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The diets seen by Pr Henri Joyeux

Summer is coming, we think “diet”. Slimming diet, but not only: vegetarian, vegetarian, carnivorous, gluten-free… And in this lucrative jungle, how do you find your way around? Professor Henri Joyeux, a former cancer surgeon, best-selling author and lecturer on food and health, helps us get to the point.

Nathalie Dunand: Professor Joyeux, during your career as an oncologist, I imagine that you must have often recommended a diet to your patients?

Prof. Henri Joyeux: The word “diet” is hard to bear. It conveys the idea of ​​restriction, even food prohibitions. Then I hear: “Say, Doctor, I trust you, I tried a diet, but I can’t. Wouldn’t you rather have a treatment or a pill? »

Precisely, the word installs a barrier that is sometimes difficult to cross. I prefer to say: “OK, I propose a nice thing to you: to eat better and better. How would you like it? » Instead of subtracting, we offer everything that nature offers us: products of all colors, according to the seasons. It is not normal to eat strawberries at Christmas in Europe. In April, on the other hand, these fruits are excellent for health and taste. You have understood it, it is better to eat seasonal and preferably organic fruits and vegetables. Food ecology is important. It is also necessary to consume more fresh vegetables: salad, vegetables, raw fruits. Forget baked apples.

ND: Two extremes are torn around diets: meat lovers (meat diet) versus vegans, called veganes. What is the best diet for humans?

Prof. Henri Joyeux: Between meat eaters at all meals and vegans, who exclude all food from animals, i.e. meat, of course, but also fish, honey, etc., there are vegetarians .

But let’s stop for a moment on vegans or vegans: if they leave a McDonald’s diet to adopt a vegan diet, it’s a good thing: we observe that vegans are not very sick, that they don’t have use of antibiotics. Their microbiota is full of good bacteria. However, after about a year, a deficiency sets in: that of vitamin B12, which is found mainly in animal proteins. B12 is essential to the central nervous system [au fonctionnement du cerveau, NDLR] and the formation of blood cells. Without vitamin B12 supplementation, the vegan will be weakened.

Now let’s come to meat consumers at all meals: an excess of red meat can cause disease, because it contains too many saturated fatty acids which, in the long run, obstruct the small vessels of the heart (increased risk of heart attack ), the brain (risk of stroke) and other sensitive and intimate areas of the body. Consuming it 1 to 2 times a week is reasonable.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, but do not exclude other animal products such as eggs, fish and honey. The strong point of this diet is the large proportion of plants: 70% to 80%. It is excellent for their health.

Red meat is not the only source of animal protein: there are marine and terrestrial proteins on the one hand and those from dairy products.

Among the sources of terrestrial proteins, one will privilege the animals with 2 legs, because the animals with 4 legs have more fatty acids which clog the arteries and make fat.

As for dairy products, they are generally consumed in excess, especially in France! The ideal is a maximum of 2 times a week, turning to cheeses from small animals (ewe, goat). I do not recommend yogurts: they do not stimulate chewing and are made with cow’s milk. [pour plus d’infos, voir en fin d’article]

ND: A vegetarian’s diet is therefore healthy, provided that it does not neglect animal protein sources. In what proportion? And can eggs be eaten on a daily basis?

Prof. Henri Joyeux: With normal activity, protein requirements are 1 g per kg. So if you weigh 60 kg, your body will need 60 g of protein. But of course, we increase with sports activity.

No problem eating 2 eggs a day: the white and the yolk are excellent for your health. Ovalbumin (egg albumin) is very similar to human albumin produced by the liver from amino acids provided by animal and vegetable proteins. Perfect for good blood pressure. Albumin substitute products are also made on the model on ovalbumin, so it is a reference.

Do not neglect Omega-3 either, whose average intakes are generally too low in the French diet. They are also essential, especially for the central nervous system (concentration, cognition, precision of movement, etc.). You have to bet on the right foods, for example certain oils and fatty fish such as sardines – which are eaten fresh rather than canned.

ND: So you can be vegetarian and sporty?

Prof. Henri Joyeux: Sure, Ihe vegetarian can do intensive sports just as well as an omnivore. He will surely even be in better shape, because he will be thinner.

ND: Meat and digestion: what effects?

Prof. Henri Joyeux: Digestion of red meat is heavier. This is also why it is preferable to consume it at noon, rather than in the evening. And, in general, opt for white meat (poultry).

ND: Do age and gender play a part in a diet? Can a child thrive without meat? Or a breastfeeding woman, if she is a vegetarian?

Professor Henri Merry : There is no milk quality problem for a vegetarian woman. As far as a child’s development is concerned, between the ages of 5 and 18, his protein needs are higher than those of an adult. Please note: I am talking about good sources of protein, not a McDo diet, which are made with sandwich bread and can be swallowed without practically chewing!

ND: Here we are, the rslimming diets, to target curves, lose pounds before summer…

Professor Henri Merry : A simple diet, with fresh and organic food, and not industrial dishes, makes you lose weight. Personally, after a succession of rich and boozy meals shared with friends during the holidays, my wife and I do a few days of fasting: we have a nutritious breakfast for the day (I appreciate the buckwheat toasts drizzled with a quality olive oil, with a few pinches of salt) followed by a soup, morning and evening. Others will be able to fast by excluding specific products, such as dairy products, for example.

Sometimes it is enough to avoid one or two foods. White bread, in particular, is very bad; it can be replaced by loaves of wholemeal bread made with old flours, such as small spelled. The sweetening power of white bread is proven: it behaves, in our body, like sugar. You know, the white bread baguette is not that old in France. It dates from the time of Napoleon III. For the anecdote, the workers who were digging the metro – a titanic job – were fighting to share the loaf of bread. We invented the baguette, easier to share.

ND: You mention bread: is the controversy around gluten a fad or a reality?

Professor Henri Merry : No, it’s not a fad. In question, the genetic modifications of wheat, which is called dwarfism. To prevent wheat lodging [couché par le vent notamment], the stem of the wheat has been shortened. What is gluten? These are proteins that have strong protein tissue. It is an antigen, which the organism does not like. It therefore produces antibodies against gluten which inflame the intestine. If it becomes porous, it lets through poor quality proteins, such as those from cow’s milk, which reach the joints. They make an antibody that causes inflammation. In question, therefore, gluten and lactose. Two types of disorders appear: celiac disease (which is an allergy) and gluten intolerance, the symptoms of which are bloating, poor digestion and smelly gas.

Consuming buckwheat is a way to replace gluten. And, to replace the butter, which is difficult to digest, you can use olive oil. Note that salted butter is more digestible, because the salt pushes the stomach to contract to empty itself.

It is truly unfortunate that future doctors do not have training in nutrition.

ND: There are so many diets – Weight Watcher, Comme j’aime, Dash, ketogenic, paleo, Duigan, chrononutrition, Omega, Japanese, detox, Shelton, Miami, Atkins, Thonon, and so on – what are the limits of existing plans?

Professor Henri Merry : Essentially the yoyo effect: you quickly regain the lost pounds. Weight Watchers works by group stimulation, which helps in the long run. But in general, there are constants. You can lose 1 to 2 kg per month, it is not reasonable to aim for more. And it is not good to weigh yourself too often, once a month is enough. After 4 to 5 months, if you have lost 5 kg, you feel much better on all counts.

In cases of significant overweight, it is necessary to be followed by a nutritionist who will take blood tests. There may indeed be diabetes or prediabetes. A naturopath also asks the essential questions for choosing and following a diet.

Interview by Nathalie Dunand
[email protected]

More informations :

Among the works of Pr Joyeux (ed. Du Rocher):
Change diet (7and editing)
Eat better and better from 0 to 100 years old
Taste and smell
Your liver needs love
The pancreas speaks to you
(in preparation for)

see: fatigue, how to eat (outline of healthy eating)

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