Eating raw foods is natural. Our bodies thrive on all that is fresh and vital. A raw food diet (or increasing the amount of raw food that you eat) is bound to bring a feeling of increased wellbeing.
Raw food diets are based on unprocessed and uncooked plant foods, preferably organic, such as a variety of fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruit, fresh juices and purified water.
Why Raw Foods?
Basically a vegetarian diet, the raw food diet promotes eating and drinking ‘living’ foods. Living foods and juices contain the maximum amount of fiber found in raw produce, fiber that can be lost in processing. Such foods are easily metabolized and tend to be lower in calories than the average diet.
Heating food above 116°F destroys enzymes in food that aid in digestion and in absorption of food, diminishing its nutritional value.
Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
A diet of at least 75% raw food offers numerous health benefits, such as increased energy, improved skin appearance, better digestion, weight loss and reduced risk of serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
A raw food diet contains little or no saturated fats, is low in sodium, high in potassium, magnesium, folate and fiber. Raw food diets are also excellent detox diets. Different combinations of raw, living foods and juices can be used for colon cleansing, liver cleansing, kidney cleansing and skin cleansing.
The Basics of a Raw Food Diet
Any fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, beans, nuts, legumes, young coconut milk – even seaweed – can be menu items of a raw food diet. Your choice of foods may depend on your reasons for dieting, for example:
- sprouted brown rice slows glucose absorption and improves the metabolism
- cabbage supports healthy cellular function; radish leaves act as an anti-oxidant, as does Shitake mushroom
- carrots are a great source of vitamin A as well as encouraging healthy vision and a healthy cardio-vascular system
You can use a sprouter such as the Easy Green automatic sprouter to sprout seeds, grains, beans – even wheatgrass. Sprouts could be called a ‘super food’ – organic sprouts contain enormous levels of proteins, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, chlorophyll pigments and enzymes, and are the ideal natural supplement.
Sprouts can be used in salads and soups, or can be juiced. Fresh juices are a great ready energy supply and a good quality juicer, such as the Kempo Greenpower juicer, produces living juices that are full of essential nutrients.
A great juicing recipe to complement a raw food diet is carrot juice with potato, fennel and apple. Simply juice 4 medium carrots, 2 apples, 1 small potato and 1 small stalk of fennel.
Fennel has been shown to reduce and control inflammation of arthritis, it evens mood fluctuation and depressive states and has the rare nutrient called manganese, plus zinc and vitamin B complex.
The nutritional value of grains and seeds is impressive. They contain most of the vitamins – particularly A, B, and E. They’re also fantastic natural sources of unsaturated fatty acids and lecithin, and an excellent source of proteins.
You can even use soy milk makers (such as SoyQuick) to make non-dairy drinks from different beans, rice, nuts, seeds and grains to have with breakfast. If you want something a little more substantial than soy milk, you can use tofu (or, of course, visit a good health food shop).
Essentially, the idea of a raw food diet is to eat unprocessed foods for at least 75% of the time. If the idea of raw food isn’t very appetizing to you, you can warm the food a little as long as the food isn’t heated above 116°F.
As with any major change in diet, it’s wise idea to consult your doctor before beginning a special diet. This is especially true for children, pregnant women, anyone with anemia and anyone with a pre-existing medical condition.
Even natural foods can conflict with certain medications, so please ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any medication.
Because a raw food diet is detoxifying some people suffer a mild detox reaction including mild headaches, nausea and cravings. These symptoms may last for several days and you’ll get more enjoyment out of your raw food diet if you cut down on things like meat, sugar and caffeine a week or so before commencing the diet.
Last But Not Least…
A raw food diet is certainly a good way to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Like anything worthwhile it takes time, energy and commitment. Because many of the foods for this particular type of diet are made from scratch there is some preparation time involved. There are many great products on the market that can help you prepare your own living food and save you some time as well.
Combined with regular exercise, a raw food diet is also an excellent weight loss method. If you’ve been feeling ‘a little off’, or just need a pick-me-up and some extra energy, then a raw food diet is certainly a good way to go.