grains and beans; soaking nuts and dried fruits; and juicing fruits and vegetables. The only cooking that is allowed is via a dehydrator. This piece of equipment blows hot air through the food but never reaches a temperature higher than 116°F.
Do you have to follow the regimen that strictly? Of course not. But it’s certainly worth it to incorporate some of these techniques and ideas into your diet. If you tend to snack at work, try taking in carrots or apple slices. Many of the bigger grocery stores now offer packaged vegetables or fruits that make it easier to pack them and take them to work. We’re a nation of convenience, and much of the resistance to healthier eating is that it does generally take a little more effort and time to buy and slice fruits and vegetables. Food retailers have been catching on, slowly, and it’s much easier now to get bags of sliced carrots, celery, apples, nuts and raisins.
Of course these aren’t necessarily organic foods, and organic is the better way to go, but we think anything raw is infinitely better than cooked, processed food. If you have the time, do buy organic and slice them yourself. But if you’re in a hurry, and nowhere near a natural food store, then don’t beat yourself up or sabotage your efforts because you can’t do this 100% all the time. That’s not realistic. Anything from the fruit and vegetable aisle is going to be better for you than a potato chip, or worse yet, a french fry!