A diet of raw foods is practiced widely in different parts of the world. In the United States, a number of people go on a raw food diet in order to lose weight and become healthier. Although a raw food diet offers a number of benefits to one’s health, there are also some concerns regarding this type of diet.
The Risk of Nutritional Deficiency
Eating only raw foods can lead one to be deficient in certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron and vitamin B12. A study done on dieters who eat only raw foods showed an increased level of homocysteine and a decreased level of HDL cholesterol, which is a result of an deficiency of vitamin B12. Cooking tenderizes food and breaks down indigestible fibers. Eating food raw means that the body will not obtain this benefit.
People who are already underweight, or have eating disorders, should consult the doctor first before going on this type of diet. For women, there might be instances where amenorrhea (loss of menstrual period) can occur. Also, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia should be cautious about going on a raw food diet, as overdoing it might lead to a worsening of the condition.
There are people who experience mild headaches, cravings and nausea a few days after starting a diet of raw foods. These are some reactions from detoxification by raw foods and are commonly experienced by people who used to eat a lot of meat, caffeine or sugar.
The Possibility of Bacterial Infection
Because the food has not been cooked, bacteria that may be present in it might infect the body. Common bacteria contaminants like E.coli, Salmonella or Listeria can easily infect the body and cause serious cases of food poisoning. There is a higher possibility of food poisoning in raw foods than in cooked ones. Also, consumers who eat raw meat might develop gastroenteritis, with the mentioned bacteria contaminating these raw meats.
In order to avoid this, food must be thoroughly cleaned in order to eliminate any bacteria that might be present.
Possible Infestation of Parasites
Eating raw foods can possibly lead to parasites infesting the body. Not cooking meat means that parasites that may be present in it will continue to survive. Once a parasite infested food is consumed, these parasites, and its eggs, will transfer to the person’s body. These parasites will then compete with the system for nutrients, which may eventually lead to a nutrient deficiency for the person.