Raw food diet has become one of the latest diet trends among people looking to reverse chronic diseases like diabetes. It is basically the practice of eating foods that are uncooked or unprocessed and mostly consists of plant-based foods. While the diet is full of nutrients, retains many enzymes in the food, helps in losing weight and offers many other benefits, can it really help reverse diabetes? We asked an expert. (Also read: World Diabetes Day 2022: Doctors on tips to become diabetes-free and achieve remission)
Studies suggest that diabetes can be reversed by making certain lifestyle changes like your eating habits. Raw foods are usually considered healthy as they retain nutrients that are lost in the process of cooking and are also free of sugar or salt.
“Raw food diet or raw veganism is one of the diets which eliminates all of the processed and ultra-processed foods. Consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds this diet is quite similar to veganism. Unlike a vegan diet, foods that are not cooked over 40- 48 degree Celsius are only eaten in a raw food diet. Foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut which are simply processed and fermented are also included in this diet,” says Dietitian Garima Goyal.
Foods undergoing intense processing with pesticides, fertilisers, and other preservatives are eliminated. Most of your fruit and vegetable juices and salads can also be eaten on a raw food diet.
Benefits of raw foods in diabetes
For diabetics, raw foods can be beneficial in different ways.
“Firstly, no processed foods implying no junk foods can help in achieving the goal of weight loss for overweight individuals. Ultimately, with this diet, you can stay away from all possible added sugars and preservatives which when consumed could cause blood sugar spikes. Consuming raw foods like minimally sauteed vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, vegetable juices, and salads is a rich source of fibre and can keep you satiated for a long time. They are digested slowly and ensure gradual blood sugar changes without sudden peaks. These unprocessed foods also retain many vitamins and minerals which could also be beneficial,” says Goyal.
But can raw foods really reverse diabetes
Goyal says that while the diet may look fancy, it cannot be your only solution to reverse diabetes. You need other elements of a healthy balanced diet for overall health.
“With the benefit of fibre and other nutrients, raw foods can be a part of your diet but you need not transform your entire diet. Cereals and pulses are staples of the Indian diet and without them and other cooked meals your diet would become deficient in calories, protein, and other vital nutrients,” says Goyal.
The dietitian says that reversal of diabetes is not possible by changing only the diet and missing out on other factors.
“For effective reversal, at the early stages, intensive lifestyle intervention which includes a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management is extremely important. Yet you cannot neglect your medications as well. It is important to be on par with all these the interventions for both reversal and controlling your diabetes,” says the expert.
Dietary supplements (which are excluded from raw food diet) like chromium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids are also prescribed in certain cases.
“Reversal of diabetes may not be possible for all individuals, but for some, it is still an achievable goal. Instead of completely revamping your meals based on one particular trend, it is better to focus on a wholesome diet with adequate nutrients, regular exercise, stress management, and regular medications,” says Garima Goyal.