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Thursday, October 4, 2007


Raw food diets are basically just that - the consumption of uncooked (or heated no greater than 115F or 46C), unprocessed, and mainly organic foods including vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and unpasterized dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese).

The raw food movement is by no means new, but is certainly gaining popularity as it thought to provide enhanced health benefits such as increased energy, improved skin, improved digestion, weight loss, reduced risk of chronic diseases, particularly those related to obesity (heart disease, diabetes), as well as certain types of cancers.

Raw foods contain enzymes which aid in digestion and many of the body’s metabolic processes important to our health. When we cook or process food these enzymes are broken down and do not work as efficient or effectively. It is thought that the breakdown of these enzymes lead to toxicity in the body and thus to chronic diseases. Cooking meat creates toxins (heterocyclic amines to be accurate) which are thought to increase the risk of cancer. In addition raw foods are noted to have higher nutritional values then cooked foods and to contain bacteria which are thought to aid our immune system.

In my research on this diet I found out that cooking meat below 100 C creates ‘negligible amounts’ of these toxins and microwaving meat before cooking may reduce them by up to 90%. For now, I will stick to those alternative cooking methods (with the addition of dehydration methods) and enjoy raw fish (another excuse to eat sushi and sashimi), and continue to eat my usual organic raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and reduce my sugar intake. But a complete switch to this diet takes dedication that even my obsessive compulsive dietary behaviours finds demanding.

Of course I am all for a lifestyle diet that truly offers health benefits – particularly those that claim to reduce cancer risks – and there are many amazing stories about curing chronic diseases and weight loss (important for preventing diseases). My only concern with any diet becoming main stream or the next buzz word is that people might jump on the ban wagon before knowing all the facts of such a diet. This diet is by no means as simple as the word may imply and requires a great amount of research and dedication to ensure it is properly followed so as to not actually enhance potential damage to the body.

For instance it should be know that some so called raw foods do need to be heated at a certain temperature to kill bacteria or parasites which can lead to life threatening food borne pathogens – in this case high temperatures are usually required. Or that a lack of certain nutrients can lead to a loss in bone density or reproductive problems (potentially a lack of B12, copper, iron and zinc and protein).

If you are interested in this diet I would suggest doing your homework first and consider gradually changing into this diet so as to avoid experiencing the detoxification effects such as headaches and nausea mainly from the withdrawal of sugar and caffeine in your system.
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