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By Dr. Mercola
The Hippocrates Health Institute, situated in southern Florida, is one of the world's oldest complementary health centers. Dr. Brian Clement got started with the organization in 1975, and assumed directorship in 1980.
He’s also the author of a three-volume series of academic books called, Food Is Medicine: The Scientific Evidence, reflecting on the work done at the Institute over the past six decades, combined with the empirical evidence coming out of research institutions such as Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, and Stanford.
Dr. Clement is the medical director of the Hippocrates Health Institute. They offer residential programs lasting anywhere from one to three weeks, sometimes even longer. This allows you to learn, absorb, and help implement a new set of lifestyle strategies at a deep and lasting level.
The Institute was founded by a woman named Anne Wigmore who, in 1952, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Her doctors told her she had about three months left to live.
“Well, thank goodness for her history,” Dr. Clement says. “In Europe, her grandmother was a village doctor. She saw her grandma, a natural doctor who used herbs and plants. She adopted that, healed herself, and reversed her cancer.”
Upon her return to Boston, Massachusetts, Wigmore decided to share her experience and help others who were suffering debilitating and lethal diseases. And so the Hippocrates Health Institute was born in Boston in 1956.
Today, six decades in business, the Institute is at the cutting edge in terms of using food and other lifestyle strategies as medicine. When Dr. Clement first joined the staff, he was sent off to Europe.
“I spent three years there, bringing back the message of plant-based raw food diets and ran the original living food center called Humlegaarden – which was started more than 100 years ago in Denmark by Dr. Kristine Nolfi, who had reversed breast cancer with raw food... I came back in 1980 and assumed the directorship,” he says.
Presently, about half of the Institute’s patients are interested in disease prevention. The other half are quite ill. People come from all over the world to learn how to improve and regain their health at this spa-style health retreat. As I said earlier, I had a chance to personally visit the Institute for a week, and it was truly a wonderful experience.
One of the things I was particularly impressed with is the focus on raw foods, specifically sprouts.
I usually eat six to eight ounces of sunflower seed sprouts a day. Four truly powerful nutritional approaches taught at the institute are:
- Intermittent fasting and shifting from burning carbs to burning fat as your primary fuel
- Eating live, raw foods, including lots of sprouts
- Avoiding sugars, refined foods, and processed foods. They also advise avoiding all fruit juices and minimizing fruit initially
- Shifting from poor quality protein to high-quality protein
With respects to the latter, Dr. Clement explains:
“... [E]ach and every one of those four aspects are clinically researched here, and we’ve established concrete empirical evidence on how they work, biochemically, in your body, [and] high-protein diets are major culprits.
What we have seen recently, after 60 years and working with hundreds of thousands of people, is that when we reduce the amount of protein... and minimize the breakdown effect or digestion effect that your body requires to take this very dense nutrition and split it to amino acids, there’s health balance.
Our colleagues in Europe have added another dimension... glycation [and]advanced glycation end products (AGEs). In Germany, they showed us that proteins, when bonding with sugars, actually created another structure.
This structure is such an oddity, an enigma to the human biochemistry, that the immune system doesn’t know what to do with it. It runs rampant, actually causing cell death, producing free radicals.
When we bond high-protein diets, certainly high-animal protein diets (although this could happen in high-soybean diets) and sugars (not only white sugar and red beet but agave syrup and way too many soy proteins), you end up killing cells and creating free radicals. That’s what glycation and AGE’s does.”
In 1992, Johns Hopkins researched natural ways to squelch cancer. A diet high in cruciferous vegetables was identified as a factor that lowered the incidence. Additional research identified broccoli as having some of the most potent anti-cancer activity. Since then, when they finally looked into sprouted broccoli seeds, researchers discovered that the phytochemical in the sprouts killed cancer dozensof times more effectively than mature broccoli!
The reason why they teach that sprouts are a core food at the Institute is because sprouts, depending on the variety, are anywhere from 10 to 30 times more nutritious than the best organic vegetables you can grow in the best organic soil in your yard.
Sunflower seed and pea sprouts tend to top the list, in terms of their nutritional profile, each being typically about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables. While you can sprout a variety of different beans, nuts, seeds and grains, sprouts in general have the following beneficial attributes:
- Support for cell regeneration
- Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
- Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
- Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment
Phytonutrients, found in raw foods such as sprouts, are key for reversing disease with food. This is such a common-sense approach to health, yet the vision of so many people has been clouded by modern day living.
“I’ll never forget Ann Wigmore... This woman was purely heart and instinct. That’s why she was correct almost always,” Dr. Clement says. “I was frustrating her because I was young and insecure and was, in a way, challenging her [to explain]: “How does this reverse disease?”
She got frustrated one day and took a little organic sunflower seed, and said, “Don’t you realize if we put this to the ground, in seven weeks, it will be 12 to 15 feet-tall with thousands of seeds on it? That sunflower plant is going to be facing the east in the morning and facing the west at night. Now, don’t you think the power of the sunflower is that you’re taking hundreds and thousands of these, by eating them, and that juicing them is going to be good for you?”
It’s the light force in the food that is even more important than the nutrients and the proteins... It is so overwhelmingly obvious that, whatever food choices you make, eat large amounts of green, fresh food.”
Sprouts may in fact be one of the most obvious solutions to worldwide malnutrition and hunger due to poverty. They’re inexpensive and simple to grow, in virtually any climate when grown indoors, and can provide up to 30 times more nutrients than even organically grown vegetables! With barely any money at all, you can eat the healthiest of diets, year-round. Keeping seeds for sprouting is easy. Seeds are relatively simple to store and last for a long time. You also have to store FAR less food if you’re using seeds, as they don’t take up much space. I think it’s just a marvelous preparation strategy.
One of the things I teach is that, for most people, it’s far healthier to skip breakfast. Omitting breakfast, as part of an intermittent fasting schedule, can have a number of phenomenal health benefits, from improving your insulin sensitivity to shifting your body into burning more fat instead of sugar for fuel. This will help you painlessly lose weight without being hungry as you will now finally have the ability to burn fat. The Hippocrates Institute has also more or less eliminated breakfast, serving only raw vegetable juicesin the morning. This is basically intermittent fasting, even though it’s not being taught as that in the program.
Intermittent fasting, also known as “scheduled eating,” does not necessarily mean abstaining from all food for extended periods of time. Rather it refers to limiting your eating to a narrow window of time each day. Ideally, you’ll want to limit your eating to a window of about 6-8 hours, say from noon until 6 or 8 pm each day, which means you’re fasting daily for 16-18 hours. This is enough to get your body to shift into fat-burning mode.
This is a gradual process. Typically you start by not eating anything for three hours prior to going to sleep. This will give you a head start to the fasting process so if you sleep for 8 hours you’ve already fasted for 11 hours when you awake. The next step is to wait as long as you can before you start your first meal or “break” your fast. You can gradually extend the time that you have your first meal by 15 to 30 minutes a day. After several weeks you will be having your first meal at lunch. Typically, the more your body uses carbs as its primary fuel rather than fat, the longer this will take. Once you shift to fat burning mode, modern research has confirmed some of the benefits to be:
- Normalizing your insulin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health as insulin resistance is a primary contributing factor to nearly all chronic disease, from diabetes to heart disease and even cancer
- Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as "the hunger hormone"
- Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production, which plays an important part in health, fitness and slowing the aging process
- Lowering triglyceride levels
- Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage
The Hippocrates Institute also provides and promotes raw vegetable juicing—but not the juicing of fruits. The reasons for this are manifold. According to Dr. Clement:
“Seventy-five percent of raw food eaters today are sugar addicts trading white sugar for agave syrup; trading cakes for three mangoes or watermelons. You’re still a sugar addict... We’ve done empirical research on that. For 35 years, [sugar, including fruit] has been restricted here at Hippocrates in people with cancer.”
If you have cancer and are in treatment, the Institute will tell you to eliminate all sugar, fruit juices and most fruit initially. Fruit juice is clearly worse than eating the whole fruit, since you’re then getting a high dose of fructose all at once, without any of the fiber. But even excessive whole fruit can be a problem for the vast majority of people today, especially if you’re struggling with your weight, insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or cancer.
Large amounts of fructose, especially for someone who’s insulin- and/or leptin-resistant, is not a good idea. Dr. Clement, however, believes that most people, with the exception of athletes, should avoid fruit.
Remember, this is his position, not mine. I am just presenting it so you can evaluate it for yourself. Personally I believe that if you are fat adapted, fruit can be beneficial, especially if consumed before or after a workout where the sugar is consumed as a fuel and does not increase glycogen stores. His argument probably makes more sense for those who are insulin and/or leptin resistant, which happens to be the vast majority of the population.
Some 30 years ago, Dr. Clement met a fruit cultivation specialist who informed him about some nutritional facts that few people ever consider. Eighty-five percent of the fruit available today did not exist 100 years ago. Fruit has been thoroughly changed through hybridization practices to increase sweetness, and therein lies the problem... and the answer to why it’s probably unwise for most people to eat a diet high in fruit.
For example, the honeybell orange, which is quite sweet, was spliced together about 35 years ago, mixing grapefruit with tangerine. And the popular Red Delicious apple? It’s now 50 times higher in fructose than the original apple, which was more sour than a crab apple!
“Here’s where we saw it: the average fruit today through hybridization has a minimum of 30 times more sugar on an average,” Dr. Clement says, and this is why one of humankind’s original foods is no longer appropriate in large quantities...
Our forefathers also didn’t eat processed sugar, which was primarily reserved for the aristocracy. Increasing sugar consumption over the past four or five generations has resulted in disturbed pancreatic functioning in most people. The human pancreas simply doesn’t know how to process sugars properly anymore, due to being overloaded.
“Now we have massive sugars from what I considered to be the original food of man. What could be more perfect? You eat a fruit, you spit it out, and the seed grows another tree. But now it is quite an altered fruit. Added to this, your pancreas doesn’t work well. So, now you have a problem. When we can get people off the addictive pattern of sugar and we can get them onto plant-based foods without the high-sugar content with enough glucose in it to sustain fuel of the cell, they don’t age prematurely and it works,” he says.
“I would rather have a mango than a green lettuce, because it tastes better. But a green lettuce supplies glucose for my cell without supplying additional amounts that become blood sugar, which not only creates blood sugar swings but feeds every known disease to man and create free radicals. That’s the answer... Definitively, I say that the only people who can eat – not should eat– dried fruit and a lot of bananas are people who are major athletes.”
Another interesting aspect relating to the consumption of fruit is the fact that often the fruit available at your local grocery store is not ripe, and unripe fruit, according to Dr. Clement, creates acidity in your body. (Ripe fruit is alkaline.) Sure, the fruit you buy maylook ripe, but we actually have a vastly erroneous concept of how fruit ripens.
As it turns out, you cannot commercially process ripe fruit. If you were to pack ripe oranges in Florida, for example, and ship them to another state, they’d be rotten in about a week. Hence the fruit is picked months before it’s ripe. If you’re like most people, you probably think that once a fruit turns color and softens, it’s ripening. But this is not accurate.
Dr. Clement explains that in order for a fruit to optimally ripen, it must remain attached to the branch on the tree or bush. Nutrients are continuously fed to the fruit while on the tree. The veins that feed the fruit come from the roots, which in turn extract nutrients from the soil and beneficial soil bacteria. Add to that the UV rays from the sun, causing photosynthesis to occur throughout the plant. Once you pluck the fruit, it’s no longer receiving nutrients, and the ripening process stops. Hence the nutritional value of the fruit is compromised.
“We tell people that up to 15 percent of your diet can be ripe organic fruit, even if you’re not an athlete. But once we get beyond the 15 percent, 20 percent it starts to spill over and put sugar in the blood,” Dr. Clement says.
I recently interviewed Wayne Pickering, better known as “The Mango Man.” He eats plenty of fruit, but appears to be quite healthy. He is a strong proponent of food combining. Food combination takes into account the area and complexity of digestion of each food, to ensure it goes through your entire digestive system with ease. One of the core principles of food combining according to Dr. Pickering is that you should not combine fruit with vegetables, as this inhibits proper digestion. So, if you’re going to eat fruit, seek to eat it by itself, and not in combination with other foods—especially not starches. Dr. Clement agrees with this approach, saying:
“Yes, this is something I have adopted... [W]e’ve had so many times, when people have gotten on the food combining, they’ve eliminated gastrointestinal problems; diverticulosis, diverticulitis, overweight, nausea, and headaches. It has a lot to do with this [principle].”
Last but not least, with regards to juicing Dr. Clement makes a very interesting and important distinction. Chopping and blending your veggies with a high speed blender should not be confused with juicing as it does NOT provide you with the same health benefits as juicing. Remarkably, blending your veggies using a blender can kill up to 90 percent of the nutrients in 90 seconds, primarily due to oxidation, according to Dr. Clement. He explains:
“I had a colleague at the University of Miami set up a 29-dollar blender. He had his Vitamix. We measured the nutritional levels in several ounces of food. We put that food in the blenders. We knew what the numbers were. We blended it for 90 seconds. About 15 years ago, we found out that 90 percent of the nutrients (we were looking at vitamins A, E, C; the basic five nutrients at the top) are killed in 90 seconds of blending with a high-speed blender.”
Furthermore, when you drink—opposed to chew—the blended vegetables, your body does not produce the enzymes required for digestion of the pulp. Eighty percent of carbohydrates are digested in your mouth when you chew. Without the enzymes to break down the carbohydrates, your blended veggies begin to ferment in your intestinal tract. If the food you eat is not digesting properly, not only can painful gas, heart burn, acid reflux and other stomach problems arise, but your body will also be deprived of critical nutrients, which defeats the whole purpose of juicing in the first place.
Tens of thousands of people have already visited the Hippocrates Health Institute, and if you're interested in their services, check out their website at www.hippocratesinst.org. You can also call them at 561-623-1002. The Institute is open seven days a week.