Sting sings its praises. Demi Moore swears by it. It just might be Cher's secret "fountain of youth" and even Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and tennis great Venus Williams have turned to a raw diet at times for reasons that ranged from wanting to look and feel better to losing weight.
You don't have to be famous, though, to discover what the Raw Diet phenomenon is all about. All you really have to be is ready to face the challenge of limiting your food and drink to uncooked (or slightly heated) fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains and possibly raw animal products.
The raw food diet is based on the belief that uncooked food is the most healthful for the body. Most food is eaten raw, however heating food is acceptable as long as the temperature stays below 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The idea is that heating food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes, which is bad because enzymes boost digestion and fight chronic disease. For example, the cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli, sulforaphanes, are greatly reduced when broccoli is cooked. Certain vitamins, such as vitamin C and folate, are also destroyed by heat.
Most people who follow a raw food diet are vegan. Others include raw animal products, such as raw milk, cheese made from raw milk, sashimi, ceviche (raw fish), or carpaccio (raw meat) in the diet, while others include cooked food for variety and convenience. In general, raw food accounts for 70 percent or more of the diet.
To find out what foods are typically eaten on a raw food diet, read the List of Foods to Eat on a Raw Food Diet. [http://altmedicine.about.com/od/rawfooddiet/a/Foods-To-Eat-On-The-Raw-Food-Diet.htm]
Pros and Cons of a Raw Food Diet
Since many raw foods are low in calories, fat, and sodium, and high in fiber, you'll probably lose weight on a raw diet.
There are also nutritional perks. Eating lots of veggies and fruits is good for you. Most of what you eat will be high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals.
But you do have to make sure you're getting enough protein, iron, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals like B12.
And cooking isn't all bad. It boosts some nutrients, like beta-carotene and lycopene. Cooked tomatoes contain three to four times more lycopene than raw tomatoes.
Due to the risk of food poisoning, a raw diet isn't recommended for pregnant women, young children, seniors, people with weak immune systems, and those with chronic medical conditions like kidney disease.
- Start slowly. Start with 50 percent raw and go from there. Don't be focused on going 100 percent raw. Instead, find the balance that works best with your lifestyle and consider it an evolving process.
- If you are going to try the diet, you'll need to find recipes and make meal plans, especially as you begin. Don't allow yourself to go hungry.
- Make sure to eat a variety of foods.
- Consider the source of your food. Organic food is unburdened by the chemicals used for conventional crops.
- Read up. Knowledge is power, especially where your diet and health are concerned. Goodreads has a great list [http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/8808.Best_Raw_Food_Books] of the some of the best raw food guides, recipes and books.
Have you tried a raw food diet? Please share your results with us.