One diet that frequently gets the buzz is the ‘raw food diet.’
Basically it entails only eating raw food
Meaning: uncooked vegetables, fruits, unprocessed nuts, dried meats, nut butters, sprouted grains or legumes, fermented foods (such as sauerkraut or kimchi).
Like many diets, they usually have some positive qualities (along with some not so good qualities). And while it’s extremely difficult to find the pur-fect diet, you can always find aspects to adopt into your nutrition.
It’s like Bruce Lee’s famous quote:
‘Accept what’s useful, reject what’s useless’
Find what’s useful out of any diet and you can’t help but improve your skills at mastering nutrition and finding a plan that works for you.
With that said, here are some thoughts about the raw food diet and what you can take away from it:
#1: Minimal Processed Foods
Look at the average meal in America and you’ll find TV dinners, packaged snacks or cereals (which in some cases are broken down so much they are almost considered pre-digested). Many of these go beyond just processed and are ultra-processed foods. These abominations are linked to increased cancer, type-2 diabetes, obesity, depression, IBS, damage to the heart and early death and much more.
Here’s what researchers have said about these Franken Food’s:
“Typically contain little or no whole foods. Durable, convenient, accessible, highly or ultra-palatable, often habit-forming. Typically not recognizable as versions of foods although may imitate the appearance, shape and sensory qualities of foods.”
Scary stuff. That means the further we run from these the better.
#2: Boosts Your Nutrient Consumption
As a general rule, the more that foods are processed the less nutrients they contain (in a moment I’ll share the exception). That’s one reason extra virgin olive oil beats regular olive oil. The processing of regular olive oil strips away many of the beneficial micronutrients (aka polyphenols). With that said, consuming more unprocessed foods (like the raw food diet suggests) would do most people a ton of good because they would consume a heck of a lot more nutrients than from their microwavable dinners.
#3: Some Vegetables Release More Nutrients When Cooked
While processing can breakdown nutrients, there are some vegetables that actually have higher nutrient-density when they are cooked. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that cooking made the following foods more nutritious: broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and pumpkin. Interestingly, cooking also releases more sugar-content from carrots.
#4: Feeds Your ‘Gut Buddies’
When you consume more vegetables (raw or cooked) you are helping your gut microbiome in a big way. One reason is because of the increased consumption of fiber is just what your good bacteria loves to chow down on. The better you take care of these ‘gut buddies’ the better they take care of you.
#5: Beware of Digestive Distress
Here’s where raw veggies can go bad. I’ve had many clients over the years who can only handle so many raw vegetables. They can handle it in small doses but if they overload their system with bowls of uncooked broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage they are in for gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort. Because of this, they do better incorporating some raw and cooked vegetables in their diet instead of jumping into the deep end.
Like many diets, they each have their limits.
But if you can grab ahold of the positive qualities and incorporate it into your nutrition plan — you can’t help but improve and find more ways of eating that support your health and your weight-loss goals.
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