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Raw foods and mental health

Before and after raw vegan foods
2019 Before raw foods (Left) & 2023 After raw foods (Right)

I have spoken to many raw foodists and there is one common theme amongst all raw vegans and fruitarians that I have spoken too. That is that they came into the raw foods lifestyle suffering in some way with their mental health. Whether they suffered from anxiety, depression, stress, low mood, PTSD or some other psychiatric disorder. One of the most interesting trends that I have noticed as I talk to raw vegans in the community is that when they started to eat raw foods one of the first symptoms to improve was their mental health.

If you ever meet a raw foodist you will see straight away that they seem very happy, content and smile often. Yet most of these people all say they suffered terribly with their mental health before the switch to a raw foods diet. I too was one of those who suffered extremely with mental health and psychiatric problems until starting on a raw foods diet in 2021. My psychiatric history was extreme and I had had 9 mental health hospitalisations over a recent 5 year period (before raw foods). You should also know that 4 of those hospitalisations where in in acute wards with full time supervision.

During this time I was diagnosed with a myriad of psychiatric disorders from ADHD, low mood, dissociation, memory loss, detachment from reality, mania, anxiety, depression and serve PTSD. My mental health was so bad that there was a period of 10 months I was hospitalised and did not get to stay at home except for special authorised over night visits. Please do remember all these psychiatric and mental health problems I mentioned above were on top of many complex physical health problems that I had suffered from since I was a child.

I have spoken before about my many health problems and how almost all my health issues disappeared when I started eating a raw foods diet. You can read more about this in a previous blog post here. The most interesting thing about starting to eat raw foods is that one of the first symptoms to heal was my mental health. Very quickly (within 5 days to a week) I felt clearer, happier, had less PTSD, depression was turning into a smile and anxiety was lessoning daily.

I really want to reiterate here that my mental health shift was very dramatic on this diet. It was not only that my mental health improved it was as if all the cloudiness, fogginess and sadness disappeared and was replaced with a smile. I will say I still feel my cognition is improving daily, and this is a year and half on from finding raw foods. I find it a true miracle that just 2 months prior to starting raw foods I had been in an acute psychiatric unit. Then just 3-4 months later I am smiling and feeling well, clear, content and stable in the mind.With all I endured I decided to go on a quest this week to see what I could find in science and medicine when it comes to a raw foods diet and mental health.

I discovered science is looking into the healing power of raw foods and the mind. Such as in a study published in 2018 by Frontiers in Psychology who reported that the intake of raw fruits and vegetables is associated with better mental health. This study published the findings that a "raw fruit and vegetable intake (FVI) predicted reduced depressive symptoms and higher positive mood, life satisfaction, and flourishing." This study also stated that "processed FVI only predicted higher positive mood" (eg cooked or tinned fruit and vegetables) and no other benefits were reported when the produce was processed (no raw) before ingesting.

The most interesting of all from this study is the recommendation the researchers made from the study results. The results "....recommending the consumption of raw fruits and vegetables to maximize mental health benefits." as this improve peoples mental health. I am hoping psychologist and psychiatrists will be prescribing this to people in the near future to help them heal from mental health problems.

More great news was another study published in 2022 in the British Journal of Nutrition that reported eating fruit regularly can improve your mental health. In this study it was stated that "..... more frequent consumption of fruit was associated with reduced symptoms of depression (β = –0·109, P = 0·025) and greater positive psychological wellbeing (β = 0·187, P < 0·001)".

The study went on to say "more frequent consumption of savoury snacks was associated with increased symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety and reduced psychological wellbeing, via an increase in cognitive failures (ps < 0·001)." It should be clarified here that when the researchers referred to 'savoury foods' in the study that they were referring to savoury fruits or vegetables that had been cooked and processed . Yet once again you can see from this study that the participants that took part in the study were benefiting from raw unprocessed foods.

In both the studies above it was found that it was not only important to ingest raw foods as they are high in nutrients, vitamins and minerals for the brain. It was just as important that the participants did not ingest foods that contained no or very little nutrient value to the human brain and body ie processed foods. There was also a large emphasis in these studies that it was the cooking of the foods, that destroys vital nutrients, enzymes and minerals in fresh produce, that the human body and brain need. I hope more research is done in the area of health and raw foods as we can see people benefit from this diet. Some people like myself can have life transformations and ease severe mental health symptoms.

It seems in my case and for many other raw foodists that we are getting something from raw foods that is helping to keep our general health and mental health in good shape. I think it is only fair to say that I have endured a lot in my life that no medical professional or allied health practitioner could fix it with traditional medicine. I am so grateful now to see the start of research into the healing with increase of raw foods to a diet in people suffering with mental health.

In conclusion I would love for doctors, psychologists and specialists (like psychiatrists) to one day recommend people increase raw food intake in their diet. Or that patients are recommended to eat a fully raw diet by a doctor. It is a dream of mine that schools will one day teach students of the benefits of eating raw foods. Then we as a society could learn from a young age that the body has the ability to heal with a diet high in raw and fresh produce.

I hope in this blog post you see how healing mental illness with a raw food in a diet is possible. Secondly that there is scientific evidence out there supporting this healing. In time I hope it is common knowledge to all that raw foods have the ability to heal complex mental health issues.

Thank you for following along on this journey of mine, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information on this topic. Finally if you are struggling with mental health please reach out to the appropriate support services in your area.

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