A raw vegan diet is one that consists of uncooked plant foods or foods cooked at temperatures below 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius), including everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to nuts and seeds, sprouted legumes, and dehydrated crackers.
While some people choose this way of eating for religious reasons or as part of their spiritual practices, others choose it because they think it’s healthier than other forms of eating, such as processed foods or even cooked vegetables and grains.
But does a raw vegan diet really have the health benefits some claim? Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about trying it out yourself.
What Is A Vegan Diet?
A vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet that consists of plant-based foods only. This means that any food made from animals, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs, is off-limits.
Vegans also avoid using any products that are made from animals, such as leather and fur. They also avoid any products that have been tried or tested on animals.
For most people, the goal of a vegan diet is to reduce the amount of animal suffering and promote a more sustainable way of eating. But overall, a vegan diet can be healthy and nutritious when done correctly.
Pros Of A Raw Vegan Diet
1. Improved Heart Health
There are many benefits to eating a raw vegan diet, including improved heart health. This diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, which are packed with nutrients that promote heart health. These include antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats.
Studies have shown that a raw vegan diet can help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, two risk factors for heart disease. According to observational studies, vegans have about 75 percent reduced risk of developing high blood pressure and a 42 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease.
In addition, eating a raw vegan diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, another important factor in protecting your heart.
2. Reduced Risk Of Developing Diabetes
A raw vegan diet can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. This is because raw vegan diets are typically low in sugar and refined carbs, leading to spikes in blood sugar levels.
Raw vegan diets are also high in fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. In addition, raw vegan diets often include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables packed with nutrients that can help prevent diabetes.
This diet may even reverse Type 2 Diabetes. Studies have shown that some people have reversed their type 2 diabetes by going on a plant-based diet.
Many other studies show promising results too, including one study from Germany where participants lost weight, saw improvements in their cholesterol levels, and lowered their hemoglobin A1C numbers (a measure of long-term glucose control).
Another study from Australia found that a vegan diet helped improve insulin sensitivity, leading to better management of diabetes symptoms.
2. Better Sleep
There are many reasons why a raw vegan diet promotes better sleep. For one thing, it is rich in nutrients that are known to promote sleep, such as magnesium and tryptophan. Magnesium is a mineral that can relax the body and promote sleep.
At the same time, tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that promotes the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone that also regulates your wake-sleep cycle.
3. Increased Energy Levels
A raw vegan diet can help increase your energy levels for several reasons:
a. It is a very clean form of eating. You are not consuming any processed foods that can tax your system
b. You are getting a lot of nutrients from the fresh fruits and vegetables that you are eating. These nutrients are easily absorbed by your body and used for energy
c. A raw vegan diet is typically high in fiber. This helps keep your digestion moving smoothly, which also contributes to increased energy levels
d. Ditching processed and refined foods in favor of raw vegan options can also help increase your energy levels by reducing inflammation and promoting better blood sugar control.
4. Weight Loss
When it comes to weight loss, you can’t go wrong with a raw vegan diet, and here’s why
a. By eliminating processed foods, you’re automatically cutting out a lot of unhealthy, high-calorie options.
b. Since raw fruits and vegetables are generally lower in calories, you’ll be consuming fewer calories overall.
c. The high fiber content of a raw vegan diet can help keep you feeling full and satisfied after meals, so you’re less likely to snack or overeat.
d. Raw food contains more water and thus will make you feel fuller quicker.
e. A raw vegan diet can boost your metabolism. This means that your body will be better able to burn off the calories you consume, leading to even more weight loss.
5. Healthy Skin
A raw vegan diet can be great for your skin! By eating raw fruits and vegetables, you are getting lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help nourish and revitalize your skin in various ways, including:
Fighting inflammation. Raw vegan foods are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can help reduce the inflammation that leads to skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. In addition, processed foods and animal products like dairy are highly inflammatory and have been associated with various inflammatory skin conditions.
Improving skin hydration. When you consume raw fruits and vegetables, your body can absorb the water they contain better. This helps keep your skin cells hydrated, resulting in softer, smoother skin.
Promoting collagen production. Collagen is a protein that helps keep the skin looking plump and youthful. When you produce collagen, your skin becomes more elastic and less likely to develop wrinkles. A raw vegan diet is rich in antioxidants and vitamins like vitamin C that support collagen production, making it an ideal choice for those wanting to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin.
Prevent free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells, and they have been linked to the development of wrinkles and other signs of aging. A raw vegan diet is rich in antioxidants, which are substances that can disarm these elements. This means that a raw vegan diet can help keep the skin looking young and healthy.
6. Better Mood
A raw vegan diet is rich in nutrients that support mental health and wellbeing. This means that you are less likely to experience the fatigue and brain fog that can come from nutrient deficiencies.
Additionally, a raw vegan diet is high in fiber, which has been shown to promote gut health and a healthy gut has been linked to better mental health.
Finally, this type of diet is also low in sugar, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels. This can reduce mood swings and provide more consistent energy levels throughout the day.
7. Improves Digestion
A raw vegan diet improves digestion because it is high in fiber. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system healthy and functioning. This fiber also helps feed the good gut bacteria, which further boosts digestive health while improving your overall immune system.
Cons Of A Raw Vegan Diet
Vitamin D Deficiency
A raw vegan diet may lack various essential nutrients, one of which is vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for strong bones. Without enough vitamin D, vegans are at risk of developing osteoporosis. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children.
The sun is the easiest and the best source of vitamin D; however, not everyone receives enough to meet their recommendations. So, including a raw vegan diet may make the situation worse.
Another reason for vitamin D deficiency is that this nutrient is mostly found in animal products like eggs and dairy.
Also, our bodies need fat to absorb Vitamin D. Raw vegans tend to consume less fat than other people, which means they’re not getting enough of this essential nutrient.
So if you are considering a raw vegan diet and don’t receive enough sun exposure, you need a good quality vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
In one study, all participants following a raw vegan diet took less than the recommended (2.4mcg) daily vitamin B12
This vitamin is essential for the nervous system and for the formation of red blood cells. Without enough Vitamin B12, a person can experience fatigue, weakness, anemia, and nerve damage.
But like any plant-based diet, a raw vegan diet can cause vitamin B12 deficiency because this vitamin is found mostly in animal products. While you can get small amounts of Vitamin B12 from plant-based foods, it’s not enough to meet the body’s needs.
If you’re considering a raw vegan diet, make sure to supplement with Vitamin B12 or eat foods that are fortified with this vitamin.
You May Miss Out On Important Antioxidants
Cooking helps get through the tough fibers and cellular walls of plants, allowing the release of nutrients that could otherwise be difficult to obtain by just eating the food raw.
This is especially practical in carrots; they are very high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant for healthy eyes, a strong immune system, and healthy skin. This nutrient is, however, easily released and absorbed in the body when carrots are cooked rather than raw.
Another good example is tomatoes. Tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene provides many benefits, including protecting against sun damage, increasing heart health, and preventing cancer. Lycopene is best obtained and absorbed when cooked rather than when eaten raw.
They Are Rich In Anti-Nutrients
Many raw vegan foods contain antinutrients that can be toxic to humans. Antinutrients are substances that inhibit the absorption of nutrients.
Phytic acid is one type of antinutrient found in raw vegan foods. It binds to minerals such as iron and zinc, making them unavailable for absorption. This can lead to deficiencies in these essential nutrients.
Another type of antinutrient found in raw vegan foods is oxalate. Oxalates bind with calcium and form crystals in the kidneys. When kidney stones form from oxalates, they cause intense pain, nausea, vomiting, and even blood in the urine.
Oxalates also bind with magnesium, making it unavailable for absorption, leading to another deficiency problem.
As seen above, a raw vegan diet tends to be low in both calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for building strong bones, while vitamin D promotes calcium absorption. In one study, participants on a raw plant-based diet for more than three years had a lower mineral content and density than the control group.
Excessive Weight Loss
A raw vegan diet can cause too much weight loss for some people. This is because the diet is deficient in calories and fat. When you don’t have enough calories, your body starts to break down muscles for energy. This can lead to severe weight loss and malnutrition. If you’re considering a raw vegan diet, speak with a doctor or nutritionist first to ensure it’s right for you.
You May Be At Risk Of Foodborne Illnesses
If you’re eating a raw vegan diet, you’re likely consuming a lot of uncooked fruits and vegetables. While these foods are generally healthy, they can also be dangerous if they’re not properly washed.
Raw fruits and vegetables can harbor bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella.
Additionally, you can easily transfer bacteria from not so well washed produce to other foods.
That being said, other vitamins like vitamin C can be lost through cooking, so it’s only wise that you understand the nutrients in different foods and how you can combine both cooking and eating raw to your advantage.
A raw vegan diet has many health benefits, and studies have shown that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other life-threatening conditions.
In addition to the health benefits, many people who have tried eating a raw vegan diet say they feel more energetic than ever before and enjoy the feeling of greater mental clarity.
However, this way of eating has some concerns that are worth thinking about: If not done properly, a raw vegan diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, weaken your bones, and cause you to lose too much weight.
So, working with a nutritionist or anyone who understands how to create a balance while on a raw plant-based diet is important.
Nonetheless, if you’re flexible enough to sneak in some cooked foods, it’s much easier to attain all your nutritional needs.’
Other Related Articles
- Vegan Pantry Staples
- Is A Plant-Based Diet The Healthiest?
- The Best Vegan Protein Sources
- How To Transition To A Plant-Based Diet?
- Difference Between A Vegan Diet And A Vegetarian Diet
Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.
Fortunately, because of the Ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families.