We all know the phrase ‘you are what you eat’, although it’s probably more accurate to say you are what your body is able to digest and absorb.
In my opinion, one of the most incredible benefits from raw food eating is that the food retains more nutrients (because they are not cooked out!) and it is easier to digest and absorb for the body in most cases.
Every food has a certain heat level beyond which its chemical composition changes, and it becomes damaged. When you eat raw food, you’ll be taking in more of its nutrients in their original form. Also, because eating raw discourages the consumption of processed foods, very few chemicals like preservatives, colours and flavours will be present.
More enzyme power…
Whole foods are naturally designed - complete packages containing the nutrients required to sustain life. Crucially, they provide us with enzymes which help your body digest and absorb nutrients as well assisting biochemical reactions inside your body’s cells during the process of metabolism.
The human body produces over 3,000 enzymes, each with a different function. Without them, some of the chemical reactions fundamental to life would not happen. The rawer foods that are eaten, the fewer enzymes your body needs to produce. As digestive enzyme production slows with age, eating raw food could help us combat some age-related issues.
Research has shown heating food, particularly cooking methods where water is used, depletes many essential nutrients such as vitamin C, B complex vitamins as well as certain minerals.
Eating raw means choosing predominantly fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes. Many raw food advocates are vegan, although not all. No food is heated beyond 48°C, although dehydrating, which gently heats food to a low temperature, can be used.
You can also choose dried foods which are great for snacking on the go. Drying fresh food has been used as a preservation method for thousands of years throughout the world. Before the invention of the fridge, people would use the sun to dry out foods to keep them fresh for longer for eating at a later date. If you buy dehydrated foods make sure they have not been dried using chemicals. If they have been sundried, it will say so on the packet.
Juicing is good…
Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables is one simple way to incorporate raw eating into your day. Raw food eating is not strictly a diet but more a way of eating which promotes eating food in its natural state. Many people periodically adopt raw food eating as part of a cleanse or detox, while others eat a proportion of their food raw to fit in with their lifestyle.
Eat raw to balance your blood sugar
Following a raw food eating plan has been found helpful in type 2 diabetes. Many people have been able to come off their diabetes medication after switching to raw food. Please note it’s important to consult your GP before making changes to any medication.
Raw foods contain good levels of fibre, especially soluble fibre, such as that found in apples, citrus fruits and legumes, which can help balance blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar. Raw foods also naturally contain less sugar and fat.
Two foods which may be helpful to improve blood sugar balance include cinnamon and cloves. Cinnamon has been found to improve insulin sensitivity for at least 12 hours after it is eaten just adding one teaspoon of cinnamon per day into a smoothie. Cloves have been found to increase the amount of sugar taken into muscle cells, and so improve blood sugar balance.
Raw food for cardiovascular health
Uncooked foods contain essential fatty acids of the omega-3 series, for example from fresh nuts and seeds - these fats can be easily damaged by heating. Omega-3 fats support healthy cardiovascular function and may help lower blood pressure. Eating raw food has been found to be connected with low levels of the LDL ('bad') cholesterol.
Vitamin C is a nutrient which is swiftly lost once food is heated, particularly if the food is kept warm. Eating plenty of raw foods rich in vitamin C is related to a lower risk of heart disease, as well as reduced blood pressure, and research has shown this vitamin can slow the process of plaque build-up in the arteries. Great sources of vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, broccoli and papaya.
Raw foods to beat stress
With our busy, hectic lives, ongoing stressful situations can adversely affect our mental and physical health.
Chronic stress can leave us feeling more than simply a little overwhelmed - it can lead to depression, anxiety and low energy as well as contributing to the development of chronic health conditions. One of the biggest problems is when we feel stressed, we tend to reach for the types of foods which deplete our body’s ability to deal with stress over the long term, such as fat, sugar and salt.
As a great example of a healing food, Raw cacao has been found in studies to help us deal with stress. It’s rich in chemical compounds called polyphenols which naturally affect certain types of brain waves known as gamma waves. These are the most subtle brain waves which are connected with perception, alertness and higher consciousness. It’s also a great source of magnesium, which helps muscles and nerves to relax.
Nuts, especially almonds, are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which may boost the levels of serotonin, a chemical messenger involved in stabilising mood. Raw nuts and seeds are also high in magnesium.
So as you can see, incorporating more raw foods into your lives could offer a massive amount of health benefits!