A meal with Dr. Hergesheimer

Food & Drink Health - January 14th, 2011
HealthCEO

Health food company CEO goes light on the carbs and recommends foods high in enzymes and anti-oxidants.

‘It is not difficult to eat healthfully in any restaurant,” says Dr. August Hergesheimer, “all you have to do is ask.”

Hergesheimer, the president of Abios, a Tokyo-based company that sells health and anti-aging products, knows that most restaurants are not so rigid with their menus that they won’t make a few adjustments to make customers happy and healthier. If you have a meal with the lean businessman, who received his doctorate in Nutritional Sciences from Shizuoka Prefectural University, it’s easy to see that he practices what he preaches. For lunch at L’Petit Tonneau, a French restaurant in Azabu Juban, he orders the steak frittes – without the frittes. In lieu of the French fries, Hergesheimer has a large salad with his steak and refuses the appetizer of cous cous.

“I want to stay awake at my desk after lunch,” he says. “My body will just take those carbohydrates and turn them into sugar, which will make me sleepy later.”

Clinical research supports his habits. Scientist and professor Dr. Cynthia Kenyon, who studies and teaches at the University of California in San Francisco, has recently published papers on her research regarding how cutting carbohydrates out of our diets could activate a “youth gene” that would not only increase humans’ longevity but  encourage healthy longevity. In another study coming out of the University of Illinois Medical School, doctors have looked at a gene mutation that can slow down the aging process. Set to be published this month in the UK, the study shows how altering the gene by affecting insulin levels, which are tied to sugars and carbohydrates, can lead to healthier hearts and increased mobility, as well as longer life.

Hergesheimer grew up in the United States, but has also lived in Japan and New Zealand. He believes that everyone assumes that the Japanese are healthy because they have a long life expectancy. But the lifestyle of the Japanese, including their diets, have changed radically in the past 30 years, so the 30-year-olds of today may not live that long in the same percentages. For example, the Japanese reliance on rice comes from when it was eaten as a base for their diet, but, at that time, their overall calorie intake was lower and their lifestyle more active than today. These days people eat too many refined carbohydrates, such as white rice and white breads, and the sugars contained therein are contributing to a rising rate of diabetes in the country.

The Japanese reliance on rice comes when it was eaten as a base for their diet, but, at that time, their calorie intake was lower and lifestyle more active. These days people eat too many refined carbohydrates.

In a cover story last year, “Silent Killer”, Time Magazine Asia outlined the severe affects of the disease on all of Asia. Eating habits are becoming more Western, with raw foods traded for more processed ones and sugary drinks. This is especially true in major Asian cities, where people do not get out as much, and is leading to what the magazine says is an epidemic spreading across the continent.

If the Japanese adopt healthier food habits, such as eating raw foods or practicing organic farming, then they will take control of the potential susceptibility for diabetes and other diseases. All of it comes down, in the end, to the food we put into our bodies.

According to Hergesheimer, naturally occurring enzymes in food make it easier it is for the body to break down and take out the nutrition contained therein, and, as well, to get rid of the unused parts as waste. The problem, he says, is that people eat too much refined food that has been stripped of these enzymes. In addition, cooking with high heat leads to the oxidation of food, depleting valuable nutrients and enzymes. He does not recommend a diet of 100 percent raw foods, but does think that people need to be careful about that they put into their bodies and how often they do it.

A 2007 Italian study of various anti-oxidants found that they were helpful in staving off and, in some cases, preventing many conditions related to aging, including Alzheimer’s and heart disease, while increasing functioning of the joints so people can maintain their exercise regimens well into older age. Anti-oxidants are a class of nutrients that provide a defense to the human body against many of the environmental disturbances — including stress — that can erode the health of a person and make him age prematurely. The authors of the study warn against relying solely on supplements to provide these necessary anti-oxidants and minerals, confirming that much of our nutrients should come from the food we eat, not from pills. Thus they advocate for a diet rich in vegetables and fruits.

It’s advice that Hergesheimer already follows, and is easy to replicate. For breakfast, he eats a green salad with a sprinkle of sea salt, along with two or three poached or boiled eggs (not over-done so that they become oxidized and lose some of their nutrient value). At dinner time, he has mostly salad with a bit of protein – fish or beef. He says that this way his body doesn’t have to work so hard when he’s sleeping because it digests raw food easily, making him feel much more rested upon awakening. For lunch, which typically he eats out, he chooses restaurants that are picky about where they source ingredients and orders a big salad with his meal.

Above all, everyone should follow a diet that works for their lifestyle and toward their personal objectives, whatever they may be. After all, what good would an anti-aging lifestyle be if you didn’t enjoy the extra life it brought you?

Healthy dining in Tokyo

It’s not hard to find healthy dining in Tokyo. Here are three popular restaurants that are happy to take diners health in mind when preparing their tasty dishes.

L’Petit Tonneau

With locations in Azabu Juban, Toranomon and Kudanshita, diners are guaranteed a great experience along with assurance that their nutritional needs are being met. The chefs at the restaurant go out of their way to ensure that visitors have food prepared in a beautiful and delicious way that doesn’t forget about taking care of their health. The staff makes it easy to ask for any accommodations for dietary preferences in their meal.

Two Rooms

Located in Omotesando, this restaurant serves amazing produce and will prepare meat dishes almost raw or carpaccio-style if asked. They source their produce and meats only from vendors who can guarantee their quality. The seafood is always fresh and features a huge selection of raw oysters. This is one of the best restaurants for having it your way. Whatever they can do to make your experience better is their pleasure.

Felicita

A treasure in Minami-Aoyama, this Italian restaurant serves only organic vegetables and boasts a selection of delicious organic wines. What’s interesting is that they take it so much for granted that they do not tell the patrons of their commitment to such quality; they assume that you can rely on their quality as much as you rely on the wonderful tastes. Hergesheimer goes here for an occasional dessert. Their sweets are irresistible and served in a portion that is small enough not to damage one’s diet.

External Link:
Abios Home Page