The Health Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on October 14, 2015

Red Apple

Recently, somebody forwarded me an article from USA Today titled Stripping the Diet Raw [1], which featured the many benefits of following a raw food diet.

The article commented on the fact that if we look at the natural world, we would never find any other living creatures that are overweight (unless its our overfed pets). It’s almost hard for our minds to conjure up the image of an overweight plant or an overweight lady bug.

This may be due to the fact that all other living creatures consume a steady diet of raw foods, while humans are eating more cooked, processed foods and artificial toxin containing foods.

Thanks to irresponsible commercial farming techniques that depend on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, genetic modification and hormones to grow crops on already overworked land, a large percentage of today’s food supply has become saturated with toxins and has very little nutritional value.

Why Organic Raw Foods?

In todays world even the majority of raw foods may contain harmful toxins. If we can’t count on raw fruits and vegetables to be pure sources of nutrition, how are we supposed to obtain the energy necessary for life?

The answer lies in choosing organically grown or locally grown foods. Even better, you should grow your own food organically in a backyard garden, provided you don’t live near sources of pollution such as refineries, heavy industry, or freeways.

The USDA National Organic Program defines organic food production as:

    “‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole. Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water.” [2]

It’s becoming increasingly common to see organic fruits and vegetables at many grocery stores. Most likely, you can find a local farmer’s market in or near your city, especially near rural areas. A farmer’s market is the best place to buy your food because it is grown in your local environment and picked ripe, plus it supports your local, small-production farmers.

What Is A Raw Food Diet?

Raw Food Diet Benefits

It is a way of eating that involves a huge dietary increase in the number of unprocessed and uncooked fruits and vegetables, as well as seeds, nuts, grains (mostly sprouted) and beans. A food is considered raw if it is uncooked or “prepared” below 116°F, as above this temperature range, food begins to loose its essential nutrients and enzymes, or its “vital life force.”

The more we can eat foods that maintain that aliveness, the more “life force” we ourselves will be able to embody. Remember Life=Life and Death=Death. More than half a century ago in his book Prescription for Energy, Charles de Coti-Marsh explained, “By eating live foods you create a live body. Live foods contain essential nutrients the body needs to create and maintain energy. Dead foods advance age, decrease ability, and decrease energy … they are useless when dead…”

The best way to approach raw foods is to gradually incorporate more and more raw fruits and vegetables into your diet. A good start is to try to eat 75% raw and 25% lightly cooked (especially in regard to whole grains). Although I personally do not condone eating meat, I have added the safest meats to eat (upon request from consumers) in this general raw food diet plan so some people can make a gradual transition to a 100% raw diet.

The Downsides of Cooking Food

When we cook foods, we inevitably destroy some of the enzymes, vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. If we eat too much overly-cooked, microwaved and processes foods, it can clog our colon, which may lead to a whole host of problems, including, cancer, heart-disease, diabetes and many other degenerative diseases.

Cooking may actually upset the natural structure of food, robbing it of its essential nutritional value. Ed Douglas, the director of the American Living Foods Institute, believes that the human body was never meant to eat cooked food. Stephen Arlin, co-author of the book Nature’s First Law: The Raw Food Diet, even goes so far as to state that, “Cooked food is poison.”

Health Benefits of Eating Organic Raw Foods

If you slowly begin to eat in this fashion, you will be amazed at your increased energy levels, youthful appearance and decreased visits to the doctors office. Increasing raw food intake has also been linked to a decreased need for sleep, with many reporting that they have more energy when they wake up in the morning, and that they find it easier to get out of bed!

Other benefits of following a raw food diet include improved skin appearance, excess weight loss, improved digestion, the reduction of many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as many other health debilitating ailments. Raw foods typically do not have as many trans and saturated fats, as compared to most cooked foods, especially fast food, junk food and any other processed foods.

Raw foods are also extremely high in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, fiber and plant phytochemical. A report from the Journal of Nutrition stated that increased use of raw foods in our diet lowers both cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body [3], some of the main indicators for heart disease, obesity & high blood pressure.

Furthermore, a raw food diet usually involves less packaging and less use of energy sources for cooking, thus making them the near perfect solution for eco-friendly eating. Raw foods also do not usually come in cans or plastics, thus reducing our intake of the harmful chemicals that can be emitted through canned and packaged containers . Don Weaver, author of “The Survival of Civilization,” states that an increased raw food diet is the “most healthful diet for humans and the Earth as a whole.”

If you are beginning to eat more raw fruits and vegetables, make sure to buy only organic or locally grown, as many of the toxins present in non-organic foods, such as pesticides, will not be eliminated with raw eating. Also, avoid eating raw meat, as it can be a host to a wide range of bacteria and parasites.

There is so much information regarding raw foods and personally I believe the best raw food diet is the fruitarian diet. However, everyone is different and you should always do thorough research before radically changing your diet.


  1. Cathy Hainer. Stripping the diet raw. USA Today. 1997 October 27.
  2. Mary V. Gold. What is organic production. United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library. 2007 June.
  3. Koebnick C, Garcia AL, Dagnelie PC, Strassner C, Lindemans J, Katz N, Leitzmann C, Hoffmann I. Long-term consumption of a raw food diet is associated with favorable serum LDL cholesterol and triglycerides but also with elevated plasma homocysteine and low serum HDL cholesterol in humans. J Nutr. 2005 Oct;135(10):2372-8.

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