Choosing to Eat to Live

Here's a recent discussion from Dr. Fuhrman's Member Center:

Forum Member:
I went to a little health fair at the local Y two weeks ago and the did a non-fasting cholesterol test, blood pressure test and they checked our carotid arteries (very cool to watch blood pumping through veins).

I'm 50 years old and my results are as follows�

Total cholesterol = 188
HDL= 88
TRG= 117
BP= 140/94
Pulse rate= 76

The carotid test showed a BB size white spot of plaque on both sides.

My question is this�

Is that plaque left over from my Fatkins days (went from Atkins right to you) or is it an indication of a build up from me straying into the SAD (Standard American Diet) foods these past fours months after being 80-100% on your plan for a year?

My dad had the carotid operation and died at 74 from heart problems and lots of strokes. (This is why I started your program in the first place.)

I've been having a hard time getting back on your diet 80-100% of the time, it's been more like 60% (fruit in A.M., salad at lunch, but I lose it by dinner).

Please advise.

Dr. Fuhrman:
The plaque is a result of your old diet and maybe from the one you have been on lately too. Moderation really doesn't accomplish much and in most cases the disease still advances, just at a slower rate. I guess you are just going to have to bite the bullet and eat great tasting healthy food and get well.

What is interesting is that my daughter and I are in Ontario, California and just went to an Italian restaurant in Rancho Calabunga or some town that sounds like that. In any case, we were commenting on that we can't get food that we like the taste of in a restaurant because everything is too heavily seasoned with salt or hot spices and it simply does not taste as good as the stuff we make at home. The point is that we like our home-based healthy cooking the best. With time you can learn that you do not lose pleasure to gain excellent health. I believe you gain pleasure. In any case, your health is worth it.

Forum Member:
Thanks that's just what I needed to hear. I have been feeling worse and worse lately (knees hurt, swollen ankles, migraines are back) and I guess I was just too stubborn to admit to myself that the best way to health is your way. I really was feeling so much better when sticking to plan 100%. I guess what I wanted to hear was that the plaque was waning, not waxing. I also wanted to let you know that after I wrote to you I found your VHS tape and sat down and watched it again.

By the way was the non-fasting cholesterol test very accurate or should I ask my doctor for a full test when I go for my next visit?

Dr. Fuhrman:
It may be off about 5 per cent, but it does not matter. Just let it go for now and get yourself in great health.

Research: Mice Healthier with Japanese Diet

The standard American diet's (SAD) streak of defeats continues. According to the Associated Press researchers from Tohoku University determined the traditional Japanese diet (touted as the reason for low levels of obesity in Japan) is healthier than the American diet. Kozo Mizoguchi reports:

A nutritionist created two menus comprising 21 typical foods from the United States and Japan, according to reports of the study seen by The Associated Press.

Each meal, freeze dried and mixed into powder, was given to eight mice for a period of three weeks, the reports showed.

The American menu included hamburgers and fried chicken, while the Japanese menu included sashimi, or raw fish, and rice porridge.

The study found that several genes that work to break down cholesterol and fat were 1.5 times more active in the mice which received the Japanese menu as opposed to those fed with American food.

The study also found that the level of cholesterol was 10 percent higher in the American-food fed mice.

But Mizoguchi reports the future is uncertain:

Health experts, however, are worried about rising rates of obesity, especially among young people who prefer fast food.

Howard Stern On Trans-Fat: The Transcript

Yesterday I mentioned Howard Stern ranted about trans-fat. Here's what he actually said.

Stern mentioned that over the weekend he read the article in The New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof, entitled Killer Girl Scouts. Kristof argues, and Stern agrees, that high trans-fat content in food is no less a threat to Americans than Iranian dictators and terrorists organizations.

Here's the discussion from the Stern show:

Howard Stern
You know, I just want to start off by saying, I got a say a right on to a guy in The New York Times this Nicholas D. Kristof dude, who writes for The New York Times. He said in an article yesterday, an opinion piece, exactly what I've been saying for years. Here we're talking about the terrorists and killing us, and of course the horrible situation at the World Trade Center, but even more what's killing us is Girl Scout cookies and McDonalds and things like that. Because, this guy was talking about his daughter going around selling Girl Scout cookies, and he happened to look at the back of the box and the trans-fat that's in these cookies, the hydrogenated vegetable oil, that clogs up your arteries leading lots of cholesterol. It's estimated to kill 30,000 Americans annually and probably more. And what happens is the more of these fat people who eat all this crap, continue to eat it, they end up in the hospital and the taxpayers end up paying all the bills, its draining the economy, fat is draining the economy. Girl Scout cookies have more of this trans-fat, then McDonalds. And you say well if Iranians were running around this country handing out this food that kills us we'd have them all arrested.

Robin Quivers
If they were throwing it at us.

Howard Stern
And then it brings up an unbelievable point that in the country, in one of the Scandinavian counties, I think it was Copenhagen, is that a country?

Robin Quivers
I think that's a city.

Howard Stern
Is that a city? Alright, in Denmark I'm thinking, that's the country. In Denmark they passed a law that said, you can not have more than 2% of fat in food be trans-fat.

Robin Quivers
So that's against the companies they have to make sure.

Howard Stern
That's right. And the result of all that is you walk into a McDonald's in Copenhagen and you order a large meal like chicken nuggets and French fries, you get 0.33 grams of trans-fatty acids. If you walk into a McDonald's in the United States and you order the same meal, you get 10.1 count of grams from trans-fat.

Robin Quivers
That's interesting. I wonder what the other stuff tastes like.

Artie Lange

Howard Stern
I don't know about that. It's a matter of the fry oil. It doesn't have to be bad oil. It could be olive oil or something. The KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) provided almost 25 grams of trans-fat, but Denmark, Russia, and Wiesbaden, Germany, none! Negligible.

Robin Quivers
So it can be done. Why are they trying to kill us?

Howard Stern
Prowl a supermarket and you see Pop Secret butter microwave popcorn has 5 grams of trans-fat per serving, Keebler Chips Deluxe cookies have 1.5 grams of trans-fat per cookie, Drakes Yodels and Ring Dings have 2 grams, a Denny's Carrot Cake has 3 grams, again if this stuff was being sold by a terrorist nation, they would all be under arrest, we would be bombing them right now for killing us.

Robin Quivers
But I said if they were throwing it at us and then you called them terrorists, we would shoot them.

Howard Stern
Right, 33,000 people alone a year, they know for sure, die from this, but you know it's higher.

Robin Quivers
Answer my question, why these companies trying to kill people?

Howard Stern
I don't know.

Artie Lange
Those KFC dinners are insane. You get a big thing of mashed potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, and a lot of fried chicken. And 12 year olds eat it.

Howard Stern
The Bush administration should follow the Danish model and curb the use of trans-fats. And the guy goes on, there's lots of risk we take in life, brain tumors happen to people, you can't do anything about that, plane crashes, foreign leaders like in Iran who want to produce nuclear weapons, you got North Korea, that stuff is hard. This is easy...

...Fix this! Fix the s*!# we eat. I mean it literally is clogging our country up. It's bad news.

Robin Quivers
I want to now fly in a McDonald's hamburger from Sweden or Denmark and one from here and see what they taste like.

Artie Lange
Did you ever have fast food overseas Robin? You do a lot traveling.

Robin Quivers
No! I don't eat fast food here.

Howard Stern
Yeah it would be almost a sin to travel all that way just to eat McDonald's.

UPDATE: According to Dr. Fuhrman there's a reason why Howard Stern knows a thing or two about nutrition:

Howard Stern and Robin Quivers have discussed my Eat To Live diet-style on the air a few years back, they were very impressed with what they found out about it and they obviously had both read the book.

For more information on trans-fat check out this previous post from Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella: The Nutrition Facts Label to List Trans Fat: From Bad to Worse

Refined Foods Raise Your Cholesterol

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection For Life:

Once you start eating larger amounts and bigger portions of fruits and vegetables, you will naturally not have as much room for other food like processed or refined food (fake, man-made foods). These foods are lowest in nutrients and will sabotage your long term health. Processed foods are implicated in the scientific literature in the causation of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

When you take the whole wheat berry and process it into white flour to make white bread or pasta, more than 90% of the fiber and vitamin E, as well as more than 75% of the minerals, are lost. Your body breaks down the carbohydrate into simple sugars and the physiologic response is not much different than if you had consumed cotton candy. White pasta, white rice and white bread are just like sugar; because their fiber has been removed, these nutrient deficient foods are absorbed too rapidly. This, in turn, will raise glucose, triglyceride, and insulin levels in your blood. Refined grains are undesirable and will sabotage your weight-loss and cholesterol-lowering efforts.

All refined sweets are low in nutrients and fiber and are rapidly absorbed. These refined sweets include sugar, honey, corn syrup, molasses and corn sweeteners. They all contain insignificant amounts of nutrients (per calorie) and no fiber. More and more studies offer evidence that the consumption of these sweets and white-flour products are a significant cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.1

Getting thinner is extremely important to maximally lower your cholesterol and protect yourself from heart disease and cancer. As you get closer to your ideal weight, your weight loss will gradually slow down and then stop. Your body is a very intelligent "machine" and when you eat correctly, it will achieve its ideal weight.

In addition, if you consume a diet that contains 90-100% nutrient-dense food, you can practically disease-proof your body. Superior nutrition has such a powerful effect on the body's ability to defend itself against illness that it can force genetics to take a secondary role; therefore, our genetic weaknesses can remain at bay.

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