3 Health Risks of the Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet claims that by consuming uncooked food, people can benefit their health. The premise behind this diet is that raw food has higher nutritional value than cooked food, cooked food has toxins, cooking food destroys nutrients, cooking destroys digestive enzymes, and raw food slows aging because of the antioxidants in raw fruits and vegetables.  

Critics who oppose the raw food diet say that the risks outweigh the perceived benefits of adapting to this diet in full. They also cite that some claims of the diet are not true, which means one can put herself at an unnecessary risk for a nonexistent belief. Claims like the drinking of unpasteurized milk because of antibodies have already been debunked by the US FDA. Contrary to the raw food advocate’s belief, not all antioxidants are destroyed in cooking. A classic example is the antioxidant count in tomatoes, which is increased in the cooking process.

The more widely known health risks involved when one follows the raw food advocacy are as follows:

1. Food Poisoning

Many harmful bacteria is killed by the steady application of heat in cooking. Studies have already shown the direct correlation between the two. The higher intake of raw food increases the risk of food poisoning. A classic case of potential food poisoning exposure was the E. coli contamination of tomatoes. Consumers of raw meat are put at great risk of gastroenteritis. Consumers of raw eggs, shellfish and raw milk are also at risk of food poisoning when they follow the raw food diet. In the raw state, salmonella will also be an issue for most meat products.

2. Parasite Infestation

While raw food advocates support the flourishing of bacteria as a way to improve the overall health status of the body, they should also be aware that not cooking the meat means that potential parasites can survive. Parasites can infest the meat with their eggs and transfer these to the dieter. These parasites will compete for the nutrients in the body and pose as a problem for the dieter.

3. Nutritional Deficiencies

The purpose of cooking is to tenderize food, break down some nearly indigestible fiber content, and make some nutrients more biologically available. The raw food diet simply robs the dieter of that opportunity. Cooking also destroys some anti-nutrient factors in the food, thus, it releases more nutrients. As an example, a raw food diet may be deficient in nutrients like vitamin D and calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, iron and protein. The nutrient profile is incomplete in that it is generally not recommended for children, whose intake of essential fatty acids may be greatly affected by a raw food diet. Women under 45 might also be at risk of amenorrhoea, or the disappearance of the menstrual cycle, if they follow this diet.     

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