18. Diet Fanaticism
Diet fanaticism may also produce anorexia, or the same weight seesawing which is sometimes the result of fasting fanaticism. This has been called the "yo-yo" syndrome—lose some weight, gain it back—down-up—up-down. The combination of pathological and psychological problems that are thus created can be very destructive.
Hundreds of reducing diets have been offered to the public over the years. Diet fanatics have tried them all. When reducing diets are tried and ultimately abandoned, it is frequently because they proved to be too difficult, too frustrating—or because they just didn't work. And the dieter wails, "I just don't have enough willpower!" Some of the dieters actually do slim down, some (rarely) permanently; and some temporarily, often seesawing between dieting and gorging.
But the dieters seldom give any thought to whether these diets may be inconsistent with their dietary needs, perhaps even dangerous. The repeated experimentation with diets that emphasize certain foods, and prohibit other foods which are necessary to health and well-being, do much damage. The foods prescribed are chosen for their weight-loss potential, with little regard for their other effects on the body. People may wind up with bodies that are unable to respond normally to the food that is taken, and unable to utilize necessary food elements.
18.1 The Only Safe and Correct Diets
The only correct diet for regular use is one that meets all the nutritional needs of the body in a rational manner, without threat or stress. The Hygienic food program does just that.
The only safe temporary therapeutic (or weight-loss) diets—other than correctly utilized total fasting periods—are the Hygienic elimination diets. Elimination diets are diets low in proteins and other concentrated foods, which cause the organism to accelerate the autolysis of toxins and fats (but never as efficiently as fasting on distilled water only).
18.2 Seventy Million Overweight Americans
Frost and Sullivan, Inc., a national market research company, noted that seventy million overweight Americans are willing to do almost anything to shed some weight; they use appetite suppressants, obesity prescriptions, reducing pills, diet books, mechanical devices, health spas and even surgery such as intestinal bypass operations, cutting of the vagus nerve, and gastric stapling.
18.3 High-Protein Diets
Many popular diets emphasize high protein. The high-protein diet may have a disastrous potential when utilized for long periods of time, whether used after a diagnosis of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or whether it is used in the mistaken belief that it is the best road to weight reduction or improved health.
The rationale of high-protein diets for weight loss is based on the fact that protein requires much more body energy for digestion and metabolism than it supplies. The danger lies in the fact that the end products of large amounts of protein, particularly flesh proteins, will result in degeneration of body tissues, producing liver, kidney and digestive disorders, as well as gout, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.
Dr. Ralph Bircher-Benner, in an article in the September 1975 Hygienic Review, confirms these and other inevitable consequences of the overconsumption of protein, including hyperacidity, osteoporosis, dangerously high phenylalanine and tyrosine content in the blood, poor protein metabolism and irritation caused by uric acid. (Phenylalanine and tyrosine are amino acids, two of the building blocks of protein, excessive amounts of which are formed when protein is decomposed, as by putrefaction.)
Dr. Alec Burton, the brilliant Australian Hygienic doctor, says that the high-protein diet of seventy-five to one-hundred grams daily (or more) is beyond anyone's needs— or capacity to process without toxicity.
When protein is consumed in greater amounts than can be processed efficiently, the number of highly-toxic nitrogenous compounds are released. One such compound is ammonia; another is kinotoxin, which, accumulating in the muscles, impairs working capacity and causes fatigue. In addition, high protein consumption results in excessive carbon and sulfur in the blood, which also causes complicated problems. Acid end products of protein, such as urea, uric acid, adenine, etc., beyond a certain normal range, cause tissue damage, degeneration and destruction.
Dr. Gerald Benesh says, "A study of physiology shows that all excessive and unnecessary protein is processed by the liver. It subsequently goes through numerous biochemical changes until it is finally excreted as ammonia and other end products of protein metabolism via the kidneys. This excessive load and additional biological function leads to enervation and eventually the breakdown of these vital organs.
"The liver has to cope with the heavy load of uric acid and urea which has to be buffered (neutralized) at the expense of the alkaline salts, leading to an unbalanced body chemistry and disordered cell and body function. This continued abuse, in time, leads to serious pathological conditions. Nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) has been reported to result from a very high intake of animal protein." ("The Protein Question")
Research by Professor Uri Nikolayev of the prestigious Psychiatric Institute in Moscow has confirmed links between mental disturbances and protein derivatives, and studies at the Institute for Cancer Research demonstrate links between high-protein intake and cancer.
Dr. David J. Scott, of Cleveland, and Dr. Robert R. Gross, of Hyde Park, New York, who, among others, have researched this subject extensively, are convinced that the individual who resorts to high-protein diets for weight loss may wreck his health in the process.
18.4 What A High-Protein Diet Can Do
I know a lady, a registered nurse, who was on a high-protein diet for twenty-two months (including massive amounts of food supplements), after a diagnosis of hypoglycemia. She steadily grew worse on the high-protein diet, and developed more and more symptoms. She visited hospital emergency rooms, in severe pain, three times. Her intestinal tract was packed with feces and she was given repeated agonizing enemas. Her body and breath odor were unbearable.
From 1974 to 1976, her weight increased from 125 to 162 pounds. Her personality and mentality had deteriorated so much she was unable to think or make decisions or drive a car. She had been treated by many doctors, including those in the hospitals where she worked, and the emergency room doctors, but only one of them suggested she was taking too much protein.
One, of the doctors, a D.O. who was a specialist in nutrition and hypoglycemia, prescribed the following diet and supplements (high protein, no fruit):
7 a.m. 8 oz. milk with protein powder and brewer's yeast
By the end of March 1976, she realized that she had reached an impasse—a dead end. She remembered she had read some books about Natural Hygiene in June 1973, but didn't believe what she read. But now, in desperation, she got them out and re-read them. They were Fasting Can Save Your Life and Superior Nutrition by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton and The Mucusless Diet Healing System by Arnold Ehret.
On April 1, 1976, she dumped all of the supplements and changed her regimen to a breakfast of fruit, a lunch of vegetables and a starch, and a supper of vegetables and a protein.
She went through six weeks of elimination and agony, but she did not give up. Then her energy started slowly to return. Her weight was down to 136 pounds. She was close to death at some points, but she made it back.
In the years since then, she has been able to function quite normally, though it is obvious that some irreversible damage was done by the twenty-two months of stuffing with protein and supplements.
She has been a dedicated Natural Hygienist since then, and has been reluctant to function in her profession as a registered nurse, since she no longer believes in the type of treatment she would be required to assist in implementing.
18.5 Low-Carbohydrate Diets
The "low-carbohydrate diet" is another name for a high-protein diet. Dr. Jean Mayer's (and Jeanne Goldberg's, R.D.) column, "Food for Thought," (St. Petersburg Times, June 24, 1982) says this diet is described as "historial," having been created more than 100 years ago by Dr. William Harvey, a British ear surgeon. The diet was immortalized by his patient, William Banting, who was delighted with his weight loss and wrote a best-seller, Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public, in 1864.
Dr. Mayer (et al.) says, "Eventually it faded into obscurity, but the diet resurfaced around the turn of the century when the Earl of Salisbury's doctor used it to treat the Earl's weight problem. The basis of that diet was a big patty of chopped beef. It is, in fact, from this that Salisbury steak got its name.
"The low-carbohydrate diet resurfaced a third time in 1953, as the Dupont Diet, and has been with us continuously in literally countless variations since then. While it appears to be true that some people temporarily control their appetite—and thus lose weight—such diets are undesirable in the long run because they are generally higher in fat and may create a predisposition to high blood cholesterol and diseases of the heart and blood vessels."
18.6 The Atkins and Stillman Diets
The Stillman Diet (Dr. Stillman's 14-Day Shape-Up Program) and the Atkins Diet (Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution) are variations of the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. Dr. Atkins advises using fats like heavy cream, butter, oils, etc. He calls his diet the "High-Fat, No-Carbohydrate Diet," though a very small amount of carbohydrates are permitted. Dr. Stillman, on the other hand, says the "high-fat" idea is all wrong, and calls his diet "High-Protein, Low-Fat, Low-Carbohydrate Combination."
Dr. Atkins recommends that ''everyone should take vitamin and mineral supplements," and Dr. Stillman advocates the use of vitamin and mineral supplements "in optimum dosages."
Dr. Atkins' book has two paragraphs on exercise, one for hypoglycemics and one for "dieters who go astray." Dr. Stillman has a chapter on the benefits of exercise.
Both diets include all kinds of flesh foods and animal products, and permit condiments, coffee, tea, diet soda. Fruits are absent, and the use of vegetables is very small. Dr. Atkins says "no bread," Dr. Stillman permits "protein bread," toasted. Dr. Stillman permits alcoholic beverages, even wines in cooking.
18.7 The Scarsdale Diet
The Scarsdale Medical 14-Day Diet includes flesh foods, low-fat cheese, small amounts of fruit and green vegetables, no fat, "protein bread," toasted, coffee, tea, diet soda, but no alcoholic beverages. Carrots and celery between meals, seasonings, and spices are permitted.
Dr. Scarsdale says that all the vitamins and minerals needed daily are found in the foods in the Scarsdale Medical Diet; and gives a list of the vitamins and minerals and the foods in which they are found.
Dr. Scarsdale recommends brisk walking at least two miles daily, as well as swimming, tennis or other sports.
The Scarsdale Diet is essentially a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.
18.8 The Beverly Hills Diet
The Beverly Hills Medical Diet (Lose Ten Pounds in Fourteen Days) uses flesh foods, but it is recommended that not more than four ounces of meat daily be used; also the use of less red meat and more poultry and fish is advocated, as well as the use of one ounce daily of fresh raw nuts and seeds. Nonfat dairy products and egg white are recommended. Wholegrains and legumes are also used.
The diet also includes generous amounts of fresh vegetables and moderate amounts of fresh fruits. The use of "complex carbohydrates" is recommended (unrefined carbohydrate foods). It is "thumbs down on all unnecessary fats (any kind)" and salt, sugar, and processed foods are to be omitted, as well. Spices are permitted, but not coffee, alcohol or tobacco.
The diet calls for high-vegetable, low-fat meals. Lemon juice or vinegar are to be used as salad dressing, and as many foods as possible are to be eaten raw. This diet permits "eating-all-the-time on permissible foods. Eat all day long and eat in between meals and when hungry from the special list of the raw complex carbohydrates. Carry them with you all day (raw vegetables)."
Dr. Stillman criticizes Dr. Atkins' high-fat diet, and Dr. Arnold Fox (Beverly Hills Diet) criticizes the Atkins and Scarsdale diets. Each believes his is the miracle diet.
Dr. Fox says that the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet causes bodily harm, such as calcium depletion, dehydration, sleeplessness, nausea, fatigue, atherosclerosis, gout, hypoglycemia, vascular, thrombosis, liver and gall bladder diseases, hypertension, cancer of the colon and breast, cardiac arrhythmia, postural hypotension and coronary heart disease, and says he does "mean to scare you."
The Beverly Hills diet is better than the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets criticized by Dr. Fox, principally because it advocates the use of large amounts of raw fresh vegetables, and allows moderate amounts of raw fresh fruit. But the all-day-long eating plan (no rest for the digestive system) can result in a lot of damage if continued for long periods. And the generous use of dairy products and egg white, the use of vinegar and spices, and the daily use of flesh foods, will also eventually cause problems.
Dr. Fox recommends "wogging" for exercises—walk a bit, jog a bit, a minimum of thirty minutes, four days a week, and advocates the use of vitamin and mineral supplements.
18.9 The Pritikin Diet
This diet includes two kinds of whole grain foods daily, bran, beans, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a variety of vegetables and fruits. For vitamin B-12 it calls for six ounces of low-fat animal protein per week (or unwashed, unpolluted produce) or vitamin B-12 supplements. In addition to three full meals daily, the diet provides for snacking between meals: "Don't go hungry between meals." Spices are permitted, but not coffee, alcohol, or tobacco.
This is a vegetarian (or almost vegetarian) diet, but the good "track record" of the Pritikin Program is due more to the excellent exercise program than to the diet. Hygienists, of course, find the preoccupation with vitamin B-12 unnecessary, and find the frequent snacking inadvisable, giving the digestive system inadequate time to process the previous meal before ingesting more food.
The popular Weight-Watchers Diet is essentially a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, which has been more or less successful, due to a great extent to its methodology—group supportiveness, public approval for accomplishment, and public disapproval for backsliders. Techniques for changing habits and self-control are also provided.
Liver, steak, veal, pork, turkey, chicken, frankfurters, fish, shrimp, salmon, tuna, sardines, eggs, and cheese are used for protein. They say "buy meat as lean as possible" and allow ten to twelve ounces of meat, fish, cheese, and eggs daily (a little more for men).
Three full meals and two snacks are permitted. A choice of cereal, bread, or potatoes is offered at meals. Two pieces of fruit daily are allowed, as well as generous amounts of nonstarchy vegetables.
They recommend using as little coffee and tea as possible, especially if it disturbs sleep, and consider the use of alcohol inadvisable. Nothing is said about seasonings, except for the role of salt in the retention of fluids in the body.
"Increased activity" is advocated, and emphasis is accorded the fact that the value of exercise "goes far beyond its impact on weight—improving the health of the heart and circulatory system, the general health, and the state of mind."
18.11 The Last Chance Diet
I am not sure whether the Last Chance Diet should be considered as "Fasting Fanaticism" or "Diet Fanaticism." Though it was not a true fast, the participants really received no food.
The only "food" ingested was a so-called "predigested liquid-protein formula" (a dark, syrupy liquid made from uncured cowhide, beef tendon, and artificial flavoring) which was said to contain all the amino acids (the building blocks of protein), no carbohydrates or fats, and very few calories. Vitamin pills, coffee, tea, and diet soda were also used, as well as drugs, depending upon the doctor's discretion.
In 1977, this "diet" was highly touted in the press and on television as a revolutionary, effective, safe way to deal with obesity. Individuals on this diet received no solid food for the duration (up to nine months), usually under the supervision of a medical doctor (although the liquid was also available in health food stores).
In November of 1977, twenty-six deaths of these dieters were reported, including the death of the wife of a specialist in internal medicine, commandant of the Air Force Base Hospital near Tampa, Florida.
The author of The Last Chance Diet, Dr. Robert Linn, a forty-three-year-old osteopath (whose diet book sold two million copies), convinced many people that this method of weight reduction was superior to another method which had been gaining recognition—a total fast, under qualified supervision, of usually a much shorter length of time, during which nothing but water is ingested—a Hygienic fast.
A Hygienic fast relies on the body's own indications that reserves are becoming depleted, so that the fast is terminated long before approaching any danger point.
Long before we began to get reports of deaths of people on "The Last Chance Diet," I alerted people to its dangers. Since, under the Last Chance Diet, the body is always receiving liquid protein, stimulants and medication, how can it ever be able to alert one with reliable signals that it has reached the time to call a halt?
Advocates of the Last Chance Diet still deny there is any proof that their product, "predigested liquid protein," caused the deaths. Dr. William H. Foege, director of the Center for Disease Control at Atlanta, Georgia, made a concentrated investigation of the cases of fifteen women on this diet who died suddenly of heart-related causes.
Each of the deaths was sudden and involved a person using a liquid-protein diet exclusively for a long period of time.
The deaths were attributed to ventricular fibrillation, in which the heart beats wildly and does not pump blood, but the cause of the irregular heartbeat is unknown. Dr. Foege said the fifteen women had dieted for an average of five months and had lost an average of eighty-three pounds. Twelve of the fifteen were under medical supervision. Foege concluded "there is a definite risk in using the product." (From a United Press International dispatch, St. Petersburg Times, January 5, 1978.)
Actually, it is not necessarily only the product, per se, that should be suspect, but the methodology as well.
18.12 Starch Blockers
What about the "new and revolutionary" starch blocker tablets that "have swept the country in recent months," according to a news article? (St. Petersburg Times, Jane Brody, p. 1A, July 2, 1982.)
The ballyhoo claimed that doctors had confirmed that they are perfectly safe. One can eat high-caloried starch foods without paying the price in weight gain, because the starch blockers act to prevent digestion and assimilation of the starch, which passes through the digestive tract relatively unchanged, much as does fiber or roughage.
It sounded plausible, but even though I had no means of disproving these claims, I would not dream of recommending such a product. I knew that, ultimately, it would be discovered that such unnatural interference with digestive processes would exact a price. It seemed to me that—since large amounts of roughage, such as are found in bran, inhibit absorption of minerals—this would very likely be true of starch which is eaten and not absorbed, but disposed of as unusable. And, I thought, "who knows what additional side-effects or problems would eventually be discovered?" A few days after I wrote the above comments about the starch stopper tablets, I heard on a newsbreak (at 9 pm on WEDU, Channel 3, Tampa, Florida, July 1, 1982) that the F.D.A. had announced that the starch blockers are untested and probably unsafe, and ordered them off the market. Some complaints of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains after their use had surfaced. The F.D.A. was also investigating five emergency room hospitalizations that had been linked to the use of starch blockers.
As of two days later (July 3, 1982) the starch blockers were still being offered on TV, and the TV evening news said "they're selling like hot cakes." In the St. Petersburg Times, July 5, 1982, the American Medical Clinics, Inc., with branches in St. Petersburg, Seminole, Holiday, and Hudson (Florida), advertised, "Join now and receive one week free plus twenty-five free starch blockers—lose up to a pound a day. We're the proven, professional weight-loss method."
Jane Brody says, "The starch blockers are extracts of raw beans, usually kidney beans. They are said to contain a substance that inhibits the enzyme amylase which digests starch in the body. Consumers are told to take a certain number of tablets before eating starch-laden foods, such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, and beans. The pills are marketed under many different brand names and prices range from five dollars to twenty dollars for fifty tablets. By one estimate, in the course of a week, Americans are now swallowing more than ten million such tablets. Nutrition experts have reported that if the tablets work as described, they would result in large amounts of undigested starch reaching the large intestine. Intestinal bacteria could then digest the starch and produce flatulence, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
Manufacturers have been marketing starch blockers without federal approval under the presumption that, as an extract of beans, they were a food, not a drug. However, the drug agency said that, regardless of their source, starch blockers 'may affect the body's normal metabolic functions' and thus have drug-like effects."
A substance is classified as a drug if it is used for a nonfood purpose, and if it alters a body function. The manufacturers have refused specific information about the exact composition of the product, and no adequate effectiveness or safely data have been supplied.
18.13 Sucrose Polyester
July 15, 1982—The evening news reported another "breakthrough" (WFLA-TV, Tampa, 6:30 and WTVT-TV, Tampa, 7:00). "Sucrose polyester" is a fake fat that looks, tastes, and smells like vegetable fat. It can be used as a spread for bread, or for cooking, or for any purpose for which butter or vegetable fat might be used. It was said that one could save 500-600 calories daily by using it. No one said exactly what is in sucrose polyester, but it was described as a synthetic substance.
It is to be treated as a prescription drug, subject to approval by the F.D.A. Procter and Gamble holds the patent on the fake fat, and they expect to market the substance as soon as it is approved by the F.D.A.
Another miracle! (But don't count on it!)
18.14 The Golden Door
The Golden Door, a fabulously expensive health spa in California, uses a 579-calorie, one-day liquid diet, which they say can help take off some extra weight while refreshing the body and mind. It is used principally to start off a diet week. They warn: this liquid diet should not be followed for more than one day, and it is advisable to see your doctor before following this one-day diet or any other liquid "fast" or reducing program.
The ingredients of the liquid sound fine: fruits, vegetables, and nuts. But they are poorly combined; e.g. nuts are liquified with banana, vanilla, and nutmeg; pineapple is combined with cucumber and parsley; and raw onion is used in a vegetable combination drink. Four of the drinks are supplemented with one-third ounce of sunflower seeds and three or four pine nuts.
I seriously doubt whether this one-day liquid diet would produce any significant weight loss or other beneficial result. In any event, a better choice for a one-day preparation for a diet would be a thirty-six hour fast, or a day on whole fruit only, or a day on one kind of freshly-squeezed fruit juice.
18.15 Plastic Coating
A recent issue of Healthful Living (June 1982) described a new diet drink which performs its miracles by plastic coating the digestive tract to block absorption of food, believe it or not! It contains flavored fluorocarbons, which are the synthetic substances that give paints and plastics their coating power. The inventor believes the F.D.A. will give its approval.
18.16 Cambridge Diet
A question to Ann Landers (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1982) about the Cambridge Liquid Diet, on which an overweight girl was losing a pound a day, elicited the following response: "I do not know what the Cambridge Liquid Diet is....I know of several liquid diets that have caused a great many problems—such as serious skin rashes, fainting spells, respiratory trouble and the loss of hair and fingernails."
By contrast, supervised fasting, even for long periods, results in strengthening and hardening of the fingernails. This is due to the wisdom of the body when external supplies are temporarily unavailable, producing increased efficiency in the distribution of available nutrients. More details of this interesting phenomenon, and many others, will be provided in the lessons about fasting.
18.17 Staple In the Ear
Another relatively new weight-loss system is the staple in the ear, which some claim is successful and others have found useless. What are the side-effects and negative results likely to be—as a result of blocking natural stimuli?
18.18 Appetite Suppressants
All kinds of appetite suppressants are offered: Ayds candy, Dexatrim pills, Figurines bars, prescription drugs, etc. Needless to say, they are all harmful drugs.
18.19 How Ridiculous Can You Get?
I have not discussed some of the more ridiculous diets, like the egg diet (eating nothing but eggs for a week or so): skim milk and bananas; steak and eggs and tomatoes; cabbage soup and rice; the grapefruit diet; eating a half grapefruit before every meal "because it will reduce the weight-gain potential of other foods;" the high-calorie, weight-loss diet; the protein-sparing modified fast: eat nothing but about nine to ten ounces of meat or fish per day, plus supplements, coffee, tea, and diet soda; eat all you want of one or two foods.
Most of these have one thing in common, they reduce calories in a gimmicky way, and one learns it is possible to lose ten pounds in two weeks eating almost any crazy combination of foods, as long as calories are drastically reduced. But what happens afterwards? Back to the old yoyo syndrome!
18.20 I Have Made My Point
It would be a losing battle to try to research and describe all of the diets and weight-loss modalities which crowd the marketplace and compete for the dollars of the gullible. Although I have merely "scratched the surface," I believe I have made my point.
Magic formulae all eventually turn out to be wolves in sheep's clothing, but rational living and intelligent diet planning, working with nature, instead of trying to outwit her, never become obsolete.
Home > Lesson 44 - Overeating: Fasting Fanaticism And Diet Fanaticism
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