What Exactly are 'raw' foods
13th June 2013
With Summer having made at least a bit of an appearance, what better time to be including lots of fresh raw food into your diet. "Raw" food has become somewhat of a buzz-word recently but what does it mean exactly? Well, 'raw' food refers to natural (usually plant-based) wholefoods eaten as close to their natural state, with as minimal processing as possible. Taking this one step further, foods are also not cooked at high temperatures (though they can be very gently heated). The reason behind this is to get the most nutrients possible into our bodies from the food we eat.
Science has shown that when we heat food above 118 degrees F / 47 degrees C that enzymes denature, healthy fats get damaged and vitamin and mineral levels significantly decrease. Our immune system even reacts when we eat cooked foods with white blood cell activity decreasing for a period of time.
The main foods consumed on an exclusively raw food diet (though some choose to include a little raw dairy too) are vegetables & fruits, seeds & nuts, sprouted wholegrains, beans & pulses, cold-pressed oils (such as coconut, flax & hemp), seaweeds, 'superfoods' such as goji berries & maca and algaes (think spirulina, chlorella etc).
The benefits of eating 'more raw' are many. Not only are you getting an abundance of plant-enzymes, antioxidants and more nutrients in general, this kind of diet is naturally alkalizing as most of the foods sit on the alkaline or neutral side of the pH scale. This is relevant to us all as generally our diets and lifestyles mean we are more acidic than is ideal. Having a pH that is too acidic means we are more prone to ill-health and disease.
Other benefits from including lots of raw foods, especially vegetables and fruit, is that they are promote detoxification and cleansing plus as they also have a high water content they're very hydrating to the body (dehydration also being an area requiring attention for most).
So now you know what an abundance of raw foods are out there and why you might want to 'eat more raw' don't delay, get out there and experiment! Ways to get more raw food in your diet include having a raw dish with every meal and snack (50% raw or more is preferable) or starting out with one raw meal a day such as a homemade smoothie for breakfast or salad for lunch. If you're still curious and want to delve deeper why not come along to my "Raw Food Feast & Workshop" where you get to spend half a day immersing yourself in raw food, see demos of lots of recipes and most importantly eat everything we make! You can find out more here
Sarah Barber is a Brighton & Hove-based Naturopathic Nutritionist. She divides her time between seeing clients for one-to-one nutrition sessions, giving health talks to local groups and running raw food / chocolate workshops.
How you can get in touch with Sarah