In recent years, I have noticed an increasingly strong presence of raw diets (or raw food in English). The foods are available in various forms to try to consume everything without cooking. The promises are generally better energy, better digestion , a reduction in inflammatory phenomena… However, some people come out of these diets exhausted even though they were convinced that they had made the right choice for their health. So now is the time to take stock of raw food and no-cook food, exploring their advantages but also their potential dangers.
Raw foodism: foundations and benefits
Raw foodism was developed by the Swiss doctor and dietitian Bircher Benner in the 1930s. This concept was then taken up by Doctor Schnitzer in Germany. Raw foodism consists of consuming only raw products: fruits and vegetables of course, but also oilseeds, eggs, certain cheeses, sprouted seeds, etc. We also eliminate meats, flours and legumes .
One of the first advantages of raw eating is to preserve vitamins. Indeed, we know that cooking causes chemical reactions which cause vitamins and minerals to disappear. For example, it is estimated that cooking causes:
- from 40°C to 75°C: disappearance of enzymes
- from 60°C to 76°C: disappearance of vitamin C
- more than 95°C: disappearance of certain B group vitamins
- more than 100°C: precipitation of minerals and trace elements
- more than 110°C: oxidation of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
Vitamins are very sensitive to heat and in particular vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin B1. With raw eating, vitamins are preserved, just like trace elements. Magnesium, for example, acts as a co-factor in numerous enzymatic breakdowns in the body. Raw food therefore helps our body to digest food and assimilate nutrients.
So that our body can assimilate nutrients, it is absolutely necessary to chew well! Chewing is essential in any form of food but its importance is further reinforced with raw eating. In fact, chewing allows the food to be insalived by an enzyme: salivary amylase . The latter is responsible for the pre-digestion of 40% of carbohydrates. However, fruits and vegetables mainly contain carbohydrates. This is why salivary amylase must do its job before the digestion process begins.
The place for fruits and vegetables
As I told you previously, raw fruits and vegetables are among the easiest foods to prepare in raw eating. This therefore encourages us to increase our consumption of fruits and vegetables. As they are alkalizing, this fully meets the recommendations of the anti-inflammatory diet .
However, it is important to adapt your consumption of raw vegetables to your digestive capacities. To avoid intestinal disorders, let’s take a look at some explanations about fiber . Plants contain so-called “soluble” fibers and so-called “insoluble” fibers.
Soluble fibers are water soluble, meaning they become viscous when in contact with liquids. This makes it easier for residue to slide. Soluble fibers are present in citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruit, clementines), carrots, cabbage (Brussels sprouts, white cabbages, red cabbages, etc.), fennel, beets, black radish, turnips, etc.
Soluble fiber also increases the food intake. As a result, they slow down digestion, which allows for better absorption. In addition, they allow faster satiety.
Insoluble fibers , for their part, are found in the skin of fruits and vegetables, wheat bran, certain legumes (red beans, lentils , chickpeas, among others), whole grains, oilseeds (especially in their skin) , seeds, leaves and roots of plants. These fibers regulate blood sugar and cholesterol and have a beneficial effect in preventing colorectal cancer.
Whether soluble or insoluble, fiber is essential for the balance of our microbiota. Indeed, they are prebiotics , the food for our probiotics.
Regardless of the amount of fiber, the human digestive tract digests so- called soft raw vegetables (salad, cucumber, zucchini) more easily . While carrots, cabbage, beets, turnips are semi-hard raw vegetables and will be less easily digestible. Of course, these explanations remain general and our diet must adapt to our temperament and our constitution.
Depending on our digestive abilities, we can vary the way we consume vegetables. For example, by finely grating raw vegetables or mixing them into smoothies, veloutés or terrines. This allows you to vary the textures and flavors, but also to adapt to possible teething problems. This is particularly important for older people who tend to no longer consume raw vegetables .
The invasion of the cooked: the digestive leukocyte
When we eat cooked foods, our immune system reacts as if these foods were toxins. It considers these to be foreign bodies and triggers a process called digestive leukocyte. During this process, white blood cells rush to the site of invasion (the intestines) as soon as food enters the mouth. These white blood cells are therefore no longer available in the blood to fulfill their body defense function.
The Swiss doctor Paul Kouchakoff discovered that digestive leukocyte count did not occur when eating raw products. Indeed, cooking modifies the chemical structure of foods, which causes them to be recognized as foreign.
However, Dr. Kouchakoff also noticed that digestive leukocytes did not occur if the percentage of cooked food did not exceed 51%. This therefore gives us a glimpse of another healthy diet that is less strict than pure raw foodism. Doctor Kouchakoff and scientist Victor L. Arvanian based themselves on studies 1 demonstrating that the migration of white blood cells to the intestines was moderate with canned or homemade foods, thanks to the absence of oxygen. On the contrary, the digestive leukocyte becomes worrying with highly processed foods such as pre-packaged meats or industrial preparations.
Raw foodism and nutrient assimilation
We have already mentioned the potential digestive problems that raw eating can cause in certain people. However, raw foodism also poses assimilation difficulties that may seem counterintuitive. In particular, it is useful to take stock of protein assimilation.
Proteins in raw eating
Proteins are present in low proportions in plant foods. Generally speaking, fruits and vegetables contain 0.5g to 3g of protein per 100g. By comparison, 100g of egg provides around 13g of protein, 100g of chicken schnitzel around 30g, and yogurt around 8g.
In addition, plant proteins are more difficult for our body to assimilate. In fact, proteins are absorbed according to the limiting coefficient of the amino acids they contain. This is why we recommend consuming legumes with a starch because they do not have the same limiting amino acid.
But in the subject that concerns us today, that is to say raw foodism, it is not possible to consume raw starchy foods. And the consumption of sprouted legumes is generally low in quantity. We will therefore not be able to count on the protein contribution represented by legumes and starchy foods. Thus, a prolonged raw food diet without particular attention to proteins can lead to asthenia (general exhaustion) and weight loss.
Vitamins and minerals
In addition, raw eating is also a diet low in vitamin B12 and zinc . Indeed, foods rich in zinc are essentially of animal origin: oysters, shellfish, calf’s liver, etc. If we restrict ourselves to a strict raw-food diet, it is not possible to consume shellfish (apart from oysters and clams which are eaten raw), nor legumes which contain zinc. Sources of zinc will therefore be limited to wheat germ and pumpkin seeds, which is insufficient over a long period.
A similar problem appears with vitamin B12 . It is also mainly present in products of animal origin: liver, seafood, steak, canned sardines, cheese, etc. By depriving ourselves of these animal products, it is therefore impossible to meet our vitamin B12 needs. Supplementation is therefore essential.
Finally, it is useful to remember that cooking destroys the toxins present in certain foods, thus making them suitable for consumption. Cooking therefore has benefits that we can take advantage of without losing the advantages of raw eating. This is why I present to you in the rest of this article a more flexible diet which combines nutritional benefits (less deficit in proteins, zinc, vitamin B12, etc.) and daily practicality.
A more flexible alternative: no-cook food
I personally use no-cook food a lot, especially in summer. This diet is not based on a particular diet and does not exclude any food group. It is a simple, practical, varied and nutritional cuisine.
No-cook cooking involves using as many raw vegetables and fruits as possible. Unlike raw foodism, it uses raw products already cooked: small fish and legumes in particular.
The consumption of small fish (anchovies, mackerel, sardines, herring) is one of the pillars of the anti-inflammatory diet thanks to their richness in easily assimilated omega 3s. They are easy to eat canned in salads or rillettes for example.
I also use jars of chickpeas or dried beans to save time and prevent the kitchen from overheating in the summer. As long as you rinse them well, they are very healthy products that it would be a shame to do without.
The benefits of no-cook cooking
Cooking without cooking has the same advantages as raw eating, that is to say the preservation of nutrients and vitamins which are traditionally destroyed by high temperatures. However, alternatives can be used to “decook” foods, for example with lemon marinades. This allows the consumption of fish or meat carpaccio. They reinforce the protein intake which is sometimes deficient with raw eating.
This form of cooking is of course particularly suited to the hot seasons . With a little practice and inventiveness, we can prepare pies, pizzas, desserts without cooking… So you see that a no-cook diet is far from being restricted to raw vegetable salads alone.
Enrich your recipes with oilseeds
Oilseeds are particularly well suited to cooking without cooking. Indeed, they have many nutritional benefits. First of all, oleaginous fruits contain on average 20% vegetable proteins . In addition, they provide all the B vitamins (except for vitamin B12 contained only in products of animal origin).
Oilseeds also contain an interesting content of vitamin E with antioxidant properties, as well as vitamin K , necessary for the production of proteins which participate in blood clotting. They contain unsaturated lipids which are very beneficial for health (on average 90% of oilseed fats are unsaturated).
Finally, oilseeds are a good source of phytosterols, fiber and minerals: selenium, zinc , potassium and magnesium . In terms of taste, they provide a binder and a velvety texture that will delight your taste buds.
Sprouting allows you to consume foods that cannot be eaten raw such as lentils, peas, dried beans, etc. The use of sprouted seeds is recommended and very popular in a no-cook diet. Sprouted seeds contain numerous vitamins A, C, D, E, K and group B but also trace elements: magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, sulfur.
Making sprouted seeds is very easy and I encourage you to read the article dedicated to this subject if you want to get started. In addition to their nutritional value, sprouted seeds can be used to decorate any type of dish by adding a touch of fantasy.
Example of a day without cooking
Raw food breakfast
Start the day by drinking a glass of lukewarm water to eliminate toxins from the night and warm the liver.
- 1 banana
- 1 C. tablespoon of almond puree
- 1 C. teaspoon of lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. tablespoon of hazelnuts
- 2 tbsp. tablespoon of sunflower seeds
- 1 C. tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
- 1 C. tablespoon of walnut or rapeseed oil
- 50 ml of water
Accompany your energy cream with a hot drink (tea, herbal tea, coffee ). Adapt the quantities of your breakfast according to your physical activity.
Cauliflower salad, zucchini, mushrooms, peas
- 150 g de courgettes
- 150 g of cauliflower
- 100 g de champignons
- 100 g of peas
- 2 tbsp. tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 tbsp. tablespoon of rapeseed oil
- germinated seeds
- 1 C. tablespoon of turmeric
Raw summer quiche with peas
- 70 g hulled buckwheat
- 70g oatmeal _
- 30g coconut oil
- 70 g of dried tomatoes in oil
- 200 g frozen peas
- 160 ml of water
- 1/2 tsp. curry coffee
- 500 ml almond milk
- 1 C. tablespoon of almond puree
- 2 g d’agar-agar
- 1/2 tsp. teaspoon of vanilla
- 200 g frozen or fresh blueberries
Raw zucchini and tomato lasagna
- 200 g de courgettes
- 340 g de sauce tomate
- 240 g canned red beans
- 40 g hazelnuts
- 1 C. tablespoon of malted yeast
Poppy peach verrines
- 4 pêches
- 2 tbsp. teaspoon poppy seeds
- 200 g soy or goat ‘s yogurt
- 2 tbsp. teaspoon cinnamon
We have therefore seen that raw eating is an interesting way of eating to preserve vitamins and increase fiber consumption. It may be suitable for certain people but you must remain vigilant with your intake of nutrients (particularly proteins) and micro-nutrients (particularly vitamin B12, zinc).
Generally speaking, it is important to consume around 70% foods of plant origin, to enjoy eating and not to eradicate a food group in the long term without being monitored by a professional. .the health.