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Demystifying the Raw Food Lifestyle
by Sofie Sabeti
Amidst the ever-changing sea of fad diets popularized by the mass media, in the magazines at your local grocery store, by the fellow in your neighboring cubicle, or even by the gal getting a pedicure next to you at your regular nail salon, it is easy to become overwhelmed and confused by the multitude of diet crazes that seem to be popping up daily. HCG, Atkins, South Beach, the Blood type diet, just to name a few.
Not unlike the mainstream culture, the fitness industry is also susceptible to similar types of confusion when it comes to which diet or lifestyle to follow. Depending on an individual’s specific area of training, one might encounter vastly different approaches to diet. Many Bodybuilders follow a high protein low-carb ketogenic or carb-cycling diet, while endurance athletes embrace a higher carb approach to
eating to fuel their, and Crossfit enthusiasts promote Paleo or Primal eating.
Now add to that list another fast-emerging movement that is creating buzz in various circles across the health and fitness community. Enter, the Raw foods diet and lifestyle. Followers of the movement often refer to themselves as “raw foodies,” and either take a vegetarian, vegan, or sometimes flesh-food approach to eating (which is quite similar to their Paleo peers). There are also several schools of thought within the sub-sectors of the community itself, of which the two most prominent are the high fat proponents and the low fat, high carb fruitarians, however, there are several basic guidelines that each varying route follows.
First, what determines whether or not a food is raw? Most agree
that for a food to be in its raw and natural form, thereby obtaining the most benefit to the body, it should not be heated above 105- 118 degrees F, above which it is believed valuable nutrients and enzymes are destroyed or lost.
Another point of agreement is on fact that raw foods contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and are teeming with enzymes, which are considered the “life-force” of the body. Enzymes carry out nearly every single reaction that occurs in our body from vitals like digestion and breathing, to athletic efforts such as squats, cleans, hurdles, or any other action in the weight room or during your physical activities. They are essential for life, and the more enzymes you have working for you, the more energized you will feel and more fuel you will have to perform the athletic pursuits you love. Since raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are full of these enzymes,
The raw food diet can actually be a lot more creative and lot less limited than one may think.
they are more easily digested and absorbed into the body and are considered “living foods,” since they provide lasting energy and vitality throughout the day when consumed.
Although this is just brimming the surface, the raw food movement is more than just a diet, it is a lifestyle, as it encompasses nearly every aspect of one’s life, influencing an individual’s relationship with the planet, with people, and within themselves.
So what does a raw food diet look like? Do these “raw foodies” just eat salads all day long, you may ask? The raw food diet can actually be a lot more creative and a lot less limited than one may think. It includes vegetables, nuts, seeds, lots of dark, leafy greens, sprouted legumes, sprouted grains, vegetable sprouts (such as alfalfa, broccoli, etc), mushrooms, sea vegetables, fermented foods like miso or sauerkraut, oils, spices, superfoods such as spirulina, chlorella, chia, goji berries, and maca, and an endless amount of combinations and culinary possibilities. Some raw foodists even include raw goat milk, grass-fed meat, etc. The simplest approach requires merely a couple good knives, a blender and possibly a food
processor, while more gourmet adaptations use dehydrators to create delicious creations that rival dishes you’d find at any fine-dining establishment. The basis of one’s diet could consist of delicious green smoothies, elaborate salads, blended soups, nut cheeses, hummus, raw “stir fry’s” of veggies and kelp or zucchini noodles, raw-sagna or manicotti, grawnola, and mouth-watering raw desserts such as cashew cheesecake in any flavor imaginable.
Some of the benefits one can reap from adapting a high raw diet include, but are not limited to:
•Increased energy and stamina
•More restful and less need for sleep
•Better digestion and elimination
•Maintenance of ideal weight
•Increased athletic performance increase of oxygen content of blood and delivery to cells
•Decrease in inflammation & recovery time post workouts
•Clearer skin and stronger hair & nails
•Increased positive outlook on life and greater spiritual awareness
•Clearer mind and less bouts of “mental fog”
•Overall better health!