In the quest of better health and possible “easy” weight loss, people often turn to strange things. There are the one food diets where you eat the same thing over and over again. There are the liquid diets, the shake diets and even the diet where you eat more than your fill of meat. And then there is the raw food diet, a vegan diet that focuses on eating foods as minimally processed as possible usually without any cooking. Some foods on this plan are heated to about 140 degrees (F) but no higher because the followers think it destroys the nutrients. While it does have a lot of positives there are drawbacks. Here are some of the dangers of a raw food diet that you definitely should be aware of before you start one of your own.Are You Getting Enough Calories?
One of the most obvious problems with the raw food diet might be getting enough calories. Yes, fewer calories might be good if you are trying to lose a little bit of weight, but if your calorie count is too low, it is not going to be beneficial in any way. The body needs a minimum number of calories per day just to function and maintain itself no matter what your current weight is. If your count falls dramatically below that level the body will not only stop burning fat for fuel it may also shut down systems that it deems “not critical”. You are not only harming your health you are also possibly ruining your metabolism in the process.
Signs that you are not getting enough calories can include:
- Inability to get or stay warm.
- Extreme fatigue
- Cramping in the stomach.
- Muscle weakness or aches.
- Dull headaches
It is important when you first start a raw food diet that you know how many calories you should be eating and compare that to the number of calories that you are actually consuming. If there is a large gap you may have to consider supplements or different meal plans until you are able to meet your needs properly.
Vegetables Are Only as Healthy as How They Are Processed
The raw food diet plan focuses on things that are as close to nature as possible- unprocessed and served without cooking or other purifying methods. Some of the foods like sprouts and unprocessed grains have a higher risk of problems with contamination so they must be eaten with great care.
Other foods, like fruits and vegetables must be thoroughly and carefully washed to be sure that all traces of possible contaminants are removed. Remember, just because you are not eating meat or animal products does not protect you from food poisoning. Just a few years ago there were several deaths and many others became ill after eating bagged spinach so you must always use caution with all of the foods that you are eating.
Are You Getting all of the Proper Nutrients?
Raw foodists (as they sometimes like to be called) are at risk of some fairly serious deficiencies: Vitamin B12, Calcium and Vitamin D. While there are some plant sources of calcium that are considered superior to animal sources, there are some very limited options for Vitamin B12 in the raw food diet. One non-animal source is fortified cereal but most raw food dieters do not eat these because they are processed. Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 deficiency include the following:
- Decreased appetite
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in the hands and/or the feet
- Mouth soreness
- Balance problems
- Poor memory
- Mental confusion
Most people who are following a vegetarian, vegan or raw food diet can supplement either by taking oral vitamins, sublingual drops or by injection.
A deficiency in calcium and Vitamin D can lead to serious problems with loss of bone density which can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition marked by brittle bones which are susceptible to easy fractures. It is very important that anyone following a raw food diet be tested to ensure that they are at sufficient levels of these important nutrients and to supplement whenever their levels are too low.
Cholesterol Problems, From Raw…Really?
Although the diet is healthy overall, there is still the risk that the blood levels of high density lipids of HDL will be too low. HDL is the “good” cholesterol- it can be increased by increasing exercise, getting healthy fats and losing weight. When this level is too low the risk of heart disease is increased. Again, this should be something that is monitored by your doctor especially when you first make the switch to a raw food diet.
A New & Uncomfortable Problem, Digestion
A final problem that you might see with your new raw food diet is caused by the sudden increase in the amount of fiber you are getting. If you are focusing on getting fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and unprocessed grains then you are probably getting more than enough daily fiber.
The recommendation is 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day for adults- but you should always increase your amounts very slowly. Sudden and extreme increases can cause problems like excessive bloating or pain in the stomach, excess gas, constipation and in some cases may even lead to a blockage that will require hospital care. Add your fiber in slowly and be sure that you are not getting too much of a good thing in your diet.
So, as you can see there are many problems you can have when eating a seemingly healthy “raw” diet. At the end of the day, we all need balance in our diets and too much of one thing, regardless of what it is, is never good.
If you are a raw foodie, if you have tried a raw food diet, or if you have any questions about eating “raw”, I would love to hear it below within my comments.
Founder of HowToLoseBellyFatToday.com