A Balanced Healthy Diet: Are You Giving 100 Percent? Or 80-10-10?
An Interview with Dr. Doug Graham
By Kevin Gianni
Kevin: There are still some people who don’t know what 80/10/10 is and so let’s give a very brief introduction and then let’s get into some of these questions that everyone’s been asking.
Dr. Graham: Well, my name is Dr. Doug Graham. I have a doctorate degree in chiropractic and a doctorate in natural health. I’m enthusiastic about teaching people how to attain or regain and then maintain the highest level of health possible. It’s been a lifetime pursuit for me since I was 16 years old. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the sickest of the sick and helping them to get well. And as you mentioned, working with world-class performers and motivated people from a wide variety of backgrounds. It’s just a great thing.
I studied health, especially nutrition, since I was a little boy. My mom actually started imposing dietary changes on our family when I was still in single digits. She was trying to overcome a weight problem and tried a bunch of different things and whenever she did, so did the family. It got me used to the idea of tinkering with my diet as if it were a normal thing. Although I was raised on a standard diet and had parts removed by the time I was four and I went to allergy doctors from six through twelve and had boils all through my teens and have the scars to prove it, it wasn’t really until a little bit later, while I was in college, that I ventured into vegetarianism and eventually into veganism and by my mid-20s into raw food.
I studied what the professionals taught, simply because I had to. Being a health and phys-ed major in college you took a lot of nutrition courses, a lot, all the way through chiropractic college. Again, nutrition every semester. Eventually I pretty much knew what the standard nutritionist said and had read what all of the alternative people had to say as well, being a voracious and avid reader.
Essentially what they said was, “Eat your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are the best foods for you. They’re the most nutritious. They’re the health foods.” I kept foraying into eating larger amounts, greater percentages of my diet, as fruits and vegetables until the light clicked at one point and I said, “Gee, I wonder what would happen if I ate fruits and vegetables to the elimination of everything else?”
In the same way that I went raw, understanding that raw foods were nutritionally more sound than their cooked counterparts. That for every nutrient that becomes more bio-available when we cook, there are roughly 10,000 nutrients that become less bio-available. And I certainly wasn’t going to trade 1 for 10,000. So I kept increasing the percentage of raw in my diet and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables, until I got to that point where I said, “Gee, I wonder what would happen if…” And I did that experiment of, “What would happen if I ate nothing but fruits and vegetables and they were in their whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic form?” What happened was a health revolution and explosion. Just a quantum leap different than anything I’d ever experienced before.
The more I read what the scientists had to say, they kept saying, “Eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce the fat in your diet, get it down to single digits.” We’re designed for 3-9% of our calories to come from fat. When we’re in that range we thrive. Obviously, best is if those fats are the healthy fats, but that means essentially polyunsaturated plant-source fats. But 3-9% of our calories from fat is the target range. At the same time they said 3-9% was the target range for protein and that if we go below, if we go below in either of those categories it means that we’re eating refined foods of some kind, because there aren’t any whole foods that go below the 3% really, or above the 9%. By the time we eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables, you’re always going to fall into the 3-9 on protein consumption, the 3-9 range on fat consumption. Thus the 80/10/10 concept was formed.
80/10/10 is not the goal however and that’s where a lot of people get confused. 80/10/10 is really the minimum, in terms of carbohydrate consumption, and the maximum in terms of protein and fat. We’re looking not to go below 80 nor above 10, in protein and fat. That’s the nutshell of 80/10/10. It’s been the concept behind a tremendous number of health programs – vegan health programs, vegetarian health programs, even some mainstream programs. The Pritikin Lifestyle Program uses the same numbering system. The McDougal program uses the same numbering system. The China Study recommends the same numbering system. Even the Framingham Study, the longest health study done in human nutrition, ends up using the same, or recommending the same numbering system. They just don’t all necessarily do it with vegan sources and they don’t all necessarily do it with raw sources. I just took the science and applied it to raw food nutrition and Wa-La, we have the 80/10/10 diet.
Kevin: It’s pretty simple when it’s put that way.
Dr. Graham: It’s astonishingly simple. And it can be simple because it is a concept and the concept has to be simple. If the concept was complex, it would be really impossible to fill in the details. But with a simple concept it’s kind of like having a position statement. It’s like having your mission statement, that has to be simple. Then you fill it in with a tremendous number of details, you can support it.
In this case the 80/10/10 diet is a thing of beauty because the details line up so well. We’re looking at literally hundreds of vegetables and thousands of fruits from which to choose on this fruit and vegetable, species specific diet, as I refer to it that our anatomy and physiology is designed to handle, fruits and vegetables, really well. You may choose certain fruits and vegetables and I may choose other fruits and vegetables. You may like cherries and I might like mango. That’s perfectly understandable. We’re not suggesting that different kinds of horses all eat the same grass or like the same grass, but horses all like grass.
Kevin: What’s some of the information behind species-specific? Does it even need to be science, where that information is coming from? Does it even need to be science behind that?
Dr. Graham: No, it doesn’t need to be science. You asked who I am and what I do actually, at the opening. I really just kind of told you who I am than what I do. What I do can be summed up again in a fairly simple statement. I take clear, congruent health education and make it available to people in a way that is simple and sound. It doesn’t have to be science. What we like to have happen however is when our science is supported by philosophy, when the philosophy is supported byscience, when the common sense and the science align with each other in such a way that you don’t have wild hair sticking out and going, “Yeah, well that’s really good in every way except it leaves you with heart trouble.” Or, “That’s really good in every way except that you’re going to end up with cancer. The diet works really well for heart disease but it gives you diabetes in the meantime.” That wouldn’t be a workable system. It’s nice when all the pieces just fall right into place. That’s what I found happen with 80/10/10.
Now it doesn’t have to be science, but we can look at every species and see certain things happen with species. Every species has a species-specific diet and it’s referred to as such. Some animals are carnivores and some are omnivores and some are herbivores, gramnivores, all sorts of different types. This is determined by their anatomy and physiology. Now, there is a science eventually that’s called comparative anatomy and in the comparative anatomical studies they sort of look at anatomy as being the driving force. Well, I don’t really care.
It’s really a perceptual problem and it’s an age-old philosophical question, which came first anatomy or physiology? You know, the chicken or the egg? It doesn’t matter whether we think that bridge works really well because it’s shaped like a bridge or because it’s shaped like a bridge we decided to use it like bridge. You can’t build a butter knife that looks like a feather because it just won’t function like a butter knife. So form and function in the art world, anatomy and physiology in the more science background, this question has been going on for a long time. We don’t really care whether you go, “Oh, well, philosophically every animal is designed to eat a certain way,” or whether we go, “Look, all we have to do is observe.” All creatures eat in predetermined ways.
You never see a lamb stalking a wild animal as if it were a lion. Lions stalk wild animals, lambs just put their head down and chew grass. It’s pretty predictable and it’s species specific. Every species has a specific diet. There’s really no reason to think that humans shouldn’t have a species specific diet that is optimal for us. Whether or not we choose to follow that diet is a separate issue and why we would choose not to follow it is a long journey. But whether or not there actually is a species specific diet, I’m not sure that anyone can give a rational argument to the contrary.
Read VegFamily’s interview with Dr. Graham.
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