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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015
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HEALTHY CHALLENGE: Minor dietary changes can reap major positive result, author says

Hernando Today Correspondent


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If a lifestyle change could, in 30 days, help you lose weight, increase your energy level and decrease many of the discomforts associated with certain medical conditions, would you take the challenge?

What if that challenge involved simply eliminating a few unhealthy items from your diet and replacing them with whole food juicing options and adding pro-biotics?

Fad diets, miracle products and aggressive jump-starts to "better health" are typical topics as the new year approaches. And skeptics are as quick to jump on the negatives of miracle solutions as believers are to think they finally have discovered the one that will help them change.

But what if that plan included eliminating toxins from your diet and reviving preindustrial-age practices in which food consumption was more about nourishing our bodies and minds and less focused on providing reward or comfort? And what if it was backed by a cardiologist whose research helped him compile and publish a guide to healthier eating for healthier bodies?

"The Fallacy of the Calorie: Myths, Misdirections and Machinations of the Modern Western Diet," due to publish this summer, is Michael S. Fenster's second book, dedicated to changing food preparation and consumption practices of the modern age.

"Dr. Mike," as he is known by his ardent followers, is a board-certified interventional cardiologist and has been an assistant professor of medicine, a chef and a national and international lecturer on food and health. He hopes to change common misconceptions about food and health, beginning with his effort to counter the mindset that calories are the main target for elimination.

"It's simply not true," Fenster said. In modern diets and healthier eating plans, the calorie is the enemy when, in fact calories, should have no bearing on healthier choices or a healthier lifestyle.

"Calories aren't even measured the way we think," Fenster said, adding it is virtually impossible to determine how many calories are in food. Focusing on calories actually can sabotage the success of attempts at a healthier life, he said.

Better, he said, is to look at what food choices we are making and how we are preparing meals.

Fenster's first book, "Eating Well, Living Better; The Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Health and Great Food," available on, looked at the modern diet and described ways - based on research across the continent - to choose healthier foods and better preparation techniques.

"The first book was meant as an introduction into the modern diet and how we can get back to the healthier lifestyles of the preindustrial age," Fenster said. It also includes basic recipes to help guide the process to healthier eating.

Convenience, he said, was the main motivator that prompted certain additives in foods to give them shelf life. But the body wasn't designed to process things such as high fructose corn syrups and fatty oils used to stabilize foods like breads and other baked goods. Society also has become value conscious, choosing industrial-grown fruits, vegetables, red meats and poultry to save money.

But those choices are negatively affecting society's health, Fenster said.

Organically grown produce and grain-fed beef, pork and poultry, while more expensive, are ultimately a better value. The body naturally responds better to natural foods, decreasing food-borne illnesses.

"The Fallacy of the Calorie" introduces a 30-day detoxification program designed to clear the body of toxins that many people don't even know are there. Many food-related complaints stem from those toxins, leading to stomach problems, irritable bowels and irregularities that can manifest into serious illness.

The culprits to the modern healthy body are inherent inside typical supermarket foods such as shelf bakery products, industrial-raised animal products and poor preparation practices. The program, therefore, focuses on eliminating these toxin-causing foods to give the stomach a rest.

At the end of the 30-day period, most complaints are eliminated and many people continue the lifestyle change indefinitely. "You will likely feel so good, you'll want to keep doing it," Fenster said.

The basics of the 30-day program are summed up as follows:

?? Juice Detox, days 1-3: Choose a program and juicer that works for you. "My only recommendation during the juicing detox period is to go heavy on the vegetables and light on the fruits. Also, make sure that, with respect to vegetables, during this period as well as throughout the 30-day program you chase the rainbow."

?? Chase the Rainbow, days 1-30: Select vegetables with a base of green. "But don't forget to chase the rainbow," Fenster writes. "Attempt to utilize vegetables of all different colors. The bright oranges, yellows, reds and purples of different vegetables indicate a powerful variety of phytochemicals, nutrients and antioxidants."

?? Probiotics, days 1-3: Choose brands with at least some species of Lactobacillus. "It is unclear at this time what are the best number and combination of maximum benefit. Brands with more than one type of probiotic would seem to be the most desirable choice.

?? Feed the Need, days 4-30: "These guys live on the bits we cannot digest: fiber," Fenster writes. "Fiber and other dietary components that we don't utilize as a source of food for probiotic organisms are known as prebiotics. To feed them eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which contain soluble fiber and other whole cereals and grains that contain insoluble fiber."

? No Modern Wheat, days 4-30: There is no need to go gluten-free, Fenster said. "Just be free of modern wheat. Avoid all products, even so-called whole-wheat and whole grain products, that are made from modern bread wheat. You can still enjoy dried Italian pasta and homemade pasta, which comes from durum wheat. Enjoy other grains such as barley, oats, rye, and spelt. You may also enjoy wheat products made from other grains such as emmer or einkorn."

? Be a Grassroots Gourmet; days 1-30: "Avoid all fast food and junk food. We want to minimize the prepackaged, overly processed, artificially preserved and prepared foods that we buy to stock our refrigerator and pantry."

?? Spice It Up; days 4-30; Fenster suggests avoiding "the pitfalls of the modern Western diet, which utilizes layer after layer of sugar, salt and fat to season and flavor everything. Experiment with different spices and flavor profiles to add both taste and texture back to your food. You'll find entirely new culinary worlds to explore while at the same time avoiding the trappings of the modern Western diet."

Committing to 30 days of better choices might be the best jump-start to a healthier future, Fenster said. "You can't supplement your way to good health."

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