by Amy Campbell, Diabetes Self-Management
The raw food diet may help manage weight and cholesterol levels, according to a few small studies. The diet promotes eating only organic food that is not cooked, processed, irradiated, or genetically engineered, believing that these processes destroy many of foods' nutritional benefits. Because foods are not heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, the diet is usually vegan, unless raw eggs, fish, unpasteurized milk, and cheese are added. Otherwise, followers eat fruits, vegetables, juices, nuts, seeds, sprouts, raw nut butters, seaweed, grains, beans, olive oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut butter, and herbal tea. The food can be chopped, blended, juiced, frozen, dehydrated, and sprouted. There have not been studies on the diet's impact on type 2 diabetes, but in one small study people on the raw diet lost nine percent of their body weight in three months, and another study found that the majority of 200 people following the diet had low cholesterol levels. Buying and preparing food for the raw diet may be time consuming, and one study demonstrated a decrease in bone mass and bone mineral density in people on the diet. The diet also may be deficient in iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. The body absorbs nutrients more efficiently from some foods, such as tomatoes and eggs, when they are cooked, and some raw foods, such as potatoes, rhubarb, and cassava, contain potentially harmful toxins. Raw milk, fish, and meat also may contain dangerous food-borne bacteria.