Adding raw foods to your daily diet promotes weight loss, provides all-natural and toxin-free nutrients, boosts energy levels, improves alkalinity and gives more fluids for our body to use. These benefits can help the body prevent and deal with health problems in menopause!
If I randomly asked women: “What diet do you follow?”, I would surely get many different answers. But is it really all about following a strict diet? ?
For me, it’s not! What I always share, especially with women of my age, is that everything in our body is connected. That applies to the influences of the food we eat, the habits we have every day, the emotions we carry and how we generally look at life. So, there are no shortcuts or “one-size-fits-all” formula to healthy menopausal living!
At the end of the day, we all have unique needs that demand holistic actions. Healthy practices don’t have to be boring or limiting. There’s more to midlife than feeling rule-bound! Let’s focus more on all the good things that work great for our health!
And what’s one of them? Raw foods! ?
Hey, stay with me even if you already know where I stand! This isn’t just another write-up about a strict diet. This article focuses more on how adding raw foods benefits women in menopause!
Do you have to ditch your current way of eating? Totally not! We just have to make the best out of our food choices! Once you’re done with the article, give it a try and see for yourself! Let’s get this started!
What are the Benefits of Eating Raw Foods?
When you hear “raw foods” and you think of a freshly uprooted veggie from your yard, then you certainly have an idea!
Generally, “raw foods” are kinds of food that have not been cooked over extensive heat. In other words, you should keep them as “raw” as possible — uncooked or unprocessed. Avid followers of “raw foodism” believe that food items heated over 116°F (46˚ C) lose their natural enzymes. That means the food we eat becomes robbed of vital nutrients! Enzymes also keep our overall health optimized and promote good digestion.
Now, let’s go over the different benefits of adding raw foods to your diet:
1. Better Chances and Convenient Way to Lose Weight
Oh, music to my ears! Typically, raw foods retain high amounts of essential nutrients (like fiber) that facilitate better digestion and improve metabolism. For this reason, weight loss can be achieved more easily!
2. Raw Foods are Naturally Grown
Raw food enthusiasts treat Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as aliens. When you get rid of food items with GMOs, you are saving yourself from toxins, allergies and the risk of getting chronic diseases! With raw foods, you can be assured that you are taking in organic [7 Wise Things You Should Know Before Going Organic!
3. Improved Energy Levels
This is especially fantastic for women in menopause as most of us experience fatigue. The vitamins and enzymes preserved in raw foods will keep us alive and kicking throughout the day!
4. Alkalizes the Body
Maintaining our body’s pH balance in midlife is very important. When our body is on a healthy acid-alkaline balance, we get lesser chances of fermenting food in our gut.
What does that mean? High acidity levels in our system can cause inflammation or autoimmune diseases!
5. Provides More Fluids in the Body
Eating raw foods can help us prevent some menopause symptoms! Raw foods provide more fluids for our body to use, which can hugely aid the body deal with health problems like vaginal dryness, skin dryness, constipation and even high blood pressure!
How Do I Add Raw Foods and Make the Best Out of My Diet?
At this age, our digestive health is not as optimal anymore as in our younger years. But we all have unique nutritional needs in menopause! If your current diet is going well for your health, THAT’S GREAT NEWS! But if you think you need to do an “upgrade” or make the best out of your diet, try adding raw foods!
Here are steps you can take to add raw and anti-inflammatory foods safely into your daily diet:
1. Combine Raw Food + Cooked Food: At each meal, you can fill half your plate with fresh, non-starchy veggies. Make a reasonable balance of raw and cooked foods!
2. Cook Slow + Use the Right Temperature: Lightly cook your food at temperatures less than 100˚ F (37°C). Steaming, juicing, sprouting and using slow cookers are ways to gently cook the food you aren’t eating raw. Remember that you have the power to individualize your diet and choose what works best for you!
3. Use Healthy Fats: Get rid of any hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, soybean oil, canola oil and vegetable oils. Replace these with good fats like extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed coconut oil. They are essential to hormone production, brain development, weight loss, cellular healing and reducing inflammation!
As I have mentioned above, you don’t have to go “purely raw”. Dr. Josh Axe, a Certified Naturopathic Doctor and Clinical Nutritionist, said: “You’ll likely feel your best when you consume plenty of raw foods in addition to some that are lightly cooked.” But as a woman in menopause, I myself can testify that this is easier said than done!
Now, what are excellent raw food choices to add? Here are some of my top faves! ?
Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Veggies: Vegetables can be eaten fresh and raw! You can also turn them into cold soups, juices, salads or other healthy dishes. For one, broccoli is my easiest go-to! I just give it a little massage using olive oil and voilà! It’s raw and reeeeeady! ?
Also, go for salad blends that use a variety of leafy greens (lettuce, cabbage, chard and collard greens) and brightly colored vegetables (onions, peppers, radishes and more)!
Herbs: Season your meals and your crisp, delicious salads with herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, coriander and parsley! I have a terrific article about must-try salad recipes! Go check it, kitchen ninja. ?
Nuts and Seeds: A wide variety of nuts and seeds are great to include in your diet. Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews are all excellent. For seeds, you can go for sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds! Before eating, soak the nuts or seeds in purified water for a few hours or overnight. It’s a fantastic way to get the most of their nutritional benefits!
Fresh Sprouts: Fresh, budding sprouts are the epitome of raw foods! They are bursting with essential enzymes and vitamins. Alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts are the most popular options!
Low-Carb Fruits: Avocados, watermelon and cantaloupe are brilliant choices! Oh, and coconuts too! Not only is fresh coconut pleasantly crisp, coconut water is also refreshing and super healthy!
Fermented Foods: Sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, natto, kefir and kimchi are highly beneficial for our health!
Things to Keep in Mind Before Eating Raw Foods
It always pays to consider our overall health before getting into any kind of eating regimen. It’s best to have a well-balanced diet in menopause, rather than going 100% raw, because we can’t afford to miss out on essential nutrients! Keep these things in mind before starting with raw foods:
• When preparing your raw food recipes, make sure to wash your food items thoroughly. This is done to avoid contamination. Contamination is common in root crops and can only be addressed when the food items are heated well, which is not followed in a purely raw food diet.
• Food poisoning (foodborne illness) may occur when consuming uncooked food. When food is cooked, harmful bacteria are exposed to high temperatures and killed. So, uncooked foods may leave us at risk! For this reason, when preparing to consume raw foods, be sure to thoroughly wash the foods and have them stored in the appropriate environment and temperature.
• While including more raw foods in your diet has plenty of benefits, a raw food diet may not work well for people with certain gut types. Raw fruits and vegetables can be hard to digest for those who lack enzymes or digestive capabilities. Therefore, cooking is a better option if you have a sensitive digestive system! If we’re unable to digest the vitamins and minerals in food, we might put ourselves at risk of nutrient deficiencies and other health problems.
• Experts suggest that following a raw food diet is not recommended for pregnant women. Pregnant women have higher nutrient needs than those who are not. Therefore, a totally raw food diet can be improved or incorporated with an eating practice that is more suitable for pregnant women. Besides that, it is not recommended for young children or for elderly people with a vulnerable immune system.
Moreover, there’s an advantage in cooking certain foods. While cooking does degrade some nutrients, it also makes other foods more digestible. For one, cooking foods with antioxidants called “beta-carotene” and “lycopene” helps release their nutrients and make them more absorbable by our body.
Cooking is also useful for killing bacteria that can live in some foods (like certain fish, eggs and meat). In addition, some cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts contain “goitrogens”. Excessive goitrogens can block thyroid function and cause hypothyroidism — and they are mostly deactivated by heat and cooking!
Easy Raw Food Recipes for Beginners!
Now, we’ve reached the mouth-watering, stomach-rumbling part! ?
Start embracing raw foods with these creative kitchen ideas:
✅ Vitamin Water
✅ Rainbow Salad with Dressing
✅ Bento Recipe
Learn from Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, a raw vegan enthusiast who incorporates fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in her recipes! ?
For your on-the-go days, you can try some of her lovely bento recipe ideas! ?
? More recipes here from raw food chef Katy Joy Freeman!
FRIENDLY TIP! You can also grow your own food like other raw food fans! Not only for the pleasure of gardening, but also to avoid harmful chemicals applied to commercially grown crops and veggies! Also, homegrown produce are excellent because they can be handpicked just moments before your meal!
Following a raw food diet can mean learning a whole new way to prepare foods. So, here are some of the most common methods used in raw foods!
- Soaking and Sprouting: Raw beans, legumes, nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors normally destroyed by cooking. The nutrients can be released by soaking them or sprouting them. The recommended soaking times vary from two hours up to one day. Some raw foodists say that soaking overnight is sufficient and more convenient!
- Dehydrating:Foods can be gently heated using a dehydrator to simulate sun-drying! Dehydrators are enclosed containers with heating elements — warming food at low temperatures.
- Blending and Juicing: Foods can be blended or chopped using a food processor or blender to make smoothies, pesto, soup and hummus. Vegetables and fruits can also be juiced!
- Fermenting: Fermentation allows the food items to produce lactic acid that preserves the food naturally! This happens when the good bacteria feed on the food items’ starch and sugar contents and begin fermentation.
Now you have learned the benefits of adding raw foods to your menopause diet! It may have sounded like another “strict diet rule” while we were starting, but I hope you now see what raw foods can offer! Remember, you have the power to individualize your diet. Choose what works best for your health! In menopause, everything, including the food we eat, is all about balance. ?
Does diet influence menopause timing?
Several studies found that people who had never been vegetarian developed menopause at a later age. This paved the way to conclusions like “vegetarianism may increase the risk of early menopause”. Moreover, here are other findings of how diet or nutrition influences menopause timing:
- A high intake of vitamin D and calcium from dietary sources: High levels of these nutrients are linked to a lower risk of premature menopause. Oddly enough, supplemental vitamin D and calcium were not linked to lower risks. So, a vegan might not be in the clear simply by supplementing with vitamin D and calcium.
- Protein and carbohydrate intake: The amount of protein and carbs a woman eats throughout her life seems to predict the age at which menopause occurs. More protein = later menopause. More carbs = earlier menopause.
- Certain types of fats: Even if polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are generally good, it has been found that they can “accelerate” menopause. Therefore, women who eat the most PUFA tend to have menopause earlier.
There are two main kinds of polyunsaturated fats: Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish (such as cod, salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, swordfish, catfish, tilefish and halibut), walnuts, flax seeds, hemp oil. These fats have powerful anti-inflammatory effects!
Omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, are found in vegetable oils and seed oils. However, these fats are often added to processed and fried foods — which means many Americans typically consume far more omega-6 than omega-3!
So, what are the implications?
Experts claim that getting too much omega-6 can drive inflammation in the body. Other studies also suggest that a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 may raise the risk of obesity.
Entering menopause at the right time in accordance with your genetics is normal, expected and healthy. But menopause that occurs earlier or later than your genetics may be linked to some health problems!
The “age at natural menopause” (ANM) depends on genetic, environmental, socioeconomic, reproductive, dietary and lifestyle factors. Early or premature menopause or “menopause before the age of 40”, has several troubling links to poor health outcomes like:
• A shorter life span
• Reduced physical function in later years
• Lower cognitive function
• Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
• Increased risk of heart disease
• Increased risk of osteoporosis [Symptoms, causes and treatment of Osteoporosis at an earlier menopausal stage.
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The Timing of the Age at Which Natural Menopause Occurs (nih.gov)
Gita is the founder of My Menopause Journey. Since 2014, she has been supporting midlife women by sharing hard-earned learnings from her own experience. To advance her knowledge, Gita puts a lot of her time and effort into understanding the broad spectrum of women’s health. She immerses in extensive research about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of menopause. Gita believes in the life-changing power of healthy, holistic living — this is where she anchors her message to all women. Learn more about her marvelous mission in About us - My Menopause Journey.