Paavo Airola - Vegetarian Times - November 1982Index

Airola Diet - Recipes for Optimum Health

When it comes to influence and credibility, few health and nutrition experts can match Dr. Paavo Airola. The author of fifteen books with combined sales of more than 1 million copies, Dr. Airola is probably the best-known - and most widely respected - writer in the field of nutrition and holistic health in the world.

The recognition and respect he has earned are due to his extensive knowledge, integrity and uncompromising courage. Dr. Airola speaks out on what he believes and knows to be true. This, together with his refusal to be swayed by popular opinion and his insistence in relying on the results of his studies and research even when they were not widely accepted, has contributed to his distinguished reputation as a "man ahead of his time."

Dr. Airola's education includes a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and nutrition. But beyond the realm of academia, Dr. Airola has spent years in the field, studying lifestyles and native eating habits across the globe - something which sets him apart from most of his colleagues. While many health writers can claim a college degree, few have spent much time outside the U.S. studying the health and dietary practices of peoples known for their exceptional health and longevity. Dr. Airola has combined his academic study with empirical research while traveling in virtually every part of the world.

Although Dr. Airola had a busy practice as a nutrition consultant and directed a biological medical clinic in Mexico in the late 60's, he soon realized that he could make a greater contribution to the health of humanity by writing, lecturing and teaching. In the last fifteen years, he has written a number of bestselling books, including such classics as Are You Confused?, How to Get Well, and Everywoman's Book. Now used by thousands of doctors as a desk reference, How to Get Well is also a textbook in many universities and naturopathic medical schools. Two of Airola's other books have dramatically altered prevailing medical concepts. How to Keep Slim, Healthy and Young With Juice Fasting brought juice fasting to the attention of American health practitioners, and today this better, more effective method has all but replaced the outmoded water fast. Hypoglycemia: A Better Approach helped to revolutionize the treatment of hypoglycemia by introducing a new high natural-carbohydrate/low animal-protein diet in place of the dangerous high protein diet which had been standard therapy for the condition.

In addition to his writings, Dr. Airola is in great demand as a speaker. He has lectured in medical schools from Stanford University to the University of Arizona and has held public lectures and seminars in many major cities in the U.S. and Canada as well as in Mexico, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines.

Dr. Airola is president of the International Academy of Biological Medicine, and a member of the International Naturopathic Association, and the International Society for Research on Civilization. Diseases and Environment, the prestigious forum for worldwide research founded by Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

Airola's Dietary Philosophy

The cornerstone of Dr. Airola's nutritional philosophy is what he calls the Airola Optimum Diet for Health and Long Life. It consists of three basic food groups in the following order of importance: 1) Grains, Legumes, Seeds and Nuts; 2) Vegetables; 3) Fruits.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of the Airola Optimum Diet is its universal adaptability. Using the three basic food groups as a foundation, people throughout the world can incorporate into their diets foods native to their area and to their dietary traditions. This philosophy is in contrast to many other popular diets where only certain foods are "allowed." regardless of one's own "nutritional roots" and traditions.

It should be pointed out that while the Airola Optimum Diet is one with the greatest potential for optimum health and long life, it is intended to serve as a health-building and health-maintaining diet rather than as a therapeutic diet. In contrast, many "healing" or therapeutic diets are useful in the treatment of some specific condition of ill health. This distinction between a regular maintenance diet and a therapeutic diet is important, Dr. Airola feels, because all too often, after a healing diet has worked in helping to cure an illness, that same diet is continued for regular maintenance. But in most instances, therapeutic diets are either imbalanced or too high or too low in certain nutrients; if one is followed after the condition of ill health has been corrected, it may produce new health problems, sometimes even more serious than the ones it helped correct.

The concepts of biochemical individuality and the eating of locally grown foods are also central to Dr. Airola's dietary philosophy. For example, while the Scandinavian diet, with its emphasis on wheat, rye and dairy products, is well-suited to the climate of that region and the biological requirements of its people, it would not be suitable for those who live in the tropics, any more than a tropical diet would be good nutrition for a Dane. However, people in all countries and climates can follow the basic tenets of the Airola Optimum Diet because each culture can use Airola's "basic 3" food groups as a foundation. For example, while a Scandinavian would eat wheat and rye as the principal grains, the Japanese and other Asians would eat rice, Mexicans and Central Americans - corn and beans, Scotts - oats, East Indians - millet, and so on.

This concept ties in nicely with Dr. Airola's principle of "nutritional roots." Over hundreds and thousands of years, our bodies have adapted to survive and flourish on foods indigenous to certain regions. In fact, Dr. Airola believes that various peoples of the world may have nutrient needs which are quite different because of this historic adaptation.

Supporting this theory, Dr. Airola points out that Black people living in the U.S. have a much higher rate of lactose (milk sugar) intolerance than do Americans of European ancestry. He points to the long history of herding dairy animals and using dairy products by North Europeans as the reason. Over the centuries, people's bodies adapted to drinking milk and eating dairy products in those countries, and a special enzyme developed in their intestines which helps to digest milk effectively. These enzymes are lacking in most Africans and Asians. A less extreme but perhaps more common example is the difficulty some people have in eating Mexican or Indian foods. The people in Latin America do fine with their diet of corn and beans and the people in India tolerate spicy curries without problems, but to many of European ancestry these foods would cause nothing but digestive problems.

While cultural traditions and nutritional roots play important roles, the most important principle in optimum nutrition Dr. Airola has discovered in all his studies is that a diet must be low in protein and fat and high in natural carbohydrates.

Meat Is Not Necessary

It would seem that meat would fit Dr. Airola's criteria as it is locally produced, traditionally consumed, and historically important, but it just isn't so.

"Don't try to justify your meat-eating habit by making up your nutritional roots!" he warns readers in his most recent book, The Airola Diet and Cookbook. "Unless your roots are in Polar Regions, your ancestors were not heavy meat-eaters. Excessive meat-eating is a very recent phenomenon, both in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Until just a few generations ago, meat was eaten only occasionally, mostly on weekends and holidays. This was true in European countries as well as in the United States. It is safe to say that 98% of all Americans have nutritional roots in low-animal-protein backgrounds. and thus will achieve better health on such a diet."

Dr. Airola goes on to say that there are also other reasons for not eating flesh foods, such as economic and agricultural inefficiency. But his main objection is medical.

"A high-animal-protein diet, especially an excess of meat, is definitely detrimental to the health and may be a contributing or a direct cause of the development of many of our most common diseases as shown by recent massive research... The metabolism of proteins consumed in excess of the actual need leaves toxic residues of metabolic wastes in tissues, causes autotoxemia, overacidity, and nutritional deficiencies, accumulation of uric acid and purines in the tissues and intestinal putrefaction, and contributes to the development of many of our most common and serious diseases, such as arthritis, kidney damage, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and cancer. A high protein diet also causes premature aging and lowers life expectancy."

Another important factor in Dr. Airola's Optimum Diet is the daily inclusion of vegetables. Vegetables are good sources of minerals, enzymes, and vitamins. Fruits are also important in that they provide minerals, vitamins and trace elements, and they are good sources of natural sugars. They should, however, be eaten in season and in moderation. They are excellent for breakfast and are good cleansing foods.

Dr. Airola has brought out a new and unique concept regarding which meal of the day should be the largest. While most leading nutritionists in America advocate a large "protein-rich breakfast" of bacon, steak, and eggs, Dr. Airola recommends only a light cleansing breakfast of fresh fruits, yogurt and a few nuts, followed later by a grain-based lunch - the heaviest meal of the day. He suggests that you "breakfast like a pauper, lunch like a king, and dine like a queen." This principle seems to have solid scientific justification.

Cultured foods such as yogurt are good, and he notes that all cultures (no pun intended) have eaten lactic acid foods such as cultured milks, sourdough breads, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, etc. "Natural lactic acids and fermentative enzymes, which are produced during the fermentation process, have a beneficial normalizing effect on the metabolism and a curative effect on disease." says Airola.

Although he encourages the eating of raw food, Dr. Airola believes that the raw food fad has gone too far. Most vegetables, as well as all nuts, seeds, and fruits can and should be eaten raw. However, grains, beans, and some vegetables are actually better assimilated when cooked. Grains need to be cooked or sprouted in order to release their minerals and trace elements (which are chemically bound to phytic acid) for effective assimilation. Vegetables such as asparagus, rhubarb and some members of the cabbage family should never be eaten raw, since they contain toxic substances that are destroyed in cooking.

Dr. Airola also encourages vitamin supplementation because of the declining value of nutrients in many of today's foods. "The prime purpose of food supplements is to fill in the nutritional gaps produced by faulty eating habits and nutritionally inferior foods. In addition, in this polluted world of ours, food supplements are virtually your only available protection against harmful effects of health destroying chemicals in food, water, and air." (Ed. note: For more specific advice, readers are encouraged to get next month's issue of Vegetarian Times, or a copy of Airola's How to Get Well, which goes into detail regarding vitamins: why, when, what kind, and how much.)

Finally, Dr. Airola's holistic health program includes such sensible suggestions as being relaxed when you eat, eating only when you are really hungry, and limiting your liquid intake during meals (liquids dilute the digestive juices). He also advises you to avoid excessive consumption of protein, fat, alcohol, and salt, and to abstain from tobacco, caffeine, rancid foods, and all processed and denatured supermarket-type foods.

All things considered, it sounds like a lot of common sense, which is probably why Dr. Airola has such a large following. The Airola Optimum Diet is, after all, nothing more than our "traditional" diet. Our problem is that we have strayed too far from it - and we need to get back to our nutritional roots. Dr. Airola is showing us the way.

The following recipes are taken from Dr. Paavo Airola's latest book, The Airola Diet & Cookbook, published by Health Plus Publishers. P.O. Box 22001, Phoenix, AZ 85028. The price is $12.95. Copyright 1982, all rights reserved. Recipes are reprinted with permission. For a list of Dr. Airola's other books, write to Health Plus Publishers. Dept. 0.


Garlic Soup

1 1/2 quarts water
4 potatoes
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
1 onion
2 large bulbs (heads) of garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Dash of cayenne
Sea salt to taste

Bring the water to a boil. Cut the potatoes, carrot, celery, and onion into 1/2-inch pieces and place in the boiling water. Break the garlic bulbs and peel the individual cloves. Place them in the soup together with the spices. Cook the soup over medium heat for 20-30 minutes. When the soup is ready, it can be served in either of two ways: 1) strain and serve as a clear broth with 1 raw egg dropped into each serving; 2) eliminate eggs and puree in the blender and serve as a "cream of garlic" soup.


Whole Wheat Macaroni Casserole

2 cups uncooked whole wheat macaroni
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. whole wheat flour
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 pound raw mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 Tbs. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. marjoram

Cook the macaroni in 3 quarts boiling water 8-10 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and mix well. Pour in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add the sea salt and shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.

Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Bake covered in a casserole dish at 350° F for 30 minutes. Top with a little more shredded cheese if desired and bake a few more minutes to melt the cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Brown Rice and Carrot Casserole

3 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 medium carrots chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup shredded cheese

Water sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in 1/4 cup water until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Stir in the olive oil, parsley, and sea salt. Add the cooked rice. Bake in a covered casserole dish 20 minutes. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and bake uncovered a few minutes, or until the cheese melts. Makes 4-6 servings.

Bean Burgers

2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbs. chopped onion
1/2 cup shredded mild cheese

Mash the beans and combine with the remaining ingredients. Make 8 patties. Place in a well-buttered baking pan and bake 10 minutes at 400° F. Turn over and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Lentil Casserole

1 cup lentils
2 cups water
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 green onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. chili powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded cheese

In a saucepan, bring the lentils and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 1-1 1/2 hours. until tender. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili powder, and cayenne. Place in a baking dish. Bake covered, 20 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake, uncovered, 5 minutes longer, or until the cheese melts. Makes 4-6 servings.

Vegetable Salads

Low-Cal Dressing

1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. soy sauce (optional)
118 tsp. of the following herbs of your choice: parsley, oregano, marjoram, chives
dash of garlic powder
dash of cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a small glass jar, close tightly and shake vigorously. Store in refrigerator. This dressing is especially formulated for those who are on reducing diets.

Cucumber Salad

1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried dill
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbs. honey
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbs. olive or sesame seed oil

Place the cucumber slices in a small bowl. Combine the dill, apple cider vinegar, water, honey, sea salt,and oil to make a dressing and pour over the cucumber slices. Allow to marinate several hours before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Vegetable Dishes


3 cups cubed eggplant
2 cups sliced zucchini
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley
2 tomatoes, chopped

Combine all ingredients except the parsley, oil and tomatoes in a skillet and cook covered over medium heat 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the parsley and tomatoes. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add oil, and stir well. Serve hot or cold. Makes 6 servings.

Potato Souffle

2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs. butter
/12 tsp. dried dill or 1 Tbs. fresh dill
1 egg white

Combine the egg yolk, butter, and dill with the mashed potatoes. Beat the egg white until stiff and fold into the potato mixture. Place in a buttered 1-quart dish and bake at 350° F for 25-30 minutes. Serves 4.


Sprouted Wheat Bread

2 1/2 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
2-3 tsp. sea salt (optional)
3 Tbs. non-instant nonfat dry milk
6-8 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups sprouted wheat

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Add the remaining water and honey to the dissolved yeast and let stand several minutes. Add the sea salt. Measure out two cups of whole wheat flour. Add to it the 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk and mix well. Stir this mixture into the liquid ingredients and mix until smooth. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Grind the sprouted wheat in a blender or food mill, and add to the batter. Stir in the remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a well floured surface.

Knead for 5 minutes. Place in a buttered bowl and turn the dough so that the buttered side is up. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, turn out onto a floured surface, and shape into two loaves. Place in buttered pans, cover and let rise until almost double, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350° F for 30-40 minutes.

Five-Grain Bread

2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1-2 tsp. sea salt (optional)
2 Tbs. honey
3 Tbs. unsulfured blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup barley flour
1/2 cup rye meal
1/2 cup millet flour
3-4 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Add the dissolved yeast to the remaining water, sea salt, honey, and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Gradually mix in the oat flour, barley flour, rye meal, and millet flour. Add enough whole wheat flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place the dough in a buttered bowl and then turn the dough so that the buttered side is up. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, shape into 2 loaves and place in buttered loaf pans. Cover and let rise until almost double, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350° F for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool.


Whole Wheat White Sauce

2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the whole wheat flour. Add the milk and sea salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce comes to a boil. Continue to boil one minute. Makes one cup. For a thicker sauce use 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour to 1 cup milk.


Airola Shake

1/2 Tbs. brewer's yeast powder or flakes
1/4 tsp. calcium lactate
1 Tbs. flax seeds, hulled sesame seeds, chia seeds, or sunflower seeds
1 Tbs. wheat bran, rice polishing or fresh wheat germ
1 tsp. lecithin powder or granules
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. bee pollen
1 1/2 cups certified raw milk
1 raw egg yolk (optional)
1 Banana and/or 1 Tbs. carob powder

Grind sesame, flax, chia, or sunflower seeds together with bran, rice polishings or wheat germ in an electric seed grinder. If you use wheat germ, make sure it is 100% fresh, non-rancid.

Place all ingredients in a blender and run on high until mixture is smooth - approximately 15 seconds. Add more milk if needed. Makes 1 large glass of supernutritious and rejuvenating drink.

In my Optimum Diet, this shake can be used as a replacement for either breakfast or lunch. You can take your regular vitamin supplements with it.

For people on the go (as many are these days), a liquid breakfast may be the answer to being sure of getting adequate nutrition in spite of a busy lifestyle.


Molded Strawberry Salad

3 Tbs. agar-agar flakes
2 cups apple juice
3 Tbs. honey
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 peaches, sliced
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Add the agar-agar flakes to the apple juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to dissolve the agar-agar. Cool slightly. Add the honey, strawberries, peaches, and lemon juice. Chill until set. Serves 6.


Oatmeal Spice Cake

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. aluminum-tree baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbs. uncultured blackstrap molasses
2 large eggs
1 cup milk

Sift together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir in the rolled oats. Cream the butter and honey together. Beat in the eggs and add the milk. Stir the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients and beat until well blended. Bake in a buttered and floured 9-inch round cake pan at 350° F for 30-35 minutes.