Can a Raw Vegan Lifestyle Affect the Health of One’s Blood?

By Guest Blogger   |  32Comments|

My raw foods journey began with a fractured elbow. After receiving an operation to pin, screw and plate my arm back together, my surgeon told me that I needed a transfusion of magnesium, because my mineral level was lower than he desired. I thought to myself, “How could this be? I eat turkey on whole wheat, fish with lemon, cottage cheese and cantaloupe. I never drink soda.  I live by the ‘healthy diet’ rules.” I wondered why my hematologist hadn’t shared this information with me sooner.

In case you were wondering, I’m under the care of a hematologist for a rare genetic anemia that I was born with. The medical name of my illness is beta thalassemia major, also known as Cooley’s anemia. The disease is the result of faulty genetic messaging that directs my bone marrow to create misshapen red blood cells that cannot carry oxygen throughout my body. Because of this, I receive donated red blood cells from other people to survive. I’ve been going to the hospital for blood transfusions around every other week since I was nine years old. Prior to the age of nine, I received one transfusion every single week to keep my hemoglobin level normal. My diagnosis came at the age of six months.

My elbow fully recovered after undergoing one more surgery to move my ulnar nerve to a new location, and two long months of excruciating rehabilitation. As I rejoiced over my ability to properly drink coffee while talking on the phone, I also started to think about how to get more nutrients into my body. That’s when a small miracle started to manifest itself. I turned on the television, which I rarely do, and came upon a documentary called “Crazy Sexy Cancer,” which is about a young woman’s journey into the raw vegan lifestyle as a way to treat her stage 4 cancer diagnosis.

During the film, the woman, Kris Carr, gets a blood test after converting to a raw vegan diet. The blood sample displayed cells that were freely floating and not coagulating, which was different than when she tested her blood after eating a purely macrobiotic diet. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw how Kris’s diet affected her blood cells. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “If a raw vegan diet affected Kris in this way, what could it do for me?”

The next day, I became a vegetarian and immediately bought a juicer and a high-speed blender. I weaned myself off of coffee and cheese. I began drinking 16 ounces of organic vegetable juice every morning before breakfast. Some of my first juices tasted terrible, but I eventually learned which juices I liked best. My favorite juice is made with four carrots, one green apple, one celery stalk and half a lime.

My interest in the raw vegan lifestyle gained momentum with each passing day. I devoured books and classes on how to thrive as a raw vegan. I even went as far as becoming certified in gourmet raw food preparation by a local raw food restaurant owner.

In about three months, I was 100% vegan and 80% raw. Then, several months later, something profound happened: I went to my regular hematologist appointment and was told that I could go 4 weeks without a transfusion. I couldn’t believe it! The freedom that I felt in that moment brought me such tremendous gratitude, my eyes flooded with tears.

Several more months have since passed, and I’m happy to say that I have been going to the hospital every three weeks, instead of every other week. While I realize that complete healing through raw foods is probably not going to happen for me, I do feel that my food choices present me with a greater sense of control and personal power. I have also become more empathetic to the plight of our Earth and all of her inhabitants.Of course, I have tried to share my discoveries with fellow patients, but none want to alter their diets. They say, “If I give up my food choices, what will I have left?” My answer to them is, “LIFE!”

 Josephine Bila, M.S.W., is an author, speaker, and creator of “Think, Feel, Be Happy: Obtaining Personal Power Through Mind Body Awareness.” Her upcoming documentary will be called, “What’s My Count?” Her upcoming book is titled, “Mind, Body,Veins.”

Photo credit: Michael LoRusso

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32 responses to Can a Raw Vegan Lifestyle Affect the Health of One’s Blood?
  1. Way to go! This is absolutely excellent news.

  2. Blown away by this, but….not, as I know within my heart, body and cell of its validity, but find it hard to give up my vices. Blood issues and the c word run in my body like a steam engine on crack, but still I want my comfy coffee and that oh so beautiful glass of merlot at the end of the day. This is the ice cold glass of water I needed to wake the hell up. thank you.

  3. I’m so glad you liked my article. Isn’t it amazing that most of us go through life not knowing how important healthy food choices really are? Can you imagine how much pain I could have avoided had I known all of this earlier in my life?

    I do hope that more people try this lifestyle, at least for a little while. I guarantee you’ll feel so good, you won’t want to go back to your old habits. I created an e-guide to help people learn more: sign-up for it on my site. I’m also a coach and consultant. I want to help Kris heal the world.

  4. Josephine is my cousin, my fourth cousin technically, but my friend first. She wasn’t always open about her illness. To see her this way now is amazing. I was in touch with her the day she found out it would be four weeks until her next transfusion. I was shocked. I knew then that Jo would be living a happier life, feeling well, and would live longer. For that I am so grateful I can’t even express. Great post Josephine! Love you!

  5. Josephine, I’m so proud of you for sharing your story, but more so, am very thankful you have. You talk about some pretty tough shit in a very matter-of-fact, no self-pity way, and your strength just shines through your words. You are changing lives when you share your words and story like this. Thank you.

  6. I’m so proud of you Jo. This article is great and you are my inspiration. Not just as my sister but as an amazing woman

  7. You are amazing!!! <3

  8. I am a mother of a child with Thalassemia. My daugther Olivia is 8 and she has Thalassemia Intermedia. she has been on a regular transfusion schedule of every 3 weeks for the last 4 years. I juice for her and my family everyday and we are trying to incorporate eating a raw diet as well. She also takes a multivitamin, vitamin D ( her D level is low) and fish oil. I believe all of this keeps her healthier. She has not been sick since we have started juicing and taking supplements . I think what your doing is great!
    Kathleen Gulko

  9. Jo you are, as usual, such an inspiration. Coming from the family that we have, I know giving up the traditional foods that we love – the abundance of good Italian eating – was not easy for you. This truly had to be a life changer, for sure. I am looking to you for my inspiration, guidance and mentoring. Much love to you…keep up the good work. Namaste.

  10. So inspirational. I was brought to tears.

  11. Jo, you are a true testament to what it means to, not just survive, but to take what life has given you, challenge it and overcome it. You made the choice to be all that you can be and so much more. You have guts, determination, beauty and brains, plus a willpower like no other person I know. You have and always will be a hero to those who know and love you, as well as those who will come to know you because of your passion and desire to help them. My heart could burst with the love I have for you and Gloria. Daddy and I are so proud of you, but you know that. Keep up the good work and never give up! May God continue to bless you in all you do. Love, Mommy

  12. Thank you family, friends and friends I have yet to meet. I truly feel loved and blessed. I was terrified to share my story, but the response I have been receiving makes me believe I made the right choice.

    My thanks goes to Kris Carr and to Oprah for sharing Crazy Sexy Cancer with the world. If it wasn’t for them, I’d still be going to the hospital every other week! Everyone can live a healthier life. Let kale be thy guide!

  13. OMG Jo, my heart is skipping with pride for you! That was such an inspirational article & you are doing just what you should, inspiring others by example & by communicating beautifully.
    Feel the Love!

  14. You truly are my Hero!!!! xoxoxo

  15. This is awesome!! I posted it to my natural therapies college Student council FB page! I want everybody to get the buzz I felt reading your article! thank you for sharing…how can we educate doctors and the national health system!?? Puts a fire in my belly!

  16. Jo, it is a blessing that you are here to share your story. I am a believer in the power of a raw vegan diet and have personally experienced huge health benefits when I eat this way. I am honored to support you in sharing your message, and hope that you reach as many people as possible. We need the wake up call!

  17. Thank you so much!! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that people are finding inspiration and hope in my words. Renee — YES! FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!! I live by that fire. Doctors and the people leading the U.S. healthcare system are just as sick as everyone else. They too believe that milk is the only source of calcium and animal flesh the only source of protein. Change yourself and people will notice. Start with #1 — YOU. You will lead the change by living healthy and challenging the social norm. Live it, girl! I never preach my practice. Through my silence, people become curious and interested. Be the change. No other method is more effective.

  18. Jo, Jo, Jo. You have rendered me speechless. A gorgeously written article, encapsulating exactly who you are and what you are passionate about. If anyone has the ability and drive to heal the world, honey, it’s you. I am so proud to know you :) xoxo

  19. Wow, Josephine! Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story! You are an inspiration.

  20. great article!!!!! good luck on the continued success w/ C.A.

  21. I’m raising a glass of green juice to you! I’m so thrilled to hear about the difference it has made in your life!

  22. Very nice read! I love vegetarian food. I think this food is very good for you in the long term.

  23. Game On! Hats off to you for taking ownership of your disease naturally!

  24. You are a huge spark of inspiration, Josephine with an incredibly motivating and compelling story! When I saw Kris’ documentary 2 years ago, I, too, had an aha! moment that forever changed my life. My “shit pickle” as Kris would call it was a severe and chronic anxiety disorder that had plagued me for over 10 years of my childhood and young adulthood. At the ripe, old age of 20, I decided to go off of the 3 powerful medications that I had been on for over a year to embrace another healing path. I didn’t know what that path would look like until I saw Crazy Sexy Cancer. That film was my beacon of hope, my light at the end of the tunnel so to speak, and because of that, I will be forever grateful to Kris Carr for sharing her story and healing journey with the world. She singlehandedly inspired me to change my life in order to create a healthier, happier mind, and that is something I will never forget.

  25. A big time YES !!!! for you Josephine. Anemia has plagued me in one form or another all my life. No doctor has really helped me. I’m looking to change the structure of my red cells. Thanks for the article.

  26. Jo, I could not be prouder of you and am so honored to be your friend. You are amazing, have always been and always will. You totally got me, I got some tears!!! And apparently we go too long between calls because I did not realize you were up to so much! See you at Christmas :) xoxo

  27. As a person living with thalassemia minor( carrier of the trait) your story made me teary eyed…..Thalassemia major is a more severe form of this problem…..I applaud you for taking your health in your own hands…..Thalassemia minor and major is fairly common in india where I’m from but still there exists little awareness for these disorders. Thank you for sharing your story

  28. Such great news! Thank you for this valuable information. Molly (my 20 year old daughter) has Crohn’s Disease and too much fiber might bother her but I’m thinking about discussing this idea with her. You are truly an inspiration for us all! Keep up the great work! God bless!

  29. The enormous increase of population will create many problems.I’m your lucky fellow then.She was totally exhausted.And now medical care helps to keep people alive longer.How are you recently? The enormous increase of population will create many problems.The enormous increase of population will create many problems.I’m your lucky fellow then.She was totally exhausted.And now medical care helps to keep people alive longer.

  30. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different web page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to going over your web page for a second time.

  31. Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept

  32. I can’t even imagine what kind of relief you experienced because of this, congrats!

    You’ve inspired me to share this with a friend with a similar condition, thank you