Raw food diets have become very popular recently. Raw food diets consist of uncooked whole foods. The idea behind a raw food diet is that uncooked foods still contain all of the nutrients, enzymes and Nature’s “vital elements“ and are therefore more healthful for the body. A raw food diet may be useful for some people who are severely overweight or suffer from severe inflammatory conditions (especially of the liver and kidneys) because they are very cleansing.
However, over a longer period of time, a raw food diet can be very harsh on the body. Raw food diets tend to be too cooling on the body, are difficult to digest and do not provide enough energy. As a matter of fact, in traditional Chinese medicine, raw foods may decrease our Chi, or life-force, because they hard hard to absorb and digest and hence deplete our energy. Similarly, in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, raw foods are considered too rough and hard to digest and should only be consumed at certain times. In addition, certain raw foods may contain minerals that deplete the body of essential nutrients. For instance, raw spinach, kale and chard contain oxalic acid, which prevents the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc.
As Richard Wrangham notes in Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human, “…cooking increases the amount of energy our bodies obtain from our food. The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than ever before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet.” This is why raw diets are best followed in summer or in warmer climates. Therefore, it is best to balance mostly cooked foods with some raw foods, to get the benefits of both for maximum health. With raw foods, it is essential to eat organic in order to minimize the absorption of pesticide. Most importantly, though, it is important to see how you feel when eating any foods because all foods affect people in different ways.
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