Clement, along with his wife Anna Maria Clement, directs the Hippocrates Health Institute, a wellness education center based in West Palm Beach, Fla. The center’s program stresses positive thinking and a raw food, vegan diet to slow aging and prevent disease. The couple’s latest book, “7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality,” stresses the importance of healthy diet and healthy outlook in one’s intimate life.
‘My wife and I started to pick up very clearly from guests as we counseled them [that] a lot of the reason people are sick is because they lack intimacy, touch, and tenderness.’
Q. Tell me about the Institute’s history.
A. The institute began right here in Boston in 1956, founded by a woman called Ann Wigmore. Hundreds of thousands of people came first from the United States, then all over the world, mostly people who were catastrophically ill. The last few years we’ve had a healthy trend, where healthy people come. . . . An athlete comes for endurance and strength. An actor comes to look younger. People come for a variety of reasons.
Q. How does sexual vitality come into it?
A. My wife and I started to pick up very clearly from guests as we counseled them [that] a lot of the reason people are sick is because they lack intimacy, touch, and tenderness. When we started to look at that, we both concluded quietly that was central to many people’s disease and no one had ever addressed that.
In a very balanced nutritional formula, elements literally help us to raise our libido. B vitamins are number one; they work on neurons in the brain and in the nervous system. It propels us to have more sensitivity. Touch is more sensitized, kiss is more sensitized.
Another thing I discovered, one’s image [of sex] determines how vital, how long people experience sexuality. This really gets down to cultural indoctrination. A lot of us have been brought up thinking about sex in a very narrow view. . . . We’ve got to take away the dogma that surrounds it, get back to sex as a biological force that needs to be gently guided by a healthy mind.
Q. How did you first get involved with the Institute?
A. In 1970 and 1971, I was a big, obese guy smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. Thank goodness my girlfriend’s best friend’s boyfriend was eating [a vegan diet], and he did things like yoga that I’d never seen anybody do. He wisely said to us — and he seemed like a prophet: “You should be eating these foods.” In about 18 months, I lost 120 pounds, and started to feel radically different. I joined the staff in 1975, after I came to visit. It was one of the only times I got a job without asking for it.
Q. Do you think the raw food, vegan diet is for everyone?
A. Absolutely. . . . This concept that there are body types and we need to alter things, is a concept, it’s not biology. This is not a lifestyle, this is a life of integrity, where we encourage growth and exploration through your entire life. We want people to have joy and fulfillment. That’s why we’re here.
Q. What’s the hardest part of sticking to the program?
A. The hardest part of change is to value yourself enough to think you deserve it. When I look back, I would do it for three months, and then always fall back. A much wiser friend of mine sat me down and said, “This is not about the food. This is about your sadness, and you’re trying to fill a hole in your heart.” You have to sit down and talk about what’s making this sadness. You’ve got to hit a wall sometimes. That’s the hard part. It happens easily when people walk out of a doctor’s office. It’s not as easy when you’re healthy, unless you have an impetus. Community’s an impetus. And all through New England, you have people who come together, and ensure your success, rather than trying to do it as a lone wolf.