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Is a Raw Foods Diet For You?

Do you like raw foods? Perhaps you enjoy some veggies and dip from time to time, or try to get at least an apple a day into your diet. But what if all you ate was raw foods? Could you do it? Well, an increasing number of people are! A raw foods diet is being touted as having a number of health benefits, including fighting off disease and extending your life. So what exactly defines a raw foods diet? Is it truly healthy? And why are more and more people turning to this way of eating? Keep reading for answers to all of those questions -- and more!

A Natural Progression
People often give up eating red meat because they've been told it is bad for them.  Then they hear that fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, so they replace their chicken and pork intake with the “other-other white meat.”  They might take the next step and remove all animal flesh from their diets, and in so doing, become lacto-ovo vegetarians -- the kind of vegetarians that still eat things like eggs and dairy. 

Once people decide that a vegetarian diet makes them feel better, they often take one more step and become vegans, who don't eat any sort of animal products.  One might think that was an extreme enough lifestyle. However, some vegans go even further and delve into the world of raw foods.

Acceptable Foods
Just looking at the name, one might be tempted to think raw foods simply means uncooked food of any sort.  However, the lifestyle definitely doesn't include things like raw meat or unbaked cookie dough (darn).  In fact, it is an even more intense diet than veganism.  Those following a raw food lifestyle are limited to vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Additionally, raw may be a bit of a misnomer in that the foods can be heated by steaming or boiling to a certain temperature -- up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit -- but no higher. 

The reason for the temperature limitation is that at higher temperatures, the natural enzymes in food are destroyed.  These enzymes aid with digestion.  Thus, by eating the foods “raw” (or cooked below 105 degrees Fahrenheit), the food retains those enzymes and promotes better and more effective digestion.

Live Foods
An additional aspect to the raw foods lifestyle involves its more appropriate name -- live foods.  Live foods are those that are in their natural form and, when digested, produce an alkaline state in the body.  That means that foods which are too starchy or acidic cannot be part of the diet as they push the body to an acidic state.  This is important because the human body performs most effectively when it is at a balanced pH, which requires a diet of at least 70 percent foods that promote an alkaline state.

Health Benefits
Proponents of the raw food lifestyle often point to those very things when discussing their choice.  Even more evidence exists that says a raw diet is healthy, however.  Low Glycemic index foods are the best choice for keeping your blood sugar in check, which is important for both diabetics and dieters.  As many raw foods rate low on the Glycemic index, the lifestyle is ideal for those people.  In fact, many individuals report losing weight without any effort when they switch to a raw diet.  Additionally, a raw diet promotes a healthy immune system, helping protect your body from disease and illness.

To Cook or Not to Cook
Obviously many reasons exist for joining the raw food movement. Whether people initially start eating raw for their health or for the added energy and vitality it reportedly provides, one thing is certain . . .  they generally don't go back. 

It’s important to remember that even though the raw foods lifestyle has proven health benefits, if you choose to head down that road you’ll need to make sure you’re getting adequate nutrients on a daily basis. It’s probably a good idea to speak with your doctor or a nutritionist to form an “eating plan” that covers all your nutritional needs.

But, if you are interested in changing your life, improving your health, and trimming your waistline, give the raw diet a try. You have nothing to lose but unhealthy habits!

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