Everyone knows that vegetables can be incredibly healthy, packed with nutrients, and a great addition to any diet. However, did you know that raw veggies can actually damage our bodies if we can’t digest them properly?
In this blog, we will discuss:
- When veggies can be more harmful than helpful
- How we can consume veggies in the healthiest way
When Veggies Can Be More Harmful Than Helpful
Many diet fads tend to include a high amount of raw vegetables – insisting that raw vegetables be consumed in high amounts, replacing other foods.
I’m here with personal experience to tell you this can actually be the source of some of your health issues.
Instead of raw veggies being helpful, I found the opposite to be true. Allow me to explain…
Too Much Fiber
The first issue with raw vegetables is that they can be difficult for people with an unhealthy gut to digest. This is because raw vegetables contain a lot of fiber, which can be hard for our bodies to break down.
Fiber is important for our digestive health, as it helps to keep our bowel movements regular and can lower our risk of certain diseases. However, too much fiber and an unhealthy gut can cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and constipation.
Raw vegetables contain cellulose and pectin, fiber types that have potential health benefits. Cellulose adds bulk to our stool, helping to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. Pectin is a soluble fiber found in many fruits and vegetables. It can help reduce cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.
But cellulose and pectin can be hard to break down. So, despite these benefits, they can be harmful to someone who cannot tolerate high amounts of fiber, causing them to experience uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and gas.
Some raw veggies, particularly cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, contain natural protectants that can be harmful to humans, as our digestive systems are not designed to break them down efficiently.
These protectants are known as glucosinolates. Found in high concentrations in cruciferous vegetables, these natural compounds give them distinctive taste and smell.
Our bodies can break down the glucosinolates into compounds called isothiocyanates, which can be toxic in large amounts. For most people, it would take a lot of raw cruciferous veggies, such as a steady diet of kale juice and smoothies, to reach that point. So many find the health benefits of glucosinolates to be worth moderate consumption
However, some people may be more sensitive to these compounds than others, leading to digestive issues such as nausea and diarrhea.
Those natural protectants aside, raw vegetables can also contain pesticide residue or harbor harmful microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.
What is the Best Way to Eat Vegetables
By no means am I suggesting people cut out veggies, or even raw veggies, altogether.
Here are some ways we can get the nutritional benefits of vegetables while taking it easy on our digestive systems.
Cooking can break down the fiber and glucosinolates in vegetables, making them easier to digest and removing those plant toxins. So people with digestive issues should try cooking their vegetables.
However, cooking can also reduce the nutrient content of vegetables, so consider using methods that retain their nutrients, such as steaming or lightly sautéing.
These methods can help preserve the vegetables’ nutritional value while making them easier to digest and reducing the risk of digestive discomfort.
Limiting the Amounts of Raw Vegetables
Instead of packing our plates with raw veggies just to feel like we’re eating healthier, leaving them as a side dish is okay. They should not make up the bulk of our plate.
This simple tactic alone can make a big difference in how we feel after we eat.
Properly Cleaning and Storing Your Vegetables
To reduce your exposure to pesticides, wash vegetables thoroughly with water, a brush, and a safe veggie cleaner before eating them. Washing can remove some of the pesticide residue or harmful microorganisms from the surface of the vegetable. Storing vegetables properly is also essential to preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
And consider buying organic veggies for an even safer option.
Overall, raw vegetables can be a great addition to a healthy diet. They are packed full of nutrients and fiber, which can improve our overall health and lower our risk for certain diseases.
However, it is important to be aware of the potential digestive issues that can arise from consuming too much raw fiber or from eating glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables.
Are Vegetables The Healthiest Thing We Can Consume?
Vegetables are nutrient dense and add fiber and variety to our food. They are best consumed properly cooked and as a side dish for the most benefits.
Ultimately, the key to a healthy diet for your gut is finding balance, including balance between consuming raw and cooked vegetables. By doing so, we can reap the many benefits of vegetables while minimizing any potential downsides.
I dig deeper into this subject in my podcast episode, “Are Vegetables the Best Thing We Can Consume.” Listen to it here!
Hey there, I’m Kari!
As a Pharmacist and Integrative Health Practitioner, I get the privilege of working with women who are struggling with fatigue, poor sleep, painful cycles, digestive issues, and irritability- all of which have become their norm. And they are struggling just to keep up, simply wanting their health back.
I know what it’s like to feel frustrated and left with the same issues, even after spending time, energy & money thinking I’d found the answer.
With the right support, a proven method, and the Lord as our guide, let’s get your health back so you can run the race set before you with perseverance and joy.
So thankful you found your way here!