Health News is a new feature series focusing on raw, vegan and alternative diets.
What does the word "diet" mean to you? Is it a temporary change in the way you eat, a way to shed a few pounds and slim down? Or it could be a lifestyle choice, like vegans, who choose not to eat animals or animal products. Maybe it's for health reasons, sticking to foods that are only grown with all-natural, organic methods.
But could you give up foods like fish, meat, fruit and cooked foods for life for another reason: what if you were suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable disease, and it was the only answer to healing your body? The idea of becoming a raw vegan might not seem so crazy, after all.
Most people don't think of a raw, vegan diet as healthy; it's just a way of eating that a few crazy-ass people ascribe to. But, at Hippocrates Health Institute located here in Palm Beach County, the idea isn't radical. It's the only way to live a healthy life, according to its directors Anna Maria and Brian Clement.
Many South Floridians aren't aware that West Palm Beach is home to the Hippocrates Health Institute, a non-profit health and wellness facility that has ranked among the world's preeminent leaders in the field of natural and alternative health care and education for more than six decades.
The institute's philosophy is based on the words of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine himself, who nearly 2,500 years ago said: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."
Here, food really is the best way to achieve optimal health through nutrition. Founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1956 by Ann Wigmore, a Lithuanian immigrant who cured herself of colon cancer using an alternative wheatgrass therapy based on lessons she learned from her grandmother. After successfully curing herself of the disease, Wigmore continued on to help others learn how to embrace a healthier natural lifestyle that would promote optimum wellness and enable their bodies to heal naturally.
Today, her center exists as Hippocrates Health Institute, a 50-acre tropical woodland retreat just west of the turnpike whose staff represents some of the world's leading practitioners of holistic and alternative healing. It's also where thousands of people from all over the world come annually to learn more about living a raw, vegan lifestyle.
Why? The fundamental component to the Hippocrates' way of life is based on food. Specifically, clean eating -- much cleaner than most people outside of the Hippocrates Health Institute walls consider "clean."
Just how clean? At Hippocrates you'll find a way of eating that goes beyond vegetarian to encompass only organic, vegan, plant-based foods served in their purest form: raw, or cooked with temperatures under 115 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. It also means no animal products, grains, fruits or sugars of any kind. This diet -- in addition to exercise, positive thinking and non-invasive therapies -- is the basis for achieving natural healing and optimal health, according to its current directors.
"We do not use animal-based foods including meats, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy. And when trying to fight disease, we offer our visitors foods that have not been cooked above 118 degrees," Brian Clement told Clean Plate Charlie during a recent interview. "This is based on the idea that our bodies need all the enzymes available in the food we eat, and heating above that temperature destroys most of the plant's nutrients to be unrecognizable by the body. It also works to put as little digestive stress as possible on our organs, thus allowing our immune systems to heal the body naturally."
Considered poisonous or toxic, foods cooked and heated -- including vegetables, legumes, meat and fish -- are strictly forbidden at Hippocrates. Another shocking omission: fruit.
"Although mis-information prevails about sugars, the body does not decipher the difference between processed sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup -- or even natural sugars from fruit," said Clement. "As a result, even fruit can contribute as a major source of disease and stress to the body's major systems."
So, what can you eat? Any fresh, organic, all-natural, enzyme-rich foods including vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nut and plant oils (as well as some fruits and lightly-cooked vegetables and grains a few times a week if you are healthy). These foods provide the body with the most nutrition without putting any strain on the digestive system, liver or kidneys, said Clement.
A core component of the Hippocrates lifestyle is wheatgrass, which is considered nature's most "perfect" food. When consumed, wheatgrass provides exceptional nutritional value. Full of antioxidants and phyto-chemicals, it works to increase red blood cell count, restore alkalinity to the blood, detox the liver and neutralize toxins.
"With education comes empowerment," is one of the many sayings at Hippocrates. Those looking to implement a raw or vegan diet can learn more by participating in the Institute's signature Life Transformation Program, which provides the fundamentals of transitioning to a healthier diet and lifestyle. A three-week program, it runs weekly every Sunday through Saturday year-round instructing people on ways to "transform" their health through diet and exercise by treating the mind, body and spirit together. Today, Hippocrates supports more than 5,000 people a year through its Life Transformation Program, as well as those who attend its worldwide conferences and webinars.
"To date, thousands of people with documented medically reported disease have adopted the Hippocrates lifestyle and have been able to reverse their illness," said Clement. "Among them are many who have endured so-called incurable disorders."
Over the next few weeks, Clean Plate Charlie will be exploring the many facets of this alternative dietary lifestyle with tips on how to grow your own sprouts, create a self-sustaining organic vegetable garden, make vegan dishes and incorporate a more holistic approach to eating -- even if you vow to never swear off meat, dairy and cooked food.
To learn more about Hippocrates Health Institute, visit the website, or call 888-228-1755. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. For additional information on the Institute's LifeTransformation Program, go here, or call a program coordinator at 1-800-842-2125.
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