(A condensation of the book, with comments, by Bill Lenhart)
According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, in his new myth-shattering book, “Eat to Live” (Little, Brown & Co, copyright 2003, 292 pgs, $23.95), food is an amazing substance that has the power to both create and destroy health. Over 85% of all Americans ultimately die from diet-related illnesses. The idea that people get heavy because they consume a high volume of food is indeed a myth. He stresses that large amounts of the right food is your key to success and is what makes a diet plan workable for the rest of your life. What makes many people overweight and subject to so many diseases is not that they eat so much more than they need, but that they get a higher percentage of their calories from fat and refined carbohydrates, or mostly low-nutrient foods. This low-nutrient diet establishes a favorable cellular environment for disease to flourish.
He has put together in his book information based on his exhaustive look at research data from around the world over the past 15 years. This research data strongly points to the conclusion that the diseases that afflict, and eventually kill almost all Americans can be avoided. You can live a high-quality, disease-free life and remain physically active and healthy. You can die peacefully and uneventfully at an old age, as nature intended.
He goes on to stress that to achieve results in preventing and reversing disease, and attaining permanent healthy body weight, we must be concerned with the nutritional quality of our diet. The picture is becoming crystal clear – the key to what will make us thin will also make us healthy. Once one learns to “eat to live,” thinness and health will walk hand in hand, happily ever after.
As an aside, Dr. Fuhrman has an interesting and impressive background, just in case you’re wondering about his credentials. He was a former member of the U.S. World pairs figure skating team back in the 70’s, and developed an interest in sports medicine, fitness, and preventative medicine. He is a board-certified family physician in private practice in New Jersey, and sees over 5000 patients a year, as well as doing phone consultations and seminars.
He is a noted nutrition and longevity expert, and has appeared on numerous TV programs. He teaches nutrition classes to other physicians at Cornell University, and receives many referrals from local doctors who have given up on their patients. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman has a history of getting 90% of type II diabetes patients totally off insulin within 30 days.
Dr. Fuhrman’s newest book, “Eat to Live” (as opposed to “live to eat,” which is the mindset of many of the heftier folks on the planet), was just published this year (2003). I’ve read his book, been to one of his seminars, and seen his video, “The Greatest Diet on Earth.” I was very impressed with the solid, usable information that he presented, as you have no doubt gathered by now. I know that the concept he teaches works, as I have been applying his principles for about 4 months, and have dropped 17 pounds off my 6’3” frame. I’m now down to my college weight of 180 lbs, where it has stabilized.
My lower weight translates to a 22.5 on the BMI scale (24 + [some charts say 25+] is overweight, below 18.5 is underweight), so you can see that I am right in the middle of the normal weight scale – not too thin, as some might think at first glance. You can find a BMI (body mass indicator) calculator easily, just by going to google.com in typing in “BMI”. Or use the formula: BMI = (wgt in lbs times 703) divided by height in inches squared.
I readily admit to having been a bit of a health food “nut” for the past 35 years. I have come to realize that even in the health food and vitamin industry, there are so many opposing theories, that making assumptions can cost you your health, your money, and even your life. But over the years, especially after the advent of the internet, researching health topics has become much easier.
For those of you who might be tempted to go out and buy his book, be forewarned that Dr Fuhrman’s book may not appeal to many Americans, as they are for the most part in denial about the dangers of their eating habits and those of their children. Most people will do anything to continue their love affair with rich, disease-causing foods and will sacrifice their health in the process.
Many American consumers prefer not to know about the dangers of their diet because they don’t want to have their pleasures interfered with. If this is the case in your life, Dr. Fuhrman’s book, video, his diet, or my article, for that matter, is not for you. But if you have come to the point where your eating pleasures have taken a back seat to your desire to have really great health and a trim figure, or if you are facing serious health problems and want some nutritional answers, then this book is indeed for you.
By the way, the information in this book is somewhat similar to that taught by George Malkmus, who has a very good approach which he incorporates into the Hallelujah Diet (see www.hacres.com), which I came across back in 1997, but have applied only sporadically. Some of you may be familiar with him. But Malkmus is not an M.D. but a pastor, and has a tendency to use generalizations and leaps in logic in his defense of a Genesis 1:29 diet. Dr. Fuhrman goes into much more dietary detail, and backs his statements up with facts and has actual hands-on experience with thousands of patients.
I will be drawing heavily from Dr. Fuhrman’s book for the rest of this article, often quoting entire paragraphs. Due to space limitations, there is no way that I can do real justice to his book in this limited article, therefore I will try to pass on some of his most pertinent points. As I can only hit the high points of his book, I would strongly recommend either buying a copy of his book for yourself, or getting one from the library. Also, his video (The Greatest Diet on Earth, $19.95) is a powerful tool that can be used in helping friends and relatives become more familiar with Dr. Fuhrman’s discoveries in a very painless manner.
I feel very strongly that he has uncovered some vitally important information that many overweight and sick people are just not aware of. I know that I was extremely glad to come across the information contained in Dr. Fuhrman’s book and on his video, and I know that there are many folks out there who are suffering from some pretty demoralizing health problems that could really be helped by the information I am going to pass on to you.
I believe that health problems plague most of us every day, to one degree or another. Sometimes desperation when facing these health problems can be the very greatest blessing God can give us at the time, as it gives us incentive to expand our horizons in looking for relief. I feel that this article, which likely will bring some facts to light that most are not aware of, could be as beneficial to the reader as anything I have ever written, maybe even more so. This article is a bit longer than normal, but I believe that this subject is so crucial, and the information that Dr. Fuhrman presents in his book is so compelling, that I think you will be captivated by nearly every paragraph.
Most Americans are not aware that the diet they feed their children guarantees a high cancer probability and heart problems down the road. The 1992 Bogalusa Heart Study, which studied autopsies performed on children killed in accidental deaths, confirmed the existence of fatty plaques and streaks (the beginning of atherosclerosis) in most children and teenagers! Another recent autopsy study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than 85% of adults between the ages of 21 and 39 already have atherosclerotic changes in their coronary arteries. Fatty streaks and fibrous plaques covered large areas of the coronary arteries. (Dr. Fuhrman’s 360 footnotes/references documenting these facts and others throughout this article and his book can be found in “Eat to Live” on pages 251-278. They are too voluminous to include in this article)
A 27 year study of nearly 20,000 men showed that lean people live longer. Among men who never smoked, the lowest mortality occurred in the lightest fifth. Those who were in the thinnest 20% in the early 1960s were two and a half times less likely to have died of cardiovascular disease by 1988 than those in the heaviest fifth. Overall, the thinnest were two-thirds more likely to be alive in 1988 than the heaviest. As a good rule of thumb: for optimal health and longevity, a man should not have more than one-half inch of skin that he can pinch near his umbilicus (belly button) and a woman should not have more than one inch. The truth is that most people who think they are at the right weight have too much fat on their body.
Determining Where You Stand, Weight-wise
A commonly used formula for determining ideal body weight follows:
Women: Approximately 95 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, then 4 lbs for each inch thereafter. A 5’4” woman should weigh 95 + 16 = 111 lbs.
Men: Approximately 105 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, then 5 lbs for each inch thereafter. Therefore, a 5’10” male should weigh approximately 155 pounds.
Or you can use the BMI formula given earlier as another way to see where you stand.
Once a person starts to eat healthfully, they may find that they are getting thinner than expected. Most people lose weight until they reach their ideal weight and then they stop losing weight. Once the fat is off your body, your weight will start to stabilize. Stabilization at a thin, muscular weight occurs because you body gives you strong signals to eat, signals of “true hunger.” The ability to sense true hunger, which is a mouth-and-throat sensation, not a pain in the stomach, does not occur until after you are eating healthfully and have a high nutrient-per-calorie diet. Then, when the period of withdrawal from excessive eating of unhealthy foods and caffeine is over, you can be in touch with “true hunger.”
The evidence for increasing one’s life span through dietary restriction is enormous and irrefutable. Reduced caloric intake is the only experimental technique to consistently extend maximum life span. This has been shown in all species tested, from insects and fish to rats and cats. High-nutrient, low-calorie eating results in dramatic increase in life span as well as prevention of chronic illnesses. From rodents to primates we see: resistance to cancers, nonappearance of atherosclerosis and diabetes, less signs of aging, enhanced cellular and DNA repair, etc.
Dr. Fuhrman has given numerous seminars in his home state of New Jersey. He likes to refer to some of these informative teaching sessions as a class in “Nutrition 101” – similar to the classes he gives to other physicians at Cornell University. And the diet he has devised of course takes center stage.
Dr Fuhrman gives the key to his extraordinary diet as this simple formula: H = N/C
Health = Nutrients/Calories
Your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your intake of calories.
H=N/C is a concept that Dr. Fuhrman calls the nutrient-density of your diet. Food supplies us with both nutrients and calories (energy). All calories come from only three elements: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Nutrients are derived from noncaloric food factors, including vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytochemicals. These noncaloric nutrients are vitally important for health. Your key to permanent weight loss and superior health is to eat predominantly those foods that have a high proportion of nutrients (noncaloric food factors) to calories (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins).
Every food can be evaluated using this formula. Once you begin to learn which foods make the grade – by having a high proportion of nutrients to calories – you are on your way to lifelong weight control and improved health. Eating large quantities of high-nutrient food is the secret to optimal health and permanent weight control. In fact, eating much larger portions of food is one of the beauties of the Eat to Live diet. You eat more, which effectively blunts your appetite, and you lose weight – permanently.
The Eat to Live diet does not require any deprivation. In fact, you do not have to give up any foods completely. However, as you consume larger and larger portions of health-supporting, high-nutrient foods, your appetite for low-nutrient foods decreases and you gradually lose your addiction to them. By following the menu plans with great-tasting recipes from Dr. Fuhrman’s book [which is available in book stores, or through his internet site (www.drfuhrman.com)], you will significantly increase the percentage of high-nutrient foods in your diet, and your excess weight will start to drop off quickly and dramatically, just as it did for me.
Dr. Fuhrman makes three promises to the followers of his diet plan: substantial, healthy weight reduction in a short period of time; prevention or reversal of many chronic and life-threatening medical conditions; and a new understanding of food and health that will continue to pay dividends for the rest of your life.
To help you learn how to apply this formula to your life, you first need to understand why you must follow it, exploring the relationships between diet, health, and disease.
For example, most of us don’t give too much thought to whether we eat some fruit each day. Fruit is an essential part of our diets. It is an indispensable requirement for us to maintain a high level of health. Fruit consumption has been shown in numerous studies to offer our strongest protection against certain cancers, especially oral and esophageal, lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Researchers have discovered substances in fruit that have unique effects on preventing aging and deterioration.
Some fruits, especially blueberries, are rich in anthocyanins and other compounds having anti-aging effects. Studies continue to provide evidence that more than any other food, fruit consumption is associated with lowered mortality from all cancers combined. Eating fruit is vital to your health, well-being, and long life.
Unlike the fruits found in nature – which have a full ensemble of nutrients – processed carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, and cake), are all deficient in fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, all of which have been lost in processing. In a six-year study of 65,000 women, those with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two and a half times the incidence of Type II diabetes, compared with those who ate high-fiber foods such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice. These findings were replicated in a study of 43,000 men. Diabetes is no trivial problem; it is the fourth-leading cause of death by disease in America, and its incidence is growing.
These starchy (white flour) foods, removed from nature’s packaging, are no longer real food. The fiber and the majority of minerals have been removed, so such foods are absorbed too rapidly, resulting in a sharp glucose surge into the bloodstream. The pancreas is then forced to pump out insulin faster to keep up. Excess body fat also causes us to require more insulin from the pancreas. Over time, it is the excessive demand for insulin placed on the pancreas from both refined foods and increased body fat that leads to diabetes.
Refined carbohydrates, white flour, sweets, and even fruit juices, because they enter the bloodstream so quickly, can also raise triglycerides, increasing the risk of heart attack in susceptible individuals. Every time you eat such processed foods, you exclude from your diet not only the essential nutrients that we are aware of but hundreds of other undiscovered phytonutrients that are crucial for normal human function.
Medical investigations clearly show the dangers of consuming the quantity of processed foods that we do. And because these refined grains lack the fiber and nutrient density to turn down our appetite, they also cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and significantly increased cancer risk. Numerous studies show that eating a diet that contains a significant quantity of sugar and refined flour does not just cause weight gain, it also leads to an earlier death.
Refined foods are linked to: oral cavity cancer/ stomach cancer/ colorectal cancer/ intestinal cancer/ breast cancer/ thyroid cancer/respiratory tract cancer/ diabetes/ gallbladder disease/ heart disease.
If you want to lose weight and build up your health, the most important foods to avoid are processed foods: condiments, candy, snack, and baked goods; fat-free has nothing to do with it. This includes eliminating the refined white flour carbs: bagels, pasta and bread.
Soil depletion of nutrients is not the problem – our food choices are. Contrary to many of the horror stories you hear, our soil is not depleted of nutrients. Thankfully, by eating a diet with a wide variety of natural plant foods, from a variety of soils, the threat of nutritional deficiency merely as a result of soil inadequacy is eliminated. Americans are not nutrient-deficient because of deficient soil, but because they eat a nutrient-deficient diet. Over 90% of the calories consumed by Americans come from refined foods or animal products. With such a small percentage of our diet consisting of unrefined plant foods, how could we not become nutrient-deficient?
Eating “enriched” foods is not the solution. Refining removes so much nutrition from our food that our government requires that a few synthetic vitamins and minerals be added back. Whenever you see “enriched” or “fortified” on a package, it means important nutrients are missing. Refining foods lowers the amount of hundreds of known nutrients, yet usually only five to ten are added back by fortification. Unlike eating whole-grain foods, ingesting processed foods can subtract nutrients and actually create nutritional deficiencies, as the body utilizes nutrients to digest and assimilate food. If the mineral demands of digestion and assimilation are greater than the nutrients supplied by the food, we may end up with a deficit – a drain on our nutrient funds.
The body converts food fat into body fat quickly and easily: 100 calories of ingested fat can be converted to 97 calories of body fat by burning a measly 3 calories. Fat is an appetite stimulant: the more you eat, the more you want. If a food could be scientifically engineered to create an obese society, it would have fat, such as butter, mixed with sugar and flour.
The combination of fat and refined carbohydrates has an extremely powerful effect on driving the signals that promote fat accumulation on the body. Refined foods cause a swift and excessive rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin surges to drive the sugar out of the blood and into our cells. Unfortunately, insulin also promotes the storage of fat on the body and encourages your fat cells to swell.
As more fat is packed away on the body, it interferes with insulin uptake into our muscle tissues. Our pancreas then senses that the glucose level in the bloodstream is too high and pumps out even more insulin. A little extra fat around our midsection results in so much interference with insulin’s effectiveness that two to five times as much insulin may be secreted in an overweight person than in a thin person. The higher level of insulin in turn promotes more efficient conversion of our caloric intake into body fat, and this vicious cycle continues. People get heavier and heavier as time goes on.
Eating refined carbohydrates – as opposed to complex carbohydrates in their natural state – causes the body’s “set point” for body weight to increase. Your “set point” is the weight the body tries to maintain through the brain’s control of hormonal messengers. When you eat refined fats (oils) or refined carbohydrates such as white four and sugar, the fat-storing hormones are produced in excess, raising the set point. To further compound the problem, because so much of the vitamin and mineral content of these foods has been lost during processing, you naturally crave more food to make up for the missing nutrients.
An effective way to sabotage your weight-loss goal is with high-fat dressings and sauces. Americans consumes 60 grams of added fat daily in the form of oils, which is over 500 calories a day from this form of no-fiber, empty calories. Refined or extracted oils, including olive oil, are rich in calories and low in nutrients.
Oils are 100% fat. Like all other types of fat, they contain 9 calories per gram, compared with 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates. There are lots of calories in just a little bit of oil. Fat, such as olive oil, can be stored on your body within minutes, without costing the body any caloric price; it is just packed away (unchanged) on your hips and waist. If we biopsied your waist fat and looked at it under an electron microscope, we could actually see where the fat came from. It is stored there as pig fat, dairy fat, and olive oil fat – just as it was in the original food. It literally goes from your lips to your hips.
Actually, more fat from your last meal is deposited around your waist than on your hips, for both men and women. Analyzing these body-fat deposits is an accurate way for research scientists to discern food intake over time. Having research subjects remember what they ate (dietary recall analysis) is not as accurate as a tissue biopsy, which reports exactly what was really eaten.
The message Americans are hearing today from the media and health professions is that you don’t need to go on a low-fat diet, you merely need to replace the bad fats (saturated fats mostly from animal products and trans fats in processed foods) with olive oil. Americans are still confused and receive conflicting and incorrect messages. Olive oil and other salad and cooking oils are not health foods and are certainly not diet foods.
There is considerable evidence to suggest that consuming monounsaturated fats such as olive oil is less destructive to your health than the dangerous saturated and trans fats. But a lower-fat diet could be more dangerous than one with a higher level of fat if the lower-fat diet had more saturated and trans fats.
In the 1950s people living in the Mediterranean, especially on the island of Crete, were lean and virtually free of heart disease. Yet over 40% of their caloric intake came from fat, primarily olive oil. If we take a look at the diet they consumed back then, we note that the Cretans ate mostly fruits, vegetables, beans, and some fish. Saturated fat was less than 6% of their total fat intake. True, they ate lots of olive oil, but the rest of their diet was exceptionally healthy. They also worked hard in the fields, walking about nine miles a day. Americans don’t take home the message to eat loads of vegetables, beans, and fruits and get lots of exercise; they just accept that olive oil is a health food.
Today the people in Crete are fat, just like us. They’re still eating a lot of olive oil, but their consumption of fruits, vegetables, and beans is down. Meat, cheese, and fish are their new staples, and their physical activity level is way down. Today, heart disease has skyrocketed and more than half the population of both adults and children in Crete is overweight.
Ounce for ounce, olive oil is one of the most fattening, calorically dense foods on the planet; it packs even more calories per pound than butter (3,200 calories for butter, 4,020 for olive oil). The bottom line is that oil will add fat to our already plump waistlines, heightening the risk of disease, including diabetes and heart attacks. Olive oil contains 14% saturated fat, so you increase the amount of artery-clogging saturated fat as you consume more of it. If you are thin and exercise a lot, one tablespoon of olive oil a day is no big deal, but the best choice for most overweight Americans is no oil at all.
When we think of fiber, we usually think of bran or Metamucil, something that we take to prevent constipation and that tastes like cardboard. Change that thinking. Fiber is a vital nutrient, essential to human health. Unfortunately, the American diet is dangerously deficient in fiber, a deficiency that leads to many health problems (for example, hemorrhoids, constipation, varicose veins, and diabetes) and is a major cause of cancer. As you can see, if you get fiber naturally in your diet from great-tasting food, you get more than just relief from constipation.
When you eat mostly natural plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and beans, you get large amounts of various types of fiber. These foods are rich in complex carbohydrates and both insoluble and water-soluble fibers. The fibers slow down glucose absorption and control the rate of digestion. Plant fibers have complex physiological effects in the digestive tract that offer a variety of benefits, such as lowering cholesterol.
Because of fiber, and because precious food components haven’t been lost through processing, natural plant foods fill you up and do not cause abnormal physiological cravings or hormonal imbalances.
Some people are so confused that they do not know what to believe anymore. For example, two recent studies about fiber received sensational coverage by the media after appearing in the April 20, 2000 New England Journal of Medicine. Newspapers proclaimed the bold headlines HIGH-FIBER DIET DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST COLON CANCER. No wonder our population is so confused by conflicting messages about nutrition. Some people have actually given up trying to eat healthfully because one day they hear one claim and the next week they hear the opposite. There’s a lesson to be learned here: Don’t get your health advice from the media.
Dr. Fuhrman further stresses, “I bring up this issue so you will realize not to jump to conclusions on the basis of one study or one news report. You can see how research information is often (mis)reported in the news. I have reviewed more than two thousand nutritional research papers in preparation for this book and many more in prior years, and there is not much conflicting evidence. As in a trial, the evidence has become overwhelming and irrefutable – high-fiber foods offer significant protection against both cancer (including colon cancer) and heart disease. I didn’t say fiber; I said high-fiber foods. We can’t just add a high-fiber candy bar or sprinkle a little Metamucil on our doughnut and french fries and expect to reap the benefits of eating high-fiber foods. Yet this is practically what the first study did.”
The studies mentioned above did not show that a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and raw nuts and seeds does not protect against colon cancer. It has already been adequately demonstrated in hundreds of observational studies that such a diet does offer such protection from cancer at multiple sites, including the colon.
The first study merely added a fiber supplement to the diet. I wouldn’t expect adding a 13.5-gram fiber supplement to the disease-causing American diet to do anything. It is surprising that this study was actually conducted. Obviously, adding supplemental fiber does not capture the essence of a diet rich in these protective plant foods.
The second study compared controls against a group of people who were counseled on improving their diet. The participants continued to follow their usual (disease-casing) diet and made only a moderate dietary change – a slight reduction in fat intake, with a modest increase in fruits and vegetables for four years. The number of colorectal adenomas four years later was similar. Colorectal adenomas are not colon cancer; they are benign polyps. Only a very small percentage of these polyps ever advance to become colon cancers, and the clinical significance of small benign adenomas is not clear. In any case, it is a huge leap to claim that a diet high in fruits and vegetables does not protect against cancer. This study did not even attempt to address colon cancer, just benign polyps that rarely progress to cancer.
In both studies, even the groups supposedly consuming a high-fiber intake were on a low-fiber diet by my standards. The group consuming the most fiber only ate 25 grams of fiber a day. The high-fiber intake is merely a marker of many anti-cancer properties of natural foods, especially phytochemicals (a fancy name for plant nutrients). The diet plan that Dr. Fuhrman recommends is not based on any one study, but on more than two thousand studies and the results he’s seen with his own patients. Following this plan, you will consume between 50 and 100 grams of fiber (from real food, not supplements) per day.
The reality is that healthy, nutritious foods are also very rich in fiber and that those foods associated with disease risk are generally foods made from refined grains (such as white bread, white rice, and pasta) have had their fiber removed. Clearly, we must substantially reduce our consumption of these fiber-deficient foods if we expect to lose weight and live a long, healthy life.
Fiber intake from food is a good marker of disease risk. The amount of fiber consumed may better predict weight gain, insulin levels, and other cardiovascular risk factors than does the amount of total fat consumed, according to recent studies reported in the Oct 27 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Again, data show that removing the fiber from food is extremely dangerous.
People who consume the most high-fiber foods are the healthiest, as determined by better waist measurements, lower insulin levels, and other markers of disease risk. Indeed, this is one of the key themes of this book – for anyone to consider his or her diet healthy, it must be predominantly composed of high-fiber, natural foods. It is not the fiber extracted from the plant package that has miraculous health properties. It is the entire plant package considered as a whole, containing nature’s anti-cancer nutrients as well as being rich in fiber.
There are clear reasons why heart attacks and cancer prevail as our number one and number two killers. Americans currently consume about 42% of their calories from fiberless animal products and another 51% from highly processed refined carbohydrates and extracted oils. Almost half of all vegetables consumed are potatoes, and half of the potatoes consumed are in the form of fries of chips. Furthermore, potatoes are one of the least nutritious vegetables. Excluding potatoes, Americans consume a mere 5% of their calories from fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Cheese consumption is up, and is the primary source of saturated fat in our diet.
From convenience foods to fast-food restaurants, our fast-paced society has divorced itself from healthful eating. It may be convenient to pick up soda, burgers, fries, or pizza, but that convenience is not without its price; the result is that we are sicker than ever, and our medical costs are skyrocketing out of control. Populations with low death rates from the major killer diseases – populations that almost never have overweight members – consume more that 75% of their calories from unrefined plant substances. This is at least ten times more than what the average American consumes.
So why is this the case? Why do we see so much heart disease and cancer in wealthier societies? Is it animal products that are so deadly? Are refined carbohydrates solely to blame? Or is it just that plant foods are so miraculously wonderful at protecting us against disease? Or is it all three?
Natural plant foods, though usually carbohydrate-rich, also contain protein and fats. On average, 25% of the calories in vegetables are from protein. Romaine lettuce, for example, is rich in both protein and essential fatty acids, giving us those healthy fats our bodies require.
There is no longer any question about the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diet. The greater the quantity and assortment of fruits and vegetables consumed, the lower the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. There is still some controversy about which foods cause which cancers and whether certain types of fat are the culprits with certain cancers, but there’s one thing we know for sure: raw vegetables and fresh fruits have powerful anti-cancer agents.
Studies have repeatedly shown the correlation between consumption of these foods and a lower incidence of various cancers, including those of the breast, colon, rectum, lung, stomach, prostate, and pancreas. This means that your risk of cancer decreases with an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, and the earlier in life you start eating large amounts of these foods, the more protection you get.
Natural foods unadulterated by man are highly complex – so complex that the exact structure and the majority of compounds they contain are not precisely known. A tomato, for example, contains more than 10,000 different phytochemicals (plant nutrients). It may never be possible to extract the precise symphony of nutrients found in vegetation and place it in a pill. Isolated nutrients extracted from food may never offer the same level of disease-protective effects of whole natural foods, as nature designed them.
Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients, which work in subtle synergies, and many of these nutrients cannot be isolated or extracted. Phytochemicals from a variety of plant foods work together to become much more potent at detoxifying carcinogens and protecting against cancer than when take individually as isolated compounds.
After years of examining the accumulating evidence, eight top health organizations joined forces and agreed to encourage Americans to eat more unrefined plant food and less food from animal sources, as revealed in the new dietary guidelines published in the July 27, 1999, Journal of the American Heart Association. These authorities are the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, the American Dietetic Association, the Division of Nutrition Research of the National Institutes of Health, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition.
unified guidelines are a giant step in the right direction.
Their aim is to offer protection against the major chronic diseases
in America, including heart disease and cancer. “The
emphasis is on eating a variety of foods, mostly fruits and
vegetables, with very little simple sugar or high-fat foods,
especially animal foods,” said Abby Bloch, Ph.D., R.D., chair
of the American Cancer Society.
Based on a culmination of years of research, these health experts’ conclusion was that animal-source foods, with their high levels of saturated fat, are one of the leading causes of heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, obesity, etc. – all the major chronic diseases that cost 1.4 million Americans their lives each year (more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States).
We are on the verge of a revolution. Hardly a day goes by when some new study doesn’t proclaim the health-giving properties of fruits, vegetables, and beans. Eating a wide variety of raw and conservatively cooked plant foods (such as steamed vegetables) is the only way we can ensure that we get a sufficient amount of these essential health-supporting elements. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements or adding some vitamins to processed foods will not prevent the diseases associated with eating a diet containing a low percentage of calories from whole natural foods. Dr. Fuhrman is not against taking nutritional supplements, especially the B vitamins, and vitamin D. He does not recommend, however, that most people take supplements containing iron or vitamin A, isolated beta-carotene, as there are risks associated with excess consumption of these nutrients.
So now you know that it is not merely excess fat that causes disease. It is not merely eating empty-calorie food that causes disease. And it is not merely the high consumption of animal foods such as dairy, meat, chicken and fish that leads to premature death in America. These factors are important, but what is most critical is what we are missing in our diets by not eating enough produce. Let’s take a look at some more of the reasons why plant foods are so protective and essential for human health.
To illustrate the powerful nutrient density of green vegetables, let us compare the nutrient density of steak with the nutrient density of broccoli and other greens. Now, which food has more protein – broccoli or steak? You were wrong if you thought steak. Steak has only 5.4 grams of protein per 100 calories, while broccoli has 11.2 grams, almost twice as much. Keep in mind that most of the calories in meat come from fat; green vegetables are mostly protein (all calories must come from fat, carbohydrate, or protein). The biggest animals – elephants, gorillas, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and giraffes, all eat predominantly green vegetation. How did they get the protein to get so big? Obviously, greens pack a powerful protein punch. In fact, all protein on the planet was formed from the effect of sunlight on green plants. The cow didn’t eat another cow to form the protein in its milk and its muscles, which we call steak. The protein wasn’t formed out of thin air – the cow ate grass.
I am illustrating how easy it is to consume more than enough protein while at the same time avoiding risky, cancer-promoting substances such as saturated fat. Consuming more plant protein is also the key to achieving safe and successful weight loss. Meat does have certain vitamins and minerals, but even when we consider the nutrients that meat does contain, broccoli has lots more of them. For many important nutrients, broccoli has more than 10 times as much as steak. The only exception is vitamin B12, which is not found in plant fare. When you consider the fiber, phytochemicals, and other essential nutrients, green vegetables win the award for being the most nutrient-dense of all foods. We will give green a score of 100 and judge all other foods against this criterion.
Interestingly, there is one food that scientific research has shown has a strong positive association with longevity in humans. Which food do you think that is? The answer is raw, leafy greens, normally referred to as salad. Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach are the most nutrient-dense of all foods. Most vegetables contain more nutrients per calorie than any other food and are rich in all necessary amino acids. For example, romaine lettuce, which gets 18% of its calories from fat and almost 50% of its calories from protein, is a rich powerhouse with hundreds of cancer-fighting phytonutrients that protect us from a variety of threatening illnesses.
Being healthy and owning a disease-resistant body is not luck; it is earned. In a review of 206 human-population studies, raw vegetable consumption showed the strongest protective effect against cancer of any beneficial food. However, less than one in a hundred Americans consumes enough calories from vegetation to ensure this defense. Put a sign on your refrigerator that says The salad is the main dish. The word salad here means any vegetable eaten raw or uncooked. A bowl of cold pasta in olive oil with a token vegetable is not a salad. Dr. Fuhrman encourages his patients to eat two huge salads a day, with the gal of consuming an entire head of romaine or other green lettuce daily.
Did you notice that 100 calories of broccoli is about ten ounces of food, and 100 calories of ground sirloin is less than one ounce of food? With green vegetables you can get filled up, even stuffed, yet you will not be consuming excess calories. Animal products, on the other hand, are calorie-dense and relatively low in nutrients, especially the crucial anti-cancer nutrients. But what would happen if you tried to get all your calories from greens. If the average person needs 2000 calories a day, you would have to eat about 20 pounds of salad a day. That would be over 20 quarts of food! As the human stomach can only hold a little over a quart, you would find it impossible to get enough calories by eating salads alone. However, the message to take home is that the more of these healthy green vegetables (both raw and cooked) you eat, the healthier you will be and the thinner you will become.
If you attempt to follow the perverted diet that most Americans eat, or even if you follow the precise recommendations of the USDA.s food pyramid – 6 to 11 servings of bread, rice, and pasta (consumed as 98% refined grains by Americans) with 4 to 6 servings of dairy, meat, poultry, or fish – you would be eating a diet rich in calories but extremely low in nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins. You would be overfed and malnourished, the precise nutritional profile that causes heart disease and cancer.
Earlier Dr. Fuhrman compared 100 calories of greens with 100 calories of meat. He did not contrast them by weight or by portion size, as is more customary because to do so would be meaningless. Let me provide an example to explain why this is the case. Take one teaspoon of melted butter, which gets 100% of its calories from fat. If I take that teaspoon of butter and mix it in a glass of hot water, I can now say that it is 98% fat-free, by weight. 100% of its calories are still from fat. It didn’t matter how much water or weight was added, did it?
In fact, if a food’s weight were important, it would be easy to lose weight, we would just have to drink more water. The water would trigger the weight receptors in the digestive tract and our appetite would diminish. Unfortunately, this is not the way our body’s appestat is controlled. As explained earlier, bulk, calories, and nutrient fulfillment, not the weight of food, turn off our appestat. Since the food Americans consume are so calorie-rich, we have all been trying to diet by eating small portion of low-nutrient foods. We not only have to suffer hunger but also wind up with perverted cravings because we are nutrient-deficient to boot.
We must consume a certain level of calories daily to feel satisfied. You must learn to completely rethink what you consider to be a typical portion size. To achieve superior health and a permanently thin physique, you should eat large portions of green foods. When considering any green plant food, remember to make the portion size huge by conventional standards. Eating large portions of these super-healthy foods is the key to your success.
Nutrient-weight ratios hide how nutrient-deficient processed food is and make animal-source food not look so fatty. Could this be why the food industry and the USDA chose this method? Could it be a conspiracy to have consumers not realize what they are really eating?
For example, a Burger King bacon double cheeseburger is clearly not a low-fat food. If we calculate its percentage of fat by weight and include the ketchup and bun, we can accurately state that it is only 18% fat (over 80% fat-free). However, as a percentage of calories it is 54% fat, and the hamburger patty alone is 68% fat. McDonald’s McLean burger was advertised a few years back as 91% fat-free using the same numbers trick, when in fact 49% of its calories came from fat.
Likewise, so-called low-fat 2% milk is not really 2% fat. Thirty-five percent of its calories come from fat. They can call it 98% fat-free (by weight) only because of its water content. Low-fat milk is not a low-fat product at all, and neither are low-fat cheeses and other low-fat animal foods when you recalculate their fat on a per calorie percentage basis. This is just a sad trick played on Americans. Incidentally, 49% of the calories in whole milk come from fat.
Over 50 years ago the USDA began promoting the so-called four basic food groups, with meat and dairy products prominently displayed near the top of the chart. This promotion ignored science, and could be more accurately labeled “the four food myths.” It was taught in every classroom in America, with posters advocating a diet loaded with animal protein, fat, and cholesterol. The results of this fraudulent program were dramatic – in more ways than one. Americans began eating more and more animal foods. The campaign sparked the beginning of the fastest-growing cancer epidemics in history and heart attack rates soared to previously unheard-of levels!
With all the scientific data available today, including massive investigational studies on human health and diet, you would think that people would know which foods are best to eat and why – but most people are still confused about diet and nutrition. Why? Part of the problem is that most of us are slow to make changes, especially when they involve personal habits and family traditions. Most people do not embrace change.
The USDA food pyramid includes a level of animal food consumption (meat and dairy, 4 to 6 servings daily) that causes the diseases that kill us: heart attacks and cancer. It also suggests that we should consume a huge quantity of low-nutrient-content foods such as refined cereals, white bread and pasta (8 to 11 servings per day). In light of all the scientific data available, the USDA’s recommendations are a disgrace. Our government suggests that people consume as few as 5 measly servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Two studies from Harvard Medical School actually put the USDA guidelines to the test in 51,000 men and women, and both studies concluded that adherence to these guidelines had no effect on cancer risk. Much higher levels of produce intake are required for significant protection. When intake is truly high, the protection afforded is striking. One day we hear that a high-fat diet causes cancer, and the next day a study shows that those on low-fat diets do not have lower cancer rates. The public is so confused and fed up that they just eat anything, and the number of overweight people continues to grow.
The China Project
Fortunately, evidence from a massive series of scientific investigations has shed some light on the confusion. The China-Cornell-Oxford Project (also known as the China Project) is the most comprehensive study on the connection between diet and disease in medical history. The New York Times called this investigation the “Grand Prix of all epidemiological studies” and “the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”
Spearheaded by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., of Cornell University, this study has made discoveries that have turned the nutritional community upside down. To the surprise of many, the China Project has revealed many so-called nutritional facts as demonstrably false. China was an ideal testing ground for this comprehensive project because the people in one area of China eat a certain diet and the people just a few hundred miles away may eat a completely different diet. Unlike in the West, where we all eat very similarly, rural China is a “living laboratory” for studying the complex relationship between diet and disease.
The China Project was valid because it studied populations with a full range of dietary possibilities: from a completely plant-food diet to diets that included a significant amount of animal foods. Adding small quantities of a variable is how scientists can best detect the risk or value of a dietary practice. It’s the same principle as comparing nonsmokers with those who smoke half a pack a day, to best observe the dangers of smoking. Comparing a 50-cigarette per day habit with a 60-cigarette per day habit may not reveal much more additional damage from those last ten cigarettes.
In China, people live their entire lives in the towns they were born in and rarely migrate, so the dietary effects that researchers looked at were present for the subjects’ entire life. Furthermore, as a result of significant regional differences in the way people eat, there were dramatic differences in the prevalence of disease from region to region. Cardiovascular disease rates varied twenty-fold from one place to another, and certain cancer rates varied by several hundredfold. In America, there is little difference in the way we eat; therefore, we do not see a hundredfold difference in cancer rates between one town and another.
Fascinating findings were made in this study. The data showed huge differences in disease rates based on the amount of plant foods eaten and the availability of animal products. Researchers found that as the amount of animal foods increased in the diet, even in relatively small increments, so did the emergence of the cancers that are common in the West. Most cancers occurred in direct proportion to the quantity of animal foods consumed.
In other words, as animal food consumption approached zero, cancer rates fell. Areas of the country with an extremely low consumption of animal food were virtually free of heart attacks and cancer. An analysis of the mortality data from 65 counties and 130 villages showed a significant association with animal protein intake (even at relatively low levels) and heart attacks, with a strong protective effect from the consumption of green vegetables.
The China Project showed a strong correlation between cancer and the amount of animal protein, not just animal fat, consumed. Consumption of lean meats and poultry still showed a strong correlation with higher cancer incidence. These findings indicate that even low-fat animal foods such as skinless white-meat chicken are implicated in certain cancers. Remember, those countries and areas of China with extremely low rates of Western diseases did not achieve them merely because their diets were low in fat. It was because their diets were rich in unrefined plant products – they were not eating fat-free cheesecake and potato chips.
[Note: As of Jan 2005 “The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health” is available in book form. It is written by Dr. T. Colin, PhD with Thomas M. Campbell II. Publisher: Benbella Books, Dallas, Texas. Hardback Edition, 417 pages, $24.95, Copyright 2004]
Never forget that coronary artery disease and its end result – heart attacks, the number one killer of all American men and women – is almost 100% avoidable. Most of the poorer countries, which invariably consume little animal products, have less than 5% of the adult population dying of heart attacks. These studies show that the major risk factors associated with heart disease – smoking, physical inactivity, and animal-product consumption – are avoidable.
Not surprisingly, fruits and vegetables are the two foods with the best correlation with longevity in humans. Not whole-wheat bread, not bran, not even a vegetarian diet shows as powerful a correlation as a high level of fresh fruit and raw green salad consumption. The National Cancer Institute recently reported on 337 different studies that all agreed with the same basic conclusions:
1. Vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers if consumed in large enough quantities. The most prevalent cancers in our country are mostly plant-food-deficiency diseases.
2. Raw vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer properties of all foods.
3. Studies on the cancer-reducing effects of vitamin pills containing various nutrients (such as folate, vitamin C and E) get mixed reviews; sometimes they show a slight benefit, but most show no benefit. Occasionally studies show that taking isolated nutrients is harmful, as was discussed earlier regarding beta-carotene.
4. Beans in general, not just soy, have additional anti-cancer benefits against reproductive cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.
Although Americans would prefer to take a pill so they can continue eating what they are accustomed to, it won’t give them the protection they are looking for. You need read no further as long as you can incorporate this crucial dietary change into your life: consume high levels of fruits, green vegetables, and beans. This is the key to both weight loss and better health. Exactly how much veggies and beans you need to eat and how to incorporate them into your diet and make them taste great Dr. Fuhrman covers in his book later on.
People who omit meat, fowl and dairy but fill up on bread, pasta, pretzels, bagels, rice cakes and crackers may be on a low-fat diet, but because their diet is also low in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, important essential fatty acids, and fiber, it is conspicuously inadequate and should not be expected to protect against cancer. In addition, because these refined grains are low in fiber, they do not make you feel full until after you have taken in too many calories from them. In other words, both their nutrient-to-calorie and nutrient-to-fiber ratios are extremely low.
Let me repeat this again to be clear: Following a strict vegetarian diet is not as important as eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A vegetarian whose diet is mainly refined grains, cold breakfast cereals, processed health-food-store products, vegetarian fast foods, white rice and pasta will be worse off than a person who eats a little chicken or eggs, for example, but consumes a large amount of fruits, vegetables and beans.
Dairy products are held in high esteem in America. Most people consider a diet without dairy unhealthy. Without dairy foods, how could we obtain sufficient calcium for our bones? Is this accepted wisdom true, or have we been brainwashed by years and years of misinformation and advertising?
Hip fractures and osteoporosis are more frequent in populations in which dairy products are commonly consumed and calcium intakes are commonly high. For example, American women drink 30 to 32 times as much cow’s milk as the New Guineans, yet suffer 47 times as many broken hips. A multi-country analysis of hip-fracture incidence and dairy-product consumption found that milk consumption has a high statistical association with higher rates of hip fractures.
Does this suggest that drinking cow’s milk causes osteoporosis? Certainly, it brings into question the continual advertising message from the National Dairy Council that drinking cow’s milk prevents osteoporosis. Osteoporosis has a complex etiology that involves other factors such as dietary acid-alkaline balance, trace minerals, phytochemicals in plants, exercise, exposure to sunlight and more.
Dr. Campbell, head of nutritional research at Cornell and of the China Project, reported, “Ironically, osteoporosis tends to occur in countries where calcium intake is highest and most of it comes from protein-rich dairy products. The Chinese data indicate that people need less calcium than we think and can get adequate amounts from vegetable source plant food.”
He told the New York Times that there was basically no osteoporosis in China, yet the calcium intake ranged from 241 to 943 mg per day (average, 544). The comparable U.S. calcium intake is 841 to 1425 mg per day (average, 1143), mostly from dairy sources, and, of course, osteoporosis is a major public health problem here.
Epidemiologic studies have linked osteoporosis not to low calcium intake but to various nutritional factors that cause excessive calcium loss in the urine. The continual depletion of our calcium reserves over time, from excessive calcium excretion in the urine, is the primary cause of osteoporosis. Factors that contribute to this excessive urinary calcium excretion are:
drugs such as antibiotics, steroids, thyroid hormone
vitamin A supplements
Published data clearly links increased urinary excretion of calcium with animal-protein intake but not with vegetable-protein intake. Plant foods, though some may be high in protein, are not acid-forming. Animal-protein ingestion results in a heavy acid load in the blood. This sets off a series of reactions whereby calcium is released from the bones to help neutralize the acid. The sulfur-based amino acids in animal products contribute significantly to urinary acid production and the resulting calcium loss. The Nurses Health Study found that women who consumed 95 grams of protein a day had a 22% greater risk of forearm fracture than those who consumed less than 68 grams.
The most comprehensive epidemiological survey involving hip fractures and food was done in 1992. The authors sought out every peer-reviewed geographical report ever done on hip-fracture incidence. They located 34 published studies of women in 16 countries. Their analysis showed that diets high in animal protein had the highest correlation with hip-fractures rates, with an 81% correlation between eating animal protein and fractures.
The extra calcium contained in dairy foods simply cannot counteract the powerful effect of all the factors listed in the list above. The average American diet is not only high in protein but high in salt, sugar and caffeine, and low in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables can help buffer the acid load from all the animal protein and reduce calcium loss. So we need to consume a lot more calcium to make up for the powerful combination of factors that induce calcium loss in the urine.
Many think that cheese is a good source of calcium. But considering that cheese is also a powerful inducer of acid load, which increases calcium loss further, and that cheese and butter are the foods with the highest saturated-fat content and the major source of our dioxin exposure, cheese is a particularly foolish choice for obtaining calcium. Dairy products are just not the healthiest source of calcium. Foods that are healthful and rich in calcium are green vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds and even oranges. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don’t consume a diet heavy in animal products, sodium, sugar and caffeine.
Since it is estimated that more than 75% of all Americans are overweight, it is not surprising that diet and weight-loss books abound. But few ever seem to realize that weight loss and overall health are inseparable. A weight-loss program can be considered successful only if the weight loss is permanent, safe, and promotes overall health. Temporary weight loss is of little or no benefit, especially if it compromises your health.
One of the more popular books is Dr. Atkin’s Health Revolution. The popularity of books such as this is evidence that people are looking for a quick, effortless way to lose weight without having to curtail their dangerous love affair with rich, unhealthful foods. People are desperate to lose weight, and books such as Atkin’s preach what people want to hear: that you can eat lots of fat, cholesterol and saturated fat and still lose weight. This illicit romance can lead to tragic consequences, with some people literally dying to lose weight.
Robert Atkin’s books, as well as other authors advocating high-protein weight-loss plans, recommend diets for health and weight loss with significantly more animal protein than is typically consumed by the average American. Americans already eat approximately 40% of their calories from animal products; we have seen a tragic skyrocketing in cancer and heart disease rates in the past 50 years as a result of such nutritional extravagance. You can lose some weight on the Atkins Diet, but you run the risk of losing your health at the same time.
Atkins recommends that you eat primarily high-fat, high-protein, fiberless animal foods and attempt to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Atkins’s menus average 60-75% of calories from fat and contain no whole grains and no fruit. Hundreds of scientific studies have documented the link between animal products and various cancers. There are numerous ways to lose weight. However ”effective” they may be, some are just not safe. We wouldn’t advocate smoking cigarettes or snorting cocaine simply because doing so would be effective in promoting weight loss. Advocating a weight-loss program based on severe carbohydrate restriction is irresponsible. You may have to pay a substantial price – you life!
So how do these high-protein diets work? How can you eat all the fat and grease that you want and still lose weight? In the first few days of no carbohydrate fuel (food), the body’s glucose reserves dwindle and the only way we can produce enough fuel for our hungry brain (which consumes about 80% of our energy needs when the body is at rest) is by breaking down muscle tissue to manufacture glucose. Glucose can not be manufactured from fat. Fortunately, our body has a built-in mechanism that allows us to conserve our muscle tissue by metabolizing a more efficient energy source – our fat supply.
After a day or two of not eating, the body dips into its fat reserves to produce ketones as an emergency fuel. As the level of ketones rise in our bloodstream, the brain accepts ketones as an alternate fuel. In this manner, we conserve muscle and increase survival during periods of food deprivation, such as fasting. Atkins’s dietary recommendations prey on this survival mechanism. When we restrict carbohydrates so markedly, the body thinks we are calorically deprived and ketosis results. The body begins to lose fat, even if we are consuming plenty of high-fat foods, as Atkins recommends.
Once you stop the diet, you’ll gain all the weight back and more; if you stay on the diet, you risk a premature death. Take your pick. Once you start consuming carbohydrate-containing fruits, vegetables or beans, the ketosis ends and the meat and fat become fattening again. Besides the increased cancer risk, your kidneys are placed under greater stress. Most doctors are taught in medical school that a high-protein diet ages the kidneys. The dangers of these high-protein diets include hemolytic anemia, abnormal liver function, renal tubular acidosis, and spontaneous bone fractures (in spite of calcium supplementation). Kidney stones are another risk.
What is wrong with every single commercial weight-loss program? They are too high in fat and too low in fiber because they cater to the American love affair with rich, high-fat food. You will be amazed how easily and effortlessly you will lose weight when you adopt a diet that consists primarily of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. This is a diet with less than 15% of calories from fat. So instead of searching for weight-loss gimmicks and tricks, try to adopt a resolution to be healthy first. Focusing on your health and not your weight will eventually result in achieving successful long-term weight loss. Eating a healthy diet, one that is rich in an assortment of natural plant fibers, will help you crave less and feel satisfied without overeating. All diet plans fail because they cater to modern American tastes, which include too much processed foods or animal products to be healthy.
Appetite is not controlled by the weight of the food but by fiber, nutrient density, and caloric density. Since the stomach can hold about one liter (a little over a quart) of food, let’s look at how many calories are in a whole stomachful of a particular food. It’s pretty clear which foods will let you feel full with the least amount of calories – fruits and green vegetables. Green vegetables, fresh fruits, and legumes again take the gold, silver, and bronze medals. Nothing else in the field is even close.
Here are the caloric ratios of common foods:
Oils 3900 calories/lb 4100 calories/liter 0 grams fiber/lb
Potato chips/French fries 2600 3000 0
Meat 2000 3000 0
Cheese 1600 3400 0
White bread 1300 1500 0
Chicken/turkey (white meat) 900 1600 0
Fish 800 1400 0
Eggs 700 1350 0
Whole grains (wheat & rice) 600 1000 3
Starchy vegetables (potatoes
And corn) 350 600 4
Fruits 250 300 9
Green vegetables 100 200 5
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of Dr. Fuhrman’s secrets to nutritional excellence and superior health is the one pound – one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked – keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. You can eat as much as you want from the bottom 3 food groups. These are foods that are extremely nutritious, and yet will not cause you to gain unwanted weight.
This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens will not only be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life-threatening illnesses.
The nutrient-density scores below are based on identified phytochemicals, antioxidant activity, and total vitamin and mineral content.
Highest nutrient density = 100 points Lowest nutrient density = 0 points
100 Raw leafy green vegetables (darker green has more nutrients)
romaine lettuce, leaf lettuces, kale, collards, spinach, Swiss chard, parsley, daikon
97 Solid green vegetables (raw, steamed, or frozen)
artichokes, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery,
cucumber, kohlrabi, okra, peas, peppers, snow peas, string beans, zucchini
50 Non-green, non starchy vegetables
beets, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, yellow and red peppers, bamboo
shoots, water chestnuts, cauliflower
48 Beans/legumes (cooked, canned, or sprouted)
red kidney beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, cowpeas, navy beans, cannelloni beans,
soybeans, lentils, white beans, lima beans, pigeon peas, black-eyed peas, black
45 Fresh fruits
apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, grapefruits,
grapes, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, all melons, oranges, peaches, pears,
persimmons, pineapples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines,
35 Starchy vegetables
white potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, winter squash,
parsnips, pumpkins, turnips, corn, carrots, chestnuts
22 Whole grains
barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa
20 Raw nuts and seeds
almonds, cashews, filberts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin
seeds, sunflower seeds
13 Fat-free dairy
11 Wild meats and fowl
8 Red meat
4 Full-fat dairy
2 Refined grains (white flour)
1 Refined oils
0 Refined sweets
It is true that most of us eat too much fat, but scientific research is revealing that too little fat can be a problem, too. We have learned that not merely are we consuming too much fat but, more important, we are consuming the wrong fats. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are polyunsaturated dietary fats that the body cannot manufacture, so they are required for health. The two primary essential fatty acids are linoleic acid, and omega-6 fat, and alpha-linolenic acid, and omega-3 fat. The body can make the other fatty acids, called nonessential fats, from these two basic fats.
Most Americans would improve their health if they consumed more omega-3 fats and less omega-6 fats. Dr. Fuhrman recommends that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians make an effort to consume one to two grams of omega-3 daily. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed or a teaspoon of flax oil would do the job. Or 4 tablespoons of walnut meats or 1 ½ cups of soybeans (green, frozen, or raw) would be adequate. He does not routinely recommend that his patients take fish oil capsules, as this oil is often rancid, and some patients have a bad reaction to fish oil, also.
One in 20 people in this country has diabetes, more than 16 million Americans. As our population grows fatter, this figure is climbing. Diabetes is a nutritionally related disease – one that is both preventable and reversible (in the case of Type II diabetes) through nutritional methods. More than 70% of adults with Type II diabetes die of heart attacks and strokes. Patients are told to learn to live with their diabetes and to learn to control it because it can’t be cured. “No, no, and no!” Dr. Fuhrman says. “Don’t live with it, get thin and get rid of it, as many of my patients have.”
By simple logic you would expect than any dietary recommendations designed for diabetics would at least attempt to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event. Unfortunately, the nutritional advice given to diabetics is to follow the same diet that has proved not to work for heart disease patients. Such a diet is risky for all people, but for the diabetic it is exceptionally hazardous – it is deadly. The combination of refined grains, processed foods, and animal products guarantees a steady stream of available customers for hospitals and emergency rooms.
Type II diabetics adopting the correct nutritional approach can become undiabetic and achieve wellness and even excellent health. They can be diabetes-free for life! Almost all of Dr. Fuhrman’s Type II diabetic patients are weaned off insulin in the first month. Thanks to their excellent nutrition, these patients have much better (lower) blood sugars than when they were on insulin. The horrors of diabetes about to befall them are aborted.
Dr. Fuhrman has also observed patients who came to him with diabetic retinopathy and peripheral neuropathy gradually improve and eventually resolve their conditions. Dr. Milton Crane reported similar findings in his patients: 17 out of 21 patients who adopted a plant-rich vegan diet obtained complete relief from their peripheral neuropathy.
Insulin works less effectively when people eat fatty foods or gain weight. Diets containing less fat improve insulin sensitivity, as does weight loss. An individual who is overweight requires more insulin, whether he or she is diabetic or not. In fact, giving overweight diabetic people even more insulin makes them sicker by promoting weight gain. They become even more diabetic. How does this process work? Our pancreas secretes the amount of insulin demanded by the body. A person of normal weight with about a third of an inch of periumbilical fat will secrete X amount of insulin. Let’s say that this person gains about 20 pounds of fat. His body will now require more insulin, almost twice as much, because fat on the body blocks the uptake of insulin into the cells.
If the person is obese, with more than 50 pounds of additional weight, his body will demand huge loads of insulin from the pancreas, even as much as 10 times more than a person of normal weight needs. So what do you think happens after 5 to 10 years of forcing the pancreas to work so hard? You guessed it – pancreatic poop-out.
The pancreas begins to secrete less insulin, in spite of the huge demands of the body. Eventually, with less insulin available to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, the glucose level in the blood starts to rise and the person gets diagnosed with diabetes. In most cases, these individuals are still secreting an excessive amount of insulin (compared to a person of normal weight), just not enough for them. When they eat a less taxing diet and lose weight, they don’t need the extra insulin to control the sugars.
What this means is that typical Type II diabetes is caused by overweight in the individuals who have a smaller reserve of insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas. In the susceptible individual, even 10 to 20 pounds of excess weight could make the difference. Losing the extra weight enables these individuals to live within the capabilities of their body. Most Type II diabetics still produce enough insulin to maintain normalcy as long as they maintain a thinner, normal weight.
Insulin is a dangerous drug for Type II diabetics. These are people who are overweight to begin with. Insulin therapy will result in further weight gain, accelerating their diabetes. A vicious cycle begins that usually causes the patients to require more and more insulin as they put on the pounds. When they come to see Dr. Fuhrman for the first time, they report their sugars are impossible to control in spite of massive doses of insulin, which they are now combining with oral medication. It is like walking around with a live hand grenade in your pocket ready to explode at any time.
As Dr. Fuhrman’s patients begin the program he usually cuts their insulin in half. The insulin is then gradually phased out over the next few days or weeks, depending on their response and how advanced their condition was when they started. Most patients can stop all insulin within the first few days. The warning he gives to patients and their physicians adopting this program is to not underestimate how effective it can be.
If the medications, especially insulin, are not dramatically reduced, a dangerous hypoglycemic reaction can occur from overmedication. It is safer to undermedicate and let the glucose levels run a little high at first, then add back a little medication if necessary. This will minimize the risk of hypoglycemia, or driving the blood sugar too low. Since this diet is so powerfully effective in reversing diabetes and other diseases of nutritional neglect, it is essential you work closely with a doctor who can help you adjust your medication dose downward in a careful fashion.
Dr Fuhrman will typically continue or begin Glucophage (metformin) or other similar drugs. The newer medications that do not interfere with weight loss are safer than the older oral medications diabetics used in the past. Eventually, as more weight is lost, these patients can have normal glucose levels without any medication. They become nondiabetic, though diabetes can recur should they adopt a more stressful and girth-growing diet.
What have we learned so far? First, eating foods with too few nutrients is bad for your health. Second, a large amount of animal products in your diet correlates with a vast number of diseases. Last, unrefined plant foods offer the best protection against disease. The question is, how can we translate this data into a health program that will help us achieve a healthy weight, maximize our well-being, and let us enjoy meals at the same time?
Dr. Fuhrman has devised his own “Life Plan Food Pyramid.” It’s a great guide for how much we should be eating of the various food groups.
At the base of his pyramid, those foods we eat the most of, are “Vegetables – half raw, half cooked, 30% - 70% of daily calories”
Next comes “Fruits – 20% - 50% of calories”
Third comes “Beans/Legumes – 10% - 30% of calories”
Fourth are “Whole Grains, Raw Nuts, Seeds – 5% - 20% of calories”
Fifth are “Fish, Fat-free Dairy – twice weekly or less”
Sixth are “Poultry, Eggs, Oils – once weekly or less”
And at the peak of the pyramid “Beef, sweets, cheese/milk, processed food, hydrogenated oil – rarely”
Some nutrition tips to remember while you’re getting used to this diet:
1. Remember, the salad is the main dish: eat it first at lunch and dinner.
2. Eat as much fruit as you want but at least 4 fresh fruits a day.
3. Variety is the spice of life, particularly when it comes to greens.
4. Beware of the starchy vegetable, especially if you’re trying to lose weight
5. Eat beans or legumes every day (the body adjusts to digesting beans and gas production gradually diminishes).
6. Eliminate animal and dairy products as much as possible.
7. Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseed every day.
8. Your long-term goal should be to have your diet be made up of at least 90% unrefined plant food. Each day’s diet
should be built around a base of raw and cooked green vegetables.
Wow! What an education! I hope you learned as much from Dr. Fuhrman’s expertise as I did. After finishing his book and letting it all soak in, I was amazed that such common-sense information, all of which we should have been taught at school when we were kids, could have escaped me all these years as I read various health magazines and frequented my local health food store. True, I knew some of what he teaches, but not that much when considered as a package.
I realize that this diet may not be for everyone. No one should twist another’s arm, even if it is obvious that this diet could make dramatic improvements in their condition, as it is a free country. The important thing is that this information be made available to everyone that wants it, so that knowledgeable choices can be made about holding on to one’s health. Some may read this article and will feel the need or desire to implement the Eat to Live diet immediately, as they feel they have no time to lose in trying to head off some serious health problems they have been facing. Others may just want to change their diet to add more fruits, salads and vegetables to their daily fare. Some may decide to cut back on their meat consumption, or to cut out junk food from their diet. Whatever the reader implements from this article, if anything, is of course their personal decision. Keep in mind that just improving your diet isn’t a guarantee of good health. Regular exercise and a positive and thankful attitude about life are also very important.
I can guarantee you, that right this very moment, there are multiple thousands of people in hospital beds throughout this country that are facing death that would have loved to have had the information in this article, but never came across it, or had a friend give it to them. And most certainly, their doctor didn’t tell them about it as one of their possible optional treatments instead of drugs and radiation, etc.
I think few readers of this article regarding Dr. Fuhrman’s book will go away unchanged. Has Dr. Fuhrman gotten all his facts absolutely straight? I would say no. Has the doctor perhaps made a leap in logic here or there? I believe he has. I don't agree with everything that he teaches - especially the severe restriction on oils. The research I have done shows that extra virgin olive oil is a very good oil to be using. Organic butter is also good for you. Better yet is organic, totally unrefined coconut oil.
These oils/fats are all very good for you (within limits, and minimally refined), even though they are saturated fats, and have been roundly condemned over the years as being heart unfriendly. These products have been pushed aside for the now-condemned hydrogenated fats, but the thinking is rapidly changing on just what is good for you, and what is not. A certain amount of saturated fat has been found to be needed for good health, in spite of what Dr. Fuhrman may say.
To eliminate all saturated fats from the diet can lead to a chemical imbalance in the fatty-rich brain, and cause problems. I can verify this from personal experience with a close friend, who eliminated virtually all fats as they closely followed the Fuhrman diet and developed some problems. These saturated fats are also needed to keep energy levels on an even keel, and prevent blood sugar level fluctuations.
The only fats that have been associated with heart/artery problems have been the hydrogenated fats, and over-use of vegetable oils, which are lopsidedly omega-6 rich, and very lacking in omega-3’s. A most excellent book on the topic of the effect of diet on the brain and moods, and what can be done about it using natural methods, is “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross. If you have depression or mental problems, or have a friend who does, be sure to get this book from the library and read it – you’ll be very glad you did.
For more information about the benefits of coconut oil, and where some really good oil can be obtained, go to www.iherb.com, and check out the virgin coconut oil, especially the Nutiva brand. There is a wealth of information here about just why coconut oil is good for you, and how it acquired its bad reputation. This is where I buy mine, 54 oz. at a time. If you are a first-time buyer from iHerb, you can use promo code WIL572 and you will get a $5 discount on your first order. We all love this coconut oil at our house. While you’re at it, do some research on vitamin D3 (the best form of vitamin D). It is so vital to one’s health that we all take a minimum of 4000 IUs a day. Go to www.naturalnews.com and do a search for articles on vitamin D3, and you will be amazed at how it can help prevent flu, colds, cancer (especially breast cancer), etc.
Also, I believe that eating a bit of naturally raised meat, eggs, etc. now and then could be healthful, as they provide vitamin B-12 and other nutrients that are hard to acquire otherwise. I would highly recommend eating only grass-fed, grass-finished beef (cattle that are raised on grass and hay only, and not fattened on grain just before being butchered). Meat produced this way is much healthier, with a much lower cholesterol level and a much higher healthful omega 3 level. You can locate local sources of such meat on the web at: www.eatwild.com.
But if you would take Dr. Fuhrman’s assertions and compare them side by side with the assertions of the average doctor who only knows how to treat your symptoms, not the underlying cause of your health problems, I think you will find that regarding knowledge of nutritional health and healing, Dr. Fuhrman stands as a giant among midgets.
If you found this article to be of value and want to learn more, be sure to order Dr. Fuhrman’s book and video, or get them from the library (there were 17 copies of his book owned by my library’s multiple branches, but they were all loaned out). You have his website already, and his toll-free number is 1-800-474-9355. He does telephone consultations (not cheap) for those who may want his personal touch with a health problem.
May you have an outstanding life, and health to match!