23.6 million Americans suffer from diabetes, a metabolic disorder whereby the body is impeded in the production or use of insulin. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) labels another 57 million Americans with above-normal glucose levels as pre-diabetic, warning that they are at increased risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes, particularly the more prevalent Type II, is largely considered a first-world disease triggered by excess caloric consumption and insufficient exercise, but the World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people will be afflicted globally by 2050.
Diabetes is strongly associated with other health risks including high blood pressure and cholesterol. In fact, according to the ADA, 65% of people with diabetes eventually die of heart disease or stroke. The prevailing conventional medical wisdom is that diabetes is a chronic disease that has no cure, but which typically can be managed effectively through improved diet, increased exercise, and where necessary, medication.
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days, a 91-minute, independently-created and distributed advocacy documentary, promotes the use of a raw food diet to control diabetes. The documentary follows six diabetics through thirty days on a raw food diet. The participants are ordinary Americans who responded to an advertisement. They include Henry, a 68-year-old Native American retiree from Reno, Nevada; Pam, a 62-year-old African-American grandmother from Sarasota, Florida; Bill, a 58-year-old devout Catholic, Italian-American from Long Beach, California; Michell, a 36-year-old African-American working mother from New York City; Austin, a twenty-five-year-old Caucasian still transitioning into adulthood from Rockford, Michigan; and Kirt, a 25-year-old African-American from inner-city Baltimore, Maryland. The four older participants are mildly to moderately obese, and suffer from Type II diabetes and associated health problems, while Austin and Kirt suffer from Type I diabetes, and are of normal weight.
The six participants undertake their thirty-day diet transformation at a remote wellness center in Arizona under physician care. Their diet is restricted to three meals per day at which they may consume as many raw vegan foods as they wish prepared in a variety of delectable combinations by a gourmet chef. However, meat, dairy, cooked grains, sugar, caffeine, and anything cooked over 118 degrees is completely prohibited, while alcohol and cigarettes are also strongly discouraged for the duration of the thirty days.
The effects of the raw food diet on the participants are apparent quickly. Within three days of beginning the diet everyone has significantly cut or eliminated their daily insulin injections. Nevertheless, moods among the participants seesaw as their minds and bodies cope with the dramatically altered diet. Two decide that the diet is too extreme for them despite dramatic improvement in their health. One of the two has a change of heart and remains, but they are not the only ones to rebel against the diet.
At the end of the thirty days, though all six experienced significant improvements in their health, one participant has left and one has substantially violated the diet. Among the three obese, Type II diabetics who made it to the end, all were able to go off insulin, and had shed 20 pounds or more while lowering cholesterol. Among the Type I diabetics, results mirrored commitment with one of the two completely going off insulin, while the other reduced his daily intake from seventy units to five despite dietary backsliding during the month.
Though too cursory to be entirely satisfactory, follow ups with the participants after they return home show some of them incorporating a modified raw diet into their lives.
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days is told without narration and with only limited intertitles. The editing style is akin to that of American reality television, but the level of contrivance is slightly less. The score is well done and not overpowering.
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days is packaged in a thin, brightly-colored cardboard case. The length and width of the cardboard case correspond with that of a standard DVD case.
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days is presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The video image is interlaced and suffers from motion blur, digital combing, soft focus, and diminished image detail, but overall image quality is acceptable for material of this kind.
Although there is no notable separation between channels, the 2.0 audio sounds acceptable. Forced subtitles are provided when the dialogue is too low to hear, but no optional subtitles are provided.
A seven-minute introductory segment on eating a raw diet is provided.
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days is inspiring for demonstrating what can be achieved through extreme diet modification. However, of the six participants, there's only one that had any chance of succeeding on this diet without the encouraging environment created by the wellness center. Alas, the practical application of this documentary is limited because few American diabetics would be willing to so radically alter their conventional diets rich in meat, processed food, and empty calories even if the benefit for doing so is a healthy, longer life.
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days is recommended for purchase by libraries and schools, and for rental by diabetics and pre-diabetics considering dietary modification.