Is a Raw Food Diet for You?

While raw food may be the norm in places like Los Angeles, more and more people are touting the benefits of eating only raw food. The followers of this rather new-age diet say they feel incredibly energized, and this is really not surprising. After all, if you eat nothing other than uncooked vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, it is highly likely that you will lose weight. Losing weight can make you feel better about yourself in most all areas, and shedding sugar, white flour, fast food and processed foods from your diet will absolutely smooth out your shaky blood sugar, leaving you with energy to spare. Before you jump on the raw food diet bandwagon, however, remember that changing your diet to consume only raw foods is not simply another diet that comes and goes, but rather a more serious life commitment-at least if you want to consistently reap the benefits.

What Do Raw Foodists Believe?

Those who believe in a raw food diet believe that cooking foods destroys the health-giving nutrition and enzymes, chemically changing healthy foods into virtual poisons. A true raw foodist eats anywhere from 70-100% of live, nutritionally full, organic, uncooked foods which have not been processed in any way, and drinks only pure water and fruit juices. Raw foodists believe that this type of diet alkalizes your body, allowing your system to rid itself of the build-up of toxins created by years and years of consuming cooked foods. They further believe that by eating cooked foods you are consuming harmful toxins which are acidic in nature faster than your overworked body can possibly eliminate them, causing disease and obesity, and that cooking destroys the beneficial live enzymes which aid your absorption and health.

The Flip Side

Nutritionists, on the other hand, question the overall health of a strictly raw food diet, stating that completely cutting out meat, fish, eggs, dairy and whole grains can cause you to be deficient in many nutrients. There is a real risk of nutritional deficiencies in vitamin B12, iron, zinc and the crucial omega-3 fatty acid. Another downside is that people who have been on the raw food diet for any length of time have been found to have higher levels of homocysteine and lower good cholesterol levels (HDL) because of the vitamin 12 deficiency. This puts them at a much higher risk of heart disease, so depending on your particular health issues, a raw food diet may not be the healthy choice for you. Those with hypoglycemia or diabetes should also exercise caution when trying the raw food diet, as an overconsumption of fruit or fruit juices can worsen these diseases.

What Can I Eat?

You will have to get your protein from nuts, seeds and smoothies, and to get the calcium you need for healthy bones, you will have to eat sesame seeds, almonds, figs and dark green vegetables in high quantities. To get the necessary iron you need in your diet make sure you eat plenty of watercress, spinach, cashews, peanuts, dried figs and prunes. There are different ways to go about a raw food diet, although most people who eat a raw food diet are vegans. Some of them do consume raw milk, cheese made from raw milk, raw fish and raw meat. Raw beans, legumes, nuts and seeds can be eaten by soaking them for up to 24 hours or sprouting them. Dehydrated foods are allowed, such as raisins, dried tomatoes and fruit leathers

Possible Side Effects

Upon starting the raw food diet, many people experience a detoxification reaction which can include headaches, nausea and intense cravings. If their previous diet was full of meat, sugar and caffeine, these adverse reactions may be more intense and can last for several days. It's a good idea to ease into a raw food diet, by starting with about fifty percent of your overall diet, and to continue to eat a variety of healthy foods.

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