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Raw Diet Food Safety – How Safe Are You?

Posted in Food Safety on February 8, 2019

Raw food is looked upon some as something they don’t even want to touch while to others it is a new way of eating. Raw dieting has been in the news a lot recently and of course social media is all a buzz with different techniques and tips that people are using in this new crazy.

Personally, we have been asked for meat including locally processed beef and harvested wild game to be included in some local people’s diets in the last few weeks. This made me want to look deeper into the raw food diet and see why people are doing this and what the benefits are, and of course the risks too.

The first thing that I found to be really unique while I should have known this was that the raw food diet has been around since the 1800’s but is in more recent times taking a surge in being more popular.

According to Healthline the raw food diet is:

The raw food diet, often called raw foodism or raw veganism, is composed of mostly or completely raw and unprocessed foods.

A food is considered raw if it has never been heated over 104–118°F (40–48°C). It should also not be refined, pasteurized, treated with pesticides or otherwise processed in any way.

Instead, the diet allows several alternative preparation methods, such as juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking and sprouting.

Similar to veganism, the raw food diet is usually plant-based, being made up mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

While most raw food diets are completely plant-based, some people also consume raw eggs and dairy. Less commonly, raw fish and meat may be included as well.

Additionally, taking supplements is typically discouraged on the raw food diet. Proponents often claim that the diet will give you all the nutrients you need.

Supporters also believe that cooking foods is harmful to human health because it destroys the natural enzymes in foods, reduces their nutrient content and reduces the “life force” that they believe to exist in all raw or “living” foods.

People follow the raw food diet for the benefits they believe it has, including weight loss, improved vitality, increased energy, improvement to chronic diseases, improved overall health and a reduced impact on the environment.

Is This Diet Safe?

For the short-term, the raw food diet is not likely to pose major health concerns.

However, you may develop problems if you follow the diet long-term.

A mostly raw diet makes it difficult to get enough calories, protein and certain vitamins and minerals.

Some people may not be able to get enough calories from this diet. The evidence also shows that the larger the proportion of raw food in your diet, the higher the risk of negative effects.

Unless you take supplements, you may develop problems from nutrient inadequacies over time as your body’s vitamin and mineral stores are used up. Vitamin B12 and vitamin D are particularly hard to get in raw vegan diets.

However, even nutrition supplements cannot make up for a lack of calories and protein in the diet.

Additionally, the risk of being exposed to a foodborne illness is increased when you consume foods raw.

This is especially true if raw dairy, eggs or meat are part of your diet. Nutrition experts always recommend that people only eat these when they’re fully cooked or pasteurized.

Lastly, a raw food diet can be challenging to keep up for several reasons.

For starters, food choices are very limited and avoiding cooked foods makes it difficult to go out to eat or to eat with friends.

Avoiding cooked foods also means that food preparation methods are very limited, so a raw food diet can get boring. Many people also find eating only cold foods to be undesirable.

Lastly, it can be expensive to buy so much fresh, organic produce, not to mention time consuming to plan and prepare.

Foods to Eat

  • All fresh fruits
  • All raw vegetables
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Raw grains and legumes, sprouted or soaked
  • Dried fruits and meats
  • Nut milks
  • Raw nut butters
  • Cold-pressed olive and coconut oils
  • Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut
  • Seaweed
  • Sprouts
  • Raw eggs or dairy, if desired
  • Raw meat or fish, if desired

Foods to Avoid

  • Cooked fruits, vegetables, meats and grains
  • Baked items
  • Roasted nuts and seeds
  • Refined oils
  • Table salt
  • Refined sugars and flour
  • Pasteurized juices and dairy
  • Coffee and tea
  • Alcohol
  • Pasta
  • Pastries
  • Chips
  • Other processed foods and snacks

Conclusion:

As with anything like mentioned above too much of a good thing can go bad really fast. I admit to loving to go to this local all you can eat sushi bar where everything is prepared to order and I will over-indulge. I happen to really love it and love that our oldest son enjoys it with me while the youngest and my husband eat their fully cooked meals. I wouldn’t want to eat this every single day and wouldn’t want my child to either.

The raw diet while on the upside of a trend can pose huge health risks such as food-borne illnesses that I would just much rather avoid.

While making educated choices some may choose to participate in the raw diet, but just remember that if you do to make sure it is not a permanent diet and to be extremely safe while partaking in any raw foods.

If you are a beginner to this diet be sure to do your research to find out the pros and cons and see how this fits into your lifestyle. A lot of the “avoid” items are on my daily food list and I would feel lost without those and would honestly suffer. There are a lot of points to look at when weighing this diet for sure. There are also many sample menus available online to see if you believe that this would work for your diet. I like being able to see things in plain English before jumping in with most things and the samples are a great resource.

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)