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Eating Raw: Understand Your Digestive System

Eating raw is something that can be incredibly beneficial to your body, but understanding your own digestive system can help you stay healthy.

Did you know some vegetables are best eaten raw, while others are better eaten cooked? When I say better, I’m not referring to taste and flavor, but to health. Certain vegetables when eaten raw can actually cause some distress for some people. Some vegetables are easier on the digestive system when eaten cooked (in the form of steaming, lightly sautéed, or roasted).

Before we talk about not eating raw, let’s talk about eating raw. Most of the time, eating raw preserves those nutrients that get cooked out when the temperature rises above 118 degrees. By eating foods in their raw forms, you gain access to those nutrients so your body can perform and feel at its best. But cooking softens food and breaks it down to make it easier to digest. If you’re new to eating raw, you might want to proceed slowly so your body can build up the ability to process these foods without pain or bloating. I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat raw, but I am saying that understanding your own stamina and digestive system as well as how food in the raw affects you is important. Moderation and listening to your body are your very best indicators when eating anything.

The following is a list of foods you should be aware of when choosing a raw diet.

Cruciferous Vegetables

This class of vegetables includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, and others. These veggies contain a certain type of sugar that, when eaten raw, can cause certain individuals to experience gas and bloating, but when cooked, these sugars become easier to digest. Additionally, cruciferous vegetables have thyroid inhibitors that can lead to or worsen thyroid issues because they block the production of thyroid hormones in your body. In the raw form, these vegetables can block nutrient absorption, including iodine. A deficiency of iodine can also worsen thyroid problems. When these veggies are cooked, however, thyroid inhibitors are greatly reduced.

Raw Potatoes

Especially when green, raw potatoes are high in something called solanine, which can be toxic to humans. Additionally, they contain something known as hemagglutinins that can disrupt red blood cell functioning. Raw potatoes also have anti-nutrient compounds that can block nutrient absorption, leading not only to deficiency but also leading to gut distress. Lastly, raw potatoes are high in uncooked starch, which can lead to digestive upset and gas and bloating in some individuals. This means potatoes are best consumed in a cooked state, such as baked, steamed, or sautéed.


The following show the benefits provided when these vegetables are cooked.

  • Asparagus has a higher concentration of antioxidants when cooked
  • Cooking tomatoes helps the body absorb more lycopene than when in the raw state
  • Cooked mushrooms provide a greater amount of potassium
  • Cooking carrots makes the beta-carotene easier to digest and absorb

To make it clear, it’s not that these vegetables are unhealthy, it’s just that the method of eating determines the maximum amount of benefits these vegetables can give. Do remember that some vegetables are actually best in the raw state, such as cucumbers. The ideal is to get a good variety of vegetables, and include in your nutritional regime cooked and raw veggies!

Check out this awesome recipe for a pumpkin pie smoothie!


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