How Raw Foodists Get Sick: 10 Deadly Outcomes for Otherwise Super Healthy People

Thursday Sep 4 | BY |
| Comments (9)

10 Things That Can Kill or Injure Otherwise Super-Healthy People


Most people in Western countries die of lifestyle-related diseases. The biggest killers are heart disease and cancer, which account for the vast majority of deaths in the world.

Raw foodists and other people who eat a very healthy diet will protect themselves from those degenerative diseases that affect most people. I’ve rarely heard of a raw foodist dying of colon cancer, a stroke, or as the consequences of diabetes.

However, super-healthy people, because of their lifestyle habits and the beliefs that dictate them, are at risk of suffering from all kinds of diseases, often at a faster rate than the general population.

Here are 10 Things That Can Kill or Injure Otherwise Super-Healthy People…

1. Sun Damage.

Raw foodists, fitness buffs and paleo folks are often sun worshippers. Because they believe that sunscreen causes cancer, rather than preventing it, they carelessly expose themselves to too much sun, too often.

Although some studies show a correlation between cancer risks and people avoiding the sun and using sunscreen, those studies generally isolate Nordic populations that are at risk for vitamin D deficiencies, living in areas where there’s little sun most of the year. And we know that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to cancer. (Also: people who use sunscreen often don’t realize that their skin is still being burned by the sun if they stay in it for too long, as even the best sunscreen is never a complete protection.)

We do need some exposure to the sunrays in order to produce adequate vitamin D, but it’s very important never to burn our skin.

What I’ve personally found is that most raw foodists and fitness buffs I have met stay in the sun for way too long and rarely care about protecting their skin from excessive sun exposure.

There’s the theory that because they eat a lot of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, their skin may get some extra protection and be less likely to develop cancer.

This may very well be true; however, the end result is that most of those raw foodists ended up with old-looking skin, way before their time, as a result of this excess sun exposure. Their diet may protect them from cancer, but it will not prevent the DNA damage from sunshine that causes skin to wrinkle.

To prevent this from happening, make sure that you don’t overexpose your skin to the sun.

• First rule: do not burn!
• Avoid sun exposure when the sun is the strongest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but especially in midday). If you are out in the sun at that time, make sure to protect yourself.
• Eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants. Green smoothies or juices!
• Wear protective clothing. A white t-shirt has a SPF of 5. That is not enough in most cases. If you engage in water-based activities, such as snorkeling, wear a shirt specially designed for sun protection, with a higher SPF.
• Use a natural skin moisturizer with an SPF of 15.
• You can use a natural sunscreen containing zinc oxide. It’s the safest sunscreen, but not the most pleasing aesthetically, as it tends to leave a pasty film on the skin. Check out this product
• Be smart about it! It’s okay to get some sunshine. You want to find the right balance. Protect yourself the rest of the time.

2. Staph Infection

Raw foodists and hippies often like to spend a lot of time in tropical countries, where they often stay in farms, spending a lot of time outside and exercising, and sweating profusely.

Therefore, staph infections seem to be common in these people. I can’t count the number of times I heard of a raw foodist living in a place like Hawaii or Thailand suffering from a staph infection! Some have even done videos about their experience.

This disease is caused by bacteria and can be very painful. Some raw foodists refuse treatments with antibiotics and often drag on the disease unnecessarily for months.

Avoid the disease by keeping your hands clean with regular cleaning, and avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.

3. Dental Disease

Raw foodists generally avoid common degenerative diseases that affect millions, but seem to be more at risk for dental disease. They experience more cavities, more enamel erosion, and are more at risk for periodontal disease.

More than one raw foodist I know has lost almost all of their teeth. And many have had other serious dental problems as well.

A study done in Germany found that when subjects switched to a raw food diet, they experienced a higher incidence of enamel erosion.

A big reason why raw foodists have dental problems is that they eat all day. They don’t have proper meals because fruits and vegetables are so low in calories that they don’t get full eating them, and have to continue grazing on fruit all day.

It’s better to train yourself to have fewer meals a day, to avoid the constant onslaught of sugar in the mouth.

Also, vegetarian foods contain more acidity, in general. Author PETA BEE writes in the Daily Mail:

Fruit and vegetables are generally acidic and studies have suggested vegetarians are more at risk.

Dentists at the University of Dundee found that different cooking methods could increase the acidity of vegetarian dishes, such as roasted vegetables. Exposure to high temperatures produced chemical changes that made the acid more concentrated, and more damaging to teeth.

In particular, the acidity level of courgettes, peppers, onions and aubergines increased when roasted.

To find out more information on this important topic, make sure to read the program “How to Prevent and Heal Dental Disasters,” available here.

4- Malnutrition and Starvation

A few years ago, I met a lovely woman who was involved in a local raw food society where I gave a conference on the west coast of Canada. She was a healthy person in her forties, following a raw vegan diet.

She died a few weeks later, under mysterious circumstances.

Apparently, she got into the idea of eating less and less, which is very popular in the raw food movement even now. She was already so thin… why? I thought to myself.

Eventually, she started to feel weak. She ended up in the hospital, where doctors could not figure out what her problem was. At that point, she entered the medical system, where doctors were not aware of the problem of how sensitive she could be. Her body was so weak and “pure” from all these years of eating raw and calorie restriction that possibly some of the drugs they gave her killed her.

So What Happened?

When you weaken the body with a low-calorie diet for too long, and only consume a little fruit, juices and some raw veggies with a lot of fasting, the body eventually becomes very sensitive.

I am convinced that this woman ultimately died from the treatments that were administered to her at the hospital by well-meaning doctors. She would not have died, of course, had she not followed her detox program for too long.

That’s why people who fast for long periods of time are at risk and have to be supervised by doctors who understand these issues and know what to do in case a problem arises.

In the end, this poor woman was killed by philosophy: the philosophy of extreme raw veganism and breatharianism.

5- B12 Deficiency

I once knew a German guy in Costa Rica who had decided to live on an extreme diet of coconut water and papayas. He was later found naked singing to himself at a bus stop. The locals put him on a plane back to Germany, where he was diagnosed with a severe B12 deficiency.

B12 deficiencies can cause mental confusion as well as psychosis and hallucinations. This is typically a symptom that only occurs in very advanced cases of total depletion.

A famous case of B12 deficiency in vegans is that of T.C. Fry.

T.C. Fry arguably turned more people on to the raw food diet than anyone else in history. He was the inspiration behind the book “Fit for Life” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, a bestseller that promoted Natural Hygiene and raw foods. Many of today’s leaders in the health industry were inspired by this book.

T.C. Fry initially had one of the most interesting stories of “before and after” out of any writer in this field. At 45, overweight and with a heart condition, he turned his health around.

In 1996, T.C. Fry died at the age of 69. Since his death, many articles have been written to attempt to explain his death. According to Dr. Fuhrman, who saw his blood work, his B12 levels were severely deficient and the lowest he had ever seen.

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for proper functioning of the brain and nervous system and blood formation. Only bacteria and algae can synthesize this vitamin. For this reason, B12 is not normally found in vegan diets, but is found in animal foods (from bacteria growing on the food).

In the animal world, many herbivorous animals obtain their vitamin B12 by eating their own feces. Because pure veganism is a modern invention of humans, it is possible that throughout history, the main source of vitamin B12 for humans was the consumption of some animal products. Vitamin B12 is found in animal flesh, fish, milk, and eggs (although eggs contain a factor that can block the absorption of B12).

Vegan foods that have been reputed to contain B12, such as seaweed, barley grass, nutritional yeast, spirulina, and micro-algae have been shown to contain an analog form of vitamin B12, which can increase our need for real vitamin B12.

While a B12 deficiency can be nasty, and include multiple problems such as personality change, memory loss, and disorientation, low B12 levels are rarely recognized as a contributing factor for heart disease.

6- Heart Disease

Just like in the general population, most vegans and vegetarians die of heart disease. Yet, vegans and vegetarians have some of the lowest risk factors for heart disease, like high cholesterol and blood pressure. So what gives?

The vegan world was shocked when Jay Dinshah, founder of the American Vegan Society, died of a heart attack at age 66, way below the life expectancy in the United States.

Mr. Dinshah was raised as a vegan.

In the wake of Jay Dinshah’s death, Dr. Michael Klaper, an expert on vegan nutrition, wrote the following:

“Elevated blood levels of homocysteine, a byproduct of the metabolism of the essential amino acid methionine, can contribute to damage of the artery walls, which is viewed as an early step in the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries. Cobalamin (vitamin B12) is essential for the metabolism and elimination of homocysteine, and if vitamin B12 in the blood is not adequate, homocysteine may rise to artery-damaging levels. Because modern-day vegans and vegetarians do not consume vitamin B12 from our environment as did our ancestors (on the surface of root vegetables, drinking water from free-flowing streams and wells, etc.), people nourishing themselves on exclusively plant-based foods would be wise to consume vitamin B12-enriched foods, or some food or supplement containing at least 5 to 10 micrograms (mcg.) of vitamin B12 one to two times weekly.” Source

Dr. Michael Greger, another expert on the vegan diet, also researched extensively the life expectancy and causes of death of vegans and vegetarians, summarized in this video.

In addition to low B12 levels, another cause of heart disease in vegans is a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Vegetarians often consume too many oils rich in omega-6.

Omega-6 fats (contained in sunflower oil, corn oil, and most nuts and seeds), are inflammatory.

Omega-3 fats (contained in fatty fish, hemp, chia, flax, and greens), are anti-inflammatory.

The idea is not to overload on omega-3 fats, but instead watch for the total RATIO of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diet. Essentially, this is accomplished by avoiding eating too many fats in concentrated foods (especially oils), particularly corn, sesame, cottonseed, and sunflower products. Avoid eating more than 1-2 ounces of nuts a day, and make sure to include a source of omega-3 in your diet. Ground flax seeds should be part of everyone’s diet.

Also related to B12…

7- Neurological Disease and Depression

A few years ago, I was back in Canada, and met an acquaintance who told me an interesting story. The guy had just recovered from a serious B12 deficiency. He wasn’t a vegetarian. Sometimes, B12 deficiencies can occur from malabsorption problems, even when B12 is present in the diet.

Through his ordeal, he was misdiagnosed by several doctors with a mental illness, including paranoia and depression. He was put on anti-depressants, which made him gain weight and did nothing to alleviate his symptoms. After a few weeks, he finally found the right doctor who diagnosed his B12 deficiency. He had levels is the low 20s (normal should be over 200 pg/ml).

Finally, the doctor ordered B12 shots and the situation was resolved. But undeniably, his brain probably suffered some permanent neurological damage through this extended period of B12 deficiency.

One of the major vitamin deficiencies that vegetarians are at risk for is a lack of vitamin B12. Found only in meat and dairy foods or foods such as cereal that have been artificially fortified, it is vital for cell growth and nerve function.

If you don’t get enough B12, you are at risk of mild neurological problems, including mood swings and depression.

“A vitamin B12 deficiency can manifest itself in extreme fatigue and brain or mood problems,” says Bridget Benelam, from the British Nutrition Foundation.

8- Hypothyroidism

Vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists and healthy eaters often suffer from hypothyroidism.

This could be caused in part by the fact that they tend to avoid table salt, which is often the only source of iodine in the diet. Soils in many parts of the world are deficient in iodine, and a deficiency in this mineral can cause hypothyroidism.

I recommend getting your thyroid function checked periodically, and including a source of iodine in the diet. This could be a supplement, or sea vegetables containing iodine.

Also avoid eating large quantities of raw bok choy.

Raw bok choy contains compounds called “glucosinolates” that have been found to inhibit thyroid function. One 88-year-old woman in the U.S. was eating two or three pounds of raw Bok Choy per day and almost died from hypothyroidism because of that. This is not to say that raw Bok Choy should be avoided, but it should be used in moderation.

9- Food Poisoning 

A few careless raw vegans have made the news by unfortunately dying after ingesting wild herbs that were toxic.

For example, there’s a plant found in tropical countries, called ketuk. It can be planted in any garden and spreads like crazy. Its leaves are edible and relatively tasty. But it can only be eaten in very small quantities. A few years ago in Thailand, a green preparation made with ketuk leaves was sold as a natural remedy for weight loss. After a few people died from overdose, the ketuk-based product had to be taken off the shelves.

Raw foodists who stick with foods from the grocery store or farmer’s market should be okay, but those venturing into the world of wild foods should never do so without professional guidance.

10- Old Age

Ultimately, the goal for any health-conscious person is to die of old age. The human being has a natural lifespan, and even under the best circumstances and on the best diet in the world, most people will not outlive the average lifespan. Genetic components may be part of it.

Whenever a vegetarian or paleo eater dies at more or less the average life expectancy and of natural causes, we often hear people say “How come he didn’t live any longer?”

The reality is that we’re all going to die of something. If we’re lucky, it will be one of two things:

Heart failure. Eventually, the cardiovascular system weakens with time, and that’s how people “die in their sleep.”

Immune System Failure. Many old people die of pneumonia, or other infectious disease. With age, the immune system weakens, leaving old people more susceptible to diseases and infections that would not have harmed them in their youth.

It’s also possible that developing and dying from cancer at an advanced age is not “unnatural.” As we age, there are more and more possibilities for our DNA to develop mutations, and with age, the body gets weaker and weaker at re-establishing homeostasis.

Many people who have died of degenerative diseases, say of a heart attack at age 70, probably also had underlying issues, like cancer, that would have manifested themselves later in life.

Speaking of heart disease, it is not natural or normal for human beings to die from the consequences of atherosclerosis at any point in life. Our arteries are meant to stay clean and last us for a lifetime!

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Sten says:

    Hi Frederic

    You are missing a very important part of the puzzle regarding dental health. I recommend listening to one of the videos or podcasts with Dr. Hal Huggins who explains very important information about that.

    You will be amazed!

    Thanks and all the best

  2. Nomi Shannon says:

    Fred this is a fabulous article. You touch upon a lot of points that are sources of confusion to many raw food enthusiasts. Let’s face it, zealotry in any form will eventually lead to no good. Often I speak with people who say things like my food should be enough; I don’t need supplements. The Real Truth is that most people want to quickly learn the ins and outs of the subject at hand; in this case-the optimal diet. But due to biological differences and other factors there is simply no such thing as one diet fits all. The lady you mentioned that you met in Canada who died a short while later was doing something many people do and virtually all the people who say a raw diet doesn’t work for them do: she was eating a cleansing diet, in her case an extreme one instead of a normal maintenance diet. This is often due to not enough research or reading on how to create a raw food diet (in whatever percentage you deem is best for yourself). Everyone is in a rush so they pick up this fact and that, then create a lifestyle around incomplete or incorrect information. Throw in the issue of understanding how your own unique body reacts and the vast amount of confusion is understandable.

    In my work with people I always recommend that they get some basic blood work done. Most if not all high raw vegans need to include B12 (from good sources like methylcobalamin patches), then the Omegas ratio, Vitamin D then move on to calories and the difference between a cleansing diet…used for a relatively short time to deal with toxicity and illness and actually living a daily healthy lifestyle, or maintenance diet. When people say that they had to stop being high raw because they lose too much weight it’s because they aren’t eating properly. When a person begins to have this issue it’s very useful to use an online nutritional site such as, or Then they can see in black and white the amount of calories, fats, proteins and carbs they are taking in and can adjust from there.

    Another issue is that going from the paradigm of “tell me what to do” (doctor…what pill, what potion should I take, what should I eat) to taking total personal responsibility for one’s own health including diet, supplements, etc is not an easy road- especially at first. Often the paradigm doesn’t change…people really are still in essence, saying “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it” only it’s about cleaner food and herbs etc…but it’s not always so easy to realize that you are in the same paradigm of seeking the answers from outside of yourself sources. Bottom Line: We are each unique. There is no one size fits all. That is why there are so many books, websites, courses, teachers etc…a few good resources used wisely and always listening to your own body/reactions will end confusion and mistakes and lead you where you want to go: vibrant health at any age so that you can do what you were meant to do here on earth.

    I hope that at age 71 and almost 30 years high raw that I am becoming an example of how to thrive on a high raw mostly vegan diet. I lead the life of a 40 something year old with long work weeks and lots of involvement in technology and a zest for life that I honestly would never have dreamed of in my younger years.

    Fred-Thanks so much for your helpful articles and for the work that you do.

  3. mj says:

    a n y diet can cause health issues…..a lot of vegetarians eat extremely unhealthy food replacing carbs with meat …obviously that is not going to work….the key is balance and knowledge
    but overall raw food diet is fantastic done right way with some supplementation and regular check-ups at doctors office

    • Neil says:

      “A lot of vegetarians eat extremely unhealthy food”

      I see, and those in the majority who aren’t vegetarians are doing just fine, right? Regular check ups at the Doctor are designed for people who haven’t got a clue about being healthy( the general population) or those who are paranoid about having a disease. This is all a part of humans losing touch with reality and natures laws, but instead are brainwashed by modern society.

      Most vegetarians are far healthier with less diseases than the majority who live a life of glorious freedom of not caring what they eat or where it comes from.

  4. Zyxomma says:

    Great article, Fred. I’ve been vegan (and high raw) for more than three decades, and I’m wise enough to supplement B12 several times a week. I also supplement iodine, because too many family members are/were low thyroid. Health and peace.

  5. BRIE says:

    Many thanks for your research! How does a person with a natural health recovery story get your expertise to share it?

  6. Victoria says:

    Excellent article as a start into more in-depth topics. Paricularly to point #7 I would like to add that vit B12 deficiency may also be traced to taking wrong form of B12 and the challenges of MTHFR gene mutation which prevents many (10%+of population) from absorbing it and other vital supplements properly. The test is inexpensive and even if one does not take the test, just read up on best forms to take and do it. Vitamin B measured in blood does not insure what your brain gets is adequate. This mutation (or mutations) also prevents toxins from proper removal. Supplementation with trace minerals lithium orotate (5-10 mg) and molybdenum helps enormously to compensate. Acidity is a problem for most of us – pink himalayan salt sole is a great way to compensate and, frankly, really does make me feel so much better.

  7. Neil says:

    Fine article with some relevant points. I would simply like to add on the Sunshine and vitamin D topic. It is actually best to go in the sun between the hours that most people say to get out of it, between 10 and 2pm, or the middle part of the day. This is because we absorb Vitamin D much better during these hours, but obviously one needs to be sensible about how much they get. Unfortunately, still too many ( in my part of the world) Aussies are stupid and get burnt too often, they just don’t plan their day properly. The sun is the best ( and free) natural way to gain Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, as it stays longer within you as opposed to ie Vitamin D supplements.

    Comments are closed for this post.