The following article is by a guest author, Abigail Eva. It's a very good overview of the various raw food diets. As proponents of Dr. Ann Wigmore, I follow and promote a form called the Raw Living Foods Diet and Lifestyle. Please note that over-consumption of protein is the leading cause of osteoporosis. - Jim Carey
All you need to know about Eating Raw Foods
Page description: Find out how you can get the best out of eating your foods in raw form. Improve your overall heath by doing yoga and leg exercises while eating the right amount of protein in your diet.
Here comes one of the most talked about form of diet - eating raw food, and proponents of this diet swear on its benefits. The raw food enthusiasts claim that it is actually the only way of eating. But if you’re used to eating a traditional diet where you eat mostly cooked you’re probably wondering what’s so bad about that?
Well, let’s find out exactly what a raw food diet is? And if one can really benefit from it?
Raw foodism is based on the fundamental principle that plant foods in their natural state, which is uncooked and unprocessed, are the most wholesome for the body. Unlike weight loss diets, this is a lifestyle choice. Devotees of this lifestyle insist on a diet consisting mainly of uncooked and unprocessed plant foods. It is believed to give us body that is leaner, skin that is clearer skin and energy that is higher. It is also believed to reduce the risk of deadly diseases. The raw zealots believe that any food, when cooked changes its molecular structure in its nutrient components such that the body cannot use it easily as when the food is raw. In addition to this belief, enzymes, which are catalysts that help the body to absorb nutrients in the foods, are also believed to be killed when the food is cooked under high temperature.
This is the reason why raw food enthusiasts do not cook with the traditional stove or oven. Instead, they use food dehydrators that give vegetables and cookies a crunch. Food dehydrators are also used to dry out fruits and other raw food products. The dehydrator is based on the principle of working with heat where temperatures cannot go beyond 115 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit due to the belief that high heat destroys vitamins and enzymes that are critical for digestion.
The diet can include any food that is primarily unheated, or cooled to less than a temperature range of 40 °C (104 °F) to 46 °C (115 °F). There are many variants of this lifestyle. Out of these, vegan diet is the most popular, but there are other forms which may include animal products and/or meat. Even among raw foodists there are those that advocate raw vegetarianism or veganism, and those who advocate an omnivorous diet. There are also enthusiasts that advocate a 100% animal food diet.
A vegan diet would consist of raw plant foods that are unprocessed and that have not been heated above 46 °C (115 °F). Typical foods in this category would include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and sprouted legumes and grains. The vegans can sometimes be subdivided into juicearians, fruitarians, or sproutarians, where they primarily process all their raw foods into juice, eat fruits exclusively or adhere to a diet consisting of sprouted seeds respectively.
On the other hand raw vegetarianism is a diet that allows diary and eggs but excludes any form of meat, poultry and fish. The most popular foods here include vegetables, fruits, honey, nuts, seeds, sprouts, grains, legumes, dairy and eggs.
It is interesting to note that eating cruciferous vegetables in raw form like brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale reduces the risk of cancer of the bladder. It is noted that cooking these cruciferous vegetables robs them of their isothiocyanates, which are the agents that alter the proteins in cancer cells. It is found that eating even a few helpings each month of these raw crucifers lower the risk. Not only that, it is also found that eating raw vegetables reduces the risk of gastric, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal and oral cancers. There are also many conditions like hypertension which can be effectively controlled as the high fiber content in this kind of diet is known to help unclog the arteries. There are also many herbs used to control blood pressure such as licorice, ephedra, gingko biloba, hawthorn berry, maitake, ginger, turmeric, turnip, celery and olive. These blood pressure herbs are proven to effectively reduce artery hardening and strengthen the heart muscle thereby making delivery of blood to the body more effective.
The other category is the raw animal food enthusiasts who follow a diet that includes uncooked and unprocessed meats and eggs or fermented meats and fish, raw dairy, as well as the foods that vegans and vegetarians eat. Raw animal food zealots usually obtain their meats from grass-fed and free-range sources which greatly reduces the risk of bacteria that may be harmful. Studies have backed up this belief as grass-fed animals have far fewer bacteria like E. coli as against their grain fed counterparts (about 1/300th). The bacteria are also much less likely to survive our gastric juices which are the primary first line defense against any infection. To top it off, grass fed meat contains far more nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, than grain-fed meat.
Hence, contrary to popular belief, a raw food diet can be rich in nutrients. Not only that, the advantage of a high fiber diet with low fat and sugars can give you a whole lot of advantage over a diet that is void of it. It is a fact that a diet rich in calcium, iron, vitamin and omega-3 fatty acids, are found naturally in raw food products.
However, there are certain practical issues. And the movement itself is split into many factions. Like everything else, no one seems to be in total agreement with anyone else. But the truth of the matter is that following this kind of diet can be a path for you to attain perfect health or to undergo serious undernourishment. There are raw food dieters who claim that cooked food produces many harmful chemical toxins. While some of these claims are accepted by science, many are speculative.
Therefore as the raw food consumption gains popularity, understanding what you eat is crucial as there are some potentially unsafe foods such as buckwheat greens, and some beans and legumes that are toxic in the raw form. The toxins from these raw foods can cause a wide range of symptoms such as photosensitivity and other dermatological complaints. Sometimes tiny amounts of goitrogens present in raw food like rutabaga, canola oil, pine nuts, cassava, millet, mustard, peanuts and soybeans can interfere with metabolism of iodine thereby worsening hypothyroidism. And there are also foods like eggs and tomatoes, which when cooked make the nutrients absorbed by the body more easily.
Thus the overall well being of our health depends a great deal upon diet and lifestyle. Whatever form of lifestyle we choose, it goes without saying that balancing it with a healthy exercise regime is a must. And when you think of physical activity, you don’t have to rack your brains. Take that first step - with your leg. Whether it be walking, jogging, running, dancing or swimming. Leg exercises are the simplest, safest and the most effective when it comes to physical activity. And if you are focusing on weight loss, make certain that you do regular exercise and eat right. A high protein diet is an absolute must if you want to lose fat. But be sure to balance it with the right amount of fruits and vegetables. Another great form of exercise you can indulge in is yoga. Yoga is known to have innumerable benefits that promote not only your physical being, but also your mental and spiritual being. There are many remarkable instances which have proved that practicing yoga coupled with a right combination of diet can alter and reverse many serious cardiac diseases. The practice of yoga for weight loss as a key component with diet alterations is now gaining rapid popularity even in the medical field due to its unconventional way. It is used as an adjunct treatment for many specific medical conditions, from depression to heart disease and is widely integrated in cardiac rehabilitation programs
So keeping our overall health gain in perspective, let us not forget that we can actually reap all the benefits given the right attitude and approach. Even though there may be very little medical literature available on the raw food diet, it is steadily gaining momentum. Research has outlined certain health benefits of a plant-based diet. And if one can be pragmatic as well as a realist without being a stubborn idealist - raw food can actually transform your life!