The rise of fast food and processed foods has contributed to an alarming increase in obesity rates and non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension. In response to these concerning trends, many health experts are emphasising the importance of returning to nature and embracing the raw food movement. Raw food diets have gained significant popularity worldwide. From movements like raw foodism and raw veganism to specialised raw juice camps in various locations, the consumption of raw food is on the rise. Before divulging deep into it, let's understand.
What is Raw Food Diet?
Essentially, raw food refers to food that hasn't been cooked, processed, or exposed to chemicals or food engineering. It is consumed in its freshest and most natural form, with a maximum temperature limit of 118 degrees. The essence of a raw food diet lies in consuming unprocessed, whole plant-based, preferably organic foods.
What is the history of raw foodism?
The history of raw food consumption as a dietary and health movement can be traced back to 1830 when an American Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham advocated for the benefits of a raw food diet to combat the cholera epidemic. However, the Swiss are often credited with being pioneers in developing raw food as a dietary health treatment. In the late 19th century, a Swiss doctor named Maximilian Bircher Benner discovered the advantages of a raw food diet when he ate raw apples while recovering from jaundice. After his recovery, he conducted experiments to study the effects of raw foods on human health and the immune system.
Are raw food diets healthy?
- Health experts and researchers have long highlighted the advantages of raw food consumption. Even incorporating a small amount of raw food into your diet can have remarkable health benefits, including:
- It is said that the cooking method can destroy some beneficial compounds and nutrients in the food, which can be retained if the food is not cooked.
- Raw food is an excellent way to meet your daily requirement of fruits and vegetables.
- It can help reduce stress and energise your mind and body.
- Raw foods are usually lower in calories and can help with weight loss.
- Enhanced enzymes and nutrients in raw food help maintain healthy skin, lustrous hair, and improved eyesight.
However, as with any dietary approach, caution is necessary when consuming raw foods.
Risks Of Eating Raw Foods:
It is important to ensure that the foods and fruits you consume are fresh. Proper washing and, if needed, boiling can help eliminate potential risks. Avoid using foods that have been stored for an extended period and be attentive to any changes in colour or smell that may indicate spoilage. Adequate storage and maintaining hygiene are of utmost importance.
Ayurveda expert Dr Dhanvantri Tyagi says, "The success of a raw food diet depends on the nature of food. Fruits and some foods like cucumbers are meant to be taken raw. One should be mindful of certain conditions before taking anything. For instance, you should avoid raw food in monsoon when bacterial and viral infections are at their peak."
Now this leaves us with the question -
Is raw foodism good? Should you follow it?
Dietitian Prachi Shah says, "In a full-fledged raw food diet, it is difficult to meet your daily nutritional needs. Even if nutritional content goes down slightly during cooking, the nutrients in the cooked food get absorbed and digested well in your body."
Given the various benefits of raw foodism, it is best to incorporate it into your regular diet rather than replace it. Nutritionists recommend that at least three-quarters of an individual's diet should consist of uncooked food.
What do you eat on a raw food diet?
If you are planning to increase the consumption of raw food in your diet, rest assured that you will never run out of recipe ideas. We have a list of some incredible recipes made with nutrient-rich foods that will help you stay healthy and energised. Click here to get the recipes.
(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)
About Neha GroverLove for reading roused her writing instincts. Neha is guilty of having a deep-set fixation with anything caffeinated. When she is not pouring out her nest of thoughts onto the screen, you can see her reading while sipping on coffee.