Why raw? Why now?
The raw food movement is about so much more than just food. It's about health and lifestyle and the incredibly impact that diet has on our lives. Food is nourishment and medicine, but also attitude and outlook. Raw, living, natural food is as easy to explain but difficult to fully understand until you've made it part of your life.
Raw foodism is a popular diet that has been around since the 1800s and can positively impact ones health, the environment and even ones pets. The raw food diet is a nutritional choice in which all food consumed is eaten raw, unprocessed or lightly cooked. On this diet foods cannot be cooked above a temperature of 104-118 degrees Fahrenheit (40-48 degrees Celsius).
This philosophy believes that foods heated above the mentioned temperature is less vital and has lost some nutritional value. Many natural enzymes found within foods are destroyed in cooking above 118 degrees and this makes the food harder to digest and less bio-available. These enzymes are essential to digestion and overall health. The raw food diet also avoids all processed, pasteurized, and refined foods. Some people choose to stay away from animal products, making the diet also fall into the realm of Veganism, but other choose to consume raw dairy, fish, meat and eggs. Foods included in this diet are all fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, soaked and sprouted raw legumes and grains, dehydrated meats and fruits, nut milks ( with no chemical additives), raw nut butters, organic cold pressed olive and coconut oils, seaweeds, fermented foods, raw meat, fish and eggs.
Many people turn to this diet due to the health benefits it may offer such as weight loss, improved energy levels, increased vitality, and lower environmental impacts. People dealing with complex chronic conditions may find that changing their diet to include more raw foods may change the course of their symptoms. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help to regulate blood pressure and improve cardiovascular function. There are some vitamins that are lacking within this diet such as vitamin B12, iron and calcium, so you can consider taking a whole foods raw multi-vitamin, especially if you are not partaking in the raw animals foods. Please know that this diet is not for everyone! I urge you to consult a well-versed healthcare practitioner if you are considering beginning this diet especially if you have pre-diagnosed health condition.
Some people choose to eat 100% raw while others find that they can obtain the benefits of the diet when incorporating 75% raw foods into their diet. If you are just starting on this diet it helps to slowly introduce more and more raw foods into your life instead of making the switch drastically. This will help your digestive system make an easier transition. Some people may experience loose stools while their body is getting accustomed to the higher amounts of fiber and alive foods. But do not worry the digestive system will thank you after you make the switch as it will be getting higher quantities of minerals, enzymes and vitamins!
Some preparations that are intrinsic to the Raw Food diet is juicing, dehydrating, soaking, blending, and spouting. Juice and soup and salad will become staples in your diet, so make sure you have a good blender, and don't hesitate to alter recipes you find! It helps to go through your pantry before you are going to commit to this lifestyle and donate all foods that do not fit into the Raw Food Diet. A lot of foods you find in the pantry are processed and since they are easy to eat, will be tempting during this transition. Make sure to stock up on basics such as dates, nuts, seeds, and spices so you are ready for when the hunger kicks in or fully prepared to try out one of the thousands of delicious raw food recipes out there. It helps to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) or know where your local farmers market is as you will be eating a lot of fresh produce! Make sure to always have leafy greens on hand as you can never go wrong with a colorful salad if you need a quick meal.
Yes! Fermented food doen't go above 118 degrees F and it's never heated so it's perfectly acceptable under a raw diet. Fermented foods offers up great texture, interesting flavor, and lots of good bacteria, so we highly recommend making it part of your diet. Just make sure to find high quality, unpasteurized fermented food (no canned sauerkraut or supermarket pickles!) or to make it yourself to make sure you are eating raw and getting all the possible benefits.