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The benefits of the raw food diet

by shedboy71


To some, eating a raw food diet may sound strange. They’ve been accustomed to eating packaged and processed foods all their lives. Their idea of a vegetable is something that is boiled in water for a long time, and the end result is something that doesn’t even look like the original. Their notion of fruit is also one that is highly processed.

The raw food lifestyle is one that embraces the simple notion of eating a raw carrot, or an apple or orange in its original state. If it’s organic that adds an extra bonus. And if the fruit or vegetable was picked only hours or even minutes before you eat it, that’s even better.

Aside from the simple pleasure eating raw food brings, it also gives you multiple health benefits. That is the number one reason why people end up making the switch – for their health.


So what are these benefits people keep talking about, anyway? In a way, it almost seems too good to be true. Can a diet that focuses on raw foods really be so good for you that it has people all over the world singing its praises? To the people that follow it, the answer is definitely yes. It is as good for you as people claim largely because the overall nutrient content of the diet is a lot greater.

People are making the switch on a constant basis because of the health benefits. But before we examine what these benefits are, it is important to understand exactly why the raw foods diet carries these health benefits. Yes the health benefits do exist but it is important to weigh all the information before you decide what to do.


That’s easy. It’s because the typical Western diet is not food for us and the diet falls short in a lot of ways. Foods are over processed and filled with harmful saturated fat and trans fatty acids. When foods are highly processed the also tend to be high in sodium.

Both of these can cause health problems. Not only is the raw foods diet low in fat, but it contains a perfect balance of minerals. Since the food isn’t processed, there are also hardly any trans fats and saturated fats at all.

However, not all western diets are like this. For example, the Mediterranean diet is known for also being healthy. So, critics of the raw foods diet say that there are other ways of eating in the world that can be pleasurable and beneficial as well. It is important to weight all the information and make your own choices.


One of the things that make raw foods so beneficial is the enzymes. All living foods contain enzymes. In fact, our own bodies manufacture enzymes that aid in digestion. For example, the enzyme lipase helps the body digest fats and the enzyme lactase helps our bodies digest milk. Those who are lactose intolerant do not have the ability in their body to produce the lactase enzyme, mainly for genetic reasons.

No matter what our bodies need to digest, an enzyme that is produced in our bodies is a crucial part of that process. The body is equipped with different organs that help manufacture these organs. And even though these organs work throughout our lives, they do slow down as we get older. This means that our bodies may not be producing all of the enzymes we need. Not only that, but the modern diet is traditionally hard on the digestive system and it has to work overtime to digest the foods we eat. This means it needs to work hard to produce all of the enzymes needed.

This is where raw foods come in. Since they already have enzymes in them, they help relieve the pressure on our digestive systems. This in turn helps the digestive system work at an optimum level. It also helps the body conserve enzymes and prevents some of the drastic slow-down that the digestive system experiences as we age.

However, when foods are cooked, the enzymes are largely destroyed. So, unless the food is raw, we won’t get the benefit of the enzymes. Yes, we could supplement enzymes but it is generally not a good idea to get a lot of our nutrients from supplements. Getting them from foods is better for your health.

Two prime examples of important enzymes that are in food are papain, which is in papaya, and bromelain, which is in pineapple. Both of these have been shown to improve digestion and have other health benefits as well such as helping ease muscle soreness. Enzymes are important and more and more people are realizing how powerful they really are.

Also, enzymes won’t be around forever. Technically our organs that make them will always be intact. However, the organs slow down as we age which means that not a lot of enzymes will always be present. If we eat raw foods we will be better off.

Some people believe that aging is nothing more than our enzymes running out. That is another reason why people love the raw foods diet. It helps them maintain their youthful appearance for a lot longer. Even diets in the world that aren’t necessarily raw foods focused do contain a lot of raw fruits and vegetables for this reason.


Heat not only destroys the important enzymes, but it also takes a toll on some of the nutrients that are present in food. Even though the enzymes are an important element, they are not the only thing that’s important.

• Water is lost during the cooking process because the cell structure breaks down, thus causing some of the water to escape.

• Roughly fifty per cent of the protein that is present in food also breaks down. So, one cup of blackberries has roughly 1 gram of protein. If the blackberries were to be cooked, it would only have 1/2 a gram of protein after the cooking process is complete.

• At least half of the vitamin and mineral content of the foods you cook are either destroyed or lost by heat. For example, vitamin C is highly unstable and rarely survives the cooking process. Also, scores of minerals are lost in the cooking water when steaming, boiling, and blanching foods.

When someone makes the choice to eat raw foods, they are keeping their body’s enzyme reserves intact and also preventing the food from losing vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Keeping these things present food is an important part of being healthy.



We’ve discussed that raw foods have a lot of health benefits. These health benefits are what bring people to the diet in the first place. But what are they exactly? This section will examine them in more detail.


One thing that the raw foods diet is known for is to help people feel more energetic. When the body is being fed the right balance of nutrients and enzymes, it makes our body systems function even better. The reward is that everything will run more efficiently which will then improve our energy levels.

The modern diet, especially one that is filled with processed foods, depletes our energy levels because of the toll it takes on the digestive system. The raw foods diet helps this because it adds the enzymes and other nutrients back in your body.

You see, our bodies are meant to function a certain way when fed all the right nutrients. This is what makes the raw foods diet so powerful. It supplies the raw foods diet fairly easily. This means that the body has a chance to work at its optimal level because you are giving it the nutrients that it needs.


Heart disease is a big problem in our modern society. Poor diet and lack of exercise add to the problem and even cause the problem in most people. If we were to take the time to care for our bodies by exercising and eating right, then heart disease risk would be greatly reduced.

The raw foods diet is naturally equipped to help people lower their heard disease risk. This is because it is not only a primarily vegetarian diet, but it also contains a higher content of nutrients and enzymes than normal. Because of this, heart disease risk go does dramatically.


Your skin, hair, and nails are the things about your appearance that most people notice about you, especially the hair and skin. This is because it is the part of your body that people see the most. When your healthy, you appearance will look that way.

The raw food diet helps you look your best because it contains a good balance of nutrients to help keep your skin, hair and nails looking fresh and healthy. The skin is most especially affected because if the body is filled with toxins and unhealthy byproducts it will show on the skin. Since a raw foods diet is actually detoxifying and not harmful, the skin will clear up. Also, hair will become shinier and the nails will become stronger.

We all know that clear skin, shiny eyes, and strong healthy hair are all desirable things. To get them we often turn to cosmetics. This can get expensive. We are using cosmetics to supply what nature is willing to give us with the right nutrients. Our bodies are designed to have this attractive appearance – we just don’t take advantage of it often enough. When we eat poorly our appearance suffers. It gets to the point where even cosmetics don’t help. We need to make the change – and fast. The best way to do this is through the raw foods diet not expensive beauty products.


The raw foods diet is naturally low in fat and calories. This means that you’ll definitely lose weight while following the diet. In fact, people are so encouraged by the weight loss and the way the diet makes them feel that they won’t even want to return to their old way of eating. Also, eating certain raw foods, such as celery, actually burns more calories to digest than the actual food, meaning that it has negative calories.


People who follow the raw foods diet will also experience improved digestion. This has a lot to do with the enzymes but it is also because of the relatively high fiber content of the diet. The modern Western diet depletes the digestive system and causes it to work too hard. Since the raw foods diet contains enzymes of its own, the digestive system doesn’t need to release a lot of its own enzymes. This leads to greater efficiency within the digestive system. If the digestive system isn’t working properly it can really take a toll on your health.


Overall, the raw foods diet improves your over state of health, largely because of the high nutrient content of the diet but also because of the enzymes. Once the body has the nutrients it needs, all of the body systems will begin to function a lot better. The increased energy that happens as a result of this growing efficiency helps to increase the body’s general health, especially over a longer time period such as several months or even several years.


By now you should have a solid understanding of what the raw foods diet is and what it can do for you. You may have already come to the decision to give the diet a try. Even though it’s fairly obvious on what you need to do to make the switch – eat more raw foods – there is an art to making the switch successfully.

You see, it may be easy to start out. All you need to do is eat fruits and vegetables as well as sprouted grains and special raw “breads” that are made with these grains. However, if the switch is done incorrectly you could either lose your motivation or experience gastric discomfort. Both of these things can be discouraging.

If you are undecided about whether or not you want to make the switch to a raw foods diet you can approach this in several ways. First, you can think about it more by doing research and talking with people who follow the raw foods diet. You can also take the plunge and start following the steps listed below to help you make the transition.

After you transition, you can follow the diet for several weeks or months (it’s up to you) and see how you feel. If you feel great, it would be easy to continue. If you don’t notice a difference or found the diet too hard to follow, you can either scale back on the percentage of raw food you are consuming or abandon the diet all together. However, even if you do stop following the raw foods diet you can still incorporate elements of it into your daily ritual.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to make the change all at once. You can adapt these steps to be as dramatic or gradual as you want. Changing to a raw foods diet is a personal journey. As you go through the process you will discover the routine that is right for your needs.

Here are the steps that will help you make the transition into a raw foods diet. If you follow them, the whole process with go a lot smoother. If you don’t do things to help make it easier things can get frustrated pretty quickly. A lot of people may end up giving up before they really give it a try. However, with a little planning the transition will go smoothly and you’ll be able to see just how good for you the diet really can be. The key is that you really do need to plan or else you’ll be frustrated.


The first step to making the switch to a raw foods diet is to make sure you understand your motives for switching to a raw foods diet. At this point, it is a good idea to start a journal and talk about how you feel and why you want to make the change. Maybe you have a health problem you are hoping to solve. Or perhaps you are just doing it to be as healthy as you can.

By clearly writing down your motives, it will help keep you motivated. In a way, these motives will also become your goals. If your motive is weight loss, for example, you can turn that into a goal by saying how many pounds you want to lose and how long you want it to take. This stage will help you begin the journey in a positive way.

Without clarity as to what your motives are, you could give up before you really even give the diet a chance. The idea is to stick with it long enough to really see the results. If you give up too soon you won’t have the positive experience you were hoping for. This shouldn’t be frustrating – it should be positive. Understanding your motives will help with that.


Changing to a raw foods diet is something that will require you to embrace a new way of thinking. In order to successfully make the switch, you need to have the right mindset. It’s essential.

In the previous section you spent some time discovering what your motives are for embracing this new lifestyle. Your next step is to build on that and develop a positive attitude. If you are excited about the changes and positive about what you can accomplish, it will make success on this new diet more likely.

The right mindset will also help you if you are starting to feel discouraged. Just remember what your goals are and pay attention to how you feel throughout the process and it will help keep you in a positive frame of mind.


This step is perhaps the most involved. Once you decide what you want to accomplish with the raw foods diet and put yourself in the right frame of mind, you actually need to get prepared. For many, making the switch means you have to adopt a whole new way of thinking. This involves things like

• Collecting recipes
• Coming up with a solid eating plan
• Learning the basics of the diet
• Developing a strategy for food shopping
• Determining a strategy for dining out

It is especially important to go through this planning phase for the first few weeks of your switch. If you are transitioning into the raw foods diet gradually you can also account for that in your planning.


Once you determine what kinds of recipes and menus you will be cooking, it is important to set your kitchen up to accommodate a raw foods diet. As with any eating plan, this will be a key determiner of success.

• If everyone in your family is embracing the raw foods lifestyle, get rid of anything that isn’t part of this diet.

• Stock the pantry and refrigerator with a wide array of raw foods ingredients. This includes basic ingredients like sprouts and raw grains and also any packaged foods you find at the health food store.

• It is also a good idea to determine if you have the right kitchen equipment needed to prepare raw foods meals. This will make your life easier and also make preparing meals a lot more fun.

We’ll go over this step in greater detail in Chapter 4 of this eBook. Bear in mind that you can make this step as simple or complex as you want. It also isn’t necessary to buy everything you need all at once.


The last crucial element of making the switch to a raw foods diet as successful as possible is to have a system in place that will help you monitor your progress. In the first step we talked about setting up a journal. The journal can be in any form you want but if you put it into a three ringed binder you can also use the binder to include your recipes and menus.

There are a few things you should keep track of. Keep a journal of what you eat on a daily basis. I’d also monitor things like weight and body fat to make sure that your weight stays at a healthy level. At the end of each day, spend some time talking about how you feel. If you have any health problems, for example, talk about how the diet seems to be affecting it.

This will help keep you motivated as you go through the process. If you have a tangible way to measure your progress, it will help make this process an even bigger success for you.


Changing to a raw foods diet shouldn’t be all work and no play. The process needs to be fun and satisfying. The first week will be the most challenging because this is where the most dramatic changes to your diet and lifestyle will take place. Once the first week is over, it will get easier.

That is why it is important to not get discouraged during that first week. Once you get passed that hurdle, you can relax a bit. And once you relax, you can learn to have fun. After all, this is an exciting time. You are taking the time out of your busy schedule to take control of your health.

To keep things fun – why not make it a goal to try a few new recipes each week? Eating a raw foods diet is about more than eating raw vegetable sticks and salads all the time. You can actually accomplish a lot of variety in your diet if you take the time to try new things.

Also, raw foods are getting increasingly popular with the dining out scene. Look for restaurants in your area that focus on raw foods or that offers a nice selection of raw meals. You can also invite your friends and family over for a healthy raw foods meal. Share with them your new lifestyle and some healthy and delicious recipes. This will go a long way to making the process a positive experience for you and everyone around you.



As we’ve covered in previous chapters, raw food is simply food that has not been cooked. This however, does not mean that it needs to be completely cold. The food can actually be heated, but just a little bit. In order for something to be classified as still raw and uncooked, it cannot be heated to anything above 116 degrees Fahrenheit.

That is one of the misconceptions of the raw foods diet. When people here about it, they assume that all the food needs to be cold and crunchy. However, it can be warmed up. It just can’t be heated for long enough to actually cook.

Otherwise it will not be considered raw. If the temperature is too high, the enzymes and vitamins will be destroyed. This is good news for people who are looking to get a little more variety in their diet.

So now, you should have an understanding of exactly what raw food really is. But it’s time to go into more detail so you can get started with your new lifestyle. This chapter will explain about what kinds of foods are acceptable in the raw foods diet and also how to make great food choices that will lead to a balanced diet.


So, what are the things that people who follow a raw foods diet can actually eat? As mentioned above, the requirements are that the food must be unprocessed and in its whole, raw state. It is optional but the foods can be heated slightly, making sure to get the food to around 110 – 116 degrees otherwise it will begin to destroy the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

These are just some of the things that you can enjoy on a raw foods diet:

• Fresh squeezed juice
• Fruits, fresh and dried
• Vegetables
• Sea vegetables such as nori and kelp
• Nuts and seeds
• Grains, as long as they are unprocessed
• Legumes and beans

To make certain foods such as grains and legumes even more nutritious and a better addition to the raw foods diet, they can be sprouted by soaking with water. For example, most legumes should be soaked at least overnight, especially when they are in their dried state because it makes them easier to digest. This is because soaking them activates the enzymes which help aid the digestive system as you are eating.

It is important to note, however, that raw doesn’t always mean “healthy”. There are certain foods that should not be eaten in their raw state because they contain elements that can be considered toxic by some. Before you make the decision to completely follow a raw diet, care needs to be taken that you don’t make yourself sick. Some foods to watch out for and possibly ignore altogether in their raw state include:

• Buckwheat greens
• Parsnips
• Raw eggs
• Raw meat, poultry, and fish
• Kidney beans
• Potatoes – (only if the flesh under the skin is green)
• Alfalfa sprouts
• Cassava and cassava flour
• Apricot kernels

There may be others so it is a good idea to research the foods you are considering eating first.

In addition, raw foods may also have a high content of bacteria and other things that can cause food poisoning. Since heat destroys the majority of these, some foods should not be eaten raw at all or else they’ll make you sick. Foods like meat, poultry, eggs, and even milk put you at risk for food poisoning and other illnesses that come from food.

Don’t let this information discourage you from following a raw foods diet, however. Just steer clear of the foods mentioned above that can be dangerous when raw.


When following a raw foods diet, it is important to take the time to eat a balanced diet – one that is filled with all the right nutrients to help increase your health. Granted, when eating such healthy foods that are rich in nutrients it is easier to achieve this than with most diets.

However, since a raw foods diet is mostly vegetarian, a lot of the deficiencies that vegetarians face can also be a problem for raw foodists. There is a way around this, of course, but it does take careful planning. Here are some things to watch out for.


Though animal products are considered superior sources of protein, there are plenty of great protein sources in the plant kingdom. The goal is to make sure you get enough of it. Even fruits and vegetables have protein, so it does add up. But in order to make sure you get enough, you may want to make sure to have a few servings a day of some of these protein rich foods:

• Raw nuts and seeds (not roasted)
• Grains, especially protein rich ones like quinoa
• Legumes such as lentils. Make sure to pair these with a grain to make for a complete protein.

As you follow the raw foods diet making sure you get enough protein will get easier and easier. At first, however, you may need to keep track of your protein servings.


Even though the iron that is found in animal foods (called heme iron) is the most absorbable, non heme iron, or iron that is present in plant sources, is also well absorbed, especially when paired with food that is high in vitamin C.

However, iron is a little scarcer in plant based sources so you need to make sure you are getting enough of it. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue and other problems. So if you are noticing that your energy level is not improving, check to make sure you are consuming raw foods that are high in iron. Here’s a list:

• Green beans (one of the best plant sources of iron)
• Spinach and other raw, leafy greens.
• Raw wheat germ (make sure it isn’t toasted)
• Blackstrap molasses (can take this in supplement form)
• Lima beans
• Dry fruit, especially dried prunes and raisins

Just be sure to include these iron rich foods in your diet at least several times a week. This will prevent fatigue and other problems that are associated with low iron.


Yes, it is true that milk is one of the better forms of calcium. The good news is that milk does meet the requirements of being a raw food, as long as it isn’t pasteurized or homogenized. Basically that means that the milk needs to be straight from the cow and in its freshest state.

However, if you are a vegan in addition to being a raw foodist, milk is not an acceptable ingredient. In that case you will need to turn to the plant kingdom for your calcium. These foods include dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale and nuts such as hazelnuts and almonds. Make sure the nuts are labeled as “raw” when you buy them and that they aren’t roasted.



Since the raw foods diet is already rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients all you need to do is make sure you are getting these things all in the right balance. It helps if you follow advice given by nutrition professionals. As you start your journey, you may want to consult a nutritionist who specializes in raw foods.

If you are a raw food vegan, you can follow the guidelines that vegans follow. Just understand that you may need to adapt some things to suit the raw foods lifestyle. Here are some basic guidelines to follow to get you started.

• Eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. You may even want to experiment with growing your own.

• Be sure to incorporate plenty of protein rich foods into your diet.

• Eat a wide variety of acceptable grains.

• Drink plenty of water. Filtered water is best unless you completely trust your water source.

• Make sure you are getting enough iron and calcium.

That is one of the reasons why it is important to keep a food journal and to plan your menus. It will help you make sure that you are getting the right nutrients in the right proportions. If you plan your meals in advance, it will increase the likelihood that the food will be as healthy as possible.

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