Internet News: A Web of Fat

If you read yesterday's post about the steady stream of press coverage surrounding the obesity epidemic you'll see that so many of those stories focus on miracle cures and surgical shortcuts (instead of the old "eat right and exercise").

But not all obesity-related news fits that mold. Here's a couple:

News items like these show that there are signs of countering the obesity epidemic, just as long as the focus involves developing weight-loss systems through valid scientific research and not sweeping problems under the rug the with fads, drugs, and surgery. Dr. Fuhrman's approach in Eat to Live is exactly that�adopt a healthy diet for disease protection and sustained wellness. He explains:

Eat to Live gives you the information and the motivation you need to take advantage of this opportunity to improve your health and maximize your chances for disease-free life.

Science and the development of modern refrigeration and transportation methods have give us access to high-quality, nutrient-dense food. In today's modern society, we have available to us the largest variety of fresh and frozen natural foods in human history. Using the foods available to us today, we can devise diets and menus with better nutrient density and nutrient diversity than ever before possible.

You have a clear choice. You can live longer and healthier than ever before, or you can do what most populations do: eat to create disease and premature death.

WHO Targets Obesity

Reuters reports the World Health Organization (WHO) declares war on poor diets, citing them as primary causes of childhood obesity. Reporter Stephanie Nebehay explains new body mass guidelines aim to change all this:

Twenty to 30 percent more young children may be overweight than previously thought according to new growth standards, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

The U.N. agency said it hoped parents and pediatricians would begin applying its new guidelines -- which for the first time lay down optimal body mass index charts -- to halt "the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity."

The standards also aim to help identify malnourished youngsters, which it said was an underestimated problem.

The WHO�which has declared war on poor diets blamed for rising obesity�has estimated that at least 20 million children under five years and one billion adults worldwide are overweight. Another 170 million children are underweight, three million of whom die each year as a result of malnutrition.


Foods That Make You Thin

It's pretty clear which foods will let you feel full with the least amount of calories--fruits and green vegetables. Green vegetables, fresh fruit, and legumes again take the gold, silver, and bronze medals. Nothing else in the field is even close.

Caloric Ratios of Common Foods
FoodsCalories Per PoundCalories Per LiterFiber Grams Per Pound
Potato chips of French fries2,6003,0000
White Bread1,3001,5000
Chicken and Turkey (white meat)9001,6000
Whole Grains (wheat and rice)6001,0003
Starchy Vegetables (potatoes and corn)3506004
Green Vegetables1002005

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 my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing 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. 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 not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.

Obesity: What a Bloated Web It Weaves

The obesity epidemic in this country has more twists and turns than a McDonald's drive-thru. Everyday the news media is blitzed with a different obesity-related headline. Here are two that caught my eye this morning...

According to Reuters, Medtronic Inc., the world's biggest maker of medical devices; is developing weight control implants to help the company tap into the $100 billion obesity market. Debra Sherman reports:

Doctors and companies across the United States are looking at various technologies to combat obesity, including brain stimulation. These methods, though not completely understood by doctors, may be preferable to bariatric surgery since device-based treatments are reversible and have fewer side effects.

Despite failures so far of some devices in clinical trials, companies are pushing ahead, convinced that medical devices hold the key to battling obesity.

Medtronic is trying to develop a battery-powered gastric pacemaker that causes the stomach to contract, sending signals of satiety to the appetite center in the brain, a small start-up also is working with the famed Mayo Clinic on a device that uses electricity to paralyze the stomach, reducing or stopping contractions that churn food as part of the digestion process.

If shocking your innards isn't disturbing enough, what if the obesity epidemic is actually worse then we think? I think this would surprise anyone, but according to AFP it's true. It's seems telephone interviews aren't satisfactory for fat data collection. A new study explains:

The main tool for measuring obesity in the United States is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which uses telephone interviews with a cross-section of the population to get its data.

But the researchers say that, in these phone interviews, women of all ages often under-report their weight, and young and middle-aged men often over-report their height.

As a result, the calculations for body mass index (BMI)�the yardstick of fat�are being skewed, and the true picture is that America is even chubbier than it thinks.

It seems to me that all these headlines do is make a clear solution murky. In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains that weight loss approaches like "gastric electrocution" are too risky and if you really want to slim down the population start eating to live:

The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year.1

The NIH has reported that those undergoing surgical treatment for obesity have had substantial nutritional and metabolic complications, gastritis, esophagitis, outlet stenosis, and abdominal hernias. More than 10 percent required another operation to fix problems resulting from the first surgery.2

The Eat to Live promise is threefold: 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.

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Case Histories: The Atkins Diet

Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella, MS, D.C., DACBN, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, American College of Lifestyle Physicians, and a Diplomat of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, discusses the Atkins low-carb high-fat diet-style:

The following case histories are presented to explicate some of the many risks associated with a high fat, high animal protein, low carbohydrate Atkins diet style. I have added background and ancillary information as well as an editorial discussion to aid in the understanding of these cases.

Atkins Case History: Kathy Barnett
Kathy was a healthy 16 year old teenage girl. She had no medical problems and was active and thriving. Like many teens, especially girls, she struggled with excess weight and body image. She decided to peruse the Atkins diet to lose weight. She stood 5 feet 8 inches tall was nearly 200 pounds when she began dieting. Based upon the low-carbohydrate strategy, her diet correctly consisted primarily of meat and cheese. She ate with regularity and did not fast.

A few weeks after beginning the diet, this otherwise healthy girl suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed [1]. Paramedics were dispatched to her high school to render care. Upon their arrival Kathy had no pulse and was not breathing. The electrical activity of her heart evaluated by paramedics revealed that she was in ventricular fibrillation, an exceedingly unusual finding in such a young patient. Inexplicitly, Kathy was in cardiac arrest at 16 years of age. Despite their best efforts, including CPR and defibrillation, paramedics were unable to revive her.

At autopsy examiners could not find any underlying condition that could contribute to or explain her sudden and tragic death. No genetic or anatomic abnormalities of her heart or other organs were found. Kathy had no history of any heart or respiratory related problems. She had no prior complaints or symptoms that could be attributed to nutritional disturbances such as electrolyte or nutrient imbalances. Kathy was not only a medical tragedy but a medical mystery as well. But that was until Dr. Joseph Tobias and his colleagues at University of Missouri, Department of Child Health studied her case.

In an article appearing in the Southern Medical Journal, Dr. Tobias and his team reported on this case and proffer a cause and effect connection between Kathy's untimely death and her lethal diet. The article, titled Sudden Cardiac Death of an Adolescent During Atkins Dieting, focuses on the potential development of a fatal physiological disturbance inherent in this type of diet [1].

Information provided by Kathy's mother confirmed that her daughter was compliantly on the carbohydrate restricted diet long enough to be in ketosis, the metabolic result of relying on dietary fat to meet the body's energy needs. This is likely where this young girl's fatal medical problem began (Atkins refers to this as the 'induction phase').

Russell and Taegtmeyer demonstrated that active heart muscle relying on ketones for energy lost 50% of contractile function in a matter of hours [2]. Other studies have revealed the development of serious and fatal cardiac arrhythmias resulting from high dietary fat consumption [3, 4].

The most compelling finding in this case may provide the medical smoking gun that clearly implicates the Atkins diet as the cause of Kathy's sudden cardiac death. Electrolytes are micronutrients that are essential for many bodily functions. Critical to normal heart rhythm is the electrolyte potassium. But ketones also use potassium to enter the kidney for excretion. The more profound the state of ketosis the greater the depletion of potassium stores [5]. If there is a concomitant deficit of caloric intake, which leads to further depletion, a serious condition called hypokalemia (critically low levels of potassium) can result. Hypokalemia is directly associated with sudden cardiac death. During resuscitation efforts, when corrected for pH shift, Kathy's serum potassium was 3.8 mEq/L, a critically low level reflective of profound hypokalemia.

While is it difficult to establish an absolute nexus between Kathy's diet regimen and her untimely death a preponderance of all the aspects of the case raises an alarming index of suspicion. This is further supported by literature that reported an increased incidence of sudden cardiac death in patients on high protein diets [6]. The likelihood that the mortality in this case is directly related to this diet style was compelling enough for Dr. Tobias and his collaborators to warn against it in the conclusion of their presentation.

Atkins Case History: Jody Gorran
Jody was an active 50 year old when he decided to do something about his mid-life weight gain.7 He diet shopped and decided on the well advertised Atkins Diet. He liked that it was touted as the "no depravation diet" that excluded hunger, set not limit on the amount of food and included foods so rich that they are not included on any other diet [8]. At the time he had no other health problems other than being moderately overweight. In fact, Jody was compliant at having regular check-ups and screenings. In late December 2000, during a routine colonoscopy Jody also consented to a preventive cardiac CT scan (he had no history, symptoms or complaints of coronary artery or cardiovascular diseases). The results were excellent. Jody's plaque score was 0, no blockage of the coronary arteries. The reports reads, "Normal scan, no identifiable atherosclerosis with very low coronary vascular disease risk." Good news. Furthermore, his cholesterol levels were all well within the safe range at that time, these being - Total Cholesterol 153 mg/dl, HDLc 62 mg/dl, LDLc 81 mg/dl and triglycerides 42 mg/dl. Jody was in great cardiovascular shape with an excellent lipid profile and the CT scan to prove it. But this was all about to dramatically change.

Not long after beginning the Atkins Diet Jody had a repeat blood test. The results showed that he was in ketosis, a metabolic hallmark of one carefully abiding by the Atkins Diet. The lipid profile at that time was reported as: total cholesterol: 230 mg/dl, HDLc 65 mg/dl, LDLc 154 mg/dl and triglycerides 56 mg/dl. Jody had gone from maintaining a safe, low risk lipid profile to a dangerous, elevated risk profile [9]. Concerned about these results he consulted the Atkins Diet book and Atkins Website which addressed and allayed his fears. The Atkins literature reported that a few "fat sensitive" persons may develop a less favorable cholesterol level on a high fat [Atkins] diet. Jody read that, "less than one person in three falls into this [elevated cholesterol] category" And, although Atkins suggests eating leaner cuts of meat and "farmers cheese" as the solution, he states, "But if you're not happy [with these foods] don't bother with it; go back to the regular Atkins diet that you enjoyed more". [8] This is the Atkins advice rendered specifically to those who develop unhealthy cholesterol levels while on his diet. Relived by the supportive information from his nutritional guru, and pleased with the weight loss results thus far, Jody continued following the "stages" of the Atkins diet for another two years. In fact, a large quantity of his diet consisted of food products directly manufactured and marketed by Atkins, Inc.

In early October 2003, Mr. Gorran was not feeling well. For the first time in his life he began experiencing chest pain that was becoming increasingly severe. Jody consulted noted cardiologist Bruce Martin, M.D. in October of 2003. During his examination Jody's stress test was consistent coronary ischemia. The blood supply to his heart had become compromised. Dr. Martin scheduled an emergent cardiac catherization. The results were shocking. In less than three years Jody had gone from excellent cardiac health (zero blockages of the coronary arteries) to a critical 99% stenotic occlusion of the major coronary arteries. About two years after beginning the Atkins diet, according to Dr. Martin, Jody was on the brink of suffering a life threatening cardiac event. Mr. Gorran underwent immediate surgical repair to remove blockages, stent implantation and was prescribed several medications.

Noted in Dr. Martin's medical records is the recommendation to immediately and completely discontinue the Atkins diet. It specifies that, "Mr. Gorran has been advised to stop the Atkins diet because of the dangers of saturated fat allowed on this diet."[8] A few months following Jody's cessation of the Atkins diet his lipid profile returned to normal levels that were; total cholesterol 146 mg/dl, HDLc 53 mg/dl, LDLc 81 mg/dl and triglycerides 65 mg/dl.

There is abundant, consistent scientific evidence that links excessive total dietary fat, cholesterol and saturated fat to dyslipidemia and the development of heart disease. The preponderance of an overwhelming amount of irrefutable data confirms that dietary saturated fat is especially atherogenic [9-14]. Because the Atkins Diet derives the majority of it's calories from animal sources the saturated fat content is extraordinary high.

Blood flow studies using myocardial perfusion imaging and echocardiograpy were preformed on subjects before and after starting the Atkins Diet. The study showed that blood flow to the heart diminished by an average of 40% after one year on an Atkins high fat diet. Serial blood studies also showed marked increased of inflammatory markers that predict heart attacks [15]. Another study did an intensive review of the Atkins Diet and concluded that the high fat content resulted in the progression of atherosclerosis [16]. Both studies are clearly consistent with the Atkins Diet and heart disease nexus reported in this case.

Dietary fat content of a typical menu by Robert Atkins, M.D. taken from Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution and a menu presented by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. in Eat to Live, The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss - an exemplary diet consistent with the consensus recommendations of the rational evidence-based scientific community [17-18], are in sharp contrast:

Per DayAtkin's MenuEat to Live Menu
Total Calories25501600
Grams of Total Fat16719
Grams of Saturated602
Total Fat Calories1530171
Saturated Fat Calories54018
% of Calories from Total Fat6010
% of Calories from Saturated Fat211

Clearly the total fat and saturated fat contained in the Atkins diet far exceed the daily intake recommendations cited by every reputable source. It is interesting to note that the fat calories alone for the Atkins Diet are about equal to the total calories for the Eat to Live Diet.

An extensive body of scientific literature supports the conclusion that the quantity of dietary fat consumption encouraged by Dr. Atkins is clearly atherogenic and that his diet is disease promoting. Additional long term prospective and retrospective studies will further evidence the significant dangers of the Atkins Diet.

Author's Comments
This well cited article is about more than the science behind it. These people trusted the promises and guarantees held out to them by a member of the medical nutrition community who continued to ignore the wealth of evidence-based dietary science. The books Kathy and Jody read and the infomercials they watched literally instructed them to disregard the warnings of hundreds of credible health professionals citing the dangers of the Atkins Diet. And these cases are neither anecdotal nor isolated, they're representative. The only conclusion that can be drawn regarding the motivation to promote a diet that thousands of pages of data consistently expose as disease promoting is that it's a pursuit that places profits over people. If a prescription drug is administered to a million patients and it results in the death of a just a few, physicians stop prescribing it and manufacturers stop making it. How many case histories about fatal heart attacks, cancer, kidney failure, stroke and other diseases directly attributable to high fat diets are published before Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution is finally pulled off the shelf? If their camp were smart they would place a black box warning right on the covers of Atkins' books to attenuate the torrent of litigation that they're undoubtedly headed for; but what ever defensive steps they take, my expert opinion will prevail. If I could write directly to Dr. Atkins I would send him at note that simply read: Kathy Barnett: 1985 - 2001.

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The Secrets to Getting Your Children to Eat Healthfully

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

1. Keep only healthy food in the house. Every person in the household should have the same food choices available.

2. Offer and feed a wholesome diversity of natural foods, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit, while giving each child as much latitude as possible to eat what they prefer.

3. Don't attempt to manage your children's caloric intake. They can do that on their own.

4. If you, as parents, do not demonstrate proper respect for your own bodies by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and engaging in other healthful lifestyle practices, don't expect your children to do any better than you, now or in the future.

5. Educate your children about their nutritional needs and the importance of eating healthfully. Start this when they are young and continue to reinforce their learning, as they will be exposed to more toxic food choices as they get older and spend more time out of their home.

It is important to realize that it is never too late to teach your children the importance of eating healthy. As you learn, share enthusiastically with them. Work on improving your diets together. If your child is a teenager, let her read what you are reading. You may want to add that it will help their complexion and body shape. Even teenagers will make beneficial improvements in their diets when presented with compelling reasons. I have lectured to high school assemblies many times and am always impressed by how interested, enthusiastic, and willing to make changes teenagers can be. Research supports this willingness of adolescents to make significant dietary change when presented with accurate compelling information.1

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Ashland, Massachusetts Cancer Cluster

Dr. Fuhrman consistently implores his patients to avoid mercury, pesticides, and other cancer-causing compounds. In Massachusetts, there's news of an especially extreme example of such toxins causing serious damage. Mark Jewell of the Associated Press:

A disturbingly high number of cancer cases outside Boston are linked to a former textile dye-making plant with waste ponds that some children swam in, state health officials concluded Tuesday.

People who grew up in Ashland and swam in contaminated ponds were two to three times more likely to develop cancer than those who had no contact with the water, a seven-year study found.

The cancer rate was nearly four times greater among people with a family history of cancer and who also swam or waded in waste lagoons and contaminated wetlands near the Nyanza Inc. dye plant, the Department of Public Health said.

Dr. Fuhrman has discussed this topic several times both in Onlyourhealth Your Child and in the "Toxins" category on Followhealthlife.

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New Study Says Drinking Lots of Coffee Okay for Heart

A new study printed in the upcoming issue of Circulation claims heavy coffee consumption does not harm the heart. Prompting Reuters to encourage people to go ahead and order that second cup of coffee�or third, or fourth! Good thing, because according to Esther Lopez-Garcia coffee is an extremely popular drink worldwide:

"We believe this study clearly shows there is no association between filtered coffee consumption and coronary heart disease," said Esther Lopez-Garcia, an instructor in the School of Medicine at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain, who worked on the study.

"This lack of effect is good news, because coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world."

Don't park yourself at your local coffee house just yet. The study does warn that heavy coffee drinkers also tend to smoke and drink alcohol more often. Two factors that clearly compromise health, but according to Dr. Fuhrman coffee is dangerous enough on its own.

In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman provides two reasons why lots of coffee shouldn't be included in a healthy diet:

First caffeine is a stimulant that allows you to get by with less sleep and reduces the depth of sleep. Sleep deprivation results in higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and interferes with glucose metabolism, leading to insulin resistance.1 This insulin resistance, and subsequent higher baseline glucose level, further promotes heart disease and other problems. In other words, caffeine consumption promotes inadequate sleep, and less sleep promotes disease and premature aging. Adequate sleep is also necessary to prevent overeating. There is no substitute for adequate sleep.

The second issue is that eating more frequently and eating more food suppresses caffeine-withdrawal headaches and other withdrawal symptoms. When you are finally finished digesting the meal, the body more effectively cleans house; at this time people experience a drive to eat more to suppress caffeine-withdrawal symptoms. You are prodded to eat again, eating more food than you would if you were not a caffeine addict.

One cup of coffee per day is not likely to cause a significant risk, but drinking more than this one-cup maximum can interfere with your health and your weight-loss goals.

Dr. Fuhrman also refers to coffee as a mind altering substance that prohibits total nutrition excellence. But for heavy coffee drinkers quitting is tough and can leave you feeling lousy. Here's some words of wisdom from Dr. Fuhrman to help you soldier through it:

You could feel better by drinking a cup of coffee every three hours, evenly spaced out, to keep you caffeine blood levels constant. Or you could take medications such as Fioricet, Cafergot, Excedrin, Esgic, Fiorinol, Migrainal, Wigraine, and others whose active ingredients are narcotics, barbiturates, ergotamines, or caffeine; or you can just get some amphetamines or cocaine from the alley behind the liquor store. Either way, I hope you understand that temporarily feeling better does not mean getting well. Putting toxic drugs in your body can only compromise your health and lead to further dependence and suffering. In order to detoxify, you need to feel worse, not better; then after the withdrawal symptoms are completed, you will truly become well.

For more information on the coffee-craze check out these previous posts: Coffee is Not for Everyone, Caffeine Freaks: Get Tested, and Busy Week for Coffee.

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Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 31

Health Business Blog hosts this week's Grand Rounds, which features Dr. Fuhrman's post Prostate Cancer: A Growing Disease In Men, click here to take a look.

Monday's Health Notes

Here's some health-related news making headlines:

  • Candice Choi of the Associated Press reports many hospitals are turning to technology to ensure patients are eating right during hospital stays.
  • According to Charnicia E. Huggins of Reuters a new study links television watching to obesity in some children.
  • WTOP reports a new study claims teenagers using fad diets to slim down may end up gaining pounds in the long run.

Hoodia Gordonii: Natural Healthy Weight Loss Herb or Snake Oil?

Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella, MS, D.C., DACBN, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, American College of Lifestyle Physicians, and a Diplomat of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, discusses a popular supplement:

An herbal extract of the Hoodia gordonii cactus was found to be useful in quelling the thirst and hunger pangs of desert nomads during times of famine. The proposed mechanism, according to Dr. Richard Dixey, a spokesperson for Phytopharm Pharmaceuticals, who heads a research team efforting the synthesis of P57, the appetite suppressing component of the plant, explains how it works:

"There is a part of your brain, the hypothalamus. Within that mid-brain there are nerve cells that sense glucose sugar. When you eat, blood sugar goes up because of the food, these cells start firing and now you are full. What the Hoodia seems to contain is a molecule that is about 10,000 times as active as glucose. It goes to the mid-brain and actually makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full. But you have not eaten. Nor do you want to."
Pretty impressive sounding stuff, but does it work? That depends on whom you ask. Naturally, any advertisement is filled with glowing endorsements. But there is only one published, peer-reviewed scientific evaluation of P57 and that was preformed on rats. This study concluded that there was evidence of drug-induced anorexia using the extract from Hoodia1. But before you run out to the health food store consider a few facts of this study. The study was conducted on rats whereby researchers injected huge dosages of P57 directly into the brains (hypothamus) of the animals and then observed their eating behaviors for several days (apologies to PETA). To date there are no credible published human trials. Basing the use of any product on a single animal trial and purely anecdotal information is risky.

Remember, the well known Leptoprin commercial, the "when is a diet pill worth 153 dollars a bottle�when it works" people? In it they state the effectiveness of their product is "backed by two major scientific clinical trials," what they don't tell you (and don't have to tell you) is that its effectiveness has also been debunked, refuted and disproved by 50 other clinical trials! It's up to us, the consumer, to do our own research.

Taking any substance that has not been thoroughly evaluated, or in which studies yield inconsistent or irreproducible results is a poor choice. Professionally I could never recommend, and personally I would never use, anything for which the credible scientific community has not reached a positive consensus. I don't experiment on my patients and I don't rely on social proof.

Smoke and Mirrors Weight Loss
The use of this substance as a weight loss aid really comes down to how you view health. The larger question we need to ask here transcends assessing if Hoodia is safe and effective, if it really works or is it is a scam. If we are desirous of losing weight and improving our health consider this:

Many of the Hoodia manufacturers boast that their product is safe because it is not a drug. And according to the Food and Drug Administration they're right; but relative to what Hoodia actually does in the body (if it really works) they're wrong. Hoodia is not a drug by FDA standards simply because it has not been approved by them (the FDA) to be "safe and effective in the treatment of aliments or conditions." Any substance that has been isolated, concentrated and ingested for the intent of producing a physiological response is a drug. I don't think anyone could have a problem with my definition here. With that said, during my pharmacology clerkship the first thing that my professor said is that every drug, no matter how trivial or potentially lifesaving has damaging negative side effects on the body that always accompany its intended beneficial use. There is always a 'health-tax' to pay with taking any substance. It's the nature of biochemistry and all drugs have negative side effects, no exceptions.

Okay, so let's say a thousand years of Hoodia use by the San tribesmen in the Kalahari Desert have got to give this stuff credibility, their Shaman can't be wrong, and it actually works well. Consider some potential negative side effects specific to taking Hoodia. Hoodia is said to suppress thirst as well as hunger. People taking it run the risk of dehydration which can lead to the development of kidney stones and other fluid related problems. More importantly, specific to weight loss, taking it over time it will do nothing to increase metabolism so you won't burn more calories at rest; as a good aerobic training regime will do for you. So, as soon as you stop taking it the body will go into a highly efficient fat-storage mode and store even more fat at an accelerated rate, the old diet rebound "yo-yo" syndrome. This phenomenon has been seen with every magic diet pill ever used. You've not changed any metabolic set points by taking Hoodia and your brain wants those stored calories back, big time. And, if you just continue taking it, it's possible that you'll begin to lose lean body mass and weight loss at that point can become deceptive and dangerous.

Also, what about those reduced calories you do take in? If you're on a reduced calorie diet style and in caloric deficit (the only way to lose weight) then you'll have to pay very close attention to what you eat to maintain excellent nutrition. A diet that does not contain the full complement of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other micronutrients and the right macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and proteins) is disease promoting. If you've reduced your caloric intake 40% by using this substance then you'll have to get all of your nutrition from 60% of the amount of food you normally eat.

The problem is that the vast majority of Americans are already not getting nearly enough of the life-extending, health maintaining food elements eating 100% of their present calories to begin with! More food, or rather more higher quality food, not less low quality food is a much better way to get the appetite centers in the hypothalamus to cooperate and to lose weight. "Turning off" hunger can be achieved by not only the caloric component of food, but the bulk volume and nutrients present in the food as well. So, you can "suppress" (or better yet satisfy) your appetite with lower calorie, higher nutrient-dense foods and at the end of the day you've not only controlled your appetite, reduced your calories (and therefore weight) but you've also improved your nutritional status. Now we're talking!

Gee, what foods have all the following attributes at the same time?

A. High bulk, like lots of healthy fiber
B. Are extremely rich in nutrients
C. Are also much lower in calories

If you don't know the answer to this food trivia question we have a lot to talk about!

When it comes to Hoodia or any other quick fix medical breakthrough�flavor of the month diet pill�we just don't get something for nothing and there's always a price to pay. The arsenal in the war against being over fat and against obesity has got to include more than just weight loss; weight loss by itself does not necessarily equate to improved health. I regularly consult with patients that have lost large amounts of weight and are very unhealthy. What's the point of losing a bunch of weight only to develop some other diet-related morbid condition? Any change in body weight, up or down, should always result in an elevation of health and clearly this is not always the outcome of change, the scientific journals are full of such cases. I have seen several patients that have resorted to bariatic surgery (stomach stapling) and lost nearly 100 pounds each and are enduring tremendous nutrition-related health problems. And the damage I seen in victims of the Atkins weight loss scheme could fill volumes, but that's another article. A diet rich in Phen-Phen and Red-Bull can pretty much guarantee you rapid weight loss but it can be a bit hard on the system. Using some gimmick to fool the body to lose weight can result in the perfect body�corpse-weight! Write that down.

The smoke and mirror weight loss results you get from taking herbs and other diet drugs might win the battle short term but because it doesn't result in elevated health we still lose the war. Clearly Hoodia will not improve our nutrition and can further compromise our health over time. The only possible way it might be useful is if we were to learn how to eat healthfully while taking it, but if you learned how to do that you wouldn't need Hoodia anyway. Trust me; I see real weight loss success every day.

Allow me to leave you with the words of that pop-culture icon and high profile celebrity promoter of Hoodia, Anna Nicole Smith: "Hoodia works; it's the new miracle diet pill that aids in weight loss by suppressing appetite!"

Sorry Anna, we're not buying and neither should you. Now, how about you get with the program and go get a copy of Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman.

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Eat Right for Your Metabolic Type: Just Say No!

Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella, MS, D.C., DACBN, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, American College of Lifestyle Physicians, and a Diplomat of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, discusses celebrity doctor, Dr. Mercola:

I went to and took the nutrition quiz. Bison meat, Dr. Mercola recommends that I get more bison meat in my diet. I can show you the print out if you want to see it. In fact, he states that if you're like me and have a test score consistent with a ‘mixed metabolic type’ and eat more bison and other ‘dark meats’ (those meats he lists as ‘most beneficial’ for us mixer-types) we will “dramatically reduce the need for emergency care such as visits to the doctor or hospital, pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medicine” and “permanently free yourself from the health programs, supplements, foods…that won't have any positive effect on your health”. And, best of all, “you will reach your ideal weight by maintaining the principles”. Bison meat, who knew?

But sadly bison meat is just one piece of a much larger picture in this ‘Mercola Madness’. Dr. Mercola’s approach to improving our health is largely centered on knowing our metabolic type. According to Dr. Mercola we’ll be free of disease and attain proper weight and enjoy all his other promises of greater youthfulness, improved health and vigor if we simply know if we’re a protein, carbohydrate or mixed metabolic type and eat the corresponding foods and follow other recommendations. Wow, such a deal! So how do we find out what type we are? We answer a hundred or so questions and his software spits it out, that’s how. For only 59 bucks this is a great deal too, right? Wrong! The determinate test is junk and the pseudo-science attempting to support metabolic typing is even worse.

Firstly, let's look at the all important questionnaire. It is a subjective test in which you respond based upon how you feel relative to specific food consumption, timing of meals, digestion, cravings etc. The problem is that after years of eating the standard American fare most of the foods that makes us comfortable and feel good (which we base our answers on) are the very foods that got us into trouble in the first place. In fact, it's listening to our bodies that make many of us fatter and sicker. After a while we’re just trying to feed the addictions of toxic hunger and quell cravings in an effort to stay comfortable. It may be subtle but it’s what drives many of us. Taking this subjective test is like asking a cigarette smoker when they crave a cigarette if smoking makes them feel better, and after they say yes we recommend that they smoke because they’re the “smoking-type”. The Mercola questionnaire bases our responses on similar cravings and withdrawal symptoms but from processed foods, sugar and salt intoxication, fat addiction, esophageal spasms and other morbid conditions and cravings. Nice.

I answered the on-line questionnaire as a “carbohydrate-comfortable” person obviously would and it sent me results telling me I was a carbohydrate metabolic type; then I took the test again answering as a meat lover would and low-and-behold it sent me results telling me I was a protein metabolic type. And then I answered as I really felt, and I did this at 5 different times throughout the day. Yes, I guess it is possible to be all 3 metabolic types at once. It looks like I’m a Protein Type at around 8:00 am, a Carbohydrate Type around noon and really mixed up at dinner time.

So, now let’s say you took the big test and the computer based decision spits back your metabolic type; looking at the list of foods he recommends there are some sound choices for each type but this has nothing to do with a factitious metabolic type; good food is good for everyone and bad food is bad for everyone regardless of a test score, blood type, eye color or your mother’s maiden name spelled backwards. But unfortunately it gets worse. In addition to some healthy foods (which may be off limits to you based on your type, sorry) Dr. Mercola recommends some seriously dangerous foods in all categories (just check out But back to this metabolic type nonsense; for this premise to be credible the laws of thermodynamics and biochemistry would have to no longer exist. Furthermore, our species simply does not exhibit a wide enough variation or biodiversity of our 20 or so metabolic pathways for any of this to matter. This is addiction based dieting, plain and simple. Unless, perhaps, some of us really have been abducted by aliens and had our insides altered. It’s that darn anal probe they use isn’t it? Perhaps Dr. Mercola does know something that we don’t! Come on, good nutrition is based upon the right ratio of calories and nutrients relative to age, sex and activity level and a few other basic variables. To alter a diet by doubling the fat content for one person verses another based upon some questionnaire is sheer lunacy (and he actually advocates saturated fat, that’s the malpractice of nutritional medicine in my opinion).

To think that a diet which includes excessive amounts of foods that are clearly well established risk factors for diet related cancers and heart disease is somehow less risky because you scored 82 points instead of a 63 on the Mercola questionnaire is scary, really scary. A healthy and well balanced diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio is health promoting across our entire population. Conversely, a diet too high in fat or excessive in protein can be very damaging to the health of each one of us, even if you scored 100.

I’m sure he means well but at best Dr. Mercola’s methods are a waste of time and money, at worst a Mercola madness meal could be your last, and I mean your last. But what do I know? After all, there’s still not enough bison in my diet.

Beware the High Fructose Corn Syrup

In a reviewing science writer Michael Pollan's new book in The New York Times, David Kamp discusses the politics of corn, and how it affects obesity:

...he lays out the many ways in which government policy since the Nixon era � to grow as much corn as possible, subsidized with federal money � is totally out of whack with the needs of nature and the American public.

Big agribusiness has Washington in its pocket. The reason its titans want to keep corn cheap and plentiful, Pollan explains, is that they value it, above all, as a remarkably inexpensive industrial raw material. Not only does it fatten up a beef steer more quickly than pasture does (though at a cost to ourselves and cattle, which haven't evolved to digest corn, and are therefore pre-emptively fed antibiotics to offset the stresses caused by their unnatural diet); once milled, refined and recompounded, corn can become any number of things, from ethanol for the gas tank to dozens of edible, if not nutritious, products, like the thickener in a milkshake, the hydrogenated oil in margarine, the modified cornstarch that binds the pulverized meat in a McNugget and, most disastrously, the ubiquitous sweetener known as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Though it didn't reach the American market until 1980, HFCS has insinuated itself into every nook and cranny of the larder � in Pollan's McDonald's meal, there's HFCS not only in his 32-ounce soda, but in the ketchup and the bun of his cheeseburger � and Pollan fingers it as the prime culprit in the nation's obesity epidemic.

As we have blogged about in more detail before, in Onlyourhealth Your Child Dr. Fuhrman shows no love for high fructose corn syrup:

Soft drinks and processed foods are full of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is not only fattening, but this inexpensive and ultra-concentrated sugar has no resemblance to real food made by nature. It is another experiment thrust upon our unsuspecting children with unknown dangerous consequences. Besides sugar, corn syrup, and chemicals, these drinks often contain caffeine, an addictive stimulant. Children crave more and more as they get older. By adolescence most children have become soft-drink addicts. It is no surprise that six out of the seven most popular soft drinks contain caffeine. Contrast this high level of sugary "liquid candy" with the meager intake of fresh produce by children and teenagers, and it is no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic beyond all expectations.

The Misinformation of Barry Groves and Weston Price

I am glad Barry Groves (an electronic engineer, and honorary board member of the Weston Price Foundation) returned and chimed in again. (This is a continuation of an earlier conversation--if you haven't already please read the whole thing.) Now that his name has been mentioned many times here at when people search for it on the web, hopefully they will be able to read his comments and my responses and see that his nutritional viewpoints are illogical and dangerous. Hopefully this will have some effect from anyone dying needlessly from his writings elsewhere and some book publisher will have second thoughts about publishing anything he puts together.

Barry Groves doesn't get the idea that I am not defending the American diet or the almost worthless recommendations of the American Heart Association. However, I am claiming that my dietary and nutritional recommendations are dramatically protective and can enable people to heart-attack-proof their bodies.

Barry Groves obviously did not read Disease-Proof Your Child or Eat To Live, but maybe others too, are not clear that I clearly explain that processed foods, sugar, white flour, and other low-fat, low-nutrient foods promote heart disease. Saturated fat is only one causative factor; but one I do not ignore.

Dangerous Advice
I realize the web allows a forum for people with potentially dangerous advice, but I think most intelligent people can see through his straw arguments, so I welcome the opportunity to comment again to his skewed nutritional viewpoints and unsubstantiated claims. Each time Barry Groves reports on a medical study he gave a different conclusion to the data than the researchers do, and the studies are usually some poorly done old study. It is typical stuff for the Atkins crowd and the Weston Price Foundation to find one research paper they can claim makes their argument legitimate, but even when they hand pick one study, they typically don't report the research accurately.

Fortunately we have a comprehensive body of knowledge today with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950's documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetable and beans and the increase risk of cancer and heart disease. Thousands of research scientists don't agree with Barry Groves' meat-centered diet recommendations and the platform of the Weston Price Foundation.

Respected Research Agrees
Let's look at what the most respected modern researchers say after a lifetime of collecting data from all over the world, and I will let the data speak for itself without my interpretation. I could have easily put a hundred decent studies on this list, but a few will illustrate the point. The following indented lines are cut and pasted from medical abstracts; the comments are from the abstracts not mine.

Huxley R ; Lewington S ; Clarke R. Cholesterol, coronary heart disease and stroke: a review of published evidence from observational studies and randomized controlled trials. Semin Vasc Med. 2002; 2(3):315-23
In observational epidemiologic studies, lower blood cholesterol is associated with a reduced risk from coronary heart disease (CHD) throughout the normal range of cholesterol values observed in most Western populations. There is a continuous positive relationship between CHD risk and blood cholesterol down to at least 3 to 4 mmol/l, with no threshold below which a lower cholesterol is not associated with a lower risk. Observational studies suggest that a prolonged difference in total cholesterol of about 1 mmol/l is associated with one-third less CHD deaths in middle age. Dietary saturated fat is the chief determinant of total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Tucker KL ; Hallfrisch J ; Qiao N ; et al. The combination of high fruit and vegetable and low saturated fat intakes is more protective against mortality in aging men than is either alone: the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Nutr. 2005; 135(3):556-61.
Saturated fat (SF) intake contributes to the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality. Recently, the protective effects of fruit and vegetable (FV) intake on both CHD and all-cause mortality were documented. However, individuals consuming more FV may be displacing higher-fat foods. Therefore, we investigated the individual and combined effects of FV and SF consumption on total and CHD mortality among 501 initially healthy men in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). Over a mean 18 y of follow-up, 7-d diet records were taken at 1-7 visits. Cause of death was ascertained from death certificates, hospital records, and autopsy data. After adjustment for age, total energy intake, BMI, smoking, alcohol use, dietary supplements, and physical activity score, FV and SF intakes were individually associated with lower all-cause and CHD mortality (P < 0.05). When both FV and SF were included in the same model, associations of each were attenuated with CHD mortality, and no longer significant for all-cause mortality. Men consuming the combination of > or =5 servings of FV/d and < or =12% energy from SF were 31% less likely to die of any cause (P < 0.05), and 76% less likely to die from CHD (P < 0.001), relative to those consuming < 5 FV and >12% SF. Men consuming either low SF or high FV, but not both, did not have a significantly lower risk of total mortality; but did have 64-67% lower risk of CHD mortality (P < 0.05) relative to those doing neither. These results confirm the protective effects of low SF and high FV intake against CHD mortality. In addition, they extend these findings by demonstrating that the combination of both behaviors is more protective than either alone, suggesting that their beneficial effects are mediated by different mechanisms.

Dwyer T ; Emmanuel SC ; Janus ED ; et al. The emergence of coronary heart disease in populations of Chinese descent. Atherosclerosis. 2003; 167(2):303-10.
Most countries in oriental Asia have not yet experienced the 'western' coronary heart disease (CHD) epidemic despite substantial economic development. An exception has been Singapore. We compared mortality and CHD risk factors in Singapore with two Oriental locations, Hong Kong and mainland China, which have not experienced the CHD epidemic. Mortality data from World Health Statistics Annuals age standardized for each location and were supplemented by local data. Risk factor data was obtained from population-based surveys using similar protocols in each location. Measures included diet, blood lipids, blood pressure, height and weight. CHD mortality in the year chosen for comparison, 1994, was significantly higher for Singapore Chinese males [108 (95.2-119.1)] than Chinese males in Hong Kong [44.3 (40.2-48.2)] or China [45.5 (44.2-46.8)]. Female CHD mortality was also relatively higher in Singapore Chinese. The only CHD risk factor markedly higher in Singapore Chinese was serum cholesterol; Singapore males [5.65 (5.55-5.75)], females [5.60 (5.50-5.70)], Hong Kong males [5.21 (5.11-5.31)], females [5.20 (5.10-5.29)] and China males [4.54 (4.46-4.62)], females [4.49 (4.42-4.55)]. Dietary differences in saturated fat consumption were consistent with this. Although there was little difference in total fat intake, a higher consumption of dietary saturated fat and lower consumption of polyunsaturated fat, accompanied by higher serum cholesterol, appear to explain the relatively high CHD mortality in Singapore compared with Hong Kong and mainland China. Differences in body mass index, blood pressure and smoking between locations did not explain the differences in CHD mortality.

Hu FB ; Manson JE ; Willett WC Types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001; 20(1):5-19.
During the past several decades, reduction in fat intake has been the main focus of national dietary recommendations to decrease risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Several lines of evidence. however, have indicated that types of fat have a more important role in determining risk of CHD than total amount of fat in the diet. Metabolic studies have long established that the type of fat, but not total amount of fat, predicts serum cholesterol levels. In addition, results from epidemiologic studies and controlled clinical trials have indicated that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat is more effective in lowering risk of CHD than simply reducing total fat consumption. In this article, we review evidence from epidemiologic studies and dietary intervention trials addressing the relationship between dietary fat intake and risk of CHD, with a particular emphasis on different major types of fat, n-3 fatty acids and the optimal balance between n-3 and n-6 fatty acids. We also discuss the implications of the available evidence in the context of current dietary recommendations.

But this is not just about heart disease. And again, with 1,500 references in my book, Eat To Live documenting my dietary recommendations for healthy weight loss, I am only placing a few representative studies here. For example, a recent study showed that after following almost 200,000 Americans for seven years, those who regularly consumed red meat had a double the occurrence of pancreatic cancer. (Nothlings U Wilkins, LR, Murphy, SP Hankins JH et al. Meat and fat intake as risk factors for pancreatic cancer the multiethnic short study J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 97:1458-65.)

Profits vs. Sense
I realize that quoting one study after another or using clear science and logic will not change the mind of those selling and profiting from the appeal of the meat-based diet like Barry Groves and the Weston Price Foundation recommend. It is still important to address them so that an uninformed individual is not taken in by their dangerous form of quackery, like so many did with Atkins.

Poor Health of Indigenous Meat-Eaters
The dangerous habits of Americans or Europeans who eat only about 5 percent of their caloric intake from fresh produce and the majority of calories from processed foods, does not in anyway make a diet centered on meat health supporting. The whole purpose of this website is to offer information that can offer people control over their health destiny, without dependency on medications and without a premature death due to nutritional ignorance. With the knowledge we have available today and the access to high quality foods all year round we have a unique opportunity to live well and longer than ever before in human history.

When Barry Groves and the Weston Price Foundation people listed above rest their laurels on the health of high meat eating tribes, we have to counter that with real research, not phony claims. The research on the life expectancy of these people is clear. The Inuit Greenlanders have the worst longevity statistics in North America. A careful literature search reveals multiple studies documenting an earlier death in these people as a result of their low consumption of fresh produce and their high consumption of meat.

Legitimate research on the health of these people at present and in the past, show that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the general population of Canada. Again, we don't want to mimic the population of Canada and certainly not a population with even a shorter life expectancy. But this research can not be ignore: Iburg KM ; Br�nnum-Hansen H ; Bjerregaard P. Health expectancy in Greenland.
Scand J Public Health. 2001; 29(1):5-12. Choini�re R. Mortality among the Baffin Inuit in the mid-80s.Arctic Med Res. 1992; 51(2):87-93.

Similar statistics are available about the Maasai in Kenya. The Maasai are best distinguished by their jewelry and ornamentation in their "self-deformation" of the body: elongated or torn ear lobes and stretched out lips. They do eat a diet rich in wild hunted meats and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world today. Maasai women have a life expectancy of 45 years, and men only live 42 years. I know these red-meat loving nuts will claim that those statistics are of the modern Maasai, not those of years gone by, but the data is also damaging even if you bring up statistics from 20 or more years ago, when good data was collected. Real African researchers, not Weston Price who just briefly visited them, or the list of Groves' Weston Price Foundation compatriots, documented that a Maasai rarely lived past the age of 60 and when they did, they were considered a very old man. If you want to mimic that dietary style, I guess that is your right, but certainly we know a little more about nutrition than the typical Maasai warrior. (Consider these sources: and

Adult mortality figures on the Kenyan Maasai, show that they have a fifty percent chance of dying before the age of 59.

Choosing Between Two Bad Diets vs. Choosing an Optimal One
Weston Price and the Weston Price Foundation's claims about achieving good health on a diet rich in saturated fat are entirely without substance or merit. Weston Price himself did not painstakingly document the lifespan of these people; he was a dentist who just made a quick visit and jumped to simplistic conclusions claiming people were healthy by looking at their teeth. He ignored life expectancy, infant mortality, high rate of infection and many other confounding variables. Weston Price did not grasp the complexity of multi-factorial causation and this tradition is continued by his followers today. This in no way dismisses or makes less of the importance of Price's criticism of the dangers of sugar and other processed foods modern societies eat.

And maybe eating lots of wild meats and natural vegetation, without exposure to modern processed foods may offer a better health outcome than a modern American eating even less produce, and more processed foods, (which may be even worse) but we don't purchase a car by comparing it to a junkyard wreck, we want to know what is best. Fortunately, we actually know that eating a higher percentage of vegetables, legumes, fruit, and raw nuts and seeds in a diet (and much less animal products) can offer a profound longevity advantage due to a broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients. We have a unique opportunity in human history, we can devise a lifestyle and diet-style to dramatically increase our productive years and live well into the nineties or later without dementia or medical tragedies. We must offer recommendations based on a broad overview of all the evidence. The evidence here is overwhelming; and for those who want maximum control of their health destiny one's dietary choices should not be based on politics, ego, or a belief system.

Carnival of the Green #24

The latest installment of the Carnival of the Green hosted by The Evangelical Ecologist features Dr. Fuhrman's post about organic produce, click here to check it out.

Carnival of Recipes #88

Dr. Fuhrman's recipes for Apple Pecan Pudding, Fuhrman Fudgsicles, and Whipped Banana Freeze were included in this week's Carnival of the Recipes hosted by Everything and Nothing, click here. *Not all recipes are Fuhrman-friendly.


Don't Settle For Diabetes

In a past edition of his Healthy Times newsletter (they're archived in the member center) Dr. Fuhrman discusses his approach to beat type II diabetes and get off insulin:

How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies? How can they lower their lipids and blood pressure, lose weight, and avoid taking dangerous drugs, such as insulin and sulfonylureas? They need to adopt a diet based on nutritional excellence.

Fortunately, the best diet for good health and longevity is also the best diet for diabetics. It is a diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio, as carefully described in my book, Eat to Live. When you eat a diet consisting predominantly of nature's perfect foods---green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds, and limited amounts of fresh fruit, it becomes relatively easy to eat as much as you want and still lose your excess weight. In my experience, those who follow my nutritional recommendations find that their diabetes disappears astonishingly fast, even before most of their excess weight melts away.

Predictable success
I have achieved marked success with diabetic patients and the success at becoming "non diabetic" or almost "non-diabetic" regularly occurs on the Eat to Live program whether the patient follows a strict vegan diet or not. I describe the diet-style as a "vegetable-based" diet because the base of the pyramid is vegetables, not grains. Even though most animal products are excluded, it is not necessary to adopt a completely vegan diet to achieve the goals. I offer patients the choice of adding two servings a week of low fat fish, such as tilapia, flounder, sole, and scrod, as well as an egg white omelet, once or twice each week. A few servings of very low saturated-fat animal products each week can be interspersed with the vegan meals without diminishing the results achievable from the vegetable-based diet.

Real-life success
Jim Kenny walked into my office for the first time weighing 268 pounds and suffering complications from poorly controlled diabetes. Jim was taking a total of 175 units of long- and short-acting insulin each day, and he already had suffered from severe complications of type 2 diabetes, including two heart attacks and Charcot (destructive inflammation) joint damage in his right ankle. In spite of this huge dose of insulin and six other medications, Jim's glucose readings averaged between 350 and 400, even though he was following the precise dietary recommendations of a dietician who worked in the office of his endocrinologist.

A better approach
After his initial visit with me, Jim began following my nutritional program for diabetics. I initially reduced his insulin dose to 130 units per day, and continued to decrease it gradually over the next few days. After five days, his glucose readings were running between 80 and 120, and he had lost ten pounds. At this point, I put him on 45 units of Lantus insulin at bedtime and 6 units of Humalog regular insulin before each meal, for a total of 63 units per day. By the time Jim returned for his two-week visit, he had lost sixteen pounds. We were able to discontinue some of his blood pressure medications and reduce his daily insulin intake to a total of 58 units per day.

One-month follow up
After one month on the program, we were able to totally discontinue Jim's insulin intake and start him on Glucophage (one of the safer oral medications). He lost twenty-five pounds in the first five weeks, and his blood glucose readings were well controlled without insulin. His blood pressure also came down to normal, and he no longer needed any blood pressure medications. An evaluation of Jim's blood test results revealed an elevated homocysteine level. With the appropriate supplementation with a specific form of folate (methyl tetrahydrofolate) that Jim required, his homocysteine returned to normal range.

No more medication
Five months after beginning the program, Jim was off all medications for diabetes, he no longer had high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and he was more than sixty pounds lighter. His kidney insufficiency had normalized, as well. Jim's case illustrates how powerful my high-nutrient approach to eating is when it comes to reversing diabetes. It also illustrates the sad fact that the standard dietary advice given to diabetics by conventional physicians and dieticians is not merely insufficient; it is dangerous. Jim Kenny would likely be dead by now had his nephrologists not referred him to me for an effective dietary approach.

Nutrient-Rich Springtime Treats

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

Apple Pecan Pudding

6 peeled and cored apples, dried
2 cups soy milk
2 cups pecans
� teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 medjool dates
2 cups organic sun-dried apples

Soak dried apples in soy milk overnight. Blend with remaining ingredients in the morning and place in muffin pan or small ceramic ovenware bowls. Cook at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool in refrigerator before serving. Serves 3-6.

Fuhrman Fudgsicles

2 ripe bananas
1 cup cashew nuts
2 tablespoons carob powder
� teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend ingredients together in blender or food processor. Spoon out into ice pop tray and freeze. Rinse outside of popsicle outside of popsicle tray with hot water to pull the pops out of the tray easily. Serves 6-8.

Whipped Banana Freeze

2 peeled frozen bananas (one per person)
frozen strawberries or blueberries (optional)
� cup unsweetened soy milk
� teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon of ground flax seed per person
1 tablespoon of crushed walnuts per person

Cut up the frozen fruit in small pieces. Put the soy milk, bananas, and vanilla into a blender, or food processor and blend until smooth. Sprinkle ground flax or crushed walnuts on top. Serves 2-3.

Frederick Conroy's Story

Frederick Conroy of Colorado shares his success on the Eat to Live diet:

If life is a journey, and we stop along the way to meet and dance and share knowledge and experience, the road I have been on is a search to learn how to eat properly.

This is my tale. It begins in the row houses of suburbia, with long green lawns kept up with Scott's fertilizer and new paint jobs every eight years. It is the computer age, the age of pollution and throwaways, a time when man was learning to live in natural harmony and rhythm with his world.

Have you ever woken up feeling disoriented, in the doldrums, without any energy or direction in your life? This is the state I found myself in until I met Dr. Fuhrman and I changed my lifestyle to conform to his system of natural health.

Since my twenties I had read in magazines or seen on the TV stories of people whose lives have been changed simply by the food they eat. Whether it was the nutritional advice of Adelle Davis, with her advice on whole grains or vegetables; or William Dufty in Sugar Blues, warning about the dangers of sugar and diabetes; or Frances Moore Lappe whose Diet for a Small Planet warned of the dangers of an overpopulated world of hungry malnourished people, if we continue our dependence on a national diet based on the standards of the cattlemen and dairy industries. I was interested and attracted to the logic and reasoning of the arguments made by the proponents of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans and other natural foods because of 1�the direct link between good nutrition and health and 2�the negative effects of fast foods, junk food.

My family history also played a key role in the decision-making process I made about my health in my adult life. My father grew up in a blue-collar Irish community in New Jersey. His family lived and worked in one of the most developed and industrialized cities in the world. Smokestacks, railroads, yards of thrown away tires and automobiles, rivers with debris which became polluted with chemicals and undrinkable. Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s they made every mistake possible. My father and his peers smoked filterless Camel cigarettes, drank alcohol, and in his youth my father pumped gas. Success was measured not by your health and living in a countryside of beauty and peace, but cars, apartments, drinking and lack of inhibition. Economics certainly do play a role in our medical hygiene and history. After World War II my father and most of his peers pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to a middle class lifestyle, moving from the blue collar homes to the suburbs.

My mother's family was a mix of German and English roots. She grew up in a New Jersey of lawn parties, canoe clubs, golf, and private schools, and even during the depression her father worked. My mother had marked good eating habits, did not smoke and drank in moderation. She was well educated. She also was active physically, and encouraged all of her offspring to exercise daily, whether it was skiing, bicycles, tennis, or marathon running.

As a result of their ecology, my father and two of my uncles died young of cancer. Today diabetes runs rampant through my remaining family, and they have serious problems with obesity and heart disease.

I was on my own trying to learn how to eat correctly. There are so many negative influences out in the world, whether it is peer influence to use alcohol, to be a couch potato, the cafeteria food we were served in high school and in universities, or the mess hall food in the Army, high in calories, low in essential fresh whole foods-�a diet centered on meat, flour, oil and sugar; not vegetables and fresh fruit. There is also the negative influence of media, television and billboards promoting fast food, soda, cookies and candies for instant gratification.

When I reached my mid-forties I had a wake up call and all of this caught up with me I developed bloody diarrhea. I got so nervous I checked myself into the Strang Cancer Center in NYC, and I thought I might die. The symptoms really frightened me. I was told I needed medications to stop the bleeding.

I was at a dead end. I was frightened and lost. I tried changing my diet and symptoms only intensified. I then did a very interesting thing which changed my life forever. I went to the book shop, and I was browsing books on medical care. Then I saw Dr Fuhrman's book, Fasting and Eating For Health. I thought awesome; it remains one of the best books I have read in my life. What could be in this? Was it a traditional Indian method of healing? Had this tradition ever been successful with people in the culture I had grown up in? It sounded like tough talk, that only a strong person would be successful at this. Yet, I was attracted to the logic of Dr. Fuhrman's arguments.

I bought the book and I began the road to recovery, immediately my symptoms disappeared. More importantly, there were no scars�or residual problems that continue after this experience.

Now ,after reading Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live, I am hooked for life. I knew this was what I needed. I think I read the entire book in about four days, it was so interesting. It remains one of the most influential and best written books of my life. Because of Dr. Fuhrman my faith in self-healing has developed to a much deeper and mature level. I believe I was guided to Dr. Fuhrman by some inner compass some sixth sense that is divine inside me. I have tried to deepen my understanding why I reached this particular conclusion, and perhaps it is because I believe in the experience of d�j� vu. Maybe I have been here before.

As my health came back to me, I began to run long distances, and gradually became involved in running several half marathons and longer distances. Sometimes I feel like my life is similar to that of Diogenes, the Greek who went in search of an honest man, by carrying a lamp in broad daylight throughout Athens. From the beginning everything was right here. If I had not failed, not suffered, I would never have discovered the answer to all my health questions and the healthiest way to live and eat. I have found that when things are their worst, if we believe and sincerely search, there is an answer, a light.

On another level, I am also a little wiser now for the disinformation which was the reason that I came to this point. I believe that we should have a mature education system in this country where true information on nutrition and diet and health are available to people who want to change. This information should and would be in the hands of the media; we would blitzed by information on whole foods and vegetables; and their effect on our lives�physically, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually. This information would be on the radio, computer, TV and billboards. There would not be the need for hospitals that we have today, nor would we rely on surgery and drugs in order to correct problems which primarily arise from the foods we eat. We would learn to eat correctly as the first step to recovery, as the basic building block to a healthy world.

Research: Mediterranean Diet Cuts Alzheimer's Risk

According to the Associated Press a study published in the Annals of Neurology claims the dissipating Mediterranean diet, thought also to ward off heart disease, may reduce risk of Alzheimers. Lead author Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas explains the research:

The diet he tested includes eating lots of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and fish, while limiting intake of meat and dairy products, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and emphasizing monounsaturated fats, such as in olive oil, over saturated fats. Previous research has suggested that such an approach can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Prior research has also suggested that certain components of the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's, Scarmeas said. But he said the previous work has tended to focus on individual nutrients like vitamin C or foods like fish. By studying a comprehensive diet instead, the new research could take possible interactions between specific foods and nutrients into account, he said.

Spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Association Dr. Marilyn Albert believes the study's message is clear:

The kinds of things we associate with being bad for our heart turn out to be bad for our brain.

Before you rush off to buy a vat of olive oil, consider Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on the Mediterranean Diet. From his book Eat to Live:

Even two of the most enthusiastic proponents of the Mediterranean diet, epidemiologist Martin Katan of the Wageningan Agricultural University in the Netherlands and Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, concede that the Mediterranean diet is viable only for people who are close to their ideal weight.1 That excludes the majority of Americans. How can a diet revolving around a fattening, nutrient-deficient food like oil be healthy?

Ounce for ounce, olive oil is one of the most fattening, calorically dense foods on the plant; it packs even more calories per pound than butter (butter: 3,200 calories; olive oil: 4,200). The bottom line is that oil will add fat to our already plump waistlines, heightening the risk of disease, including diabetes and heart attacks.

A recent edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times newsletter (they are archived in the member center) addresses Alzheimer's. This is from the main article:

Alzheimer's dementia is an irreversible brain disorder that typically develops in the elderly. It leads to memory loss, personality changes, and a general decline in cognitive function.

With the high incidence of Alzheimer's disease in our aging population, more and more research is underway to come up with novel treatments for this brain disease. Given the large distortion of brain architecture that occurs in Alzheimer's, it is unlikely that drug treatment will offer a solution to this debilitating problem.

Growing evidence has implicated vascular risk factors, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease. Cerebral ischemia (lack of blood flow secondary to lipid deposits), aided by marginal nutritional deficiencies, promotes the development of the pathology seen in Alzheimer's.2

Recent studies conducted in the United States have revealed that just as in heart disease, strokes, and vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease is the end result of nutritional inadequacy earlier in life. Patients with Alzheimer's, compared with controls, showed deficiencies of multiple vitamins, especially the antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits.

Green vegetable consumption was low and animal fat consumption was high in the past histories of Alzheimer's patients.3,4 Japanese studies have found the same relationships: individuals with low consumption of vegetables and high consumption of meat were found to be the ones most likely to develop Alzheimer's.5

Just as in the case of heart disease, the world's leading researchers on the subject consider diets high in animal fat to be the major factor in the causation of Alzheimer's. Oxidative stress to our brain tissue from the combination of a diet rich in saturated fat and low in the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables lays the groundwork for brain damage later in life. Deficiencies of DHA (a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid) which often are found in Alzheimer's patients, also have been shown to promote dementia.6 Inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in flax and hemp seeds, walnuts, leafy greens,and certain fish also are implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer's.

Aluminum Connection
The aluminum present in processed foods also may play a role in accelerating the development of Alzheimer's. Recent evidence has shown that high body stores of aluminum can potentiate the damage to brain DNA from a low body load of antioxidants.7,8 Aluminum calcium sulfate is used as an anti-caking agent so dry ingredients flow freely. Aluminum sulfate is used as a bleaching agent in flour and cheese. Aluminum stearate is used as a chewing gum base and as a defoaming component in the processing of sugar. Aluminum chloride and aluminum sulfate are used as leavening agents in baked goods. Cookies, cakes, cold cereals, and pancakes are all high in aluminum.

Fortunately, when you eat a diet low in processed foods and rich in vegetables, beans, fresh fruit, and nuts and seeds, you dramatically decrease your dietary exposure to aluminum and increase the level of antioxidant compounds in your brain.

Isolated nutrients
Taking vitamin E, vitamin C, or other isolated nutrients has been shown to be only slightly useful and cannot be expected to offer you a significant degree of protection against dementia. That is because vitamins are only a small part of the antioxidant story. For example, the vitamin C in an apple accounts for less than one half of one percent of the antioxidant activity in a whole apple. Most of the antioxidant activity in the apple (and in fruits and vegetables in general) is the result of phenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and other compounds that work additively and synergistically to protect you against disease.

Multifactorial Causes
The development of Alzheimer's follows the same basic pattern seen in almost every disease affecting aging Americans. Diseases are multifactorial and develop as a result of environmental stresses, the most damaging of which are almost always nutritional excesses and deficiencies. Once these stresses have taken their overall toll, you develop one disease and not another, based on your inherited genetic tendencies and your inherent resistance to certain degenerative processes.

Recipe for Protection
The bottom line is that if you follow the Eat To Live dietary recommendations, you need not fear developing dementia later in life. A comprehensive nutritional program throughout life that includes the following important features can assure freedom from both heart disease and dementia as you age:
1. a vegetable-based diet;
2. high intake of greens, both raw
and cooked, and in soups containing
3. at least four fresh fruits a day;
4. daily consumption of raw nuts and seeds or avocado as your major fat source;
5. dramatic reduction or elimination of processed foods, sugar, white
flour, and animal products;
6. limited consumption of grains, in favor of colorful vegetables;
7. supplementation to assure adequate levels of vitamins D and
B12, iodine, and DHA fatty acids;
8. blood evaluation of homocysteine and, if needed, supplementation
to normalize.

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Cheese, Calories From Fat

Most cheeses get the majority of their calories from fat, and even the lower fat cheeses are rich in artery-clogging saturated fat:

CheesesPercent of Calories from FatPercent of Fat that is Saturated Fat
Cream Cheese89%63%
Gouda Cheese69%65%
Cheddar Cheese74%64%
Mozzarella Cheese69%61%
Mozzarella Cheese, part skim56%64%
Kraft Velveeta Spread65%66%
Kraft Velveeta Light43%67%
Ricotta, whole milk68%64%
Ricotta, part skim51%62%

From the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

NY Times: Get Ready to Garden in NYC

Kim Severson reports and the Nation Gardening Association are working together to bring healthier food to New York City tables through educational programs, scholarships, cooking classes, and gardening tips.

The first Green Tables event will take place April 29 at Union Square Park South. The aim is help Americans understand the linkage between farms and the food they eat. Not unlike the previously blogged about Edible School Yard.

Responding to Comments About Dr. Atkins

Dr. Fuhrman responds to the comments made by Barry Groves on How a High-Protein Diet Works and The Physician and The Student.

Barry Groves is correct. One negative story regarding Atkins followers does not a conclusive study make, it only makes one important point. That is--because of the immense popularity of the Atkins' "lots of meat-is-not heart-disease-or-cancer-promoting" message, thousands of individuals have been supported to adopt a diet that all health authorities have declared dangerous. Even more importantly, many people have suffered and died needlessly because of this. Some people will enthusiastically jump on a bandwagon of pseudo-scientific claims that makes statements supporting the continuation of their preferred food habits and addictions. Dr. Acocella's personal story was not written to be a broad overview of the scientific research showing the dangers of the Atkins' meat-based diet; rather it was to show the personal side of the tragedy of bad advice. His parents were so misinformed that he was frustratingly not able to convince them to follow a truly protective lifestyle.

There are other important issues here, too. Watching people die needlessly from dangerous nutritional advice is just one of them. Atkins made many fraudulent claims over the years and he got away with it. He stated, "Reverse heart disease with filet mignon!" and "Prevent Breast Cancer with Cheese" in his newsletters. While at the same time thousands of studies in the scientific literature showed increased heart attack risk and higher cancer risks associated with diets rich in meat and cheese. Consider the position of the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association posted on

The May 2004 Annals of Internal Medicine study showed that a third of Atkins dieters suffered a significant increase in LDL cholesterol. The goal is to have a double digit LDL--an LDL under 100 (mg/dl).[344] In the study, one person's LDL shot from an unhealthy 184 to a positively frightening 283 (which means their total cholesterol was probably somewhere over 350).[345] With so many people on these diets, that could mean Atkins is endangering the health of millions of Americans.[346] LDL cholesterol is, after all, the single most important diet related risk factor for heart disease,[527] the number one killer in the United States for both men and women.[347]

In another clinical trial, despite statistically significant weight loss reported in the Atkins group, every single cardiac risk factor measured had worsened after a year on the Atkins Diet. The investigator concludes "Those following high fat [Atkins[526]]diets may have lost weight, but at the price of increased cardiovascular risk factors, including increased LDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides, increased total cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased total/HDL cholesterol ratios, and increased homocysteine, Lp(a), and fibrinogen levels. These increased risk factors not only increase the risk of heart disease, but also the risk of strokes, peripheral vascular disease, and blood clots."[523]

If this was not enough, a landmark study published in 2000, actually measured what was happening to peoples' arteries on this kind of diet. Utilizing SPECT scans to actually directly measure the blood flow within the coronary arteries the development of heart disease was directly measured for 16 people on a vegetarian diet that was high in fruits and vegetables and 10 people following a low carb, high protein diet and the results were shocking. Those sticking to the whole-foods vegetarian diet showed a reversal of their heart disease as expected. Their partially-clogged arteries literally got cleaned out, and blood flow to their hearts through their coronary arteries increased 40%. Those on the Atkins Diet had rapid advancement of their heart disease with a decease in blood flow in the heart's blood vessels of 40%.1 Thus, the only study on the Atkins Diet to actually measure arterial blood flow showed this style of eating is exceedingly dangerous. Fortunately more and more doctors are informing their patients regarding the real dangers here and the Atkins diet has lost its luster as a result of these many studies.

Emerging evidence also suggests that ketogenic diets may "create metabolic derangement conducive to cardiac conduction abnormalities and/or myocardial dysfunction"--in other words cause other potentially life-threatening heart problems as well. Ketogenic diets have also been shown in the medical literature to cause a pathological enlargement of the heart called cardiomyopathy, which is reversible, but only if the diet is stopped in time.2 The Atkins Corporation denies that Dr. Atkins' own cardiomyopathy-induced heart attack, hypertension, and blocked arteries had anything to do with his diet. But it is important to counter these ridiculous claims with reality. Atkins had not only cardiomyopathy but high blood pressure and aththerosclerosis according to his medical record. These diseases are not caused by viruses. In fact, even viral-induced cardiomyopathy is thought to be caused by low levels of fruit and vegetables in the diet.3 You can't escape from biological laws of cause and effect; all people eventually pay a price if you eat dangerously.

We already know the low amount of fruits vegetable and beans in the American diet and the high consumption of animal products is dangerous. But the comments by Atkins' devotees like Barry Groves are worse than misleading; Atkins promoters encourage a dietary pattern that puts themselves and their followers at serious, life-threatening risk. That is where the death of people following the Atkins diet (including Atkins) is relevant news. This is no light matter, because lives can potentially be saved by addressing the false assumptions, claims and denial of the known dangers.

Take the repeated assertion by the Atkins camp that a high protein diet does not damage the kidney. If increasing ones risk of heart attack and cancer wasn't enough of an argument. Groves is right, the Harvard data shows that a high protein diet causes kidney damage unless a person has a perfectly normally functioning kidney to start with. But almost 25 percent of people over 45, especially those with diabetes or high blood pressure, have a degree of kidney impairment, and the Atkins' people never warned these people to avoid the diet. The study also did not conclude the high protein diet was safe for those with a normal kidney, it just said that the long-term impact in these people would take longer to detect and was unknown at present time.4 The short-term studies Barry Groves reports offer no reassurance the high intake of animal products will not induce kidney damage or kidney stones. In fact Dr. Knight, the lead researcher in this study concluded, "The potential impact of protein consumption on renal function has important public health implications given the prevalence of high protein diets and use of protein supplements." It is also well established that lots of meat equals lots of gout and kidney stones.5

In a press release entitled American Kidney Fund Warns About Impact of High-Protein Diets on Kidney Health, Chair of Medical Affairs, Paul W. Crawford, M.D., wrote, "We have long suspected that high-protein weight loss diets could have a negative impact on the kidneys, and now we have research to support our suspicions." Dr. Crawford is worried that the strain put on the kidneys could result in irreversible "scarring in the kidneys." Dr. Crawford also discussed the risk that bodybuilders take in eating high-protein diets while building muscle. He noted, "Bodybuilders could be predisposing themselves to chronic kidney disease because hyperfilteration (the strain on the kidneys) can produce scarring in the kidneys, reducing kidney function." "Chronic kidney disease is not to be taken lightly, and there is no cure for kidney failure. The only treatments are kidney dialysis and kidney transplantation. This research shows that even in healthy athletes, kidney function was impacted and that ought to send a message to anyone who is on a high-protein weight loss diet," concluded Dr. Crawford. The American Kidney Fund is the leading national voluntary health organization providing direct financial assistance for the benefit of kidney patients supported by comprehensive educational programs, clinical research and community service projects.

Dr. Grove's reasoning is also illogical and pointing to very short-lived tribes eating lots of meat as offering some value. Yes, the American diet is already too rich in animal products (and refined carbs too) even without the help of Atkins, and this already does lead to many sensitive individuals to develop kidney disease. Taking it a step further up the ladder from 40 percent of animal products in the typical American diet, (which is too high for disease prevention) to 80 percent, encouraged on the Atkins diet, is much more dangerous and foolish. The science supporting what constitutes excellent nutrition is vast. In Eat To Live, I reference about 1500 studies, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. I have reviewed over 60,000 studies that indicate that what we put in our mouth does matter and that we can prevent disease with a high nutrient diet. You have to bury your head in the sand, to deny not just the danger to one's kidneys, from a diet-style rich in meat, but many other dangers as well.

My initial discussion of Atkins' death, here on my blog, was brought up in response to Dr. Mercola's incorrect comments about this issue on his website. The facts are that we do not know for sure if Atkins had a heart attack and then fell and hit his head or just happened to take a really unusual bad fall that killed him. We do know for a fact that he was overweight and weighed about 200 pounds before this incident (he ballooned further up in the hospital), but I never commented on that. Furthermore we know that his heart problems were not limited to cardiomyopathy, his medical record showed he had other heart problems that he covered up for years.

Earlier I discussed a patient of mine, who had an insider's account of Dr. Atkins death from their mutual cardiologist. My patient is in the public eye, and does not want the hassle of being demonized for telling this story. He asks that we refer to him simply as "Mr. Drury." This is his tale:

I have been a patient of Joel Fuhrman, M.D. since September of 2005. I am 67 years of age and I am being treated for severe coronary artery disease. My goal is to melt away the calcification in my arteries by using a plant based diet prescribed by Dr. Fuhrman. From April 2001 to July 2004, I had five non-invasive C T Angiograms, my coronary artery calcification scores varied between 2900 to 3100, normal is about 100 or less.

In November 2001, I was referred to Patrick Fratellone, M.D. who was the cardiologist at The Atkins Center. He was also Dr. Atkin's cardiologist, I would occasionally see Dr. Atkins in passing while I had appointments at the Center. At that time, I was accepted by Dr. Fratellone as a candidate for a test trial to treat the calcification as an bacterial infection (Nanobacterium Sanguinen). The therapy was not successful.

Early May 2002, I elect to have an invasive coronary artery angiogram to see how much blockage I have in my coronary arteries. It was bad, another time I will tell you how bad. On May 29, 2002, I had double by-pass heart surgery. In July, Dr. Fratellone leaves The Atkins Center to set up his own office, since Atkins wanted to downsize his practice. He remained as Dr. Atkins' cardiologist. I continued to use Dr Fratellone for several other alternative therapies which were also unsuccessful. In October of 2002, while under his care as well as several other well known cardiologists, I recall seeing Dr. Atkins on the NBC Today Show. He and Katie Couric were in a heated discussion. She was saying that he had a heart attack and Atkins replied, "I didn't have a heart attack, I had a incident. What I have is an infection." With that it struck me that he must have a condition similar to my case, he must be loaded with the calcification in his arteries. I have to assume that he was using the same therapy, since we both had the same cardiologist, Dr. Fratellone.

Fast forward to April 2003 and Dr. Atkins dies, slips on ice? I see Dr. Fratellone about a month later and during the visit, I express my sorrow for the death of Dr. Atkins. I said that was some accident, slipping on the ice and hitting his head and dying. He looked at me with a questionable stare and pointed to his heart. I said, "He had a heart attack?" He said no more after that.

Since I continued treatment with Dr. Fratellone over the next few month with IV therapy, I would get feed back from some of the staff. It appears that upon Atkins death, his wife, had him admitted to a hospital where his cardiologist, Dr. Fratellone, did not have attending physician's privileges. Therefore, he was not able to care for Dr. Atkins as his cardiologist. Heresay has it that Dr. Fratellone would have been able to save him.

His story of developing heart disease on the Atkins diet, as a friend of Dr. Atkins, and his insider view of Atkins health and death are relevant too. The claims by the Atkins devotees that I have fabricated this story does not merely insult me, but speak to the futility of their argument. As I post many more cases of my patients who developed heart problems on the Atkins diet I guess their only response will be that I am lying. I am hoping that instead, a few of them will re-think their long-held views and maybe reduce the amount of animal products in their diets and start eating more vegetables, beans and fruit. I am not the enemy you guys!

And yes, humans are primates and all primates eat a diet of predominantly natural vegetation. If they eat animal products, it is a very small percentage of their total caloric intake. Luckily we have modern science that shows that most common ailment in today's world are the result of nutritional ignorance and that we can eat a diet-style rich in phytochemicals from a variety of natural plant foods that can afford us the ability to live a long healthy life, not easily obtained by our ancestors. With the many millions of Atkins followers around the world grasping at straws to justify eating a diet rich in animal products, I hope my blog serves to counter health claims by these people and in doing so maybe saves a few lives or reduces someone's suffering.

But the main point here that I always want to emphasize is to describe the benefits of nutritional excellence. In describing the bad science utilized to promote dangerous diets like Atkins, let's always frame it with what a healthy diet should look like. When one eats a truly health supporting diet, you can not only expect a predicted drop in blood pressure, drop in cholesterol and reversal of heart disease, but your headaches, constipation, indigestion and bad breath should all resolve. Eating for nutritional excellence should enable people to reverse diabetes and to gradually lose dependence on drugs. You should not only achieve a normal weight without counting calories and dieting, but to achieve robust health and live a long life free of the fear of heart attacks and strokes. Nutritional excellence, which involves the eating of lots of vegetables, fruits and beans (forbidden on the Atkins diet) does not have to exclude all animal products, but it has to very rich in high nutrient plant foods which should comprise well over eighty percent of caloric intake.

Enough is enough, I think the dangers of the Atkins approach have already been well publicized and addressed by every major nutritional organization and medical group in the country. Let's let it die an uneventful death with as little people suffering from such bad advice as possible.

If an individual well-versed in the body of scientific literature wants to discuss the nutritional merits of a diet with a higher amount or a lower amount of animal products in the range of 0-20 percent, that might be educational and productive, but to pursue this discussion with individuals protecting their desire to eat a diet with 75-85 percent of calories from animal products (like in Atkins menus) is really a waste of time. This debate could never occur in a true scientific venue; Groves opinions are like arguing the earth is flat.

My Eat To Live dietary approach has already been tested and been shown to be the most effective diet-style at lowering cholesterol as reported in the medical journal metabolism.6 A recent study awaiting publication also showed that participants followed for two years lost more weight and kept it off better than any other diet study on record.

In my practice, I have hundreds of patients who had reversed their heart disease that they developed while on the American diet or on the Atkins diet, dropped their cholesterol over a hundred points, without drugs, and are living proof that nutritional excellence, not drugs is the therapy of choice. My book, Eat To Live has enabled thousands or overweight individuals to lose dramatic amount of weight and recover their health without incurring the risks of an unbalanced nutrition. Understanding the differences is critical for the health seeker. Longevity and disease protection are the ultimate goals of dietary advice; you can lose weight snorting cocaine and smoking cigarettes. But, when you settle for second-class nutritional advice you doom yourself not only to a shorter life, but to a poor quality life in your later years, and suffer with medical problems that could have been avoided.

For more data debunking every false assertion of the Atkins proponents over the years visit

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Restricted Calorie Diet Discussed on NPR

Talk of the Nation's Science Friday interviewed Eric Ravussin, chief of the division of Health and Performance Enhancement at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. The discussed Ravussin's research, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which investigated calorie restriction diets in non-obese humans. After six months, they found indications of better longevity. Click here to listen online.

As he has blogged about before, Dr. Fuhrman believes there is a powerful message behind this kind of science (and advocates taking advantage of this benefit not with tiny portions of the same old unhealthy food, but with lots of foods that have lots of nutrition and very few calories, like fruit and vegetables):

Scientists have known for over sixty years that if you reduce caloric intake below a certain set point while maintaining adequate nutrition you can extend life. This experiment has been performed on numerous species, including primates (we are primates too). In each case, the average animal lifespan was increased 25 - 50 percent. Reducing calories not only extends life it delays the onset of old age. You literally live younger longer. In all clinical studies published to date, animals fed reduced calorie diets were also more disease resistant. Evidence for increased lifespan by caloric restriction is enormous and irrefutable. Calorically-restricted animals are not only more cancer resistant, but oxidative stress is inhibited and youthful features of young tissue are retained with aging.

What is clear is that health and longevity are inversely proportional to caloric intake. Calorie reduction is the closest thing that science has to a fountain of youth. Typical studies suggest that you would have to reduce calories by about 30% to achieve significant life-extending benefits. This means that someone who would normally require 2200 Calories would need to reduce intake to 1800 calories in order to achieve life-extending benefits.

However, it must be noted that if one eats less food that is low or deficient in nutrients and as a result consumes less calories in a low nutrient environment, diseases will appear that will destroy the dramatic effects of caloric restriction.

By the way, Science Friday also had an interesting discussion of something that has come up on this blog a lot: mercury in fish. You can read about that, and listen to it online too.


Monkey See Monkey Do

Going bananas trying to get your kids to eat more fruits and veggies? New research explains it's important for parents to lead by example. After all, if you won't eat it, why should your kids? Sally Squires of the LA Times reports:

Studies of children including those as young as 2 and teenagers consistently show that what parents eat can shape what their offspring consume.

"That's the strongest of all factors in influencing children's eating behavior," says Mary Story, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. "If father is saying, 'No way I'll eat that broccoli,' then it's very likely that kids won't eat it either."

Parents, when you consider the amount nutrients in produce, this seems like a worthy dietary adjustment for you too. The article also provides tips on incorporating fruit and vegetables into your children's diets. Here's a good one:

Exploit hungry moments. Most kids are ravenous after school, "so there's a really high chance that they will eat fruit and vegetables," says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota. Dinner preparation is another high-appetite opportunity, so have fresh baby carrots, sugar snap peas and other veggies ready with dip. Also, place fruit and vegetables in strategic places where hungry kids scrounging for food are most likely to find them: on the kitchen counter and washed and cut up in bags on eye-level shelves in the front of the refrigerator.

If you haven't already heard it, you should also check out Dr. Fuhrman's podcast on how to get your children to eat healthy food.

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 30

The latest Grand Rounds is up on Fat Doctor, click here to view. This week Followhealthlife's post Overdosed America was included in the mix.

Prostate Cancer: A Growing Disease In Men

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

The studies examining the link between obesity, body size, and prostate cancer have focused on adult Body Mass Index (BMI). The results of these studies have not been conclusive; some studies have found a direct relationship and others have not.1 When looking carefully at tallness versus obesity, there is an apparent link between prostate cancer and height, but not with obesity. This is probably because extra fat on the body results in a higher estrogen/progesterone ratio, and it is the higher testosterone/estrogen ration that promotes prostate cancer. Therefore, the earlier attainment of adult height is more closely related to prostate cancer risk, not merely being overweight. Men over seventy-one inches tall were observed to have a 32 percent increased risk of prostate cancer. The conclusion is that the dietary style that is most growth promoting also promotes a higher level of testosterone in childhood that is linked to later-life prostate cancer.2

It takes at least one generation for men in immigrant families coming to America to assume the cancer risks of their host country, suggesting the importance of early-life factors.3 Similar to early puberty in females, earlier attainment of adult height and early onset of beard growth in males is a marker of increased risk of prostate cancer.4 Men's diets as toddlers and children most powerfully affect the age when they mature and develop facial hair. The prostate gland is essentially a dormant organ until puberty (much like the female breast), when heightened testosterone levels stimulate its development.

The data on prostate cancer causation points to higher testosterone levels beginning at an earlier age in childhood and throughout puberty as having a strong effect on later occurrence of aggressiveness of prostate cancer.5 Furthermore, studies demonstrate that prostate intraepithelial neoplasia, a cancer precursor to lesion, is already common in men in their twenties and thirties, suggesting that the process of carcinogenesis begins early.6

Prostate cancer is the male version of breast cancer. The genetic predisposition is illustrated by the fact that families with a strong history of breast cancer have an increased risk of prostate cancer in their male offspring and vice versa. So the early nutritional environment we grow our children in creates the favorable soil to fuel the breast cancer and prostate epidemics. The same dietary factors that heighten estrogen levels in females raise testosterone levels in males.

When the death rates for prostate cancer and testicular cancer were examined in forty-two countries and correlated with dietary practices in a carefully designed study, they found that cheese consumption was most closely linked with the incidence of testicular cancer for ages twenty to thirty-nine, and milk was the most closely associated with prostate cancer of all foods.7 Meat, coffee, and animal fats also showed a positive correlation.

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Fat Profits

In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman insists obesity is the number one health problem in the United States, costing society more than $100 billion per year.1 Plus, Americans spend $33 billion annually trying to lose weight. Deborah Hastings of the Associated Press reports that there's big money to be made in fat:

From the cradle to the grave and most points between, obesity has found its niche in American marketing. Make that a wide berth. Baby seats, doorways and caskets are but a few examples from a long list of life's accoutrements that are getting much bigger to accommodate much bigger people. There are also vacation resorts for those embarrassed to be seen in a bathing suit.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Don't forget the untold millions that are made selling unhealthy food and drinks to people to make them fat, and the billions and billions people make treating their disease once they are overweight.

Healthcare, big food conglomerates, grocery stores, restaurants... we'd probably have a slimmer population if more effort were put into changing people's bad habits. Oh wait, there's not nearly as much money in fruits and vegetables!

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Something Fishy Here

Think Dr. Fuhrman and a good percentage of the news media are all crazy to be worried about mercury contamination in fish? Then this site's for you. Especially odd about the site: it's clearly well-funded, but it's not clear at all by whom.

Preparing Your Home for Eating Healthfully

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

  • Stock your home with a variety of produce, especially fresh fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds. Incorporate bean burgers, vegetable/bean soups, and fruit-centered desserts.
  • Replace foods of animal origin with foods of plant origin. Limit poultry to once or twice a week and red meat to even less. Remove skin from poultry. Use the light meat only.
  • Remove sugar, salt, and white flour from the home, as well as all products with these added. Use only whole-grain breads and pasta. Use tomato sauce for pasta, not oil-based or cheese-based sauces. Try bean or lentil pasta instead of wheat flour pasta.
  • Minimize the use of vegetable oils, replacing them with dressings and sauces made with avocados and whole nuts and seeds. Make delicious desserts with nuts, seeds, and avocados to encourage the consumption of healthy fats.
  • Do not keep cheese and butter in the house. If eating dairy foods, select no-fat varieties and only eat small amounts. Replace dairy products with soymilk and nut milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D and B12. If utilizing dairy products in your home, only use fat-free versions.
  • Avoid eating lobster, shrimp, mollusks, catfish, swordfish, bluefish, mackerel, pike, shark, tuna, and any fish caught in questionable waters. Limit other fish to once weekly.
  • Eliminate fried foods and barbecued foods, both of which expose you to high levels of carcinogenic compounds produced by these high-heat cooking methods.
  • Remove all sweet drinks, soda, and processed fruit juice from the house.
  • Make healthy snacks available; cherry tomatoes, raw nuts, carrots, fruit, chickpeas, corn, and raw string beans are great choices. (For toddlers below the age of two and a half, be aware of the choking hazard of whole nuts and carrots.)

Blog Discussion: Is All Dieting a Waste of Time?

Dr. Fuhrman dedicates a lot of his book Eat to Live to explaining that diets really don't work--for a number of reasons. His main point is:

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.

Alas (the blog) recently published a massive essay essentially saying that dieting is a massive waste of time. It touches on a number of studies. If you read it, don't ignore the dozens of comments. There are some important points in there, too.

The essay is summed up in the conclusion like this:

1. No weight-loss diet has ever been scientifically shown to produce substantial long-term weight loss in any but a tiny minority of dieters.

2. Whether or not a weight-loss diet "works," people who go on weight-loss diets are likely to die sooner than those who maintain a steady weight or who slowly gain weight.

3. For fat people (or anyone else) concerned with their health, the best option is probably moderate exercise and eating fruits and veggies, without concern for waistlines. In other words, Health At Every Size (HAES).

4. The model on which most weight-loss diets are based - in which fat people eat like fat people and must learn to eat like non-fat people - is probably a myth.

Dr. Fuhrman is a staunch believer in the importance of weight loss in the name of health. But that doesn't mean this isn't an interesting discussion worth having.

To me, the thing that's missing from most discussions of weight loss, including this one, is the idea of excellent nutrition, that actually improves your overall health as you lose weight. (It's not just about avoiding certain foods--but is rather about gravitating to others.) Many of the important studies showing these kinds of effects have been described previously on Followhealthlife, and are as relevant as ever in this discussion. I'm interested to hear what you think.

The Haggis and Butter Diet?

The Scotsman reports fad diets like Atkins and processed convenience foods are taking Scotland by storm. With more and more Scottish citizens adopting these diet-styles, health correspondent Lyndsay Moss says Scottish bones could be at risk.

A balanced diet including calcium, vitamin D and other minerals is vital for healthy bones, which are less at risk of fracture.

But the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) warned that many Scots could be putting their bones at risk due to food fads and because they are eating more processed foods than before.

The charity said regimes such as the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet and the cabbage soup diet could mean people are not getting a nutritional balance.

Bone health is one of the less-discussed aspects of low-carbohydrate diets. A great place to find out more about it is at, which addresses bone health several times. Here are some highlights:

  • "Some high-protein, very-low-carbohydrate, weight-loss diets are designed to induce ketosis. When carbohydrate intake or utilization is insufficient to provide glucose to the cells that rely on it as an energy source, ketone bodies are formed from fatty acids. An increase in circulating ketones can disturb the body's acid-base balance, causing metabolic acidosis. Evidence suggests that even mild acidosis can have potentially deleterious consequences over the long run, including low blood phosphate levels, resorption of calcium from bone, increased risk of osteoporosis, and an increased propensity to form kidney stones." Read more.
  • "Urinary excretions of calcium and acids are correlated positively with intakes of animal and nondairy animal protein but are correlated negatively with plant-protein intake." Read more.
  • "The concern with bone health arises from the fact that muscle protein has a high sulphur content. When people eat too much of this meat protein, sulfuric acid forms within our bodies which must somehow be neutralized to maintain proper internal pH balance. One way our bodies can buffer the sulphuric acid load caused by meat is with calcium borrowed from our bones." Read more.
  • "Despite having some of the highest calcium intakes in the world, the Inuit also have some of the worst rates of osteoporosis." Read more.

Watch Out for Starch!

For those with heart disease or who are overweight, limit starchy foods to one serving or one-cup daily. That is, one corn on the cob, one baked potato, or one sweet potato. There is no limit on the amount of low-starch, plant foods you can eat. Although there is some flexibility with higher starch vegetables, if you are not overweight, you can eat more starchy vegetables.

Avoid all refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta. Oatmeal and steel cut oats are permissible for breakfast, but even whole grains such as 100 percent whole-wheat products should also be limited to one serving per day.

Healthier Starches (one or two daily): Turnips, parsnips, butternut & acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, peas, carrots, wild rice & brown rice, quinoa & millet, and steel cut oats & oatmeal.

Unhealthier Starches (none to one weekly): White bread, pasta, white rice, quick cook hot cereals, tortillas, chapattis, cold breakfast cereals, pancakes, and waffles.

The most important exclusion here is the removal of refined carbohydrates--sugar, white rice, white bread, white flour pasta, but even whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread are limited to one serving per day. Squash, corn, sweet potato, carrots are preferable carbohydrate choices to white potato, and whole grain breads; they are richer in phytochemicals and carotenoids. They are best utilized by adding them to soups, mixed with greens and beans. Whether you use a little more or a little less of the high starch grains or vegetables (dependent on your body weight and activity level), your meals should still have a higher ratio of green-to-starchy vegetables when you are trying to lower cholesterol.

From the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

Teenage Girls Not Getting Their Calcium

According to Healthday News a new study claims teenage girls, especially black girls, aren't consuming enough calcium. Study lead author Richard Forshee discovered this calcium deficiency when analyzing national data from 1994 through 2002. Robert Preidt reports:

They found that calcium intake increased for most age/gender categories, including adolescent females. Despite the increase, calcium intake among adolescent girls and young women remained well below recommended levels.

The adequate intake for calcium is 1,300 milligrams per day for females ages 9 to 18, but this study found average consumption in this age group was only 814 milligrams per day. Low calcium intake is especially serious among black females.

The study calls for ways to incorporate more calcium into teens' diets. Dr. Fuhrman's simple solution, green vegetables! Most people don't know that cruciferous (green) vegetables are excellent sources of calcium, iron, and protein. Click here for the nutrient density of green vegetables.

"Beans, Beans, a Wonderful Fruit..."

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) reports bean consumption�especially early in life�can lead to lower body weight and a decreased risk of obesity. Click here for more.

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 29

Included in this week's Grand Rounds hosted by Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments is Followhealthlife's post The Physician and the Student, click here to view.

I'm Not Fat

Dr. Fuhrman begins his book Eat to Live with this observation of America's dietary indiscretions:

Americans have been among the first people worldwide to have the luxury of bombarding themselves with nutrient-deficient, high-calorie food, often called empty-calorie. By "empty-calorie," I mean food that is deficient in nutrients and fiber. More Americans than ever before are eating these rich, high-calorie foods while remaining inactive�a dangerous combination.

Unfortunately millions of people don't acknowledge the consequences of these habits. Notably obesity. According to Dr. Fuhrman the effect of the standard American diet (SAD) is like digging our graves with forks and knives.

To make matters worse the Associated Press reports a new study reveals many obese people don't categorize themselves as such. A dangerous mistake when you consider the increased health risks associated with being obese. Tim Whitmire reports:

"If somebody doesn't perceive themselves to be obese, they are most likely not going to pay attention to any public health information about the consequences of obesity," said Kim Truesdale, a nutrition researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Among those consequences are heightened risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.

The study of 104 adults, ages 45 to 64, showed that only 15 percent of people who fit the body type for obese correctly classified themselves that way.

Honey We're Killing the Kids!

The Learning Channel has a new reality TV show called Honey We're Killing the Kids that premiered last night. The show's website describes it like this:

In each family, the children's eating habits have spiraled out of control into a diet of nonstop junk food - sugar, snacks, processed food- and huge, oversized portions. Coupled with a lack of exercise and sleep, this lifestyle means the kids are not only hyper and unruly, they are at serious risk of becoming overweight and developing high-blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Honey We're Killing the Kids! offers a startling look at the causes of America's childhood obesity epidemic and issues a critical wake-up call for parents. In the series, nutrition expert Dr. Lisa Hark shows how everyday choices can have long-term impacts on children, and offers both the motivation and the know-how to help turn these families' lives around. Using state-of-the-art computer imaging and certified assessments based on measurements and statistics, Dr. Hark first gives Mom and Dad a frightening look at the possible future faces of their children - and a dramatic reality check. Then, introducing her new guidelines and techniques, Dr. Hark works with parents to reverse course and give their kids a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

The family then has three weeks to overhaul its bad habits under the direction of Dr. Hark, who delivers a set of life-altering rules with the aim of completely transforming the children's future health and lifestyle. Dr. Hark's rules are straightforward and simple - rules like "Sack the sugar," "Family eats together," "Set a bedtime routine," "Limit television hours" and "Exercise together" are introduced each week.

CNN has a video report on the show which you can watch online.

Educational Question of the Year

What knowledge or skills will students need most to be effective citizens of our world in the future?

Copper Weblog recently posed this question to professionals in education and related fields. Dr. Fuhrman was one of those asked to comment. Here's some of his answer:

We graduate from high school, college, even graduate and professional schools and we never learn about the most important knowledge we need to be in control of our health destiny. We live in a society that believes that we protect our health with access to medical care and drugs; it doesn't work. We can win the war on cancer and heart disease, not with more money put into medical interventions and drugs, but by unleashing the big artillery found in our kitchens; berries, green vegetables, beans and seeds to name a few. The science is important and motivating because we are eating ourselves into a tremendous amount of needless and tragic diseases in this country and our cancer rates have increased unrelentingly each year for the last seventy years. But aside from all the convincing scientific data, it is just as important to show people how they can deal with their picky eaters, get their family to like the healthful foods at the family table and make healthy eating great tasting and fun. My experience has been that after gaining the knowledge, people can transition their family over to a disease-preventive lifestyle and enjoy the change.

To read the entire post on Copper Weblog click here.

When Restaurant Critics Talk Nutrition

In this morning's Week in Review section of The New York Times, restaurant critic Frank Bruni expounds on the relative merits of being careful about what you eat. He's a man who has essentially dedicated his life to eating richly, so his conclusions are hardly surprising. For instance:

It's also hard to see the point of it. If living to 99 means forever cutting the porterhouse into eighths, swearing off the baked potato and putting the martini shaker into storage, then 85 sounds a whole lot better, and I'd ratchet that down to 79 to hold onto the H�agen-Dazs, along with a few shreds of spontaneity. It's a matter of priorities.

Personally, I'm happy to live in a world where Mr. Bruni has the right to eat whatever he likes. But in this article he veers wide of his core mission--to be an expert on food--and fumbles his temporary role as interpreter of scientific research.

His core failing is familiar to readers of this blog: he assumes that the Women's Health Initiative proved that a low fat does, essentially, nothing:

An eight-year, $415 million federal study of nearly 49,000 women found that those who maintained low-fat diets had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer and heart attacks as those who ate what they wanted.

As has been explained in much greater detail previously, that study compared two groups of post-menopausal women, and neither group ate what Dr. Fuhrman and lots of other doctors would consider to be healthy, or even low-fat, diets. Both groups, in fact, ate similarly unhealthy diets, so it's no wonder that the results were inconclusive. (Even in that setting, however, the women in the "low fat" group experienced 9% less breast cancer, contrary to what Mr. Bruni would tell you.)

The article also makes clear a sad and common assumption: that a life of healthy eating doesn't value happiness. Rich as Mr. Bruni's life of restaurant hopping must be, is he really correct to assume that Martina Navratilova's days of fruit, vegetables, basketball, hockey, and decades of championship tennis are really somehow less fun? I know, everyone has different priorities, but I wish he would acknowledge a real world example of someone eating healthily, rather than paint a lazy hypothetical about how terrible it must be not to have ice cream at will.

Bruni's idea that he'd rather die at 79 with ice cream that at 99 without--I'd be interested to get a reaction to that theory from people in hospices. I suspect most of them would not be so cavalier.

And even if we accept that there is nothing more important than moment to moment quality of life--what about the minor and major disabilities that come with aging without concern for your health? The smoker might love the feeling of smoking, but is a life with cigarettes really of higher quality in the waning years, when ailing lungs keep you from playing with grandchildren, or joining the family on the beach for a picnic? I'm not a doctor, and I can't even cite research to prove this particular point, but anecdotally I can tell you that those people I know who are aging with broccoli, salads, and exercise in the routine are by and large having more fun than those who are stuck on the couch with this or that obesity-related health complaint.

Finally, Bruni throws up his hands at all the conflicting medical news, jokingly referring to the Journal of the American Medical Association as "the Journal of Utterly Mixed Signals." I sympathize in theory, but in practice, this is coming from the paper whose pages are filled with Utterly Mixed Signals.

One minute the Times calls T. Colin Campbell's China Study the "Grand Prix of epidemiology" and the "most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease." Then, when discussing the relationship between diet and disease in subsequent articles, they abandon the lessons of the study entirely without even a passing mention.

Similarly, the Times prints a convincing 2003 Michael Pollan book review explaining, essentially, that our national obesity epidemic is attributable in large part to a deliberate, sustained, and successful effort on the part of food companies to drive profits by getting us to eat more. There is talk of eating less and exercising in hundreds of Times articles. Yet (echoing his colleague Gina Kolata) Mr. Bruni follows up with the conclusion that "given the contradictory medical advice, it may be better to enjoy life."

Who's sending mixed signals now?

Overdosed America

Dr. John Abramson is the author of the book Overdosed America which investigates the relationship between the medical community and the US pharmaceutical industry. He believes a shift of priorities has taken place in America�more emphasis on profitability and less on patient care. Here's an excerpt from his book:

What I found over the next two and a half years of "researching the research" is a scandal in medical science that is at least the equivalent of any of the recent corporate scandals that have shaken Americans' confidence in the integrity of the corporate and financial worlds. Rigging medical studies, misrepresenting research results published in even the most influential medical journals, and withholding the findings of whole studies that don't come out in a sponsor's favor have all become the accepted norm in commercially sponsored medical research. To keep the lid sealed on this corruption of medical science�and to ensure its translation into medical practice�there is a complex web of corporate influence that includes disempowered regulatory agencies, commercially sponsored medical education, brilliant advertising, expensive public relations campaigns, and manipulations of free media coverage. And last, but not least, are the financial ties between many of the most trusted medical experts and medical industry.

A Hefty Amount of News

America's weight problem is reported on weekly�if not daily. News of new complications and proposed solutions are everywhere. Here's some of this week's press coverage:

  • According to the Associated Press a new study shows the number of overweight women in the United States is leveling off, but men and children are still gaining.
  • Medical News Today reports over 250,000 American children under the age of six can't fit into car seats designed for their age group.

The New York Times was especially busy this week:

  • The Times reports in an attempt to improve the nutrition of New York public schools, apples slices will be sold as healthy alternatives to chips and other snack foods.
  • Another article from The New York Times explains that the obesity epidemic in children may start as early as age two.
  • According to The New York Times an amendment to the National School Lunch Act would require all food sold in schools to meet higher nutritional standards.

What Happens When You Tell The Truth About Atkins

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, international speaker, and author of the book Carbophobia: The Scary Truth Behind America's Low Carb Craze. Dr. Greger is also one of the many medical professionals opposing the Atkins Diet Revolution. In 2004 Dr. Gerger received this threatening letter from Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. for comments made on his website, formerly

Dr. Greger is exceptionally knowledgeable of the risks associated with the Atkins diet-style. So he wasn't deterred by this corporate intimidation. Instead he mailed this comprehensive rebuttal of the accusations levied upon him to the Atkins Corporation. His retort is supported by a tremendous amount of scientific data.

The corporate letter makes seventeen claims against Dr. Greger. He and his staff handle each one with methodical precision.

The first accusation insists Dr. Greger is overlooking the overwhelming amount of evidence claiming the Atkins Diet presents no serious health risks. The Atkins Corporation cites no fewer than thirty-four studies demonstrating weight loss and other health benefits and that these studies show an absence of adverse health effects of a low-carbohydrate diet. Dr. Greger's response:

Thirty-four studies is your "overwhelming weight of evidence"? There are literally hundreds of published reports on low-carbohydrate diets,[545] and you can only find 34 that support your position?

There are also, for example, "no fewer than thirty-four studies demonstrating weight-loss and other health benefits" of cigarette smoking.[546-579] There are also 34 studies showing benefits from thalidomide.[580-613]

Just because the Philip Morris Corporation can wave around more than a hundred[614] studies showing health benefits from smoking, this doesn't mean that smoking is good for you. What it means is that one can cherry-pick data to argue almost any position. This is a classic tobacco corporation tactic.[615]

On your website one can indeed find a list of 34 studies downplaying the risks of the Atkins Diet. But if you go to the website of the Asbestos Institute you can find 34 studies downplaying the risks of asbestos.[616]

Dr. Greger also criticizes references to studies appearing in journals founded by an Atkins spokesman and studies funded by Atkins-Funded researchers. Dr. Greger implies this is a foolish strategy for illustrating unbiased research support.

Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. claims that the Atkins Diet can prevent colon and breast cancer. Dr. Greger points out that the American Cancer Society condemns both the products of tobacco industry and the Atkins Corporation for their potential to cause cancer. They write, "A low-carb diet can be a high-risk option when it comes to health." [873] Here is Dr. Greger's response to both claims of cancer prevention:

You seem to disagree with the American Cancer Society's assessment. Dr. Atkins was asked, for example, if "a lot of red meat could cause colon cancer." He replied that there was "very little evidence to support the viewpoint." [878] On your official website, an Atkins co-author even states that "a controlled carbohydrate eating plan could be a valuable way to help prevent colorectal cancer."[879]

Why then does the American Cancer Society say that "consumption of meat--especially red meats--has been linked to cancers at several sites, most notably colon and prostate"?[880] Is the American Cancer Society merely omitting studies that "contradict" their conclusion?

Your website also claims that "doing Atkins is the ideal way"[888] to control breast cancer risk. "A controlled carb way of eating almost automatically lowers your risk of breast cancer."[889] Eating over a half cup of lard's worth of saturated fat[890,891] every day is an "ideal way" to prevent breast cancer?

Your website claims "Saturated fat, the kind found in meat, butter, cheese and other animal foods as well as tropical oils, hasn't been shown to have any effect on your risk of breast cancer--whether positive or negative."[892] To support this surprising claim the Atkins website cites an article published in 1997 which, upon review, doesn't address the topic at all.[893]

Considering the subtlety of the data in their favor and weight of evidence opposing the Atkins diet-style, it is ponderous why Atkins Nutritionals, Inc would make such claims. Although in many corporate structures information flows from the top down. Therefore this next excerpt should explain the Atkins Corporation's foolishness:

Dr. Atkins was asked "Isn't the consumption of fat related to cancer?" He replied "According to the multitude of studies published, fat per se was not linked to cancer, with the exception of trans fats, which are not included in the Atkins Nutritional Approach."[902] This is incorrect on two counts. First of all, trans fats are not the only exception; saturated animal fat has been linked to cancers of the breast,[903] prostate,[904] endometrium,[905] lung,[906] and pancreas.[907] And second, trans fats are included throughout the Atkins Diet.

It seems logical that Dr. Atkins' employees would be left misinformed if he himself wasn't reviewing the necessary scientific data. This is the sustained theme of Dr. Greger's critique; a painstaking approach that refutes each of the Atkins Corporation's claims with real-world unbiased scientific data.

Continue Reading...

Animal vs. Plant Foods and Heart Disease in Pictures--UPDATED

UPDATE: The following charts have been corrected. Germany and Switzerland are no longer listed twice.

We have been discussing Atkins and other high-animal fat diets. Consider these graphs from Dr. Fuhrman, which tell a pretty dramatic story about the difference between eating an animal-fat based diet and a plant-based diet.

Animal Fat vs Heart Disease
Animal Food vs Heart Disease corrected.jpg

Plant Food vs Heart Disease
Plant Food vs Heart Disease corrected.jpg

Soy's Anti-Cancer Effects

A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests soy consumption may be linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. Amanda Gardner of The Healthday News reports:

Asian women have lower breast cancer rates (39 per 100,000) than Western women (133 per 100,000) and, when Asian women migrate to the United States, their breast cancer rates tend to go up. This suggests that an environmental factor, perhaps related to diet, is at play.

Attention has zeroed in on soy products (consumed more in Asia) as they contain high quantities of isoflavones, molecules that affect pathways that could change breast cancer risk. Indeed, more and more women are taking high-dose soy or isoflavone supplements because of their perceived benefits, which include lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

The questionnaire style of data collection makes some researchers leery. Nevertheless, the results are certainly interesting:

When the data was pooled, researchers found a 14 percent relative reduction in the risk of breast cancer among women who had a high soy intake. The association was somewhat higher in premenopausal women.

The scientists quoted didn't endorse soy supplements or refined soy products, but suggested foods like soy nuts and tofu may offer cancer protection.

You can read a lot about Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on soy in these posts:

Short and Long-Term Dangers of High-Fat Diets

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview. The following is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

An argument can be made for the usefulness of diets like the one advocated by Atkins because they often do result in weight loss. Being overweight is such a health risk that there are some real health benefits one receives from losing weight, even if the mode of weight loss places the person at increased cancer risk. Losing weight--even by a high-protein, high-fat, low-fiber diet--will lower triglycerides, decrease insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure.

These high-proteins strongly forbid refined carbohydrates, junk food, and the nutritionally depleted white pasta, white rice, and bread that most Americans consume in large quantities. That is the good part. They also frequently recommend that the dieter consume hundreds of dollars of nutritional supplements each month, Sure, the supplements are better than nothing on such an unbalanced diet, but they do not make it safe.

The conventional American diet is so unhealthy and fattening that an obese individual following the Atkins diet may derive some marginal benefit if he or she can use it successfully to keep his or her weight down, because of all the various adverse medical complications associated with obesity and because the added supplements add some missing micronutrients. However, the reality is that no matter how many supplements add some missing micronutrients. However, the reality is that no matter how many supplements are taken and how much psyllium fiber is prescribed, it is simply impossible to make up for so many important substances that are lacking in the diet. There are too essential nutrients that have never met the inside of a vitamin jar, and no supplemental gymnastics can ever offset the destructive effects of so much animal food and so little fibrous produce. Plus, on his plan, consuming even a moderate amount of the healthy carbohydrate foods such as fruits and starchy vegetables stops ketosis and you regain your weight.

High-fat diets are unquestionably associated with obesity, and eating meat actually correlates with weight gain, not weight loss, unless you radically cut carbs from your diet to maintain chronic ketosis.1 Researchers from the American Cancer Society followed 79,236 individuals over ten years and found that those ate meat more than three times per week were much more likely to gain weight as the years went by than those who tended to avoid meat.2 The more vegetables the participants ate, the more resistant they were to weight gain.

The Atkins diet, along with other similar plans, is virtually the opposite of the one dictated by our heritage. I has almost no fiber, utilizing instead the precise foods that science has established as the primary cause of cancer and heart attacks, and specifically excludes the foods that have been shown to have a powerful anti-cancer effect. Then you are told to take hundreds of dollars of supplements each month to make up for the deficiencies. Does this make sense to you?

(from his book)
Eat To Live
(Typical menu)
Total Calories
188 gm
60 gm
167 gm
19 gm
67 gm
314 gm
Saturated fat
60 gm
2 gm
5920 mg
592 mg
B carotene
212 mcg
8260 mcg
Vitamin C
30 mg
625 mg
543 mg
877 mg
187 mg
593 mg
18 mg
22 mg
1.5 mg
8.1 mg
Vitamin E
10 IU
22 IU
5.4 gm
77 gm
0.034 mg
0.168 mg

The Atkins menu above, like most of his meal plans, averages 60 percent of calories from fat. Obviously, the Eat to Live menu has fewer calories and almost no saturated fat and is much higher in fiber and other (anti-cancer) plant-derived nutrients.

Remember, the grams of fiber consumed, when acquired from natural foods, mark the level other phytochemicals--which may make a difference between a long life and a premature death.

Its is difficult to imagine a physician, practicing as a nutritional expert, selling millions of book while recommending 60 grams of disease-promoting saturated fat a day.3

Telling people what they want to hear sell books, products, and services. Atkins continues to make irresponsible statement in support of his dangerous advice. Take, for example, statements from his winter 2001 Health Revelations Special Report (an advertisement brochure for his newsletter):

  • Reverse heart disease with filet mignon!
  • Stop strokes with cheese!
  • Prevent breast cancer with butter!

The worst part is the most people do not have comprehensive knowledge of the world's nutritional literature and research and therefore are not in position to evaluate his fraudulent claims. As a result unfortunate things like this can happen, click here.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at what happens when you tell the truth about Atkins.

Continue Reading...

U.S. Children Tip the Scales

USA TODAY reports one third of U.S. children and teens are either overweight or on the brink of becoming so. About 25 million kids are tipping the scales in the wrong direction. Nancy Hellmich reports:

Public health officials warn the country could face an explosion in coming years of obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Type 2 diabetes already is at an all-time high among children.

The Vegan View of Pixie Vites

Dr. Fuhrman created his children's vitamin's, Pixie-Vites, because he couldn't find any good vitamins for his children to take. They all either had harmful ingredients (like refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, or isolated vitamin A), a poor balance of nutrients, or terrible taste his kids didn't like.

More than two painstaking years, and several formulations later, the Pixie-Vites are on the market with an ingredient list straight from the produce aisle, including:

raspberry juice powder, cherry juice powder, bioflavonoid complex, grape skin extract, hesperidin, rutin, quercetin, pineapple, broccoli, carrots, apple, orange, tomato, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beet, blueberry, celery, grape, grapefruit, kale, plum, raspberry, spinach, strawberry, watermelon, radish, lemon, lime, cantaloupe, cherry, onion, papaya, peach, pear, leek and yellow pepper

Pixie-Vites are designed to compliment a healthy diet--and so they don't superdose children with things like folate that are readily supplied from fresh fruits and vegetables. And with all those fresh, natural plant-based ingredients, Pixie-Vites are favored by health conscious parents and children.

In the last few days, however, an unfortuate thing happened. A vegan website, the estimable Vegan Lunchbox, discussed Pixie-Vites with the impression that (like Dr. Fuhrman's Gentle Care vitamins) Pixie-Vites are vegan.

As became clear in the comments, in fact they are not, owing to one ingredient that comes from sheep's wool, called cholecalciferol--which is a potent source of Vitamin D.

Jennifer, who runs the blog Vegan Lunchbox, e-mailed Dr. Fuhrman for an explanation. As Dr. Fuhrman explains, the decision came down to nutrition:

The reason why the Vitamin D in Pixie Vites is not vegan and made from wool (please note it is not made by killing animals) is because that form of D is twice as absorbable as the vegan type and many kids do not eat a whole Pixie Vite and only take a small portion of one. I did not want to short change some kid by not supplying them with adequate D, so I let that one non-vegan ingredient slip by (since it is made from a by product of wool manufacturing).

Here is the complete list of ingredients. You can learn a lot more about how these vitamins came to be by listening to the second episode of the Followhealthlife podcast.

Less Food, More Life

Denise Grady of The New York Times reports low-calorie diets may lead to longer life. Although due to the difficulty of conducting a large-scale/long-term study, there is no proof a low-calorie high-nutrient diet can prolong human life. But a new study hopes to change that:

A six-month study in 48 people directed by Dr. Ravussin, being published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first rigorous test of calorie restriction in people who are overweight but not obese. Most participants reduced calories by 25 percent, but some cut back more and ate only 890 calories a day for several months.

"There's never been a study like this one," said Dr. Evan Hadley, director of geriatrics and clinical gerontology at the National Institute on Aging, which paid for the study. He called the results "striking," even though the experiment was only a pilot study for a two-year trial of calorie restriction due to begin in the fall.

Among the main findings of Dr. Ravussin's study was that calorie restriction led to decreases in insulin levels and body temperature. Both are considered signs of longevity, partly because an earlier study by other researchers found both traits in long-lived people. The diet also led to a drop in thyroid hormones and declines in DNA damage.

But Dr. Ravussin and Dr. Hadley cautioned that the study was preliminary, and that it did not prove that calorie restriction could make people healthier or add years to their lives.

"It's an important step along the way," Dr. Hadley said.

Increased Risk of Cancer Associated with The Atkins Diet

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview. The following is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Robert Atkins'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 percent of their calories from animal products; we have seen a tragic skyrocketing in cancer and heart-disease rates in the past fifty years as a result of such nutritional extravagance.1 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 percent of calories from fat and contain no whole grains and nor fruit. Analyses of the proposed menus show animal products make up more than 90 percent of the calories in the diet.

Hundreds of scientific studies have documented the link between animal products and various cancers. Though it would be wrong to say that animal foods are the sole cause of cancer it is now clear that increased consumption of animal products combined with the decreased consumption of fresh produce has the most powerful effect on increasing one's risk for various kinds of cancer. Atkins convinces his followers that he knows better than leading nutritional research scientists who proclaim that "meat consumption is an important factor in the etiology of human cancer."2

Atkins devotees adopt a dietary pattern completely opposite of what is recommended by the leading research scientists studying the link between diet and cancer.3 Specifically, fruit exclusion alone is a significant cancer marker. Stomach and esophageal cancer are linked to populations that do not consume a sufficient amount of fruit.4 Scientific studies show a clear and strong dose-response relationship between cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate with low fruit consumption.5 To the surprise of many investigators, fruit consumption shows a powerful dose-response association with a reduction in heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.6 There is also a striking consistency in many scientific investigations that show a reduction in incidence of colorectal and stomach cancer with the intake of whole grains.7 Colon cancer is strongly associated with the consumption of animal products.8 And these researchers have concluded that the varying level of colon cancer in the low-incidence population compared with the high-incidence population could not be explained by "protective" factors such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals; rather, it was influenced almost totally by the consumption of animal products and fat.

More saturated fat & less fruit = Higher cancer risk

Less saturated fat & more fruit = Lower cancer risk

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 pay a substantial price--your life! As was the case with Dr. Atkins's own death, most likely a heart attack that resulted in the slip and fall.

Check back tomorrow for a review of the short and long-term dangers of high-fat diets.

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Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 28

Check Dr. Fuhrman's post about The Healthy Way to Integrate Meat Into Your Diet in this week's Grand Rounds hosted by UroStream. Click here to view.

The Extra Large Hospital Bed in the Corner

Numerous articles have been written predicting doom for our obese population. And do we do anything about it? Yes. We pledge allegiance to high-fat fad diets, buy gimmicky exercise contraptions, and, now, supersize the beds in our hospital to accomodate our growing demands.

The Associated Press reports even hospitals are being forced to acclimate to our band-aid approach of controlling obesity:

Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis [is] finding better ways to deal with the growing number of very obese patients, an issue for many U.S. hospitals. Barnes-Jewish is replacing beds and wheelchairs with bigger models, widening doorways, buying larger CT scan machines, even replacing slippers and gowns.

Last year, patient care director Colleen Becker decided to check the numbers. She looked at a daily hospital census � about one-third of the 900 patients weighed 350 pounds or more.

Now, of course hospitals must comfortably accommodate all shapes and sizes. But shouldn't any health institution respond to such obesity, at least in part, with at least some degree of focus on the causes of the obesity epidemic?

In many cases, the extra large hospital bed is the last step in an extended unhealthy cycle: Eating a bunch of cheeseburgers, buying an "Ab Tornado" or some such thing but never really exercising regularly, and then getting sick and needing an extra large hospital bed.

What's missing is regular exercise and disease-preventing nutrition to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:

By following my vegetable-based diet you will significantly increase the percentage of high-nutrient foods in your diet and your excess weight will start dropping quickly and dramatically. This will motivate you even more to stick with it. This approach requires no denial of hunger. Patients of mine have lost sixty pounds in two months while feeling full and content. You can lose as much weight as you want even if diets have never worked for you in the past.

My promise is threefold; 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.

How a High-Protein Diet Works

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview. The following is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

How can you eat all the fat and grease that you want and still lose weight? Humans are primates; genetically and structurally, we closely resemble the gorilla. We are designed, just like the other large primates, to survive predominantly on plant foods rich in carbohydrates. When the human body finds that it does not have enough carbohydrates to run its "machinery" properly, it produces ketones, an emergency fuel that can be utilized in times of crisis.

At rest, the brain consumes about 80 percent of our energy needs. Under normal conditions, the brain can utilize only glucose as fuel. However, the human organism has evolved a remarkable adaptation that enables it to survive for long periods of time without food.

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 is by breaking down muscle tissue to manufacture glucose. Glucose cannot 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 fats reserves to produce ketones as an emergency fuel. As the level of ketones rise in our bloodstream, the brain accepts ketones as an alternative fuel. In this manner, we conserve muscle and increase survival during periods of food deprivation.

Atkins' dietary recommendations prey on his survival mechanism. When we restrict carbohydrates so markedly, the body thinks we care 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 start consuming carbohydrate-containing fruits, vegetables, or beans, the ketosis ends and the meat and fat become fattening again. Meat consumption leads to weigh gain, unless you have caused a carbohydrate-deficiency ketosis.

To make matters even worse, you pay an extra penalty from a diet so high in fat and protein to generate a chronic ketosis. Besides the increased cancer risk, your kidneys are placed under greater stress and will age more rapidly. It can take many, many years for such damage to be detected by blood tests. By the time the blood reflects the abnormality, irreversible damage may have already occurred. Blood tests that monitor kidney function typically do not begin to detect problems until more than 90 percent of the kidneys have been destroyed.

Protein is metabolized in the liver, and the nitrogenous wastes generated are broken down and then excreted by the kidney. These wastes must be eliminated for the body to maintain normal purity and a stable state of equilibrium. Most doctors are taught in medial school that a high-protein diet ages the kidney.1 What has been accepted as the normal age-related loss in renal function may really be a cumulative injury secondary to the heavy pressure imposed on the kidney by our high-protein eating habits.2

By the eighth decade of life, Americans lost about 30 percent of their kidney function.3 Many people develop kidney problems at young ages under the high-protein stress. Low-protein diets are routinely used to treat patients with liver and kidney failure.4 A recent multitrial analysis showed that reducing protein intake for patients with kidney disease decreased kidney-related death by about 40 percent.5

Diabetics, who are at increased risk of kidney disease, are extremely sensitive to the stresses a high-protein diet place on the kidney.6 In a large, multicentered study involving 1,521 patients, most of the diabetics who ate too much animal protein had lost over half their kidney function, and almost all the damage was irreversible.7 In my practice, I have seen numerous patients who have experienced significant worsening of their kidney function after attempting weight loss and diabetic control with high protein diets. Coincidence? I think not. Damage from such lopsided nutritional advice can be very serious.

Ketogenic diets, like Atkins, have been used to treat children with seizure disorders when medication alone is unresponsive. Medical studies reveal that these diets can result in serious health consequences. Investigators report a greater potential for adverse events than had ever been anticipated. The dangers of these high-protein diets include hemolytic anemia, abnormal liver function, renal tubular acidosis, and spontaneous bone fractures (despite calcium supplementation).8 Kidney stones are another risk of high protein diets.9 These studies point out that there are many subtle adverse outcomes not being attributed to this dangerous way of eating. One outcome is the Atkins Diet's relative inability to lower cholesterol when compared to my vegetable-based, nutrient-dense diet-style.

Tomorrow we will look at the increased risk of cancer associated with the Atkins' diet.

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Dr. Atkins' Death: Examiner's Report

Here's some more information on the real cause of Dr. Atkins' death. Click here to see the updated post.

The Physician and The Student

Following is written by Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella, MS, D.C., DACBN, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, American College of Lifestyle Physicians, and a Diplomat of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition:

A young university pre-med student was called from class one day. It seems that unexpectedly and without warning, or even prior symptoms his dad had collapsed on their kitchen floor and was rushed to the emergency room; his dad had had a major heart attack.

At the hospital several hours later, with his father fortunately in stable condition, the son and his mother spoke about what to do "if dad makes it though this". Anxiously, his mom suggested that the son place a call to her doctor, whom she had been seeing for many years and trusted implicitly. And, this doctor was a cardiologist, so what could be better?

Calling directly from the hospital the son was able to get the doctor on the phone. They spoke at length about his dad's sudden and near fatal heart attack. What the son sought most from this kind hearted and concerned physician was advice and guidance. The son wanted to make sure his dad would recover and would never have to endure such suffering again.

The supportive doctor spoke of all the right medications, tests and about lowering his father's stress level at work. The son remembers learning the word "prognosis" that day. When the son specifically asked about diet (he told him dad had always loved barbeque and bacon) the cardiologist assured him that any connection between heart disease and food is a complete myth and that his dad's diet was fine. The doctor went on to tell the son that even if there was a connection between diet and heart disease it wouldn't help to change anything this late in his father's life. At that time his father was 53 years old. The son appreciatively took the advice from this very successful M.D. and dutifully passed it along to his parents.

Twenty-five years later the dad is still alive. He's 79 years old. In the past 20 years he has remarkably survived 5 subsequent heart attacks and a triple open-heart by-pass surgery! The mom is still alive too. She's 72 years young, but severe obesity has left her totally wheelchair bound. Both his mom and dad remain loyal to and follow the advice of their beloved doctor, even today. Their loyalty is a bit surprising considering each of their own maladies.

Well, at least they're both still alive and the family remains close. And as for the son, he knows a lot more now than he did that day in the emergency room. After completing his Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition he went on to become a doctor. In fact, the son has dedicated his professional career to the prevention and recovery of heart disease and other killers like diabetes and cancer through nutrition. Although he has become vehemently opposed to the brand of advice the kind cardiologist gave him so long ago he still does his best to help his parents with their unfortunate health problems. But sadly, despite the son's successes with his own patients, his parents remain set in their ways; they still recite their beloved doctor's rhetoric every time the concerned son tries to help.

The nice cardiologist on the phone that day in the emergency room was Dr. Robert Atkins, and that concerned son was me.

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. Throughout the week Followhealthlife will examine: