A vegan influencer who lived on an ‘extreme’ diet of raw fruit and vegetables could ‘barely walk’ and hadn’t drunk water for more than six years before she reportedly died from starvation and exhaustion, her friends have revealed.
Zhanna Samsonova, originally from Russia and known as Zhanna D’Art on social media, had been on the raw plant-based diet for ten years that consisted of fruits, sunflower seed sprouts, fruit smoothies and juices.
Ms Samsonova, who friends say was suffering from anorexia, became so weak in the final weeks of her life as a result of her extreme diet that she was practically bed-bound and it would take her ‘several minutes’ to walk up one step on a staircase.
The 39-year-old’s friends have revealed they were ‘horrified’ at her emaciated appearance and begged her to get help from doctors – but she refused and carried on with her diet of raw plant-based foods.
Ms Samsonova, who hadn’t drunk water for more than six years and instead replaced it with fruit and vegetable juices, died on July 21 while in intensive care at a hospital in Malaysia.
The influencer, who had over 10,000 Instagram followers and had been travelling across Asia for the past 17 years, reportedly died from a cholera-like infection that was exacerbated by her extreme restrictive eating, her mother told Russian newspaper Vechernyaya Kazan.
Zhanna Samsonova (pictured), originally from Russia and known as Zhanna D’Art on social media, had been on the raw plant-based diet for ten years that consisted of fruits, sunflower seed sprouts, fruit smoothies and juices
Ms Samsonova (pictured), who friends say was suffering from anorexia, became so weak in the final weeks of her life as a result of her extreme diet that she was practically bed-bound and it would take her ‘several minutes’ to walk up one step on a staircase
In a post published on June 7, Ms Samsonova said she was excited for fruit season in Thailand, saying it was ‘time to gain weight’
Ms Samsonova’s official cause of death has not yet been determined as her family try to get her body back to Russia amid bureaucratic delays.
There were periods when Ms Samsonova would practice ‘dry fasting’ – where she would refuse to eat or drink anything for days.
In the final months of her life, Ms Samsonova’s friends had desperately urged her to get help and eat more substantive foods – but they said it was ‘impossible’ to get her to speak to doctors or eat anything other than raw fruit and vegetables.
Olga Chernyaeva , one of the influencer’s friends, told the Russian newspaper Novye Izvestia: ‘I watched her journey to death for seven years. About five months ago, I met Zhanna in Sri Lanka and she had a haggard look.
‘Her legs were swollen… It was amazing that she was still moving – I think she did it through pain.’
Ms Chernyaeva added: ‘I tried to talk to her, to convince her to seek help from doctors, to take tests. I showed her her body in the mirror and in photographs of past years. But Zhanna’s character was not simple, it was impossible to convince her on certain issues.’
Her devastated friend said that she watched helplessly as Ms Samsonova became ‘only bones’ and was left practically bed-bound.
Ms Chernyaeva said: ‘She was in bed for almost a month. If she got up, it was very difficult for her to walk – it took several minutes to overcome one step of the stairs.
‘I brought her fruits every morning – it was impossible to get her to eat something else. Boolean arguments didn’t work. Zhanna believed that death does not exist.’
The 39-year-old’s friends have revealed they were ‘horrified’ at her emaciated appearance and begged her to get help from doctors – but she refused and carried on with her diet of raw plant-based foods
There were periods when Ms Samsonova (pictured last month) would practice ‘dry fasting’ – where she would refuse to eat or drink anything for days
Another of Ms Samsonova’s friends, who she met in Thailand, told Russian news outlet 116.ru: ‘It was scary to look at her, to be honest, her hands were like those of my 12-year-old sister, thin.’
Another friend said they saw Ms Samsonova a few months ago in Sri Lanka ‘looking exhausted’.
‘They sent her home to seek treatment. However, she ran away again. When I saw her in Phuket, I was horrified,’ they said.
‘I lived one floor above her and every day I feared finding her lifeless body in the morning. I convinced her to seek treatment, but she didn’t make it,’ the friend added.
Another friend said: ‘Ms Samsonova’s idle starvation was causing her to melt before our eyes, but she believed everything was fine.
‘Only her eyes, merry eyes, and gorgeous hair compensated for the dreadful sight of a body tortured by idiocy. Forgive me if it sounds harsh.’
Ms Samsonova refused to listen to their warnings and it proved fatal after she reportedly died of an infection and exhaustion exacerbated by her raw food diet.
The food blogger’s mother Vera Samsonova told local news outlets Ms Samsonova was supposed to fly home to Kazan on the day of her death.
Vera did not approve of her daughter’s extreme diet and tried to convince her to introduce more balanced eating habits but she refused.
Ms Samsonova moved from veganism to a purely raw food diet consisting of vegetables and fruit, with the influencer sharing what she described as ‘healthy ‘ recipes on her Instagram profile.
The influencer, who appeared increasingly emaciated in her social media videos as time went on, would post footage of her eating her lunch which consisted of a whole melon and carrot juice at times.
In another video, Ms Samsonova told her Instagram followers how she was having cherry tomatoes, an avocado and avocado juice for lunch.
‘Despite the fact that I cook fancy raw dishes, I eat very simply myself. My food is simple, no oil, no salt, no dehydrated food and no protein,’ Ms Samsonova wrote in a post. ‘Today for lunch I have delicious avocado kefir, sweet cherry tomatoes and ripe avocado. Bon appetit.’
One person commented on Ms Samsonova’s recent post and wrote: ‘This is just pure starvation, not a healthy raw vegan diet. I’m sorry to hear it ended badly. I wish I could have helped you out of your eating disorder.’
Ms Samsonova (pictured) had claimed that her ten years on a raw plant-based had meant she was ‘in perfect health’ and ‘never got the usual seasonal cold’
Ms Samsonova had been following a vegan diet for about more than 15 years starting out by allowing herself fish and dairy occasionally.
However over the years, her restrictive eating became more and more extreme and she eventually only ate raw fruit and vegetables alongside juice.
She had claimed that her ten years on a raw plant-based had meant she was ‘in perfect health’ and ‘never got the usual seasonal cold’.
But in 2021, Ms Samsonova travelled back to her native Russia for the first time in nine years but immediately fell ill with coronavirus.
Ms Samsonova said she had ‘ignored’ all Covid precautions before becoming infected and bizarrely claimed she ‘cured’ herself of the virus by dry fasting – where she did not drink or eat anything for more than ten days.
She wrote on Instagram: ‘I was the category of people who wasn’t afraid to get infected with viruses and ignored all the precautions, because over the past ten years on raw plant-based diets I was in perfect health and I didn’t even get the usual seasonal cold.
‘And ironically… I still got sick [with Covid] and was in bed for ten days.’
Ms Samsonova then went on to bizarrely claim: ‘I began to cure myself with dry fasting, since for a long time I have been practicing this method, as I can cure all ailments.
‘The illness gradually began to recede, already the days of dry hunger and I was getting better and better every day… The most critical time is behind me I have overcome this disease despite my unconventional treatment which many condemn.’
If you need help and support, you can talk in confidence to advisors at the charity Beat Eating Disorders by calling its adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.
You can visit their website here: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/helplines/