If I were ever to dabble in eating a raw food diet, I would choose to do so in Summer. There is an abundance of produce in season that is especially uncooked – peaches versus butternut squash. But eating "raw" is about more than just eating salads; it is a complex diet.
The raw food movement stands exactly opposite of processed foods. We know that minimally prepared food is more nutritious, but with the raw diet nothing should be heated over 116 degrees F – the temperature at which important food enzymes are destroyed. Raw foodies argue that these enzymes are not killed by the acidic environment of the stomach, merely deactivated then re-activated once they enter the more alkaline environment of the intestines. Once in the intestines, raw foodists believe these enzymes allow you to fully reap the nutritional benefit from your foods – getting more nutrients from less (processed) food. There are certain movements within the raw food movement that believe you only need to eat raw at least 80 percent of the time to benefit from the diet.
To read about the possible nutritional deficiencies of eating raw and the rules of raw, just read more.
This modification of the rules is important since there are some nutrients your body processes better when cooked. The antioxidant lycopene increases when tomatoes are cooked. The raw food diet is low in B12, found in meat and eggs, as well as zinc. Many people adhering to a strict raw food diet don't get enough calcium or vitamin D and put themselves at risk for osteoporosis.
For me the downside of eating raw would be the amount of time it takes to prepare a meal. There is a lot of soaking involved to create foods soft enough to eat without cooking them. To make whole grains, like oatmeal, you need to soak the grain in boiled water for two to three hours, so you definitely need to think ahead.
Here's a thumbnail sketch of what to avoid and what to eat when going raw:
- No animal products – no meat, no eggs, no dairy products. Instead switch to nut and seed milks.
- No refined sugar or flour. Avoid white rice. Instead you can make your own snack foods with a dehydrator.
- Only cook, the 20 percent of the time that you might be cooking, with cold-pressed unheated oils.
- Do eat tons of greens and juice them too. Spirulina and wheat grass are great diet additions too. As well as sprouted greens.
- Eat fresh plant foods and avoid processed foods like: frozen, boxed, canned and bottled.
- Eat 80 percent or more raw foods.
If you eat raw tell us all about it in the comment sections below.