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Raw Food Dieters are Starving Their Brains

Certain diets can change a person’s lifestyle. For examples, vegans live by a moral code that they will not have any animal product in or on their body. A popular diet that has made headlines in the past years is the raw food diet, which is the process of eating only raw fruits, vegetables, and some meats. Raw food dieters can cook the fruits, vegetables, and meats but at temperatures below 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

The raw food diet has received praise for being an effective weight-loss diet. It is not very hard to understand why the raw food diet is an effective diet. Dieters are eating foods with few calories yet they are getting plenty of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. But, sometimes cooking raw food can boost the number of nutrients in foods.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that those on a raw food diet could be starving their brain from much needed calories. Our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, shared her opinion on the study, saying it “was done to add support to the theory that speculates that the shift to cooked foods was responsible for the evolution of primitive creatures into modern humans.”

The study was conducted in Brazil, where the researchers measured the number of neurons in 13 species of primates and more than 30 species of other mammals. According to the study, humans have an estimated 86 billion neurons in their brains, while gorillas and chimps have about 33 billion to 28 billion neurons in their brain. The human brain uses a lot of its body’s energy; for instance when you are sitting down your brain is using 20% of your body’s energy.

Researchers discovered that a brain with more neurons needed more calories to function to its full potential versus a brain with less neurons. Mary agreed with the researchers saying, “A brain with more neurons needs more calories to sustain itself, and so a raw diet would not be adequate for evolution of the species.”

The researchers also concluded that gorillas would have to eat uncooked food for 8.8 hours to sustain their brains. Orangutans would have to eat for 7.8 hours and chimps would have to eat for 7.3 hours for their brains to function properly. Gorillas, chimps, and orangutans have fewer neurons in their brains and eat raw foods throughout their lifetime. When you apply the findings of the study to humans who are on the raw food diet, you can conclude that human dieters are not getting enough energy from raw foods to sustain their brains. Mary added that, “Humans would have to spend more than 9 hours a day eating to get enough energy from unprocessed raw food to support their large brains.”

Although those who are on the raw food diet do not cook their food, it may benefit them. According to Mary, “By cooking, we managed to circumvent the limitation of how much we can eat in a day. Cooked foods provided easily extracted calories and nutrients, which meant that humans could spend smaller fraction of their days gathering food and chewing.”

The last thing Mary mentioned was, “The study is a small attempt to explain the evolution of the species, but, in no way does it touch upon the suitability of a raw diet for an individual today.”

Also Read:

Raw Foods vs. Cooked Foods Nutrition Analysis

Paleo Diet Checklist for Beginners

The 7 Best Gluten-Free Brands in this Booming $4.2 Billion Food Industry

October 24th, 2012

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(Page 1 of 1, 4 total comments)


Traudl, I'm from Brazil and I never heard this story of mothers cooking stones to trick their children to think they're eating something; I can presume it is a hoax. Obesity is a bigger problem than (true) undernourishment as in any other western country.

Actually, some mothers do something even more stupid: they feed their babies with Coca-Cola to make them quieter and docile.

There is a great movie about this subject that you can watch for free, called Way Beyond Weight. See it here:

posted May 30th, 2013 7:13 am


Idiot article

posted Oct 26th, 2012 8:41 am

Traudl Wöhlke

I have never read anything more stupid than this post. The conclusions are far away from any reality, based on theoretical speculations only. There is so much nutrional sciene evidence that any living being only needs ONE third of the calories of cooked food because the protein of the food has not been destroyed by heat. (You are dead if your body temperature rises to 43°C, that is your body protein gets too hot, if you cook a seed no new plant wil grow, if you heat sperms the same thing happens - this shows that life is connected with low temperatures.) So in fact, you need to eat less to feel full. Of course, you need to do it right when eating raw and include grains, seeds, nuts with fruits and vegetables too. As this excludes all processed and refined food, the brain will actually function a 1000 times better, no matter what it's weight is as there are less fluctuations with blood sugar supply.
This so-called "scientific" article is absolute irrevalant for another reason: Neuro-science leaves no doubt that we do not use the brain we have in its full potential. So there is lots of capacity for better use.
The scientific question raised by this Brazil study might be relevant if also the context of the study was published, not just one single element of its outcome. In Brazil, there are many, many peope, especailly children, badly underfed to the point that they become mentally retarded because they have not had enough food of any kind, so not only the body but also the brain suffers from not enough nourishment. I have read reports on mothers who are cooking stones just so the kids get the illusion they will be getting something to eat.
Knowing about these social conditions in Brazil may explain the interest in this kind of research.
What I conclude from the media interest in this is: "Sensations" always attract interest,
The Raw Food Movement is a potential danger to the food industry, and the stupidest argument against it is good enough to scare people off it.

posted Oct 26th, 2012 7:17 am


This is rediculous! Fruit is the the bigget reason for the growth of the primates brain and human brains have been shrinking for thousands of years because of processed dead cooked food. With dates, avocados, juicing and all the other high calorie raw food out there you can spend less than an hoir a day preparing and actually spend half the time it takes to consume cooked food.

This study is useless, we coevlolved with fruit trees and made the calories higher for a reason! Not to mention that humans have spiritual powers that animals do not and our higher consciousness allows us to change potential waves into atom particles based on our observation... basically giving us a unique energy source,

posted Oct 25th, 2012 4:11 am


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