Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Should You Eat Raw?

Raw food diets are gaining in popularity. One such example is the 80-10-10 Diet, in which the goal is to get 80% of your calories from carbohydrates--primarily raw fruit--and 10% each from raw, plant-based protein and fat. While I am all for people eating more produce and no processed foods, I don't think this plan quite hits the nail on the head.

In this diet, you eat a lot of sugar. It's all from fruit, but it's still sugar. If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, this could be a problem. If you want to eat more raw foods, eat loads of veggies but stick to no more than 4 servings of fruit a day.

I've posted before on vegan protein sources. See Where Do You Get Your Protein. While I do believe that the low-carb, high protein trend is also unhealthful, I also think that cutting back too far on protein, especially if you exercise daily, is also a bad idea. Protein is important for regulating appetite, maintaining lean muscle mass, tissue repair, and healthy brain function. Losing weight on a diet like the 80-10-10 plan, especially if you are over 50, could mean you are losing muscle. 

Finally, let's address fat. Fat used to be a bad word, but now we know that the right kinds of fats are very important for good health. Fat helps slow down the absorption of sugars, thereby stabilizing blood glucose levels and providing a steady supply of energy and tempering appetite. Without enough fat, important fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamins A, D, E and K cannot be absorbed. Did you know your brain is made up mostly of water and fat?

Also, some foods’ nutrients are better absorbed if they are cooked slightly. Here is an example using spinach:
Raw spinach is  rich in many essential nutrients, some of which are more available to our bodies when we consume them raw. These nutrients include folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium.
When you eat spinach that has been heated, you will absorb higher levels of vitamins A and E, protein, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium, and iron. Important carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, also become more absorbable. 

The 80-10-10 diet also eliminates all legumes and grains (as well as meat and dairy). While I do not usually eat meat and dairy, I do eat a lot of legumes and a moderate amount of grains. This is where my complete proteins come from. I would be worried about someone becoming deficient in important nutrients like B vitamins, proteins and healthy fats on this plan. 

I strive to eat at least 50% raw food each day. Sometimes is a little less, sometimes much more. I think eating 80-10-10 is OK for a day or two at a time, but as a lifestyle, it is too extreme. 

That being said, here is a tasty raw food recipe for you. Try it for breakfast or an afternoon snack! 

Blueberry Cereal

1 cup of Blueberries 
2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp crushed almonds or walnuts
1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
1Tbsp crushed Flax seed

Pour fresh non-dairy milk over all. (By the way, I soak all of my nuts)

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