Raw Food enthusiasts believe that heating food destroys the nutrients and natural enzymes that boost digestion and fight chronic disease. Some believe that cooking actually makes food toxic and claims that a raw food diet can clear up headaches and allergies, boost immunity and memory, and improve arthritis and diabetes. Most raw foodies eat uncooked, unprocessed, mostly organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains, most of which are low in calories, fat, and sodium, and high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. A minority of raw foods diet followers eat unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, meat, and fish. The food can be cold or warmed to a maximum of 118 degrees.
Cooking can reduce vitamins B and C but raw food diets require extra attention to protein, iron, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals like B12. Some raw food followers take nutritional supplements to make up for any nutritional deficiencies. However, cooking does boost some nutrients, like beta-carotene and lycopene, and kills bacteria, which helps avoid food poisoning. One study found that a raw foods diet works for weight loss, but there’s no proof that eating only raw foods prevents illness. Because some uncooked and unpasteurized foods are linked to foodborne illness, raw foods require extra cleaning, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly, and being extra careful with risky foods like sprouts, raspberries, unpasteurized juices, green onions, and lettuce which can easily produce harmful bacteria if not handled properly.
Raw animal food diets include raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, and sprouted grains along with any animal product that can be eaten raw, such as uncooked, unprocessed raw muscle-meats, organ-meats, eggs, unpasteurized dairy, and aged, raw animal foods such as century eggs, fermented meat, fish, shellfish, and milk products such as kefir. It’s recommended that raw meat consumers choose grass-fed animals or wild game rather than meats from grain-fed animals.