A friend with many minor health problems recently switched to a diet of only raw plant foods and reports feeling much better. She also insists her new eating habits are better for the environment. Does this make sense or is the strange diet making her crazy?
—Phil C., Reno, NV
A raw foods diet typically consists of unprocessed foods that are not heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit so as to preserve nutrients otherwise lost during cooking. Proponents claim that besides losing weight and feeling more energetic, they are also avoiding the carcinogens introduced into foods by cooking and protecting the environment from drug- and chemical-dependent, water-wasting big-business agriculture.
Some people do short spurts on the raw diet to cleanse their system of toxins, while others maintain a majority raw diet but do eat some cooked or processed foods. Diabetics can especially benefit from a raw foods diet, as shown in the film Simply Raw, which documents the trials and tribulations of six diabetes sufferers who go on a raw foods diet for one month and effectively cure themselves of their disease.
While humans have been eating raw foods since they first began foraging for their sustenance, the diet really began to catch on in recent years when some high-profile celebrities began touting its health and weight maintenance benefits. Carol Alt, Woody Harrelson, Uma Thurman, Sting and Demi Moore are just a few of the big names who swear by the raw foods diet—and now upwards of 100 raw foods restaurants are in operation across the U.S. For a list of raw food eateries by state, check out the SoyStache website.