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The great diet debate: animal-based, macrobiotic and living foods .... oh my!

Like water and a good night's sleep, food is one of the body's necessities. After all, from what other source could our organs obtain the vital nourishment they need to function? But there's also something truly special about food. As children, we argued for later bedtimes, and even as adults often balk at water over a choice of an ice-cold beer or distinguished glass of wine, but food made by the hands of a great cook is hard to resist: it tastes heavenly and sustains all at the same time.

Despite the need for food, there is often great contention over it. This contention can be seen in a variety of ways: from the hundreds of diet and nutrition books that line bookstore shelves, to PETA protests, to consumers demanding organic standards, to federal mandates now attempting to better manage food and public health--like regulations on oils used in last food restaurants and the overhaul of school cafeterias--the jury is out on just what one person should eat to be and stay healthy.

Not afraid to get in the middle of this great debate, we thought we'd bring it to the pages of NLJ this month and allow you to close the case on what food lifestyle works best for you. After all, each different stage of life comes with its own dietary needs. To make coming up with a verdict easier (or maybe more difficult!), we asked some prominent diet/ nutrition experts to explain the origins and the basics of the food lifestyle they created or follow, as well as how it stacks up to "the competition." Enjoy their responses! (Keep in mind that these varying opinions are the stances of strong proponents of certain nutrition styles. Make your own choice!)

SALLY FALLON: NOURISHING TRADITIONS

THE ORIGINS:

I read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price in the early 1970's. I began to incorporate his findings into my diet and the diet of my family and many of my long-.standing health problems, such :is allergies and fatigue, began to clear up.

The dietary practices outlined in Dr. Price's book were extremely rich in minerals and in what he called "fat-soluble activators." These are the vitamins found exclusively in animal fats--vitamins A, D and what he called Activator X, which we now know to be the animal form of vitamin K. These vitamins are the catalysts for mineral absorption: they work synergistically with minerals from our food. So, a healthy diet must include sources of these vitamins. These are the very foods that have been demonized today and that most people are avoiding But in the past, healthy, non-industrialized peoples recognized these foods as fundamentally important for good health,

THE BASICS:

The diet is based on Dr. Price's (and others') research into the diets of original cultures across the world, and it involves the consumption of nutrient-dense animal foods, including seafood, raw milk and cheese from pastured cows (nutrients are much more available in raw milk than in pasteurized), butter and eggs from pastured animals, cod liver oil, rich bone broths, lacto-fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut; and nuts, grains and legumes prepared by careful soaking and sour leavening. Also, of course, the diet involves the avoidance of any empty refined or processed foods, including all processed soy foods.

PROS AND CONS:

This diet makes people healthy and is satisfying and tastes good to boot. Everyone can benefit from the diet, especially prospective parents, pregnant women and growing children, who need these nutrient-dense foods to get a good start in life. While the dietary principles are for everyone, the particulars of the diet will vary according to individual tastes, availability, budgetary, constraints and food intolerances. It can be difficult for people to transition back to real food after being on processed foods for many years, especially as many of the additives in processed food are addictive. Also, many people are afraid of this way of eating because of years of indoctrination and demonization about saturated fat and cholesterol.

HOW IT STACKS UP:

Most diets promoted in the mainstream avoid nutrient-dense animal foods: the vegan diet even claims that one can be healthy without any animal foods at all. These types of diets eventually result in nutrient deficiencies and are extremely risky' for pregnant women. Our diet helps people heal and results in really beautiful, healthy, strong babies.

Healthy, traditional peoples have practiced these dietary principles since the dawn of time. and these principles have been completely validated by science, in spite of what you hear in the popular media. In particular, evidence is accumulating about the vital importance of the fat-soluble activators. vitamins A, D and K And. in spite of what you may read and hear, the mostly saturated animal fats in which these vitamins occur have been shown to play many important roles in the body. These fats do not cause disease, rather they protect us from disease.

Sally Fallon is the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org), founder of A Campaign for Real Milk (www.realmilk.com) and author of the best-selling cookbook Nourishing Traditions (www.newtrendspublishing.com). For more information, visit www.westonaprice.org, or contact Sally by phone at 202-363-4394 or email at info@westonnaprice.org.

LINO STANCHICH: MACROBIOTIC DIET

THE ORIGINS:

The macrobiotic diet is rooted in the traditional foods of people throughout the world. The modern-macrobiotic philosophy was founded by George Ohsawa and further developed by internationally acclaimed health pioneers Michio and Aveline Kushi. Herman and Cornelia Aihara. and scores of other educators and authors worldwide. I began eating the macrobiotic diet thirty-five years ago after searching for the optimum diet to achieve greater balance of body and mind. I was in my thirties, a veteran of the U.S. Army and in the prime of my life, yet was filled with tension and anxiety for no known reason. I tried a multitude of diets and read countless books. The macrobiotic diet helped me to better understand my body, my mind, my spirit and the power of Nature. Adopting the diet has led me to a healthy, active and vital age 75.

THE BASICS:

Translated from the Greek physician Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, Macro means "great" and biotics means "life", or living consciously with joy, health and gratitude. Macrobiotics is a way of living in harmony with Nature and choosing specific foods according to the seasons, in order to become more physically healthy, mentally clear, emotionally stable and spiritually aware.

The macrobiotic diet recommends 100 percent organic, whole foods, eaten according to seasons. Macrobiotic foods nourish and strengthen the blood and simultaneously provide abundant quantities of plant-based complex carbohydrates, healthful protein and fats, vital fiber, and minerals and vitamins. Foods on the diet include whole grains, vegetable soup, vegetables, beans and bean products, sea vegetables, and additional foods like nuts. Savory, cooked whole grains, cereals and whole grain products are the mainstay of every macrobiotic meal. Soups with delicate sea vegetable, lightly seasoned with fermented foods such as miso, soy sauce (shoyu), tamari, or sea salt, are usually included daily. A colorful variety of organic vegetables, from leafy greens like kale and collards to sweet, round vegetables like squash and cabbage and to hardy root vegetables like onions and carrots, are included in every meal. The abundant protein in beans provides a healthful and more ecological alternative to the high fat and cholesterol-laden protein found in meat and dairy products. Nature's powerhouse of quality calcium, iron and essential minerals are contained in sea vegetables, vital components of the macrobiotic diet. Natural grain sweeteners in delicious desserts, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, natural pickles, optional wild fish, fermented seasonings, herbs, and healthful beverages round out the balanced macrobiotic diet.

PROS AND CONS:

There is not one macrobiotic diet. Because everyone is unique, each person's diet can be designed to meet his/ her specific needs. In macrobiotics, we choose foods and food preparation to balance our unique constitution. condition, profession, climate and activities. Your regime may include raw or cooked or salted or unsalted foods, or be totally vegan or allow some fish. As with all dietary programs, it is essential to use a variety of these whole foods and cooking styles in order to ensure that all key nutrients are supplied. When eaten in the suggested proportions, macrobiotic foods will give you and your family high quality nutrients and energy to help achieve, and maintain vitality and health.

HOW IT STACKS UP:

Nutrition experts acknowledge the macrobiotic diet as a sound program for nutritional health. The macrobiotic diet more than satisfies the established U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA's) for essential human nutrients. The American National Institute of Health examined and praised the macrobiotic diet for its effectiveness in reversing certain cancers. Doctors recommending a plant-based, vegan-style diet include Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Neal Bernard, Dr. Sherry Rogers and Dr. Christiane Northrup. Unlike the animal food-based Atkins Diet, the macrobiotic diet is low in saturated fat and high in fiber. A plant-based diet like the macrobiotic program helps preserve the environment and supports the animals that share our Earth.

Lino Stanchich is an international macrobiotic teacher (Kushi Institute Certified Macrobiotic Educator), lecturer, author and bodywork therapist. He is the author of several books, including Power Eating Program, You Are How You Eat, Macrobiotic Healing Secrets, and The Natural Bladder Control Program, as well as the audios Laugh for the Health of It, Healing Mealtime Music, and Using your Mind to Heal Your Body. He is also a licensed massage and bodywork therapist and a Florida licensed nutritionist. For more information on Lino, visit www.macrobioticconsultation.com. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife, Jane, and can be reached at 828-299-8657.

BRENDA COBB: LIVING FOODS/RAW FOODS DIET

THE ORIGINS:

I was diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer in 1999. My doctor told me that I would die in six months to a year if I did not do surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I didn't want to do any of the treatments he recommended; I knew that toxic, poisonous drugs would not heal me and that surgery would not fix my problem, so I began researching and found out about organic raw and living foods, cleansing and detoxification to help heal cancer and other diseases.

In six months, I was cancer free; I had no more arthritis, no more allergies, no more hot flashes, no more insomnia, no more depression, no more migraines and no more psoriasis or eczema. What started out as a way to heal cancer became the most fantastic healing of all my ailments.

I have expanded on an idea that has been around for centuries. In the book The Essene Gospel of Peace. there are teachings that encourage people to eat food that has not been touched by fire and to cleanse the bowels with pure water. In the 1940's. Dr. Kristine Nolfi became well known for teaching about raw and living foods, and she helped people to heal of all types of diseases. Dr. Ann Wigmore carried on with the teachings, and currently there are people all over the world who practice this lifestyle.

THE BASICS:

This is really a lifestyle and not just a diet. It is designed to help people restore and maintain optimum health, even from the most serious diseases. Of course, well people benefit, too. because this lifestyle is a great preventive for future medical problems.

We detoxify the body with wheatgrass juice, dark-green leafy vegetables and other specific foods to help rid the body of heavy metals, additives, preservatives, colors, chemicals and other disease-producing harmful agents.

To build up the deficiency that is caused from eating cooked, dead and processed food, you must put in organic raw and living (sprouted) foods that are full of enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Real nutrients come from real food, not from vitamin, mineral or enzyme pills. It's okay to take supplements to support a healthy nutritional program, but pills will not take the place of good food.

Impacted waste and parasites in the colon can cause major health problems. We teach people to eat organic, raw and living foods and to cleanse the blood, lymphatic system and the colon so the body can do what it was created to do, heal itself. We do not heat our food to more than 105 degrees, so all the enzymes, vitamins and minerals are fully intact and can nourish on a cellular level.

PROS AND CONS:

It cleanses, detoxifies and heals on every level. Some of the benefits include the shrinking of tumors, normalization of blood pressure, and the healing of cancer, heart disease, lupus, MS and other serious diseases. And, it can be inexpensive. We don't use boxed, canned, frozen or other processed foods, meats or dairy products, which are typically what make food bills so high.

HOW IT STACKS UP:

Thousands of people who have tried other diets or lifestyles and have not achieved the results they desired have completely healed on this lifestyle protocol. This is a very basic way of eating and living, and it is the original way people ate from the beginning of time when there were no microwaves, ovens or gas grills. Scientists have studied wheatgrass, sprouts and other raw and living foods for years. John Hopkins University conducted a study on broccoli sprouts and discovered that the sprouts could prevent and heal cancer. Harvey Lisle, scientist and biochemist, studied raw and living foods and found them to be the most superior of all foods. Today, there are hundreds of studies reporting the health benefits of this way of eating and living. Even many cancer and heart associations say that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables will help prevent many serious diseases.

Brenda Cobb founded the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, Georgia in 1999. Since then, she has expanded her Healthy Lifestyle Course to help people heal on every level. She has written nine books: The living Foods Lifestyle[R], Colon Cleansing For Optimum Health, 101 Raw and Living Food Recipes, Get Started Now For Good Health, The Living Foods Lifestyle Training Manual, Healing Fibroids, Endometriosis, Tumors and Cysts, A Plan For Health, Good Health How, Organic Raw and Living Food Recipes. She has also been awarded an Honorary Cultural Doctorate in Therapeutic Philosophy from the World University in September 2003 and the Phoenix Award by the City of Atlanta. For more information on Brenda or her 10-Day Living Foods Lifestyle Course and Educator Certification Training, workshops and seminars, call 800-844-9876 or 404-524-4488, email Brenda@livingfoodsinstitute.com or visit www.livingfoodsinstitute.com.

THE SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT

While not a diet, per say, the slow food movement is a food lifestyle that is catching on fast. Eve Davis, chairman of the movement In Western North Carolina, broke it down for us.

THE ORIGINS:

"A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life." The Slow Food Manifesto

Slow food was born out of an effort to stop "fast food" and McDonald's from coming into an exquisite town in Italy and has grown into an international movement which is, at its core, the antithesis of fast food, thus slow food ... real food.

Slow food appealed to me, first of all, simply because I love good food! I have "always loved to garden and cook, so fresh, organic and natural foods have been a priority for over 30 years. Secondly, I believe, as does the movement, that it is terribly important where our food comes from and how it is produced. This concept is as old as human beings on this planet. It means getting back to basics and seeking to support the multitude of ethnic food cultures all over the globe.

THE BASICS:

As a movement, slow food seeks to educate. inspire and encourage food communities all over the world to support their own local farmers and urge them to use sustainable practices. Because of its concern for global biodiversity, slow food is deeply interested in saving heirloom plants and animals as well as indigenous species. Ultimately, it is the simple pleasure of enjoying fresh food and celebrating life.

For me, slow food is allowing a broad spectrum of humanity to focus On how we are living on this planet. With this comes a deepening awareness of the innate generosity of the natural world and its sacredness.

Eve Davis is the chairman of Slow Food WNC (www.SlowFoodAsheville.org) and the owner of the Hawk and Ivy, a holistic country B&B retreat in Barnardsville, NC where she teaches natural foods cooking, gardening and floral design (www.hawkandivy.com).

As you can see, these experts and their followers have seen great results from specific nutrition regimes with opposing food priorities. Why are all of these regimes (and others) working so well for some? At New Life Journal, we think the verdict, is still out on the diet debate. The only one who can decide what eating habits are right for you is you. You might find great results from one method for a while, then find that your body needs something new. Be flexible and learn to listen to your body: it's the best expert of all!
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Author:Cramer, Maggie
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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