Something to Chew On: A "Nutritarian" Approach to Diet

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • I was at our local library stocking up on summer reads with my kids when I saw it: Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.


    I thought it sounded vaguely familiar, but never a big fan of "fad" diets or cookbooks, it never really made my radar. But since I had some time to burn, I thought I'd flip through it. Looking through the recipes, I noticed a theme - the kinds of foods I was already focusing on were being put together in a much more interesting and culinarily thoughtful way.


    I was focused on the recipes and then shifted my focus to the introduction of the book. Honing in on the first few pages of the book, a tip caught my eye: Chew your food thoroughly.

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    Yes, this is a tip we've all heard a million-and-one times before, and one I've advised others on many times as well. Usually along the lines of weight loss or weight maintenance - that if you can slow down and mindfully chew your food more thoroughly, you will be satisfied with less.


    While this concept resonates with me, it has been a difficult one for me to embrace. I suspect I am not alone, and not the only one who continues to wolf food down.


    However, in Eat to Live, this advice was framed in an entirely different light. The point of chewing food well is to optimize the nutritional value. Specifically speaking of greens, the author notes that the optimal nutrition can also be unleashed from raw greens by chopping them prior to eating. But chewing works just as well. There is a science to plant cells - chewing/shredding/chopping breaks down the cellular walls, thereby unleashing all the veritable goodness inherent to the food.


    That is the first time "Chew your food well" really hit home for me - the concept that the way we eat, rather than just what we eat, matters. There is more power within our grasp than we may realize.


    So I was hooked.


    As I read on, the premise of the book is a "Nutritarian" approach - essentially, that everything you choose to consume in your diet is maximized nutritionally. The more you focus on supercharged power foods, the less you will crave (or even have room for) unhealthy selections that have no positive effect on health or longevity whatsoever.


    I am a huge fan of taking what you do anyway and finding ways to tweak it up. Thinking about this concept has helped me enormously. If I am hungry or have a craving, I am going to seek to satisfy it. But if I reach only for foods with optimal nutritional value, I won't be sabotaging myself. Rather I will be feeding my body what I really need, to live my most optimized life.


    For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Cindy Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.

Published On: June 14, 2014