Close up of sprouts - living foodsThe raw food diet, also known as raw foodism or the live food diet, promises to remedy unhealthy lifestyles by integrating fruits, vegetables, sprouts and nuts into meals. More specifically, this diet is comprised of food in its purest form—food that is uncooked. Raw foodists believe that this uncooked food contains plenty of useful nutrients that would otherwise be lost in the heating process.

What are living foods?

Living foods contain living enzymes that aid digestion. These enzymes are known to be the “life force” and/or “energy” of food. Heating food at a certain temperature—specifically over 115 degrees—destroys this life force. In fact, expert raw foodists believe that enzyme-free food causes toxicity in the body, eventually leading to other health problems.

In Living Foods for Optimum Health: Staying Healthy in an Unhealthy World, Brian Clement and Theresa Digeronimo promote a diet primarily of organic, uncooked food to maintain a healthy body and insist that switching to a diet of living food provides a number of long-term benefits, such as cancer prevention, weight loss and increased longevity and energy. A vital staple in the raw food diet is sprouts, an ingredient used in numerous raw recipes in part because of their abundance of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

The downside

For many years, experts thought that followers of the raw food diet could still get sufficient vitamin B-12, a vitamin generally found in meat and dairy products; however, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, an advocate of raw foodism, has discovered the contrary. He finds that research over the last decade has shown that vegans and live food consumers of all ages and sexes have a much higher risk of becoming B-12 deficient. A deficiency in this enzyme can potentially lead to heart disease and deterioration of the arteries and nerves. For that reason he suggests that “it would be wise to incorporate some B-12 supplementation in your diet.”

Lifestyle over diet

Although the raw food diet simply consists of fruits, vegetables and nuts, there are over a hundred recipes that cater to live organic ingredients, making it possible to bring some nice variety into your meals. Raw foodists like Marie Larsson, owner of Toronto Sprouts, put the time and energy into choosing the foods they eat and how they eat it because they believe in raw foodism’s many health benefits. “This is a lifestyle choice for me so it’s based on knowledge and it’s based on insight, and on an approach that you have towards yourself, that you are honouring your body and that you’re kind to your body and that you’re kind to yourself.”

writing and photography by Irina Grozavescu