The Perfect Non-Diet: A Review of The Real Age Diet: Make Yourself Younger With What You Eat

 The medical credentials of the authors is very sound, the advice provided is good, moderate, easy to follow, and there are actually some interesting and innovative suggestions for eating in ways more conducive to good health and good living. What more could a person looking for a diet book ask for?

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

The Real Age Diet<
By Michael F Roizen, MD and John La Puma MD
HarperCollins
October 2001

There are no shortage of diet books on the market, and a surprising number of those books are successful. Some of them provide sound advice, some provide ineffectual advice, some provide advice which is downright dangerous. Most of them focus on weight loss. Michael Roizen and John La Puma’s The Real Age Diet is a little different. It takes as its assumption the fact that what you eat can have an effect on how old you really are, and how old you feel, and that your motivation for eating should be based on its effect on your real or biological, rather than your calender, age. It is a powerful premise, and one which is not only concrete enough to make sense on a daily basis while you are choosing your meals, but one which has had a significant effect on consumers, making Roizen’ first Real Age book RealAge a bestseller, and changing the way people view themselves and their diets. To determine the impact of food on aging, the scientific/medical team from the RealAge company read through a range of medical studies and identified 125 factors which cause people to age, and then identified a range of foods to help reduce these aging factors. In other words, what you eat can make you younger. Roizen and La Puma have pretty strong credentials. Roizen is a professor of medicine, and chair at the dept of Anesthesia and Critical Care at the Pritzker School of Medicine in the US. He has had extensive involvement in Food and Drug Administration, medical journals, health newsletters, and has written many papers and books. La Puma is both a doctor and a professional trained chef. He teaches medical cooking, and is the director of the CHEF Clinic in Chicago, and professor of nutrition at Kendall College, Illinois. Although I’m not an expert, I’m relatively cynical about diet books, and their medical evidence seems sound, and not nearly as full of hype as many of the diet books I’ve read.

The important point of RealAge is that the focus is on being biologically younger – with more energy, better health, more physical strength, and better looks, rather than the superficial goal of losing weight. The Real Age Diet looks more specifically on the foods you eat than RealAge, and includes a very extensive range of dietary information, including the importance of calories, cholesterol, nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, and fat. The main thrust of the diet can be summed up in a single, memorisable, and completely reasonable phrase: “Choose food that’s nutrient rich, calorie poor, and delicious!” There is a chapter for calculating the impact of your food choices on your age, and a range of quick fixes – easy things you can do to make your age younger though food choices. Not all of these things are obvious ones like drinking more water. Suggestions like eating a handful of nuts or other healthy fat like slices of avocado before dinner to slow the sugar absorption of your meal, or drinking a glass of red wine each day make sense, but were new to me.

There is a very through section which looks a range of bestselling diets, and assessing their impact on age – age equating to overall wellbeing, health, and fitness levels. Of course, none of the diets stacks up as well as the RealAge diet, but it is interesting to see some of the more well known diets like Dr Atkin’s, a range of Low Carb diets, and some celebrity diets do poorly. There are suggestion for making these diets more healthy by adding fruit and vegetables, eating a little fat before meals, more variety, etc. The book looks at specific foods which can reduce, and increase your age, and also explores supplements, techniques for changing your eating habits, excellent strategies for substitutions, tips for eating out more healthily, how to handle special occasions like holidays, and exercise tips.

The Real Age Diet contains 2 sets of 8 week plans – one involving only convenience foods and minimal cooking, and one involving 20 original recipes, like “Sweet Balsamic-Glazed Oranges and Berries” or &”Mustard Crusted Salmon with Sweet Peppers”. All of the recipes were put together by John La Puma, who is both a doctor and a professional chef. The medical credentials of the authors is very sound, the advice provided is good, moderate, easy to follow, and there are actually some interesting and innovative suggestions for eating in ways more conducive to good health and good living. What more could a person looking for a diet book ask for? As a confirmed non-dieter, I was hooked, especially after I did the extensive survey on their RealAge web site. A very worthwhile book.

For more information on The Real Age Diet or to purchase a copy, click here: Real Age Diet.

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