Much has been written about the health benefits of following a raw food diet. A diet based primarily on fruits and vegetables is nutritionally dense, relatively low-calorie, high in fibre… What’s the down-side?
If you were to ask anyone from the local dairy association, it would clearly be ‘but humans NEED to drink milk, to have strong teeth and bones’. If you look at the food-guide / food-pyramid… put out by most nations, meat and dairy play a significant role in ‘healthy eating’. So – what’s the truth? Here are some websites (fairly reputable) that discuss the question.
WebMD – Raw Foods Diet says “there are drawbacks. You have to make sure you’re getting enough protein, iron, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals like B12”
LiveStrong.com – Dangers of a Raw Food Diet says “eating primarily raw foods may pose risks, including nutrient deficiencies and potentially serious illnesses”
Dr Fuhrman – Raw vs Cooked? says “frequent fungal skin and nail infections, poor dentition, hair loss and muscular wasting are common on such fruit-based diets”
LiveScience.com – 5 Risks of Raw Vegan Diet says “The most apparent problems are nutritional deficiencies, particularly for vitamins B12 and D, selenium, zinc, iron and two omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA”
BodyEnlightenment.me – 3 Deficiencies You Can Develop on the Raw Food Diet says “it is good to have a health ‘check-in’ from time to time. The fact is there are actually a few deficiencies that could develop on a raw, vegan diet if you aren’t aware of them”
Raw Food SOS – RAW GONE WRONG: WHEN THE HONEYMOON IS OVER writes about “Intermittent fatigue, dental woes, hair loss, concentration problems, and some not-so-happy blood test results”
The Journal of Nutrition says “Little information is available on the long-term effects of raw food diets on lipid profiles, vitamin B-12 status, and homocysteine concentrations, or on the effect of the degree of strictness of these diets on the respective nutritional variables”
That said, near as I can figure almost anything written about the dangers of a raw food diet seem to compare it to eating the ‘perfect’ diet, which is rich in all nutrients and contains no unhealthy foods. If they were to compare it, on the other hand, to the Standard American Diet (SAD), rich in Big Macs, french fries, and Coke, I believe that the raw food diet would fare very well indeed.
Should raw-foodists take care to ensure that they’re consuming a varied diet that contains all of the (micro)nutrients needed for them to thrive? Certainly. Should non-raw-foodists do the same? Yes.