Raw Food Diet Study
An Investigation of Over 500 People Who Have Eaten a Raw Food Diet for Over
BY LENKA J. ZAJIC
Inspired by her own positive experiences going raw, Zajic
went on to obtain a Masters in Vegan and Live Food Nutrition from the Tree
of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona, where she conducted an in-depth 500-participant
survey of raw foodists. The study’s findings
showed that people who followed an 80 to 90% raw foods diet for 2 years reported
marked improvements in immunity, digestion, allergies, weight moderation, chronic
illness, and mental, and emotional well-being.
Says Zajic, “There seems to be no question that, at least
initially, eating a raw foods diet can reduce or cure many health
The purpose of this study was to examine the dietary practices, attitudes,
and experiences of U.S. and international individuals who have been
practicing the raw foods diet for at least two years. The hope was
to identify any significant positive and negative trends existing within
this segment of the population, thereby furthering the understanding
and refinement of the diet for both raw foods leaders and educators
as well as for the general public and providing the impetus to conduct
more detailed and specific scientific research in areas of concern
and/or lack of knowledge regarding the live foods diet.
The study designed was a descriptive survey, using a self-administered,
predominantly on-line questionnaire. The primary areas of interest
were: respondents’ personal information, their first introduction
to and subsequent journey on a raw foods diet, diet and eating habits,
overall physical health, weight fluctuations, women’s issues,
mental/emotional/spiritual health, and exercise and physical activity.
Analysis was text-based and simple descriptive survey statistics were
In brief, the survey was begun by 864 self-reported two-year plus
raw-foodists of various ages and nationalities. For three and a half
months, the survey was open to the public on-line. Hard copies were
also available and collected. Ultimately, the survey was completed
by over 525 people. Results showed consistent improvement in virtually
all areas examined, most notably in immunity, elimination, allergies,
over or underweight, chronic illness, and mental, emotional and spiritual
The following are the primary improvements observed in the categories
of “Personal Information”, “Diet and Eating Habits”, “Weight”, “Overall
Physical Health”, “Exercise/Physical Activity”, “Women’s
Issues”, and “Mental/Emotional/Spiritual Health” of
the Living Examples Survey:
Out of the 864 respondents who began the survey, 66.2% were female
and 33.8% were male. Therefore, there were roughly twice as many female
respondents as there were male. Although there are other factors that
may have contributed to the higher percentage of female respondents,
it is relatively safe to conclude that there exist a larger number
of female raw-foodists than male. These observations have been confirmed
by both long-term live foods teachers Gabriel Cousens, M.D. and David
Diet and Eating Habits
With regards to eating habits, the frequency of overeating among respondents
shows a definite and significant decrease since they adopted a live
foods diet. Those who reported NEVER overeating increased in number
from 7% before live foods to 34% after live foods, and those who reported
overeating only once or twice per week increased from 35% to 54%. This
may possibly be attributed to the high nutritional and water content
of living foods as well an increased visual and taste stimulation provided
by fresh living foods. Also, there seems to have been an overall decrease
in the number of respondents reporting eating disorders before and
after adopting a live foods diet, with the percentage of respondents
reporting NO eating disorder on a live foods diet rising from 61% to
In terms of dieting and weight changes, the percentage of respondents
who reported NEVER dieting since transitioning to a live foods diet
rose from 44.4% to 71.6%. The number that reported dieting “very
often” before live foods dropped from 24.7% to 12.4% after live
foods. 82.5% of respondents lost weight after switching to a live foods
diet. 75% of those not already at their ideal weight reported reaching
it after transitioning to a live foods diet. 56% reported re-gaining
some of that weight, although most of those people (57%) only regained
25% or less of the weight they initially lost. This seems to have occurred
primarily within the first two years on a live foods diet (89%). Of
the 4% of respondents who gained weight after transitioning to live
foods, 57% remained at that higher weight. Most (62%) of those that
re-lost weight they initially gained on live foods lost 25% or less.
This weight gain seems to have occurred primarily within the first
6 months (65%). Overall, 82% of respondents who were not at their ideal
weight before live foods reported being closer to their optimal weight
since transitioning to a live foods diet.
Overall Physical Health
The survey results indicate a definite decrease in the overall amount
of sleep needed by respondents since transitioning to a live foods
diet. Those who reported needing over 8 hours sleep/night dropped from
59% to 19% Those who need 6-8 hours sleep/night rose from 36% from
64% and those who now need even fewer hours (6 or less) sleep/night
rose from 6% to 16%. There was also a significant improvement in sleep
quality among respondents with the percentage of those who reported
no insomnia rising from 40% to 59% since transitioning to live foods.
Respondents reported improvement in all skin conditions surveyed, namely
eczema, skin eruptions, dryness, oiliness, and susceptibility to sunburns.
An overall improvement was seen in all aspects of hair health, such
as increased strength/thickness and luster, and decreased thinness/weakness,
oiliness, dryness, dullness, and dandruff. There was an overall improvement
in nail health, such as increased strength and decreased brittleness,
chipping, ridges, and fungus. The number of respondents experiencing
body odor after adopting a live foods diet decreased sharply, with
the number reporting no body odor whatsoever rising from 12% to 52%!
There was also a significant increase in respondents who reported never
or rarely having bad breath – from 32% to 83%! There was a moderate
decrease in the number of respondents who reported perspiring easily
after transitioning to a live foods diet – down from 51% to 41%.
Results show slightly higher numbers of respondents reporting a “good” or “excellent” sense
of sight (from 56% to 69%), touch (from 84% - 97%), and hearing (from
77% to 88%) on a live foods diet, and significantly higher numbers
reporting a “good” or “excellent” sense of
smell (from 68% to 93%) and taste (from 68% to 97%) on a live foods
Almost half of respondents did not know their resting heart rate before
and after live foods but among those who knew that information, the
percentage with resting heart rates between 60-70 bpm or less rose
from 26% to 42%, and the percentage of those with resting heart rates
higher than 70 bpm dropped from 19% to 9%. Again, about half of respondents
did not know their blood pressure before and after live foods, but
among those who did, there seems to have been a move towards normalization
of blood pressure at 140/74 or less. Of the 81% of respondents who
were aware of their cholesterol levels before and after live foods,
there was a 24% increase in those who reported having normal cholesterol
levels on live foods. With regards to circulation, 62% of respondents
reported poor circulation before live foods and only 29% reported it
after live foods, a decrease of 53%! This indicates the significant
benefit of a live foods diet in this important area.
The number of respondents who reported having NO post-meal symptoms
rose from 8% before live foods to 46% after live foods. Each of the
nine post-meal symptoms surveyed showed a significant reduction on
a live foods diet, especially bloating, indigestion, and fatigue/weakness.
Results show a significantly decreased number of respondents (from
79% before live foods to 51% after live foods) who felt their appetite
was “strong” or “excessive”.
Elimination appears to improve dramatically on a live foods diet,
as indicated by the number of respondents who reported two or more
bowel movements per day increasing from 25% to 78%! The number of respondents
experiencing constipation decreased sharply from 73% to 30%, hemorrhoids
from 33% to 18%, bladder/kidney infections from 23% to 7%, and foul-smelling
stool from 57% to 23%. The percentage of people reporting diarrhea,
however, remained about the same before and on a live foods diet. Laxative
usage seems to decrease on a live foods diet, with the number of respondents
who indicated they never use them increasing from 68% to 81%. Of interest
here is that the percentage of respondents taking enemas rose from
26% to 63% on a live foods diet. The percentage of respondents who
reported using over-the-counter laxative products dropped from 36%
Immunity to colds, flu’s, and infections showed a tremendous
improvement on a live foods diet, with 53% of respondents reporting
getting sick easily before live foods and only 3% after live foods,
a dramatic decrease of 93.4%!
Exercise and Physical Activity
The survey results show a dramatic increase in energy levels among
respondents since transitioning to live foods, specifically from 31%
to 88% in those who reported having “good” or “excellent” energy
levels! Cardiovascular endurance improved for 67% of respondents on
a live foods diet versus worsening or staying the same. Flexibility
improved for 73%, and muscular strength for 58%. Again, these improvements
were largely attributed to the change in diet (88%) and the natural
by-product of that change in diet, “physical health” (54%).
Arthritis/joint problems, muscle stiffness, back/neck pain, sciatica,
and muscle cramping all showed improvement on a live foods diet. The
number of respondents who selected “not applicable” (i.e.
did not experience any of these conditions), rose by 88%! Respondents
seem to be exercising more on a live foods diet than they did previously.
67% indicated they do so “every other day” or “daily” versus
46% before live foods. Furthermore, they report feeling “good” or “uplifted/invigorated” after
exercise in larger numbers (89% versus 56%).
Interesting to note is that the percentage of respondents describing
the condition of their teeth as “good” or “excellent” rose
from 51% to 68%, with most attributing it to diet (43.5%) and oral
hygiene practices (23.6%). Tooth sensitivity also seems to decrease
on a live foods diet, indicated by a drop from 73% to 52% in the number
of respondents who experience it “sometimes” or “often”.
There was a drop from 49% to 25% in the number of respondents who reported
receding, inflamed, or bleeding gums.
A live foods diet may have a significant effect on the rate of addiction.
There was a 62% increase (from 44% to 75%) in the number of respondents
who felt they were “addiction-free” on a live foods diet!
There were decreases in all specific areas of addiction surveyed (alcohol,
smoking, eating, drugs, sex, and other).
A live foods diet seems to be significantly responsible for a sharp
decrease in medication use. Results show a marked reduction in virtually
all categories surveyed. Most significant were the reduced numbers
of respondents reporting the use of antacids (from 20.3% to 1.3%),
antibiotics (from 31.6% to 0.6%), antidepressants (from 15.1% to 6.9%),
anti-fungals (from 9.6% to 0.6%), aspirin/ibuprofen (from 34.9% to
5%), recreational drugs (from 20.9% to 11.3%), and tylenol/acetaminophen
(from 18.7% to 3.8%). One category that actually showed increased use
among respondents after transitioning to a live foods diet was thyroid
medication, which rose from 8.5% to 14.5%.
Results show a substantial decrease in the number of respondents reporting
allergies on a live foods diet in all categories surveyed (food, animal,
grasses/trees/pollen, dust/mites/mold, chemical, other). Overall, 52.5%
(from 40% to 61%) more respondents reported being allergy-free after
switching to a live foods diet.
There was a decrease in the number of respondents reporting chronic
illness on a live foods diet in all categories surveyed with the exception
of thyroid disorders which showed a slight increase (however, the small
number of respondents for that category makes it difficult to draw
any firm conclusions). Most notable was the increase by 68% in the
number of respondents reporting NO chronic illness “after live
foods”. Also of great significance was the reduction in the number
of respondents reporting chronic fatigue (from 16% to 3.6%), candida
(from 21% to 5%), depression (from 27% to 7%), anxiety (from 22% to
8%), weak immune system (from 17% to 0.2%), hypoglycemia (from 15%
to 2.6%), fibromyalgia (from 5.6% to 1.5%), osteoarthritis (from 4.8%
to 2.8%), and cancer (from 2.7% to 0.4%). Asthma, skin disorders, gastrointestinal
disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, heart conditions, and migraines/sinus
headaches also showed improvement.
Results indicate a normalization of sexual drive on a live foods diet,
with those reporting “high” or “excessive” sex
drive dropping from 29% to 26% and those reporting a “moderate” sex
drive rising from 43% to 48%.
It is interesting to note that there was a substantial decrease indicated
in stress levels among respondents on a live foods diet. Those reporting “a
lot” of stress in life after transitioning to live foods dropped
from 56% to 20%.
Women’s menstrual cycles showed improvement on a live foods
diet. In terms of comfort, the percentage of respondents describing
their cycles as “alright” to “very comfortable” rose
from 27% before live foods to 53% after live foods. Most attributed
this improvement to their change in diet (72.3%). All cycle-related
symptoms showed dramatic improvement on a live foods diet, including
PMS in general, cycle-related depression, moodiness/irritability, bloating/water
retention, nausea, headaches, tender/swollen breasts, cravings for
sweets, low backache, heavy flow, cramps, and irregular periods, and
there was a definite reduction in the use of pain relievers. Furthermore,
there seem to have been reductions in yeast infections, endometriosis,
and uterine fibroids.
Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Health
One of the most dramatic and encouraging areas of improvement observed
among respondents was that of “Mental/Emotional/Spiritual Health.”
Here, 68% of respondents felt they had developed intellectually “quite
a bit” or “tremendously” since transitioning to live
foods. 81% felt they had developed emotionally “quite a bit” or “tremendously”,
and 77% felt they had developed spiritually “quite a bit” or “tremendously”.
Overall, the vast majority of respondents (87.5%) reported an improved
mental/emotional/spiritual state after transitioning to a live foods
diet, and, most attributed this primarily to their change in diet (88.2%),
followed closely by spiritual/energetic healing (50.5%) and self-inquiry
(50.3%). The percentage of respondents reporting a “good” or “excellent” mental/emotional/spiritual
state after transitioning to a live foods diet rose in all categories
surveyed including: general sense of well-being (36% to 91%), enthusiasm/optimism
(43% to 91%), patience/tolerance (29% to 84%), self-sufficiency (54%
to 88%), openness to change/flexibility (53% to 89%), non-attachment(32%
to 77%), memory/focus/clarity (36% to 82%), creativity (48% to 82%),
efficiency/multi-tasking (53% to 82%), relationships (37% to 80%),
occupational satisfaction (34% to 71%), faith/hope (47% to 85%), passion
(for anything) (53% to 88%), intuition (52% to 91%), compassion/love
(55% to 90%), social comfort (36% to 77%), comfort being alone (61%
to 89%), depth of meditation (28% to 68%), spiritual desire and interest
(50% to 85%), quietness of mind (25% to 74%), non-causal contentment
(30% to 80%), non-causal peace (32% to 80%), and non-causal joy (31%
to 79%). There was an increase from 32% to 51% in the number of respondents
who felt they were experiencing ecstatic bliss “sometimes” on
a live foods diet versus before, and an increase from 6% to 31% in
those reported feeling ecstatic bliss “often/always”!!
Based on these results, it was concluded that people who have been
on a raw foods diet for two years or more experienced and generally
continue to experience significant improvements on many physical, emotional,
mental, and spiritual levels. There appear to be very few, if any,
consistent negative effects or areas of serious concern that can be
identified from this preliminary study.
Further research needs to be done to investigate in detail each of
the general areas examined in this study as well as: 1) the impact
of a raw foods diet on women’s weight and hormones in the long-term;
2) the impact of a raw foods diet on thyroid levels in the short and
long terms; 3) perceived and actual nutritional deficiencies as a result
of a long-term raw foods diet and their effect on the rate of re-adoption
of cooked and/or animal foods and, in general; 4) the frequency of
sustained satisfaction with and benefit from a raw foods diet among
long-term practitioners (i.e. 3 years more).
A Raw Foods Diet has been agreed to be and defined as consisting
of at least 80-100% living (fresh, unheated over 115ºF, unprocessed,
unadulterated) foods by the International Living Foods Summit held
at The Hippocrates Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida on January
14th, 2006. Leaders and experts from 8 countries convened at this historic
summit to establish scientifically based standards for optimum health.
For more articles on food, see the Food
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