Vegan, Raw Food Influencer Dies of Suspected Starvation. Claimed She Didn’t Drink Water for 6 Years!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Zhanna Samsonova, a Russian vegan and raw food diet enthusiast and influencer, died last month of suspected starvation or malnutrition. Her diet was so extreme that she allegedly lived off of only fruits, sunflower seed sprouts, fruit smoothies and juices. Some say her diet was even more extreme than this. According to a report from the New York Post, one of her friends said that for the last seven years Samsonova only ate just jackfruit and durian (pictured below).
If you look at this Instagram post by Samsonova from 2022, she claimed that she did not drink water for the past 6 years!
“As for not drinking water, it is a common experience among raw fruitarians. I’m not thirsty for water. I don’t want to drink water! I get my water from fruits and coconuts and I'm OK with it!,” the post reads.
“When you do eat cooked food, you will be dehydrated because of the cooked food and you will need to drink water. I [am] sure about it, because I’ve experienced it myself. Human beings are not drinking animals. We get our water from our food.”
We do get some water from foods such as fruits like watermelon, but this is usually not enough to satisfy our daily needs. Water is one of the six basic nutrients we need to live. The other nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. But water is the only nutrient where absence will cause death within days.
No one can say definitively what Samsonova ate and drank. Perhaps she got just enough water from coconuts and fruits to survive for as long as she did. If you look at photos of her, however, she looked extremely ill and malnourished. In my opinion, she had a eating disorder.
Known as Zhana D’art under the account @rawveganfoodchef on Instagram, Samsonova had millions of followers between all of her social media accounts. Reportedly, she had been traveling around Asia for the last 17 years. The exact cause of death is not known, but she died in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Malaysia, according to one report.
Her mother, who tried very hard to convince her daughter that her lifestyle was not healthy, said her daughter died of a “cholera-like infection” that her body was unable to fight off due to her extremely restrictive diet and weak state.
There are reports of friends who also say they pleaded for Samsonova to get some help and commented on how sick she appeared.
“A few months ago, in Sri Lanka, she already looked exhausted, with swollen legs oozing lymph,” a friend who remained anonymous told Newsflash, according to the New York Post.
“They sent her home to seek treatment. However, she ran away again. When I saw her in Phuket, I was horrified.”
Does this mean I should not be vegan or vegetarian?
No, however, it is always good to consult with a competent healthcare professional about eliminating entire food groups from your diet. Many people who eliminate meat, seafood, eggs and dairy from their diets need to take supplements. It is important to take good quality supplements and to know how to supplement properly. We have seen cases of people who suffered from vitamin D intoxication (for example).
It is also important to take regular nutrition tests. These tests will usually identify nutrition imbalances and give you the opportunity to adjust your diet or identify relevant supplemens to address these deficiencies.
My heart really goes out to the family of Zhanna Samsonova. It is such a tragic story, and I wish she could have gotten the help she needed. I do think it is important to acknowledge that she was an influencer and many people followed and believed in her lifestyle. There is so much information on social media about what diets are healthy and what people should do to live healthily. It is clear that you cannot trust everything you see or read. Diet is very personal, and at Proactive Health Labs we always stress seeking the advice of a competent healthcare professional along with eating whole, unprocessed foods.
Remember that your body is an incredible machine, but you have to fuel it properly.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.