Have you heard of the raw food diet? While people have followed similar programs since time immemorial out of necessity, proponents of this eating plan claim it will supercharge your energy and offer a host of health benefits. Is such a meal plan for everyone? Are there any precautions you need to take on such a diet? Discover more about whether going raw is for you.
Different Types of Raw Food Diets
Embracing a raw food diet means eating foods as close to their natural form as possible. Adherents of this plan only heat food to a maximum temperature of 116 degrees using a dehydrator. Proponents of the regimen do blend and chop their meals, but they don't use additives. The reduction in salt and sugar, as well as potentially cancer-causing preparation techniques such as cured lunch meats, accounts for many of the health claims.
Raw vegan: If you embrace this diet, you eschew animal products entirely. Many vegans eliminate these substances from their lifestyle — you won't even catch them wearing a leather jacket.
Raw vegetarian: Some raw vegetarians eat eggs or dairy. Others may consume fish (pescatarians).
Raw omnivorous: These folks don't limit their diets to non-animal products, and they may face health risks on a raw plan from undercooked meat.
Potential Benefits of Raw Food Diets
The raw food diet offers a flurry of potential benefits. If any of the following concerns you, you might consider giving a variation of the menu a go!
1. Improved Heart Health
Multiple studies indicate that a diet high in fruits and vegetables decreases your risk of coronary heart disease. You may reap cardiovascular benefits if you embrace this diet, particularly if you opt for a vegan or vegetarian plan. You'll not only increase your consumption of phytonutrients from colorful veggies, but you'll also boost your whole grain intake. A diet rich in whole grains may lower cholesterol levels, further reducing your chances of a heart attack.
2. Healthy Weight Loss
Are you trying to shed excess pounds? You may do so on the raw food diet. You won't down any greasy pepperoni pizza on such a plan, and the reduction in high-calorie fats can help you drop unwanted weight. Additionally, eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides you with a ton of filling fiber. Although your body cannot digest this substance, it creates a feeling of fullness in your gut that keeps you from reaching for snacks.
3. Decreased Cancer Risk
Numerous studies have shown that eating a diet based primarily around plant sources like vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains can reduce your risk of developing cancer. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you get five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
4. Control Over Type 2 Diabetes
Research indicates that adopting a vegan or vegetarian form of this diet may help you manage Type 2 diabetes. One meta-analysis found that vegetarians had 27% lower odds of having diabetes than omnivores. The chemical changes your body undergoes can also help in weight loss efforts. Sometimes, you develop insulin resistance from too much refined sugar and bleached flour in your diet, but the right meal plan can help reset this function.
5. Increased Energy Levels
Adherents to raw food swear that their energy levels skyrocket. This effect may occur due to increased consumption of phytonutrients, the vitamins and minerals that give plants their vivid hues. Some of these have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that minimize the symptoms of chronic diseases. When you feel better, you naturally have more spring in your step.
Precautions to Follow on Such a Meal Plan
Even though the diet offers potential benefits, it isn't for everyone. Consider the following before embarking on your journey.
1. Nutritional Deficiencies
Unfortunately, you can't get all the nutrients your body needs entirely from plants — despite claims to the contrary. This doesn't mean you can't embrace a vegan diet, but talk to your physician about potential supplements to prevent deficiencies.
2. People with Health Conditions
Some people with specific health conditions, such as migraine or autoimmune diseases, can find uncooked foods problematic. If you're in the middle of a Crohn's flare-up, raw food could potentially increase your body's inflammatory response. If you find your symptoms worsen, consider modifying your plan.
3. Warnings if You Eat Animal Products
Raw and undercooked meats can contain harmful bacteria that cause gastrointestinal upset. If you choose to consume meat on this diet, you risk contracting these infections.
Getting Started with Raw Food
If you want to give the raw food diet a try, the best place to start is your local farmers market. There, you'll find the freshest organic produce that's chock-full of the highest level of nutrients. Plants begin to lose their nutritional value shortly after harvest, so the sooner foods move from the farm to your table, the healthier you'll feel.
Is Raw Food for You?
Only you can decide if this diet will work for you. You can try the plan for a limited period and modify it to suit your lifestyle. If you reap health benefits, you may choose to stay the course!