In search of the most perfect diet…

A few days ago, I asked for questions from the readers…and got a few from Jason in Chicago. One of his questions focused on the search for the perfect diet…

Sprouting mung beans -- a staple of the "living foods" lifestyle

How much are you concerned with soaking, sprouting, organic food and all the information on enzymes out there? This is a very broad question, but it always seems like people can go one step further to eat healthier, and some people even argue a strict fruitarian diet is right for our species.

Good question, and one that I have pondered myself over the past eight years. Early on, I read all about sprouting, juicing, fruit-only diets, raw food diets, etc. My conclusion is that eating organic and all of the above are good things, but I was looking for something simple, practical, flexible and reasonable for me — so that I could stick with it.

So, in my case, after doing a lot of juicing and toying with the idea of a raw food diet, I began to drift toward the diet-styles of the mainstream professionals like Dr. Campbell at Cornell and Dr. Esselstyn at The Cleveland Clinic. Eventually, I decided to choose the “near optimal” diet that I thought that I could live with. In our book, we feature five M.D.’s (who treat chronic disease with food) and one scientist, Dr. Campbell. They all advocate a whole foods, plant-based diet but have little to say about the sprouting, fruitarian diets, raw foods, etc.

When it comes to my own mission of helping people walk away from the toxic western diet, we created our 4-Leaf Program to make it simple and easy for people to eat a highly nutritious diet – albeit not a perfect diet. In our program, the 4-Leaf level is defined as deriving more than 80% of your daily calories from whole plant foods — still in nature’s package. If someone is eating at the 4-Leaf level, they’re getting 15 to 20 times more whole plants in their system than the average American. We also know that 4-Leaf eating will reverse heart disease — the nation’s number one killer for decades. As I always say, “if it’s good enough to reverse heart disease, then it’s good enough for me.” I also estimate that my 4-Leaf level of eating is one of the healthiest in the United States — certainly in the top one percent.

My friend Brenda Cobb, a cancer survivor and founder of the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta.

Having said all of that, if you asked me what I advice I would give a loved one if they wanted to eat the very best diet for possibly reversing their cancer, I would suggest that might want to speak with my friend Brenda Cobb who founded the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta. She patterned her approach on the works of the late Ann Wigmore and others; and many of her followers have had great success in reversing a host of chronic diseases — even cancer. While I greatly respect what Brenda is doing, I found that her “living foods” diet-style was just not going to work for me — because I wouldn’t be able to stick with it.

Food preparation class at the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta -- where I first met Brenda Cobb in January of 2003

On that topic, they had a big debate at VegSource recently about the “world’s best diet.” The conclusion was that it is the “healthiest diet that you can stick with.”

By the way, no one knows how much additional health benefit one would get from moving from our 4-Leaf  level to “the world’s most perfect diet,” whatever that is. Here is my SWAG (guess) as to how I would rank the “health scores” for four diet-styles (on a scale of 1 to 100):

  • Terrible: 10 % healthy — the typical western diet, with meat and dairy three meals a day (derives less than 10% of calories from whole plants)
  • Fair: 50% healthy — eating at the 2-Leaf level (over 40% whole plants)
  • Good: 75% healthy — eating at the 3-Leaf level (over 60% whole plants)
  • Excellent: 90% healthy — eating at the 4-leaf level (over 80% whole plants)

The Tarahumara are famous for their long-distance running, their superb health and their longevity.

So is our 4-Leaf level healthier than the diet endorsed by Ann Wigmore and Brenda Cobb? As I said earlier, no one knows for sure which exact diet is the best. But I can be sure of one thing, our 4-Leaf plan will appeal to far more people — because it is much more practical and one that more people can stick with.

One more thing, the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico (also in my book) are super healthy, have zero chronic disease, live super long lives and subsist on nothing but beans, corn and squash — plus a lot of sunshine, clean air, exercise, rest and much less stress than we have in the USA. So there you have it, there seems to be a lot more to a healthy lifestyle than just the food that we eat.

In closing, in the past few years, I have become at least as passionate about the “other” reasons for eating plant-based — the many reasons that have nothing to do with my own health or waistline.

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Health in General, Healthy Eating 101. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to In search of the most perfect diet…

  1. jmorrishicks says:

    Bob, Thank you for your comments. Not wanting to mislead any of my readers, I have gone back and made a few slight revisions since reading your input. Thank you. J. Morris Hicks.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Getting 90% of the way there in a way that’s sustainable and delicious is the way to go!

    • jmorrishicks says:

      Dr. Lankton,

      It’s great to hear from you regarding this post. The most important point is “the healthiest diet in the world is of no value if people are unable to stick with it.”

      Best, J. Morris Hicks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s