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Followers of the raw food diet believe that cooking food destroys their nutrients. One of the main reasons why it is necessary to eat food raw is that they contain live enzymes that help us with digestion. Cooking the food will kill these enzymes. Thus, a raw food diet primarily consists of plant-derived foods such as raw vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits. In some extreme cases, raw animal meat products are also consumed. In ordinary diets, vegetables and fruits may be consumed raw but meat products must be cooked. The popularity of the raw food diet can be seen in the emergence of all-raw restaurants. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of this popular diet can help you decide whether it is good for you or not.
One of the main advantages of eating a raw food diet is weight loss. By eliminating processed and pre-packaged foods, you avoid trans fats and saturated fats, which are some of the main culprits in weight gain and heart disease. A raw food diet may also give you more energy since uncooked food is full of live enzymes, nutrients and vitamins that are easily digested by your body. Eating raw food also require less of your body’s fluid for digestion, promoting better hydration. Other reported benefits of eating a raw food diet is lower blood pressure, less constipation, stronger immune system, less fatigue, improved skin tone and less risk of osteoporosis.
Proponents of traditional diets claim that you don’t need to eat food raw in order to get nutrients. There are some foods that become healthier when cooked. Cooking red-colored vegetables such as tomatoes unleashes lycopene and other carotenoids which strengthen the immune system, fight cancer and lowers the risk of heart disease. A raw food diet follower may also miss out on essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Thus raw food adherents are advised to supplement their diet with extra vitamins.
Another disadvantage is the exposure to bacteria and viruses in contaminated food. Cooking and processing food gets rid of harmful bacteria such as salmonella. Uncooked food may make a person ill and could lead to other complications such as food poisoning. Young children, elderly people and those with weak immune system are most vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.
Conventional nutritionists continue to propose a balance between raw food and cooked food. A raw food diet isn’t practical for the majority of people who might find it hard to stick to an exclusive raw food diet. It is believed that it is not necessary to eat only raw foods to be healthy. Balance is the key, wherein you can integrate raw foods into your usual diet plan. If you are following a raw food diet to lose weight, you may try it for a short period of time until you reach your weight loss goal. Afterwards, you can make a diet plan involving both cooked and raw food.
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