This month, a few of us are taking a 30-day Wellness Challenge. One week into it and our task for today was to eat a bowl of raw veg salad for any one of the meals. And I thought this was the perfect day to share about the importance and beneﬁts of eating raw food.
A raw food diet is largely plant-based foods, unprocessed and preferably organic. The foods would usually be uncooked fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains. Slight warming and home processing like making almond milk, or vegetable and fruit smoothies is ﬁne but stay away from packaged milk and smoothies.
Last year, around the same time, both me and my husband went on a rigorous detoxiﬁcation diet. Our ﬁrst 2 months consisted of a 100% raw food diet and then slowly over the next 4 month, we came back to a normal eating plan with a few changes like more raw food along with cooked food. Within a few weeks of eating raw, the very sense of health in our body was different from anything we had known before. We were able to cure so many of our common illnesses like allergies, headaches, indigestion, and constipation without any medications. Our bodies felt cleaner, lighter and much more energetic.
I can claim from personal experience that eating raw food makes you healthier and while there is still a lot of research on-going, here are,
5 reasons why you should include some raw food in your diet:
Raw foods have High Nutrients:
Cooking process reduces or destroys certain heat-sensitive and water-soluble nutrients in food such as vitamins B & C, folate and probiotics. The longer the food is cooked for, the higher will be the loss in nutrients. For vegetables that are difﬁcult to eat raw, such as broccoli, try steaming. Raw food diets allow for lightly cooking or warming the food at temperatures below 118ºF or 47ºC.
Raw foods have no harmful additives:
Raw food is unprocessed and uncooked, you get all the nutrients without any added sugars, preservatives and other harmful additives. 80% of salt in our diet comes from processed foods. Since raw food preparations are low in salt and sodium, they help control blood pressure and lower the risk of heart failure.
Raw foods have High Fibre:
Raw foods are largely plant-based foods that are high in ﬁbre and water content and low in calories. Fibre is one of the best natural “sweepers” in our body, cleaning the intestines of all the collected waste. High-ﬁbre foods are essential for a healthy digestive system. High ﬁbre and water content also keeps you fuller for longer and helps curb cravings. This can help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
Raw foods reduce acidity:
Raw foods neutralise acid and help alkalise the body. Furthermore, Raw food makes you chew for longer, which means more saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that aid digestion and more saliva would mean less acid production in the stomach as the food going down is already partly digested. Normally in our fast lifestyles, we gulp down big bites of cooked food, requiring our stomach acids to do all the work.
Raw Foods have live Digestive Enzymes:
Raw food proponents also call it “live food” as it has live enzymes called exogenous enzymes. These enzymes are destroyed or damaged when food is cooked. In our body, pancreas and other organs produce enzymes (called endogenous enzymes) that help in digestion. As is, raw foods are easier to digest, but it is claimed that the additional enzymes in raw foods can boost our own body’s enzymes, thus further reducing the burden on our digestive system.
These are just 5 great beneﬁts of eating raw. Ever since I started eating more raw food in my meals, I have experienced higher energy, better skin, better memory, increased immunity, fewer allergies, less dependence on medications, and an over sense of well being.
Should you consider a 100% raw food diet?
Well not really. A 100% raw food diet is difﬁcult to sustain. There are a lot of foods that you will not be able to eat raw and might even have to take certain supplements as some nutrients like vitamin B-12, omega-3 fatty acids are more easily found in animal products.
We now strive to eat at least 20-30% raw food every day. This comes through raw fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. I love experimenting with different combinations of fruits and vegetables to make raw salads and smoothies. You can also make salads with a mix of raw and cooked vegetables.
A few basics to remember when eating raw foods:
- Wash the food very properly, especially leafy greens and produce like cabbage, and green onions to remove all dirt.
- Try to eat raw food before cooked food as it is digested faster than cooked food.
- Since there is sometimes a risk of bacteria, people with lower immunity like children, seniors, pregnant women need to be extra careful with raw foods.
One doesn’t need to go on a completely raw food bandwagon, but a little raw food in our diets every day will beneﬁt us all. Like Dr. Bircher-Benner, one of the pioneers on the science of dietetics, said
“Whenever and however possible;
no day without green leaves”