The Raw Food Diet

Raw foodism, or rawism, is a lifestyle based around consuming foods in their natural state.  People who follow a raw food diet believe that the enzymes in raw food provide a life force that helps digest food and absorb nutrients, and by cooking and processing foods, these enzymes are destroyed and the wholesomeness of the food is depleted. It is also believed that cooking with high temperatures can actually create harmful compounds in food.

The raw food diet is made up of about 75% raw fruits and vegetables, as well as seaweed, legumes, seeds and nuts, making it a diet that is full of fiber and low in trans and saturated fat, sodium and sugars.  You don’t have to give up meat or dairy if you don’t want to – a serving of sashimi or carpaccio is acceptable, as well as raw eggs and dairy products made from raw milk, but it is recommended to replace meat with nuts and seeds.  Exclusions are alcohol, refined sugars, caffeine and foods made with preservatives and food colours.  Mushrooms, peas, potatoes and parsnips are also off the list, as well as plants and vegetables that were grown with pesticides.  It can be a bit difficult to follow such a strict diet so if you are considering making the switch to raw foods, ease into it and perhaps start off with eating about 50% raw food and working your way up to the 75% mark.  This will make the transition process much easier.

While many foods can be eaten in their original form, others need to be peeled, strained, soaked blended or dehydrated and therefore, preparation can be quite time consuming.  Raw beans, nuts, and seeds can be soaking in water and sprouting, while other foods are dehydrated at low temperatures that never go above 48°C to prevent the destruction of enzymes and vitamins that are essential for optimal digestion.  Dehydrators can be used to make dried fruit, sundried tomatoes and vegetable chips.  Blenders are a popular kitchen utensil that can process food into smoothies, soups and dip.

The Raw Food Diet has many mixed reviews.  On one hand, eating a diet rich raw, unprocessed vegetables means that you’re consuming a great range of low-acidic foods that are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals while eating less bad fats and sugar, and on the other hand, you could be missing out on essential amino acids, healthy omega-3 fat, vitamin B12 and minerals like iron and calcium due to the exclusion of certain foods.  While the argument for raw food consumption is based around retaining important enzymes for digestion, studies have shown that some fruits and vegetables are more nutritious cooked, like tomatoes and their cancer-fighting lycopene content.  Also, sticking to the diet isn’t easy because there is so much food preparation involved and going out with friends can potentially be an inconvenient hassle.

80 10 10 Diet

The 80 10 10 Diet is another low fat, plant based raw food diet that was put together by Dr. Douglas Graham.  A raw vegan since 1978, he is an advisor to world-class athletes and celebrities on how to reap the health benefits of eating a raw diet that is 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein and 10% fat.

According to Graham, fruit is the best food for humans and recommends sitting down to a ‘meal’ where only one type of fruit is eaten, such bananas, and to eat enough to get enough calories for energy and satiety. Leafy greens are also encouraged, about 500 grams a day, while fatty foods like avocado and nuts are limited to a small portion every second day.

his variation of raw eating is great as a short term cleansing diet but it is very restrictive and can lead to nutritional deficiencies in protein, essential fatty acids and nutrients such as vitamin B15 and zinc.