Skip to main content
take the reality check diet analysis take the reality check diet analysis


Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

5 Raw Food Diet Risks to Consider

Though there are generally more reasons to embrace a wholesome diet than not, the raw foods diet should be approached with caution. So what exactly is a raw food diet? Is a raw food diet healthy and what are reasons to avoid its implementation?

5 Raw Food Diet Risks to Consider

What Is a Raw Food Diet?

A raw food diet encourages uncooked, unprocessed and mostly whole, organic foods. Despite the numerous variations of a raw food diet, most of its followers practice veganism and consume a plant-based diet. Staples include raw fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds and sprouted grains. Raw food diet goers who include animal products may consume raw (unpasteurized) milk, raw meats and fish, and uncooked eggs. Though the temperature of these products must never reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit, a dehydrator is a common appliance to dry out food at a low temperature. Other methods of food preparation include juicing, blending, sprouting, germinating, cutting and chopping.

But you may be wondering "Why go raw?" The founder of the raw food diet was Maximillian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss physician and nutritionist. He believed that raw foods were more nutritious, as they contained direct energy from the sun. His nutritional hierarchy included raw fruits and vegetables as most nutritious, cooked and commercially processed produce less nutritious than raw, and meat as the least nutritious. Followers then and now are encouraged to eat fruit, vegetables, beans ant nuts and avoid caffeine, alcohol or tobacco. The decision of meat and animal product consumption varies among individuals.

5 Reasons to Avoid a Raw Food Diet

1. Risk of Contamination
Raw foods do hold an increased risk of holding a foodborne illness, especially animal and meat products. Raw meats, not cooked to a recommended internal temperature, may house harmful bacteria and lead to illness. Such bacteria include E. coli and Salmonella, possibly evoking unpleasant and dangerous side effects if introduced into the body.

2. Difficult to Follow
Especially if new to the diet, following the guidelines and practices can be difficult. Learning the techniques and tedious preparations can be a challenge to some. It does require high motivation to practice the processes of sprouting, germinating, germinating and dehydrating.

3. Lack of Convenience
It does take time and structure to adequately follow the raw food diet guidelines. Additionally, partaking in the raw food diet limits outings to restaurants, as menus may be absent of a raw dish.

4. Costly
Though the diet can be financially feasible, it may be harder on the wallet than other diets. Organic, raw ingredients do in fact tend to cost more and those cooking appliances? High-end blenders, juicers and processors may go for hundreds of dollars.

5. Restrictive
Particularly to vegans, the diet can be quite restrictive. Though the raw diet foods supply nutrients, such food restriction can lead to nutritional gaps. Vegans are at an increased risk of a wide variety of deficiencies including protein, vitamin B-12 and iron. If desiring this diet, a nutrition professional can help minimize these nutritional risks.

The Bottom Life: Is A Raw Food Diet Healthy and Worthy?

When it really comes down to the healthfulness of the diet, it does supply the body with nutrients and fiber. However, taking the steps towards a raw foods diet may be a feat for some. And though convenience, prepackaged and processed foods should be limited among the general population, sticking to only raw foods may not be the best direction to take by all. For this reason, choosing to embrace the raw foods diet is completely individualized and recommended only at people's own discretion. When contemplating such a diet, consulting with a healthcare professional can further guide you to a healthful lifestyle and limit nutritional deficiencies.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on September 29, 2016. Updated on October 22, 2019.


Follow @bistroMD

Theme picker

as seen on...
Dr Phil
Lifetime Network
The Biggest Loser
The Doctors