The Perricone Promise
How The Perricone Promise Works continued...
In Perricone's world, every meal seems fraught with danger. According to him, a breakfast of orange juice, a bowl of cereal with skim milk and bananas, a low-fat bran muffin with margarine, and a cup of coffee has terrible results. It causes "a rapid acceleration of the aging process, increasing the risk of heart disease, every known form of cancer, memory loss, and mental deterioration." This meal, he says, will leave you moody, "fat, wrinkled, and fatigued."
Perricone claims that eating a Snickers candy bar would be preferable. It would at least be "less inflammatory." But you'd have to look far and wide to find a mainstream nutritionist who agreed.
What the Experts Say About The Perricone Promise
While experts praise a few aspects of Perricone's diet, they also have a lot of doubts.
"In general, I don't think that people will be harmed by what Perricone suggests," says Roberta Anding, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association). "Eating more cold-water fish, fruits, and vegetables and having frequent sensible meals are all good suggestions."
But she does think that his limits on foods are too strict. "Although Perricone's plan contains healthy foods, the limitation of some food groups contrasts with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the majority of nutritional science," Anding tells WebMD.
"I don't agree with [Perricone's] emphasis on the glycemic index," says Lona Sandon, MS, RD, also a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "The effects of foods with a high glycemic index just aren't proven."
Sandon also dislikes that Perricone hawks his own line of supplements and skin care products.
"Any time a diet is sold along with additional supplements and creams that cost more than what most people spend on a month of groceries, that raises a red flag," says Sandon.
The diet may also not be safe for everyone, say experts. You should never start taking supplements before talking to your health care provider first. Many can interact with common medicines and cause problems. Anding recommends that anyone who is using a blood thinner must check in with a doctor before trying the diet. In addition, pregnant women (and women who may become pregnant) should be careful about eating too much fish, especially tuna, which can contain mercury.
"Perricone has got great marketing," says Anding. "But I think most people need to stop and think before they try this. Deep down, do you really think that a diet is going to reverse the aging process? If I did, I would certainly be on it. But I'm not."
Food For Thought
As a rule of thumb, you should be suspicious when anyone tries to sell you X-ray spectacles, a home alchemy kit, or the secret to eternal youth. Perricone promises something like eternal youth. The book jacket of The Perricone Promise boldly states that the diet can help "reverse the aging process."