As you may already know, a well-balanced diet is instrumental for achieving short- and long-term health and fitness goals. But when it comes to shifting your diet and lifestyle, which one is right for you? When we consider adjusting our lifestyles, whether this involves buying local or going vegan, the move is ultimately initiated in order to make a positive change, right? The bottom line is, however, you need a lifestyle that is going to give you the fuel you need around the clock. Much of the attention we see today is on the consumption of eating more raw fruits and vegetables, aka the raw food diet. The question is: Is this lifestyle as healthy as experts claim?
Raw foods diet 101: What it means to go raw
A raw foods diet is exactly that, consuming food in its most natural, raw state. Your essentials are rather limited, yet always fresh and cleansing—think: fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouted grains. Some of the raw foods community, however, still consume dairy, meat, fish and eggs as long as they are unpasteurized.
While many believe that the staples of the raw foods diet resemble veganism, it's much different, as the raw foods diet puts an emphasis on the temperature of the food that you consume. For example, the vegan diet doesn't have any rules for cooking. With the raw food diet, however, food can never be cooked or consumed at more than 118 degrees.
"By placing an emphasis on plant foods, the diet is a rich source of the foods that are in turn the richest sources of valuable nutrients, writes David Katz, M.D. in a contribution to The Huffington Post. "The diet renounces most processed foods, and thus eliminates trans fat, and provides generally very low levels of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar—while providing nutrient-dense foods, rich in fiber. And because food choice is subject to rather strict constraints, calories are caged—making raw food diets an effective answer to the prevailing problems of weight control."
While raw food is often higher in nutritional value, some have argued that our bodies aren't built to break down the fibrous structures of raw fruits and vegetables. And you're likely no stranger to the raw food disclaimer—the risks of consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, etc. Plus, there are a variety of different superfoods that are proven to deliver numerous health benefits that just can't simply be consumed in it's most natural, raw state. So how do you find a balance?
Instead of taking the extreme approach and adopting a strictly raw diet, why not look into the benefits of replacing processed foods with fresh, nourishing, local food. With this mentality, you can still incorporate raw foods into your diet, while still consuming the foods that you enjoy, at more than 118 degrees.