Many people feel strongly that our twenty-first century Australian diet is harmful. They blame the incidence of obesity, allergies and chronic degenerative disease on our consumption of highly refined and processed foodstuffs, and recommend a return to a more wholesome natural diet of principally raw foods.
A raw food diet is not necessarily 100% uncooked food; nutritionists who advocate a raw food diet often recommend that about a third of intake should be uncooked with the remainder being subject to some heating. Healthy ways of heating food include grilling, drying and smoking. The range of foods that can be consumed on a raw food diet is quite wide: fresh vegetables and fruit, legumes, fruit and vegetable juices, grains, nuts, seeds, some dairy products and fish feature in most raw food recipes.
Eating raw food may provide a number of nutritional benefits that are not available from cooked food. Raw plant foods, vegetables and fruits contain nutrients in the form of vitamins, phyto-chemicals and minerals. Heating food may compromise its nutritional value by destroying vitamins, spoiling the structure of proteins, and converting minerals from an organic state to an unusable inorganic state that the body struggles to assimilate.
There are high levels of enzymes in uncooked foods. One of the roles of enzymes is to support the body’s digestive processes. When raw foods are consumed the body does not have to expend energy on producing enzymes to assist digestion; because heat may destroy enzymes in food, the digestive process may be hindered and the body’s energy depleted.
Omega 3 fats and other unsaturated fats and oils in nuts, seeds, deep sea fish and green vegetables have ant-inflammatory properties that protect the heart and blood vessels. Cooking these foods changes the structure of unsaturated fats and oils, creating free radicals that damage the body’s cells; this damage is believed to be responsible for premature ageing and has also been linked to diseases including arthritis, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some nutritionists believe that much of the highly refined and processed foods available on supermarket shelves are unsuitable for human consumption. Advocates of raw food believe that this low-tech way of eating is a far more wholesome way to nourish ourselves. When people start to eat a predominantly raw diet, many say that they soon notice an increase in energy levels and an improvement in mental sharpness. In the longer term they may find that their resistance to illness improves and their body weight naturally becomes more stable. To find out more about this powerful, natural, healthy way of living, keep reading about and eating raw food .