Raw veganism is a diet that involves consumption of plant-based foods in their raw state. It has become quite popular in recent years, but the associated risks may not be that impressive. This whole idea of a raw vegan diet stems from the belief that foods are purest and most nutritious while they are raw. Going vegan may be fine, but an all-raw diet can have serious health implications. Cooking supposedly destroys the nutrients or in other words, cooking is likened to the killing of food. It is advised not to heat the raw food beyond a certain temperature, usually around 48 C. Risks of a raw vegan diet generally outweighs its little benefits. In the long run, this type of diet can lead to greater health problems. Here are some common risks of raw vegan diet.
1. Weakened Digestive System
The digestive system faces a hard time digesting raw vegetables and plant-based foods. Unlike some herbivorous animals, human beings lack the gastrointestinal strength to efficiently break down tough cellulose and fibrous structures in plants.
A raw vegan diet can greatly weaken the digestive system and cause problems such as bloating and indigestion. A weakened digestive system also means reduced assimilation of nutrients.
2. Nutritional Deficiency
Nutritional deficiency is a very common and obvious outcome of a raw vegan diet. Since this diet consists of plant foods, there can be a severe lack of essential nutrients such as iron, protein and vitamin B12. People who go vegan may need nutritional supplements to avoid deficiency.
3. Possible Thyroid Problems
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens contain goitrogens. Goitrogens are basically substances that can inhibit the normal function of the thyroid gland. This can lead to goiter, hypothyroidism and other thyroid related issues.
Heat can deactivate goitrogens, and so cooking helps deactivating goitrogens found in many vegetables.
4. Reduced Absorption of Nutrients
Cooking indeed destroys or reduces nutrients in some foods, but it also increases the bioavailability of nutrients in many foods. Cooking helps loosen the tough vegetable fibres, which otherwise block much of the stored vitamins and minerals.
The bioavailability of nutrients such as lycopene (from tomatoes) and beta carotene (from carrots) is greatly enhanced by cooking. With raw vegetables, a good amount of nutrients is likely to remain unavailable for the body to absorb.
5. Energy Loss and Fatigue
A raw vegan diet greatly limits the choices of foods, particularly the energy-giving carbohydrates. So, what all can vegans eat raw for energy? People taking such diets generally rely on nuts and fruits to get the required energy.
Nuts have high fat content and may not be healthy when consumed in excess. Similarly, the acids and sugar in fruits can promote tooth decay.
The energy spent in a tough digestion process leaves little left for use in other bodily functions. This can lead to feeling of weakness and fatigue. In the long-run, the person may become severely underweight.
6. Chances of Food Poisoning
Since there is little or no cooking, washing becomes very critical in case of a raw vegan diet. Vegetables should be thoroughly washed to properly eliminate harmful substances that may otherwise upset the stomach or cause food poisoning.
A raw vegan diet is not recommended for pregnant women, seniors, young children and people with weak immune system or certain chronic disorders.
7. Enzyme Misconception
Enzymes present in raw vegetables do get destroyed during cooking. However, our body produces its own enzymes to facilitate breaking down of food. Moreover, most of the plant enzymes are destroyed by the acids in the gastrointestinal tract.
8. Planning and Preparation
Taking on a journey of raw vegan diet demands thorough planning and preparation. It can greatly save your cooking fuel and oven, but it brings new challenges. A raw vegan diet plan is important to make the most out of your limited choices.
In order to make raw foods more palatable, you may want to get kitchen appliances such as blenders, juicers and dehydrators, which can be pretty expensive. Organic fruits and vegetables also generally priced higher than normal. Blending and juicing to make smoothies and other vegan desserts requires greater time, effort and care.
These were some risks associated with a raw vegan diet. This type of diet can help in weight loss, but in a very unhealthy manner. Some foods are best eaten raw, while others are best when cooked just right, i.e. not overcooked. A combination of properly cooked and fresh raw foods offers you the best of both worlds, and is the ideal way to go for a great health.