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Dr. Brian Clement, director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla., asserts that many people who make the choice to become vegetarians or vegans do it without fully understanding the extent of this lifestyle change.
Clement, the author of 20 books - including his best-selling "Living Foods for Optimum Health" - will give a talk on ideal vegan nutrition on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa.
The Hippocrates Life Transformation Program says that wheatgrass and other living foods are the cornerstones to a life of optimum nutrition. The program's goal is to help people radically improve their health and detoxify their bodies.
Clement jokes that he was a pioneer in the field of obesity, admitting that he was overweight even before many Americans were fat. Raised in a typical Irish American household on a diet of meat, processed foods, and sugary sodas, by the age of 20 he was extremely overweight and gasping for breath every few steps. He then met a healthy vegetarian and decided to give meatless eating a try. Three years later he had lost 120 pounds, experienced major health improvements, and gradually became a complete vegan. In 1987, he became the director of Hippocrates.
Clement explains why living foods are so essential to a healthy diet.
"What people don't understand is that when you cook, process, or somehow irradiate a food, you're losing an awful lot more than the usual suspects," he says. "The nutrient level is going to be eliminated or greatly compromised."
It wasn't until the 1990s, Clement says, that we began to understand that plants had phytochemicals in them that fight disease and premature aging.
"When you cook a food, you kill the life force in it, and you're going to create a new chemical called an acrylomide, which has cancer-causing elements. When you take an organic food and cook it, it now becomes a carcinogen … the very (healthy) things it produces in its raw state you've destroyed in its cooked state."
Living foods, he explains, are in a whole other category, even beyond raw foods.
"Sprouts are baby plants in their prime and are 20 time more nutritious than even the best raw vegetables," he states.
Clement notes that there has been a dramatic increase in the green movement with 9.5 percent of people who identify as eating plant-based diets, and as a result, there has been more recovery of stage 4 diseases. He adds that as many as 45 percent of Generation X - the generation born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s - aspires to eating a plant-based diet.
"The whole future is in this direction," he says.
Some of the mistakes people make in their diets when they become vegetarian or vegan, Clement says, is thinking that all you have to do is give up meat and dairy. He admits that in his early years of vegetarianism, he'd go to a fast food restaurant and ask them to give him everything, but hold the meat.
"It's about nutrition, not the absence of something," he stresses.
Clement also points out that foods don't have to be eaten cold - they can be warmed up to 115 degrees and still be called a living or raw food. And, he says, Hippocrates' recipes are tasty and nuanced.
"We use fruit that tastes better than ice cream, pates, burgers and meat substitutes with nuts and seeds."
Clement acknowledges that while everyone isn't ready to become a vegan, we as a nation must address the issue of obesity.
"It's not bad enough that we're addicted to the sugar, salt, and fat in food - every major main food industry is putting synthetic opiates in our food that haven't been identified as illegal," he says.
"I'm not saying that everyone is ready to step up to bat, but anything is better than nothing ... if you can at least eat less of the bad things and more of the good things."
A LIVING FOODS SUCCESS STORY
Clement's talk is a benefit for Jacqueline Campisi of Stonington, who went to Hippocrates when she was recovering from Stage 4 metastatic cancer.
In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a right- side radical mastectomy. Following the surgery, her caregivers suggested that she go through chemotherapy and radiation and take medications. Instead, she looked at less invasive alternatives.
Campisi, a doctor of optometry who worked at Professional Eye Care in Waterford, says, "We do need Western medicine for emergencies, heart attacks - things that happen quickly. But for long-term care, I think we should learn to take responsibility for our own health and not be dependent on a pharmaceutical lifestyle for our health where there's a pill for every ill."
Campisi had adopted a lifestyle change after her cancer diagnosis and sought treatment from naturopathic doctors, but she found that over time she began working more and was burdened by stress.
"That was my demise. I wasn't doing enough juicing and gardening and had no time to relax and I fell off the wagon (from 2011-2013)," she says.
She began getting back into a healthy lifestyle, but was still working five to six days a week and started experiencing backaches. On April 15, she was formally diagnosed with metastatic cancer to the spine.
"It was laid before me that there is no cure for this cancer," she says, "and that I'd have a life of misery with chemo and medication."
Meanwhile, she had attended a lecture by Clement in 2013 and started thinking that she should go to the Hippocrates Center, but kept putting it off because she had a business to run and a family to raise.
""I finally said to my husband on April 15, 'I can't walk. I'm basically crippled. I can't work and I don't have insurance, so the best thing I can go do is get armed with education.' I got on a plane five days later, Easter Sunday. Thank God Hippocrates is open 24-7, they never close."
In addition to the healing properties of the warm climate, she says, "It was comforting to be with another 150 people with health challenges who wanted to take responsibility for their lives. She lost 25 pounds while there and another 25 when she came home.
"Hippocrates gave me hope and coping abilities. It's a mind-body-spirit change that I experienced in the three weeks I was there. There are so many things you need to integrate, and food is just the first stepping stone."
Campisi realized she needed extensive surgery for her spinal cancer.
"I needed Western medicine. This wasn't going to go away by eating a carrot," she states.
But she went into surgery knowing that her immune system and body had a fighting chance this time around.
"I had eight-hour reconstructive spinal surgery at Backus Hospital on June 20 and on June 21 I woke up with absolutely no pain," she says. "I was released from the hospital on June 24 with no medication whatsoever. No one could believe the condition I was in. I refused to eat anything inflammatory - no dairy, meat, gluten, or sugar - and they let my husband bring food to me. The nurses were embracing what I was doing and they're coming to the talk."
Today, Campisi says, "My mind feels clear and my body looks fantastic. People tell me every day how good I look for someone with stage 4 cancer. The doctors are saying my blood work is excellent.
"I have an attitude of gratitude - that's the key to success," she says. "I have to say I'm happier now with cancer than I was five months ago when I was cold and stressed. The best thing I can do for myself is know that I have a strong immune system as well as a strong body, healthy mind, and positive outlook … and instead of running for a cookie when I'm stressed, I go for a green drink."
Yield: 7 to 8 cups
2 cups raw almonds (or nuts/seeds of your choice) soaked overnight
5 cups filtered water
Rinse the soaked almonds well and place in a high-speed blender. Add water. Blend on high for 20 seconds. Remove the pulp by straining through a nut milk bag (available at most health food stores). Garnish with cinnamon if desired.
Stir if separation occurs. Keeps in a refrigerator for three days.
Raw Carob Mousse
Yield: 1 large or 2 smaller servings
3 tablespoons raw carob
1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon stevia
4 ounces almond milk
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Serve in either a cup or small bowl. Optional: Garnish with mint and raspberries.
What: "Enhance Longevity & Heal Disease with Living Foods," a talk by Dr. Brian Clement, director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida. The program is sponsored by and a benefit for Jacqueline Campisi of Stonington, who is recovering from Stage 4 metastatic cancer of the spine.
When: Tuesday, Sept. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for organic cash bar of fresh green juices, shots of wheatgrass, and raw coconut water.
Where: Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa, Groton
How much: Tickets are $22 online, $28 at the door.
To register: Visit www.drjackiecampisi.com or call (860) 908-7432