After learning all about what a raw food diet is, let’s look at some of the health benefits today:
Since there is no extreme heating involved, all of the nutrients in the food stay intact. A lot of vitamins, especially vitamin C, are extremely heat sensitive. They will break down as soon as the ingredients are cooked. With raw foods you get the most vitamin bang for your buck!
When eating raw foods, don’t think you are just nibbling on lettuce leaves. You are eating huge bowls of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The amount of fiber you are ingesting is probably not something you are used to in the beginning, so make sure to drink plenty of water to help the digestion. Fiber helps to activate our digestion, making it more efficient and healthier.
Because a raw food diet is free from processed, packaged foods, you are cutting out a lot of nasty food additives. This makes the food extremely light and especially nice for the summer months, when you don’t want to walk around full and bloated.
If you have any food allergies, then raw foods are great for you. Everything is gluten, soy, and dairy free. The hardest task is if you have nut allergies and need to work around these.
Other nice side effects are that your skin clears up and that you feel clearer in your body and mind. You feel vibrant and alive - it's a feeling that is hard to describe, but once you have felt it, you will become addicted!
There are downsides to consider when thinking about a raw food diet. Since most people don’t eat 100% raw foods, I don’t think these are major points to be concerned about, but I still want to give you a quick overview:
Vitamin B12 is responsible for healthy blood and brain funtions. Zinc is responsible for a healthy immune system and great skin. Iron gives your blood energy. All of these are harder to find in a plant based diet, so if you are avoiding all animal products, using a good multivitamin supplement could be useful for you. Working with a qualified nutritionist can help you figure out if you do have any deficiencies.
Some nutrients actually are easier to digest and use by the body if they have been heated like beta carotene or lycopene from tomatoes. Again, because most of us will not eat 100% raw foods, I am not terribly concerned about this.
Since a raw food diet is mostly vegan - some people choose to include raw meat or seafood - of course the inevitable question comes up “Where do you get your protein from?”. I will save the long answer for this for another day. For now, just know that all leafy greens contain more protein per gram than meat! Hence green smoothies are a major staple of a raw food diet (see below).
A major concern seems to be the fact that food poisoning happens more often if food is not heated. This problem becomes amplified when living in China. Yes, when eating raw foods there is no way you can get rid of bacteria. When preparing raw foods at home, I do believe you can wash and clean your produce well enough to not get sick. The most contaminated food is meat and seafood when it comes to causing food poisoning. Since these are foods we don’t eat on a raw food diet, I personally believe it's fairly safe.
One of the main staples of a raw food diet are green smoothies. Leafy greens bring a density of minerals, vitamins, and protein with them to fuel our bodies. Since leaves grow with the help of sunlight, they bring a lot of energy into our diet. We often don’t eat enough of them. Blending them into a smoothie instead concentrates the nutrients into an easier serving size. There are some guidelines to follow when making a green smoothie. The whole point for the smoothie is to be green and get your daily green intake. Commercial green smoothies often have huge amounts of sugary fruit in them to make the taste interesting for the majority of people. You can sometimes only find 10% greens inside. When you can, try to make your green smoothies at home so you know what goes inside. Here is a quick cheat sheet to help you get started: