As more and more people turn to the healthier plant based lifestyle they will naturally start to feel fitter and healthier than ever. It’s the start of an exciting journey into healing the body and mind and living the wonderful life that you were born to live. The raw food diet can sometimes be a progression from plant based eating, and may evolve naturally as you start to listen to your body’s needs.
What does Eating Raw Mean?
Eating raw food isn’t just some new fad and has in fact been around since the 1800’s, but of course even they didn’t actually invent it. Before the discovery of using fire to cook foods it would have been the diet we naturally evolved on, which kind of makes sense as to why it’s so healthy for us now.
Raw food does not necessarily mean eating just plants as there are lots of animal products that can be eaten raw such as fish, meat, eggs, and raw dairy products, but as this is a plant based website I will just be focusing on raw plant foods only.
The Cooking Process can Destroy Certain Nutrients
Eating foods in their uncooked state leaves all their nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants intact, therefore making them much more nutritious. You may be led to believe that cooking foods helps to digest them more easily, but this is mostly not the case.
Cooking foods often destroys those valuable digestive enzymes, but there are exceptions to this in the case of potatoes, carrots, spinach, asparagus, and tomatoes. Why? Because these vegetables have antioxidants that are released during the cooking process such as ferulic acid, lycopene, and beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A).
What are Raw Food Benefits?
Eating a highly raw diet can really give you health a boost and make you feel lighter, fresher and more alive than ever! Live enzymes tend to have that effect and I’ve heard it said first hand from raw foodists that the rawer you go, the better the effects can be.
The raw food diet can also take your fitness to whole new levels too. In fact, there are certain athletes out there who have turned to this way of eating and have become the fittest they have ever been and a re beating their own records and times in their chosen sports. Brendan Brazier is one of these amazing athletes who lives on a raw food diet who explains in his one of his ‘Thrive Diet’ books that when he started to eat mainly raw he started smashing his own records and became an Ironman triathlete.
But do remember that this is a pretty extreme way of eating that can effect everybody differently, and you really need to do your homework and know what you are doing to be sure you get all the nutrients and protein that you need first. I would not recommend this diet to anybody who hasn’t thoroughly researched it, but some of the benefits I have heard (and felt for myself on a highly raw diet) include the following:-
- Supreme clarity of mind and thought
- Glowing skin
- Weight loss
- Higher fitness levels
- More energy
- Less depression and anxiety
- Higher immunity
- Less sickness and bugs
- No more sugar cravings
- Better muscle tone
- Anti aging of the body both on the inside and out
- Feelings of euphoria and bliss
- Not affected by stress so much
That’s a pretty impressive list, and something that you can work your way towards as you start to incorporate more raw foods into your diet. Now let’s take a look at how you can prepare some of these foods:-
Sprouting and Soaking
Beans, legumes and lentils will need to be soaked and sprouted in order for you to eat them raw as they contain compounds that inhibit enzyme function and can actually be toxic. Sprouted pulses are in fact a great source of fiber, protein, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals and should definitely be a part of a healthy raw diet.
It is easy to sprout your own pulses, seeds and lentils at home, and often more cost effective. You can then add these sprouts to salads, stir-frys, or smoothies, or just eat them alone as a snack. Here’s a short video to show you how simply sprouting this can be done at home.
Most other foods can, and should be eaten raw and in abundance. And many that contain the fat soluble nutrients such as A,D,E and K are better absorbed alongside a little healthy fat as this will greatly aid absorption. Examples of such fat soluble foods are:-
- ALL green leafy vegetables
- Sweet Potatoes
- Cantaloupe melon
- Butternut Squash
One thing I would ask you to be mindful of when eating a plant based diet, be it raw or not, is to be sure you are eating LOTS of calcium rich foods to keep your bones strong. You can get these from so many delicious plant sources that it need never be problem getting them into your diet, Please check out this list of the most calcium rich plant based foods and be sure to eat at least a couple of them every day.
Mixing it up!
I know from my own personal experience that I do feel better and better the more raw I can go. It’s very hard to go fully raw for obvious reasons but it’s actually much easier to keep it raw for say breakfast and lunch; and it’s probably safe to say that it’s best to get a good mix of both lightly cooked and raw foods, leaning heavily towards raw where possible. The definition of raw means anything that isn’t heated above 116 degrees, so you can still eat warm foods for the comfort factor, which can be great in the cold weather.
You can incorporate raw foods into every meal and snack quite easily. It’s simple to add raw chopped fruit to your smoothies or morning cereal, eat dried fruit, nuts, and seeds as snacks, or add large side salads to your main meals. Just by doing this alone you will be making your diet about 50% raw – it’s that easy!
Make your own veggie and salad dressings
You can make all sorts of delicious raw dressings in a food processor to add to your veggies and salads: my favorite is avocado, lemon, olive oil, tamari or soya sauce, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Just whiz it up and add ingredients to taste – easy! Putting a heavy dressing like this over your salad or vegetables makes it a filling and complete meal that really hits the spot.
Foods that are definitely best eaten raw
Some foods offer far superior health benefits than others when eaten in their raw state and with all their nutrients and enzymes intact, and these top 6 should be incorporated into the diet as much as possible RAW.
- Bell peppers
- Garlic (sorry)
- Coconut flesh
- Nuts – especially macadamia, walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts
- Seeds – especially hemp and pumpkin seeds
Benefits of a raw food diet include
As you start to incorporate more and more raw foods into your diet you will in effect be giving your whole system a cleanse. The fiber in raw fruits and vegetables will literally drag all the rubbish and toxins out of your colon ready to be excreted out of the body.
Keeping the body in a good state of detoxification will lower your chances of not only toxic overload, but may also help to guard against some diseases such as degenerative disease, heart disease, and obesity.
Try to add these top detoxification foods to your diet as much as possible to really boost this process, they are especially needed when you’re just starting out on your raw food diet.
The fact that plant foods are just bursting to the rim with antioxidants means you will also be decreasing your chances, yet again, of disease. Antioxidants help fight the free radical damage done to your body by toxins in your diet and environment such as junk foods, chemical additives, sugar, burnt foods, sun exposure, smoking, alcohol, and pollution.
Free radicals are unpaired electrons that mess with your DNA and accelerate the aging process. Antioxidants help negate this and so the more you can get into our diet the younger you will look and feel, both inside and out.
Green Superfood Powders
Green foods are something that you should be eating in abundance every day, no matter what kind of eating plan you are on. These foods are just rammed with fiber and life giving nutrients for energy production, and are absolutely VITAL to vital to a healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes it’s hard to get enough green foods into your diet, therefore you may find juicing an easy way to do this. OR for even more ease you could simply take a quality green superfood shot of the dried powder as I do. I find it just makes me feel energised and gives my skin a boost, even alongside an already healthy diet.
There are many to choose from, and they all have different uses and nutritional profiles. I find it is better to buy either a couple of different types and alternate with them, or a blend with a little of everything. I have reviewed (and tried) some of the best superfood powders for you, and some of them are seriously mind-blowingly nutritious. I know I’m embarrassingly superfood nerdy, but we are living in a time where we now have available to us the best foods on the planet, and that gets me rather excited thinking how we have the means to take our health to un- chartered levels if we wish to.
3. STRONGER IMMUNITY
As raw fruits and vegetables still have their nutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants and digestive enzymes intact they will offer you higher immune protection than cooked or dead foods. It is however, very important to source out as good a quality, local and preferably as organic as you can afford because these factors make a huge difference in food and nutrient quality.
4. LESS STOMACH PROBLEMS
Raw foods, because of their natural digestive enzymes, will help to ease and even eliminate completely stomach and digestive problems such as IBS, heartburn, gas, constipation, and indigestion. This will be dependent on the individual of course, and it may take some time for you body to get used to lots of fibrous foods, but it’s worth a try.
5. BETTER SATISFACTION VALUE
As raw foods are just SO nutritious, you will feel more satisfied for longer periods after you have eaten. This is simply because your body has been given all the nutrients it needs to thrive on in their most bio-available and natural forms, which will help stop sugar cravings AND help keep blood sugars stable.
Stable blood sugar is vital for good health and a healthy BMI, and may also play a role in the prevention of many diseases. The most common being type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some cancers, heart disease, and obesity.
Low GI plant based eating is a great place to start if you want to get in shape, detoxify your body, kick sugar cravings, lower your chance of disease, or boost energy. Eating plant based with lots of raw foods will help you to achieve this fast.
Finally, raw foods can be absolutely delicious! It’s really easy to whip up a crunchy salad with a homemade avocado dressing; and don’t even get me started on raw desserts which are simply out of this world tasty. Every week I make myself a raw carrot cake, the beauty of which is they can be eaten guilt free any time of day.
Raw energy balls are a really simple snack to keep in your fridge and are great when you feel peckish; or even better as a pre/post-workout snack as they are full of nutrition and slow release energy.
There are so many different versions and flavours you can make and they all pretty much have a base of smooshed together dates and nuts. From there you can add other nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, cacao, and flavourings – the world is your oyster for experimentation when it comes to energy balls!
If you want to make any of these delicious raw recipes for yourself then the internet is literally awash with them, and you should have no trouble finding something simple to try out for starters. Here’s some recipes I found on YouTube that are simple and easy to get you started:-
Adding more raw foods to your diet will definitely give you some wonderful rawesome health benefits. Nobody is saying you need to go 100% raw; just start by adding more and more raw foods and get your taste buds accustomed.
Raw eating is another level of health and the next level from plant based. It is something that you need to break yourself into slowly if you don’t want to throw your body into full on detoxification too quickly (which can make you feel awful and more likely to give up).
Raw Foods will make you look AMAZING!
Ultimately, going raw, has been said by my of its advocates, to cleanse your body and mind and take you on a journey inside yourself where you will find clarity, bliss, and even spiritual awakening. This is the testimony of those whom I have spoken with that have been eating raw on a long term basis.
I’m not saying that this lifestyle is suitable for everyone, but it’s up to you to decide that for yourself. Personally, I like to do a mix of both, though one day I may go the whole hog and become a 100% raw food convert. One thing I do know is raw foods do make you look AMAZING in a way that I have never seen before; living proof that raw ‘alive’ foods bring YOU to life also.