The truth about the Pritikin diet

So many diets seem to fizzle out after their 15 minutes of fame that it seems almost unusual when a diet plan sports the mature look of longevity. And that's just what the Pritikin diet has. If the Pritikin diet was a wine, it would come from a vintage collection. If it were skin, it would be lined with wrinkles. You get the picture. Yes, this diet has been around since the '70s and is still collecting followers today. So how did it manage to not die out along with the rest of the other eating trends? Here's the truth about the Pritikin diet.

According to Healthline, health enthusiast Nathan Pritikin created the diet with the aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle with a strong focus on heart health. He did this by creating a diet that cut out processed foods and encouraged eating more low fat and high fiber options. So sure was Pritikin over the health benefits of his diet program that he claimed following it could prevent and reverse the development of coronary artery disease, states the LA Times.

Pritikin conducted his own research

Pritkin had no medical or health training. But as Healthline shares, his interest in wellness was piqued when he underwent his own heart health issues. Conducting his own research, he studied the overall health of the public during World War II. He had noted that even during periods of food rationing and higher stress, the amount of heart disease decreased after the war.

SF Gate notes that many of the Pritikin diet's guidelines have been promoted by the American Heart Association. Recommended foods on the diet are fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, legumes, lean protein, and fish. And according to WebMD, the eating plan is broken down into 10 simple rules. Some of these rules include: beginning a meal with salad, fruit, or whole grains, snacking at set times, skipping extra salt, and easing stress.

Water is the beverage choice on this program, but as SF Gate shares, women can have a maximum of four alcoholic beverages a week, and men can have a maximum of seven. One cup of coffee or three cups of herbal tea a day is also permitted.

The Pritikin diet includes an exercise plan

The diet eventually became so popular it created its very own health and longevity spa for devoted followers to visit. The Pritikin website declares to have had over 100,000 visitors and claims the longevity spa has health benefits such as healthy weight loss, gaining control over diabetes, lowering cholesterol, and heart health.

Perhaps this diet is still around not only because it teaches us a heart-healthy way to eat, but has an exercise plan attached to it. Healthline outlines the recommended exercise program includes six days a week of cardio training, two or three 20-minute strength-training sessions, and a daily 10-minute stretch.

So what are the reviews? Pete, 62, of Asheville, North Carolina, a follower of the Pritikin Program, shares his success story on the Pritikin website. "There's nothing I could ever own — like a nice home or luxury car — that could make me feel as good as I feel following the Pritikin Program. It's a revelation, really, to know that you can feel this great," he claims. Pete's story is inspiring, but as SF Gate states, the Pritikin diet's eating restrictions might be difficult for those involved to follow for long periods of time.

Overall, it sounds like the Pritikin diet, as well as the exercise program, will lead to healthier habits — though it's always a smart thing to check-in with a medical professional before beginning a new regime.