Study Suggests Mechanism of Vegetables' Anti-Cancer Activity--REVISITED

Yesterday Followhealthlife received an interesting comment. Paul had some concerns about the information discussed in a previous post, Study Suggests Mechanism of Vegetables' Anti-Cancer Activity. Dr. Fuhrman offered this response:

You can always reduce your risk of lung cancer by quitting smoking at any point before cancer begins. We can look at dropping lung cancer rates comparing smokers who start smoking young and then quit compared to those who keep smoking. If you quit after 30 years of smoking your risk of lung cancer is half that of a person who continues to smoke (after 10 years), but it does not drop to zero where it would be if you never smoked. Likewise, you can reduce your risk of a variety of cancers with nutritional excellence, even if it is too late to maximally protect yourself or totally eliminate the risk at this age. It is important to note that a much more radical change to nutritional excellence is needed to see a significant reduction in risk at this later age.

But don't forget, even people who have cancer have been shown to live longer eating the healthful, anti-cancer dietary style I recommend in my books. Beneficial dietary changes have been shown in studies to prolong life for people with breast and prostate cancer.

It is important to keep in mind that heart disease and stroke (clots) are the leading cause of death in the modern world. It kills more individuals than all those cancers added up together. If you are still alive you can make a decision right now to never have a heart attack or stroke and make sufficient changes in your eating habits to guarantee this never happens. Utilizing medications to lower cholesterol into the favorable range or utilizing natural substances to lower cholesterol to that favorable range (LDL below 100) is not enough. That will only reduce your risk of a heart attack about 30 - 40 percent. To really knock out the possibility of heart disease you must combine effective cholesterol management with nutritional excellence. Furthermore, when you follow my nutritional guidelines you should protect yourself against dementia as well.

I don't know about you, but it is not enough for me to lower my risk of sudden cardiac death by a mere 30 to 40 percent. I want to drop that risk down one hundred percent if possible. If you study my dietary advice I claim you can achieve dramatic reduction in cholesterol levels, triglycerides and cardiac risk that simply cannot be achieved by (medical) cholesterol lowering alone.

You can retard the aging process now, maintain a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent or reverse diabetes, protect yourself against stroke and the so-common mental decline seen with aging and overall live a better quality, healthier and longer life from making these improvements in your eating habits. Too many people suffer and die needlessly, and I'm sure millions of people at all ages would adopt a healthier diet-style if they learned the profound benefits they would receive.

For more information on this topic check out Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child.

Ten Super Foods to Use in Your Recipes and Menus

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child.

Avocados are a clean, healthy source of healthy fatty acids. They are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols and high in the powerful anti-oxidant glutathione. Avocados are healthy anti-cancer food. Use it in place of butter, mash it with bananas for young children, and use it in lots of avocado-based dressings and dips.

Blueberries/Blackberries are packed with tannins, anthocyanidins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and proanthcyanidins that have been linked to prevention and reversal of age-related mental decline. They also have powerful anti-cancer effects. Use frozen organic berries in the winter when fresh ones are not available.

Cantaloupes are another vitamin powerhouse. With only 56 calories a cup, one gets a huge amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as folate, potassium, fiber, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.

Carrots/Beets are colorful root crops that add beauty and flavor to dishes. Shredded raw in salads, cooked, or in soups, they are high in fiber and antioxidants compounds such as cartonoids abd betacyanin, a powerful cancer protective agent found to inhibit cell mutations.

Flax Seeds are rich in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific studies have confirmed that flax seeds have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels and constipation to cancer and heart disease. Use ground flax seed in oatmeal, or add them to whipped frozen bananas, stewed apples, and cinnamon and nut balls. Keep in mind that the scientifically documented benefits from flax seeds come from raw, ground flax seed, not flax seed oil.

Green Lettuce is exceptionally low in calories, but contains an abundance of phytonutrients, plant proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eat salad with lettuce every day.

Kale is a fantastic high-nutrient green vegetable to add to soups and to serve chopped.

Sesame Seeds are one of the most mineral-rich foods in the world and a potent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins, and fiber. They are also rich in anti-cancer lignans that are uniquely found in sesame seeds alone. Grind some unhulled sesame seeds into a powder to sprinkle on salads and vegetables. Toast lightly and mix with eggplant, chickpeas, scallions, and garlic for a healthy and delicious dip.

Strawberries are high in folic acid, flavonoids, iron, and vitamin C. They provide a good source of dietary fiber and potassium yet contain only 60 calories per cup. Use strawberries and frozen strawberries frequently. Try a fruit smoothie by blending together a banana, orange juice, and frozen strawberries.

Tomatoes have been a hot topic in recent years because their consumption has been linked to dramatic reduction in the incidence of common cancers. One of the tomatoes' heavily investigated anti-cancer phytochemicals is lycopene, which has been shown to be protective against cancer, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancers.

Pesticide Levels in Children's Diets

Randy Dotinga of the HealthDay News reports a recent Emory University study shows that eating organic produce may be a surefire way to limit children's exposure to pesticides. Researcher Chensheng Lu helps explain:

Researchers found that pesticide levels in children's bodies dropped to zero after just a few days of eating organic produce and grains. "After they switch back to a conventional diet, the levels go up," researcher Chensheng Lu, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Emory University.

But Lu acknowledged that organic food is often more expensive than conventional food, and he added that the health risks of the pesticides in question aren't entirely clear.

Check out these previous posts for information on the health risks associated with childhood exposure to pesticides: Is Organic Food Safer? and Early Exposure to Pesticide: Revisited.

Popeye Was Right--Greens Pack a Powerful Punch

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 muscles, which we call steak. The protein wasn't formed out of thin air--the cow ate grass. Not that protein is such a big deal or some special nutrient to be held in high esteem. I am making this point because most people think animal products are necessary for a diet to include adequate protein. I am merely 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.

Now, which has more vitamin E or vitamin C--broccoli or steak? I'm sure you are aware that steak has no vitamin C or vitamin E. It is also almost totally lacking in fiber, folate, vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin K, flavonoids, and thousands of other protective phytochemicals. 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 ten 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.

The Edible Schoolyard

Appearing in today's New York Times is an article written by Alice Waters, restaurateur and founder of the Chez Panisse Foundation, which encourages the public to use healthier natural foods to teach, nurture, and empower young people. In this OP-ED piece Alice discusses The Edible Schoolyard her initiative to help stop childhood obesity:

Our program began at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School 10 years ago, with a kitchen classroom and a garden full of fruits, vegetables and herbs. A cafeteria where students, faculty and staff members will eat together every day is under construction, and the Edible Schoolyard has become a model for a district-wide school lunch initiative.

At King School today, 1,000 children are involved in growing, preparing and sharing fresh food. These food-related activities are woven into the entire curriculum. Math classes measure garden beds. Science classes study drainage and soil erosion. History classes learn about pre-Columbian civilizations while grinding corn.

We're not forcing them to eat their vegetables; we're teaching them about the botany and history of those vegetables. We're not scaring them with the health consequences of their eating habits; we're engaging them in interactive education that brings them into a new relationship with food. Nothing less will change their behavior.

"Toxic Hunger" Can Kill

Losing your ability to sense true hunger sets the foundation for obesity. By feeding kids so much calorie-rich food so frequently we have trained our children to disconnect eating from hunger. After enough time goes by continually consuming more calories than they need, they will feel discomfort when they do not have food constantly in their stomach. They must keep their digestive tract going all the time, because they become an overweight adult, they are true food addicts.

Symptoms of Toxic Hunger
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Abdominal and esophageal spasm
  • Fluttering and cramping
  • A few hours after eating, feeling weak, headachy, tired, mentally dull, and stomach cramping or discomfort is not true hunger! These symptoms of stomach cramping and fluttering, headaches and fatigue that begin when digestion is completed I call "toxic hunger" because these symptoms only occur in those who have been eating a toxic diet. These withdrawal symptoms from an unhealthful diet, and this discomfort is mistakenly interpreted as the need to eat more frequently and take in more calories. Continual eating stops the discomfort, just like frequent coffee drinking stops the headaches from caffeine withdrawal. Your body can't withdraw from (detoxify and repair) your toxic dietary habits and digest a meal simultaneously. By eating, this detox process is stopped. When we consume a toxic, disease-promoting diet, our body reacts in an attempt to remove or deal with the damage this unhealthful diet could cause. This concept is called withdrawal. The body attempts to detoxify from a harmful, low-nutrient diet and we feel symptoms of toxic hunger. We build up more waste products in our cells when we eat unhealthfully, and when the body is not busy digesting, it can attempt to withdraw from or initiate repair mechanisms that result in these uncomfortable symptoms. The disease-building diet most Americans eat drives these symptoms, and these symptoms promote overeating.

    Healthy Candy Bars?

    A few days ago Elliott Minor of The Associated Press reported that chocolate makers plan to roll out healthy candy bars. As we have discussed before, Mars Inc. plans to launch "CocaVia" a new product line made with a dark chocolate. The vitamin enriched, plant sterol injected snack food exploits dark chocolate's high in flavanol content. An antioxidant found in cocoa beans believed to thin the blood. Some medical professionals have mixed reactions:

    Rachael Brandeis, a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association in Atlanta, said dark chocolate is a good source of flavanols, but so are other foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

    "Dark chocolate can fit into a healthy diet," she said. The fat in chocolate is a type that does not raise cholesterol levels, but it can add unwanted pounds if a person overindulges, she said.

    These processed and sweetened chocolate products are rich in hype and excess calories. Dr. Fuhrman's fruit and vegetable based diet style will provide you with many of aforementioned disease-preventing nutrients. If you absolutely can't live without a chocolate fix consider this message from Dr. Fuhrman in the discussion forum of

    You do not have to stay off chocolate, you can purchase raw cacao buds and make smoothies and sauces and healthy puddings with that chocolate flavor. All the beneficial compounds, antioxidants and flavonoids in the raw cacao make it a valuable food, even with minimal exposure to toxic components such as caffeine. I have no problem with you powdering some cacao in the VitaMix and making some chocolate style treats occasionally. Spinach, kale, banana, cacao powder, macadamia nuts and dates make a great, healthy chocolate pudding.
    A lot of people have wondered how you can tell which kind of cacao is recommended. Dr. Fuhrman and his staff have tested a lot of them, looking for excellent nutrition and flavor. The best they have foudn is now available in powdered form and is one of Dr. Fuhrman's newest products.

    Glucosamine and Chondroitin in the News

    The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study claiming that two popular arthritis supplements don't work. Gina Kolata of The New York Times reports that despite the $734 million Americans spent on glucosamine and chondroitin in 2004, trials revealed few results.

    In the member section of his website, Dr. Fuhrman has said "I think glucosamine and chondroitin are safe and have some clinical evidence to show they are mildly helpful. So if they are helping you, great."

    He is more interested in looking at the bigger picture. He says that poor diets can cause rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions. Adopting a nutrient rich vegetable based diet offers you the chance to eradicate it. This is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

    Some people, especially other physicians, may be skeptical. There are so many exaggerated and false claims made in health field, especially by those selling so-called natural remedies. Nevertheless, it is wrong to underestimate the results obtainable through appropriate nutritional intervention. Even many of my patients with autoimmune illnesses (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and hyperthyrodism) are able to recover and throw away their medications.

    When one of my patients who had a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis went back to her previous physician, a rheumatologist, and told him she was now well and did not require any medication, he replied, "It must just be that you are resting more." She said, "I'm not resting more. In fact, I am more active than ever because my pain is gone, and I stopped the drugs." He replied, "It's just a temporary remission; you'll be back soon with another crisis." She never went back.

    He also includes this table of diseases that can be caused by poor diet.

    Dietary-Caused Illnesses with High Prevalence
    atherosclerosisconstipationcolonic polyps
    high blood pressurehypoglycemic symptomsindigestion
    irritable bowel syndromekidney stoneslumbar spine syndromes
    macular degenerationmusculoskeletal painosteoperosis
    sexual dysfunctionstrokeuterine fibroids

    The Best Foods For Bones: Fruits and Vegetables

    From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

    Green Vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without the problems associated with dairy. 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 and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.

    Many green vegetables have calcium-absorption rates of over 50 percent, compared with about 32 percent for milk.1 Additionally, since animal protein induces calcium excretion in urine, the calcium retention from vegetables is higher. All green vegetables are high in calcium.

    The American "chicken and pasta" diet style is significantly low in calcium, so adding dairy as a calcium source to this mineral-poor diet makes superficial sense---it is certainly better than no calcium in the diet. However, much more than just calcium is missing. The only reason cow's milk is considered such an important source of calcium, is that the American diet is centered on animal foods, refined grains, and sugar, all of which are devoid of calcium. Any healthy diet containing a reasonable amount of unrefined plant foods will have sufficient calcium without milk. Fruits and vegetables strengthen bones. Researchers have found that those who eat the most fruits and vegetables have denser bones.2 These researchers concluded that not only are fruits and vegetables rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other nutrients essential for bone health, but, because they are alkaline, not acid-producing, they do not induce urinary calcium loss. Green vegetables in particular, have a powerful effect on reducing hip fractures, for they are rich not only in calcium but in other nutrients, such as vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health.3

    Continue Reading...

    Grapefruit a "Great Fruit"

    In today's New York Times Nicholas Bakalar reports that research in an upcoming edition of The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry show ruby red grapefruits are useful in controlling cholesterol:

    Researchers tested 57 patients ages 39 to 72 who had undergone coronary bypass surgery and had found that Zocor, or simvastatin, was ineffective. They divided them randomly into three groups.

    Each group consumed the same diet, except that one ate one red grapefruit daily, the second ate one white grapefruit, and the third ate no grapefruit at all. None took lipid-lowering drugs during the test.

    After one month, there were no differences in the heart rate, blood pressure or weight of the three groups. Antioxidant activity in both white and red groups was increased compared with the group that ate no grapefruit.

    But the group that ate red grapefruit every day also had significantly decreased blood levels of triglycerides.

    Keep Your Diet Nutty

    Over the past few months Onlyourhealth has posted numerous articles citing the benefits of eating raw nuts. Nuts protect against heart disease, provide a potent source of Vitamin E, and help to lower cholesterol.

    Almonds Are In is dedicated to informing the public about almonds. The site boasts a lot of interesting facts about these "crunchy characters" and urges individuals to incorporate them into a healthy lifestyle. The site claims, "The tasty almond delivers not only flavor and texture to everything it's added to, but also more complete nutrition than you can imagine in just one handful."

    One of the big knocks against nuts, including the almond, is high fat content. But that kind of fat is healthy. In his book Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman encourages consumption of nuts even for those trying to lose weight:

    Nuts and seeds contain 150-200 calories per ounce. Eating a small amount�one ounce or less�each day, however, adds valuable nutrients and healthy unprocessed fats. Nuts and seeds are ideal in salad dressings, particularly when blended with an orange and spices or vegetable juice. Always eat nuts and seeds raw because the roasting process alters their beneficial fats. Commercially packaged nuts and seeds are often cooked in hydrogenated oils, adding trans fats and sodium to your diet, so these are absolutely off the list. If you find that you tire of eating nuts or seeds raw, try lightly toasting them at home�this does not deplete their beneficial properties and adds some variety for pleasure. Among the raw nuts and seeds you can add to your diet are almonds, cashews, walnuts, black walnuts, pecans, filberts, hickory nuts, macadamias, pignolis, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed.
    For other people (those who do not need to lose weight and athletes for instance) Dr. Fuhrman encourages eating even more nuts.

    Vindaloo Vegetables

    We'd still like to see your Fuhrman friendly culinary creations, like this one for "Vindaloo Vegetables" from Susan at Fat Free Vegan.

    Bring us your recipes and photos! Email us at


    4-6 servings
    3 cloves garlic, peeled
    1 tbsp. ginger, peeled and chopped
    1 small date, coarsely chopped
    1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
    1/4 tsp. cardamom
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1/2 tsp. dry mustard
    1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
    1/2 tsp. turmeric
    1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
    1 lg. yellow onion, chopped
    2 small carrots, thinly sliced
    1 sm. green or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
    4 cups small cauliflower florets
    2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
    1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (or one 15.5 ounce canned beans, rinsed and drained)
    1 6-ounce can tomato paste
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper (salt is optional)
    1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

    In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, date, coriander, cumin, mustard, cayenne, turmeric, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water; process until smooth and set aside.

    Heat a large non-stick pot or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and one tablespoon of water, cover, and cook until softened, stirring often and adding more water as necessary to prevent burning--about 5 minutes.

    Add the spice paste from the blender and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper, cauliflower, zucchini, and kidney beans. Cover and turn heat to low.

    Put the tomato paste and 1 1/4 cup water in the blender and blend thoroughly. Add the tomato paste mixture to the vegetables, season with pepper and salt (if using), cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

    Add the peas and allow to heat through for about 5 minutes. Serve alone or over basmati rice or other grain.

    How Sweet It Is--That's The Problem

    Last month spotlighted news stories addressing childhood obesity. A growing problem that has inspired many of potential remedies; from video games in schools to banning whole-milk in the lunchroom. Last week Stephanie Dunnewind of The Seattle Times reported another solution might be turning a watchful eye to the classroom Cs:

    With rising concern over childhood obesity, more educators and parents are tackling the classroom Cs: cupcakes, cookies and candy. Served for birthdays and class parties, some worry kids now expect the high-fat and sugar sweets as part of every celebration.

    Proponents suggest subbing fruit, low-fat snacks or veggies and dip but some parents balk at serving carrots for special days. Other schools skip food entirely, focusing on games and activities for class parties or asking for a donated book in the birthday child's name.

    Limiting children's intake of sugary foods is a step in the right direction. In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains the importance of avoiding processed foods, like sweets, in order to maintain healthy bodyweight:

    It is not merely dental cavities that should concern us about sugar. If we allow ourselves and our children to utilize sugar, white-flour products, and oil to supply the majority of calories, as most American families do, we shall be condemning ourselves to a lifetime of sickness, medical problems, and premature death.

    Refined sugars include table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), honey, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, corn sweeteners, and fruit juice concentrates. Even the bottled and boxed fruit juices that many children drink are poor food; with no significant nutrient density, they lead to obesity and disease.1

    If you want to lose weight, the most important foods to avoid are processed foods: condiments, candy, snacks, and baked goods.

    In Onlyourhealth Your Child, Dr. Fuhrman has lots of healthy kid-friendly recipes. Here are five treats he recommends instead of cakes and sweets:
    1. Date Nut Pop-Ems--A mix of dates, ground nuts, cinnamon, and carob powder. (You can make your own, or purchase them.)
    2. Soaked dried fruit--Dried apricots, apples, or mangoes soaked overnight in soy milk.
    3. Frozen banana whip--Frozen bananas, sliced and pureed in a blender or food processor with a little soy milk or skim milk
    4. Baked apples--Cored apples filled with a mix of apple sauce, cinnamon, and raisins and then baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
    5. Fruit smoothies--A blended mixture of fresh fruit, banana, dried fruit, and soy milk, milk, or fruit juice. Unsweetened canned pineapple, with the juice mixed banana and frozen strawberries, is a kid favorite. Experiment.

    Continue Reading...

    Not All Whole-Grain Products Are Equal--UPDATED

    In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains that simply labeling a food "whole grain" doesn't make it a wholesome food choice. (And he recommends getting only a small percentage of calories from grains at all--in Dr. Furhman's Food Pyramid only 5-20% of total calories are from grains and nuts).

    Dr. Fuhrman adds that many whole-grain cold cereals are so processed that they lack an adequate fiber per serving ratio and have lost most of their nutritional value.

    Today, there's news the Food and Drug Administration is proposing a new standard a definition of the term "whole grain" to eliminate confusion among consumers. It's not yet law, but may be in a few months, and food companies would then have to change their labeling accordigly. AP writer Libby Quaid describes the proposed definition this way :

    The definition says a whole grain must retain its basic structure. It applies to corn, rice, oats and wheat and lesser-known cereal grains, such as bulgur, millet and sorghum. It does not include soybeans, chickpeas, sunflower seeds and other legumes or oilseeds.

    The tricky part is what's done to the grain during processing. If it's intact, ground, cracked or flaked, it still is a whole grain. Rolled or "quick" oats are still whole grains. Popcorn is a whole grain. Pearled barley is not a whole grain; too much of its bran layer has been removed.

    In addition, pizza or bagels labeled as "whole grain" or "whole wheat" ought to have dough made entirely from whole wheat or whole grain flour, the FDA said.

    Why are whole grains better for your health, anyway? In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains:
    Whole wheat that is finely ground is absorbed into the bloodstream fairly rapidly and should not be considered as wholesome as more coarsely ground and grittier whole grains. The rapid rise of glucose triggers fat storage hormones. Because the more coarsely ground grains are absorbed more slowly, they curtail our appetite better.

    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 reserve funds.

    What about bagels? Is the "whole-wheat" bagel you just bought at the bagel store really made from whole grain? No; in most cases, it is primarily white flour. It is hard to tell sometimes. Ninety-nine percent of pastas, breads, cookies, pretzels and other grain products are made from white flour. Sometimes a little whole wheat or caramel color is added and the product is called whole wheat to make you think it is the real thing. It isn't. Most brown bread is merely white bread with a fake tan.

    Study Suggests Mechanism of Vegetables' Anti-Cancer Activity

    Georgetown University Medical Center issued this press release on February 9th claiming that consuming certain vegetables can enhance DNA repair in cells, promoting protection against cancer:

    In a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (published by the research journal Nature) the researchers show that in laboratory tests, a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and a chemical called genistein, found in soy beans, can increase the levels of BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that repair damaged DNA.

    Although the health benefits of eating your vegetables�especially cruciferous ones, such as broccoli�aren't particularly new, this study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut a person's risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have found, says the study's senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    "It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat," Rosen says. "Our findings suggest a clear molecular process that would explain the connection between diet and cancer prevention."

    Monkeys Don't Sit Under Banana Trees Eating Bananas All Day

    The Seattle Times reports on a new weight-loss plan, entitled "The Flavor Point Diet." The idea behind it is to outwit the chemicals, especially in processed foods, that make us want to eat more:

    Fast food and packaged snacks push all kinds of flavor buttons, some of them almost secretly. Katz observes that we might reach for our favorite breakfast cereal because it's sweet, not realizing it's also loaded with salt. Ditto for the salty corn crisps that are nearly as sweet as the cereal. We might not detect it, but our brains do. As a result, we tend to eat more of these foods�

    �He defuses this dietary bomb by narrowing each day's flavor options and providing variety over time, not all in one mouthful.

    The menu for each day of a six-week program centers on a specific taste theme. For example, there is "peach day," with a fresh peach on whole-grain cereal for breakfast, a peach jam (all-fruit) and peanut butter (natural) sandwich on whole-grain bread for lunch and peach-coriander turkey with oven-roasted potatoes and turnips for dinner. (The recipes are in the book.) There is also walnut day, tomato day, lemon day, bell-pepper day, thyme day and other flavor-theme days.

    Dr. Fuhrman addresses appetite satiety in a different way. As he explains in Onlyourhealth Your Child:

    All primates, including humans, are driven to consume food from a variety of categories. Contrary to popular belief, a monkey does not sit under a banana tree eating bananas all day. He eats bananas and then may travel half a mile away to find a different type of food. He has an innate drive to consume variety; just satisfying the caloric drive is not enough. Likewise, children [or humans] will not be satisfied with eating only one or two foods; they will want to eat a portion of one food and want another type of food. As a higher-order animal with a bigger brain, we search for a variety of nutrient sources, and this variety assures that we get the broad assortment of nutrients that increases our immune function and longevity potential. I call this desire for different foods our variety driver.

    The sense of taste is very important factor triggering the release of digestive juices and initiating the process of proper digestion. Taste can also be a guide for the body to judge the correct amount of food to consume, providing one is eating natural food. To satisfy true hunger, natural food tastes great. As the appetite is satiated, the thrill of eating diminishes and we feel we have had enough. Yet when we are exposed to processed foods, the body's natural signals to stop eating are disturbed. We offer tasty treats and desserts to stimulate and already-full appetite further and entice all to eat more. Then the unhealthier the diet becomes, the more food addition plays a role in governing appetite. We feel the need to imbibe when we get accustomed to consuming unhealthful foods. Unhealthful foods are addicting; healthy foods are not, and do not induce overeating.

    Research: Yes, Diet Has a Huge Role In Health

    Last week The New York Times printed an article featuring a study claiming that a low-fat diet does little to prevent cancer and heart disease. Dr. Fuhrman responded with ten reasons to keep eating healthy food despite the headlines.

    Today New York Times reporter Gina Kolata continues to further the notion that what you eat might not shape your medical fate:

    It's one of the great principles � no, more than principles, canons � of American culture to suggest that what you eat affects your health.

    It's this idea that you control your own destiny and that it's never too late to reinvent yourself. Vice gets punished and virtue gets rewarded. If you eat or drink or inhale the wrong things you get sick. If not, you get healthy. Says James Morone, a professor of political science at Brown University.

    Her article cites the rise and fall of numerous fad diets. Dr. David Altshuler, an endocrinologist and geneticist at Massachusetts General Hospital is quoted urging caution when making dietary suggestions:
    We should limit strong advice to where randomized trials have proven a benefit of lifestyle modification.
    Of course, fad diets have never been the answer. And health care professionals should be exceedingly careful in what they recommend--because a lot of common assumptions about food are not supported by science. (T. Colin Campbell's revolutionary research showing the dangers of too much animal protein was born out of his conviction that getting more animal protein to the malnourished of the developing world was the key to good health--instead he found that reducing animal protein in his own diet was the biggest lesson.)

    But if you look at the science, there is not a serious case to be made that diet is not tied to health. Just as there are studies showing smoking is not good for you, so are there studies showing certain foods are not good for you, while others can play a huge role in combating chronic disease.

    Dr. Fuhrman's dietary recommendations are based on many thousands of studies. Click "continue reading" to see references and summaries to 19 of them that, together, should go a long way to convincing anyone that yes, it does matter what you eat.

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    Vitamins from Food

    Vitamin C, Betacarotene, and Vitamin E occur naturally in a lot of the healthiest foods. Just more reasons to eat fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the foods that are richest in these three substances.

    Vitamin C: melons, berries, oranges, kiwifruit, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and tomato

    Betacarotene: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, broccoli, and asparagus); deep orange fruits (apricots, cantaloupe, mango, and papaya); deep orange vegetables (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin)

    Vitamin E: whole grains, seeds, nuts, asparagus, avocados, berries, green leafy vegetables, and tomato

    And some healthy winter recipes that'll help you get your vitamins:
    Vegetarian Chili
    2 cups dry kidney or pinto beans
    1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
    2 cups chopped red onion
    2 cups chopped green or red peppers
    1 cup chopped carrots
    1 cup celery
    1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
    4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 tsp. oregano
    1 tsp. basil
    1 tsp. chili powder
    � tsp. cumin
    1 tsp. red wine vinegar
    1 tbsp. diced raisins or dates

    Wash the beans and soak them in water overnight. Cover with water, simmer for 2 hours, and pour off the water, or use a 15-oz. can of pinto beans instead. Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan and simmer for 1 hour. This can be poured over chopped lettuce or streamed green vegetables such as spinach and kale, or eaten by itself.

    Vegetable Pea/Bean Soup
    2 cups carrot juice
    2 cups celery juice
    4 cups water
    4 cups chopped kale
    6 finely chopped onions
    8 finely chopped tomatoes, retain all juice
    � cup dried split peas
    � cup mixed dried soup beans
    5 tablespoons VegiZest
    1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Table Blend

    Combine all ingredients and simmer on low heat for 90 minutes.

    Addressing Misperceptions About Eat to Live

    Over the weekend, we perused the dozens and dozens of reviews of Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live on Most of the reviews are amazing, positive, and full of encouraging tales.

    A handful are simply based on certain misperceptions. Just in case some of those misperceptions are widely held, or in case any of you have encountered these same misperceptions, we thought it might be worth addressing some of them briefly on Followhealthlife.

    What does Eat to Live have to offer athletes who need a lot of calories?
    Dr. Fuhrman explains:

    The dietary recommendations in Eat to Live are not intended for weightlifters, athletes and thin people. The book is specifically designed for people who have had trouble losing weight on other diets. It is designed for the overweight. For athletes, as I explain in the book, I recommend much more nuts and seeds, and a diet mugh higher in fat. Also, keep in mind that bulking up is dangerous to one's longevity and power lifters and football linebackers often eat in a way that radically shortens their lives. If you were a weightlifter, for instance, you might improve your chances of muscle growth with more animal products then I recommend, certainly. But the point of Eat to Live is that this much animal products is not conducive to longevity. But if size is your only goal, go for it.

    What about the idea that Eat to Live is a one-size fits all prescription?
    Dr. Fuhrman explains that some individuals, athletic or non-athletic, may have to adapt Eat to Live to their particular needs:

    Clearly Eat to Live is a diet book for overweight people, it gives the guidelines for the healthiest way for people eat. I do recognize that some people do better with a little bit of animal products in their diet too, but these people are not common and I am clear to advise that the public should only use a small amount of animal products or you will invariably hurt yourself.

    There are a million books claiming they can fix weight problems. Why believe this one?
    Many misperceptions about Eat to Live dissolve when people learn about the studies and anecdotes that show overwhelmingly that people who follow the recommendations in Eat to Live enjoy excellent results. Dr. Fuhrman:

    Eat to Live has been shown to be the most effective diet-style to lower cholesterol, and lose weight in scientific studies because it simply is the healthiest way to eat and it explains that low-nutrient eating leads to toxic hunger and overeating. Most people choose to eat to live because they do not want to be on a diet, counting calories and eating thimble-sized portions of food. They eat with abundance and feel secure they are protected against heart disease, stroke, dementia and other disease of nutritional ignorance in our society.

    Reaction on This Week's Big Study on Low-Fat Diets

    Lots of reaction to the big study on low-fat diets described in detail earlier in the week... Thanks to a Followhealthlife reader for providing a link to the letters in response to The New York Times' coverage. They are fascinating. Certainly some leapt to the conclusion that this research shows you can eat whatever you want. But many of the letters--especially those from experts--were singing the same tune as Dr. Fuhrman. For instance, this is from David L. Katz, M.D., the director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale School of Medicine:

    That there were any discernible differences in outcomes at all is more surprising than how modest those differences were, particularly given that cancer and heart disease develop over decades and that this intervention occurred relatively late in life, in women well past menopause.

    My convictions in the fundamentals of a healthful diet are unshaken.

    Larry Norton, M.D. and Clifford Hudis, M.D. are experts from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Here's what they had to say:
    The study reports that over a short average period of observation (about eight years) a small reduction in fat calories results in a 9 percent reduction in the risk of getting breast cancer, which is very close to "statistical significance" (an arbitrary criterion).

    Women eating more fat before entering the trial and those adhering to the diet showed an even better reduction in breast cancer risk.

    It is too soon to dismiss these findings as negative, and further follow-up of women on this trial is needed.

    David J. Goldstein, M.D., from Indiana, writes:
    This study provides no new information except confirmation that maintaining a diet is difficult and a hint that reducing "extremely high" levels of fat intake to "high" levels may be beneficial.
    Alice H. Lichtenstein is a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, she writes:
    This study may have raised more questions than it answered, but it would be counterproductive, as the editorial suggested, "to drown our confusion in a big serving of extra-rich ice cream."

    The default option to dampen our frustration should be to take a brisk walk around the block.

    Of course, not everyone agreed. Read all of the letters for an interesting cross-section of opinion.

    Low-Fat Vegan vs. Eat to Live

    After a recent post, Stan asked how Dr. Fuhrman's diet is different from Dean Ornish's.

    The difference is that Dr. Fuhrman's program is based on a mathematical formula that takes into account the nutrient density of food.

    It uses foods in proportion to their phytochemical and micronutrient density, meaning vegetables replace grains at the base of the pyramid.

    This diet-style enables people to eat more food, obtain a lower glycemic index and more natural anti-oxidant and disease reversal benefits. Dr. Fuhrman also does not restrict fat from avocado, nuts, and seeds as much as Ornish. Dr. Fuhrman says he sees that arbitrary reduction of fat intake to below 10 percent to be less than ideal. Here's a little chart showing some differences.

    Low-Fat Vegan DietDr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live
    grain or starchy vegetable-basedlow carb vegetable-based
    rice, potatoes, bread, pastacolorful veggies, greens, beans, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, squash
    less fruit, less nuts, no animal products, some processed foods more fruit, more nuts, no or very little animal products, no processed foods
    less fiber, less nutrients, more sodium, less omega-3 fatshigh fiber, nutrients levels, less sodium, more omega-3 fats

    Dr. Fuhrman's Food Pyramid
    Want to print out Dr. Fuhrman's food pyramid to stick on your fridge? Click here to download a PDF.

    Show the World What Healthy Food Looks Like

    The blogosphere regularly serves up a heaping portion of food blogs. Blogs like Vegan Lunch Box, Stephen Cooks, and Organic Authority cook up numerous recipes and photos of enticing food creations everyday.

    One of the big misperceptions of healthy food is that it is not delicious. People think we only eat carrot sticks and flax seeds.

    Show them that's not the case. Next time you make a "Fuhrman Friendly" meal, grab your digital camera and snap some pictures. Jot down the recipes, and e-mail us (at

    Followhealthlife wants to show the world the good food that you're eating.

    Most Weight Loss Plans Are a Waste of Your Money

    What is wrong with every single commercial weight-loss program? They are all too high in fat and too low in fiber because they cater to the American love affair with rich, high fat food.

    Weight Watchers' brand foods contain 24 percent of calories from fat. Lean Cuisine contains 25 percent of calories from fat. The Jenny program requires the purchase of packaged meals with entrees such as cheese souffl� and Salisbury steak, meals that are almost as bad as what most Americans eat at home. These commercial diet plans, since they are not very low in fat, must restrict portion sizes to offer "low calorie" meals. These "skimpy" portions represent an obsolete approach with a dismal track record.

    It is merely a matter of time before those trying to keep their portions small increase the amount of food they are eating. The amount of fiber is insufficient and the nutrient density of the diet is poor. These diets restrict calories, but because the food choices and meal plans are so calorie-dense, the dieters must eat tiny portions in order to lose weight. These choices don't satisfy our desire to eat, and we wind up craving food and becoming frustrated. When dieters can't stand eating thimble-sized portions anymore and finally eat until satisfied, they put on weight on with a vengeance. You may be able to hold your breath under water for a short period, but when you resurface you will be hungry for air and will be forced to speed up your respiratory rate. In a similar manner, if you cannot eat small portions forever, it just isn't likely to work for long.

    You can't eat out of boxes and consume powdered drinks forever, either. If you do lose weight, you will always gain it back. Instead, permanent changes in your eating habits must be made. Learning new recipes and adopting different ways of eating that you can live with will maintain your weight loss and protect your health for the rest of your life.

    New York Nixes Full-Fat Milk in Schools

    The New York Times reports that school districts in the Bronx and Manhattan won't be going the "whole" way with milk any more. New York education officials decided to eliminate whole milk as part of a larger movement to curb childhood obesity. Martin Oestreicher, executive director of school support services explains that this initiative is all about children's livelihoods:

    "We got rid of white bread; you'll never see any white bread in our schools�it's all about whole-wheat bread, frankfurter buns, hamburger buns. We reformulated a lot of items. It all goes in the context of trying to cut down the obesity index in our kids."

    The article mentions that New York City is not the first major district to stop serving whole milk. Los Angeles initiated the same ban in 2000. States such as Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut have enacted or are considering similar decisions to bar or limited the serving of whole milk in public schools.

    Federal guidelines still suggest three full servings of milk per day, but school officials feel their decision will help control the fat and calorie intake of children. Dr. Fuhrman has his own concerns about childhood consumption of milk. In Onlyourhealth Your Child he explains that mother's milk is the best choice for natural childhood development for kids until the age of two. After that it's better to get healthy fat and calcium from other sources:

    The antibodies derived from mother's milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune systems disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child's immune system is still underdeveloped until age two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother's antibodies access to the blood stream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother's immunoglobulins to supplement their own system. Nature designed it that way.

    Breast-feeding for two years might be considered a prolonged time by today's standards, but this practice offers significant protection against childhood diseases, including allergies and asthma. One recent study showed that breast-feeding for less than 9 months was found to be a risk factor for asthma and after that period of time, the longer a child was breast-fed, the lower the risk of asthma.1 Avoiding cow's milk proteins, even those found in infant formulas, has also been shown to reduce asthma occurrence.2

    After weaning from the breast, the same qualities that make a healthy adult diet, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, makes the best diet for children. The bottom line is to have your children develop a taste for other wholesome drinks besides cow's milk. Try soy milk or almond milk, or a mix of soy and almond. Many options are available fortified with vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium. If using dairy products or milk, stick to the fat-free variety. The fat in our children's diet should mostly come from avocadoes, nuts, and seeds, not cows.

    Incidentally The New York Times article mentions that switching to soy milk would have jeopardized federal school food reimbursements.

    For more of Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on children's consumption of milk read this post entitled Cow's Milk and Kids Aren't Made for Each Other.

    Continue Reading...

    A Table of High-Nutrient Foods

    Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection For Life has a table of foods with the highest nutrient-densities. One aspect of the diet he recommends (and explains at more length in his books) is to eat primarily the natural foods in the table that contain high nutrient levels, while eating less of everything else that is not on the list.

    Some Nutrient-Rich Foods
    Green Vegetableskale, swiss chard, broccoli, artichokes, string beans, asparagus, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and peas
    Yellow/Orange Vegetablescarrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, and corn
    Beans/Legumeschick peas, red kidney beans, lentils, and adzuki beans
    Fresh Fruitsblueberries, strawberries, kiwis, apples, oranges, grapes, pears, pineapple, and bananas
    Non-Starchy Vegetableseggplant, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and onions
    Raw Nuts and Seedsfilberts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews, pecans and flax seed

    Wall Street Journal Addresses Low Calorie Diets

    In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman cites studies that show fewer calories can mean an increased life span. Recently The Wall Street Journal printed an article supporting calorie-restricting diets. Health Journal writer Tara Parker-Pope reports:

    New research shows that calorie-restriction diets -- which cut calories by as much as 40% of your normal intake -- may help you live a longer life. Earlier this month, one of the first human studies of calorie restriction showed that people on the strict diet had younger hearts than normal-weight people on a typical Western diet.

    While calorie restriction may not be practical or possible for everyone, there are still lessons to be learned. What is so surprising is that people who follow calorie-restriction diets in hopes of living longer are still eating a lot of food. They indulge in huge breakfasts and big dinners, but eat few or no snacks in between. The main difference in their diets compared with most people typically is in the nutritional quality of food they eat -- whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less animal protein and saturated fat. They avoid refined foods, sugary desserts, soft drinks and other sources of "empty" calories.

    Researcher Luigi Fontana makes the key point about reducing calories in your diet: it's not about less food, it's about which food:

    "It's not eating half a hamburger, half a bag of french fries and half a sugared beverage," notes Dr. Fontana.

    Eat to Live explains all about low-calorie, nutrient-rich food like fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts is the key. Here are some of Dr. Fuhrman's findings from the book:

    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. There are so many hundreds of studies.

    Scientists have long known that mice that eat fewer calories live longer. Recent research has demonstrated the same effect in primates (i.e., you). A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that restricting calories by 30 percent significantly increased life span in monkeys. The experimental diet, while still providing adequate nourishment, slowed monkeys' metabolism and reduced their body temperatures, changes similar to those in the long-lived thin mice. Decreased levels of triglycerides and increased HDL (the good) cholesterol were also observed.1 Studies over the years, on many different species of animals, have confirmed that those animals that we fed less lived longest. In fact, allowing an animal to eat as much food as it desires can reduce its life span buy as much as half.

    In the wide field of longevity of research there is only one finding that has held up over the years: eating less prolongs life, as long as nutrient intake is adequate. We all must recognize that if we are to reach the limit of human life span, we must not overeat high-calorie food. Eating empty-calorie food makes it impossible to achieve optimal health and maximize our genetic potential.

    Continue Reading...