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Digestion Problems From Raw Food

by Jeffrey Traister

About Jeffrey Traister

Jeffrey Traister is a writer and filmmaker. For more than 25 years, he has covered nutrition and medicine for health-care companies and publishers, also producing digital video for websites, DVDs and commercials. Trained in digital filmmaking at The New School, Traister also holds a Master of Science in human nutrition and medicine from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.


Eating raw foods can cause digestion problems. Raw plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, may be part of a healthy diet, while raw dairy, meat and seafood can increase your risk of infections. Nonetheless, raw fruits and vegetables may cause digestion problems due to indigestible substances in the food that when cooked would be easier to digest. Consult your doctor about your diet and digestion problems from raw foods.


Eating plentiful amounts of vegetables each day can help you reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, eating raw vegetables may cause gas and bloating. Raw vegetables contain enzymes that may help you digest the food, but they also contain an insoluble fiber called cellulose that humans are unable to digest. Unlike cows, human intestines do not have bacteria that produce an enzyme called cellulase to help you digest cellulose into sugars. However, fermenting raw vegetables can pre-digest the fiber before you eat them.


Nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds and sunflowers seeds, are nutrient-dense foods that contain high concentrations of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But nuts and seeds also contain fiber and phytic acid that can interfere with the intestinal absorption of certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Soaking nuts and seeds in water for a few hours before eating them can neutralize phytic acid to improve the absorption of minerals.

Food Poisoning

Eating raw foods, such as meat or fish, contaminated with bacteria, parasites, viruses or harmful chemicals can cause food-borne illnesses. Diarrhea is a common symptom of eating contaminated foods that can interfere with absorption of nutrients from foods. Research conducted by scientists at the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil and published in the "Journal of Pediatrics" in August 2001 discovered that diarrhea can cause incomplete absorption of carbohydrates, such as fruit juice.


Eating raw foods can increase your risk of bacterial infections that can affect your gastrointestinal tract and your ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, is a bacterium that can cause stomach and small intestinal ulcers. Research by scientists at that Department of Health and Animal Welfare in Valenzano, Italy and published in the "International Journal of Food Microbiology" in May 2008 discovered that raw goat milk may contain H. pylori DNA. The scientists conclude that raw goat milk may increase the risk of H. pylori infections in humans who consume it.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.