X-Message-Number: 1010
Date: 17 Jul 92 03:29:36 EDT
From: "Steven B. Harris" <>
Subject: Walford Diet Problems

Tim Freeman asks (mssg 993 sci.cryonics,alt.support.diet):

    >>Has anyone actually tried diets along the line of what's
described in "The 120 Year Diet" by Walford?  Any successes,
failures, or advice to report? <<

    Answer: At Walford's UCLA lab (which I help run in his
absence) we hear about people trying the diet all the time, but
there is no concerted attempted to monitor them.  At least up to
this time we've not yet heard any disaster stories, or been
blamed for any bad medical sequelae.  The best monitored people
on anything approximating the Walford diet at present are the
eight humans (including Walford himself) who have been sealed
since last September inside the "Biosphere 2" experimental
"terrarium for people" complex near Tucson Arizona.  These folks
are eating a very high-quality, low-fat diet at reduced caloric
consumption, and are doing well.  (They are also showing in-
teresting metabolic changes which I can't go into here.  Walford
and I have recently submitted a paper on it, however, and with
luck it will be published shortly in a refereed journal).

   As for advice on how to make the Walford diet easier in
practice, my best advice is to use the diet planner for a guide
only, and ignore what it says about vitamins.   You'll be taking
supplements anyway if you're serious about this, right?  It's
beginning to look like a good idea to get more than RDA for at
least vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene, magnesium,
selenium, and GTF/picolinate chromium (III).  A better use for
computer food analysis programs is to use them to watch your
saturated fat, total fat, and caloric intake, and to make sure
you get enough protein.  Or, if you prefer, you can actually make
a fair approximation of the Walford diet by simply eliminating
all meat, egg, and dairy products (with the exception of the
nonfat stuff), cutting down consumption of nuts and vegetable oil
to a minimum (switching to unhydrogenated Canola (Puritan),
olive, almond, or avocado oil), and (finally) remembering to eat
a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and nonfat dairy
products daily.  If you do this, take vitamins, and eat ad
libitum with no junk food, it's just about impossible to go wrong
nutritionally, or to do yourself harm.  Further, your weight and
cholesterol will drop like a rock, without watching calories per

   I note that so far, animal experiments have not been able to
differentiate between the effect of decreased absolute caloric
intake, and the effect of decreasing body weight below "set
point."  Thus, since low-fat diets are known body-fat reducers in
humans, even with comparable amounts of calories it's possible
that pure dietary fat restriction will slow aging in humans. 
Walford recommends that over 5 years you either 1) cut your %
body fat in half, or else 2) lose weight until you are from 10%
to 25% under your ideal "set point" body weight.  He recommends
that you do this my means of BOTH fat and calorie restriction.  
This is too much for me personally, but it is still possible to
do a good deal of body fat flensing by means of the diet composi-
tion changes alone.  Although for many (as Tim notes) the bulk
problem provides difficulties at Pritikinoid levels of fat intake
(10% total calories), by becoming a selective vegetarian (as
described above), you should still wind up at a plateau somewhat
below your "ideal" body weight (though possibly not as far below
it as Dr. Walford recommends).   You'll also be at much lower
risk for atherosclerosis and many types of cancer, of course. 
This is probably the best strategy for those who are still not
fully convinced of the Walford strategy for humans, and/or people
who are having difficulty with the full Walford program.  It's
also very much along the lines of the recommendations of the
various Heart and Cancer Institutes, albeit (of course) somewhat
more stringent.

   If you need help with menus, there are a million low-fat
cookbooks on the market, and you can even use all the stuff in
Pritikin, which is fairly tasty if you remember to put the salt
and sugar back in, and maybe add a little Canola or olive oil
where you really need it.  For those who don't share Dr. Wal-
ford's rather spartan dietary tastes, he's got another popular
book due out this Fall (co-written with daughter Lisa) which
should have some much improved recipes.

   Finally, since it makes sense to work hardest on that which is
most out-of-whack, I need to add that (of course) nothing
substitutes for an individualized dietary program based on your
own weight, total blood cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and blood
pressure levels.  Also, your personal physician will want to have
his say, too.

                              Steve Harris, M.D.

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