"The thing about diet in general is the focus has been too much on calories and on cosmetics, and looking like a cover girl for women. And it should be much more about nutrition," he said.
But often it’s not. Dr. Agatston likens belly fat to a toxic chemical factory fueled by some of our favorite foods. "It’s the processed carbohydrates, the sugars, the candy the baked goods the trans fats that is all leading to inflammation."
Inflammation can lead to a host of health problems. Dr. Agatston's new book "The South Beach Wake Up Call" offers strategies to reverse our toxic lifestyle. One specific recommendation: The South Beach Gluten Solution. That entails giving up wheat products, barley or rye for a one month trial period. Instead, have brown rice or quinoa a gluten-free grain.
"It’s certainly not going to hurt you and a lot of people may be amazed that they’ll have more energy, that arthritic problems go away," Agatston said.
It helped his nurse practitioner Carissa Gregory with her acid reflux. She says she had been on prescription medication for ten years.
"I cut the gluten and within two days I felt dramatically better," she said.
What should we be eating? When you go grocery shopping Dr Agatston wants you to consider putting 15 megafoods on your list.
Here are some of them. In the produce section: cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts the antioxidant powerhouses. Sweet potatoes and other bright orange veggies are packed with immune boosters. Mushrooms have vitamins.
When it comes to fruit. berries are best. Avocados provide healthy monounsaturated fats, so does olive oil. Salmon is rich in omega three fatty acids. For your sweet tooth inflammation-reducing dark chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa.