An allergic reaction to a vaccine turned Jesse Bogdanovich (pictured, aged 10) from a healthy baby into a very sick one.
This led to 20 years of disability and ill health, until he discovered the raw diet as a young adult. He tells his story here.
I was born perfectly healthy but an allergic reaction to a live polio vaccine at the age of 10 months almost killed me and left me with convulsions, seizures and paralysis. At that time doctors did not have to report such reactions, so they treated my condition as symptoms of flu and fever and dosed me up with antibiotics.
They also advised my mother not to nurse me any longer (thankfully she refused to listen to them) and recommended all sorts of wrong foods. My parents tell me that before I got the polio shot I was walking almost perfectly. But after it, it was a long time before I could walk again.
I remember as a small child having no strength in my legs or arms, and feeling very tired and needing lots of sleep. Doctors put me in braces and did all sorts of other things that didn’t do me any good. They also recommended ligament surgery to loosen up the tightness in my limbs but fortunately my parents refused to do that.
I was so uninterested in food that I was very underweight; the doctors’ solution was to force me to eat dairy, fats and junky, processed foods. Needless to say, this only made things worse and led, among other things, to juvenile diabetes and digestive problems.
It boggles my mind to think how hard my parents tried to feed me naturally and how opposed the doctors were to anything that deviated from the Standard American Diet. Not surprisingly, as time went by my health deteriorated further. My parents took me to doctors of all kinds – from one opinion to the next, and from America to Europe. We went half way around the world looking for a cure, not realising the cure was in the proper nutrition found in our own garden and in the wild.
One day, when I was 12, my mom took me to a specialist who was supposed to be a world expert. He made me take off my clothes and had me try to stand up and walk across the floor, which was very cold. He then picked up a tape recorder and proceeded to talk into it about me. He painted such a grim picture, saying that I would never be able to walk, that my condition would only get worse and that I would die from the hormonal changes of puberty. I was crying and my mom almost passed out. Then she whispered to me, “Do not believe a word he is saying. Let’s go to the pet shop”.
The doctor was so engrossed in what he was doing that we snuck out and left. Sobbing, I told my mom I would prove the doctor wrong. On another occasion, my dad took me for a check-up for an ingrown toenail that was infected. My legs were turning purple and pus was coming out. The specialist wanted to operate and cut my toe off immediately. When my dad asked him to “let us think it over”, the doctor got mad and told us that I would lose my toes and my foot. Again we left, and I remember feeling devastated and really starting to think more about the why of things.
I had refused wheelchairs from the beginning. My dad carried me all over the place. When I was sitting down, I would sit so no one could see that I couldn’t walk properly. I avoided walking as much as possible, since it was always difficult what with swaying back and forth and sideways. But I couldn’t avoid it at school, and it was very difficult to be around other kids because they made fun of me and wanted to fight and push me around. Those were dark days and I remember the pain of it being so great I wanted to die.
One day I broke down and told my parents I would rather do anything than go to school again. My parents heard my heart and from then on they home-schooled me. It was much easier on me and I got to see the world as I studied and traveled all over with my parents.
This approach caused me to want to learn, and I was allowed all the time I needed to explore the subjects that interested me. I did not have to study the unnecessary things that most kids have to learn in order to graduate, and one big advantage to home schooling was that my studies would be done in a few hours rather than a whole day at school.
This education made me think and look at things in a more real and logical way and gave me an advantage over other kids my age. One day I told my parents that if someone dropped me off at the other side of the world I would know how to function and would make good of it. Even though I had health issues that other kids did not have, I felt very fortunate.
There came a time when we did not go to mainstream doctors anymore. My Mom became a naturopathic doctor so she could learn what she needed to know to help me. By then we had discovered that doctors do not learn anything about nutrition during their studies, which is why they insist that nutrition has nothing to do with healing.
The first breakthrough in my health happened after my dad became interested in Paul and Patricia Bragg’s fasting techniques. My parents took me to see Patricia and I fasted many times for 1 to 3 days, then 7 to 10 days. and then I worked my way up to a few 14-day water fasts. Each time I water fasted I experienced great improvement in my symptoms, but as soon as I started eating cooked food again, the problems would return.
We tried so many different diets, and most of them had certain things in common: they focused on whole foods and excluded sweets, white flour, fried foods and other junk. This is why they worked partially, yet none of these diets worked completely like the raw food diet did.
When I first heard about the raw diet, the information resonated so deeply within me I couldn’t put them down. I completely woke up to this truth; it was like someone had turned on the lights. I was ready to go in this new direction wholeheartedly and I embraced it knowing that this would stop my suffering once and for all.
I changed to a 100% raw vegan lifestyle overnight. I was 21 at the time. What convinced me the most about raw food was that humans and their pets are the only creatures that get sick with degenerative diseases. They are also the only ones who eat cooked food.
I went to see and studied with many raw food experts – something I am still doing to this day. I learned about the importance of rest, little or no stress, sunshine and exercise, and that a programme that combines these essential elements with raw foods and periodic fasting enables the body to perform miracles.
When we start doing what’s right to our body it starts healing immediately. It’s amazing, really, how simple it all is. After six months on a 100% raw food diet my condition started to change for the better and kept improving all the time. First I could walk without pain. Then for the first time, I could run. I gained 40 pounds over the next few years. This is what happens when the body is freed of mucus and able to absorb the essential nutrients on an enzyme-rich raw vegan diet. With patience and perseverance, coupled with forgiveness for the doctors and my parents, I was able to overcome what had seemed to be insurmountable problems.
Raw, organic food is a very important part of healing yet without emotional healing, finding peace in your heart and forgiving everyone, you will not heal completely. But the 100% raw vegan diet not only got me better physically, mentally and emotionally; I also woke up spiritually. I have a deep spiritual connection now with nature and with every person I meet on my path. I have to tell everyone starting on this path to get ready for a healing crises and not to give up.
Today I am totally healthy, extremely happy and I can walk, run and climb just like anyone else. The only thing that is noticeable is that my right leg at the knee turns inward when I walk slowly. People do ask me at times if I’ve broken my leg or hurt my foot. I am working on that and soon it will be perfect, I know it will. The raw vegan lifestyle delivers on all levels and every year it just keeps getting better and better. I have been on this path for over 13 years now.
What this lifestyle has done for me is… actually, there are no words in the dictionary that can describe it. But if I had to pick some words I would choose “beyond fabulous”! To stay on this path and feel like I do, one must eat very simply and get away from raw gourmet foods that cause health problems, cravings and all sorts of disorders.
It is very important to stay away from all the packaged and heated raw foods which cause you to crave wrong things. Eat plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables – lots of leafy greens – and don’t forget to throw in some wild foods such as berries and edible weeds. Add soaked raw seeds and nuts in tiny quantities and make sure they are organic and truly raw.
This way of eating can bring peace to your mind just as it brings peace to your tummy. It also brings clear thinking and love in your heart and soul.
It has definitely been a process of learning the hard way, but I wouldn’t change anything. Now that I am well and strong, my calling is to help spread this health message, which needs to be heard all over the world, starting in kindergarten.
People sometimes ask me if I would ever go back to eating cooked food and I tell them that I would never do that. Why would I? Many people do not stick with raw foods and fasting long enough to reap the rewards, but my story is an example of what is possible. Through proper nutrition and fasting my body healed itself, and I believe these practices will do that for anyone willing to do the same.
Jesse Bogdanovich is a co-founder of The Cure Is In The Cause Foundation (thecureisinthecause.org). He is also the founder of The Whole Lifestyle, through which he supports individuals on their raw vegan diet, health, exercise, passion, happiness, peace, emotional aspects and home environment.
He has over 13 years experience as a healthy, happy raw vegan, and over 6 years in supporting people in health, wellness and overall lifestyle design in a positive manner. He offers counselling by phone and over the internet. He and his family also run a retreat in Croatia every summer. For further information see thewholelifestyle.com or happyrawvegan.com.