A Guide to Raw Food Diets

Tips for healthy, uncooked eating

Proponents of raw food diets advocate a diet made up of at least 75 percent unprocessed and uncooked food, and report the enjoyment of benefits such as weight loss, increased energy levels, clearer skin and better digestion. Raw food diets are naturally low in fat and rich in nutrients, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and improving insulin tolerance.

Raw veganism

Vegans who consume a low-fat, raw food diet enjoy unprocessed and uncooked plant foods that include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, seaweed and legumes. Food is never heated above 115° F, as raw foodists believe that heat depletes food of nutritional value.

Fruitarians eat a raw food diet of fruits, nuts and grains. A diet high in fruit is naturally low in fat, and is purported to clean arteries and blood vessels and assist the circulatory system.

Juicearians blend fruits and vegetables into juice form before consumption. New York Times bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola advocates juicing as one of the key components to improving health, as vegetable juice contains chlorophyll and phytonutrients, which help promote a strong immune system.

A sproutarian raw food diet consists of sprouted seeds such as broccoli, alfalfa and fennel that are rich in vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, oil and amino acids, and low in fat and sugar.

Raw vegetarianism

Raw vegetarianism is similar to the unprocessed and uncooked foods of a raw vegan diet, but adds dairy and eggs to the menu.

Raw animal food diets

A raw omnivorous diet includes unprocessed and uncooked meats, eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables. Food is prepared at a temperature less than 104° F, and meat is typically purchased from organic farms with free-range and grass-fed livestock in order to reduce the risk of deleterious bacteria.

The primal diet is a popular animal food diet made up primarily of fatty meats and organ meats, honey, dairy products, coconut cream and very few fruit and vegetable juices.

The raw meat diet is another type of raw animal food diet consisting of unprocessed and uncooked meat, seafood, eggs and certain raw plant foods. Followers of the raw meat diet steer clear of raw dairy, legumes and grains.

Following a raw food diet

Raw food meals typically require intensive preparation. Rice and grains must be sprouted overnight, legumes are soaked to aid in digestibility and breads and crackers are dehydrated to provide a cooked texture.

If you have decided to try a raw food diet, transition gradually, as a 100-percent leap to raw food would be quite a shock to your body. Start with one low-fat, raw food meal a day, and slowly decrease consumption of cooked meals over a three-month period.

A Washington University study linked raw food diets with lower bone mass and the Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin B12 intake is weakened. When adhering to a raw food diet, talk with your doctor about nutritional supplements such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, copper, zinc and iron to ensure optimal health.

Women who are pregnant or nursing, children and those at risk for osteoporosis should use caution when following a raw food regimen.

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