In 1968, Ann Wigmore co-founded the Hippocrates Health Institute, a health resort in the United States, with Viktoras Kulvinskas. Known as "the mother of living foods", she was an early pioneer in the use of wheatgrass juice and living foods for detoxifying and healing the body, mind, and spirit. She died in Boston on February 16, 1994 of smoke inhalation from a fire at the Ann Wigmore Foundation.
In her autobiography, Why Suffer?: How I Overcame Illness & Pain Naturally, Wigmore recalls observing her grandmother using herbs and natural remedies as a child in Lithuania. As an adult, she began researching and testing various whole foods and diet approaches, which she credits with solving her medical problems and changing her life.
A number of institutes carry on her work by offering educational programs and retreats, home study courses, recipes, books, and other resources. These include:
Hippocrates Health Institute - branches in West Palm Beach, Florida; and Mayacamas, California
Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute, Puerto Rico
Ann Wigmore Foundation, San Fidel, New Mexico
Creative Health Institute, Michigan (near Battle Creek)
Living Foods Institute, Atlanta, GA
Living Foods Wellness Center, Michigan (near Lansing)
Optimum Health Institutes of San Diego and Austin
Mitzpe Alummot located at Kibbutz Alummot, Israel overlooking the Sea of Galilee
Wigmore's diet advice has been criticized as bland and difficult to adhere to. More serious criticism includes charges that, while raw/whole foods are an important component of a balanced diet, a strictly raw-foods diet is too extreme to be either healthy or practical. According to Julie Walsh, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, "It's not supported by scientific literature at all. Man has used fire to cook food for ages. To refrain from heating or processing foods could even be risky. Some studies also suggest that cooked tomatoes release more phytonutrients than raw ones. The lycopene found in tomatoes is a strong antioxidant linked to preventing several different diseases — and it's released with heat." Au Naturel - The Raw Food Revolution
In addition, medical professionals such as Diane Stadler of the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, worry that claims of cures of serious diseases such as cancer may discourage individuals from seeking more conventional treatments that medical research has shown to be effective. Stadler says, "Some raw food web sites suggest that you can treat certain chronic diseases by consuming a raw food diet. That frightens me as a medical professional. Some people will accept that as truth and delay seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment...[which] could seriously impact long-term well-being."