RAVE diet and lifestyle book review

RAVEdiet

What does RAVE stand for?

The RAVE Diet & Lifestyle was developed by a self-proclaimed medical researcher, author and filmmaker named Mike Anderson. He designed this diet and wrote the book with the ultimate goal of preventing, halting and even reversing diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. The ultimate outcome of the diet is to reach and maintain an ideal body weight as defined by our current BMI standards. Anderson believes that having an ideal body weight is the primary component of health and disease prevention. Let’s look at what RAVE stands for.

R stands for “No Refined foods” which means avoiding all processed foods while focusing on getting all nutrients from whole, plant-based foods. Anderson believes that our food system is corrupt, not only because it creates products that are unnatural and addictive, but he also points out the unfortunate fact that many of the health professionals he observes giving diet- and health-related advice are overweight and obese themselves. His personal belief is that to provide health advice, health professionals should practice healthy habits themselves.

A stands for “No Animal foods” which represents not only meat products, but also cheese, eggs and dairy products. Anderson reports that nutrients packaged in these fat and cholesterol containing carriers impair the immune system, promote cancer growth and increase the likelihood of developing diet-related disease including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

V stands for “No Vegetable oils” and this is a byproduct of his “no refined foods” rule. Anderson argues that since vegetable oils are processed and have the fiber removed, they are essentially “devoid of nutrients”. As with animal products, he again states that these oils suppress the immune system.

E stands for two things, first is “No Exceptions”. Anderson emphasizes that for anyone currently battling or at high risk for developing diet-related diseases, this is the most promising way to reap the disease fighting benefits of his diet. He does acknowledge, however, that even modest changes towards a whole food, plant-based diet can lead to health benefits surrounding diet-related disease prevention and treatment. Second is “Exercise regularly” which is mentioned as an essential component of the diet. He recommends exercising for at least 30 minutes per day or 45 minutes 5 times per week.

What does the science say?

The biggest question of all is this: are Anderson’s recommendation backed up by current scientific evidence?

R: No Refined foods

Yes. It is common knowledge that eating large amounts of refined/processed foods is related to elevated risk for diet-related disease development. However, it is important to understand that these results are linked to consuming high amounts of these foods, so moderation still seems to be key.

A: No Animal foods

Yes and no. There is documented, scientific research out there that consuming meats, especially red and processed meats, is linked to chronic diseases including cancer and type two diabetes. The evidence is lacking for the exclusion of dairy products.

On the other hand, research on vegetables and fruits unquestionably reports that higher intake of these colorful plants is associated with decreased risk for disease and mortality. However, it is important to consider the fact that a diet high in meats is generally low in plant foods. Therefore, perhaps it has more to do with the lack of plant foods in the diet than the presence of meat in the diet.

V: No Vegetable oils

No. There is currently no scientific evidence against the safety of consuming vegetable oils or for their suppression of the immune system.

E: No Exceptions

No. The concept of following such a restrictive diet without exception is not supported by scientific evidence. The issue here is that highly restrictive diets are extremely difficult to follow and are more likely to result in consumers falling off the bandwagon and gorging themselves with “forbidden foods”. Also, diets based on rigid rules without exceptions are characteristic of disordered eating behaviors which can lead to serious health risks in the long-term.

E: Exercise regularly

Yes! The exercise recommendation of 30 minutes per day or 45 minutes five times per week is appropriate, supported by scientific evidence and meets the recommendation made in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Is this diet safe to follow and right for you?

Although difficult, it is possible to meet almost all dietary needs with a low-fat, vegan diet such as the RAVE Diet.  Intake of nutrients from meat and dairy foods — B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium and zinc — could be low.  Check with a Registered Dietitian who can evaluate your nutrient intake and make supplement recommendations if necessary.

If this diet sounds interesting to you, or if you currently follow a similar diet, I urge you to take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you want to live by the scientific evidence and only follow the rules of “no refined foods”, “no animal foods (except for dairy products)”, and “exercise regularly”?
  2. Do you understand how to get adequate amounts of protein, fat, vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc from plant sources? If not, consider talking to a Registered Dietitian.
  3. Can you afford to follow a whole food, plant-based diet? Produce is expensive after all.
  4. Is this really a realistic diet for you? Do you have the time and skills to cook daily? It does take a considerable amount of understanding and planning to safely follow such a diet. And as said before, following highly restrictive diets tends to backfire at some point.
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