The raw food diet is one type of diet that is claimed to improve body health. The background of this diet is that the heating process used when cooking food will reduce the levels of nutrients and enzymes contained in the food. Even though these enzymes are good for digestion and help fight various kinds of diseases, especially chronic ones,
The raw food diet is a diet that is done only by eating raw food or only going through a slight processing process, for example, not heating it to more than 40–48 degrees Celsius.
This diet, which is also called the raw food diet, has been around since the 1800s but has only recently become popular again in recent years.
The heating process at more than 48 degrees Celsius can destroy the natural enzymes contained in food. That makes the body work too hard to produce more digestive enzymes.
In addition, the heating process also has the potential to reduce the nutritional content of food. At first glance, this diet is similar to the vegan diet, which only consumes plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Although most of the raw food diet is completely plant-based, some still consume raw eggs and dairy products. Some people even eat raw fish (sashimi) and meat.
People on this diet believe that eating raw foods will bring many benefits, including weight loss, reducing the risk of chronic disease, and maintaining overall health.
List of Foods
The key to implementing this diet is ensuring that 75% of the food you consume is raw.
Most raw foods generally come from fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Grains usually have to be soaked before consumption.
Here are some other types of food that can be consumed as part of your daily raw food diet menu.
- All fresh fruit
- All fresh vegetables
- Sun-dried fruits
- Dry meat
- Peanut milk
- Olive oil and coconut oil
- Raw eggs or dairy products (optional)
- Raw meat or fish (optional)
- Real fruit juice with no added sugar
- Coconut water
- Filtered (not boiled) water
Some of the foods that you should avoid if you want to follow a raw food diet include the following.
- All foodstuffs cooked at high temperatures
- Roasted nuts and seeds
- Kitchen salt
- Powdered sugar and flour
- Pasteurized juices and dairy products
- Pasta and rice
- Processed foods and other snacks
What to Look For Before Trying
Now, there are still many experts who debate the benefits of this diet. Experts who take the opposite position consider raw food to be no healthier than cooked food.
Cooking may reduce some nutrients, but the cooking process can help kill or destroy some of the harmful compounds and bacteria in food.
Therefore, find as much information as possible about this diet. If necessary, consult your doctor directly before you decide to go on this diet. Remember, this diet cannot be done haphazardly.
It takes a strong commitment to go through the process. Regardless of the pros and cons of the raw food diet, always remember your health.
If you have certain health conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, allergic reactions, HIV/AIDS, or certain cancers, it is advisable to consult your doctor first.
This is because people with weak immunity are susceptible to bacterial infections or other harmful microorganisms from uncooked food.
The raw food diet, like other types of diets, has some rules that must be followed by those who want to follow them.
1. Do not Eat Cooked Food
If you are on a 100% raw food diet, then you should not consume foods that are processed at temperatures above 46 degrees Celsius because foods that are cooked or processed at temperatures over 46 degrees Celsius will lose some of their enzymes while making the food more difficult to digest. Food processing in this diet usually uses a food processor, dehydrator, and blender.
2. Use Filtered or Distilled Water
The main goal of the raw food diet is to supply nutrients that help the cells in the bodywork in the most natural form possible. Because the presentation is in raw form, cleanliness is one of the important things that must be considered. Using unsterile water can increase the risk of toxins or parasites appearing in food and potentially causing disease. As one of the components that play a role in processing dishes on this diet (such as for making smoothies and juices), filtered or distilled water is the best choice.
3. Use Organic Food Ingredients
Because in this diet food processing using heat is strictly avoided, you must ensure that the food ingredients used are free of various types of toxins, one of which comes from pesticides. Processing and cooking food using heat can kill various kinds of toxins and poisons in food ingredients, but if you decide to go on a raw food diet, then choosing raw materials from which they are “safe” will certainly be better.
4. Consume Legumes That Have Been Soaked First
As a type of food ingredient that is widely used in the raw food diet, the processing of legumes also needs attention. Nuts such as cashews, almonds, or hazelnuts should be soaked in water (which, of course, is filtered) first. This soaking serves to remove the bitter taste and make the beans easier to digest, even though they are consumed raw. This soaking process can replace the roasting process that is usually used to process peanuts.
5. Avoid Certain Types of Food
Some types of food that are usually not included in this raw food diet are eggs, dairy products, and their derivatives because they tend to be dangerous if consumed without being processed first. To work around this, you can consume milk made from nuts, for example, cashew milk or almond milk. Grains are also usually avoided because they usually have to be cooked first. The types of grain products that are commonly used in this diet are raw oats or raw quinoa, which must be soaked before consumption.
The main concept of the raw food diet is the importance of natural enzymes present in food. The existence of this natural enzyme means that our bodies do not need to produce excessive amounts of enzymes just to digest food. This diet also believes that processing food with heat can reduce its nutritional value due to the loss of most vitamins and minerals. Processed foods also tend to take longer to digest and can clog your digestive tract and arteries with poorly digested fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
In addition, the raw food diet is also claimed to be able to:
- gives you more energy.
- improves the appearance and health of the skin.
- increase the effectiveness of the work of the digestive system.
- Lose weight.
- Reducing your risk of suffering from degenerative diseases, especially those related to cardiovascular health.
Risks of Following
Although claimed to improve your health, just like other types of diets, this diet is not without risks. Some things that you should pay attention to if you want to go on a raw food diet are:
- Because it is not cooked, the food you consume may contain harmful toxins and parasites. The process of cleaning ingredients in a way that is not thorough can increase your risk of experiencing food poisoning. And there are types of food that should not be eaten raw, such as cassava, meat, and milk. Raw meat that is not properly processed can contain harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Milk that has not been through a heating process can also contain mycobacteria, which can cause non-pulmonary TB disease.
- You may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. This vitamin plays a role in maintaining brain function as well as red blood cell production and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products such as meat, milk, and fish. This type of food is difficult for those on a raw food diet to consume, so the risk of experiencing a vitamin B12 deficiency increases.
- Your osteoporosis risk may also increase. Several factors affect the level of bone density, namely the consumption of calcium and vitamin D, which is less than sufficient, and low body weight. In the raw food diet, the main foods are low-calorie foods such as vegetables and fruits. Although you can get calcium from dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale and broccoli), you should consume more vegetables. Unlike the calcium found in milk, for example. One glass of milk alone can provide 300 mg of calcium. Running a low-calorie diet can increase your risk of losing bone density more quickly, which can lead to osteoporosis.