With the ever-rising popularity in health food and cleanses, there is an ever-increasing amount of opinions on these techniques. The Raw Food Diet is no exception. One side swears by it, claiming it to be a miraculous healing technique while the other side claims it to be dangerous and unnecessary.
The basic concept behind the Raw Food Diet is that plant foods are much healthier for you when they’re alive. They still have the vital nutrients and enzymes in them that assist the body in so many ways. Anything cooked over a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit is no longer considered “raw.” This means that those nutrients and enzymes are cooked off and the food loses much of its nutritional value.
Enzymes are considered to be the building blocks of life. They are needed for every major bodily function, from breathing to digestion. Unfortunately, many people consider the typical American diet to be extremely deficient of enzymes, causing an array of problems from headaches, to fatigue, to bloating, to indigestion, to allergies, to diseases.
Raw food enthusiasts claim that by adhering to the Raw Food Diet and absorbing all of the new enzymes and nutrients, the body will naturally heal the problems caused by the enzyme-deficient diet. This means that once someone goes on the diet and the body starts to get the enzymes it needs to function properly, serious illnesses, such as cancer or autoimmune diseases, can be reversed by reversing the problems that created them.
However, not everybody is sold. In the view of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), raw foods are too “cold,” or yin. This means that they require too much energy for the body to digest and can actually put out the digestive fires that needed for optimal health. After a while, this diet can actually cause depletion in energy, bloating, and poor absorption of nutrients in food.
TCM also believes that the diet can also cause poor thyroid health. The vegetables in the cruciferous family (kale, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens) contain naturally occurring compounds called “goitrogens.” These compounds may block thyroid function and can eventually lead to goiter or hypothyroidism. Goitrogens are deactivated by heat, so cooking these vegetables can actually be better for you.
There’s also the amount of work required for a Raw Food Diet. It basically becomes a full-time job. To get the required variety and enjoyment out of the food, most raw food enthusiasts are occupied with a constant rotation of juicing, dehydrating, sprouting, and blending that, simply put, takes time.
Some health food experts believe that this diet lacks the protein needed for a healthy diet. Protein, iron, calcium, and B12 are commonly derived from cooked animal products and many people could find themselves lacking these nutrients on the Raw Food Diet. Doctors recommend taking supplements in addition to this diet.
While there is no consensus among experts regarding the Raw Food Diet’s overall benefits, it is always best to arm yourself with as much information as possible when considering a drastic change in health in lifestyle.
If you are considering the Raw Food Diet, it’s important to take into consideration your previous health problems and how these could be healed or possibly worsened by the Raw Food Diet. It’s important to find supplements to accompany this diet and fill in the gaps left by the potential deficiencies it creates. Many recommend accompanying an increase in raw food with the occasional cooked meal, just to give your digestion system a break.
No matter what you decide, it’s most important to listen to your body and make adjustments from there, as it knows more your personal health than any opinions you could read about on the internet.
By Aaron Weaver