New diets and food trends seem to be popping up every week. With so many food trends, such as gluten-free, Paleo, Atkins, and clean eating, it can be hard to keep them straight.
One of the diet trends that continues to reappear is actually a reintroduction of a dietary principle that was first introduced in the 1830s as a way to ward off the then burgeoning cholera epidemic (1). It was thought that by eating simple food that wasn’t overly processed and drinking sufficient amounts of water, many illnesses could be prevented or even cured (1).
It was also thought that through eating just uncooked foods, that it could result in greater spiritual and physical health (1). This concept is similar to the guiding principles behind the raw food diet trend, also referred to as raw foodism (2).
Raw food diet is more than just leafy greens and nuts
While the list of foods that are not included in a raw diet are plentiful, so are the options that are available for individuals who desire to reduce the amount of pesticides and processed foods in their diets.
One of the main things about the diet in regards to what is not included, is that anything that is consumed cannot be heated above a temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, hence the raw part of this lifestyle (3).
Many who enjoy this way of life include raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, sprouted grains, and seeds in their daily regime. Those same people generally do not include dairy products, meat, or poultry, while others enjoy adding such things to the diet, as long as they are not pasteurized and have not exceeded the maximum temperature (4).
Going raw for health benefits
It is thought that following a raw food diet helps to reduce the number of processed foods, sugars, artificial sweeteners and colors, and pesticides that are ingested, while at the same time increasing the number of vitamins and enzymes that are essential to optimal health (5).
Many who follow this diet report an increase in energy, clearer skin, improved digestion, weight loss, and a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (6). It is thought that plant-based diets, such as the raw food diet, can help to reduce the genetic component associated with the development of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes (6).
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