Modern nutrition has come to emphasize the various health benefits of eating raw foods (rawism), creating a wave of new interest in raw food diets.
The anti-aging, weight loss, and skin care advantages to consuming a diet comprised mostly of raw foods have caused many individuals to adapt raw food diets at various levels, from moderate, to eating no foods cooked at a temperature above approximately 46 °C (115 °F).
Cooking food at high temperatures destroys beneficial enzymes and nutrients that promote health and wellbeing as well as fight disease. Eating the right raw, uncooked foods provides more vitamins and nutrients to fuel the body with fewer calories and toxins, resulting in increased energy levels and decreased illness and disease.
Raw Food Diet Basics
Although there are different types of raw food diets, including raw vegan, raw vegetarian, and even raw omnivorous and carnivorous (meat) diets, there are some common beliefs held by all raw food advocates:
- More vitamins and nutrients are present in raw foods than in foods that have been cooked.
- Digestive enzymes such as amylases, proteases, and lipases aid in digestion and are destroyed or degraded by heating food above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Raw foods contain healthy bacteria and microorganisms that increase beneficial gut flora, boosting the immune system and digestion. These healthy bacteria are destroyed by heat.
- Processed foods with added chemicals, preservatives, additives, colors, agents, or dyes of any kind are considered toxic and unhealthy.
- Organic foods are considered more nutritious than chemically treated foods.
Harmful Effects of Cooking Food
Raw food enthusiasts not only tout the superior nutritional quality of raw foods, but some also suggest potential dangers in consuming cooked foods. Cooking foods at very high temperatures, they say, including microwaving foods, may cause chemical reactions that can potentially produce toxins and reduce protein digestibility.
These risks are in addition to reduced vitamin and nutrient content through cooking, suggesting that cooked food is significantly less healthy than most raw foods.