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Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

Other // Unrated // February 1, 2009
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted March 31, 2009 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Without fully realizing it, over the last several years diabetes has become an increasing part of my daily activities. One of the places I worked for several years ago was in support of a pharmaceutical company who provided blood sugar meters to diabetics, and I became familiar with that aspect of things. A close friend of mine almost found himself as a diagnosed diabetic a few years ago, but diet and exercise has him in the best shape of his life since high school, dropping almost 175 pounds in the process. My father is a diabetic and my younger brother is well on his way to that fate as well.

So it is with some personal interest that I took on watching Simply Raw. Rather than discussing the tenets of the raw/living food diet, the film, produced by the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona, follows the trials of six individuals, all of whom have either type 1 diabetes (which requires constant monitoring through the use of an insulin pump) or type 2 diabetes. Both types use frequent self-administered blood tests with meters, and insulin injections as required. They are instructed to reduce their insulin dosages by one third as part of the diet. Before I get too far ahead of myself, a raw food diet (as best as I understand it) consists of fruits, vegetables and raw/untreated seeds, like sunflower seeds, unsalted cashews, etc. Any foods which require cooking should be done at a maximum cooking temperature of 118 degrees, so as to preserve the enzymes within the food. No meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine processed/packaged food is allowed.

The stories from the people involved are relatable to anyone you might know in your life. Austen is 25 and a type 1 diabetic who believes that he won't be free of insulin dependency in his current condition. Kirt is 25 and was scared by a recent diagnosis of diabetes enough that he wanted to undertake the effort. Bill is 58 and has had diabetes for years, and recounts one startling story about how he was warming his feet next to a heater and hadn't realized he burned them, the result of diabetic neuropathy. They each come to the Center looking for change and for 30 days, immerses themselves in the program.

Now the film does have educational value to it, but the filmmakers might have been aware of the fact that showing people what the center does might have a bit of an associated "preach factor." So while you see what the group has for the first day, there's very little time spent on the food itself, other than the individuals' battles with how bad it might taste. A nut and flax burger looks interesting, but I'd want to see what they're doing in preparation. All vegetarian sushi rolls and desserts are made later, but the vegan inspiration behind it isn't given enough time to share what's in each dish, aside from the rolls. That said, the bulk of the time is spent on the participants' and their turnarounds in general health and wellness. One of the participants (Henry) does leave halfway through the program, but more apparently having to do with the food not agreeing with him physically then the program itself.

Even with Henry's departure, the results after the first week of the program are impressive. Michell is a 36 year old wife and food enthusiast and also thinks about leaving, but reconsiders both based on what's happened to her at that point and what continues to happen. Many of the participants are completely off insulin after that first week, and after 30 days, all of the participants were off insulin except for Austen, who was down to a minimal dosage. Many experienced weight drops of over 20 pounds, and each had their blood sugar drop by a MINIMUM of 50%. Pam, a 62 year old (now former) type 2, is so impressed that she resolves to become an advocate of the raw lifestyle. But the biggest surprise is saved for Kirt. Upon a follow-up visit to his doctor, he discovers that an insulin pump was in his future as a type 1 diabetic. His blood work was so good that he required no further medications. In effect, the raw food diet helped reverse a presumed type 1 diabetes sentence.

Along with some threadbare bits of wisdom from raw food advocates Woody Harrelson (No Country For Old Men), Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and motivational speaker Tony Robbins, Simply Raw makes for a powerful and convincing case to, at the very least, explore the raw food option. And based on the results of the six people in the film, it's hard to dismiss it out of hand. My father's birthday is coming up, I think I know what I might be getting him.

The Disc:
Video:

Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Simply Raw is filmed mainly on handheld videocameras on the isolated Arizona compound. There are issues with focus and image detail as Chris Neilson noted in his review, but considering the source footage, it's not a concern.

Audio:

Two channel Dolby stereo which, for this documentary, is average and not really all that remarkable. No narration or additional sound effects to pore over, and the music in the film is generic and clean without distortion, and no drop outs from the spoken material.

Extras:

A pre-feature introduction which lasts seven minutes and is hosted by one of the participants, but other than that, nada.

Final Thoughts:

Simply Raw does a simple job in showing the positive effects of the raw food diet, using ordinary people and showing their extraordinary results. While I would have liked to see a little more about the program itself, I guess that's why they made the film, to whet your whistle and make you wonder more on what it's about. For those who are considering a lifestyle change with food, this is a viable option worth exploring, and this disc helps show you a little of what you might experience.

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