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raw-foodsEating Raw Foods

In recent years, one of the trendy new diets to come along is raw foods. Movie stars rave about the raw food diet. Alternative health gurus praise it, and the media has made claims about it ranging from claiming it can reverse or even stop the aging process to warning that it is potentially fatal. What is the raw food diet and how might it be helpful to those seeking a healthier lifestyle?

Raw Foods Diet     

A raw food diet is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a way of eating. Many raw food advocates choose to eat vegan—meaning they consume no animal products at all. Others eat raw milk, cheese and eggs or even fish and meat. Some allow for heating of food as long as it doesn't reach a certain temperature, generally 118 degrees Fahrenheit.

The reason the raw food diet is against cooking is because it is believed that heating foods breaks down natural enzymes and nutrients, making the body work harder to balance and replace these elements of the food. Raw food activists can provide plenty of examples of how cooked food is less nutritious than raw foods, and in many cases they are right. However, there are some foods that actually become more nutritious and easier for the body to use after cooking. Examples include tomatoes, meats, and some grains.

In any case, a healthy raw food diet is certainly possible and may even be helpful in reducing weight, detoxifying the body, and promoting better digestive health. Most doctors agree that the best option is a mixture of a cooked and raw diet that includes the benefits of each. For raw food beginners, it's best to start with no more than 50% of the diet consisting of raw food. Not only will this make it easier to implement a raw food diet, it will also minimize the potential side effects of raw food.

How to Start a Raw Food Diet

A good place to start a raw food diet is to switch as many fruits and vegetables as possible to raw rather than cooked. Continue eating meat and grains cooked as usual, but eat as much produce as possible uncooked. Most raw fruits and vegetables are perfectly safe, but there are some you should avoid. Peas, potatoes, soy beans, mushrooms and parsnips can cause problems when eaten raw.

Becoming Vegan or Going Local

Once you are ready to embrace a raw foods lifestyle, you should look into becoming vegan or finding a local dairy that can sell raw milk and dairy products. A raw foods cookbookwill greatly help you in menu planning and shopping. When you are ready to try eating raw grains and legumes, you'll need to learn about germinating and sprouting, which involves soaking the grains or seeds in water and allowing them to soften or spout before eating. Different grains have different sprouting requirements, so you'll need to do some research.

As with any major dietary change, it's best to consult your doctor before attempting a raw foods diet. She may have special concerns about things like nutritional deficiencies or lack of iron zinc or Omega-3 fatty acids. She'll probably want you to take some nutritional supplements and may want to schedule some follow up visits to ensure that your body's needs are being met. With medical guidance and some common sense, there is no reason why a raw food diet can't be a healthy lifestyle choice.

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