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Health-Food Guru Joel Odhner Gives His Best Dieting Advice


Joel Odhner (Photo by Jared Castaldi)How does someone go from being a self-proclaimed “prime rib, baked potatoes and beer guy” to Dr. Oz’s right-hand man in the raw-food movement? To find out, we met with Joel Odhner, whose Bryn Mawr-based Catalyst Cleanse juice supplements are causing quite a stir. Look for his JarBar juice and health-food boutique in Center City later this summer. And if you’re thinking about revamping your eating habits, consider his rule: If your grandmother didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t, either.

MLT: How did you get into the health-food industry?
About 11 years ago, I owned Arugula in Huntingdon Valley, a restaurant serving standard American fare, and I was doing a little more partying than working out. I cleaned myself up when I was introduced to raw foods.

MLT: What’s the deal with raw food?
The idea behind the diet is that you get 100 percent of the nutrients in your food. Once you add heat, at somewhere around 120 degrees, it starts to break down the food—and in a lot of cases, you start to lose its nutrient value. Your body can also easily digest food when it comes in its natural form. Raw fruits and vegetables come with their own digestive enzymes, so your body doesn’t have to create them. It takes about 20 to 30 percent of your body’s energy to digest food, so you’re going to hang on to much more of your energy with a salad than you would with pasta.

MLT: And cleansing?
When you eat food, your body transforms the food from its solid form into a liquid and disperses it throughout the body. Why not just give your body the liquid form to begin with? By having the process happen so quickly, it helps pull toxins out. The chemicals and powders can be pretty harsh, and there’s no reason to rid your body that quickly of things. With a juice cleanse, I use 100-percent natural fruits and vegetables, with no added anything. It’s pointing to the power of the food and its ability to clear out toxins and other buildup.

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MLT: Dr. Oz is a fan, correct?
We were first introduced when he invited me to be on his radio show. I worked with him on his DVD, You: On a Diet. I presented five or six raw recipes, and his “green drink” we produced together.

MLT: What’s something we may not already know about the food we eat?
We don’t know the full scope of the results of pesticides and antibiotics in our produce and meat. Anyone over the age of 40 in this country can say that what we’ve been doing isn’t working. Why are cancer diagnoses up in the past 20 to 30 years? A baby born in 2000 has a one-in-three chance of being diabetic as an adult, where it used to be one in 100. Why are so many people allergic to nuts when, in the past 15 to 20 years, no one was allergic to nuts. My rule is that, if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be eating it.

MLT: What’s the best thing about going raw?
It’s about adding new things, not taking things out. If you add one salad a day, you’re getting that many more nutrients already, and you’ll be full, so the other things just eliminate themselves. Your taste buds will start to shift as well, so it’s actually a pretty easy process. As for the juice cleanse, you’re getting all the nutrients you would in solid food, and that’s what keeps you going in the first place. People don’t believe me that they won’t be hungry, because there are all those water or tea cleanses, which have no nutrient value. They can keep going with their normal routine; I did a 10-mile run on 10th day of a cleanse.

For more on Catalyst Cleanse, visit catalystcleanse.com.

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