“Written By / Weng Shu Chen (MJ Nutrition Tutor)”
The benefit of having a Raw Diet is that it reduces our intake of contaminants and additives from food, thus reducing the accumulation of excessive toxins in our body which may burden our metabolism. Consumption of natural and clean food provides us with phytic acid, enzyme, energy and etc. which are beneficial to our body immune system. Therefore, having a diet according to dietary guidelines together with the method of Raw Diet could help us to have a healthy and energetic body.
How to start our Raw Diet? It can be quite challenging for us to switch our eating habit to natural food-based diet shortly as we have used to the eating habit of consuming cooked food. People may have the perceptions that natural foods are cold, astringent and plain in taste. Why don’t we just start it slowly and progressively, starting with ‘half cooked and half raw’ policy in our diet? Below are some tips of Raw Diet:
1. Replace caffeinated or sweetened beverages with mixed fruits and vegetable juice. Gradually increase frequency and amount of consumption in a day.
2. Reduce the use of artificial flavoring and seasoning when cooking. Seasoning should be limited to slight amount of salt, soy sauce, fresh tomato, ginger, garlic, honey and other natural flavorings. Refrain from high temperature cooking methods such as deep-frying and stir-frying. You are encouraged to boil and steam your ingredients, or turn them into a cold dish or salad.
3. Use seasonal ingredients to prevent from eating in chemicals that speed up crop growth.
4. Layer your stomach first with some warm soup or congee to tolerate raw food better.
5. Choose a wide range of food as this could have a boosting effect on the absorption of nutrients. For example, mixing brown rice with soybeans could improve the utilization of protein when eaten. Cooking vegetables rich in fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E and K) with some oil could help with the absorption of nutrients.
6. Consume moderate amount of protein-rich food, such as bean curd, soy milk, yogurt, fermented milk and so on.
7. Consume your food in this sequence to maximize digestion: fruits à some warm soup à raw vegetable à cooked vegetable àstarchy food à meat / protein-based food.
Although the Raw Diet is good, there are still some hidden worries that we should look into. E.g:
1. Even though organic ingredients for Raw Diet are free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it does not necessarily mean they are perfectly safe. Since there might be parasites or disease-causing microbes living in plants, improper preparation (undercooked or unwashed ingredients) may cause sickness in people with low immunity.
2. Beans or legumes contain trypsin (a kind of digestive enzyme for proteins) inhibitor and hemagglutinin (a protein that clumps red blood cells). Eating raw and unprocessed beans and legumes may disrupt digestion of proteins and also destroy our red blood cells. To overcome this, beans and legumes should be treated with heat or cooked.
3. Raw Diet may introduce large amount of potassium and water into our body and this may cause problems in population with renal disease, such as hyperkalemia (high blood potassium) and water toxemia (water intoxication). These conditions are life-threatening as they could paralyze heart and cause water retention in lungs.
4. Raw Diet is composed of a large amount of high-fiber vegetables, beans and legumes, and grains. We know that a fiber-rich diet is beneficial to enhance bowel movement, preventing colorectal cancer and other chronic diseases. However, too much fiber in our intestines may absorb an excessive amount of water and causes discomfort (bloating and flatulence) in people with low gastrointestinal function or who have just undergone gastrointestinal surgery.
In essence, the beneficial effects of Raw Diet are only evident when include a diverse range of food and well-balanced nutrients, as well as combining cooking methods which are appropriate to one’s health condition, lifestyle and eating habits.
Coupled with a light cooking method, “Nutritious, Well-balanced and Natural”, are the three most important keys to get the most out of this diet. Simply said, it is never difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle!