The Benefits of Raw Foods

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This applies to all of us, but some people who can especially benefit from eating more raw foods include those with:. Digestive enzymes are used by the body to break down foods to smaller and more operable nutritional units. Within the human body, the pancreas and other cells produce enzymes to help with digestion called endogenous enzymes while raw foods also supply some enzymes called exogenous enzymes. Each food is a bit different in terms of when it starts to lose some of its nutrients. Another reason to eat more raw foods is because of how they easily make their way through our digestive systems.

The longer a food sits in our digestive tracts, the likelier it is to ferment and cause problems. Pre-fermented foods themselves are good for you more on that below , but a food fermenting in your gut causes gas, inflammation and toxic waste to accumulate. During fermentation in the gut, proteins putrefy and fats go rancid, which negatively affects the mucosal lining of the gut and can lead to intestinal permeability leaky gut syndrome.

Diseases develop more easily within the body when acidity rises, because acidosis lowers immunity. The body can become overly acidic due to environmental pollutants, stress, processed and refined foods, lack of nutrients, and mineral-deficient water. Cooked foods create even more acidity in the body, but on the other hand, raw foods neutralize acid and help alkalize the body.

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Some raw food diets include raw fish, raw dairy products, raw meats or eggs, and even some cooked animal foods too. What do vegans eat? On top of that, there are plenty of nutrients available in animal foods and benefits to including some of them in your diet. For example, organ meats, like chicken liver or kidneys, are often called superfoods and are some of the most nutrient-dense foods there are, extremely high in things like vitamin A, B vitamins, phosphorus and iron. Some nutrients are simply more easily obtained when you include some animal foods in your diet.

The Raw Vegan Diet: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Tips

For example, if you compare the nutrient density of organ meats to that of vegetables like spinach or carrots, the organ meats outperform many of them. Other animal foods make smart food choices too: Eggs are a great source of choline , fish are the single best way to get anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids , and beef is rich in things like zinc and selenium.

Here are some of my favorite raw foods to start eating regularly:.

Health Information You Can Trust

A staple of nearly every civilization on earth in one form or another, fermented foods are some of the healthiest things about eating a raw food diet. Fermented foods are raw and naturally develop probiotics during the period when they undergo fermentation, which happens when oxygen converts some of their nutrients. Fermented foods have been eaten for thousands of years in the form of yogurt, kefir, sourdough breads, kombucha, and cultured vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi and kvass.

Why might an all raw food diet not be the best option? In other words, cooking does degrade some nutrients, but it also makes others more digestible. Cooking foods with antioxidants called beta-carotene and lycopene like squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, for example helps release their nutrients and make them more absorbable, plus it makes them taste a lot better too!

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And some studies have also shown that peppers and mushrooms become more nutrient-dense when cooked. Keep this in mind: While including more raw food in your diet has plenty of benefits, a raw food diet tends not to work so well for people with certain gut types. If you have a sensitive digestive system, such as inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis, cooking more of your food might be a better option. While many times it is true that the more heat and water vegetables are cooked in, the more nutrients are leached, this is not always the case.

It depends on the food and nutrient in question. In general, your body absorbs some nutrients, like vitamin C , better from raw food because they're easily destroyed with cooking, according to Angelone. But other nutrients, like iron , are most beneficial after the food they're in has been cooked.

Evolving Wellness

In fact, many veggies, such as tomatoes, increase their nutritional profiles of important nutrients, like the antioxidant lycopene, through the cooking process. When in doubt, try steaming: It uses very little water and only a short time in heat, so veggies shouldn't lose very many nutrients at all.

For some vegetables, research even shows that steaming can potentially increase a food's cancer-killing properties. A study done by some researchers at the University of Illinois found that when broccoli was heated through steaming, the number of sulforaphanes a compound in broccoli that fights cancer increased. Microwaving the broccoli also kept this beneficial compound intact, later research showed. So, while I do recommend cooking vegetables in as little water and as little time in heat as possible no boiling!

Most people need to eat more fruits and vegetables, yes—but even if they lose a bit of nutritional value via your cooking method, the overall health benefits of eating the rainbow are impossible to deny. Sign up for our Newsletter and join us on the path to wellness. Spring Challenge. No Guesswork. Newsletter Wellness, Meet Inbox. Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Share via facebook dialog.

Share via Twitter. Share via Pinterest. The cons: All that filling fiber is great for keeping your appetite in check, making sure you hit the bathroom often enough, and reducing your risk of issues like heart disease.

Finally, a word about what cooking produce does to its nutritional profile: Someone recently asked me if cooking food breaks down important vitamins and minerals and whether that might be a good reason to adopt a raw diet. Keywords raw foods , Vegetables , raw food diet.