This month we present a book that emphasizes how a raw vegan diet can promote good health and bring weight loss at the same time.
The 80/10/10 Diet:
Balancing Your Health, Your Weight, and Your Life,
One Luscious Bite at a Time
By Dr. Douglas N. Graham
FoodnSport Press, 2006
Anyone joining Dr. Douglas Graham for lunch would not be breaking bread with the doctor. Instead, Graham's guest might join him in devouring two pounds of bananas as the entire meal, or a Sweet Peach Salad combining one pound of bananas with one pound of peaches and eight ounces of blueberries. Perhaps, the visitor would have a Banana Romaine Smoothie combining two pounds of bananas with eight ounces of romaine.
Graham refers to himself as a frugivore, "a creature that lives primarily on fruits, with the addition of tender greens. (This includes the non-sweet seeded fruits we generally eat with vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, okra, zucchini and other squashes, and eggplant." The doctor is a strong advocate of what he labels the "monomeal" that involves eating just one fruit as the entire meal.
"At first attempt, the monomeal may seem 'boring,' because we are so accustomed to the stimulation of eating multi-ingredient meals," he writes. "Over time the simplicity of monofruit meals improves digestion and heightens your senses, so that you pick up the nuances of every bite of raw plant foods. As an added benefit, you will be able to better recognize when you are actually satisfied."
A lifetime athlete and raw fooder for over 27 years, Graham arrived at this eating plan after years of searching for a satisfactory nutritional plan and has found that this fruit-based regimen has worked well for himself and his numerous disciples. At the outset of his book he characterizes his plan in one sentence: "I describe the 80/10/10 diet, my low-fat, low-protein program based on eating whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic, plant-based foods." As he explains, the human body is designed to thrive on a diet that emphasizes fruit.
The 80/10/10 Diet's tender greens does not include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages because when eaten raw, these vegetables have indigestible, insoluble fibers that "scratch and scrape our delicate digestive lining as they pass through." For many years Dr. Graham has advocated the elimination of grains from the diet because they also are replete with insoluble, indigestible fiber that is harmful to the human body.
The book presents a strong indictment of the damages done to the human body that is exposed to cooked food. Graham says, "The repeated consumption of cooked foods results in a detrimental enlargement of the pancreas as well as damage to the liver, heart, thyroid gland, adrenals, and most other organs, as a result of toxic exposure combined with reduced oxygen availability." He talks of studies that show that individuals' immune systems react to cooked foods the same way they would behave in battling pathogens attacking the body.
The heart of Graham's 80/10/10 plan is the ratio of calories from carbohydrates, protein, and fat that he feels should make up the ideal diet. He differs from other raw food advocates by placing an upper limit of 10% calories from fat in the daily regimen. He chides vegan raw fooders who load their diets with avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds as well as added oils and are eating up to 60% of calories from fat. The result is the same degenerative diseases suffered by omnivores eating the Standard American Diet.
Graham points out that typical Americans are ingesting between 10% and 21% of calories from protein. He cites the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Academies' Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council who recommend 10% calories from protein as sufficient for peoples' needs.
"Consuming approximately 5% of calories from protein is difficult to avoid if you are eating enough food to meet your daily calorie needs," he suggests. "All plant foods contain protein, and even if you ate a diet of only white rice, (not recommended) you would still end up with 8% of protein for the day!"
In the Appendix he includes charts that indicate fruits generally contain 4% to 8% protein with a few containing more. Anyone eating a variety of raw fruits and vegetables during the day would probably be ingesting 5% to 8% calories from protein. A small quantity of nuts and seeds could be consumed to increase an individual's protein intake.
Carbohydrates are the mainstay of the 80/10/10 formula. The author's nutritional recommendation is that carbohydrates should be a minimum of 80% of calories consumed or could even be more. The carbohydrates essential to this diet are not complex ones derived from whole grains, but are from simple raw, organic fruits.
"Most people who attempt to thrive on a high-carbohydrate diet devoid of fruit run into health problems," Graham writes. He emphasizes that most people are not attracted to starchy carbohydrate diets unless they are enhanced with flavors. These enhancers or "excitotoxins" are added to almost all processed foods, especially frozen and diet foods.
"Brain-destroying, neurotoxic, and profoundly addictive" are words he uses to characterize these enhancers. "The most common and dangerous excitotoxins include Nutrasweet, (aspartame) and MSG and its derivatives, including hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, sodium caseinate, 'natural flavoring' and 'spices.'"
Graham bemoans the recent dangerous Atkins craze where people tried to eliminate all carbs including fruit and grains and had to derive all their energy fuel from proteins and fats. "This produces toxic byproducts like acetone and other so-called 'ketones,'" he says.
The book contains an extensive Appendix that features sections with Sample Menu Plans, Personal Success Stories with 80/10/10, and Resources for Diet Analysis.
To anyone who asks whether this is a book for weight management or healthy diet lifestyle, Dr. Graham's answer would be "both." The 80/10/10 Diet is filled with Graham's extensive nutritional knowledge that is culled from his vast personal research. In this volume he encourages his readers to think about their long-standing dietary practices that may have negative health consequences.
The book concludes with testimonials from people who have benefited from this low-fat, low-protein diet that emphasizes fresh organic fruits and tender leafy greens. Even those who do not follow this raw food vegan regimen will derive health benefits by incorporating Graham's teachings into their own personal lifestyles.
Reviewed March 2008