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Real Food, People & Health is a place for individuals concerned with wellness. We focus on information sharing and relating through experience.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Raw Food Diet - Explained

I love hearing questions from my friends! They think they're bugging me, but I could talk about raw food and the benefits all day long if they'd let me. Often, hubby and I have to remind each other to just shut the hell up sometimes because we know that 5 years ago we would have rolled our eyes at the thought of a raw food lifestyle too. Now remember, we still eat meat occassionally. OK, sometimes it's twice in two days - but we are 80% raw food. We stir fry and have roast beef occasionally - who doesn't love home cookin'? We BBQ with friends - and recently we enjoyed a delicious Pad Thai with our neighbors. It was delicious and I learned how to make it myself! We'll be enjoying that recipe again!

Raw food is so simple. We had to learn how to rethink breakfasts, lunches and dinners - but once you realize it is a matter of putting a few 'living' foods together and simplifying - the rest is easy!

What are the Benefits of the Raw Food Diet?

Proponents of the raw food diet believe it has numerous health benefits, including:

•Increased energy
•Improved skin appearance
•Better digestion
•Weight loss
•Reduced risk of heart disease

The raw food diet contains fewer trans fats and saturated fat than the typical Western diet. It is also low in sodium and high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber and health-promoting plant chemicals called phytochemicals.

These properties are associated with a reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that consumption of a raw food diet lowered plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations.

What are the Guidelines of the Raw Food Diet?

1. What can I eat?

Unprocessed, preferably organic, whole foods such as:

•Fresh fruits and vegetables
•Dried fruit
•Unprocessed organic or natural foods
•Freshly juiced fruit and vegetables
•Purified water
•Young coconut milk

Food consumed should not be heated over 116 degrees F.

2. What cooking techniques are used?

Specific cooking techniques make foods more digestible and add variety to the diet, including:

•Sprouting seeds, grains, and beans
•Juicing fruit and vegetables
•Soaking nuts and dried fruit
•Dehydrating food

3. What equipment can I use?

•A dehydrator, a piece of equipment that blows air through food at a temperature of less than 116 degrees F
•A good-quality juice extractor for juicing fruit and vegetables
•A blender, food processor, or chopper to save time
•Large glass containers to soak and sprout seeds, grains, and beans
•Mason jars for storing sprouts and other food

Side Effects

Some people experience a detoxification reaction when they start the raw food diet, especially if their previous diet was rich in meat, sugar, and caffeine. Mild headaches, nausea, and cravings can occur but usually last for several days.

Considerable time, energy, and commitment is needed to be healthy on the raw food diet. Many of the foods are made from scratch. Some ingredients may be hard to find, such as Rejuvelac (the fermented liquid drained from sprouted grains), sprouted flour, date sugar, young coconut milk, carob powder and Celtic sea salt.

I definitely experienced the detox effects - but after that had passed, the energy and mental clarity was amazing!

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