The Raw Deal!
The New Year ushers in new vigor, vision and vistas to improve our health and well-being. A plethora of diseases are associated with extra pounds on our body, beginning from inflammation (root cause of most diseases), diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, etc. There is a string of fad diets available in the market like bags of chips with umpteen flavorings. One such regimen that looks promising is a raw food diet!
Raw foodism dates back as far back as the early 1800s. Developed by the Swiss doctor M. Bircher-Benner to treat common ailments, it has gained momentum since then.
What is a raw diet? As the name suggests, eating everything raw, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, sprouted mung beans, unpasteurized dairy products, anything edible that has not been heated more than 116o F. The rationale is that raw foods are packed with natural enzymes, and if they're cooked above 116° F, heat will destroy most of the vitamins, phytonutrients, and enzymes in foods like cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. Digestive enzymes are used by the body to break down foods to smaller nutritional units. The theory is endogenous enzymes, the ones produced by our body and exogenous enzymes (one provided by raw foods), work in synergy to digest our food easily without overloading our digestive system. Enzymes fight chronic disease and boosts digestion.
Raw foodists choose food that is not processed, sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, i.e., not genetically modified, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with industrial solvents and additive free. Off-limits food includes refined sugars and flours, table salt, and a stimulant like caffeine. Any kind of pasta, baked goods, pasteurized juice and milk also are not allowed on a raw diet, which is mostly vegetarian. Raw foodists use juicing, blending, dehydrating, sprouting to prepare foods. The raw food diet is low in calories, high in fiber, and based on healthy whole-plant foods, so eating this way will lead to weight loss.
Improves digestion, gives more energy improves heart health, prevents cancer and constipation, clears up the skin, maintains healthy body weight, and the most sought- after benefit, it provides tons of energy.
Food safety: Raw foodists are at risk of food poisoning and gastroenteritis, cooking destroys listeria, E. coli and salmonella. Cooking makes food more digestible and safe.
Certain vegetables require cooking to release phytonutrients. Lycopene levels in tomatoes increase with cooking time; carotenoid levels are higher in cooked carrots.
Raw foodists are at risk of nutritional deficiencies of certain vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids. A 2008 study published in The British Journal of Nutrition found that German subjects following a long-term raw food diet had low levels of lycopene.
In favor of raw diet, vitamin c is heat stable and most of it is lost during the cooking process. So, from a nutrition standpoint, a balanced diet of raw and cooked foods should provide optimal health benefits.
A balance of raw and cooked food is ideal – one and a half raw meal and one and a half cooked meal. And if there is a lot of bloating and cramping on a raw diet, then two cooked meals and one raw meal can help in transitioning to a model diet.
Recipe of the month
Avocado sauce with zucchini pasta
For pasta, use zucchini on the spiral slicer and set aside.
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- ¼ cup cashew 1 cup water
other spices/herbs if desired
- 2 tb hemp seeds
- 1 tsp lime juice
Blend cashews with water and then add rest of the sauce ingredients and mix again until smooth.
Mix it well with the zucchini pasta and, let it sit for about 10 minutes and enjoy.
To Our Health !
Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org