Going raw may be good for you but expect some challenges

What’s good about going on a raw food diet? Claims include weight loss, increased energy, clearer skin, and a lower risk of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. In fact, studies on raw diets show that cooking, or heating your food above 118° Fahrenheit, can destroy the beneficial enzymes and nutritional value of the food we eat. However, while a raw diet has its benefits, this meal plan isn’t without its own challenges. If you’re thinking about going au naturale, here are a few things to keep in mind before you make the switch.

Uncooked food is risky business

While most raw diets are vegan-based, going au natural doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut out your meats. Ceviche, sashimi, and capriccio (raw meat) are just some of the available options for those looking for protein within a raw food diet. However, be conscious of the risks of adding raw meat to your diet. Uncooked meats have a higher risk of containing food-borne pathogens. Even raw plants and other foods, such as eggplants, sprouts, and potatoes are not advised to be eaten uncooked due to their taste, texture and potential toxic content. By choosing to cook your foods, you can get rid of possibly harmful bacteria and toxins, which are destroyed upon contact with heat.

Green doesn’t always mean good

Believe it or not, but vegetables aren’t always at their healthiest when in their purest form. Raw greens such as buckwheat greens, collard greens, broccoli and cabbage can interfere with thyroid function and can worsen symptoms of hypothyroidism, a condition that limits your glands from producing hormones. While raw dieters claim that raw plant enzymes are good for the human body, others argue against the allegation by pointing out that plant enzymes are only meant to benefit the plants themselves. Nonetheless, if you want to add some greens to your raw diet, veggies like spinach, bell peppers, and celery are a great mix of produce that can eaten without the risk.

Make sure you’re getting all your nutrients

Some nutrient deficiencies are common with those choosing to live a raw lifestyle. Due to the lack of protein within a raw diet, whether it is through the choice of veganism or being cautious of potentially harmful protein providers such as lean meats or uncooked beans, many of the nutrients found within animal products are not consumed with a raw diet. Some examples of the common vitamin deficiencies found within a raw diet include that of vitamin B12, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Calcium and vitamin D are also two necessary nutrients a raw diet may lack. However, these essential nutrients can be found through other alternatives such as figs and soy milk, respectively.

Be sure to get the okay from your doctor before committing to any dietary plans, especially if you’re thinking about going raw.

Have you adopted a raw food diet?  What has your experience been like?

Photo Credit: Arjun Roodink

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