Raw foodism (or rawism) is a lifestyle promoting the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet.
Raw foodists typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. Raw foodism or a raw diet is usually equated with raw veganism in which only raw plant foods are eaten. Depending on the type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds (including sprouted whole grains such as gaba rice), eggs, fish (such as sashimi), meat (such as carpaccio), and non-pasteurized/non-homogenized dairy products (such as raw milk, raw milk cheese, and raw milk yogurt).
Raw foods gained prominence in the West throughout the 1900s, as proponents, such as Ann Wigmore and Herbert Shelton, stated that a diet of raw fruits and vegetables is the ideal diet for humans. Raw foodists extrapolate from such research the supposition that the enzymes found in living foods interact with other substances, notably the enzymes produced by the body itself, to aid in digestion. Promoters of raw foods, such as the Weston-Price Foundation, support the idea that, since no digestive juices are secreted in the upper stomach, the enzymes in the raw foods last for about 30 minutes in the upper stomach before being destroyed in the lower stomach, thus giving them enough time to break down the raw foods, to some extent.
In a 1936 work entitled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, dentist Weston A. Price observed dental degeneration in the first generation who abandoned traditional nutrient dense foods which included unprocessed raw foods e.g. un-pasteurised milk products, fruit and dried meats. Price claimed that the parents of such first generation children had excellent jaw development and dental health, while their children had malocclusion and tooth decay and attributed this to their new modern insufficient nutrient diet (which would have included a proportion of raw food).
Leslie Kenton’s book, Raw Energy-Eat Your Way to Radiant Health, in 1984 popularized food such as sprouts, seeds, and fresh vegetable juices. The book brought together research into raw foodism and its support of health, citing examples such as the sprouted seed enriched diets of the long lived Hunza people, as well as Max Gerson‘s claim of a raw juice-based cancer cure. The book advocates a diet of 75% raw food to prevent degenerative diseases, slow the effects of aging, provide enhanced energy, and boost emotional balance.