The Health Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

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.

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  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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  • Christian

    Good work

    Recently, I have been trying, or at least considering a whole food diet.

    Actually, I don’t really think I could do a 100% whole food diet, but how about just a 50-80% whole food diet?

    Setting realistic goals, is the best case for me. Even if not, I think eating at least 50% whole foods owuld be a huge benefit for myself, and a good goal to make.

    It has many benefits!

    Thanks..

  • Organic jewelry

    Aah! sometimes I wish to human kind to return towards nature. When we used to live in forest and every thing was organic.

  • Forefront TMG

    Chemical fertilizers spread very negative effect on human liver. One day we will know.

  • charm necklaces

    The power of organic food is no doubt, unfathomable. Old men knew it and they used to live long.

  • Amber

    This is very good article and it’s so true, organic food is so much healthier and it can help the body to regulate a lot of functions.

  • Susy

    I’ve thought of doing this before but never have done it. I love cooking so much, I would miss it! Maybe I’ll give it a shot though.

  • Trilastin

    I’m just not sure if I’m sold on the raw diet yet.

    For SOME people it seems to work so well, but others… Have you see those pasty, gaunt looking older people who are saying they’re really healthy but that look like death?

    It seems like it depends a lot on what your body is already like, genetically, as to how beneficial it will be for you.

    Anyone else think the same or is it just me??

  • Jay

    I can’t say I read all these posts but I didn’t see smoothies mentioned as a really good way to incorporate organic fruits and vegetables into a diet. When made with fresh produce, ice, and other natural ingredients such as honey a smoothie will provide a tasty and healthy way to eat naturally.

  • Buy Kefir Grains

    Thank you so much for this GREAT Article. Basically we can eat all foods, but bear in mind that we don’t need to have it in an exaggerated ways. Of course, if you want to have your real lifetime health, just consider eating the “what must” to your body such as: vegetables, fruits, coconut oil or olive oil, salmon and etc! The healthier food you consume, the happier your life will be.

  • Chris

    Eating fresh, raw foods is a challenge because have you noticed it costs more to attempt to eat healthy? They’d rather you consume bucket loads of processed foods, it’s cheaper to create and there is more margin in it for businesses.

  • Raw or Steamed

    ATTENTION TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE RAW FOODS:

    Want to get the same nutrition without having to eat raw food? The answer is simple – steam your vegetables!

    Steaming (not boiling) food keeps the nutrients locked into the vegetables and will yield the same benefits as eating it’s raw equivalent.

    Enjoy eating your newly found friends :)

  • imzers

    thanks for the good information about the Benefits of a Raw Food Diet. now just keep on healthy life. may GBU all.

  • debaranighosh

    hi
    if you want to have your real lifetime health, just consider eating the “what must” to your body such as: vegetables, fruits, coconut oil or olive oil, salmon and etc! The healthier food you consume, the happier your life will be.

  • raw food diet

    Aside that raw food diet is nutritious, I also consider it as my daily diet food supplement, eating fruits, lots of water, vegetables.
    But i must admit that there are some foods that I realy prefer short “cooked”

  • jogos de motos

    There are giant health benefits to be gained by eating healthy portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Diets high in fruit and vegetables are known to help keep our hearts healthy, and help protect us from diseases.

  • Omari Gill

    Has anybody ever noticed that most fruits and vegetables are mostly water like humans and the earth?

  • Michelle

    The last 2 year I have been saving money growing my own vegetable garden – Each year my garden gets bigger – I spend about $60.00 a month at a store – my health is wonderful and I look 20 years younger. Let’s not forget that there are others as well. Gardens are a potential means to increase our confidence in food safety and security. We know where the food is coming from and all the history of plants grown in our own gardens. We know what chemicals were used, we know what pests were problems and we essentially eliminated the whole resource-gobbling transportation chain to get the food to your plate. And all that gardening is good for you. It is a great form of physical exercise, and I haven’t met a nutritionist yet who didn’t think that fresh produce was “good for you” too!

  • John P

    I love this article. I have been eating more raw in the past and this last year I let it go for a while. I moved and it seemed to be hard to get my system in place again. Looking back, my gradual health problems did not start until I began consuming processed foods again. Lets face it, its easier to eat all this unhealthy prepared food than it is to prepare healthy foods on a daily basis. I got to the point to where my skin became more and more inflammed-very similar to a chronic allergic reaction. It got so bad that I literally went to the fride and cupboards on day and threw out all of the garbage and started over with a more raw-based diet. I started juicing daily, working out and drinking more water. I even did some cleansing. Within just a few days, the itching stopped and within a month or so, my skin made a dramatic improvement. That was just 3 months ago and I continue to this day to get my “old-young-self” back. Advice to people: Don’t get caught up on any particular “diet”-eat for nutrition and your body will reward you. Fresh juicing really helped me “reset” my body and soon I starting craving good quality whole raw foods. If you feed your body what it needs, you will not feel “deprived”-Avoid the microwave and toxic chemicals like a plague. Is such a program good for you? Put it this way, if a medical doctor tells me I must eat so much dairy and meat-I would consider him/her to be ignorant and untrained in basic nutrition. People must take responsibility for their own health. Let your body decide what it likes-it really knows without you even having to think about it. One thing about cost: There are so many things you can make if you have the proper tools-good juicer, blender and dehydrator. I have cut my food cost way down because I am not buying dairy or meat. I still eat seldom a little good quality meat and very little dairy. But they must be from a source I know and not from a poisonous source (like most of the supermarkets). Once you get in a habit of eating raw and preparing your meals, its really not bad, when you consider the almost immediate benefits! Don’t ecpect the people around you to understand your new eating choices, just stay focused and feed your body real food. Question everything that is considered “food”-just because it is on the shelf at the store, does not make it safe-be informed and try new things. Thanks again for the article! Good luck everyone!

  • Rob

    Outward appearance is not always an indicator of how healthy they may be. I think the main problem is to do with losing weight as we grow older. I am 53, and have lost 22kilos in less than 4 months. So, yes, all that weight loss and a thinner face makes me look older, but in reality, I feel 20 years younger and my agility has improved immeasurably. Another good example is that my libido and things in that department have also improved to an extent that I feel VERY youthful!

  • Joe

    Fruitarian diets are a terrible idea and will leave one significantly malnourished over the long-term, and unless you’re rapidly exercising every day, the sugar will have devastating effects. Where are you going to get enough zinc, iron, iodine, B12, and EPA/DHA? Iron from plants has very poor bioavailability. I challenge any fruitarian to get a SpectraCell test performed on them and post it to the public, they will be deficient in a variety of nutrients. The Natural Hygiene diet is an outdated and downright dangerous diet to follow. If you’re going to be raw vegan, you must follow a well-balanced diet which includes sprouts, algae’s, sea vegetables, fruits, vegetables, and sprouted nuts/seeds. I know people want to think it’s as simple as eating fruits and vegetables, but that’s not the reality. Also, the whole vegans causing no harm isn’t reality either, they are still killing a plant and new research has proven that plants can feel pain, and this is coming from a raw vegan.

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