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Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman on Living Healthier
Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S., is internationally recognized as one of the most respected and innovative nutritionists in America. Also known as America’s “First Lady of Nutrition,” she’s the author of nearly 25 books, including The New York Times bestsellers Before The Change: Taking Charge of Your Perimenopause and The Fat Flush Plan. Gittleman regularly appears as a guest on various television programs, such as "Dr. Phil" and "The View." She also sits on the medical advisory boards of several foundations, newsletters and magazines. Here, Gittleman shares the importance of changing one’s diet during The First 30 Days of Living Healthier.
What’s your definition of living healthier?
To me, it’s being able to give yourself the permission to enjoy the full spectrum of self-care, which includes nutrition-promoting foods, the best kind of exercise, the right kind of stress relief or the right kind of emotional and/or spiritual philosophy that allows you to nourish your body.
People need to reclaim the right to care for themselves because that’s very fundamental for success and a rewarding life. One of the ways to achieve this is to establish what I call “rituals.” I don’t call them lifestyle habits. Calling them rituals elevates them into sacred, personal processes. There’s an obsession in our culture with to-do lists and practical steps. Bringing certain activities to the level of ritual means there’s an emotional energy behind each that’s actually quite different.
What are some rituals you recommend to people who are starting out on their first 30 days of better health?
One of the most valuable to me is the ritual of journaling. You’re able to be accountable to yourself and even to accomplish some of the innermost goals you’re never aware of because you’re so busy doing things for other people. The quiet time it takes to do journaling is very important.
Another ritual is exercise. Regular, moderate exercise is the key—anything that increases muscle tone, flexibility and endurance. Yet, it’s important not to overdo exercise because getting more than two hours of strenuous nonstop activity can actually be stressful for the body. The ritual of eating is crucial, as well. By this I mean eating properly and well, eating to nourish and eating consciously. I believe it’s very important to include certain life-sustaining foods in the body, including the right kinds of fats, as well as organic vegetables and fruits and foods that do not contain hormones or antibiotics.
What’s most important for success when making a change for better health?
What I know from recent studies is that 70% of people fail because they’re not supported. So, what we offer in my Fat Flush Program is a chance to be supported every step of the way, especially during the first two weeks.
Our website has a free interactive message board headed up by one of our diet counselors, who’s a registered nurse with more than 20 years in the nutrition field. People get support by simply being part of a virtual community. For more support, we offer daily one-on-one sessions with our diet counselors to personalize each person’s needs. And we have experts in various fields, whether it’s emotional eating or personal self-image.
Which foods do you think are especially beneficial for health?
Fats are more important than any other nutrient because they do so much for the body. They keep our brains working properly, keep the heart working in tip-top shape and help our immune and reproductive systems. They keep us beautiful from the inside out. Flaxseed oil is one of my favorites, and I’d recommend it as a daily ritual because of the vital importance it provides every tissue, organ and cell in the body.
Organic foods are also important. You can find frozen organic vegetables and fruits in most supermarkets now. Going out of your way to find range-fed beef, when possible, would be another aspect of eating well and nourishing oneself properly. Drink lots of purified water and eat healing and therapeutic spices. Many of the culinary spices, especially those that aren’t irradiated and are organically grown, are more than just empty flavor-enhancers; they’re terrifically high in antioxidants. Lots of cinnamon, cloves and oregano should be on the menu when it comes to health.
What foods would you put on your “worst foods” list?
Trans fats are now recognized as nasty elements in the American diet, from processed oils to fried foods to margarine to partially hydrogenated soybean oils that you see in so many mayonnaise brands. These are the fats that can clog up your arteries and raise LDL cholesterol levels. Foods with trans fats are now labeled on the packaging, so you can easily avoid them.
Sugar is another unhealthy food that needs to be reduced. It’s in everything, from ketchup to breads to soft drinks. Be on the lookout for ingredients that end in -ose: sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose and maltose. These, plus foods like raw sugar and molasses, rob your body of valuable nutrients.
Last but not least, I would say caffeine. It can compromise liver function like trans fats and sugar. The liver is your most overworked and underappreciated organ. When you drink a cup of coffee or a can of cola or certain kinds of teas, the caffeine is absorbed throughout the body and your liver must detoxify the caffeine pretty rapidly. This puts lots of stress on the adrenal glands.
Besides certain foods, what other therapies do you recommend for better health?
I’m a big believer in bodywork, acupuncture and spirituality. I’d also add cleansing and detoxification, which are hallmarks of my work. My diet is known as a “detox diet” rather than a “low-carb program.”
I advise a series of colonic irrigations with a certified colonic therapist on a seasonal basis, because cleansing from the inside out is vital for removing un-excreted waste. I also believe that a seasonal tune-up for the body, perhaps right around the solstices, is important, as well. For example, you could go to an acupuncturist who can shore up your liver for springtime, make sure that your heart is working well for the summer and get your kidneys in good shape for the winter.
For more information about Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, visit www.annlouise.com.