What you need to know before you go raw

What you need to know before you go raw


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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MANY of us cannot go a day without having at least one cooked meal. Some dieters, however, have decided to go their entire lives without cooking their food.

The raw food diet has been around for a while — before humans discovered fire — but in recent years it has been growing in popularity, as many persons believe going raw is best for their bodies.

Nutrition advisor Janique Watts says a raw food diet consists of at least 75 per cent uncooked foods.

“This includes unprocessed foods, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and organic foods. There are essentially three types of raw foodists — raw vegetarians who also eat eggs and dairy products; raw vegans who consume no meat whatsoever; and raw omnivores who eat both raw meat and plant based foods,” she explains.

You might have heard people say that cooking food kills all the nutrients in it. While this is a wild assumption, there is still a huge debate on whether it is healthier to eat food raw or to cook it. Watts shares some benefits of eating raw foods.

“Some vitamins such a vitamins C and B are more bioavailable when consumed raw, as they can be destroyed by heating processes,” she says. “Clear skin, an increase in energy, improved digestion, weight loss, controlled blood glucose level, reduced risk of cardiovascular/heart diseases, diabetes and cancer are some benefits that are credited to the raw food diet. It should be noted, however, that some of these benefits are claims of raw foodists and are yet to be scientifically proven.”

As you can imagine, there are some risks associated with eating everything raw.

“The raw foodists who consume raw meat are at an increased risk of passing on viruses, bacteria or parasites which can lead to illnesses,” Watts notes. “For all other raw foodists, risks include reduced bioavailability of some essential substances which are activated by heat, for example, the antioxidant from tomatoes, lycopene.”

She says raw vegans and vegetarians are also at risk of becoming Vitamin B12 deficient due to the exclusion of some meats like beef.

“They also face the increased risk of developing pulmonary tuberculosis from drinking raw (unpasteurised) milk which may contain the bacteria Mycobacteria bovis (M bovis),” she says of raw vegetarians. “And the increased risk of ingesting the salmonella bacteria found in raw eggs, and the increased risk of food poisoning from toxins in plant based foods which usually would be destroyed with heat.”

A common myth about diets that do not include meat is that they do not contain adequate protein, as these cannot be found in plant sources. Watts says, however, that dieters who don't eat meat can still have their fair share of protein.

“Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein which can be eaten raw. There are also vegetables that contain proteins in significant amounts, such as broccoli, watercress, spinach, Chinese cabbage or bok choy and cauliflower,” she shares.

She advises, though, that although diets can be trendy, you should consult a medical professional before making sudden changes to your diet.

“You should be advised carefully by your doctor especially if you have any medical conditions,” she says. “If you are given approval, then you should consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist who will guide you according to your specific needs to avoid possible digestive complications or nutrient deficiencies. You should also do your own independent research about the resources required to maintain this diet and decide if it is best suited for your needs.”

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