Published in Get Fresh Magazine
After trying unsuccessfully for weeks to catch up with Loren Lockman to speak about his nutrition/wellness counseling practice, and the seminars and lectures that he gives, I had almost given up on the idea of an interview. I knew he was busy, writing two books, speaking regularly, and overseeing the renovation of the Tanglewood Wellness Center outside of Washington, DC, but I couldn’t help but feel a little slighted that he hadn’t even returned my calls. I had heard that he was a decent enough guy, but was starting to wonder. Imagine my surprise when I walked into my office one day, and there he was. Staring back at me in the mirror.
After apologizing for being difficult to reach, and commenting on our uncanny likeness, he generously offered to spend as much as time with me as I needed. Here, then, is the interview that resulted:
Me: How does your message differ from that of other nutritionists, dietitians, doctors, and other practitioners?
Loren: My philosophy is very different from that of most practitioners and wellness teachers today. Most practitioners spend their efforts using drugs, herbs, and ‘remedies’ of all kinds to treat the symptoms of illness. It’s as if they believe that illness is inevitable, and the best we can do is to medicate the symptoms. They’re partially right. Illness is the inevitable result of the typical western diet and lifestyle. Perfect health is normal, or should, and can be. I simply teach people how to get out of the way so that they can experience their natural birthright: perfect health.
Me: So you use nutrition to promote wellness. Don’t all nutritionists, dietitians, and doctors do that?
Loren: Nutrition is almost never taught in Medical Schools, so Doctors don’t usually approach the subject at all. In theory, all nutritionists and dietitians do. In practice, the truth is very different. Most Nutritionists and Dietitians recommend very poor diets, only marginally better than the extremely poor ones the average public consumes, and then attempt to make up for the inherent deficiencies in those diets by recommending vast quantities of supplements. Perhaps if their diets are deficient in nutrients, the diets themselves are at fault. No other animal on the planet uses supplements, yet humans and the animals that we feed are alone in experiencing such incredibly poor health, and suffering from such a staggeringly large number of diseases. Clearly, what we’re doing doesn’t work.
Me: Is that true? Why is that?
Loren: It is indeed true. And the reason is relatively simple: In nature, all animals eat the diets that their specific bodies are physiologically adapted to. Only humans and their companion animals, and captive zoo, circus, farm, and laboratory animals do not eat their natural diets, and only these animals, including people, suffer such poor health.
Me: So there is a natural diet that we should eat? Is it the zone? The low-carb diet? The blood type diet? Which one?
Loren: Well, actually none of those. All of the ‘diet programs’ you’ve heard about are bad ideas for almost everyone.
Me: So there are some people who benefit from these diets?
Loren: Absolutely. The authors of these books benefit quite handsomely. Unfortunately at the public’s expense.
Me: But I know people who’ve lost weight using each of these programs.
Loren: Certainly. You will lose weight if you eat a high protein diet. But at what cost? Destruction of the liver and kidneys? Our already high protein diets are a primary cause of cancer and heart disease. In fact, the China-Oxford-Cornell Project, the largest longitudinal health study ever done, has shown conclusively that even small additions of animal protein to the diet cause dramatic increases in rates of cancer and heart disease.
Me: There does seem to be increasing evidence that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet. Is that the basis of your philosophy?
Loren: A vegetarian diet is a good start, but it’s not enough. Even a vegan diet alone does not insure good health. Clearly, removing some of the most offensive things from the diet is a good start, but it’s not enough. I eat, and recommend a raw vegan diet.
Me: Raw foods? And many people think a vegan diet is pretty radical!
Loren: Yes, it takes a little getting used to the idea. But we’ve long known that cooking destroys the majority of the nutrients in food. What we often fail to realize is that cooking also destroys the vital enzymes in food.
Me: Enzymes? Like digestive enzymes?
Loren: Well, yes. Digestive enzymes are one type, or in fact, many different types. But I’m talking about the natural enzymes that occur in every food. These substances are very heat sensitive, and are completely denatured at about 118 degrees F, well below cooking temperatures. Most ovens don’t even register temperatures below 200 F or so.
Me: And these enzymes are important?
Loren: Very. Food enzymes help us to break the food down, so that our bodies have less work to do. The less digestive work we do, the slower we age. Enzymes are required for every single process of every single cell in the body. If we are needlessly expending energy creating digestive enzymes, we don’t have enough energy left to create the metabolic enzymes we need to handle all of our other tasks.
These enzymes are the life-force of every cell. Every process of life requires enzymes, and no life exists without them. Cooking food means that the enzymes are denatured, and can no longer benefit us. The food has literally lost its vitality. Einstein taught us that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed in form. Every day, our bodies are replacing old, worn out cells, with millions of new ones. Where does the life energy for these new cells come from? From the dead, de-vitalized foods that we eat? We can’t create it. Without taking in this energy in living foods, I believe we age and die prematurely. Many physiologists today agree that our natural life span is between 125 and 150. To be conservative, if the low estimate is right, our 76 year average life span in the US is 61% of what it should be. Even vegetarians, who have a much lower incidence of disease than meat-eaters, only live about 10% longer. The reason is because they are eating primarily cooked and processed, devitalized foods.
Me: Are you saying that if we all eat right we can live to 125 or more?
Loren: Well proper diet is not the only thing, but correcting it has the most impact for most people. We also need proper rest and sleep, pure air and water, sunshine, exercise, stress management, and love. And detoxification, to remove the results of many years of less-than-ideal choices.
Me: So you only eat and recommend raw fruit and vegetables? Is that our natural diet?
Loren: The raw vegan diet can include all fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and sprouts. But no, I don’t believe that’s our natural diet. Our closest relatives, the anthropoid primates share over 98% of our genetic material with us. The bonobo chimpanzee, our closest relative, is closer to us, genetically, than it is to any other chimpanzee, or primate. With the exception of one or two folivorous (leaf-eating) species, all anthropoid primates are Frugivorous animals. Our digestive tract is exactly like theirs, from one end to the other, and like them, we are designed to eat primarily fruit and leafy greens.
Me: So that’s all you eat? Fruit and salad?
Loren: Most of the time, yes. You can make an infinite variety of dishes without cooking, so if you enjoy preparing foods there’s still plenty of possibilities. I teach people how to prepare gourmet raw, frugivorous dishes, including delicious fruit pies. But most of the time, I prefer to keep it as simple as possible.
Me: What might you eat in a typical day?
Loren: Today was typical for this time of year. I had a large cantaloupe for lunch, and 4 or 5 peaches for dinner. Of course, with so many delicious fruits available right now, there are many possibilities. 2 or 3 meals a week are usually green salads.
Me: And for breakfast?
Loren: I almost never eat breakfast.
Me: That doesn’t sound like very much food. Can you get enough calories that way?
Loren: I can, and have, for 5 or 6 years. When I went all-raw in 1991, I ate three times as many calories as I do now. Typically, as the body cleans out, and adjusts to the much higher quality of a raw vegan diet, it gets more efficient, and is able to operate on much less food. The metabolism drops, and the body is able to accomplish the same amount of work as before, with far less energy expended.
Me: I thought a high metabolism was a good thing?
Loren: Yes, most people think that. A high metabolic rate means that the body is working overtime to process all of that food. If I can maintain my health burning one-third or one half as much food, doesn’t that mean that I’m operating more efficiently?
Me: Yes, I guess so.
Loren: This is, after all, what we want: Maximum efficiency. To get the most benefit for the least effort.
Me: It seems to make sense. But can you really stay healthy eating like that?
Loren: I look pretty good, don’t I?
Me: Yes you do. In fact, you’re really quite handsome. But can you get enough nutrients that way? Where do you get your protein eating fruit and leafy greens?
Loren: Ah. The protein question. Remember that modern research clearly shows that excess protein causes disease. We require very little protein to maintain our bodies in adulthood. Our greatest protein needs are when we are infants, doubling in size in a year. The average American consumes three to four times as much protein as a baby gets in its perfect food, breast milk.
Me: But where do you get any protein eating apples, oranges, and salads?
Loren: In my apples, oranges, and salads. I know this comes as a surprise. Protein is the building block of cell tissue, and so is a component of all living cells, plant and animal. There is not much protein in fruits and leafy greens, but there is all we need.
Me: But I’ve always heard that animal proteins are far superior to plant proteins, and that if we’re going to be vegetarians, we have to be very careful to eat foods that provide all of the essential amino acids.
Loren: This is, I’m afraid, another myth. I wonder who could have started this one? Who would benefit from having us believe that we need huge amounts of protein, and complicated combinations? How about the meat, dairy, soy, and supplement people, just to name a few.
This notion of the superiority of animal proteins is based on the fact that animal proteins are complete, that is, they have all of the essential amino acids that we need. While it is true that animal proteins are complete, this is irrelevant.
Me: It is?
Loren: Sure. It’s true, that animal proteins are more like our proteins than plant proteins. This is logical, because we are animals, and are much more like a cow, then a head of lettuce. At least most of us are. Naturally our tissues more closely resemble the cow’s than the lettuce’s, so our proteins would have to be more similar.
Imagine you were going to build a house. You would need lumber, nails, windows, shingles, doors, etc. Environmental concerns aside, would you rather start with an existing house, tear it down, carefully pulling each board up, cleaning it, sanding it, discarding the bad ones, and then straightening every nail, etc. Or would you rather start with a pile of clean lumber, a crate of new nails, and windows ordered to fit?
The building supplies are like the amino acids. We can’t use a house to build a house. We have to first tear it down, discard the worn out stuff, and clean up the rest, then we can start building.
Similarly, we can’t use proteins. Our bodies must break these proteins down into amino acids first, then combine them to form new proteins.
Just as building a house with new building supplies is much easier than tearing an old one down, building our distinctive cellular proteins is much easier using amino acids then it is using complex whole proteins. In ripe fruit, we have virtually no work to do. As the fruit ripens, the proteins break down on their own, allowing us to assimilate the amino acids with very little work.
Me: That makes sense.
Loren: The same basic analogy works for the other micro nutrients. All are most easily available from fruits and leafy greens.
Me: Still, vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes are loaded with nutrients. And I’ve heard avocados have lots of ‘good fat.’
Loren: First, to clarify, tomatoes and avocados are fruits, not vegetables. Anything with a seed in it is a fruit, so peppers and cucumbers also fall into this category. And though you are right that vegetables are loaded with nutrients, that is not a good enough reason to eat them.
Me: Why not?
Loren: Well…would you like to have more money?
Loren: Why not just walk into a bank vault and get all you need? Why work when all that money is sitting there?
Me: Besides the inconvenient fact that it’s not my money.
Me: Well I can’t get at it. It’s all locked up.
Loren: Yes. And the nutrients in vegetables are also locked up. Bound by very dense cellulose that our bodies are not really designed to digest. It’s long been said that cooking vegetables makes the nutrients more available because it breaks down the cellulose — the plant fiber — that we can’t digest. This is true, but as we discussed, cooking destroys most of the nutrients. That would be like setting fire to the bank to get the money. The heat might destroy the vault that keeps the money locked up, but it destroys the money, too. Heat can only destroy.
There are some nutrients available in vegetables, but it requires too much work for the body to be able to get at them. And everything we need is much more easily available in fruit and leafy greens.
Me: What about Vitamin B-12? I thought you could only get that from animal sources.
Loren: Another excellent question. In fact, Vitamin B-12 is only produced by bacteria. Because animal products contain lots of bacteria, they have ample B-12 as well. But remember, our needs are very similar, if not identical, to all of the other vegetarian animals. Where do they get their B-12? They certainly don’t take supplements.
Me: From Bacteria?
Loren: You are a quick study, aren’t you? Yes. Specifically, from the bacteria in their gut, and to a lesser extent, the bacteria on their food. What’s interesting is that the belief is that vegans have to worry about B-12, and the reality is that meat-eaters have a much higher incidence of B-12 deficiency problems.
Me: But if animal products are full of bacteria, and bacteria produce B-12, how can that be?
Loren: You’ve just uncovered one of the most important things to remember about nutrition. This goes back to the broccoli discussion. Far more important than ‘what nutrients are in a food?’, is the question ‘What nutrients can our bodies assimilate from that food.’ Broccoli, again is full of nutrients, but because we can’t break it down very well, we actually assimilate only a small percentage of those nutrients. Similarly, because meat eaters (and to a lesser, but significant extent, cooked food eaters) digestive tracts are so fouled with mucoid plaque, they simply don’t assimilate anything very well. People with B-12 deficiencies likely are deficient in many other things as well.
We have millions of little B-12 factories living in our gut, and when the digestive system is clean, we have no trouble absorbing all the B-12 we need from this handy source. Isn’t nature a beautiful thing?
Me: Yes it is. So you are saying that if we eat a raw vegan diet, we don’t need to take any supplements?
Me: You said earlier that you don’t eat breakfast. Why not?
Loren: I’m simply not usually hungry in the morning. The feeling that many people experience as hunger upon after arising, isn’t hunger at all.
Me: It feels like hunger.
Loren: There are a whole list of symptoms that people lump together as hunger, including vague pain in the stomach, lightheadedness, headache, etc. All of these are merely symptoms that the body is detoxing. When the heavy work of digesting and assimilating food is done, the body can begin to eliminate toxins.
Me: What kind of toxins?
Loren: Many possible things; In most people, there are toxins from air pollution, water pollution taken in via drinking and bathing water, out-gassed chemicals from household products, furniture, cabinets and building products. Also toxins from cleaning products, pesticides and hormones in foods, mercury poisoning from silver amalgam tooth fillings, toxins from make-up and personal care products, aluminum and other metals from cookware, and many other sources. According to a study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, 13% of all birth defects in the USA are related to off-gassing of fumes from Volatile Organic Compounds in architectural paints in homes, offices and schools.
All of these are exogenous toxins — from outside sources. And as if all of these weren’t enough, one of the biggest problems is something called Intermediate Byproducts of Cellular Metabolism, the cellular waste that’s produced in the cells, and must be carried away by the lymph system in our bodies.
Me: Wow! It’s a dangerous world out there. Most of these are things that are hard to avoid.
Loren: Certainly, if you live in a city, you will breathe polluted air. But we spend more time inside our homes than we do out on the streets, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside the average American home is more polluted than the air outside in our average city. And we can control our indoor air quality by eliminating products, furniture, fabrics, and paints that pollute, substituting natural, nontoxic alternatives, by properly venting combustion appliances, and by using certain houseplants to purify the air. We can buy only natural personal care products, we can filter our water, we can buy zero V.O.C. paints. But the biggest offender of all is the one we create: Cellular waste.
Me: And how do we create it?
Loren: We create it just by living. Each cell is like an independent organism in that they eat, process, and then must eliminate waste. By eating an improper diet, and not paying attention to the other laws of nature, i.e., ‘Thou shalt sleep when tired,’ the cells become overburdened with waste, and are unable to process it quickly enough.
Me: But everyone sleeps
Loren: True. But do they sleep enough? If you need to drink a cup of coffee or tea to get going in the morning, you haven’t gotten enough sleep. According to Dr. William C. Dement, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Stanford University Sleep Research Center, getting enough sleep may be the most important factor in life span.
This issue of cell cleanliness is very important. Nobel Prize winning scientist Alexis Carrel kept a chicken heart alive in a laboratory for 32 years, well past any reasonable expectations. In fact, it only died when a research assistant neglected to change the fluid bath that it was kept in. By keeping the heart bathed in a clean solution, Carrel was able to extend it’s life many times beyond what anyone thought possible. If we can keep our cells bathed in a clean solution, perhaps we can live many times beyond what people now believe is possible.
Me: Do you think we can do that?
Loren: I’m not sure. Ask me again in 200 years.
Me: Oh. So how do we get and keep the cells clean? Just by sleeping enough and eating right?
Loren: That’s a good start. All of the items I mentioned above are important to achieving optimal health. In addition to those mentioned above, fasting is an excellent way to clean toxins out of the body.
Me: Fasting? You mean NOT eating?
Loren: That’s the idea. The body can go a long time without food. On average, six weeks before we start to consume muscle tissue.
Me: Six weeks? Without eating anything?
Loren: I’m not suggesting people need to fast for 6 weeks. Most people get tremendous benefit from a 2-3 week fast, but even 4-7 days has a very powerful effect.
Me: Even that sounds like a long time.
Loren: I know. Many people freak out at the prospect of missing a single meal. The ‘hunger’ usually disappears after the first or second day, and then many people experience tremendous energy. But this varies dramatically from person to person, and has everything to do with how clean their system is. When I started fasting 6 or 7 years ago, it was difficult and unpleasant. Now it’s quite easy for me to go two weeks without eating, hardly missing a step.
There’s a lot more to be said about fasting, and if you want more information, there are several good books available on the subject. You might want to pick up my booklet entitled: ‘Fasting: Nature’s Best Cleanse’.
Me: Thanks. So if I wanted to achieve optimal health, what should I do?
Loren: as you can see, there are many areas to consider. A logical first step might be to eliminate all animal products from your diet. Next, all processed foods. These ‘foods’ are devitalized, dead foods. Move toward a whole-food vegan diet, consuming only whole plant foods, and no animal products of any kind. If you’re already a vegan, great. Begin to increase your percentage of fruit and leafy greens. If you eat breakfast, try eating only fruit before noon. When you eat cooked foods, start the meal with a large salad. Try to make at least half of your meal be salad. Substitute fruit for cookies and sweets if you want a snack. Don’t eat fruit as dessert. It can create gas and bloating when eaten on top of other foods.
Be sure to get plenty of sleep each night, and eliminate or reduce your dependence on caffeine and other drugs.
Get moving. Our bodies are designed for movement, not for sitting endless hours at a desk. Ride a bike, take a walk, climb a mountain, practice yoga.
Learn how to breathe deeply. Shallow breathing is common and acidifies your system.
Eliminate toxins from your environment wherever you can. Learn to love and respect yourself, and others. And please be gentle with yourself as you make this transition.
Me: That all makes sense. But will this work for someone who’s already sick?
Loren: In most cases, yes. The human body is remarkably resilient. By learning how to meet it’s needs optimally, Optimal Health will result.
Me: That’s great. Anything else you can add?
Loren: There is more, but that’s a great start. You may want to pick up some of my audio tapes and booklets which are available through FRESH, and look for my full-length book, still making it’s way from my head to the page. And of course, if possible, you may want to make it to a live presentation, either here outside of Washington, DC, or on my next lecture tour.
Me: Thanks. I’ll look for your materials, and will try to make it to one of your lectures.
Loren: I’m confident that you’ll be there.
Me: When will your book be available?
Loren: Currently shooting for mid-2001, though only the universe knows how That will happen.
Me: Loren, thanks again for all of your help.
Loren: You’re welcome, Loren.
Loren Lockman can be reached at the Tanglewood Wellness Center at 202-652-4694, info@TanglewoodWellnessCenter.com, or there is more information at http://www.TanglewoodWellnessCenter.com