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.

Asparagus

As many parts of the world are moving into the beautiful season of spring, many different types of amazing produce is coming into season. One of these vegetables is asparagus! There are many different varieties but green, white, and purple asparagus are the most common. This vegetable is extremely versatile in the kitchen and is delicious when grilled, steamed, sautéed, or eaten raw. It pairs well with lemon, parmesan, and peas.
When buying asparagus you can perform a few simple steps when storing it in your refrigerator. Snip off a small portion of the stems and then place the asparagus in a small jar with enough water to cover the stems at least 1/2 inch. This ensures that your asparagus remains fresh for whenever you are ready to use it. With spring in full swing, consider adding asparagus to one of your weekly meals!

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Brussels Sprouts

A wonderful vegetable, delicious any time of the year is the brussels sprout! Brussels sprouts are walnut-sized and light to dark green – actually grape-like arranged buds of this cabbage plant. Like green cabbage, brussels sprouts taste best after the first frost, when their sugar content moderates their bitter taste and makes their cell structure more delicate. Usually brussels sprouts are cooked and tossed in butter as a side dish, but they also taste good in casseroles, as soup or very thinly sliced even raw. Brussels sprouts have 4.7 percent of valuable plant protein with amino acids that the body can easily utilize. It is also an excellent vitamin C donor in winter and also provides the vitamins B1, B2, B6, folic acid, iron, potassium and plenty of fiber. Brussels sprouts are also used in folk medicine to reduce both weakness and tension, to facilitate weight loss, to eliminate constipation and acidification, and to prevent atherosclerosis. With a glucosinolate content of 237 mg per 100 g of vegetables, it is also associated with cancer prevention!

Winter Vegetables

Every year cabbage is again the main protagonist of the regional winter cuisine. Green, white, red, pointed or round – it is more versatile than almost any other vegetable. 

However, the nutrient-rich classics of the frosty season also include other vegetables such as celery, leek, salsify and beetroot. In addition, spinach, chard and parsnips are a class of their own! Conjure up delicious dishes from these winter delicacies regularly and enjoy!

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a type of fungi found in many different varieties all across the globe. From earthy shitake mushrooms to delicate oyster mushrooms, there is a variety for almost every type of dish. Mushrooms are packed full of micronutrients including copper, potassium, and phosphorus. On the Metabolic Balance mushrooms can be a protein or a vegetable depending on the type of mushroom. Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are considered a protein. They can be used fresh or dried and are delicious in soups, stir fries and salads. All other types of mushrooms are vegetables and can therefore be mixed and combined with another type of protein.

Zucchini

Zucchini or also known as courgettes are a common type of summer squash, related to cucumbers and melons. Although considered a vegetable by many, according to their botanical classification zucchini are actually a fruit. Zucchini are packed full of nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and carotenoids. In the kitchen, zucchini are one of the most versatile fruits! They can be eaten raw, made into zoodles, roasted, used in soups or stir-frys, or even used for baking. The next time you have zucchini, consider trying out a new dish with this great ingredient!

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Hydrate!

In the summer it is really easy to get dehydrated! So the theme in the summer should also be to try and drink more than you think!

The good thing is that you don’t need to get all of your liquids from water. For example, water-rich foods including vegetables such as cucumber (96% water), celery (92% water), tomatoes (95% water), Chinese cabbage (94% water) or garden radishes (94% water) contain particularly high amounts of water. We also recommend water-rich fruits such as watermelon (96% water), strawberries (90% water) or papaya (90% water).

Tip: Choose only one type of fruit per meal and focus more on vegetables. This way, your blood sugar will rise less when you eat and cravings will not appear at all.

Arugula

Whether in pesto, as a salad or on a pizza – arugula is not only very popular, but also very healthy. This leafy vegetable with a spicy and bitter flavor is rich in vitamin C and thus supports the immune system. In addition, arugula contains folic acid, other B vitamins, plenty of beta-carotene as well as potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium. The bitterness of this vegetable induces the rapid onset of salivary and digestive juices. The feeling of satiety is thus accelerated and we feel full faster, preventing cravings.

Rhubarb

Although many of us think of rhubarb as a fruit and use the stems similar to other fruits such as in a jam, compote, chutney or in cake, rhubarb is considered a vegetable.

Rhubarb is incredibly healthy and fits perfectly with Metabolic Balance. It contains large amounts of vitamin K and C, potassium, and calcium. This vegetable is also packed full of malic acids, various glycosides, tannins, essential oils and pectin which can be soothing for the intestine. Rhubarb is perfect for “internal cleansing”. The contained anthraquinones strongly stimulate the digestive system and have a laxative effect.

Leeks

You might be surprised to know that leeks are actually a member of the lily family! Leeks are a typical winter vegetable that have a light green color and are a milder and sweeter version of an onion. They contain vitamins B1 and C, and are abundant in iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Leeks are good for digestion, help stimulate the liver and gall bladder, and have been shown to lower blood sugar. Along with being very healthy, leeks are also an extremely versatile ingredient that can be used in many different dishes. You can slice it thinly and eat it raw or cook it and use it in a frittata, creamy soup, or pasta dish.