Raw foodism is a dietary philosophy which focuses on eating only raw foods, or a higher percentage of such foods, depending on one's approach. Many raw foodists also believe that their food should be minimally processed and organic, and additionally, many pursue a vegan raw food diet, eating food which is exclusively of plant origin. There are many branches of raw foodism, all with slightly different approaches, from fruitarianism to gourmet raw foodism.
Adherents of the raw foods diet believe that heating food destroys the enzymes of the food, making it less nutritionally valuable. Many claim that raw foods are digested more efficiently by the body, allowing raw foodists to dramatically restrict their caloric intake because they believe that the calories are utilized more efficiently. A number of claims are made about the raw foods diet, which is also known as the living foods diet, with adherents suggesting that it improves your health and stimulates weight loss.
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Raw vegans eat a wide assortment of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and seaweeds. Many do not cut out cooked foods entirely, focusing instead on increasing the percentage of their diet which consists of raw food. A 75% raw diet is common. Other raw foodists may also eat raw dairy products and some raw meats. In most cases, cultured foods are considered acceptable, and some raw foodists use tools like dehydrators to expand their range of options. In gourmet raw foodism, the food is far from minimally processed, with cooks using blenders, juicers, and a wide variety of equipment in their recipes.
People who believe in raw foodism often believe that eating organic foods is also very important, because they want to live in a way which is not harmful to the environment, and they would like to avoid ingesting pesticides and other substances used in commercial agriculture. Because many associate raw foodism with a healthy lifestyle, some also practice yoga and other disciplines which are designed to stimulate mind and body.
Raw foodists can attend raw food retreats around the world, often in exotic locations, and they can also attend raw “uncooking” schools and eat at raw restaurants. A number of authors have published raw food cookbooks, and raw foodists can also be seen on instructional videos which teach the fundamentals of raw foodism. It is also possible to attend conferences which cover a wide range of issues of interest to the raw food community.
However, there are some concerns about the raw foods diet. As it turns out, many of the touted enzymes in raw food are destroyed in the gastric juices of the stomach, and people who stick exclusively to raw foods run the risk of malnutrition. Many of the useful compounds in food are also only released through cooking, and some perfectly edible foods are actually toxic when raw. For people who are inexperienced, a raw foods diet can be extremely dangerous. Integrating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is certainly something to be lauded, but it is a good idea to consult a doctor or nutritionist before going 100% raw.