The Weight Watchers' diet. This diet is calculated more to achieve weight loss than to improve health, but if followed properly both weight loss and improved health will follow. The Weight Watchers' diet could be described as "the Western diet in moderation", and health improvement can be expected mainly as a result of eating fewer kilojoules rather than changing the kind of food. The diet is nowhere near ideal because it still permits too much protein and fat, mayonnaise, cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. But it is better than the conventional Western diet and is a good start in the right direction.

Vegetarian diet. A true vegetarian diet permits no foods of animal origin at all. People following such a diet are known as "vegans". People who eat no animal flesh of any kind (or fish) but include milk, cheese and eggs in their diet are referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarians.

The obvious advantage of vegetarianism is the absence in the diet of animal protein, animal fat and cholesterol. Lacto-ovo vegetarians still take in these harmful substances because dairy products and eggs are high in them, and so they gain only partial benefit.

As a rule, most vegetarians consume a fair amount of cereal (grain) products, lentils and beans and as a result still take in too much protein as well as too much starch. As will be explained later, these foods are of very dubious value although they are widely accepted as "health foods". In addition, further harm ensues when vegetable oils are freely used, and when the vegetarian food is cooked--particularly if overcooked, salted and spiced.

Thus many vegetarians are not much better off, healthwise, than those consuming the traditional diet. However, notwithstanding these mistakes, the advantages of following the vegetarian way of life are still considerable, as demonstrated by statistics of death rates quoted from the medical journal Circulation, Vol. 58, No. 1, July 1978. The quotation is from the text of a lecture called "Lifestyles, Major Risk Factors, Proof and Public Policy" by noted cardiologist Dr Jeremiah Stamler.

"An additional comparison has recently become available, with data on mortality, for three groups of Californian Seventh Day Adventists (nonvegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian and pure vegetarian) compared with the Californian general population. Seventh Day Adventists have lower mean serum cholesterol levels than Americans generally. For 47,000 Seventh Day Adventist men aged 35 and over, age-sex-standardized, mortality rates were 34% lower for non-vegetarians, 57% lower for the lacto-ovo-vegetarians and 77% lower for the pure vegetarians compared to the general population. Seventh Day Adventists differ from the general population in other respects as well, eg abstinence from both alcohol and tobacco.

Since the data from both animal and human studies indicate that high blood pressure and cigarette smoking are minimally significant for atherogenesis in the absence of the nutritional metabolic prerequisites, it is further reasonable and sound to designate "rich" diet as a PRIMARY, ESSENTIAL, NECESSARY CAUSE of the current epidemic of premature atherosclerotic disease raging in the Western industrialized countries. Cigarette smoking and hypertension are important secondary or complementary causes."

The Macrobiotic diet. Any diet that drastically cuts out fat and cholesterol must, like the Salisbury diet, show good results. The macrobiotic diet, of Japanese origin, endows great health benefits when it is adopted by people who have been on the Western diet. The diet is based on grain products, principally brown rice steam or boiled, which accounts for over fifty per cent of the total intake, about twenty-five per cent cooked vegetables, ten per cent beans or lentils, five per cent miso, five per cent seaweed and only five to ten per cent raw vegetables. Fruit is not recommended and salt is allowed.

The macrobiotic diet is claimed to be a healthy diet and indeed, by comparison to the Western diet, may appear to be so. The diet's shortcomings will be already apparent to the reader and will become even more apparent in later discussion.

The Pritikin diet. Nathan Pritikin claimed his diet to be the "healthiest diet in the world". If he was comparing the Pritikin diet to the traditional diets of the major population groups around the world, his claim would have been substantially correct. There is no question of the Pritikin diet's superiority over the Western diet for a start, and its emphasis on complex carbohydrates and reduction of protein and fat make it theoretically a far better diet than the traditional balanced diet espoused by today's nutritional experts.

The Pritikin diet achieves rapid, often spectacular results, first and foremost because of its very low fat content. It achieves reversal of atherosclerosis because of its low cholesterol content. It achieves reduction of blood pressure by virtue of unsticking the blood and lowering its viscosity, and by the same means permits the body's insulin to work better, so reversing diabetes. Lots of other good things happen simply because of improved circulation and more oxygen in the tissues. But the Pritikin diet too has faults which can lead to trouble if not circumvented, the main fault being that, like the macrobiotic diet, it relies too heavily on grain products and permits too much cooking.

The Gerson diet. Originally devised to solve the problem of migraine, the Gerson diet was found to be effective in arresting other metabolic and degenerative diseases, and has been used with high levels of success in the treatment of cancer since the 1930s. The diet is very low in fat, cholesterol and protein, consisting mainly of raw vegetables, fruit and juices made from these. Some cooked vegetables and rice are permitted, but the diet does not contain much grains and therefore must be considered superior to the Pritikin diet. The results demonstrated by Dr Gerson, and more lately by his daughter Charlotte, clearly demonstrate this superiority.

The Hunza diet. The unsurpassed health and physical endurance of the legendary Hunza race was proven in exhaustive tests by Major General Sir Robert McCarrison, MD, in the 1920s to be directly attributable to the Hunza diet (The Wheel of Health, Dr G. T. Wrench; see also The Health Revolution ). The Hunza diet was similar to the Pritikin diet in that it contained a fair amount of wholegrain foods mainly in the form of wheatmeal bread, hardly any meat or fish, and a lot of vegetables, boiled and raw. As well, however, the diet contained liberal quantities of raw fruit, raw milk and cheese. There were no chickens, eggs, tea, sugar or rice. In the seven years he spent among the Hunzas, Dr McCarrison's medical skills were almost entirely confined to the treatment of accidental lesions, operations for granular eyelids, and the removal of senile cataracts, as other health problems were practically unknown. Dr Wrench, in his account, remarked upon the amount of raw food consumed by the Hunzas and attributed this mainly to be why they were so free of disease.

The Raw Food diet. Nobody can claim to have invented the raw food diet; it is the diet provided by Mother Nature in the first place. Dr Richard Lambe of England extolled the virtues of the raw vegetarian diet back in 1809, and described the successful use of it in the treatment of cancer patients.

Diets made up of raw fruits and/or raw vegetables have been the key to the success of the famous sanatoria in Europe, USA, Australia and elsewhere for many years. These include the Battle Creek Sanatorium started by Dr Harvey Kellogg of the USA a hundred years ago, the Bircher Benner Sanatorium in Switzerland, the Hopewood Health Centre in Australia and Dr Ann Wigmore's Hippocrates Health Centers in the USA. The advantages of eating food uncooked are many and result in health benefits unobtainable from cooked food. Some foods, such as cereals and potatoes, are difficult to digest uncooked but, as will be explained later, such foods are of dubious value anyway and are better left alone.

The Fruitarian Diet. Theoretically, and in practice, a diet composed of high quality, ripe, raw fruits provides the human body with all the nutrients it needs with the very least expenditure of digestive effort, at the same time producing no toxic by-products and so allowing the body to detoxify itself and perform at its peak. Raw fruits are more palatable and provide more energy for a given amount than vegetables and can be prepared with less effort and less waste. Not only can the highest level of health be attained on a fruitarian diet but, because it places so much less wear and tear on the body's vital organs, degeneration is slowed down and the lifespan extended.