The diet almanac: Finding the diet for life, health and combating disease

There are many diet books written every day, and, most of the time, they are books devoted to one diet. Each diet book often contains one diet which an author may write about for 200 pages. Usually this diet is condensable to several pages.

It is wonderful that we have so many diets, since every disease requires a specific diet. There is a diet for osteoporosis, a diet for hypertension, a diet for obesity, a diet for arthritis, a diet for heart disease, a diet for diabetes, a diet for virtually every disease. Often there are several valuable diets for one disease.

There are some basic fundamental rules for the generally healthy person to follow. These rules make up the Basic Health Diet, which is the diet of which all other diets are a variation.

It eliminates simple sugars, MSG, corn syrup, corn starch, flour, pickling, nitrates, or other preservatives used in food preparation.

Concerning protein foods, it emphasizes fish first, for its great cardiovascular preventive benefits. Secondly, it emphasizes chicken, turkey and other fowl. Thirdly, it includes at a very reduced rate, either beef or veal once a week. Pork and shellfish are the least valuable protein sources. Pork is frequently fatty and filled with nitrates and preservatives. Shellfish is relatively high in cholesterol and low in cardiovascular protective fish oils. Shellfish also contains hepatitis A virus.

Eggs are permitted, but generally no more than seven per week. If cholesterol is a problem, this is because, although blood cholesterol levels are not necessarily related to cholesterol intake, there is for some people a relationship between too much cholesterol intake and high serum cholesterol.

High cholesterol intake, when combined with other poor eating habits, will definitely lead to serum cholesterol build-up. Carbohydrateholics (addicted to junk food) usually have high cholesterol.

Nuts are permitted on the diet as a basic snack, including nut butters, if they are without simple sugars like glucose. So are soy flour and textured soy products permitted. The type of nuts that need to be emphasized, however, are high in polyunsaturated oils and low in salurated fats. These include English walnuts, almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds. While nuts that are high in salurated fats, such as pistachios and cashews are usually less healthful, except in the case of a weight-gain diet.

For most people, dairy products are permitted, particularly milk, except in the case of lactose-intolerant individuals or individuals on a low-estrogen diet. Cheeses can be permitted, with less of the aged, salty cheeses, and more of the fresh cheeses, such as cottage cheese, ricotta, farmer cheese, etc. being emphasized. Avoid diet cheeses, cheese spreads, or cheese foods such as Velveeta, because they are generally high in carbohydrates or have additives. Cream and butter should be used at a complete minimum, since they promote cancer and heart disease. Non-dairy lighteners or creamers are completely forbidden, due to the high saturated oil and toxic aluminum content.

When using oils and fats, most individuals should emphasize either polyunsaturated oils (sunflower, safflower) or monosaturated fat (olive oil). Polyunsaturated oil content is highest in safflower, then sunflower, walnut, soybean and sesame. These oils are especially good for individuals with heart disease and hypertension. Yet, olive oil is better for cholesterol lowering. Linseed oil may also serve this same purpose. Mayonnaise is a saturated fat, and is to be avoided. Fried oils as well as baked hydrogenated oils are all dangerous saturated fats.

Complex carbohydrates are the goal. All vegetables steamed and cooked can be taken freely. Generally, there should be less use of starchy vegetables, which increase weight gain, and may increase craving for sweets. These include peas, corn, carrots and beets.

Grains should be emphasized. Fiber is an extremely important component of grains, because it lowers cholesterol which reduces heart disease as well as the risk of a variety of cancers (speeds elimination of toxins), and treats irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. All grains are allowed as whole-grains or cereals. White flour, white rice, white bread or other refined carbohydrates must be avoided. Whole grain breads, crackers, and pasta are made with yeast, and they are allowed depending on the person's diet. (Matzoh and sour-dough bread are examples of no-yeast products.) Spinach pasta may substitute for a white pasta.

Some vegetables and grains with high carbohydrate content include brown rice, kasha, oats, corn, cracked wheat, millet, peas, lentil beans, parsnips and acorn squash. These are acceptable if you are not trying to lose weight.

Fruit is excellent under most conditions, because its high water content is good for the skin, and it has many valuable nutrients. Excessive fruit juice-drinking can lead to sugar-cravings and mood instability. Fruit is valuable, particularly in the case of bananas and apples, for lowering cholesterol, or in the case of other high-potassium fruits, which are important in heart arrhythmia, stroke prevention, or in bowel regularity.

Lemon, lime, vegetable juice, and olives are allowed, although olives need to be removed from a low-salt diet, and avocados need to be eliminated from a low-fat diet.


By Rabbi Eric Braverman, M.D.

Dr. Eric Braverman, physician and author, is the director of the P.A.T.H. Clinic in Princeton NJ. His latest book is entitled What's Your Spiritual Health?

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