Raw food – healthy or unhealthy?

Many people associate a particularly healthy diet with the raw food diet. This is because the raw food diet is based on consuming foods that are not cooked in any way. Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, sprouts, nuts, lettuce and seeds that are not heated thus contain their full original nutrient content. Above all, they are rich in vitamins and secondary plant substances, as these are inactivated or broken down at 100°F and then are no longer available to the body.

It is also known that all cooking methods, whether boiling, steaming, roasting or barbecuing, partially damage the sensitive vitamins and secondary plant substances. It has been shown, for example, that half of the vitamins contained in food, in particular vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6, are lost due to heat. So what’s more obvious than to join the raw foodists?

Nevertheless, the reality is usually somewhat different than one has imagined. Often, after some time of eating mainly raw apples, carrots, cabbage turnip, etc., you reach your limits. The craving for cooked food can’t be simply switched off at the touch of a button and some people struggle with a constant feeling of hunger or satiety. In addition, digestive and intestinal disorders can occur and these are often the reason why the “raw foodist” project is quickly abandoned. This may also be due to the prevailing opinion that a raw food diet is equivalent to a vegan diet. However, this is a false conclusion: With a raw food diet, both plant and animal foods can be consumed that have not been heated to more than 100°F. This means that raw milk cheese, fermented fish, carpaccio, tartar or sushi can also be on the menu.

Preventing diseases with raw food?

The health benefits of raw foods are controversial. Supporters claim that many diseases are caused by cooked or highly processed foods.
 With raw food you can get rid of problems such as obesity, diabetes, allergies, gout and gastrointestinal problems. Raw foodists are said to have a purer skin and less susceptible to colds and flu.
Raw foodists reject canned foods, pasta, and boxed cereals, and completely ban tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, and dairy products from the diet. The diet includes mainly regional fruits, vegetables, nuts, salads and wild herbs.

Nevertheless, many nutrition experts advise against a long-term diet with only raw food, because it is too unbalanced in the long run. Some people also get intestinal problems, because some fruits and vegetables are difficult to digest raw and can cause fermentation processes.

In fact, sensitive people can be affected by such deficiencies, especially if in advance always little raw food and low-fiber foods have been consumed.

Raw food diet and science

In a large-scale study conducted by the University of Giessen, Germany, from 1996 to 1998, 200 participants who practiced the raw food diet were accompanied by nutritionists and medical doctors for a year to find out how raw food nutrition affects health. The participants were all non-smokers and in good overall health.

The evaluation of the vitamin and mineral status of study participants surprised researchers: Although only vegetables, fruits, nuts and salads were consumed and the food was rich in minerals and vitamins, this could not be detected in the blood count. One possible reason for this could be that the subjects ingested too little fat. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin E and beta-carotene can only be absorbed in the presence of fat. Furthermore, the subjects were deficient in vitamin D, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and iodine after one year.

The supply of protein was also insufficient, as some protein-rich foods, such as the group of legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, etc.) as well as many mushrooms, are unsuitable for raw consumption and were therefore avoided.

Raw food diet – which foods should be dispensed with?

Raw legumes contain a high proportion of lectins, which are toxic and can also cause inflammatory bowel diseases. By soaking and boiling, the lectins are largely destroyed and legumes can be eaten, but then no longer meet the requirements of the raw food diet.

Phytic acid contained in grains blocks the absorption of some minerals. Therefore, grains are best tolerated when cooked or baked, i. e. higher temperatures destroy the phytic acid. However, fermented grains, i. e. ground grains, soaked overnight in water, can also break down a large part of the phytic acid and render it ineffective. The disadvantage is: Excess water is drained off and a considerable proportion of dissolved minerals is poured away.

Furthermore, some secondary plant substances are not able to develop their full health potential in their raw state. For example, the ingredients lycopene and lutein, which are responsible for the red color of the tomato, only become available after cooking. Lycopene and lutein are highly effective antioxidants that can strengthen the body’s defenses.

The same applies to carotenoids, which, among others, can be found in carrots and bell peppers. If, for example, carrots are cooked and they are consumed in combination with fat, then about 40% of the beta-carotene is utilized – in the raw state only about 3% is absorbed by the body.

Potatoes are also among the plant foods that, when eaten raw, are not tolerated. This is mainly due to the potato starch. It can’t be digested well or at all in our intestines. Potatoes also contain solanine, which is slightly poisonous when uncooked and can cause abdominal pain, bloating and other intestinal complaints.

What is Metabolic Balance’s position on raw food diet?

The proportion of raw food in the diet should be increased overall, taking into account the positive effects on the body and the fact that, according to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), the average fiber content in most diets is too low. Especially vegetables, lettuce, nuts, mushrooms, herbs and fruits contain many vitamins, minerals and fiber, which stimulate digestion and provide a healthy environment for the intestinal flora. In addition, the secondary plant substances contained, such as flavonoids and antioxidants, prevent cancer and heart attack. Nevertheless, a pure raw food diet is not recommended.

Therefore, nutrition according to Metabolic Balance is designed with a high proportion of fresh food, which is optimally tolerated, tasty and healthy for our metabolism.

Metabolic Balance focuses on natural foods, i. e. foods should be cooked, heated or processed as much as necessary, but still as little as possible, so that the body is adequately supplied with all the vital substances and at the same time is spared from the natural toxins and pollutants of plant and animal foods.

At the same time, it is important to make sure that fruit and vegetables are not too heavily contaminated by nitrates and pesticides and therefore rely on organically grown products.