There are many, many reasons why I eat a raw food diet.
Below I discuss reasons to eat raw food from a health and nutrition perspective.
Please refer to Why Raw Food: Part 1 to learn the effect of heating fats, carbohydrates, and protein.
The sections below are derived from a lecture on “Why Raw Food” by Dr. Rozalind Graham.
In addition, I did my own research to support her claims about the connection between cooked food and chronic illnesses.
Cooking Food Causes Inflammation, Autoimmune Response, And Deprives the Body of Oxygen, Setting the Stage for Cancer
As discussed in Why Raw Food: Part 1, heating food causes enzyme-resistant bonds to form, which are then partially broken down into polypeptides.
The body recognizes polypeptides as foreign invaders and attacks itself. This causes inflammation and an autoimmune response.
Moreover, cooking food damages amino acids that we need to maintain a healthy oxygen-rich environment in the body.
We need two amino acids — methionine and cystine — to make healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells and hemoglobin.
Additionally, we need L-Arginine and L-Citrulline, two other amino acids, to help circulate oxygen around our bodies.
Heat damages all four of these important amino acids; thereby, reducing the body’s ability to remove carbon dioxide and transport oxygen.
Cancer cells thrive in an anaerobic, or oxygen-poor environment.
Ingesting cooked food creates a poorly oxygenated bodily environment perfect for cancer cell development.
Cooking Food Increases Free Radical Formation
Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that cause inflammation, arthritis, cataracts, and aging of the body.
Normal metabolic processes produce free radicals, so we will never entirely rid ourselves of free radicals.
Consuming cooked food creates even more free radicals.
To be healthy, we need a balance of free radicals and antioxidants.
Specifically, we need the ACES team. Vitamins A, C, E, and selenium go around cleaning up the body.
When free radicals attack a cell:
- Vitamin A fights off the free radicals.
- Then, Vitamin E backs up vitamin A,
- And, Vitamin C regenerates vitamins A and C.
- Selenium protects the body from oxidative damage and infection.
To be fair, other studies show the exact opposite.
What about Lycopene?
Sure you may get less lycopene from a raw tomato, than a cooked tomato.
However, by eating a raw tomato, you will get more of the countless nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed by heat.
There are many more nutrients in a fresh whole tomato (or any given fruit or vegetable) that have yet to be discovered, named, and studied by scientists.
Worried about your lycopene? Eat another tomato!
Cooked Fats Prep the Arteries for Heart Disease
When we heat fats, they become sticky.
When sticky fats pass through inflamed, roughened arteries (due to years of unhealthy, inflammatory lifestyle), they adhere to the arterial walls.
The arteries plug up and form atherosclerotic plaques, causing heart disease.
Arterial blockages set the stage for erectile dysfunction, heart attacks, and stroke.
By Comparison, Raw Foods…
Raw foods don’t incur the nutritional damage of their cooked counterparts.
Digestive enzymes easily break down the amino acids in raw fruits and vegetables.
No caramelization of sugars occurs in raw carbohydrates. This reduces the glycemic response. Uncooked carbs lack the carcinogenic compounds created by blackening them.
Raw fatty foods (e.g. nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut) aren’t sticky, and do not adhere to arterial walls.
Moreover, arterial walls aren’t inflamed when a person eats whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic fruits and veggies AND keeps his/her/their fat percentage low.
Raw fooders still need to keep their fat percentage low for optimal heart health!
Raw foods retain their perfectly structured water, assuming you don’t dehydrate them at 115 degrees for eternity.
Moderate consumption of dehydrated raw foods, and emphasize whole, fresh fruits and vegetables for the best hydration.
Less cooked food means more ACES available to circulate and clean the body.
Eat a brazil nut a week to boost your selenium!
Nutrients and enzymes in raw foods remain intact, and available for the body to utilize.
Ingesting cooked food causes inflammation.
- The body partially breaks down cooked proteins into polypeptides, which the body sees as foreign substances.
- The body attacks polypeptides, causing an inflammatory autoimmune response.
- Cooking food increases free radicals, which cause inflammation.
Cooking food damages antioxidants and impairs delivery of oxygen to the cells.
- Heating food damages nutrients we need to get oxygen around our bodies.
- Our bodies become an anaerobic environment with not enough oxygen, hospitable to cancer cell growth.
Cooked fats set the stage for heart disease.
- When you heat fats, they become sticky, and plug up arteries.
- Arterial blockages are ticking time bombs for heart attacks and strokes.
Raw foods are not damaged in the same way as cooked foods.
That being said, there are still many factors to pay attention to on a raw food diet. More on this in a future post!
Again, this article is not meant to scare you. I’m sorry if it did.
It’s simply the perspective of raw food pioneers who have done decades of research as to why raw foods are the preferred fuel source for the human body.
Even I don’t buy into raw foods 100%. I have a handful of exceptions (e.g. cashews, nutritional yeast, coconut aminos, roasted tahini) that make this lifestyle workable and enjoyable for me.
Still, the vast majority of my diet is fully raw fruits and vegetables and small amounts of nuts and seeds.
Start where you are, and include more fresh fruit and veggies in your diet.
Recipe In Photo Is…
Coodles (cucumber noodles) with Lemon Szechuan dressing from Plant-based Dips-n-Dressings. It’s SO good! Totally takes me back to my Chinese-eating days, but without all the salt, msg, oil, and other nasties of regular Chinese food.
Are you serious about improving your health?
Do you want ongoing support in achieving your health goals?