SolveYourProblem Article Series: Raw Food Diet
What Are The Benefits Of The Raw Food Diet?

     

What are the Dangers of a Raw Food Diet?

A raw foods diet is probably one of the healthiest diets that a person can follow, but like all restrictive diets, it has its dangers. In this article we will consider some of those dangers and how to avoid them.

Salmonella And Other Bacterial Diseases

It is unfortunately true that raw food is more likely to carry bacteria such as salmonella, that can cause serious food poisoning. Salmonella is most often found in raw meats, eggs and dairy products. Cooking destroys it, as does pasteurization - a process which involves heating to high temperatures, which is done on most commercially sold dairy products and fruit juices, among other foods.

Some of these bacteria are more dangerous for unborn infants in the womb than for adults. Therefore, you might want to reconsider following a raw foods diet if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

You can avoid most risk of food poisoning on a raw foods diet by following the raw vegan version which avoids all of these foods. However, that has its own challenges - see the section on vitamin B12 below.

There have been cases of salmonella traced to other raw foods such as lettuce. Thorough washing can help, but in any case, this is a risk that applies to virtually everybody, so don't let the cooked food fans scare you with this one. There are very few people who eat no raw food at all.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Vitamin B12

It is important to make sure that you are getting the full range of vitamins and minerals on a raw foods diet. You need to consider whether you are getting enough calcium, iron (especially for women of childbearing age), zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

There are raw foods that can supply these nutrients and you will need to ensure that they are included in your diet. Having a wide variety of nuts and seeds will help to ensure that you get enough minerals, for example. Ground flax seeds can provide essential fatty acids.

The need for vitamin B12 is something that anybody following a raw vegan diet needs to be aware of. It is not an issue for those on a diet that includes raw meat or dairy products.

B12 is an important nutrient: without it, we will eventually suffer brain damage as well as other serious health problems. The human body does produce B12 but not in a way that allows us to use our own. For example, it is found in breast milk and other human secretions. But unless we happen to be consuming quantities of these, we need to get B12 from another source, and there is no vegetable source.

This means either consuming animal products or taking a supplement. Animal products are not vegan, and supplements are not raw. So B12 can be an issue for people who want to follow a 100% raw vegan diet.

However, the body does store B12. So some people, who have eaten plenty of animal products up to now and are not considering being vegan for more than a year or two, hope that they may have enough B12 to see them through. If you decide to take this risk, you should at least be tested for B12 levels before you start a vegan raw foods diet, and then annually.

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