Whenever I evaluate a new diet, like Dr. Mark Hyman’s just published The 10-Day Detox Diet, I am far more interested in what you are going to be eating after the diet than during the diet. I am a strong proponent that success comes with a long-term approach. In that context, the success of your health comes from the quality of your long-term eating habits, not from any short-term dietary cure. So, how do I grade Dr. Hyman’s post-diet suggestions? His long-term eating recommendations are excellent, worthy of your consideration.
What does he recommend for our life-long eating style? As a baseline, he suggests that we continue to reduce our sugar intake. How? By avoiding those foods with significant sugar content, including processed foods; and by avoiding liquid sugars in soda or juices. He recommends continued elimination for all artificial sweeteners. With these suggestions, he remains consistent with his initial belief that sugar is highly addictive, that sugar is a toxin (because of its high “dose” in our diet), that our high sugar intake is contributing to a host of our major diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Dr. Hyman also recommends continued elimination of processed grains and flours with continued elimination of gluten from your eating style. Instead, he suggests gluten-free grains in their whole-kernel form, such as guinoa, black / brown / red rice, or buckwheat. This recommendation is consistent with his belief that our wheat has changed over this last century, that we now have an exponential quantity of gluten in our grains, and that the gluten sensitivity / allergy is causing problems for the health of our intestines and therefore problems for our overall physical health.
For vegetables, Dr. Hyman recommends a life-long eating style with as many non-starchy vegetables as possible. Non-starchy vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, snow peas, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini, among others. This recommendation is again consistent with his belief that not all calories are equal, that not all vegetables are equal, and that the best vegetables offer high-density nutrients without excessive carbohydrates.
For meats and dairy products, Dr. Hyman still recommends reduction of these foods. He supports 4-6 ounces of lean protein in each meal with more of the protein from plant-based products. However, he allows for the re-introduction of more dairy products with close observation. In fact, that is one of his positions on your eating style after his 10-day detoxification diet. Now is the chance to see how certain foods make you feel. Too many of us eat foods that give us fatigue or a headache without making the connection. All of us need to become more self-observant as to what foods give us vitality (and health) versus what foods drain us dry.
For nuts and seeds, Dr. Hyman encourages incorporating them into your life-long eating style. They make excellent snacks, good additions to salads, and adjunctive items for regular meals. Too many of us fail to eat nuts and seeds, depriving ourselves from healthy fats. Dr. Hyman recommends a variety of nuts, including almonds, walnuts, pecans, and macadamias, plus a variety of seeds, such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds. Dr. Hyman also asserts that if you want to eat more healthy fats, don’t forget an avocado or a tablespoon of virgin olive oil / walnut oil / sesame oil. Remember: eating healthy fats does not contribute to becoming fat.
For beverages, Dr. Hyman recommends continued life-long reduction of coffee and alcohol. He acknowledges that one glass of wine three to four times a week can be reasonably tolerated, but he expresses concern about possible inflammatory reactions from these two beverages. That is one area where we disagree. There are some studies linking coffee to positive health results; and there are other studies linking moderate alcohol consumption (through polyphenols and resveratrol) to additional health benefits, including a reduced chance of dementia.
For supplements, Dr. Hyman recommends continued daily use of a group of supplements, including 600 milligrams of alpha lipoic acid twice a day, 1,000 milligrams of fenugreek seed with each meal, 150 milligrams of bitter melon with each meal, 100 milligrams of gymnema leaf with each meal, and 540 milligrams of acacia bark extract once daily. Do I agree? Not completely. But in medical school, they teach you that it is crucial to know what you do not know. Supplements, although I have reviewed the literature, are not my area of expertise. So, I continue to encourage a health eating style, not excessive supplements.
In closing, let me offer this opinion. Dr. Hyman deserves high marks for his healthy diet and healthy post-diet eating style. If you must purchase a diet book, this is the one that I would recommend. However, be forewarned, the book encourages you to work closely with your doctor and the local laboratory so you can follow your blood results. I think that approach is fine if you have easy access to a doctor and a local laboratory, and if you can afford the cost of those services. However, for many Americans, who do not have an easy access to their health system, this diet may not be a good fit for just that reason. Which is why I still support my own suggestions in The Boomer Survivor Kit for a life-long healthy eating style, which does not depend on multiple visits to your physician.