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With the abundance of diet fads that are available today, the masses tend to overlook the simplicity of a raw food diet. Many trendy diets instruct you to consume processed foods and other supplements that can actually damage your health in the long run. If you’re looking to lose weight, improve your health or combat chronic conditions, a raw diet provides many benefits without the serious negative side effects.
What exactly is a raw food diet?
Essentially, a raw diet consists of uncooked, unprocessed and unpasteurized foods. The main staples of this diet include fresh fruits, vegetables, sprouted grains, and legumes. While most raw food people are strictly vegan, some of them consume uncooked meat, eggs, and raw dairy products. In order to qualify as raw, foods must be prepared at a temperature of less than 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Foods can be gently warmed or dehydrated, but the cooking temperature cannot exceed 116 degrees if the food is to retain all the nutrients.
Raw food diet and nutrition
When food is cooked above the established temperature, enzymes, vitamins and minerals are broken down which means the food loses a substantial amount of nutritional value. Processed foods are even worse when it comes to valuable content. To clarify, processed foods are considered to be foods that have been chemically altered.
These foods are full of white sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners that are harmful to your health. They also contain artificial preservatives, colors, flavors and textures that are all made from toxic substances. Eating raw is a simple way to eliminate these dangerous additives from your diet.
Since packaged and cooked foods have a lower nutrient content, the body requires more of these foods to stay satisfied which leads to overeating and weight gain. Some companies add synthetic nutrients to make up for the loss during processing, but the body does not properly digest these chemically altered substances.
Incorporating fresh foods from the major groups provides your body with the living nutrients that it needs to stay healthy. Live enzymes and nutrients also give the body plenty of energy to function throughout the busiest of days, whereas processed foods leave the body feeling heavy and sluggish.
Developing a new relationship with food
Going on a raw food diet means you’re completely changing the way you consume food. Since most restaurants don’t offer raw meals, you have to find new ways to be creative in the kitchen. This process changes the way you shop for food, think of food and relate to food. Eating raw can feel limiting in the beginning, but with the right attitude, you can tap into your creative power and explore the world of raw food preparation.
Start by experimenting with smoothie recipes, putting a twist on classic salads and pureeing vegetables to make raw soups. Don’t be afraid to try new foods and flavor combinations. Utilize herbs and spices to flavor your meals, and don’t forget that you can warm things up to 116 degrees.
When you grow more comfortable preparing raw foods, try turning some of your old favorite recipes into a raw meal. This helps you satisfy certain cravings and changes the way you think of “ comfort food .” Not only does this increase your cooking skills, but it also improves your emotional relationship with food and saves you money on restaurant bills. If you’re the social type, replace your weekly dinner out with a raw meal prepared at home for you and your friends. It’s fun to share your new skills and inspire others with your raw food creations.
In the big picture, eating raw over a long period of time actually changes your taste buds. Your entire biological system responds to your diet, and the taste buds are part of this. When you’re accustomed to eating wholesome unaltered foods, consuming a piece of candy or a sip of soda again is often alarming. The artificial sweeteners are overwhelming, and processed foods taste fake and plastic-like. Eating raw for a long enough time frame eliminates cravings for junk foods and increases cravings for healthy foods.
Improved heart health and digestion
A raw food diet is generally free from animal products and salt which means your risk of developing heart disease is greatly reduced. Fresh foods are also low in cholesterol and saturated fats; this is beneficial for the arteries and the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.
Plant materials are easily digested by the body without the loss of nutrients. When foods have less time to sit in the digestive tract, it has less time to rot there. Digesting food as quickly as possible is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system over the long haul. This also keeps the body properly energized so you can function without feeling bloated or bogged down by heavy foods.
Things to keep in mind when switching to a raw food diet
While the main benefit of eating raw foods is maintaining nutrient content, there are certain foods that require light cooking for the nutrients to be released. This usually applies to fibrous foods and foods with a high lycopene content. Additionally, cooking foods is the best way to ensure that you’re not consuming harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning.
In these cases, a little light cooking actually increases the benefits of your food. However, it’s important not to burn or char foods, as this introduces different harmful chemicals into the food. It’s safe to lightly simmer, saute or steam foods, and you can use a food thermometer to keep track of the cooking temperature.
It’s also important to make sure you consume a wide variety of raw foods in order to get all the right nutrients for your body. Don’t get caught up in eating the same thing every day, instead rotate your favorite foods throughout the week for a balanced nutrient profile.
People Eat A Raw Diet For A Week • LIFE/CHANGE
Transitioning to a raw diet benefits your health and your lifestyle. Preparing raw meals at home is a perfect way to improve your relationship with food, to bring people together and to save money on junk food expenses. Many people report having healthier hair, skin and an overall higher quality of life after switching to a raw diet. However, remember to keep the minor risks in mind and balance your raw food consumption with some lightly cooked meals.