Liz Parry speaks to Dr Brian Clement, the director of the world renowned Hippocrates Health Institute, about his approach to longevity and the healing of disease.
We all want to live long, healthy, harmonious lives, but as we get older we need to take better care of our bodies and minds to ensure we enjoy true longevity. Dr Brian Clement, director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, is a man who knows more than most about how to promote longevity and live a life free from disease. Since 1956, the institute has spearheaded the international progressive health movement and pioneered wheatgrass therapy, green juice therapy and the increasingly popular raw food movement. Its Life Transformation Program has helped thousands of people heal from disease and transition to a healthier, happier lifestyle. Here we speak to Dr Clement about his approach to living a longer and healthier life based on his 40-plus years at the forefront of natural health.
Health and vigour
Dr Clement is a man with an obvious passion for natural health and wellbeing. Bursting with health and vigour, it is hard to believe that he was once addicted to junk food, cigarettes and didn’t even know what a vegan was. ‘I was completely out of touch before I embarked on this journey,’ he admits. ‘I was 120lbs overweight, I had a terrible diet and I smoked every day. But most of all I was angry. Angry at myself and at life.’
It was through a friend of a friend that Dr Clement was introduced to the vegan diet and the benefits of regular exercise. And the change in him was profound. ‘Once I began to eat raw, living foods, I began to gain an enormous amount of consciousness,’ he says. ‘It was like waking up for the first time, as if I had been in a coma on the Western diet.’
The plant-based diet
Eating a plant-based diet is one of the core principles at the Hippocrates Health Institute and one of the main tenets by which Dr Clement lives his life.
‘The first human beings on the planet were plant-based eaters who flourished because they had all the food they needed,’ he explains. ‘The paradox is that, despite having everything they needed, they developed into hunters who ate animals. A vast number of diseases have been linked to the consumption of animals, ranging from type 2 diabetes to coronary heart disease, obesity, hypertension, gout and cancer.’
Dr Clement cites the work of Dr T Colin Campbell, author of the China Study, whose research has exposed the ill effects of the consumption of animal products. In the China Study, Dr Campbell and his colleagues studied the diets and lifestyles of people in rural China and compared these to the death rates in those areas from various types of cancer and other diseases.
The subjects were monitored ten years later and it was found that blood cholesterol levels increased in line with the prevalence of ‘Western’ type diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and various cancers. The authors highlighted the fact that consuming animal-based protein increases blood cholesterol levels whereas plant-based foods can help to decrease cholesterol levels. In rural China animal protein intake is extremely low compared to consumption in the West. The conclusion from the China Study was that greater health benefits are associated with a lower consumption of animal-based foods.
‘Although we modern people consider ourselves to be the most advanced, I challenge this by the mere fact that we only use a fraction of our brain,’ says Dr Clement. ‘Studies show that the average person uses only 3 to 4% of their brain. Empirical evidence has generated good science revealing that cultures utilising plant-based diets draw upon parts of the brain that other groups do not. It was when our ancestors began to slaughter and eat animals that this paralysed the development of the brain and destroyed the most important part, as far as I’m concerned, which is receptivity to consciousness.’
Dr Clement also highlights the work of Dr Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr Dean Ornish who have demonstrated that a plant-based diet can reverse heart disease. One of their most well-known success stories is Bill Clinton who, after following their plant-based diet programme, successfully reversed his heart disease.
Raw, Living Foods
The consumption of raw foods is another key tenet of Dr Clement’s philosophy and a major part of the programme at the Hippocrates Health Institute. ‘We have a substantial group of people who come to the Hippocrates Health Institute just to increase their longevity’, says Dr Clement. ‘The food we give them is raw, plant-based and organic, containing four elements: hormones, oxygen, phytonutrients and enzymes. We refer to this as a new era of ‘HOPE’ in nutritional science. Every one of these elements plays a major role in prolonging your life and reducing disease. The only place you get these elements is in raw, plant-based food. Once you cook the food, all these life-giving elements are gone.’
He adds: ‘One of the biggest myths that we have been told over the years is that the human brain began to develop when we began to eat cooked food. This doesn’t have any bearing on biological reality. When you eat something that has no nourishment, how can it make the brain grow? If you eat something that has literally been destroyed, and doesn’t contain the life force, then how can you expect it to benefit the body?’
Dr Clement is eager to get the message across that the most nourishing varieties of food on the planet are all raw, living foods. His top three foods for ultimate wellbeing are: fresh water algaes such as blue-green algae and chlorella; sprouts and grasses such as buckwheat, fava beans, peas, sweet potato greens and wheatgrass; and sea vegetables such as arame, dulse, hijiki, nori and Pacific or Atlantic kelp. ‘These are primal, healing foods that promote longevity’, he says. No other foods even come close.
‘Nutrition begins with the oxygen we breathe, the fluids we take in and the nutrients we absorb’, he adds. ‘Each of these elements concretely creates the cells that construct the anatomy. Inhaling oxygen and consuming it in raw, plant-based foods are the two central processes necessary in acquiring this foundational nutrient. Everything from mentality to absorption to elimination of waste depends on adequate amounts of clean oxygen.’
Dr Clement adds that water and healthy fluids such as raw green juices are also vital for maintaining proper fluid levels in the cells and the body. ‘Dehydration is the number one reason why people experience problems with memory and confusion’, he adds. ‘Around 80% of the brain is made up of water. At the Hippocrates Health Institute we regularly give people exceptional amounts of fluid and even those who have catastrophic diseases report that they feel great. We are getting these people to be properly hydrated, often for the first time.’
Purpose and passion
Dr Clement’s passion for natural health is obvious, and he states that having a passion in life is almost as important to longevity and good health as good nutrition. ‘Something that we regularly see at the Hippocrates Health Institute is that people who have a purpose in their life, and a passion to do something, live longer’, he says. ‘Of course food and exercise are part of that, but a passionate person understands that their gift is their body and their curse is their body. If it’s not cared for and utilised properly then the physical body is going to become defective and your lifespan is going to shorten. The biggest problem I have when I am working with sick people is not getting them to change their diet, but getting them to change their understanding of why they have a reason to live.’
He continues, ‘Your mind, which projects awareness, can create any reality once you are willing to abandon self-imposed limitations. When we impose restrictions upon ourselves it produces the same confinements in all our endeavours. If you restrict yourself and think of yourself as a lesser person then everything you do will be lesser. How can you attain an exceptional life by doing partial work? If your belief system has you thinking that you have a limitation in any way then you are going to have that limitation.’
Low caloric intake
A low caloric intake is another aspect of Dr Clement’s philosophy. ‘Once a person is emotionally stable and has a passionate purpose they need to be eating highly nutritious, plant-based food but in less amounts,’ he explains. ‘One of the reasons why people overcome diseases so readily at the Hippocrates Health Institute is not only good plant-based nutrition but the reduction of caloric intake. There are numerous studies on this. It is the one thing that people in the field of longevity agree with.’
Dr Clement cites a 1935 study carried out by Clive M McKay at Cornell University which highlighted the effects of a low caloric intake on longevity. During the study McKay noted that drastically reducing calorie intake slowed down the ageing process and doubled the lifespan of laboratory rats.
‘Our ancestors, who lived on a plant-based diet, would go for days without eating,’ says Dr Clement. ‘During their nomadic migration their bodies became smaller and so their capacity for overeating was limited. Nowadays we never seem to stop eating. We can improve our health vastly by looking at the way our ancestors lived.’
He continues: ‘Sadly today, the average person thinks about health in a superficial way. They think about what foods will remove weight and which foods will add it. This has no bearing on the benefits of healthy food or the problems that many other types of food create. For instance if one adopts a high animal protein diet and reduces pounds, they may add the weight of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even contribute to diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s and MS. Consuming foods that are energised by the earth and sun in their unprocessed state will afford the body a substantial energised nutrient load that will allow balanced weight to prevail. In addition, the wise consumer of this primal food will gain a limitless ability to maintain biological wellbeing and extraordinary awareness.’
Q&A with Dr Brian Clement
Q Why do you think so many people around the world are sabotaging their health with poor diets and lifestyle choices?
A It is because they are unhappy and haven’t found their purpose in life. They are literally committing suicide through their lifestyle choices. They sabotage themselves through bad food, cigarettes, alcohol and not exercising. It’s a form of self-loathing. They are people who do not have personal passion. When I see people who are sick, but they have personal passion, I know they are going to recover.
Q How do people rediscover their personal passion?
A You had it as a child. But your parents got you to live the dreams that they never fulfilled and discouraged you from living your passion. But when you were a child you had a liberated imagination and you lived your dreams. You have to get back to that and ask yourself what fired your imagination and made you happy. And then you have to be brave enough to pursue it. If you don’t live your passion, I guarantee you will have a shorter lifespan.
Q Do you think a negative mindset can damage our health and longevity?
A Yes, absolutely. A negative mindset is one of the most damaging things we have to struggle with. Those of us who strive consistently to be positive know that it’s a lifelong battle. You always have the propensity to go back to how you were trained. One of the things I recommend to people is to get a notebook and, every night before you go to sleep, write down seven things that you like about yourself. You’re probably going to find this difficult at first but keep at it. Write down seven new things every night, and in three months you are going to have 630 things you like about yourself. In a year you’ll have 2,555. You’ll learn who you really are and what your successes are, not your failures. This is the simplest, most effective way to change your life, radically, permanently and forever.
Q Does the environment we live in have an impact on our longevity?
A Your environment is very important. If you are living in the middle of a city you are going to be stressed. However, statistics show that people who live close to water, whether that’s a stream, a river or the ocean, live longer, than those who don’t. There is an energy connecting with your energy field.
Q How important is regular exercise to longevity?
A It is vitally important to follow a regular exercise programme. You cannot be healthy without regular exercise. You need to be doing anaerobic exercise a minimum of five days a week for 30 minutes. You have to be lifting weights for a minimum of an hour each time. This is really important the older you get. And your longevity depends on it.
Q Do you think that people who are more connected to others and have good relationships live happier, healthier lives?
A Yes, this is very true. People who have good relationships with friends, family and colleagues have been found to live two and a half years longer. Lonely people and those who are isolated do not live as long. We have found that this is still the case when their diet is not so good. Connectivity is so important.