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Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days
Posted by: riverhousebill ()
Date: November 08, 2017 04:25AM

Science-Based Medicine

Exploring issues and controversies in the relationship between science and medicine

Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

Using my super blogger contacts, I scored a borrowed copy of Simply Raw to watch and review. The movie starts out as one might expect, introducing the six cast members who responded to a Craig’s List add to take a “raw food challenge” and “reverse their diabetes in 30 days.” This cast includes a perfect reality show-ready group of people with disparate backgrounds, including a construction worker, a retired chiropractor, a casino worker, a graduate student, a receptionist, and a postal worker. Following a typical reality show format, each cast member is introduced individually and portrayed making the long journey to Arizona. After everyone has arrived at The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, introductions are made, and the drama begins.

What’s particularly irritating is that at the beginning of the 30 days, Dr. Couzens sits down with the six and tells them that “healing diabetes is easy.” He makes claims, such as that adding that cooking food decreases the protein content by 50% (which is utter nonsense; it’s more like 6%), 70-80% of the vitamins (it actually depends on the vitamin), and close to 100% of the phytonutrients (it also depends on the specific phytonutrient). There is even a scene of Dr. Cousens doing what appears to be live cell analysis on a blood sample of one of the six, pointing out what’s wrong with his blood. Live cell analysis, is, as regular readers here should know, rank quackery. Meanwhile, Morgan Spurlock opines that using diet to treat disease is viewed with contempt by modern medicine, a massive exaggeration. He even claims it’s viewed by “conventional” medical practitioners as being “like a witch doctor.” Hearing that, I couldn’t help but think that Spurlock might have a point, just not in the way he thinks. After all, the “live” food movement, with its blend of vitalism tarted up with science-y-sounding terminology, is actually not too far from a witch doctor telling his tribe about a magical spirits, a “life essence,” in food.

Simply Raw is basically a single-arm, uncontrolled clinical trial consisting of six patients. Actually, it’s not even that. It’s basically six anecdotes from six different people of vastly differing ages, races, and backgrounds. As a result, it’s hard to generalize from the results shown in the movie. Five of the six appear to respond very rapidly to Dr. Cousen’s diet, within days, but one woman named Michelle does not. Once she is taken off of her insulin, her blood sugar readings remain, at least initially, between 350 and 400 mg/dl, way too high. As a result, she seriously thinks about leaving, leading the other five to try to persuade her not to go. Not surprisingly, this is a bit of false alarm, although useful drama for the movie, and Michelle–surprise! surprise!–ultimately decides to stay. At the end of the 30 days, she actually does have a good response to the diet.

Another member of the six, Henry, a casino worker and direct descendant of the hereditary chiefs of the Pima tribe, is portrayed having a particularly difficult time with the diet. In fact, he just can’t stick to it, finding it just too hard. He is portrayed suffering from stomach pain, extreme hunger,, fatigue, lethargy, and depression. When Henry finally leaves, it is stated that he had lost 30 lbs, which strikes me as a rather dangerous amount of weight to have lost in two and a half weeks. (Henry went home on day 17.)

Another thing that disturbs me about this movie is the claim that type I diabetes can be cured with diet. Given that type I diabetes results from a failure of the cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin to produce an adequate amount of insulin to regulate blood sugar, holding out the promise of getting a type I diabetic off of his insulin entirely is dangerous. Even so, the type I diabetic in the group (Austin) does succeed in reducing his daily insulin requirement quite dramatically. This is not anything amazing or spectacular. It’s well known that diet can reduce insulin requirements in type I diabetics, sometimes dramatically, but they still need insulin. In rare–very rare–cases, it might–might–be possible to get a type I diabetic off insulin, but only if his pancreas still makes a little insulin.

In one telling scene in the movie, a staff member named Keith asks Austin what he thinks his chances are of getting off of insulin completely. Austin replies, quite reasonably, “Probably a zero percent chance,” to which Keith replies, “I don’t buy that.” Elsewhere in the movie Dr. Cousens cites without description three cases of type I diabetes that he’s “cured.” (Remember, he claims to have treated many thousands of diabetics; so even if this claim can be taken at face value it’s not particularly impressive.) Not surprisingly, it turns out that Austin isn’t the fourth. For a while, in fact, Dr. Cousen’s diet regimen led Austin’s blood glucose to be even harder to regulate because it would drop so low that he needs to drink orange juice or something with sugar in it to bring it back up again. Ultimately, Austin decides to leave for a day trip to Mexico, where he buys two bottles of tequila, drinks a lot, and gorges on tacos and enchiladas before returning and settling down again. One of the more dramatic scenes occurs when Austin is confronted after Keith finds his plastic bottle hiding his tequila mixed with a soft drink. In any case, I can’t help but notice that Simply Raw, even taken at face value, belies Dr. Cousens’ claim that it’s “easy” to cure diabetes. Three of the six subjects had major problems adhering to the diet, so much so that one left halfway through the program and one “fell off the wagon,” so to speak, while one almost gave up during the first week. One wonders whether, in the long term, the remaining five subjects can maintain such a radical diet.

The end of the movie also belies the claims made in the promotional material and in the movie about how resistant “conventional doctors” supposedly are to treating diabetes with diet. Three days after the 30 day program, Pam (the postal worker) goes to see her primary care doctor, who is very happy with her 25 lb. weight loss, her lower blood pressure, and her controlled blood sugar. He immediately discontinues her insulin, hugs her, and congratulates her heartily for having learned that type II diabetes is best treated by “what you put in your mouth.” Later, this same doctor is filmed asking, “How do we ship all of my patients to Arizona?” That hardly sounds hostile to he concept of diet as a treatment for diabetes to me. Of course, the doctor probably doesn’t realize that Dr. Cousens’ regimen is basically boot camp. People stay at his compound, isolated from their family and friends and interacting only with fellow residents and the center’s staff, eat only the meals Dr. Cousen’s staff makes for them or teaches them how to make, and are subject to serious peer pressure from the other residents there not to give up. Even so, even in this self-selected group, even under a situation of isolation from one’s familiar surroundings, one out of six bolted; one out of six had a relapse, and at least one more almost left.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/08/2017 05:06AM by riverhousebill.

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