A raw food diet may sound appealing, especially if you don’t have time to cook healthy delicious meals. You may also have come across studies like this one, which concluded that eating raw fruits, veggies and nuts lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Many people are also under the impression that all raw foods contain more nutrients. While that may be true for some foods, cooking actually increases the bioavailability of nutrients in some foods. For instance, these vegetables are healthier when cooked.
It’s okay to eat raw sometimes, but a diet with more than 70 percent raw food may do more harm than good. Here are the reasons you should avoid a raw food diet.
1. Irregular Periods
This may sound surprising, but a raw food diet can affect your menstrual cycle. One study found that 70 percent of women on a raw vegan diet experienced irregular periods. Even worse, a third of them had complete amenorrhea, which means they stopped menstruating completely.
Researchers suspect that the low calories in raw food diets may be a contributing factor to the irregular menstrual cycles.
2. Nutritional Deficiencies
This may sound ironic, considering that many people assume that raw foods offer more nutrients. However, your diet may lack essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12.
This study found that no participant on a raw vegan diet got enough vitamin B12 in their diet. Being deficient of this vitamin can cause anemia, heart disease, poor bone health, and infertility.
3. Food Safety
Cooking food makes it safer, especially meat. Raw meat and poultry contain bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or even death.
Sometimes the effects of eating raw food are almost immediate. A man in South Korea suffered a fever and excruciating pain on his left hand just hours after eating raw seafood. Doctors had to amputate his arm a few days later.
4. Weaker Bones
Most raw food diets tend to be low in calcium and vitamin D, which help strengthen bones. That’s why this study found that people on a raw vegetarian diet had lower bone mineral content and density compared to participants following a cooked diet.
If you thought that eating raw doesn’t require any preparation, think again. Preparing raw foods involves sprouting, blending, dehydrating, soaking and fermenting. These tasks can be time-consuming and difficult for busy people.
A few years ago, vegans had a hard time eating out, but that’s not the case anymore. Many restaurants serve vegan meals. Unfortunately, raw food dieters will have to wait for a few more years before raw food meals become a norm in restaurants.
7. Digestive Problems
Raw food tends to be harder to digest. People with sensitive stomachs may struggle with indigestion, gas and bloating, food allergies, and loose stool while on a raw food diet.