Can You Handle a Raw Food Diet?

It wasn’t long ago that raw food bars were all the rage. If you didn’t eat your food raw, you weren’t in with the IN crowd and you were out of the loop in the healthy rage. There are still some raw food bars around but pretty much the fad has died down and, I think, for good reason.

A lot of my patients ask me about the health benefits of eating raw food and I agree there are some foods that are of benefit eaten raw, some I question, and some I never would recommend without cooking. In case you were wondering about whether it’s more beneficial to eat all of your food raw, here’s some pros and cons you might want to consider.

What’s So Great About Raw Food?

To begin with, raw food is anything that has not been heated above 118 degrees. It’s reported by raw food enthusiasts that temperatures above that kill the natural enzymes present in food and make it harder for your body to digest them. It’s true, that your body needs specific enzymes to digest your food. As we get older those enzymes decrease and don’t do the job of digesting as well which may leave us constipated and missing a lot of nutrients from our food.

Now, there are some great, high vitamins and mineral, fiber-filled foods recommended for raw food dieting that are all the things you should include in a healthy diet anyway. They include such foods as vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains and juices as well as monounsaturated fats from olives, avocados, coconut, and nuts. As you can see, it’s mostly a vegetarian diet, but people who practice a raw diet exclusively say there are many benefits such as:

• Lower cholesterol.
• Lower/stable blood sugar levels.
• Lower blood pressure (from decreased sodium intake).
• May prevent stomach and oral cancers (overly cooked, barbecued food suspect).
• High in fiber, helps maintain good bowel health and blood sugar levels.
• Boosts immune system from higher glycoside levels in raw food.
• Avoidance of wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and table salt may help some allergies and aids the body in detoxifying itself.
• Clearer skin.
• Weight loss, sustained.

What’s Not So Great About Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet lifestyle, in its purest form, is mostly a vegetarian diet. I become concerned about vitamin deficiencies, especially deficiencies in B12, which is common in vegetarian diets. This deficiency can result in anemia, and conditions of the nervous system, as well as neurological disorders of cognition problems and dementia. The best sources of B12 are from red meat, and secondly chicken, fish, and wheat germ.

In addition, not heating foods past 118 degrees allows food borne pathogens to stay intact and can result in serious illness. Take eggs for example. Many of my patients brag about how they put a raw egg in a blender with juice, etc, and drink it all down. I cringe and then tell them they’re lucky they dodged a salmonella bullet but may not always, as eggs can be carriers of bacteria.

Depending on how strict you are into a raw food diet, you may also include some fish (sushi, etc), red meat, and milk (non-pasteurized, non-homogenized only). Adding meat and fish works better from a nutritional standpoint, but from a food borne pathogen standpoint could pose some serious problems. Both fish and meat can carry bacteria, like salmonella and others. If you’ve ever suffered a Salmonella food poisoning event, you don’t want to go there again. They can also carry viruses and parasites. Non-pasteurized milk can also carry Mycobacterium bovis that can cause non-pulmonary type tuberculosis. In short, these raw foods can result in some serious illnesses that you don’t want to subject yourself to.

And if vitamin deficiencies and food borne pathogens aren’t enough to scare you away from a raw food
diet, some raw foods are included that are in a natural and uncooked state, many of which can be toxic.
Here is a short list of these foods:

• Kidney beans and sprouts contain a chemical called phytohemaglutinin, which can be toxic.
• Alfalfa sprouts contain canavanine.
• Apricot kernels – contain amygdalin, which is raw cyanide.
• Buckwheat greens are toxic if raw. They can trigger photosensivity.
• Parsnips – raw, contain furanocoumarin which can be toxic.

In addition, time may be a factor in not choosing a raw diet. Since it is mostly all raw food, it takes a lot of buying and preparation time, as freshness would be of ultimate importance.

Convenience may be another negative, as it would make it hard to go out to eat. Also getting used to it may be hard for people who have eaten meat, sugar, salt and alcohol their entire life to switch to a raw diet.

Is There a Healthy Way To Eat Raw Foods?

The answer to that question depends on whom you ask, mostly. But even many raw food enthusiasts say that the ideal raw diet is 75% raw and 25% cooked, and if I were going to “go raw” this is the way I’d likely do it as well.

• Twenty-five percent of your raw diet could be cooked meat, fish or eggs, but I would add a good digestive enzyme to help digest these proteins especially if you’re past age 40.
• The other 75% could be made up of raw vegetables steamed just enough to soften them and bring out their flavor. Raw fruit and nuts are always great in their natural form and I wholeheartedly recommend eating several servings of these vitamin and fiber rich foods every day.
• As always, drink half your weight in clean, filtered water a day to flush toxins out of your body.

This is what I tell my patients who ask about the health benefits of a raw food diet. There are a lot of positive elements involved, such as eating all the vegetables, fruit, and nuts, and staying away from sugar and alcohol and processed foods. These are healthy changes that anyone can incorporate into their diet whether it’s completely raw or not. To avoid serious illness however, stay away from sushi and steak tartare unless you really can vouch for where they came from and who handled them.

Increasing Awareness of Packaged Food Boosting the Growth of the Global Fresh Food Packaging

Fresh food packaging protects food products from environmental conditions and physical damage; it provides consumers with information regarding the ingredients and nutritional value; and more importantly, it helps maintain the quality of food as per the predetermined standards. Fresh food packaging is made of materials such as polyethylene, paper, aluminum, BOPET (Biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), and poly-vinyl chloride. The global fresh food packaging industry mainly deals in meat & meat products, fruits, vegetables, and seafood.

The fresh food packaging market has been growing in accordance with the packaging industry. With increasing awareness about global warming and concerns about the environment, the packaging industry is opting for eco-friendly techniques of packaging such as the use of recyclable packaging material, which has had an influencing impact on the market for global fresh food packaging in terms of increasing the demand of packaged fresh food.

The global fresh food packaging market is projected to reach USD 95.91 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 3.38% from 2015 to 2020, which signifies a steady increase in the demand for packaged food.The global fresh food packaging market is projected to reach USD 95.91 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 3.38% from 2015 to 2020, which signifies a steady increase in the demand for packaged food.

Growth Drivers:

• Demand for Convenience Food

• Shelf Life Extension of Fresh Food


• Innovations in Eco-Friendly Packaging

• Consumer Awareness About Health Concerns Influence the Market

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Major Application Area:

• Meat & meat products

• Vegetables

• Seafood

• Fruits

• Others (dairy and poultry)

The key players in the market are Amcor Limited (Australia), Coveris Holdings S.A (U.S.), Smurfit Kappa Group (Ireland), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (U.S.), Mondi Plc (South Africa), Bemis Company, Inc. (U.S.), International Paper Company (U.S.), D.S. Smith Plc (U.K.), Silgan holdings Inc. (U.S.), RockTenn Company (U.S.), and Sealed Air Corporation (U.S.).

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What Are the Benefits of Organic Foods?

The organic food movement has really taken off over the last decade. At one time, you could only find organic foods in health food stores but now there is quite a large selection in just about any supermarket or grocery store. While prices have come down some over the years, items that are certified organic are usually still more expensive than non-organic choices.

What exactly is “organic?”

Organic fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, dairy products, and even non-food items are grown according to stringent regulations set out by the USDA. They must be produced without any chemical pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. They must be grown using organic farming techniques and without using any hormones or antibiotics.

What are the benefits of organic foods?

Taste – Organic fruits and vegetables tend to by juicier, sweeter and more flavourful. Grown in rich, fertile soil, organic produce is very rich in flavour and nutrients, and since it is usually grown closer to home, tends to be fresher than imported non-organic produce. While organic produce tends to spoil faster due to the lack of preservatives, it is still a much better choice. You may also see a difference in the way the fruits and vegetables look – they may be slightly smaller or not perfectly shaped. This is how produce grown naturally is supposed to look! Organic meat comes from animals that are free to graze and benefit from fresh air, fresh water and healthy organic food sources, making the meat much more flavourful.

Health Benefits – chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers are known carcinogens. These sprays and additives are applied liberally to non-organic food and they do leave a residue on the fruit as well as often penetrating the skin as well. Washing produce does not remove all of the harmful chemicals. Organic produce is grown without the use of these harmful chemicals. There is also the benefit of not having the toxic run-off from the farms polluting our waters. Workers on organic farms are not exposed to these deadly chemicals either, unlike their non-organic farm worker counterparts. Organic meat animals lead much healthier lives than the commercially farmed animals. Rather than living in a cage barely big enough to fit in, wallowing in their own waste, organic animals are allowed to graze freely in fields with fresh water and clean surroundings. This means that they don’t have to be pumped with antibiotics just to survive their lifestyles. Organic meat and dairy animals are also not given any hormones or other chemicals.

Regulation – In order to be certified organic, farms need to meet very strict regulations in their farming methods. If you see a “certified organic” seal on your food, you can be sure that that item has been carefully produced and its source has undergone careful inspection and certification by the USDA.

Resistance of Disease and Allergies – As mentioned above, the chemicals used in commercial farming are known to cause cancer, so by eating more organic food, you will be reducing your risk of these cancers. The over-use of antibiotics in meat and dairy is causing antibiotic-resistant strains of viruses and diseases as well. The prevalence of food allergies is growing at an alarming rate. Part of the reason for this is the unhealthy farming methods used in traditional farming. Raising your children on organic produce, meat and dairy products can significantly reduce the risk of them developing food allergies.

Environmental Benefits – Today’s agriculture industry is ravaging our earth. Soil erosion form over-farming is becoming a huge problem and commercial farms are one of the biggest contributors to water pollution with the toxic runoff from the farms. Organic farming builds up the soil by crop rotation and the use of compost and manure. Since no chemicals are used, water pollution is not an issue either.

Supporting Local Farmers – Studies report that half of the food produced in the US comes from only 1% of the farms. Local farmers are struggling to maintain their market share in the industry. With the increase in smaller organic farms, we are starting to have healthier choices when it comes to our food sources. Since there are no preservatives used in organic food production, that means stores need to source the food from much closer. By buying organic food from your grocery store, farmers markets and vegetable stands, you are supporting the local economy while getting healthier choices for your family’s meals.

While buying organic may cost you a bit more on your grocery bill, the benefits really outweigh the cost. You’ll be healthier, feel better about the foods you’re feeding your family, and be doing your part to preserve our environment. Your food will taste better, and your local farmers will thank you too.