Monday, June 25, 2012

Raw Food Diet Pros and Cons - Part 1

These days raw food products and diet endorsements are on the rise!  If you have any question about its current popularity just do a Google search and you will find at least 10,600,000 results!  And when you see foods that look like this, it's no surprise . . . 

So if you have you ever wondered if this type of diet is meant for you, or if you have questions about it's benefits and drawbacks, then this is the article for you . . . In fact, I've been thinking about writing this particular post for some time and finally decided to put my fingers to work!

As you well know there are as many diets as you can count, and each of them has a very long list of proponents - some famous, some infamous - and opponents - some knowledgable and some not.  This is never more clear than when it comes to the topic of raw foods and a raw food diet.

You see in some systems of medicine, like Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, there would NEVER be a vegan, raw food diet.  Nor would you find much agreement in the world of Macrobiotic or Paleo dieters. 

However, I am generally a person who likes to "cherry pick" my ideas from the best of the information available and look at all sides of a subject before either agreeing or disagreeing with an idea or concept.  In other words, I agree with the old adage, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater!

Let's start by understanding just what a raw diet includes, it's benefits, why it's gotten so popular in the past few years and if it's right for you.

What is a Raw Food Diet?
A raw food diet is composed entirely of uncooked foods - mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and even some grains.  Careful consideration is placed on the preparation of the food.  Nuts, seeds, beans and grains are soaked, sprouted and sometimes dehydrated at low temperatures, generally between 99 and 105 degrees.  Other food prep favorites among the raw food movement are juicing and blending. 

The premise behind leaving food raw is to preserve the vitamins, minerals and enzymes naturally occurring in fresh foods. 

It is believed that soaking nuts, seeds, grains and beans makes their valuable nutrients more available.  Since these are embryonic forms capable of creating a new fruit bearing tree or plant, nature has coated them with enzyme inhibitors to prevent premature germination.  It is believed that soaking removes some of these inhibitors allowing for the sprouting process to speed up.  It is also believed that sprouting increases the nutritional value of these foods by as much as 50% - but more on that subject tomorrow . . .

While most raw food diets are vegan, some raw food enthusiasts also include raw milk and cheese products, and a few also include raw fish (sashimi and ceviche) and raw meat (carpaccio).

A raw food diet is a lot more than just crunching down on a beautiful salad . . . it is definitely part of the "slow food" movement!  While it may seem like committing to a raw food diet would be a quick and easy way to save time, it actually takes quite a bit of time and planning to maintain a raw diet if you are truly attempting to maximize nutrition.

You may already be part of the movement! 

Without realizing it you may already be eating many raw or "live" foods in an attempt to cut out wheat, gluten and dairy products.  Many of the substitutions I've suggested are, indeed, raw!

Here are just a few of the raw food recipes and suggestions I've posted in the past . . .

Blood Orange SalsaBlood Orange Salsa

Sweet, Fresh Strawberries with Velvety Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar

Zesty Grapefruit Guacamole

Jicama-Chili-Lime-and-Cilantro Wedges

Green Goddess Juice

Green Chimichurri Sauce from OMG! That's Allergy Free?

DF Aztec Chocolate Smoothie

Carrot-Orange-Ginger-Mint Smoothie

Over the course of the next few days, I'll be sharing with you some of the info and perspectives from various raw food experts and then sum up my own experience and perspectives on this timely topic.  Tomorrow we'll be exploring . . .

What are the benefits of a raw food diet?

Until tomorrow,

Dr. P

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