A raw foods diet is made up of living, whole, and unrefined plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and grains. The idea of raw vegetable diet is that heating food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes – “if you cook it, you kill it.” Food has to be consumed in its natural state, without cooking or steaming.
People who adopt this diet claim that by eating lots of veggies and fruits you stop abusing your body with toxic residues, leaving it free to cleanse and heal itself. The first benefit is that diet shortens the food transit time to 24 hours or less, whereas most people on the standard diet experience transit times of 72 hours or more. The proper raw diet helps lose weight and control blood pressure, clears up headaches, boosts immunity and memory, improves arthritis and diabetes, and lowers the risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease. Some fans of raw food diets believe cooking makes food toxic. IT IS NOT TRUE!
NO ONE SHOULD BE ON A RAW FOODS DIET!
To start with, please read the article written by a guy who had been on a raw food diet for 7 months and got many serious health problems – “How raw veganism almost killed me” (http://paleoleap.com/how-raw-veganism-almost-killed-me/)
Since the time when early humans got control of fire, people have been cooking food. Evidence of widespread control of fire is dated to approximately 125,000 years ago. Is it not enough to pass the test of time?!
Ask yourself, in your own culture, how many “cooked” and “raw” meals were on the table of your own grandparents each day? Why Chinese people prefer eating cooked food and raw salads and juices are not in their daily menu?
Since ancient times, in Chinese dietary therapy all food items are classified as “heating” or “cooling” because they have different energetic qualities. “Hot” versus “cold” (yin vs. yang) are the two most important oppositions in the traditional Chinese medicine. Food serves to provide a source of balance for the flow of life energy (qi).
Raw foods tend to be “cold” and an overconsumption of them will damage the spleen. (The spleen is an organ in our body that acts primarily as a blood filter. It plays important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system; it removes old red blood cells and holds a reserve of blood in case of hemorrhagic shock; and it also recycles iron.) In Chinese medicine the spleen is paired with the stomach and is central in the proper digestion and absorption of food. So, a diet with an overabundance of raw vegetables, juiced vegetables, raw fruits and fruit juices is going to have a negative effect on your health. A signal that the digestive system is purging more efficiently due to eating raw food is actually the signal that bowel movements became extremely loose, which is a symptom of spleen damage.
Many vegetables in the cruciferous family such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, soybean products and Brussels sprouts contain what are known as goitrogens – substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. This triggers the pituitary to release TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which then promotes the growth of thyroid tissue, eventually leading to goiter. And when the thyroid is suppressed, lots of health problems arise: anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, difficulty losing weight, difficulty conceiving children, digestive problems and food allergies. Cooking your vegetables can deactivate a good amount of goitrogens.
Human’s stomach is not like cow’s stomach. Plants and vegetables have cellulose that our stomachs have a hard time breaking down. We cannot break down all cellulose and other fibrous structures contained in plants. When we continually eat foods that our body cannot digest, our digestive ability in general is weakened, and the digestive system is a key element to good health.
Generally, bioavailability of nutrients from vegetables is low because a lot of the nutrients in them are stored in their tough fibers. Unless we break down these vegetable fibers, our bodies will not be able to absorb these nutrients. Cooking makes them more available.
Do not go to extremes: all real whole raw foods have a place in our lives; they are healthy and nutritious if used properly and in moderation. The occasional salad won’t do any harm to you; it’s good and healthy. But if you eat raw vegetables on a daily basis, you might want to take a look at whether they could be contributing to any health issues you might be having.