The Widely Accepted Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
The raw-food diet, while it has been criticised by some in the more well-established medical community, has a number of benefits that almost no one can contest. Whether you decide to go fully raw or you want to stick with a highly raw diet, it’s clear that you’re going to find a number of health benefits of a raw food diet.
#1 Better Nutrition
This is pretty hard to contest. If you are eating a diet which is up to 80% raw, you’re definitely getting a better baseline of nutrition than most other people and certainly people who are eating the standard Western diet. Too much of our diet these days is made up of food that has been processed beyond recognition. While the foundation of our diet still comes from the grains, fruits and veggies that naturally grow from the Earth, when we eat the stuff that most people are eating, we’re eating those beautiful plants ten times removed from their natural state.
Eating raw means eating more fruits and veggies in their purely natural form, with all the nutritional benefits that exist in it from the very beginning. Our bodies evolved to digest the foods that grow from the ground in their natural state. When we go back to largely eating this way, we are giving our body a rest from adjusting its functioning to accommodate the major changes we make to our food.
Raw foods are packed with the vitamins and minerals we need. Eating a diet like this is eating a diet full of healthy calories and vitamin supplements. Just make sure you’re getting all the “supplements” you need.
#2 More Energy
One of the major benefits of a raw food diet is an increase in energy. Nearly everyone who has gone on a raw food diet successfully reports having much higher energy levels as a result. Many people who were avid coffee drinkers before switching up their diet say they don’t even crave coffee in the morning. Instead, they wake up fully engaged, alert and ready to start the day.
People also report feeling less of a need to take a nap in the middle of the day. Many people deal with midday crashes around 3pm that leave them groggy and unable to get work done. Eating raw has been found to eliminate that issue and promote a much healthier sleep schedule overall.
#3 Strong Immune System
Because of the major influx of vitamins and essential nutrients you will be eating on a raw food diet, you can expect your immune system to be given a major boost. Many immune system supplements that you can buy over the counter are actually composed of a huge dose of vitamin C. That’s great if you’re eating a diet in which you aren’t getting much of that supplement, but if you’re eating a raw diet, you probably are! Veggies such as carrots and red peppers are filled to the brim with vitamin C, and they’re less processed and less expensive than immune system boosters.
It has been found that many foods lose their vitamin C composition by 15-55% while being cooked. Eat cooked carrots and you can’t be sure how much you’re getting in vitamin C. If you’re eating RAW veggies high in vitamin C, however, you’re essentially chewing on a goldmine of essential nutrients to boost your immune system.
#4 Weight Loss
Studies have shown that another one of the benefits of a raw food diet is that it will absolutely help you reach your weight loss goals. A study produced by the Archives of Internal Medicine compare the effects of a raw food diet with the typical Western diet, following 36 participants of the study for four years. Eighteen participants ate a largely raw food diet while the other 18 ate normally.
The result? The people who followed a raw food diet showed a clearly lower BMI rating with a score about five points lower on average.
Lowering your BMI can have a wide range of healthy effects for the body and your life, including reducing your risk for certain chronic diseases like diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. In addition, you’ll simply look and feel better.
#5 Improved Appearance
Many people who follow a raw food diet report having much clearer skin, a healthier weight and a more youthful appearance overall. With higher levels of energy in general, you’ll likely give off a much younger impression to the people you meet. High levels of exhaustion are also tied to things like baggy skin and dark circles under the eyes.
In addition, many of the healthy nutrients in the foods you will be eating with a raw food diet are known to be good for skin. Particularly if you’re eating avocados (and you should be, it’s a great source of healthy fat), you’re getting excellent oils that help with skin appearances and breaking out. Looking better is one of those cherry-on-top benefits of raw food eating.
It is extremely, extremely common for people to be dehydrated. We all live busy lives, and it can be hard to remember to drink the large amounts of water we really should be drinking every day. The ideal minimum amount of water to drink is 64oz of water a day. That’s about 8 glasses if that’s a little hard to picture for you.
It can be very hard to get into the habit of ensuring you’re getting that much water every day. And yet, it’s one of the simplest and most important things we can be doing to benefit our health overall.
The good news when it comes to the raw food diet is that eating a large amount of raw fruits and vegetables is sure to help with your overall hydration. Think about it – most of these fruits and vegetables, just as all living things, are composed largely of water. Think about a cucumber or a watermelon; those things are absolutely packed to the brim with water.
Eating a large amount of fruits and veggies is an easy way to increase your intake of water without having to remember to drink that extra glass. Don’t get me wrong – you should still ensure that you’re drinking your daily intake of water in its liquid form. But eating fruits and veggies is certainly a safeguard to making sure you’re getting the hydration you need.
#7 Disease Prevention
This benefits is a little more questionable than some of the others listed here, but there have been studies that indicate that a heavily raw diet can help with preventative care.
For example, a study by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry studied the effects of eating cooked broccoli vs. raw broccoli. They chose this particular vegetable because it contained sulforaphane, a compound known to lower blood pressure and help prevent cancer.
The study found a higher concentration of sulforaphane in the body when the food was eaten raw rather than cooked. In addition, the study found “absorption of sulforaphane was delayed when cooked broccoli was consumed”.
In addition, garlic was also found to be very effective in preventing lung cancer, though particularly so when eaten in its raw state.
Another veggie, beets, was found to have higher levels of folate when eaten raw (25% more, that is). Folate helps with the process of producing normal red blood cells, which makes it an excellent preventative substance to combat anemia. A deficiency in folate has conclusively been found to lead directly to anemia, so eating those beets raw by juicing them can really be beneficial to circulation health.
A More Questionable but Commonly Cited Benefit:
We’ve talked about the benefits of a raw food diet that are widely accepted and largely proven by scientific studies. Let’s talk now about another more intangible benefit that many people who go on the raw food diet report. This one is a little harder to confirm, so I’ve placed in a section all to itself.
When you begin researching the raw food diet, it doesn’t take long to pick up on the fact that many people who follow it almost come across as fanatics. In fact, this has generated a lot of criticism of the raw food diet, sparking some to call it “extremist” and actually harmful to health in the long run.
This is hardly likely. It’s hard to contest the clear benefits of, at the very least, eating a diet that consists of a large percentage (at least 40-50%) of raw food. Raw foodists would go further, saying it’s better to eat 80% to 100% raw, and they often cite a benefit that you might not expect from simply changing your diet:
A spiritual and mental transformation
Yeah, I know, that sounds pretty extreme. It almost sounds like the raw food diet has become somewhat of a cult, huh? Not so fast, because many of the people who follow this diet and cite this benefit may actually have a point.
A raw food diet takes a whole lot of commitment and a whole lot of focus. It means being extremely mindful of the food you’re eating, and really going back to the source of all food in order to nourish yourself. There very well may be an element of eating raw that helps dieters make a psychological connection between themselves and the Earth. In any case, eating raw is an extremely holistic way to eat, and the very principle and strict nature of the diet may feed into what users say is a personal transformation.
It’s very hard to say exactly what it is that makes so many people who switch to the raw diet say that they feel a spiritual change within themselves because of the food they’re eating. Is it a real health benefit, a symptom of a brain that is performing better than ever because of the superior diet? Is it that there is a certain dogmatic appeal of the raw food diet that leads people to turn into fanatics over it?
I can’t answer that question, but what I can tell you is that in the experience of many people who follow the diet, including myself, a certain change in overall life perspective is common.
When I became mindful about eating, I became more mindful about life.
For me, I became more mindful about eating in general. I could not look at the foods I once ate the same way, because I realised how processed and far removed from their natural state they had become. I began to feel a connection with my food that I never have before, realizing that what I am eating is literally the building blocks I’m giving my body in order for it to function. Eating such beautiful natural foods made me feel like I was giving my body only the best, and offering it a clean slate a nutrients to function totally optimally.
When I became mindful about eating, I became more mindful about life. I began meditating, exercising and changing my habits to fit a better overall lifestyle. I truly did go through an unprecedented transformation during this time, and it would seem strange to call it a coincidence when so many others experienced a similar thing.
Eating raw revolutionised the way I thought about not only food, but myself. It gave me discipline I didn’t have before and it allowed me to rethink the concept of health and taking care of my body for the long run.
It’s hard to say whether there is a conclusive effect on the mind and spirit after eating fully raw, but I can say it worked for me and many others. Eating a raw food diet may not be right for everyone, but it’s clear that there are real benefits to bringing more natural fruits, veggies, nuts, greens and grains into your diet.
It could be worth a shot for you; who knows, you might even find yourself transformed.