The Wigmore diet is named for its creator, Ann Wigmore. She devised a nutritional system called the Living Foods Program, based on a combination of wheatgrass juice, live sprouts, and fresh raw foods. It is thought that this dietary regimen, which is sometimes called raw nutrition , detoxifies and rebuilds the body. Persons following the Wigmore diet also avoid using denatured processed commercial foods or anything containing chemicals, especially pesticides. Although the Wigmore diet is essentially a vegetarian diet, its distinctive feature is its emphasis on eating foods in their uncooked state.
The Wigmore diet was developed during the 1960s by Ann Wigmore, a woman who was born in Eastern Europe in 1909 and emigrated to the United States after World War I. She credited her grandmother with teaching her natural healing methods. She did not, however, use this folk wisdom immediately but returned to it after years of ill health that included colitis, headaches, and arthritis. When she finally learned that she had cancer , she returned to her grandmother's healing methods in order to regain her health.
After testing the results of a diet based on sprouts and wheat grass juice in her own life, she wanted others to benefit from what she had learned. Ann Wigmore founded the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston in 1963, which still teaches her methods of self-healing through a live-foods diet. Although Ann Wigmore died in a fire in 1993, her diet still attracts new followers. In recent years, the Hippocrates Institute has opened branches in southern California and Florida.
The Wigmore diet is based on the assumption that the high levels of living enzymes in fresh raw foods, particularly wheat grass juice and fresh sprouts, provide the body with substances needed to detoxify and regenerate it. In addition to increased vitality and a strengthened immune system, the Wigmore regimen is thought to help individuals overcome some serious diseases, including arthritis, digestive tract problems, allergies, and even cancer .
Perhaps the essence of what she taught could best be described by Ann Wigmore herself: "Live foods nutrition is super nutrition because it recognizes and appreciates the differences between raw and cooked foods and between natural and synthetic nutrients. In the conventional nutrition-school curriculum there is little room for a discussion of either the value of enzymes and life forces in foods, or the merits of live (raw) versus cooked foods. Yet the difference, when translated into health terms, is the difference between being vitally healthy and alive, and just breathing."
The Wigmore diet classifies foods into four major groups: living foods, which include sprout mixtures, sunflower and buckwheat baby greens, living sauerkraut, and the fresh juices of wheat grass and barley; raw foods, which include fresh organic vegetables and ripe fruit, spices, herbs, and raw nuts; whole cooked foods, which include steamed or boiled vegetables, cooked whole grains, and baked root vegetables; and processed fast foods, which include all forms of "junk foods." People following the Wigmore diet believe that most human diseases are caused when a person's diet contains mostly foods in the last two groups.
Practitioners of the Wigmore diet encourage people to think of enzyme and oxygen levels as "bank accounts." The more oxygen and enzymes that can be stored in the cells, the healthier one feels. It has been shown that eating certain foods will maintain enzymes and oxygen at optimal preferred levels.
Other notable features of the Wigmore diet include its emphasis on wheat grass as a "living food medicine" and food combining as a key to good digestion. Wheat grass has been credited with more healings than any other factor in the program because it is supposed to be rich in over 90 enzymes and minerals that are needed to build up the blood and immune system. People following the Wigmore diet are encouraged to drink at least two 2-ounce servings of wheat grass juice every day. In addition, wheat grass enemas of 4–8 ounces can be taken "as often as possible" for best results during the detoxification process.
Food combining in the Wigmore diet is based on the assumption that certain food combinations cause stomach cramps, indigestion, bad breath , intestinal gas , or lowered energy levels. Foods are divided into nine groups: proteins (poultry, fish, dairy products, miso, and yeast); pre-digested proteins (nuts and seeds); starches; vegetables; acid fruits (citrus fruits and sour fruits); subacid fruits (apples, apricots, most berries, and peaches); sweet fruits (bananas, dates, and all dried fruits); melons; and neutral foods (avocados and lemons). Melons are to be eaten alone. While meals made up of foods from any one category are a good combination, for example, fruit and starch are a bad combination.
Another important point in the Wigmore diet is drinking water. Tap water is considered unsuitable, and some form of filter should be used. Distilled water or spring water are preferred.
Preparations for the Wigmore diet include a gradual departure from less healthy foods; cleansing the digestive tract with aloe vera or similar products; and encouraging good digestion by eating food at room temperature as often as possible and eating raw or living foods before any cooked foods. It is thought that the cooked foods hold up the digestion of raw and living foods, causing intestinal gas. Ann Wigmore's The Sprouting Book discusses the proper preparation of the sprouts that play such a prominent role in her diet.
Like all natural therapies, the Wigmore diet will be more effective if environmental as well as nutritional pollution of all types is avoided, and if a generally healthy lifestyle is followed. Such spiritual practices as meditation , visualization, and joining or starting a Living Foods support group are considered important features of a healthy lifestyle.
Practitioners of the Wigmore diet warn people to expect certain side effects from detoxification, which is considered a key principle in the Living Foods lifestyle. The diet is believed to clear toxins from the body that have accumulated over years of poor nutritional habits. These toxins are released into the bloodstream and lymphatic system for eventual excretion. During the detoxification process, the dieter may feel less energetic and uncomfortable in their body. The program recommends daily non-strenuous exercise , high fiber intake to cleanse the colon, daily dry skin brushing over the entire body, and the use of spirulina (blue-green algae) products to ease the side effects of the detoxification process.
As the Wigmore diet is a purely organic regimen, and avoids the use of medications and all chemicals, the risk of other side effects is minimal. Nevertheless, some individuals will be unable to tolerate this diet, and others may be allergic to the foods that are prescribed.
Research & general acceptance
As with many holistic therapies, the Wigmore diet is met with skepticism from allopathic physicians. On the other hand, there are many clinical cases and testimonials consistent with Ann Wigmore's predicted benefits.
Training & certification
Anyone can follow the Wigmore regimen, as no special training or certification is required. Detailed information can be obtained from the organizations listed below, or from Ann Wigmore's books. Many holistic practitioners are familiar with Wigmore's works and can advise on the regimen.
Ann Wigmore Foundation. PO Box 399, San Fidel, NM 87049-0399. (505) 552-0595. Fax: (505) 552-0596.
Hippocrates Health Institute. Boston, MA. http://www.hippocratesinst.com.