The Raw Food Diet is not an actual “diet” as such, but more a way or method of avoiding processed and cooked food. The idea of eating foods that are raw may have first been considered by the Swiss inventor of museli, Dr Bircher-Benner at the end of the nineteenth century. His clinic, which was founded in 1897, is still actually advising people on their diets. Other health professionals have built on his work, and there are a range of books on raw food diet recipes you can buy or you can search for them online.
The premise of the raw food diet is that everything a person consumes must be raw, although some limited heating is permitted, usually no higher than around 40 degrees celsius or 104 Fahrenheit. Cooking food is believed to negate the good effect of enzymes that are naturally present in what we eat. It is also known that cooking will destroy a large percentage of the vitamins such as vitamin C found in vegetables. Another potentially harmful side effect of cooking food is that it can produce chemical compounds such as heterocyclic amines that can be carcinogenic. Meat cooked on a bbq, for example, can be found to have levels of the carcinogenic amines as the temperature of the grill is much higher than normal cooking.
Someone considering a raw food diet for their health can look at becoming a vegan (no consumption of any animal products) or a vegetarian (no meat), or they could consider a raw animal food diet, which includes foods such as fermented meat and fish like ceviche and sashimi, raw milk and cheese and honey. As long as raw foods make up around 70 per cent of the food you eat every day, you can be considered to be on a “Raw Food Diet”.
While fairly restrictive, the raw food diet contains less trans fats, sugar and sodium than our normal diet. For these reasons it is believed that a such a diet may assist in preventing many health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Because people avoid eating processed goods, and fried and grilled food, they are avoiding many of the calories that are found in normal diets.
This is one reason why the raw food diet is considered to be good for weight loss. One way to begin a raw food diet is to do a “detox”, or only eat raw foods for a few days, with a maximum period of about 20 days. This does three things: it cleanses your body of the sugar, salt and fats from your regular diet, it gets you used to eating only raw food, and it will be a good test to see if you could last for any length of time on such a diet. Detoxing like this can be a shock to the system, and it is always a good idea to seek the advice of a medical professional before embarking on such a program.