by Rebecca Picard
When is it OK to decide if an extreme diet is a fad or not? How can you decide which of these diets is healthy for you? Is meat intended for human consumption? Diets tell society they are “the best diet” ever and may cause a temporary craze for the public. It’s easy to get lost in the confusion. Among these diets, lies the raw food lifestyle that people are turning to in order to either lose weight or keep their bodies healthy. People swear by a certain diet that in turn, may not work for another individual. The public consensus on healthy eating still remains unknown.
Raw food diets are one of the more well known diets of our time. Raw foods are exactly what they sound like, plant based food. What this diet consists of is uncooked fruits, vegetables and a small amount of nuts and seeds.
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram is a nine year raw foodist. She became interested in a strict raw food diet when she was able to reduce her diagnosed Hyperglycemia by eating a vegan raw diet. She attended college at Vanderbilt and later, Rice University where she graduated in the top five percent in her class in 2009. She graduated with a triple major in Kinesiology with a focus in fasting, health science and raw foods. She has grown her own raw food business called Fully Raw where she gives plans and advice on building a raw food life.
Although raw food sounds like a restricting diet, there are few variations. Some of these diets, according to Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, include eating only high fat raw foods, such as nuts and avocado which can become harmful to the body. Another variation comes from eating only vegetables, which is harmful to the body as well because of the lack of necessary carbohydrates. The one that most raw foodists should stick to is a combination of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and a small amount of seeds and nuts.
Carillo-Bucaram states, “There is no essential nutrient in meat, grains, legumes, or dairy that is not also available in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and in a form that is easier to digest.”
The common misperception of raw or vegan diets is that there’s no way for one to get their protein. “ There is more than enough protein in the raw diet to satisfy your body’s needs in sweet fruit, which averages four to eight percent of calories from protein, and vegetables and leafy greens, which average 15 to 20 percent of calories from protein. This is a surprise to most people, who have been taught incorrectly, that they need large amounts of protein to be healthy.”
Joel Fuhrman, MD, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1988. He is a board-certified family physician who specializes in disease prevention and reversal through nutritional and natural methods. He is also a New York Times best-selling author. He has his own PBS television shows called Three Steps to Incredible Health and Dr. Fuhrman’s Immunity Solution.
In comparison to Carillo-Bucaram, Joel Fuhrman has his own views about raw food diets. He says cooking can actually can help you absorb more nutrients. “In many cases, cooking destroys some of the harmful anti-nutrients that bind minerals in the gut and interfere with the utilization of nutrients. Destruction of these anti-nutrients increases absorption.”
Fuhrman adds, that when cooking food, “Toxic compounds are formed and important nutrients are lost.” While he recognizes the pros of a raw food diet, he also explains the cons.
Fuhrman says that there is no advantage to a fully raw diet, “In fact, eating an exclusively raw-food diet is a disadvantage. To exclude all steamed vegetables and vegetable soups from your diet narrows the nutrient diversity of your diet and has a tendency to reduce the percentage of calories from vegetables, in favor of nuts and fruit, which are lower in nutrients per calorie.”
A study done by The American Society for Nutritional Sciences measured the effects of raw foods on people. The 201 participants between the ages of 25 and 64 (non smokers and no one with a gastrointestinal disease) ate 70 to 100 percent raw food for 24 months. The study found that a strict raw food diet lowered plasma total cholesterol, triglyceride concentrations and serum HDL cholesterol. The findings showed that the raw food diet, on the contrary, increased tHcy concentration because of a deficiency in vitamin B-12 because of the lack of animal product consumption. The increased tHcy is linked to endothelial cell injury which can be a factor for coronary artery disease.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. This well known quote said by Hippocrates states that with a strong diet, food can be a cure for all people no matter what the diagnosis