Weight Loss, Dieting & Obesity
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The Pritikin Diet by Nathan Pritikin - Review.
Reviewing the Pritikin Diet has a difficulty - there are two of them! The original Pritikin Diet was formulated and promoted by Nathan Pritikin and was an international sensation in the late '70's and early '80's.
In more recent times, his son, Robert, has joined the bandwagon with a variation of his father's Pritikin Diet program.
If you thought the Atkins Diet was "extreme", then the original Pritikin Diet is equally or even more extreme at the other end of the spectrum. It is a low protein / low fat / high carbohydrate / high fiber diet.
There is one thing both extremes of the spectrum agree upon, though. Both are opposed to sugar in the diet. That is where the similarities end.
The original Pritikin Diet was made famous on the back of international hysteria about the role of cholesterol in heart disease. Pritikin capitalized on that hysteria with his high fiber/grain diet designed to reduce cholesterol levels, reduce weight, reduce blood pressure and other heart health indicators.
There was a weakness to the anti-cholesterol hysteria, and that weakness was carried over into the anti-cholesterol diets of the era, including that promoted by the Nathan Pritikin diet.
Cholesterol is not a poison. The human body actually requires adequate cholesterol levels for many bodily health functions. Some of these include (not a full list):
Admittedly, high cholesterol levels are also strongly correlated with heart disease risk, as was correctly promoted. However, the dangers of low cholesterol levels rarely make the news. (Drug companies make billions of dollars profit every year selling anti-cholesterol drugs.)
Think of cholesterol a bit like your body weight. You can have a body weight in a healthy range, maybe half a stone (a few kilograms) either side of a benchmark. Too much body weight is unhealthy, as is too little body weight.
The "low fat" to the point of extremity in the original Pritikin Diet also has flaws. For instance, there are two "types" of vitamins needed by the human body - water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. The body requires adequate levels of appropriate fat intake to supply the essential fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, K and beta-carotene. Without them, diseases of vitamin deficiencies will eventually result.
The final word on the original Pritikin Diet comes from Nathan Pritikin himself. Still relatively young being in his early 60's , and after many years on his own diet, he was diagnosed with cancer and depression. The cancer didn't kill him - he suicided.
Cancer, depression and suicide - all now well researched and proven consequences of insufficient cholesterol.
Sure, the Pritikin Diet will significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, but will also dramatically increase your risk of even earlier death through other causes.
Avoid the Pritikin Diet like the plague.
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