Can raw food keep the doctor away? The diet’s proponents say “Yes” but experts advise caution.
At 52, actress Demi Moore still looks smashing in a bikini. She attributes her hot bod to the raw food diet, which she also claims, has kept her energy levels high. Even Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs was said to have tried it – after discovering a tumour in his pancreas. Just what is rawism, and does it really work?
AN APPLE A DAY…
The raw food diet dates back to the 1800s, and its early advocates included Dr Maximilian Bircher-Benner, the Swiss physician who is today called the father of muesli. Dr Bircher-Benner reportedly cured his jaundice by eating apples, and was convinced that a diet of raw fruits and vegetables – with little or no meat and milk products – was the key to optimum health. In 1905, he published his first dietetic theory based on this idea.
Modern raw foodists are split into vegan and meat-eating (which includes fish and eggs) groups, but they all agree that the human body benefits from an uncooked diet. However, as vegans are more conventionally associated with the raw food diet, this feature is written with this majority in mind.
Raw vegan dieters, hereafter referred to as raw foodists, advocate eating mostly fresh – and often organic – fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, edible flowers, roots, herbs, and spices. They do not consume foods containing refined sugars, caffeine, and alcohol. And neither do they eat animal products or processed foods – the additives and chemicals found in them are believed to be harmful.
COOKING IS NOT REALLY BANNED
Raw foodists do cook their meals, but at temperatures below 47 deg C. They believe that a higher temperature destroys nutrients and deactivates beneficial live enzymes in fresh produce.
As such, raw foodists have little use for traditional stoves. Instead, they use gadgets such as blenders, dehydrators, juicers, and food processers to make chips, smoothies, salads, pates, and more.
Another kitchen practice shared by many is sprouting, where seeds and nuts are soaked in water until they germinate. This process is said to “awaken” raw enzymes in “living food”, and allows more nutrients to be absorbed by the body.
Next: Possible benefits of the raw food diet.