The truth about... the Raw Food Diet

Is this diet just another fashion fad with hyper-celebrities lining up to crunch on carrots? Or is this back-to-nature menu really everything it's cracked up to be? Nutrition expert Dr Winnie Chan investigates the Raw Food Diet...

Raw food diet

What is a raw diet?

The raw diet, as its name implies, is based on consuming unprocessed, preferably organic, whole plant-based foods, at least 75% of which should be uncooked. It consists of...

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans, grains and legumes
  • Dried and sun-dried fruits
  • Seaweed
  • Freshly made fruit and vegetable juices
  • Purified water (not tap)
  • Milk from young coconuts
  • Other organic or natural foods which have not been processed

Raw and living foods are believed to contain essential enzymes which the cooking process (i.e. heating foods above 116°F) is thought to destroy.

People who follow the raw diet use particular techniques to prepare foods. These include sprouting seeds, grains and beans; soaking nuts and dried fruits; and juicing fruits and vegetables. The only cooking that is allowed is via a dehydrator. This piece of equipment blows hot air through the food but never reaches a temperature higher than 116°F. Other techniques needed to prepare raw food are blending, juicing and chopping.

Why go raw?

Proponents of the raw diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.

It is also thought that the cooking process destroys vitamins and minerals and that cooked foods not only take longer to digest, but they also allow partially digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates to clog up our gut and arteries.