Innovative diet trend or re-packaged old truths?
Clean eating is said to help weight loss, stabilise blood sugar levels and promote wellbeing. But, what is this diet trend all about? Dr Peter Gartner, Medical Director at the Park Igls Mayr clinic, and Head Chef Markus Sorg explain their take on the latest diet trend, why Modern Mayr cuisine – which has been around for decades – is one step ahead, and what vegans and vegetarians should be alert to.
Dr Gartner, Medical Director at the Park Igls Mayr clinic: ‘We can indeed metabolise raw food, but only in the early part of the day and at the start of a meal.’
Clean eating is the ingestion of food in its purest form; unprocessed, with no additives such as artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colouring agents or flavourings. Nothing new here for the health-conscious!
Dr Peter Gartner: What sounds like reinventing the wheel is in fact old wine in new bottles. Anyone embracing a good, wholesome and predominantly organic diet, like the Park Igls Mayr clinic has been doing for more than 25 years, will already be familiar with the basic principles of clean eating.
Markus Sorg: The core principle of clean eating has been the basis of Modern Mayr Medicine for years. The new name simply makes that which is tried and tested more appealing to consumers.
The rule of thumb for ‘clean eaters’ is: don’t buy pre-packaged! Is a healthy diet as simple as that?
Dr Gartner: When putting together their ‘ten commandments’, the clean eating movement made ample use of established dietary philosophies: a hearty breakfast (Mayr Medicine), seasonal fruits and vegetables (Slow Food), cutting down on sugar, steering clear of sweeteners and giving preference to good fats (Modern Mayr Medicine), as well as making recommendations familiar to all (at least in Europe); low-salt, no artificial additives, less alcohol. Not buying anything pre-packaged basically means going to the market, automatically allowing you to tick the boxes of a seasonal and regional diet.
Markus Sorg: What’s more, there is an increasing number of small shops selling their goods loose. However, for consumers adhering to these principles, it is an uphill battle – not helped by the food industry.
Extreme advocates of clean eating abstain from animal products and grains, relying solely on raw food. Can the human body keep processing raw food forever?
Dr Gartner: During the course of their evolution, homo sapiens have learned time and time again how to eat and digest a huge variety of foods. It is probably why we have survived as a species. Our first foods, alongside berries, were the brains and marrow of prey, not quite so appetising nowadays. It was only in the last interglacial period, around 10,000 years ago, that we taught ourselves how to eat raw leaves. Decades of experience in Mayr Medicine have shown us that we can indeed metabolise raw food, but only in the early part of the day and at the start of a meal. We therefore only recommend fruit for breakfast and salad as a starter at lunch. After this, we are no longer able to fully digest raw food; there is an increase in fermentation gases and fusel alcohol which damage the intestinal mucosa.
Markus Sorg: Raw food places huge demands on our digestive system. Cooked food however, can be broken down into individual components, making it easier and quicker to digest.
Aren’t the nutrients lost in the process? And what’s with the much-lauded protein?
Dr Gartner: For a body weight of 60 kilograms, a minimum intake of 30 grams and a maximum of 50 grams pure protein is recommended, otherwise there is a risk of protein toxicity. For a body weight of 80 kilograms, the quantities are 40 to 65 grams daily. Animal protein sources are generally overrated: whilst fish and meat don’t even contain 20 percent protein, lentils contain 25 percent and soya beans 35 percent of high quality protein.
Markus Sorg: You have to consider the biological value of this type of diet; the extent to which the protein in food can be absorbed by the body. Combining foods provides a better guarantee of absorption and our body’s ability to deal with it.
Besides clean eating, the trend towards a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is growing strongly – be it for health or ethical reasons. But can vegetarians and vegans provide their bodies with all the essential nutrients?
Dr Gartner: Vegans eat a strictly plant-based diet, even though, in evolutionary terms, algae and fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. A vegan diet is no problem whatsoever in the short term, long term however, one needs to be alert to any deficiency symptoms. On the other hand, we’re well-equipped to live as vegetarians. You just have to be aware that predigestion with a plant-based diet plays a much more important role than with other types of diets. Not chewing properly gives rise to an increase in the ethyl alcohol in the digestive tract. It is not uncommon for us to find fatty livers in patients living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. So: chew, chew, chew!
Markus Sorg: In terms of health, I don’t see a vegetarian diet as a problem, however, I do have qualms about veganism which places heavy demands on the digestive tract over time. I would not recommend this type of diet to older people or pregnant women.
What should vegetarians and vegans consider in order to prevent deficiency symptoms when putting together their meal and diet plans?
Dr Gartner: The most common deficiency symptom in vegetarians and more so in vegans is vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is essential for blood formation and the nervous system, and it can only be absorbed via animal-derived foods such as eggs or milk products. Consequently, ovo-lacto-vegetarians don’t need to worry about the classic vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms of tiredness, weakness and depression.
Markus Sorg: That is why, for peace of mind, vegans and vegetarians ought to have health checks and seek advice from a nutritionist.
Conclusion: Modern Mayr cuisine is clean eating par excellence and of the healthiest kind. Can you practise Modern Mayr cuisine as a vegetarian?
Dr Gartner: Of course! Our creative ‘culinary magicians’ have developed high value protein additives based on algae and bean sprouts for exactly this purpose, and our vegetarian guests love it!
Markus Sorg: Certainly! Vegetarian dishes are ever more popular and go down very well with our guests. For me, it is important to create dishes using wonderful vegetables, herbs, mushrooms etc., which are in no way inferior to meat dishes. In fact, these dishes inspire us to be creative, opening up new possibilities.
Did you know?
• Lack of vitamin B12 is one of the most common deficiencies for vegetarians and particularly vegans.
• In evolutionary terms, our first foods consisted of berries, bone marrow and the brains of prey.
• For the sake of your digestion, raw food should only feature on the menu plan at breakfast and as a pre-lunch starter.
• Predigesting food in your mouth by chewing plays a significant role in the processing of plant-based foods; that is why vegetarians and vegans should chew their food particularly thoroughly!