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The Raw Food Movement (insert eye roll here)

And we’ve got another one…Well, the concept of raw foodism has been around for ages, but once again, trends do come and go and this one is getting all heated up again! High-end culinary establishments are adapting their cuisine to suit the increasing number of raw foodies but why do I and so many other accredited professionals have an issue with this?

Don’t get me wrong, enjoying a massive repertoire of fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are excellent changes to adopt sans the processed nasties but basing a philosophy on unfounded science is frankly irritating and misleading. Let’s start by looking at what raw foodism is actually all about. 

The raw food movement claims that cooking foods over 116°F (46°C) destroys essential enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients. This theory has not been completely proven to date as the process of cooking can actually improve the bioavailability of important nutrients, improving their digestibility as well as inactivating some toxic compounds in food. Furthermore, due to the extremely acidic nature of the stomach, enzymes are inactivated way before they reach the small intestine, even if these enzymes come from raw foods! Yes, there may be some truth to their theory as some vitamins and minerals are extremely sensitive to heat and light and can be easily destroyed, but whatever happened to “Just enjoy a good balance of both raw and cooked food”? Here are the rules and regulations of becoming a raw foodie:

  • Include: fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, herbs
  • Do NOT cook about 116°F (46°C) nor consume any foods that have been processed, irradiated, pasteurised, treated with herbicides or pesticides
  • Legumes and grains can be eaten raw (although your quite limited with choice here!)
  • Other approved additions include EVOO, raw coconut everything
  • Food prep can include blending, dehydrating, juicing, blending, germinating, sprouting

The issues? 

  • Strict long term followers may be at higher risk of nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, amenorrhea (complete absence of menstruation)
  • Food safety is a massive issue to consider when consuming unpasteurised dairy due to the increased risk of contracting Listeria. As for raw meat lovers, raw meat can contain the nasty bacteria E.Coli, which can be dangerous and life-threatening. 
  • Equipment needed for food prep can be costly and impractical for those leading busy lives. This is where careful planning is essential and the luxury of time is a must! Slide1

When food trends pop up and the general public flock due to misleading claims, dietitians grown increasingly frustrated and more determined to prove these claims wrong. The claims that have accompanied the raw food movement include weight loss, a healthier digestive system and detoxification of any toxins (and we know where I stand with the term “detox..Cringe! Cringe! Cringe!). Weight loss is definitely possible due to the restrictions and eliminating loads of nourishing ingredients but what about sustainability, practicality and long-term benefit? Bottom line – Is it a diet superior to all others? NO! Will I be asking my clients and readers to convert? Definitely not.

If you want to provide your body with the utmost benefit, then make sure you enjoy a good variety of both cooked and raw foods!  Healthy grains and legumes such as quinoa, lentils, barley, brown rice are all excellent additions and do require cooking. When preparing your foods, make sure you do not overcook vegetables and find ways to reduce their cooking time at low temperatures. And finally, as humans, we’ve evolved to create ways and methods to improve food safety such as pasteurisation, refrigeration and cooking so why abandon such methods now because of some hyped-up way of eating?

Be safe, keep well and wishing you all a fad-free week ahead! 

1 Comment
  1. Hi Sandra

    Thats a very interesting post an I agree with your point of view. There is only one thing I disagree. Its the argumentation at the end of the text…’ And finally, as humans, we’ve evolved to create ways and methods to improve food safety such as pasteurisation[..].
    Well, just because we have evolved something (food safety) a time ago doesnt justify that it is right and contrary assumptions are therefore wrong. I think there are other arguments to stick to improved food processing.

    Kind regards,
    Franzi

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