There are thousands of diets on the market (cabbage soup, no-fat, no-carb, low calorie, etc), but the only one that emerges with it’s head above the water and the only one that has true staying power is a whole foods diet based on clean eating.
It’s ironic that after countless diet fads and innumerable misguided dietary recommendations, the latest interdisciplinary research among food science, nutrition and health points back in time to the good old days when people at real, unprocessed food with unadulterated nutrients. Clean eating is based mostly on eating unrefined plant-based foods (lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc.) plus sustainable fish and modest amounts of pastured meat, pastured chicken & eggs. Clean eating is not only better for the environment, it will also help you get healthy and lean. Clean eating can even help prevent disease and, in some cases, reverse diseases or reverse the symptoms of disease.
Andy and I initially became interested in cleaning up my diet and adopting a whole foods way of eating after [intlink id=”146″ type=”page”]my diagnosis with MS[/intlink] (multiple sclerosis) in 1998. My neurologist at the University of Miami suggested a change in diet could be helpful. However, Andy was in med school at the time (at the University of Pennsylvania) and was highly suspicious about dietary therapy for a condition like MS. But, because my neurolosigst had such impressive credentials Andy decided to do a bit of research on his own and he soon came to the conclusion that eating clean absolutely made sense. I had nothing to lose! I started to change my diet almost immediately but over the years, Andy and I have continued to study nutrition and we have continued to try and optimize my diet (and his too! In fact, Andy now follows the same diet I follow.)
Clean Eating Benefits Everyone!
While, MS is a very tricky and unpredictable disease and the symptoms and severity are wildly different from patient to patient, I truly believe I would not be as healthy as I am today if it weren’t for changing my eating habits over a decade ago. And, it’s not just MS that a “eat clean” and anti-inflammatory whole foods diet can help. Andy graduated from med school and began his surgical residency shortly after I was diagnosed with MS and he spent a tremendous amount of time researching diet and disease. What we both learned was that the “MS” diet I follow isn’t just for people with MS; it’s a diet that has far-reaching benefits for numerous conditions affecting millions of Americans. It’s a diet that reduces inflammation and therefore can help the symptoms of many inflammatory conditions such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, fibromyalgia, eczema, psoriasis, etc. It’s also a very heart healthy diet that lowers CRP levels, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. The number one “side benefits” is hunger free weight loss. And, because it is so rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants it’s a fabulous “anti-aging” diet that can help you look and feel younger than your years.
Clean Eating…Research & Results
The research on the “eat clean” whole foods diet is tremendous. In our first book, we have over 160 direct references to primary medical literature supporting whole foods nutrition…for numerous conditions. My own neurologist, David Perlmutter, M.D. wrote a fabulous book I highly recommend that is also very well researched called The Better Brain Book.
But it’s not just reading research, we’ve also seen the results with our own eyes. We’ve conducted countless “Health & Body Makeover Programs” (which include nutrition classes and 30-minute, 3 days a week of resistance circuit training exercise) in New Jersey and south Florida and we’ve seen numerous total body health transformations in as little as 5 weeks. We’ve even seen results in less than 5 weeks. In one 4-week program followed by local Palm Beach County news station, WPBF, we put 40 men on our “Health & Body Makeover Program.” The results were amazing. We had a 38-year old obese man lose a total of 17.5 pounds, decrease his body fat percentage by 6%, lose a total of 11 inches from his waist and hips, decrease his cholesterol from 243 to 180, lower his LDL cholesterol from 243 to 180, and reduce his triglycerides from 177 to 96. Another man in that same 4-week program decreased his blood pressure from 165/90 to 130/85, lowered his triglycerides from 118 to 96, lost 4 1/2 inches from his waist and hips and lost a total of 5 pounds. In an 8-week program, one of our female clients went from 209 pounds to 190 pounds (a 19 pound weight loss) and lost 27.5 inches from her waist, hips, thighs, chest and arms. She also decreased her body fat percentage from 44.9% to 41.9%.
When You Eat Clean You Don’t Have to “Count Your Food”
Most importantly, the people who have been in our classes have had fabulous weight loss results without “counting their food” (such as calories, carbs, fat grams, “points”, etc.) Instead, we encourage people to make their food count nutritionally. Once you get the nutrients your body needs from “whole foods”, the food cravings stop. In addition, nutrients support a healthy metabolism and greatly assist your body’s natural fat-burning process.
Although weight loss is a tremendous “side benefit” of clean eating, weight loss wasn’t our initial focus. Our initial focus was on reducing inflammation and helping people with inflammatory conditions improve their quality of life. The testimonials we have received from people with MS, asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, etc. are also amazing. We’ve had people with asthma give up their inhalers, people with fibromyalgia experience significant reduction in pain, arthritis patients have reported 80% improvement in their symptoms, and on and on. Most important, unlike with many of the medications used to treat the symptoms of inflammatory conditions, clean eating has no negative side effects. Just side benefits. And, if you already take medication for an inflammatory condition starting a healthy diet plan based on clean eating is not an either / or decision—you can do both. You have nothing to lose by giving a healthy lifestyle a try. We can’t imagine any physician arguing with that! A healthy diet plan is good for every body…and the foundation of healthy eating starts with eating clean.
Kids Can…and Should Eat Clean too!
As a side note, the “eat clean” and anti-inflammatory whole foods diet we recommend is also very helpful for children. We’ve raised our own son on a whole foods diet since he was weaned and (knock on wood!!) he has enjoyed incredible health. Our son is 9-years old today and has been on antibiotics just once in his life, he’s never had an ear infection, he doesn’t have allergies, he doesn’t have asthma and he is by no means overweight. But he’s an exception. Children today are facing a health crisis; they are getting sicker and fatter at younger and younger ages. Parents who are sick and fat cannot expect to feed their children the processed refined foods they eat and expect their children to stay healthy and lean. Yes, children still enjoy innate protection from some degenerative diseases such as senility and heart disease, but they are not immune from obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and inflammatory conditions such as asthma and allergies—all of which can be prevented or reversed by eating a clean, anti-inflammatory whole foods diet.
For Part 2 of this article and to learn exactly what you should do to “eat clean” click [intlink id=”1750″ type=”post”]HERE.[/intlink]