Eating Raw: The Benefits of an 'Uncooked' Diet

Five years ago, 28-year-old Angela Stokes, found herself morbidly obese, chronically ill and depressed. "I had no interest in health and was eating myself into the grave with junk foods," she says.

Frustrated with conventional medicines and yo-yo diets, Stokes looked for alternative methods of healing, and discovered that making changes in her diet was the ultimate medicine.

Stokes slowly shifted away from eating highly processed meat, pasteurized dairy products and other cooked foods to a more natural and less-altered diet of raw and “living” foods.

"Since giving up my old ways of eating, I have lost 160 pounds and am one of the healthiest people I know," said Stokes, now an award-winning raw food author and lifestyle consultant.

For food to be considered raw or living, it must never be exposed to temperatures over 118 degrees because, according to raw food specialist, author and certified clinical nutritionist, Natalia Rose, its enzymes, vitamins, and minerals are either killed or greatly altered leaving the food depleted of its natural healing life force.

Initially, most people are turned off by the idea of a raw food lifestyle. But Alissa Cohen, internationally recognized raw food chef, speaker, consultant and author of "Living on Live Food," has proven to her clients that eating raw is anything but boring.

"Raw foods are shockingly delicious and diverse in flavor and texture. Your taste buds literally become intoxicated and your whole body is left buzzing with happiness," she said.

Some of Rose’s favorite summertime recipes like hearty corn salad, quick guacamole salad and gazpacho, are easy to prepare yet deeply satisfying to the palate. She claims that eating simple and easy digestive combinations of foods will boost your metabolism and will support the elimination of waste on the cellular level.

Rose also encourages her clients to indulge in a raw dessert or 75 percent dark organic chocolate after a meal, "because it reminds us that life is meant to be sweet," she said, and it does not disrupt the detoxification process.

Although raw cuisine may sound delicious to some, according to Rose's book, "The Raw Food Detox Diet," not everyone is ready to dive into a 100 percent raw food lifestyle.

"It is not advisable to go from a mainstream diet to a raw diet without a slow, gentle transition to ensure that the body has a comfortable, easy time physiologically, emotionally, and socially," Rose said.

Because eating raw is so highly cleansing, Rose advised most budding raw foodists to start off eating a combination of raw and cooked foods to prevent the cleansing process from happening too quickly.

"This is especially true for people who are overweight, have a history of eating in fast-food restaurants and consuming processed snacks and sodas," she said.

However, Rose said that once your body adjusts and starts to "clear out the garbage," eaters will naturally start craving more of what their bodies really needs.

Here are a few more reasons why Stokes, Cohen and Rose believe eating raw foods will do your body a whole lot of good:

—Weight loss. Stokes experienced weight loss from eating raw foods almost immediately. "Weight started to melt off of me swiftly, effortlessly and permanently with my new raw lifestyle." When your body is infused with thousands of unaltered digestive enzymes, it can process healthy fats like nuts, olive oil and avocados in their raw forms without any weight gain.

—More energy and enthusiasm. "Eating a highly raw food diet leaves you feeling light, energized and clean because it is life-generating not life-depleting," Rose said. "This means finally having more time and energy to spend on the things you love to do in life," said Stokes.

—Heal your body. According to Cohen, the standard American diet is an acid forming one that can lead to acute or chronic disease. Eating a raw food diet, on the other hand, which is an alkaline diet, creates health in the body, Cohen said. Rose added that on a physical level, "You are going to experience greater levels of wellness and be less dependent on medications and fears relating to illness."

— Anti Aging. "Raw plant foods are deeply hydrating and offers optimum oxygenation to the cells, literally infusing them with oxygen," said Rose.

— More freedom. A raw lifestyle has meant less food prep time, no more greasy pots and pans and energy savings for Stokes, who added that if she can eat raw anyone can.