Why do people choose to eat a raw food diet, and is it right for you? Here are some of the pros and cons of this way of eating…
Raw food diets have become popular in recent years, especially with several well-known celebrities embracing this way of eating. But why do people choose a raw food diet, and is it right for you?
First of all, consuming a raw food diet is touted as a great way to lose weight, and in fact, you almost certainly will lose some weight on a raw food diet – for several reasons. One factor is the fact that you will be eating a plant-based diet consisting of mostly raw plant foods (generally 75-80% of the foods you eat will be raw). This means you’ll basically be eating lots of fruits and veggies, and not much else (although a raw-food diet does allow fermented grains such as sprouts, as well as nuts and seeds). Many raw-foodists are vegan, but not all. Some raw-food dieters also consume raw dairy products such as raw milk and raw milk cheeses, raw eggs, and even some raw fish like sushi.
You also won’t be consuming any processed foods – although certain oils such as olive oil and coconut oil are typically considered okay except among the strictest raw-foodists.
Lastly, digesting raw foods typically takes more energy than digesting cooked foods, which means that you will be burning more calories to digest the foods you eat.
Other people choose a raw food diet for increased energy, to rid the body of toxins, or for other health reasons.
However, there are also some drawbacks to the raw food diet that you should be aware of.
This article from HealthLine.com discusses some of the pros and cons of this unique diet:
One of the major benefits of a raw food diet is that it’s low in calories and high in fiber, which helps keep you feeling full. It may be helpful for people trying to lose weight, as described above.
A raw food diet may also help reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes or avoid diabetes altogether. In addition, a raw food diet can help guard against cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol levels. Low-sodium or low-salt diets also help reduce blood pressure. The raw food diet is naturally low in sodium.
Some fans of the raw food diet have also credited it with better sleep, clearer skin, and a reduction of symptoms caused by food allergies, but more research is needed on these anecdotal relationships.
Sticking to a raw food diet drastically reduces the number of foods you can eat. This restriction may leave some people feeling limited with their options. Likewise, restaurants may not offer raw food diet-friendly options, which can make eating out and socializing difficult at times.
Sticking to a raw food diet also involves a lot of preparation, both inside the kitchen and out. Organic foods tend to be more expensive, so you may need to adjust your grocery budget accordingly. And raw food ingredients aren’t available everywhere. You’ll have to do some research on where you can get your supplies or how to grow some yourself. Some devoted raw food dieters will sprout their own seeds, grains, nuts, and beans.
You may also need to buy a blender, food processor, juicer, and/or dehydrator, so be prepared to make a few purchases (and to clean those items frequently!).
One of the potential risks of the raw food diet is the lack of cooking food. Cooking makes some foods more digestible and protects humans from certain food-borne illnesses like salmonella or E. coli. Likewise, the pasteurization process prevents bacteria contamination in milks and cheeses and certain diseases that may result.
Raw food dieters may also become deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients. A 2005 study found that people whose diets are higher in raw food (70 to 100 percent) are more prone to deficiencies in vitamin B-12.
Whether you choose to follow a raw-food diet is up to you, but if you do give it a try, you might want to start off with a temporary form of the diet – such as a 3-week raw food cleanse – which can ease you into this way of eating, and help you to determine if it is right for you on a longer-term basis.