This email came from a couple. Both have been 100 percent raw for several years:
Tonya! I’m at my wits end! We went to give blood today and my iron count has dropped to 35. Last time it was 37—one point below where it should be in order to donate. The strange thing is, my husband’s was also 35. His iron count has always been fine.
Our main focus for our green smoothies is kale, spinach, chard and other greens. We also eat raisins and hemp seeds.
They tell me at the blood center that watermelon is a good source. Yet I drink watermelon juice by the quart! I’ve referred back to your Beautiful On Raw book and just can’t figure out what we’re doing wrong! I do get tired in the evening, around 8 or 8:30, so there’s obviously something that’s not right. Any comments?
Raw Food Lifestyle and Low Iron
This email brought to mind an incident which took place back in 2001 after my last hip replacement operation. My blood test showed I had low iron. The intern brought me the news and offered a pill. Just out of surgery, I was more than usually inclined to believe “doctor knows best.” I dutifully swallowed the pill. My body promptly rejected it, and out it came.
The doctor, rather an old school type, came into the room right about then. “Doctor, this patient has low iron,” the intern announced in alarm. The doctor leaned down and took my hand in his. He studied my fingernails for a moment and announced with certainty, “No, she doesn’t.”
That episode turned me into a difficult patient in a wink. Later, I did some research and learned that pale, whitish nail beds may indicate a low red blood cell count, consistent with anemia. An iron deficiency can also cause the nail bed to be thin and concave and show raised ridges.
What can we learn from this story? Laboratory tests are based on “standard” patients on “standard” diets and oftentimes taking “standard” medications as well. It has been brought to my attention time and time again that people on raw foods diets deliver “abnormal” blood tests even when they are the picture of health. It is common for those on the raw food diet to have low white blood cell counts and iron levels by comparison with average, “normal” ranges.
My experience, for example, showed that my iron level was low, but only in relation to standard values—not in relation to how healthy I really was. My daily juicing and raw food diet provided my body with everything it needed. I felt fine, and fortunately for me, that doctor knew how to use the signals my body was giving in order to make that determination. Test results may not always be accurate, but the body’s response is. There are other ways besides blood tests to determine whether there really is a problem: The body is equipped with methods for indicating when something is out of balance.
Now, don’t you dare to think I’m telling you to ignore everything your doctor tells you. Quite the contrary, I am just pointing out that we must educate ourselves and understand why, when people are healthy and cleansed on the raw food diet, they cannot be put into the same category as those who are persistently unwell. That’s comparing apples to oranges.
But what if you actually do have low iron? How will you know? The most pronounced symptoms are usually extreme fatigue, lethargy, dizziness, headaches, loss of appetite, heart palpitations, pale skin and a persistent feeling of cold. If you experience these symptoms, by all means have your iron levels checked and seek advice of a qualified health practitioner. Check out the article Raw Foods and Iron Deficiency on my blog.
Do keep your perspective, though! While one symptom of low iron is fatigue, just because you’re tired doesn’t automatically mean something is wrong with you. Healing is not a straight ascending single line, it is more like: two steps up, and one step down. Keep in mind: All the physiological processes in the human body are going though rhythms and cycles. It will become more apparent when the body is rebuilding itself on the raw food diet. There will be days you will be feeling tired and others when when you feel like you can bottle your energy and offer it up for sale.
What Ails General Public?
I have a friend who works at an answering service. He takes calls for several doctors. I asked him to give me a list of problems people were calling about on an average day. His list came back very long and horrific. To mention just a few of the crisis situations on his daily shift:
Hyper-parathyroidism, ablation, G.I. bleeding, bacteremia, sepsis, renal failure, acute pancreatitis, elevated glucose levels, gastroptosis, intractable vomiting, myocardio anti-coagulation, spinosis of the back, varicose veins, blood pulsating, excessive female bleeding, anemia, pleural fluid, syncope, bradycardia, tuberculosis, hyperkalemia, elevated blood pressure…
Message: If all you get is a little tired by the end of day, you’re not doing too badly. Our cooked-food population is very sick, overall. Our raw foods group is doing so much better. Accordingly, we should have different parameters by which to be judged, medically. But no one has ever done comprehensive research on us raw food folks, to establish our natural parameters.
I’m often asked: Have I had any medical tests done? Some even ask me to get those tests done. Friends…I love my readers dearly, but I’m not about to volunteer myself as a guinea pig. One of the main reasons I follow the 100 percent raw foods lifestyle is to avoid doctors. Lord knows I’ve met my share! Throughout and since childhood, I’ve spent more hours than I can count enduring tests, pokes, prods and procedures. Far from lining up for more, I’m going to do whatever I can to stay away! Being jabbed, tweezed, suctioned, drained, tweaked, bent, twisted and twirled just isn’t my idea of a good time, and I’ll be darned if I’ll volunteer for more. Why should I…when I look and feel the absolute best of my entire life?
The Raw Food Lifestyle Turns You into a Different Specimen.
I’ll get a medical test when I need one…the same as you’ll get one when you need it. What will tests tell me that I already don’t know? Doubtless, some of my results will be abnormal, according to standardized testing. I already know my white blood cell count is, by conventional standards, low. Iron, too. The catch: Those “conventional standards” are the standards found in a population which almost exclusively consumes cooked food. And too much food altogether as well, you’d agree. Once you been on raw foods a while, you will seem an enigma to the medical community.
I’m over 50, I’ve never had a hot flash. This, too, is—I have to stop to place air-quotes around this—“abnormal.” I don’t have any liver spots or wrinkles on my skin. Also “abnormal.” You know, Paul Simon told us there must be fifty ways to leave your lover. Don’t get me started, or I’ll list fifty ways the raw food lifestyle makes you “abnormal.” In an article I wrote for Get Fresh! Magazine, I elaborated on Twenty Ways the Raw Food Lifestyle Makes You Special. In short, the raw food lifestyle turns us into a different specimen.
Low Body Temperature Means Slow Aging
I don’t know what my cholesterol level is. I have, however, subjected myself to my husband’s uncle pricking my finger for a blood sugar level. Diabetes is not only his disease but his hobby. He checks his own blood sugar level constantly, and likes to check everyone else’s as well. My own level is…75 before a meal. It is still “normal” but on the lower side. And since I practice Quantum Eating you can be sure I have no symptoms of hypoglycemia whatsoever. My body temperature is 35.6 degrees Celsius (96.08 degrees Fahrenheit)
If you’ve read at least one of my books, then you are familiar with calorie restriction and its anti-aging benefits. At the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center calorie restriction has been tested on rhesus monkeys. In the July 10, 2009 issue of “Science”, researchers reported the status of rhesus monkeys that have been on CR for 20 years compared with a control group given a normal diet during that time. The CR animals still show remarkably fewer signs of aging (none show any signs of diabetes) compared to the control group.
Calorie Restriction and Medical Tests
Rhesus monkeys on a calorie restriction (CR) diet show several metabolic changes, such as: lower body temperature, lower levels of insulin, higher levels of the adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS).
These changes are also associated with increased longevity in CR human volunteers. I would imagine their physicians, if they are not knowledgeable in CR research, would be very alarmed by their “abnormal” tests results.
I am practicing a low calorie raw food diet. It is an anti-aging diet. Why would I even want my tests to be the same as of that fast aging cooked food population? Get more information about the link between calorie restriction and the raw foods in my most recent book, Raw Food and Hot Yoga.
Are my test results “normal?” I should hope not.
If we want to be much healthier than the general population, different test parameters should be expected. Pay attention to the signals your body is sending without focusing microscopically on every little oddity. If you have blood tests that show low or higher than “normal” levels, be sure to do your research before jumping to conclusions. Check in with your body. If you are experiencing radiant health and continually improving beauty, lots of energy and especially healthy, robust nails, do you really need to get a second opinion?
The raw food lifestyle presupposes an entirely different level of health which does not exist for the average person. There is no state of wellness to be compared with the feelings of lightness, ease and exaltation, experienced by a long- term raw food practitioner. This reality is incomprehensible when judged from conceptions of the ordinary cooked food population.