There are a lot of different diets floating around these days. One such diet that has been in the press a lot recently is the Raw Foods Diet. The growth of this diet is due to the enormous number of books and websites devoted to the diet. In addition, a number of celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson swear by the diet.
How to Follow the Raw Foods Diet
This diet comprises of uncooked vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains. It is believed that these foods contain more nutrients and digestion-aiding enzymes than cooked foods.
- The belief is that when any food is heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, most enzymes will be destroyed, causing the body to use it’s own enzymes to digest food.
- When the body uses it’s own enzymes to break down food, it speeds up the aging process and causes low energy levels. Meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, and animal products are prohibited.
- Followers of the raw foods diet advocate purchasing organic foods, which are more expensive than typical grocery products, in an attempt to avoid pesticides and other chemicals which may be used in the growth of vegetables.
The Benefits of the Raw Foods Diet
Image by Former Fat Guy Followers of the diet believe that it promotes healing, and is the perfect option for a healthy lifestyle. Some of it’s benefits include:
- Contains few trans fats and saturated fats than the typical Western Diet
- Increases energy
- Low in sodium
- Improves skin appearance
- High in potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber, and phytochemicals (health-promoting plant chemicals)
- Promotes weight loss
- Reduces the risk of heart disease , diabetes , and cancer .
- Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels
The Drawbacks of the Raw Foods Diet
Image by The Raw Way
The primary argument against the Raw Foods diet is that it is too low in protein. The American Dietetic Association stated that this diet plan is not suitable for pregnant women , children, the elderly, or people with weak immune systems.
- There are also claims that the diet lacks some of the essential nutrients necessary for a well-balanced diet.
- Sometimes food needs to be properly cooked in order to be absorbed, but this varies from person to person. Generally, people with weak digestive systems (which is a lot of people out there) who have become used to excessive amounts of sugar and highly processed foods need to take it slowly when converting to Raw Foods .
- They may not posses the digestive enzymes required to break down the nutrients in raw foods. People with weak digestive systems report feeling extremely cold after a raw food meal.
- Your physiological blueprint also has a lot to do with the way you react to certain foods. If you’ve been grown up with your food prepared in one way, you body is used to that method – and so Raw Foods may not sit well with your stomach.
- Your digestive system needs to get used to the Raw Foods diet. This may take some time. Some symptoms associated with the switch include headaches, nausea, and extreme cravings.
- Studies have shown a deficiency in vitamin B12 from the Raw Foods Diet. Other deficiencies from the diet include low calcium, iron, and insufficient calories.
The Fallacy of Protein Deficiency
As stated earlier, one of the biggest criticisms of the Raw Foods Diet is that causes protein deficiency. This is an unrealistic risk since, humans don’t need that much protein to begin with.
- If you eat plenty of nuts and a variety of vegetables, making sure to keep your caloric intake high, you should be perfectly fine. The high-protein myth is something that has been started by meat , dairy, and protein supplement industries.
- One of the strongest advocates of the high protein diet was Dr. Atkins, who at the time of this death was extremely obese (255lbs).
- Here’s an interesting video on the Protein Myth:
The Danger of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
A protein deficiency may not be realistic, but a deficiency in vitamin B12 is. Vitamin B12 is crucial to making red blood cells, which carry oxygen through your body.
- Vitamin B12 is found meat, eggs, milk and cheese. But raw food enthusiasts and vegans avoid these foods and should supplement with vitamin B12 to prevent anemia.
- Anemia is when your body does not have enough red blood cells, which leads to weakness, pale skin, sore tongue, bleeding gums, weight loss, stomach sickness, diarrhea, and constipation.
- Other symptoms of anemia include numbness or tingling in your fingers and toes, poor sense of balance, depression, and dementia (loss of mental abilities).
Just eat your Vegetables
After researching the raw foods diet, I realized a lot of similarities between my own approach to nutrition and raw foods. As stated in my “No-Nonsense Guide to Good Nutrition ,” I get the majority of my calories from nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
- My approach to nutrition is just common sense. I don’t need any studies or need to join any Vegan or Raw Foods club, nor do I need to read any diet books.
- Honestly, I would not recommend an all out Raw Foods approach to anyone. The Vitamin B12 deficiency scares me. I’ll just look at the Raw Foods movement as another way of telling people to go eat their vegetables.
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