Special Diets

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Special Diets

Men dig their Graves with their own Teeth
and die more by those fated Instruments
than the Weapons of their Enemies.
                                             Thomas Moffet

McDougall, Pritikin, Ornish, South Beach Type Diet
These physicians are advocates of one of the more sound types of diet from which most people can benefit. It is one of the types of diet which is most supported by scientific studies. Books written by the above doctors and the recipes they endorse should form a sound basis for most people. There are two elements which they all seem to neglect and which could add significantly to the benefits of their diets. One, is nutritional supplementation and the other is avoidance of food allergens. Use the information in all the lessons to add these important facets. Because most of these diets generally stress the importance of providing only 10% of one’s calories from fat some people find it a bit difficult to comply with fully. But the lower “bad” fat content is precisely what makes it so therapeutic in many illnesses. The Basic Nutritional Health Enhancement Guidelines in lesson one contain important elements of this type of diet.
The Mediterranean Diet
This diet has been found to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease because of it’s stress on large amounts of vegetables and moderate amounts of legumes, beans, fruit, fish, and olive oil.  Because the fat content is primarily healthy olive oil the moderate fat content of this diet is ok. Refined sugars are not recommended and if grains are eaten as in pasta or bread it should be whole grains.  Only small amounts of lean meat and alcohol are recommended.

The Zone Diet
Barry Sears developed this weight loss diet which became extremely popular. Its success is based partly on some generally reasonable food and nutrition principles, it makes people watch what they eat, and he is an enthusiastic advocate — promoting it as the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately, it is not as sound as it seems. The fat quantity is too high and fat quality too low. He uses bad studies to justify questionable aspects of his work and ignores excellent studies which disprove some of his assertions. If you were once on the typical average American diet of junk food with a super high fat content and change to the Zone Diet diligently you may very well lose weight and improve your health. But there are still other diets which may provide a better health improvement.

Paleolithic Diet
The paleolithic diet is a nutritional plan based on the presumed diet of cavemen. It proposes that diseases of civilized diets (ie. fast foods, processed foods and foods we have not evolved to metabolize well is the cause of many illnesses. The Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. There is great debate about the premise of the diet but some of its foundations such as avoidance of processed foods is probably wise and is responsible for its popularity.

Eat Right 4 Your Type
Dr. D’adamo proposes an diet based on your blood type. In theory, adding this element to dietary choice improves one’s health significantly.  But other clinicians have pointed out numerous  flaws in his system.  Most notably, food reaction to blood type is only a small fraction of the components that are helpful to consider. Dr. D’adamo’s convincing pitch for his nutritional system can be found on his website and in his best selling book.  More recent studies have disproved his approach.

Fasting

Fasting has been used for centuries as a therapeutic tool. In its simple, short forms it can impart benefits on most people’s health. Longer fasts, particularly with ill people, are best supervised by a physician who is specially trained in clinical fasting physiology. There are three major reasons for fasting’s success as a rejuvenator of health. The first is that for the time of the fast the person is not consuming junk food with which he normally was polluting his body. This in itself can explain many of the pronounced symptomatic improvements of fasting. The second reason is that the person is not consuming foods to which he is allergic, intolerant, or sensitive. This may impart the largest benefit. The third reason is that all the systems of the body involved with digestion are given an opportunity to rest and reset themselves in a more healthy mode of operation.

Unless you are severely ill or have diabetes or severe hypoglycemia short fasts of one to four days are tolerable by most people. Different experts advocate various choices of what to fast with. Pure water, lemon juice and water, and vegetable juice are popular, healthy choices. Some progressive doctors use a modified, protein-sparing fast which consists of a specially formulated, highly nutritional, hypo-allergenic protein/carbohydrate/essential fatty acid drink. This has many of the benefits of the purer forms of fasting but has the advantage of providing essential nutrients. It is sometimes an easier fast to undertake. It can also be more safely used in those with more serious illness. The 20 Day Rejuvenation Diet Program details this method quite well.

Longer fasts of one to many weeks can be undertaken with proper expert supervision. Fasting should not be considered a good method for weight loss but rather a system of detoxification, cleansing, and purification.

Macrobiotic Diet
This diet has been popularized in North America by Michio and Aveline Kushi. Many people do quite well with it and it has been very therapeutic for many with serious illness. I think a large part of its benefits come from several important elements. One, it encourages people not to eat junk food. Two, it has a tendency to remove frequently eaten foods to which individuals have developed hidden food allergies. Three, it stresses whole grains, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and low fats. Four, to many it seems like an exotic diet and thus holds interest for them for a long enough time to get results. If this diet is altered to include more raw foods and less salt it looks quite similar to the diets of McDougall, Ornish, and colleagues.

For People with Special Health Problems
There are many specialized diets for specific health problems. Patients with kidney disease often do much better on low protein diets. Difficult pregnancies are often helped with high protein diets. People with difficult to manage insulin resistance often respond to a vegan diet very low in fats. Epileptic children sometimes recover remarkably well with a high fat, Ketogenic Diet. The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet of low carbohydrates has helped many. Cancer patients respond to vastly different diets depending on the type of cancer. Sometimes professional laboratory testing and guidance can help determine which diet is best for you. If you are have trouble adapting to a healthy diet, by all means ask Dr. Collins for assistance.

Further Resources
*Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson Haas, M.D. Contains an excellent section on fasting and detoxification.
*The 20 Day Rejuvenation Diet Program by Jeff Bland, Ph.D.
The McDougall Plan by John and Mary McDougall
The Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook by Aveline Kushi and Wendy Esko
Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony, and Peace by Aveline Kushi and Alex Jack
            An excellent fat-freewebsite: Fatfree

Homework
Choose a diet that sounds suited for you and give it a try for a long enough period so that you can see some changes.

Research

A total vegetarian diet not only improves diabetic nerve damage but improves other elements of Diabetes.  “Regression of Diabetic Neuropathy With Total Vegetarian (Vegan) Diet,” Journal of Nutritional Medicine, 1994;4:431-439, #21878. “Vitamin B12 Studies in Total Vegetarians,” Journal of Nutrition, 1994;4:419-430.

Healthy diet can be a strong cancer preventive as well as being very therapeutic in cancer cure. “Adjuvant Nutrition in Cancer Treatment”, Quillin, Patrick, Ph.D., CNS, R.D., Journal of Advancement in Medicine, Fall 1995;8(3):177-191.

A diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, which includes whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, and only small amounts of red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages, and reduced amounts of total and saturated fat and cholesterol can lower blood pressure in patients with and without hypertension. “Effects on Blood Pressure of Reduced Dietary Sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet,” Sacks FM, Svetkey LP, Vollmer WM, et al, N Engl J Med, January 4, 2001;344(1):3-10.

A diet which can help lower and treat hypertension is low in total and saturated fat and cholesterol, includes no more than 1 or 2 drinks per day, is controlled in calories to prevent obesity, and is moderate in salt intake. It is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fat-free and/or low-fat dairy products, fish, shellfish, lean poultry and meat, and all essential nutrients. Other beneficial nutrients include calcium, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin C and other antioxidants. Mild sodium restriction enhances the effectiveness of almost all antihypertensive medications. The strongest effect of antioxidants on blood pressure relates to vitamin C. A number of studies have shown an inverse relationship between blood pressure and vitamin C intake. “Nonpharmacologic Interventions Successfully Treat Hypertension in Older Persons,” Feldman EB, Nutr Rev, 1998;56(11):341-343.

Weight reduction is the single most simple but outstanding potential blood pressure lowering therapy. “Lowering Blood Pressure: A Systemic Review of Sustained Effects of Non- Pharmacological Interventions,” Ebrahim S and Smith GD, J Public Health Med, 1998;20(4):441-448.

Dietary recommendations for postmenopausal women include: 1. 1.5 gm per kg of protein per day, with twice as much coming from vegetable protein than from animal protein. Rely more on fish, poultry, whole grains, and legumes as a source of protein rather than red meat or dairy products. 2. Limit the intake of fat to 30% of the total calories, using vegetable oils more often or in place of cooked fat and animal fats. 3. Increase complex carbohydrates from cereals, whole grains and legumes. 4. Reduce refined sugar, salt, red meat, alcohol and tobacco consumption, limit dairy products to 2 servings per day, and avoid processed foods. “The Importance of Magnesium in the Management of Primary Postmenopausal Osteoporosis”, Abraham, Guy E., M.D., et al, Journal of Nutritional Medicine, 1991;2:165-178.

“Mediterranean Diet Pyramid: A Cultural Model For Health Eating”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995;61(suppl):1402S-6S.

“Mediterranean Diet and Public Health: Personal Reflections”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995; 61(Suppl.):1321S-3S.

“Dietary Links to Alzheimer’s Disease: 1999 Update,” J Alzheimer’s Dis, 1999;1:197-201.