Raw foodists are proponents of the idea that fruits, vegetables, and nuts should be eaten as nature intended them, in their most delicious state: raw. Americans today get most of their raw vegetable intake from salad, and one in five Americans eats salad on a daily basis (which is pretty good, considering the obesity rate).
But making 80 to 90 percent of your diet consist of raw foods, which is the optimal percentage determined by the International Living Foods Summit, might be a shock to even the staunchest vegetarians.
So here are five reasons why you should consider converting, or even just upping your daily percentage of raw veggies.
You’ll be happier
A study by Columbia University in 2009 shows that people who have engaged in raw food diets for extended periods of time show marked increases in quality of life. Over the course of a several week period, participants in the study showed a decrease in anxiety of 18.6 percent and a decrease in perceived stress by 16.4 percent.
Another 2006 study done by Dr. Zajic of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center over a two year period shows marked increases in mental and emotional well-being. Of the 585 participants, the number who felt a general sense of “enthusiasm and optimism” jumped from 43 percent to 91 percent after starting a raw diet.
The researchers attributed this to participants taking better care of themselves due to a higher level of health-consciousness that comes from eating raw foods.
No more dieting
You will feel full more quickly eating raw foods because they contain more water and more fiber and so fill you up more successfully. Your hunger will be satisfied so you can eat less on the raw food diet and that is one reason why people find the raw food diet helps them to lose weight.
A 2006 study published by the Institute of Nutritional Science at Justus Liebig University of Giessen in Germany shows that over a long-term (four year) period, from the beginning of the dietary regimen an average weight loss of 21 pounds for men and 26 pounds for women occurred.
It’s good for the Earth
Although the US government has yet to conduct formal research on food packaging waste statistics, the EPA estimates that 32% of household trash is made up of food packaging. The only waste that raw fruits and vegetables generate can be put in a compost pile and recycled back to the Earth. If you buy locally, this is even more significant because significantly less fossil fuels will be used to bring you your green goodies.
It’s good for you
According to Dr. Craig Sommers, author of the Raw Foods Bible, cooking food destroys most of the essential nutrients that our body needs to function optimally.
“There are several nutrients that are destroyed by heat, including Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin E; about two-thirds of the vitamins, in fact,” Sommers said. “About half of the amino acids are denatured by the cooking process, and the body cannot use denatured proteins.”
That feeling of eating so much you have to lie down after a consuming a huge feast is due to your body needing to shut down completely so it can digest all the food you just put into it. Dr. Sommers points out that raw foods have special enzymes that start breaking the food down for you before it even hits your stomach. The enzymes work to break apart the food, lessening the food’s burden on the stomach.
“These enzymes have a multitude of beneficial effects, including helping out the digestive process,” Sommers said.
This reduces the need for your body to concentrate all its energy to your digestive system, leaving you with more energy. Many raw foodists claim that they need less sleep after starting a raw diet.
It’s perfect if you hate cleaning
Less cooking and baking means less mess in the kitchen. People who hate spending hours in the kitchen preparing meals will love the simplicity of the raw food diet. There is less cleaning up after making a raw food meal. You can put any leftovers right on the compost heap and give back to nature, and you won’t have any greasy dishes with baked-on food to deal with.
For some starter recipes that are raw-friendly, check the easy (and budget-friendly) guacamole recipe on my blog!
Below is a video by Dan McDonald about how to enjoy raw foods at work, school, or wherever you might need to take a packed lunch. McDonald is a self-help expert who promotes raw eating and healthy living.