It seems that Americans will do anything to lose weight, whether it’s giving up sugar, fats, carbohydrates, meats or … well, everything! A brand new diet trend asks us to take nearly every food we normally eat out of our diets. Then, it goes a step further- everything you eat has to be raw.
The Raw Diet, also known as the Garden Diet, is a raw-vegan diet. That is, followers cannot eat meat or dairy. Unprocessed, preferably organic, whole plant-based foods make up the diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, legumes, dried fruits, seaweeds, sun-dried fruits, other organic or natural foods which have not been processed, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and purified water are the staples.
Reported raw food dieters Demi Moore, Alicia Silverstone, and Woody Harrelson are front-runners of the new trend. And surprisingly, there are already about 20 raw food restaurants in the United States, including one five-star restaurant, Roxanne’s in Lakespur, California.
So why are people willing to restrict their diets so much? According to www.thegardendiet.com, a web site devoted to advocating a raw food diet, food loses important enzymes and nutrients when it reaches between 105 and 118 degrees. To compensate for the lost vitamins and minerals, people tend to overeat. Because the enzymes in raw food make it easier to digest, when we consume cooked food our bodies must work harder in order to produce extra digestive enzymes to break down the food. This is why we feel so tired after a big meal.
“Everything you need can be derived from this food. This was here first. We’ve lived on this food since the Garden of Eden,” says Juliano Brotman, a raw food restaurant owner. “I can’t get sick, can’t get a cold or a sore throat. I experience no tiredness. I’m like superhuman”, she says.
Besides weight-loss, supporters of the raw diet believe it has many other significant health benefits. Followers attribute the diet with helping them in battling and preventing cancer, overcoming depression, acne, and chronic fatigue.
Nevertheless, some nutritionists are concerned that the restrictive nature of the diet might limit nutrient intake. “People often think that fruit and vegetables are better for you if they are raw,” Dr. Sarah Schenker of the Nutrition Scientist at the British Nutrition Foundationsays. “However, research has shown that some of the phytochemicals present are more easily absorbed by the body when the vegetable has been cooked or processed, for example, lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids in carrots.”
Healthy or not, the trend is undeniable. More and more people are adopting raw food diets as a way of life. Many people are starting to realize, whether they follow the raw diet or others, in order to be healthy, you have to lead a healthy lifestyle. “All you have to do is change your addictions, and you're a healthy person," Brotman says.