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: Canadians Have Less Disease than Americans, Too

First the redcoats, now the red leaves! Last week Followhealthlife looked at a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing the British are healthier than Americans. This week new research indicates our neighbors to the north are healthier too. MSNBC reports:

Americans are 42 percent more likely than Canadians to have diabetes, 32 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, and 12 percent more likely to have arthritis, Harvard Medical School researchers found. That is according to a survey in which American and Canadian adults were asked over the telephone about their health.

This graph from the Associated Press shows additional health disparities found during this study:


The knee-jerk reaction to this study (other than panic) is to point to Canada's national health insurance program as an explanation. Some researchers adhere to the idea, but others dismiss it as anecdotal:

Canada's national health insurance program is at least part of the reason for the differences found in the study, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a co-author of the Canadian study said. Universal coverage makes it easier for more Canadians to get disease-preventing health services, she said.

James Smith, a RAND Corp. researcher who co-authored the American-English study, disagreed. His research found that England's national health insurance program did not explain the difference in disease rates, because even Americans with insurance were in worse health.

"To me, that's unlikely," he said of the idea that universal coverage explains international differences.

Research like this is fascinating. But it does little improve your health, no matter where you live. In the meantime do your own research. Check out all the research on a nutrient-rich vegetable-based diet and how it can protect against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

NY Times Looks at Safe Fish

When you consider all the bad press seafood gets these days (contamination and over-fishing of certain species) staring at a menu in a seafood restaurant could provoke a panic attack. So, New York Times reporter Marian Burros did a little investigation to see which fish is safe to eat:

Like the shy kid at the dance whose charms are not readily apparent, unpopularity has kept some species in circulation, waiting to be discovered. Atlantic mackerel wears its reputation like a pocket protector and horn-rimmed glasses, but a little attention reveals its sweet side. When a vegan I know returned to eating fish, then extolled the marvels of mackerel, I knew it was time to give it a whirl.

Chilean sea bass may be everyone's delight, but it is being loved to death and needs a break from its fans. Pacific halibut, black cod and mahi-mahi are excellent substitutes for Chilean sea bass, which, if it went by its real name � Patagonian toothfish � might not be so popular.

Read Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations for fish-eaters.

Food Police Not the Answer

There is an interesting article in today's New York Times, which essentially decries all the worrying about what our kids eat in schools. It openly vilifies the banning of cupcakes, and the inclusion of BMI scores on reports. Harriet Brown writes:

In Arkansas, for instance, children's report cards now include their B.M.I., or body mass index, along with their grades. The governor, Mike Huckabee recently lost more than 100 pounds and is passionate about stopping the "obesity epidemic." Maryland is considering a similar standard.

Never mind that B.M.I. is only a measure of height against weight and does not take into account muscle mass, body type or other factors. (Tom Cruise has a B.M.I. of 31, which puts him in the "obese" category.)

"You're setting kids up to feel bad about how they are," says Dr. Nancy Krebs, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Nutrition and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado.

Such efforts usually fail, making weight problems and eating disorders worse. A recent Internet discussion board among families with anorexic and bulimic children identified middle school health classes, which focus on weight, as the No. 1 trigger for their teenagers' disorders.

As much as Dr. Fuhrman is in favor of kids eating healthy food, in his book he makes clear that he is not at all in favor of making an environment where adults and children chastise each other for their food choices. By declaring war on certain foods, and yet having them readily available to students, our schools create a paradox, and it's not outlandish to think kids could be anxious and confused as a result. The last thing we need is a country full of stressed-out, secret bingers.

Dr. Fuhrman prefers to create a home environment that is loaded with delicious, healthy food, and essentially letting children eat whatever they want, with parents as role models in eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Listen to his podcast on getting kids to eat well, and you'll hear that outside the home, he advises parents not to be overly meddlesome.

Consider this excerpt from Onlyourhealth Your Child:

It is not necessary to coax them to eat or to eat healthfully. In fact, battling about food with your child is counterproductive. The trick here is to adhere to this one most important rule: only permit healthy food in your home. Children will eat whatever is available. They will not starve themselves to death; they will adapt easily and learn relatively quickly to like the food that is offered.

Here are some tips from the book to help:

  • Stock your home with a variety of produce�especially fresh fruits, raw vegetables, and raw nuts and seeds.
  • Replace most foods of animal origin with foods of plant origin: bean burgers, vegetable/bean soups, and fruit-centered deserts. If using animal products, use only white-meat poultry and eggs a few times weekly and other animal products more infrequently.
  • Make breakfast dishes, desserts, and sauces with raw nuts and seeds.
  • Limit sweets and remove sugar, salt, and white flour from the home and all products with these ingredients.
  • If eating dairy foods, select no-fat varieties such as fat-free milk. Reduce diary consumption in general. Instead use nut milks, fortified soy milks, and orange juice, fortified with vitamin D. Cheese should not be kept in the home.
  • As a time saver, use a very large pot to make vegetable soups with beans so that the same soup can be used for two days.
  • Serve a cooked vegetable main dish every night.

Research: Dairy Consumption and Multiple Births

The New York Times reports mothers who regularly consume dairy are fives times more like to have fraternal twins than those who do not. Experts point to hormones given to diary cows as explanation. Nicholas Bakalar reports:

Dr. Gary Steinman, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, reached that conclusion by looking at the medical records of 1,042 mothers who were vegans consuming no dairy products and comparing them with those of mothers who regularly ate dairy products.

His findings appear in the May issue of The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Eating dairy products increases blood levels of insulinlike growth hormone, or I.G.F., and it is this increased hormone level that is associated with increased rates of multiple ovulation.

In a study published in 2000 and cited in the findings, vegan women had concentrations of I.G.F. that were 13 percent lower than those in women who regularly consumed dairy products...

The article also discusses the potential role of synthetic hormones given to cows:

Many dairy farmers inject their cattle with recombinant bovine somatotropin, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone. This increases size and milk production, but it has another effect: cows with higher growth hormone levels produce more twins.

Prevent Breast Cancer at Every Age

Wall Street Journal health journalist Tara Parker-Pope reports preventing breast cancer is not just a grown-up issue:

A growing body of evidence shows that a woman's risk for breast cancer may be determined far earlier in life. Cellular changes that can lead to cancer likely begin in childhood when breast tissue is just beginning to develop.

So while strategies like diet, exercise and -- for high-risk women -- prevention drugs like Tamoxifen may help stave off breast cancer in midlife, scientists are also beginning to look at prevention efforts for young girls. What's increasingly clear is that the health decisions parents make for their daughter in preschool, adolescence and the late teen years have the potential to dramatically alter her risk for breast cancer as she becomes a woman.

Parker-Pope explains childhood exercise is an import factor in cancer prevention:

Encourage exercise at a young age. Exercise early in life appears to lower a girl's hormone levels, and potentially delay the onset of her first period. The average age of first period today is about 12, but some girls start periods as early as nine or 10. Girls who don't get their periods until the age of 13 or 14 have a lower lifetime risk for breast cancer.

Exercise before puberty lowers body fat and also damps down hormone production by the pituitary gland, keeping hormone levels low longer and thereby delaying menstruation. "It's important to start things young," says Anne McTiernan, director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle and author of the book "Breast Fitness." Dr. McTiernan suggests an hour of daily exercise for girls, including recess and gym class.

Parker-Pope goes on to point out the importence of a healthy diet in young girls' lives:

Limit Junk Food. Some research suggests that diet early in life and into adolescence can influence breast-cancer risk. In February, a Harvard study suggested a child's preschool diet could affect breast-cancer risk. Women who frequently ate french fries in preschool had a 27% higher risk for breast cancer as adults.

Modest reductions in fat intake during puberty can lower levels of hormones in a girl's body. Girls who eat diets higher in fiber appear to get their first period later. Some evidence suggests that increasing soy in the teen diet can also lower long-term breast cancer risk. Even though the data on adolescent diet and breast-cancer risk are mixed, it makes sense to encourage girls to eat fruits and vegetables and avoid unhealthy fats.

In The Wall Street Journal, the connection between healthy practices at a young age, and cancer later in life is news, and they should be saluted for being among the first major media outlets to really make the connection. Dr. Fuhrman looked at a lot of the same research in researching his book Onlyourhealth Your Child last year. The connection between childhood diet and exercise, early menstruation, and cancer is a major theme of his book, which has an entire chapter on the causes of cancer and other illnesses.

In this excerpt, Dr. Fuhrman explains the trademarks of the standard American Diet (SAD) contribute to earlier puberty in girls, which heightens lifetime risk of breast cancer:

The average age of onset of menstruation in the nineteenth century was seventeen, whereas in the last fifty years in Western industrialized countries, such as the United States, the average age of onset of menstruation is twelve. The over-nutrition and heightened exposure to animal products, oil, and saturated fats2 earlier in life induces a rapid earlier growth and an earlier puberty. Earlier age of puberty increases one's lifetime exposure to estrogens and is associated with a higher incidence of breast cancer years later.

Cohort studies, which follow two groups of children over time, have shown that the higher consumption of produce and protein-rich plant foods such as beans and nuts is associated with a later menarche, and the higher consumption of protein-rich animal foods�-meats and diary�-is associated with an earlier menarche and increased occurrence of adult breast cancer.3

Hopefully this is just the beginning of word starting to spread to parents that what they feed their young children can have a big effect on lifelong health.

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Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 36

Carnival of Recipes #93

OneHappyDogSpeaks hosts this week's carnival of recipes. Be sure to check out Dr. Fuhrman's recipes for Hot Russian Dressing, Orange Cashew Dressing, and Pistachio Mustard Salad Dressing. *Don't forget, not all recipes in the carnival are Fuhrman-friendly.


The Five Most Dangerous Things to Feed Your Child

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

Butter and cheese: full of saturated fat and fat-delivered chemical pollutants

Potato chips and French fries: rich in trans fat, salt, and carcinogenic acrylamides

Doughnuts and other trans fat-containing sweets: rich in trans fat, sugar, and other artificial substances

Sausages, hot dogs, and other luncheon meats: contain N-nitroso compounds that are potent carcinogens

Pickled, smoked, or barbequed meats: places you at risk of both stomach cancer and high blood pressure.

Now that you know Dr. Fuhrman's bad five, check out his fab five.

Marion Nestle Book: Beware Processed Foods

In The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Dorothy Kalins reviews two new books about food, one of which is by Marion Nestle--an NYU nutrition expert who has been mentioned on Followhealthlife before. Here is some of what Kalins has to say about Nestle's book:

For Singer and Mason, the loveliest phrase in the English language may be "family farm." For Marion Nestle, the most unsavory would probably be "processed foods." For her this means "adding value" through clever (and expensive) marketing, tricky packaging and the employment of harmful salt and sugar. If you find the supermarket increasingly alien, that's because it is. A bewildering 20,000 new products appear on grocery shelves each year. Take Whole Grain Cocoa Puffs, for example. Even sweetened with Splenda (Nestle is not a believer) and with its scant one gram of fiber, this so-called healthy cereal still has the same calorie count of the original. Deep into the more than 600 dense pages of "What to Eat" is a chart showing how added value works: a raw Idaho potato costs $.79 a pound; Terra Yukon Gold chips, $10.21. But Nestle is not the food police. This professor of nutrition and public health at New York University and well-known author of "Food Politics," likes her potato chips just fine. With a calculator in hand and a scientist's skepticism, Nestle shoots straight though food industry hype. She pulls no punches: "The science is complicated," she admits. Then she parses that same science for us with good-humored common sense backed up by file drawers of research. She shakes her head over the American diet: "One third of all vegetables consumed in the United States come from just three sources: french fries, potato chips and iceberg lettuce."

Her book is radiant with maxims to live by: "All margarines are basically the same," she reports, "mixtures of soybean oil and food additives. Everything else is theater and greasepaint." She prefers a bit of butter. She's dismayed that there are more than 400 kinds of yogurt, a product she calls "a fast-selling dairy dessert with the aura of a health food." Most flavored varieties are loaded with sugar. Nutritionally, she finds "the focus on protein is silly � Americans are anything but protein deficient." On chicken: "if you eat the skin, you might as well be eating a hamburger."

Despite their decidedly dark view of where we stand, in terms of eating well, both books give reason for hope. Both see the environmental baby steps taken by McDonald's as steps, nonetheless. If Singer and Mason's stories of animal abuse make you weep � and they will � they also might make you reconsider your position on sirloin. The food world is fraught with ethical choices. As Nestle puts it, "you cast your vote for your choice of food environment every time you put something in your shopping cart or order off a menu. If enough people vote with you, changes will happen."

Eating to Live on the Outside: Chipotle

It's Friday! And you know what that means? Time for another installment of "Eating to Live on the Outside." Over the past two weeks we've examined what Eat to Livers might order at Fridays and IHOP, this week Chipotle, the fast food chain (owned by McDonalds's) that bills itself as healthy draws the shortest straw.

Let's see what Chipotle's menu has to offer:

The first thing you'll notice: no appetizers, and no desserts. A solid start if you're trying to keep the calories, oils, dairy, refined sugars, and flours to a minimum. Makes it seem like this isn't just a place where you can scratch out a healthy meal or two, but your health concerns might even seem welcome.

There are five main menu items: burritos, fajitas, burrito bols, tacos, and salads. Here's where you start thinking about where the calories come from. Any of those with grilled meat, cheese, and sour cream at the center of the party are not going to have the nutrition density that you're after. Tacos and fajitas with fried meat are the lure to avoid. But hark! Choose carefully, and here we have fast food with the magic of greens and beans!

A vegetarian burrito or (fajita burrito) with guacamole and salsa could hit the spot. If you're anti-tortilla (that's refined wheat, after all) they'll stick all that stuff in a bowl for you, and they'll give you everything just the same, except for the "w." They call it a "bol."

Burrito bol with cilantro-lime rice, vegetarian black beans, and guacamole or fajita-style with saut�ed vegetables, black beans, and guacamole. I could eat that, or a salad. The vegetarian salad comes with saut�ed peppers, onions, vegetarian black beans, and guacamole. You can get fresh tomatoes as an extra. They even say they're happy to customize any dish as you wish, so I imagine you could get more fresh veggies piled on top. Think they have actual avocado back in that kitchen? That would be especially good.

As always we want to hear about how you handle eating away from home. Any tips? Check out the Chipolte menu and Email us at or leave a comment. How do you Eat to Live on the outside?

Dr. Fuhrman's Famous Anti-Cancer Soup

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

*Note: this recipe has been updated. See the update at the bottom of the post.*

Making this soup involves more time and effort than the other recipes, so you might want to make a huge amount and save it in the refrigerator for the whole week. It tastes so good that a patient of mine who owns a fine restaurant offers it on his menu.

1 cup dried split peas and/or beans
4 medium onions
6-10 zucchini
3 stalks leek
5 lbs. carrots
2 bunches celery
1 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp. VegiZest
1 package mushrooms, any type (optional)

Place the beans and 4 cups of water in a very large pot and start cooking them, covered, on the lowest flame possible. Take the outer skins off the onions and place them in the covered pot. Do not cut them up, put them in whole. Add the zucchini, uncut. Cut the bottom roots off the leeks and slice them up the side so each leaf can be thoroughly washed, because leeks have lots of dirt hidden inside. Throw away the last inch at the green top. Then place the entire leek (leaves uncut) into the pot. Juice the carrots and celery in a juice extractor. Add the juice to the pot. While the soup is simmering, chop up the mushrooms (if desired). By the time you get to this stage, the zucchini, leeks, onions should be soft.

This next step only works if you have a Vita-Mix, a powerful blender, or a food processor. Ladle some of the liquid from the pot into the machine. Use tongs to remove the soft onions, zucchini, and leeks. Be careful to leave the beans in the bottom of the pot. In a few separate batches, completely blend together the onions, zucchini, and leeks. Add more soup liquid and cashews to the mixture, and blend in. Return the blended, creamy mix back to the pot. Add the textured vegetable protein and the mushrooms, if desired. Simmer another 20 minutes, and you have my soup that is famous the world over. I know a doctor who makes and freezes my soup and sells it to his patients to cure everything from sinusitis to cancer. It's not really a cure, but it sure does taste great.


1/2 cup dried split peas
1/2 cup dried adzuki or cannellini beans
4 cups water
6-10 medium zucchini
5 pounds large organic carrots, juiced (5-6 cups juice; see note)*
2 bunches celery, juiced (2 cups juice; see note)*
2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest (or other no-salt seasoning blend, adjusted to taste)
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash no-salt seasoning
4 medium onions, chopped
3 leek stalks, cut lengthwise and cleaned carefully, then coarsely chopped
2 bunches kale, collard greens or other greens, tough stems and center ribs removed and leaves chopped
1 cup raw cashews
2 1/2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms (shiitake, cremini and/o white)
Place the beans and water in a very large pot over low heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Add the zucchini whole to the pot. Add the carrot juice, celery juice, VegiZest and Mrs. Dash.

Put the onions, leeks and kale in a blender and blend with a little bit of the soup liquid. Pour this mixture into the soup pot.

Remove the softened zucchini with tongs and blend them in the blender with the cashews until creamy. Pour this mixture back into the soup pot. Add the mushrooms and continue to simmer the beans until soft, about 2 hours total cooking time.

* Freshly juiced organic carrots and celery will maximize the flavor of this soup.

Weight-loss, Grief, and the Gridiron

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Eagles right guard Shawn Andrews is on a mission this off-season: beat the battle of the bulge. Staff writer Ashley Fox explains Andrews wouldn't let himself to hit the four hundreds despite some terrible news:

After the Eagles' season ended in January, Andrews gained 10 pounds, pushing perilously close to a weight that began with the number four. He made a decision. Enough was enough. He had to stop.

In April, weeks into a diet that was showing results, Andrews went to a park near his Arkansas home with a childhood buddy named Willie. The two had ridden the bus together to third grade, had pigged out in home economics class, had played hoops. Like Andrews, Willie was a big man, but unlike Andrews, he had stopped working out years ago.

That day, Andrews and Willie sat at the park watching the cars go by, talking about their lives and winking at girls. Afterward, Andrews went to Subway, ordering a chicken teriyaki sandwich on whole wheat bread, Sun chips, and a bottle of water. Two hours later, he got the call. Willie was dead, apparently of a heart attack brought on by high blood pressure. He was 23.

Report: One Third of Americans are Diabetic

According to HealthDay News a new study concluded that 30 percent of American adults are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Researchers also determined nearly 30 percent of diabetics remain undiagnosed. Steven Reinberg reports:

The number of Americans diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has now topped 19 million, and a new study says a third of adults with the disease don't even know they have it.

The researchers found that another 26 percent of adults had "impaired fasting glucose," a precursor to diabetes.

"So, if you add that together with the 9.3 percent of people with diabetes, that means that fully one-third of the adult population -- 73 million Americans -- have diabetes or they may be on their way to getting it," said lead researcher Catherine Cowie, director of the diabetes epidemiology program at the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Her team's report appears in the June issue of Diabetes Care.

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.

Q&A On Vitamins

Here's a follow up to the Reuters report on America's vitamin obsession. Four researchers who participated in the National Institutes of Health conference answer questions about which vitamins they recommend and why. NPR's Allison Aubrey reports:

Dr. Meir J. Stampfer, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health

How much is known about the health benefits of vitamins?
The list of vitamin supplements for which we have proven benefits is very short. But the list of supplements for which there are possible benefits is pretty long. You have to weigh the cost, risks and benefits while we're still waiting for clinical evidence.

Many people believe that natural supplements are always safe. Are there risks?
You can get too much of certain nutrients. For example, pre-formed vitamin A. It's not too hard to get to a level that's actually bad for you, which can increase the risk of fractures and birth defects. The vitamin companies have been responsive to this new data and have begun replacing pre-formed vitamin A with beta-carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A), which does not have the toxicity. We can't lose sight of the idea that just because it's natural doesn't mean it's necessarily safe. Tobacco and asbestos are natural, yet they are not safe.

Not so fast! In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman makes clear that isolated beta-carotene isn't the answer either:

Scientists are finding that taking beta-carotene supplements is not without risk, and supplements are certainly a poor substitute for the real thing�the assortment of various carotenoid compounds found in plants.

The reason researchers believed beta-carotene had such a powerful anti-cancer effect was that populations with high levels of beta-carotene in their bloodstream had exceedingly low rates of cancer. More recently we found out that these people were protected against cancer because of hundreds of carotenoids and phytochemicals in the fruits and vegetables they were consuming. It wasn't that beta-carotene was responsible for the low incidence of cancer; it merely served as a flag for those populations with a high fruit and vegetable intake. Unfortunately, many scientists confused the flag for the ship.

Recently, large scale studies have shown that beta-carotene (or vitamin A) in supplemental form may not be such a great idea.1

In Finnish trials, taking beta-carotene supplements failed to prevent lung cancer and actually increased its incidence.2 This study was halted when the researchers discovered that the death rate from lung cancer was 28 percent higher among participants who had taken the high amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Furthermore, the death rate from heart disease was 17 percent higher for those that had taken the supplements than for those just given a placebo.3

Another recent study showed a similar correlation between beta-carotene supplementation and increased occurrence of prostate cancer. At this point, as a result of these European studies, as well as similar studies conducted here in the United States,4 articles in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine all advise us to avoid taking beta-carotene supplements.5

We can learn a lesson from this research. A high intake of isolated beta-carotene may impair absorption of other carotenoids. Taking beta-carotene or vitamin A may hinder carotenoid anti-cancer acitivity from zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and many other crucial plant-derived carotenoids. When my patients ask what multivitamin they should use, I tell them I prefer they take a high-quality multi that does not contain vitamin A or plain beta-carotene. The supplement should contain mixed plant-derived carotenoids, not isolated beta-carotene.

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Precautions to Take When Pregnant or Nursing

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

The developing baby inside you is sensitive to the effects of toxins more so than at any other time in its life. It is never too early to start protecting yourself and your unborn child.

Clearly, there are a lot of dangerous habits to avoid before pregnancy, and there are also a lot of fears women have that are not found in science or logic.

The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats

When a pregnant women uses drugs, even aspirin, she and her unborn child can face serious health problems. Also, just because something is natural or purchased in a health food stores does not mean it is safe. Herbal remedies work because of their medicinal properties from naturally occurring toxins; they are not health food. I also advise against dying your hair during pregnancy.

Childhood Obesity: Pick A Sketch, Any Sketch

Last month Reuters reported on a study published in the Official Journal of the American Academyof Pediatrics claiming parents won't identify their child as overweight, but will select a sketch of a heavier model when asked to pick one representative of their child.

The New York Times has published this illustration depicting the results of the study. Which sketch best represents your child?

Aussie Pets Plump Too

Fat Mouse.jpg

According to Reuters not a lot of people know Australia's obesity epidemic rivals that of the US. Nope, down-under isn't all sunshine and swimsuits, but who would have thought Aussie pets are getting portly too. James Grubel reports:

Obesity rates for Australians have doubled over the past 20 years, with 62 percent of men and 45 percent of women now deemed overweight or obese.

The same trend applies to household pets, with an increase in the number of overweight cats and dogs being dealt with by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), and even one case of an obese pet mouse.

"It's a big problem, and quite reflective of what's happening in the human situation," said Mark Lawrie, the RSPCA's chief vet.

Coming soon...Eat to Live for Animals! Just kidding.

Nutritional Excellence vs. Menstrual Complaints and Irritable Bowels

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Other conditions that also respond exceptionally well to dietary modification include menstrual complaints and irritable bowel syndrome.

Researchers testing similar diets to the one I recommend have noted that a low-fat vegetarian diet increases sex-hormone-binding globulin as it reduces estrogen activity.1 This not only reduces one's risk of breast cancer but also significantly reduces the pain and bloating associated with menstruation.

I also see a large number of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Some feel better within three days of following this diet, although others take a few weeks or longer to adjust to the comparatively large amount of fiber. Both animal products and flour products are triggers for bowel symptoms in many individuals.2 British researchers have documented that increased production of methane and other gaseous products representing increased fermentation in the colon from meats, dairy products, and refined grains correlate with bowel complaints. However, there are other mechanism by which a natural-food diet high in nutrients and fiber reestablishes normal gut motility and tone. It can take time to undo a lifetime of wrong eating; most of my patients need three months to see improvement. Of course, sometimes diets have to be modified for individual uniqueness. In such cases, working with a knowledgeable physician is helpful.

Most chronic illnesses have been earned from a lifetime of inferior nutrition, which eventually results in abnormal function or frequent discomfort. These illnesses are not beyond our control, they are not primarily genetic, and they are not the normal consequences of aging. True, we all have our weakest links governed by genetics; but these weak links need never reveal themselves unless our health deteriorates. Superior health flows naturally as a result of superior nutrition. Our Predisposition to certain illnesses can remain hidden.

Certainly, this method of health is not for everybody. Some would prefer to eat conventionally and take whatever medication is indicated for their condition. That is their inalienable right. However, it is also the right of sick and suffering individuals who seek a natural approach to be aware of how effective aggressive nutritional interventions can be. I would like to take these patients down the streets of Manhattan for a ticker-tape parade to spread the word--you don't have to be sick. Remember, health is your greatest wealth!

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Diet and Disease Prevention

A new study shows the British are healthier than Americans despite U.S. health care spending per person that is more than double what Britain spends.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes:

The US population in late middle age is less healthy than the equivalent British population for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, lung disease, and cancer. Within each country, there exists a pronounced negative socioeconomic status (SES) gradient with self-reported disease so that health disparities are largest at the bottom of the education or income variants of the SES hierarchy. This conclusion is generally robust to control for a standard set of behavioral risk factors, including smoking, overweight, obesity, and alcohol drinking, which explain very little of these health differences. These differences between countries or across SES groups within each country are not due to biases in self-reported disease because biological markers of disease exhibit exactly the same patterns. To illustrate, among those aged 55 to 64 years, diabetes prevalence is twice as high in the United States and only one fifth of this difference can be explained by a common set of risk factors. Similarly, among middle-aged adults, mean levels of C-reactive protein are 20% higher in the United States compared with England and mean high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels are 14% lower. These differences are not solely driven by the bottom of the SES distribution. In many diseases, the top of the SES distribution is less healthy in the United States as well.

Based on self-reported illnesses and biological markers of disease, US residents are much less healthy than their English counterparts and these differences exist at all points of the SES distribution.

No one is sure why the two similar cultures have such different results. Gina Kolata of The New York Times takes a crack at it.

The question of which country is healthier, Dr. Nortin M. Hadler, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina and others say, turns out to be a perfect illustration of an issue that has plagued American medicine: the more health problems you look for, the more you find. And Americans, medical researchers say, are avid about looking.

The British, doctors say, are different.

"The U.K. has a tradition of independent and perhaps more skeptical primary-care practitioners who are probably slower to label and diagnose people and more reluctant to follow guidelines than their U.S. counterparts," says Dr. Iona Heath, a general practitioner in London. "I have heard it argued that the U.S. believes more in the perfectibility of humanity and the role of science than the Europeans."

Some people call it disease-mongering, says Dr. Lisa Schwartz of Dartmouth Medical School. She once calculated that if everyone had the recommended tests for blood cholesterol, blood sugar, body mass index and diabetes, 75 percent of adults in the United States would be labeled as diseased. And new diseases arise by the minute, she says, her favorite example being "restless legs."

Maybe it's overanalysis. Maybe it's stress. Maybe it's something else. We can all guess why it might be that Americans are "sicker" than Brits even though we spend more money on healthcare. (Your thoughts?)

But one thing is certain: the killer diseases in America today, afflictions like type-II diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, need not ruin your health no matter where you live. On Followhealthlife we have trotted out study after study showing that we could make a huge dent in those diseases by abandoning the standard American diet (SAD) in favor a diet based on vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

This post summarizes many of the benefits of a healthy diet in preventing disease. Here is a collection of some of the most important research behind Dr. Fuhrman's work. The role diet can play in precenting cancer is discussed in detail here and here. Dr. Fuhrman says you need not settle for diabetes and that there is a counter attack for heart disease.

The result? Let's not wait around until researchers unravel the mystery of what makes English people seem to be healthier. Instead, let's do what has already been shown to be effective preventing and reversing the chronic diseases that are killing so many of us, starting with a plant-based, nutrient-dense diet that is effective in both Americans and the British.

Have a Pear or Two

Behold! The mutated pears of New Zealand's South Island. Florence Fabricant of The New York Times reports:

The skin of a Taylor's Gold pear has the matte-brown finish typical of a Bosc. But its generous, wide hips suggest Comice. Inside, the flesh is creamy white, exceptionally juicy and fragrant. It is a Comice mutation first discovered in 1986 in an orchard on New Zealand's South Island. Its season in New Zealand is fall, but below the Equator that is the equivalent of our spring, from April until mid-June.

Aren't you glad that so much good produce is in season? We're coming into the time of year when fruits and vegetables are at their best.

Exercise For Sanity

New research concludes staying active decreases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The New York Times reporter Nicholas Bakalar reports:

Researchers studied a group of more than 2,200 people over 65 and without dementia from 1994 to 1996, then followed them through October 2003, examining their mental abilities with standard tests and their physical performance with strength and agility tasks.

During the follow-up, 319 people developed dementia. Of them, 221 had Alzheimer's. But the poorer their physical performance at the start of the study, even among people with no signs of dementia, the more likely they were to develop dementia.

The associations held even after adjusting for age, family history of dementia, heart disease and other factors.

The study appears in The Archives of Internal Medicine.

Heart Disease Quiz

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, accounting for more than 40 percent of all deaths. Each year approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI); nearly 500,000 of them die as result.1 Most of these deaths occur soon after the onset of symptoms and well before victims are admitted to a hospital.

Every single one of those heart attacks is a terrible tragedy, as it could have been avoided. So many people die needlessly because of wrong, weak, and practically worthless information from the government, physicians, dietitians, and even health authorities like the American Heart Association. Conventional guidelines are simply insufficient to offer real protection for those wanting to protect themselves from heart disease.

If you are an American over the age of forty, your chance of having atherosclerosis (hardening) of your blood vessels is over 95 percent. You may think, "Heart disease won't happen to me!" But I have news for you: it has already happened, and you chance of dying from a heart attack because of your atherosclerosis is about 50 percent. You exercise program and your Americanized low-fat diet won't help you much, either. You need to do more.

Quick Quiz: Heart Disease

1. Percentage of children between the ages of four and eleven who already have signs of heart disease?2

A. None
B. 10 percent
C. 40 percent
D. More than 75 percent

2. Percentage of female heart attack victims who never knew they had heart disease and then die as a result of their first heart attack?3

A. None
B. 10 percent
C. 25 percent
D. More than 75 percent

3. Percentage of heart disease patients who undergo angioplasty and then have their treated arteries clog right back up again within six months?4

A. None
B. 10 percent
C. 30 percent
D. None of the above

Keep reading for the answers.

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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

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 35

Howard Stern On Trans-Fat

Many people don't realize Howard Stern is a health nut, and just this morning, as he was coming on the air, he started railing about trans-fat. You know the stuff that runs rampant in our food, makes us sick, and kills many of us!

Stern said if Iran was selling trans-fat to the U.S., and you looked at the statistics of what it did to Americans, we'd declare war. But for some reason we allow domestic companies to continually infect our food with it.

According to Stern we don't even have strict federal limits on the amount of trans-fat allowed in food. Denmark has tighter restrictions then we do. Crazy, right?

I was curious if anyone else heard Stern's rant? And if you care to weigh in on it?

UPDATE: For more on this check out Howard Stern On Trans-Fat: The Transcript.

Poll: Americans Unaware of Fat/Cancer Connection

HealthDay reporter Meryl Hyman Harris reports that the connection between obesity and cancer is, sadly, a well-kept secret.

More U.S. citizens know the correct number of judges on American Idol than know that being fat helps cause cancer.

According to a new poll of more than 2,000 adults for the American Cancer Society, just 8 percent were aware of the link between being overweight and cancer risk, but 65 percent knew how the popular TV show works.

Experts say the obesity-cancer connection needs a lot more press.

The problem "has to do with communication from the health profession, which includes us as registered dieticians," said David Grotto, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. "We need to do a better job of communicating the risk of obesity with many types of diseases."

"Healthy" By Reputation is not the Same as Healthy

According to the Associated Press Americans are being duped by so-called "healthy foods." Claiming advertising confuses people into buying foods they perceive as healthy (yogurt, granola bars, etc.), but as it turns out are no more good for you than a bowl of sugary cereal. Candice Choi reports:

As concerns grow over rising obesity rates, so does confusion about the difference between what is healthy and what aids weight loss�with many believing the two are interchangeable.

"That's why so many people just give in and so many diets fail," said Christine Gerbstadt, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Foods with wholesome images�nuts, yogurt and granola�are often consumed with abandon by dieters and end up sabotaging them, she said. Many brands of granola, for example, can be packed with up to 600 calories per cup and are loaded with more sugar than a cup of Cap'n Crunch.

While foods like granola and yogurt are certainly more nutritious than a bag of Cheetos, it's important to pick the lower-calorie brands that are not loaded with sugar or fat.

There are some good points in there, but why does she have to malign nuts? If you pick the right nuts, they're absolutely health food.

Ten Minutes a Day to Fight Childhood Obesity

HealthDay News reports Wellness, Academics and You (WAY) a new program designed to help schoolchildren lose weight resulted in a two percent reduction in the number of overweight kids. Appearing in the Journal of Obesity Research the pilot study appears promising:

The study also found that students who took part in the Wellness, Academics and You (WAY) program for a semester ate more fruits and vegetables and increased their levels of physical activity--from an average of just under 12 minutes during the school day to 20.5 minutes, and from about 22 minutes a day outside of school to over 37 minutes.

Under the WAY program, students take 10-minute daily classroom breaks to exercise along with a video. Lessons on nutrition, calories, goal setting and stress management are also incorporated into core subjects--math, language arts, science, and social studies.

Check out the WAY homepage.

Fish Fat Affects Heart's Electrical Function

HealthDay News is reporting Omega-3 fats might heighten the risk of potentially dangerous heart condition in some people. New research claims individuals who consume fish more than five times a week are 61 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. Randy Dotinga reports:

In recent years, many doctors have urged patients to eat oily fish�such as mackerel, herring, albacore tuna and salmon�or take fish oil supplements. Both contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to better recovery from heart disease and a lower risk in older people of atrial fibrillation, in which the heart's electrical system malfunctions, and the muscle fails to beat in an orderly fashion.

But it's not entirely clear that omega-3 fats are good for the general population without heart disease. And some research has suggested they may actually boost the risk of atrial fibrillation in certain people, such as those younger than 60.

In the new study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 17,700 U.S. male doctors who took part in the Physicians' Health Study. The men answered questions about their fish consumption in 1983 and were asked in 1998 if they had developed atrial fibrillation.

After adjusting the data to account for factors like existing heart disease, the researchers found that men who ate fish more than five times a week were 61 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, compared to those who ate fish once a month. In total, about 7 percent of all the men in the study said they developed the condition, which is somewhat common among the elderly but rarer among younger people.

First mercury contamination and now this! Fish is certainly earning an unsavory reputation. If you're alarmed by this research, remember Dr. Fuhrman's recommendation: Only eat lean fish like flounder, sole, or tilapia no more than once or twice a week.

Now, incase you think you're not getting enough Omega-3, consider another recommendation from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseed everyday. This will give you those hard-to-find omega-3 fats that protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.1 The body can manufacturer EPA and DHA from these omega-3 fats for those of us who do not consume fish. An additional source of omega-3 fat might be a few walnuts or soybeans. Edamame, those frozen green soybeans in the freezer of most health-food stores, taste great and are a rich source of omega-3 fat. A nutritional supplement containing DHA fat is also a good idea, especially for those who are poor DHA converters (which can be determined via a blood test). Vegetable-derived (from microalgae) DHA fat can be found in most health-food stores.

Dr. Fuhrman points out that his DHA Purity is not only a high grade, vegetable-derived DHA supplement (it's made from algae) but it is the only DHA available in America that is kept refrigerated for freshness since the day of manufacturing. Children and adults like the taste, too.

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Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Here are some nutrient-rich recipes to see you through the day from Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

Flax/Oatmeal Bars
� cup dried apples
� cup raisins
� cup dates
1 � vanilla soy milk
1 cup rolled oats or oat flakes
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon raw cashew butter or peanut butter

Soak apples, raisins, and dates in half the soy milk in refrigerator overnight. Mix oats and ground flax seeds together and soak likewise with the other half of the soymilk in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, blend the dried fruit mix in a blender or food processor with the nut butter. Mix the blended fruit with the oat/flax seed mixture and roll into logs or spread on baking tray. Cook in oven on low heat (200 degrees) for 30 minutes to dehydrate. Serves 4.

Lettuce Tasty Rolls
� cup almond butter
� cup tomato paste
Pinch of chili powder
2 cups shredded carrots
� cup shredded red onion
1 diced tomato
1 diced red pepper
1 teaspoon chopped basil
12 large leaves of romaine with center white stalk cut out

Mash the almond butter with the tomato paste and chili powder and spread the mixture thinly onto each lettuce leaf. Mix all the shredded and diced vegetables together and sprinkle over each leaf. Roll up the leaves, using toothpicks to hold them together. Option: use avocado instead of almond butter. Serves 2-4.

Vegetable Lasagna
1 pound firm tofu
� cup lemon juice
� cup sesame tahini
� cup shredded coconut
� cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups diced carrots
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 bunch of broccoli, chopped
1 cup unsalted tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup chopped scallions
1 package whole-wheat lasagna noodles, boiled per package instructions
1 cup shredded soy cheese.

Blend the tofu, lemon juice, tahini, shredded coconut, nutritional yeast, and parsley in a good processor and put aside. Blend all the vegetables with the tomato sauce and the oregano, Italian seasoning, and scallions to make a thick veggie paste. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a large casserole pan. Make layers of cooked lasagna noodles by spreading tofu mixture on top of the noodles, then another layer of noodles, and then the veggie mix. Put the last layer of noodles on top, sprinkle the shredded soy cheese on the top, cover the top of the dish, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serves 4.


Carnival of the Green #28

Carnival of Recipes #92

PractiGal hosts this week's carnival of recipes. Included in the mix are Dr. Fuhrman's recipes for Black and Blue Beans and Greens, Squash Fantasia, and Pita Apple Bake. *Don't forget, not all recipes in the carnival are Fuhrman-friendly.


Eating to Live on the Outside: IHOP

Last week Followhealthlife looked at what "Eat to Livers" might order from the Friday's menu. This week we're serving up IHOP's menu.

Here's the question: You follow the Eat to Live plan, but your buddies are grabbing a bite to eat at the local IHOP. What do you do? This is a real trip to the dark side of nutrition. Without refined sugar, flour, and meat, it's not clear there'd be much to eat at IHOP at all!

There is hardly a meal on the menu at IHOP that's going help your jeans fit better, so your options are about the only thing that's likely to be slim at this place. (You might even consider smuggling in a head of romaine.) But we are intrepid souls, and will do our best to make a reasonably healthy meal...

If cheese and fried food were part of the Eat to Live plan, you'd be in nirvana. There's tons of oily gooey goodness here---skip these menu items entirely. If you really want an appetizer order a house salad with no croutons and get the dressing on the side. It's your safest bet.

Main Course
The menu is dominated by refined sugar and flour based breakfast food (pancakes, French toast, waffles, etc.), but there are non-breakfast foods as well. If you're hell-bent on breakfast try the Harvest Grain 'N Nut Pancakes ("hearty grains, wholesome oats, almonds and English walnuts") and beg for some fresh fruit to go on top instead of those sugary fruit toppings and whipped cream.

If you're not in a breakfast mood give the Grilled Chicken Cesar Salad a whirl (with or without the chicken). Ditch the croutons and you have a nice pile of greens, granted you have the Parmesan cheese to contend with, but since you've decided to stay and eat, be prepared to make concessions.

You might be tempted by the Spinach salad. What could be more healthy than that? But check out what comes with it: "hickory smoked bacon pieces, tomatoes, shredded Parmesan cheese, Bleu cheese crumbles and diced, crispy-fried chicken. Tossed in a delicious honey mustard dressing and served with toasted garlic bread." That leaves you with a bowl of spinach and tomatoes--or the the vast majority of your calories from those things up at the top of Dr. Fuhrman's pyramid that are best eaten only "rarely."

Another option is the Grilled Cod Hollandaise. Tell the waiter to hold off on the sauce and order it with salad, vegetable and potato. That's not too painful.

You've got problems here. Like Friday's menu, you can forget finding any Fuhrman-friendly selections. The three choices all include ice cream. Resist the urge and treat yourself to some fresh fruit later.

Yup, maintaining nutritional excellence can be tough and not every situation is conducive to the plan, but do your best to be smart about it. That's what I do.

We want to hear about how you handle eating away from home. Any tips? Check out the IHOP menu and Email us at or leave a comment. How do you Eat to Live on the outside?

You Can't Blame the Plate

Dr. Furhman has written that thanks to the Standard American Diet we're "digging our graves with knives and forks."

But you can't blame this plate!. It's covered in nutrition information about a wide array of foods. Now while Americans gorge, they can see how much fat there is in their roasted caribou, canned anchovies, and broiled sirloin. Did you know 3 oz. of roasted quail breast had 125 calories? The plate does!

The only problem: with portion sizes as big as they are, it could be hard for lots of people to read the plate through all that gravy.

Via BoingBoing.


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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Americans Crazy for Vitamins

According to Reuters experts are questioning why Americans take so many vitamin supplements. Maggie Fox reports:

"Half of American adults are taking multivitamins and minerals and the bottom line is that we don't know for sure that they're benefiting from them," said Dr. J. Michael McGinnis, a senior scholar with the Institute of Medicine, who chaired the panel.

"In fact, we're concerned that some people may be getting too much of certain nutrients," added McGinnis, whose organization advises the federal government on health issues.

The 13-member panel included experts in nutrition, biostatistics, biochemistry, toxicology, geriatric medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, cancer prevention, consumer protection and other fields.

They said much more study was needed on what vitamins Americans lacked in their diets and whether taking supplements provided actual benefit.

Many people may assume that because vitamins and minerals are vital for health, that more is better. But some are toxic at high levels, including vitamin A and iron, and others are simply excreted in the urine.

Where Junk Food Cravings Are Born

Last year NPR posed the question: "Why do we seem to relish salty, sweet, high-fat and fried foods?" After all, anybody on the street will tell you they're no good for us. So why do we eat them? Gary Beauchamp, director of Philadelphia's Monell Chemical Senses Center weighs in:

Our human ancestors were largely herbivores, and one of their primary concerns was consuming enough calories.

"Sweet things tend to be calorie-rich and tend to be high in vitamins in the real world," Beauchamp says. "Most or all plant-eating animals have evolved an ability to taste sweet compounds, particularly carbohydrates, and a liking for them."

Likewise, salt is a signal for nutrients such as sodium. As for fat, our cravings become less clear. Some studies suggest people like the buttery texture. Fat is also the richest source of calories. "One way to think about this is that people and animals learn to associate this feel with the feeling of calories in the gut�and that association is what makes these things so attractive," Beauchamp says. He speculates that fatty acids may also enhance the sweetness of sugar and the saltiness of salt.

Similarly, an aversion to bitter foods�including vegetables�may have evolved from the need for early humans to avoid poisonous plants, which often tasted bitter.

Check out the podcast that accompanies the NPR report.

The podcast suggests people have learned to acquire some nasty eating habits: overeating and gobbling up lots of salt and fat to new a few. According to Onlyourhealth Your Child this is a dangerous combination, especially in young children:

The unnaturally high level of sugar, salt, and artificially heightened flavors in processed (fake) foods will lessen or deaden the sensitivity of the taste buds to more subtle flavors, making natural food taste flat. For example, the higher the salt content of your diet, the more your taste buds lose their ability to taste salt. After your taste has toned down its sensitivity to salt, salty things don't taste so salty and your deadened taste buds have lost the ability to enjoy the subtle flavorings in more delicately flavored natural foods. Vegetables have less flavor, fruit isn't as sweet, and nuts taste like wood after just one month of over stimulation with industrial-designed flavors.

Children eat little real food today. By real food, I mean things that are eaten in their natural state. Is an ice pop real food? Are Kool-Aid or macaroni and cheese? Were these foods eaten by primitive man or other primates? Do they contain a reasonable complement of the trace elements, phytochemicals, minerals, and fibers that nature placed in real food? With so much fake food around, why would we expect our children to choose to eat vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts, those foods that all the health-giving nutrients?

Don't Coerce Children to Eat

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

Repeat after me: "I will not be concerned with the number of calories consumed by my child." Remember, it is the internal messages from the brain of your child, finely tuned by metabolic messages, that determine hunger. When there is a true physiologic need for calories and when they are truly hungry, they will eat. You may be able to determine what they eat by what is offered or available in your home environment, but you have almost no ability to force your children to consume more food than their own internal drives tell them they need.

It is especially difficult to get a baby or toddler to overeat. Most young ones will push food away when they are not hungry. By bribing, coaxing, tempting, and teaching our little ones to constantly stuff down a few more bites, they are learning to ignore their body's correct hunger and satiation signals. Over time, and with the help of "fake food" made with artificial flavors and concentrated sweeteners, it is very common for children to become chronic overeaters.

We are designed to consume a diet rich in natural plant fibers and micronutrients. This fiber (bulk) causes stretch receptors in the digestive tract to register that we have consumed enough food. When we eat processed food, which is high in calories and has little fiber, the body's natural satiation mechanism is fooled and we overeat. Appetite can also be driven by taste. The artificially high stimulation of taste with concentrated sweeteners and artificial flavors can make humans eating machines without constraints.

Man-made, high calorie concoctions, designed to appeal to the taste and mindset of children, are chemical inventions created to attract consumption, and do not contain the nutrients needed for good health. Besides containing insignificant amounts of nutrients, they also contain potentially dangerous ingredients such as artificial food colorings and chemical preservatives. In addition, processed foods may also contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, other concentrated sweeteners, white flour, butter and nitrates. Heavily baked, smoked, or barbequed foods produce heat-formed by-products with detrimental carcinogenic effects. Parents have allowed the processed food and fast food industry to penetrate the minds and bodies of children like a cult, stealing away the health potential of our children.

Hunting for Calories in the Supermarket is Cheap and Easy

On his blog "On the Table" New York Times contributing writing Michael Pollan provides a compelling take on people's dietary selections, citing low income levels and high cost of fresh produce as major reasons why people eat poorly. Research indicates junk food is more cost effective:

A 2004 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Adam Drewnowski and S.E. Specter offers some devastating answers. One dollar spent in the processed food section of the supermarket � the aisles in the middle of the store � will buy you 1200 calories of cookies and snacks. That same dollar spent in the produce section on the perimeter will buy you only 250 calories of carrots. Similarly, a dollar spent in the processed food aisles will buy you 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of fruit juice. So if you're in the desperate position of shopping simply for calories to keep your family going, the rational strategy is to buy the junk.

Mr. Drewnowski explains that we are driven by our evolutionary inheritance to expend as little energy as possible seeking out as much food energy as possible. So we naturally gravitate to "energy-dense foods" � high-calorie sugars and fats, which in nature are rare and hard to find. Sugars in nature come mostly in the form of ripe fruit and, if you're really lucky, honey; fats come in the form of meat, the getting of which requires a great expense of energy, making them fairly rare in the diet as well. Well, the modern supermarket reverses the whole caloric calculus: the most energy-dense foods are the easiest � that is, cheapest � ones to acquire. If you want a concise explanation of obesity, and in particular why the most reliable predictor of obesity is one's income level, there it is.

Even Organic Cereal and Pasta Aren't Health Foods

Yesterday we talked about Wal-Mart's move to sell more organic foods, and Dr. Fuhrman's conclusion was that the organic label doesn't do much to make processed foods more nutritious.

In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains the deficiencies and dangers of refined carbohydrates:

Processed carbohydrates are deficient in fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, all of which have been lost in processing.

Compared with whole wheat, typical process carbohydrate products are missing:

  • 62 percent of the zinc
  • 72 percent of the magnesium
  • 95 percent of the vitamin E
  • 50 percent of the folic acid
  • 72 percent of chromium
  • 78 of the vitamin B6
  • 78 percent of the fiber

In a six-year study of 65,000 women, those with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two and a half times the incidence of Type II diabetes, compared with those who ate high-fiber foods such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice.1 These findings were replicated in a study of 43,000 men.2 Diabetes is no trivial problem; it is the fourth-leading cause of death by disease in America, and its incidence is growing.3

Walter Willett, M.D., professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of those two studies, finds the results so convincing that he'd like our government to change the Food Guide Pyramid, which recommends six to eleven servings of any kind of carbohydrate. He says, "They should move refined grains, like white bread, up to the sweets category because metabolically they're basically the same."

Now the let's talk cheese. According to Dr. Fuhrman cheese is a poor dietary selection and strictly prohibited in the Eat to Live plan:

Cheese is the food that contributes the most saturated fat to the American diet is one of the most dangerous foods in the world to consume. Though it tastes good, it should be used very rarely, if at all. Most cheeses are more than 50 percent of calories from fat, and even low-fat cheese are very high-fat foods.

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%

So based on the information from Dr. Fuhrman it seems organic doesn't necessarily mean nutritious. While organic produce reduces the risks of pesticides and toxic chemicals, organic processed foods and cheese still aren't healthy choices.

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Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 34

The new Grand Rounds is up on Doc Around The Clock, take a look. This week's edition includes Dr. Fuhrman's post Heart Attack Counterattack.

Wal-Mart Going Organic

Wal-Mart, the nation's largest grocery retailer, will soon be selling a vast array of organic products, including organic produce, breakfast cereals, and macaroni and cheese. According to The New York Times the move is an attempt broaden its appeal to urban and other upscale consumers. The initiative has met mixed reviews, Melanie Warner reports:

Wal-Mart's interest is expected to change organic food production in substantial ways.

Some organic food advocates applaud the development, saying Wal-Mart's efforts will help expand the amount of land that is farmed organically and the quantities of organic food available to the public.

But others say the initiative will ultimately hurt organic farmers, will lower standards for the production of organic food and will undercut the environmental benefits of organic farming. And some nutritionists question the health benefits of the new organic products. "It's better for the planet, but not from a nutritional standpoint," said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. "It's a ploy to be able to charge more for junk food."

Nestle makes an interesting point. Just how beneficial is all this organic food?

In a previous post entitled "Is Organic Safer?" Dr. Fuhrman talks about organic produce:

Organic food is certainly your best bet, to further limit exposure to toxic chemicals. No one knows for sure how much risk exists from pesticide residue on produce, but here's what we do know: the younger you are, the more your cells are susceptible to damage from toxins. It seems wise to feed our young children organic food whenever possible.

Of course, wash your vegetables and fruit with water and when possible, use a drop of dishwashing detergent and then rinse well to remove all detergent residues for a little more efficient cleaning. Specialty pesticide removal products have not clearly demonstrated any more effectiveness than mild soap and water.

Besides the heightened exposure to chemicals and pesticides from animal products, the most hazardous pesticides are used on some plant foods responsible for the majority of the plant-food-related dietary risk. These foods with the most pesticide residue are: strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, cherries, apples, and celery. Imported produce is also more likely to contain higher levels of pesticides.1

There is another reason to feed our children organic food when possible. Organic food usually has more nutrients than conventional.2 One study performed at the University of California at Davis found that foods grown organically had higher amounts of flavonoids, which have protective effects against both heart disease and cancer. The researchers found flavonoids were more than 50 percent higher in organic corn and strawberries. They theorized that when plants are forced to deal with the stress of insects, they produce more of these compounds, which are beneficial to humans.3 Overall, organic foods taste better, and organic agriculture protects farmers and our environment.

But here's the important thing to remember: when it comes to nutrition, what you eat is much more important than whether it's organic or not. Processed cereal, frozen pizza, and macaroni and cheese don't magically become health foods when they're organic. And, watermelon or apples don't become unhealthy when they're not organic. Again Dr. Fuhrman:

The large amount of studies performed on the typical pesticide-treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, is related to lower rates of cancer and disease protection, not higher rates. Certainly, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than not eating them at all. The health benefits of eating phytochemical-rich produce greatly outweigh any risk pesticide residues might pose.

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Stricter Food Regulations Squelched

Despite the global obesity epidemic the United States and the European Union ruled out enacting new laws designed to further regulate the food industry. Reuters reports:

European Union Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Deputy U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar told Reuters they would not bring in laws such as those used to reduce smoking.

"The government can't tell someone what to eat. They can't say that something is tasty if it's not tasty," Azar said in an interview with Reuters television.

"The business case has to be there for healthy food. If there's not a business case for it, it won't happen."

Food and drink companies breathed a sigh of relief at the news that their industry was being left to regulate itself.

Carnival of the Green #27

This week's Carnival of the Green is now up on EarthEcho, click here. Dr. Fuhrman's post Early Exposure to Pesticide: Revisited joins the festivities.

Carnival of Recipes #91

Everything and Nothing hosts this week's carnival of recipes, click here to take a look. Dr. Don't forget to check out Fuhrman's recipes for Indian Mango Salad, Greek Chick Pea Salad, and Salad with Spicy Russian Dressing. *Not all recipes are Fuhrman-friendly.


Re-Examining Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

When people think cancer they inevitably think chemotherapy. For some patients the link is so strong that they request chemotherapy even if their doctor doesn't recommend it. But The New York Times claims more and more doctors are questioning the role of chemotherapy in treating breast cancer. Gina Kolata reports:

Today, national guidelines call for giving chemotherapy to almost all of the nearly 200,000 women a year whose illness is diagnosed as breast cancer. In the new approach, chemotherapy would be mostly for the 30 percent of women whose breast cancer is not fueled by estrogen.

So far the data are tantalizing, but the evidence is very new and still in flux. And even if some women with hormone-dependent tumors can skip chemotherapy, no one can yet say for sure which women they might be. Some doctors have already cut back on chemotherapy, but the advice a woman gets often depends on which doctor she sees.

It hasn't yet inspired wholesale changes in treatment.

"It's a slightly uncomfortable time," said Dr. Eric P. Winer, who directs the breast oncology center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "Some of us feel like we have enough information to start backing off on chemotherapy in selected patients, and others are less convinced."

Among the less convinced is Dr. John H. Glick, director of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Glick tells his patients about the new data but does not suggest they skip chemotherapy. After all, he notes, the national guidelines were based on results from large randomized clinical trials. And the recent data indicating that some women can skip chemotherapy are based on an after-the-fact analysis of selected clinical trials.

"We're in an era where evidence-based medicine should govern practice," Dr. Glick said.

For years Dr. Fuhrman has insisted chemotherapy isn't the sun, the moon, and the stars in breast cancer treatment. He explains in a previous post entitled Diet, Chemotherapy, and the Truth: How to Win the War on Cancer:

Chemotherapy has contributed to the progress made against cancer deaths from fast-growing cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, testicular cancer, and childhood cancers such as osteogenic sarcoma. But for the major cancers affecting most adult Americans, chemotherapy adds less than one year of disease-free life to those treated�

Does Chemotherapy Work?
Let's see how effective chemotherapy actually is with a few common cancers.

  • A meta-analysis of chemotherapy for postmenopausal, estrogen receptor-positive women (the largest group of women with breast cancer) pooled the six largest studies to get the most accurate data on survival and complications. Here is what researchers concluded about the group treated with standard chemotherapy: "No significant survival benefit was observed."1
  • In non-small cell lung cancer (the most common type), the 5- year survival is only about 10 percent. In stage 4, when the cancer has spread to distant sites, the 5-year survival is only 1.6 percent. After looking at multiple studies, it appears that treatment generally results in a very slight improved survival rate at 1 year, but this advantage disappeared at 30 months of follow-up.2
  • Even in small cell lung cancer where chemotherapy has proven effectiveness in life extension, the benefit adds only a few months of life, not years. And during this time the patient can experience serious�even life threatening�side effects from the treatment.

No doubt this uncertainty among doctors further complicates an already difficult situation. Dr. Fuhrman provides some advice for those confronting cancer:

Every patient has to make her own decision. But if I were a woman with postmenopausal breast cancer, I would opt for surgery, without radiation and without chemotherapy, and would then pursue an aggressive nutritional protocol. I also would include antiestrogens if the tumor histology showed it to be estrogen receptor-positive.
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Double Trouble: Obesity and Smoking

You don't need a doctorate to know smoking and being overweight aren't going to help you live longer or more healthfully. But according to the British Medical Journal 80 million American adults seemingly don't realize this, and are at risk for poor health and early death. Reuters reports:

The research published in the British Medical Journal showed that 23.5 percent of adults were obese and 22.7 percent smoked.

Among people who were obese and smoked, the proportion was higher in African Americans than other racial or ethnic groups.

Research has shown that smoking is a leading cause of preventable death. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, respiratory problems as well as lung and other types of cancer.

Obesity raises the odds of suffering from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint problems, depression and some cancers.

The Obesity Myth?

The other day I found this video clip of The Obesity Myth author Paul Campos (via ZestyPing) giving a speech at a conference in Massachusetts.

Campos contends that the obesity epidemic in this country is a media construct and not based in fact. Here are some more of his points:

  • The correlations between obesity and illness/mortality are weak
  • Weight cycling is bad
  • Good diet and exercise = health at any size
  • Weight loss programs don't inspire health or improved mortality

Intrigued by the video, I passed it along to Dr. Fuhrman. Here's what he had to say:

Since almost all typical diets fail and result in regain of the weight anyway, Mr. Campos is correct that weight cycling is bad and weight loss programs don't work. A truly good diet and exercise are the key points; the main problem with his reasoning is that he doesn't know what a good diet is. If he did he would find that people who follow a good diet stop being overweight and are no longer overweight. He is also wrong about the correlation between obesity and mortality.

So the difference is that Eat to Live was designed first as the healthiest way to eat. The side effect is that people gravitate pretty rapidly to their ideal weight and furthermore, it is a knowledge-based approach that makes the client the nutritional expert, so they gain back control of their health destiny and their weight. It is not a diet, if a diet means restricting calories, portions or trying to lose weight.

Your health and weight are governed by the law of cause and effect. Most people don't fail because of lack of effort. The most common mistake that prevents people from achieving their goals is that they do the same thing over and over expecting a different result. They get locked into a single way of looking at things. Taking a different approach requires us to think differently. The standard diet is so nutrient-poor that it leads to a tremendous drive to over eat calories and causes withdrawal symptoms leading to cravings and food addictions (toxic hunger).

Eat to LiveStandard American Diet (SAD)
Lots of beans, nuts and seedsLots of dairy and meats
5 - 10 fresh fruits dailyLots of refined sweeteners
Oil used sparinglyOils supply a major caloric load
Animal products 2 - 5 times a weekAnimal products 2- 5 times a day
Focused on nutrient-dense calories Focused on nutrient-poor calories

The thought process behind the diet-style described in my book entitled, Eat to Live differs from conventional diets. When I first developed the Eat to Live approach, I started by asking: what is the healthiest way to eat? The fact that it is also the most effective way to lose weight is a great bonus. Other diets seem to be based on the premise: How can we make a popular diet and what type of gimmick or hook will sell books? My primary goal was not popularity or economic success. I have a duty to patients who rely on me for life saving advice. My goal was to be scientifically accurate and the most effective for both weight loss and disease reversal, bar none.

My book, Eat to Live has succeeded beyond my expectations. The people who have adopted this plan have achieved remarkable success, reversed their chronic diseases, and achieved a consistent healthy weight. The book has been translated into many foreign languages and has become a best seller. However, Eat to Live was written to speak to people who could not lose weight, no matter what they tried. It was not written for the masses and has limitations for wide acceptance by our society. Most people are looking for magic and are not interested in what the healthiest way to eat is, or the healthiest way to lose weight.

And lastly, taste is learned and food preferences can change and the myth that healthy eating has to take a second seat regarding taste or pleasure in life is simply incorrect. When people realize they can eat as much as they desire, not be hungry and uncomfortable, lose lots of weight and have the food taste as good or better than their prior diet, it is a no-brainer and they keep the weight off for life. But it takes time for food preferences to change, to learn the recipes and science that supports it.

Eating to Live on the Outside: Fridays

This blog is all about the wonders of incredibly healthy food. When you eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds account for the majority of your diet, there are marvelous health benefits.

But what do you do when someone invites you to dinner in a restaurant? After all, we live in the real world. What to order?

Most restaurants aren't exactly Fuhrman-friendly. Some are better than others, but you'd be hard-pressed to find Squash Fantasia or Vindaloo Vegetables on most menus. So the question still remains: When you're out with friends, what do you eat?

There are lots of popular eateries out there. In the weeks to come, just for fun, we're going to look at the menus of many of them, and try to figure out some choices. Again, this is Gerry speaking, I'm not a doctor, and these are not medical recommendations. But I am someone who does his best to follow the Eat to Live recommendations, and I know that I am not the only one to have been mystified by menus. It seems like it could be helpful to all of us to muddle through some menus and see what we can come up with.

Today, our task is to imagine we're slipping into a booth at T.G.I. Friday's.

The Friday's menu is filled with good looking dishes, but most of them aren't going to compute with Eat to Live. With every dish you're probably going to have to make some concessions, but don't fret, even Dr. Fuhrman acknowledges that there are adjustments to be made when eating away from the home.

Using my Eat to Live knowledge, here's what I'd order:

There's a part of me that is drawn to the Zen Chicken Pot Stickers. They're not full of cheese, fried, or topped with bacon, which in this lineup counts as health food. Other options: pray the Soup of the Day is tomato, bean, or something that is vegetable-based or trans-fat (margarine) and butter-free. Or, of course, there's really nothing wrong with a house salad with the dressing on the side.

Me? I'd go with the Shanghai Chicken Salad, even though the Santa Fe seems healthier. The spiciness might be an issue for some people, myself included. If you skipped the appetizer or ordered a house salad, you might want to keep the chicken on this dish, if not ask the waiter for no chicken. Just remember to go easy on the Cilantro-Lime dressing.

Another good option is on the low-fat menu: "A roasted mild whitefish topped with a roma tomato-basil salsa and drizzled with balsamic glaze. Served with steamed herbed rice and broccoli." I'm suspicious of any and all "glazes," but no doubt you could get a little balsamic vinegar instead.

Pasta is not on Dr. Fuhrman's favored foods list, but as long as we're talking about compromises, you could also consider the Vegetable Grill: "Portobello mushroom marinated and grilled with asparagus, red pepper, zucchini and squash. Served with angel hair pasta, tomato-basil salsa and Balsamic Vinaigrette."

Your best bet here is not even to look at that page of the menu. Nothing on the menu is going earn you a gold star from Dr. Fuhrman.

So there you have it, that's what I'd do if I found myself in a Friday's with no fresh fruits and vegetables in sight. I'd try to pick dishes with as many vegetables as possible (especially greens), but what would you do? Email us at or leave a comment. What restaurant tips are you willing to share? We'd love to hear from you.

Health News Bits and Pieces

On any given day you'll find hundreds of health-related news stories circulating throughout the web. Here are a few Associated Press stories that caught my eye:

Salt: Potentially More Dangerous For Vegans and Vegetarians

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

Although a low-saturated-fat vegan diet may markedly reduce risk for coronary heart disease, diabetes, and many common cancers, the real Achilles' heel of the low-fat vegan diet is the increased risk of hemorrhagic (vessel rupture leading to bleeding) stroke at a late age. Apparently the atherosclerotic (plaque-building) process that creates a local intravascular embolism (traveling clot) may be protecting the fragile blood vessels in the brain from rupture under years of stress from high blood pressure. Admittedly, hemorrhagic stroke causes a very small percentage of deaths in modern countries. It still is worth nothing that if strict vegetarians are to have the potential to maximize their lifespan, it is even more important for them to avoid a high salt intake because salt intake increases blood pressure. Almost all of the soy-based meat analogues and many other health food store (vegan) products are exceptionally high in sodium.

A number of studies both in Japan (where the high-salt had made stroke a leading cause of death) and in the West have illustrated that fewer animal products and a low serum cholesterol were associated with increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.1 Keep in mind, stoke mortality is significantly higher in Japan and exceptionally high in certain areas of China where salt intake is high, in spite of low-fat diets. It is also well established that Third World countries that do no salt their food are virtually immune to hypertension, the age-related rise in blood pressure we see in 90 percent of Americans, and they are immune to the incidence of strokes.

The high salt ? high blood pressure ? stroke causation chain may be more likely a late-life event in a vegetarian successfully maintaining excellent heart health. So avoiding excess sodium may be even more important for a vegetarian than for an omnivore. Of course, excess sodium increases both heart attack and stroke death in all diet styles, but in a vegan, the high-salt diet is even more likely to rear its ugly head as a cause of late-life morbidity and mortality, especially since they will often live longer and not have a heart attack first.

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Washington Post: Social Attitude Towards Fat

Eat to Live is a scientifically devised system. Dr. Fuhrman's claims about weight loss, nutritional excellence, and protection against disease, are stringently backed up by respected research and studies. But today's obesity epidemic isn't all about logic; there are also social and emotional complications to consider. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

It's not easy to change: eating has emotional and social overtones. It is especially difficult to break an addiction. Our American diet style is addicting, as you will learn, but not as addictive as smoking cigarettes. Stopping smoking is very hard, but many still succeed. I have heard many excuses over the years, from smokers aiming to quit and sometimes even from failed dieters. Making any change is not easy. Obviously, most people know if they change their diet enough and exercise, they can lose weight�but they still can't do it.

Surely someone who is overweight would prefer not to be, and for good reason. An article in The Washington Post explains negative attitudes about fatness can play a big part in inspiring people to lose weight. Sally Squires reports:

A number of studies have documented a pervasive bias against fat people, who often earn less income than their thinner counterparts. Research points to discrimination against corpulent men and women in a variety of places, including health care. Public opinion polls find that those who weigh too much are routinely stereotyped as lazy, slow and unmotivated compared with people at a healthier weight, who are more likely to be described as smart, competent and attractive.

The surprise? Overweight and obese people share many of the same negative views about their hefty counterparts. "It is another hurdle to weight loss," says Marlene B. Schwartz, associate director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and co-author of a recent study examining the effect of one's own weight on fat bias.

The study, which involved 4,286 people, was one of the first to examine attitudes about obesity in people of all body weights. Like previous research, it found that a large proportion of lean people have negative views about the obese. The lower the body mass index of participants, the more likely they were to hold strong anti-fat opinions.

According to the study the anti-fat sentiment in this country is so strong that 4 percent of the participants would trade blindness for obesity and 5 percent would sacrifice a limb to be thin. In the Washington Post, Yale's Schwartz suggests that ingrained hatred of fat can actually sabotage weight-loss efforts:

"Hating yourself is not a good way to motivate yourself to engage in healthier behaviors," Schwartz says, noting that "if you have been so conditioned to see yourself as lazy, that has to get in your way when you are trying to go outside to take a walk or take the stairs instead of the elevator."

That's why Dr. Fuhrman is careful to describe Eat to Live as a long-term life change, not a quick fix diet (and you don't have to give up an arm and a leg):

Eat to Live will allow everyone who stays on the program to become slimmer, healthier, and younger looking. You will embark on an adventure that will transform your entire life. Not only will you lose weight, you will sleep better, feel better physically, have more energy, and feel better emotionally. And you will lower your chances of developing serious diseases in the future. You will learn why diets haven't worked for you in the past and why so many popular weight-loss plans simply do not meet the scientific criteria for effectiveness and safety.

Beware "Enriched" Foods

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

White or "enriched" rice is just as bad as white bread and pasta. It is nutritionally bankrupt. You might as well just eat the Uncle Ben's cardboard box it comes in. Refining removes important factors: fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, and vitamin E. So, when you eat grains, eat whole grains.

Refining foods removes so much nutrition that our government requires that a few synthetic vitamins and minerals be added back. Such food is labelled as enriched or fortified. Whenever you see those words on a package, it means important nutrients are missing. Refining foods lowers the amount of hundreds of known nutrients, yet usually only five to ten are added back by fortification.

As we change food through processing and refining, we rob the food of certain health-supporting substances and often create unhealthy compounds, thus making it a more unfit food for human consumption. As a general rule of thumb: the closer we eat foods to their natural state, the healthier the food.

One Nation Under Big Macs

Remember Eric Schlosser's 2001 book Fast Food Nation? According to Kim Severson of The New York Times:

In the five years since "Fast Food Nation" was published, America's attention to what it eats has perked up markedly. A movement to overhaul school lunch programs has gained momentum, capped with an announcement last week that soda companies will voluntarily remove sugary drinks from school vending machines. Terms like trans fat, mad cow disease and sustainable agriculture are part of the shopper's lexicon. Fast food companies have animal welfare policies and marketing budgets devoted to making salads as popular as burgers.

Did "Fast Food Nation," which has sold more than 1.4 million copies, serve as the guidebook to this latest food revolution?

We may never really know. Certainly, there have been many factors. But this much is certain: Schlosser is not ready to be quiet. The movie version of Fast Food Nation is about to come out, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Greg Kinnear, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Avril Lavigne and Ethan Hawke. Severson reports:

If the movie is a success at Cannes and in theaters, it may take his message to a wider and much more glittery audience. But it's Mr. Schlosser's newest book, the little sleeper aimed at young people, that could have lasting impact.

Carmen Rios, a Brooklyn teenager, recently read it as part of her work as a reporter for New Youth Connections, an independent student newspaper distributed to New York City high school students.

She grew up eating her mother's Puerto Rican dishes at home but going to McDonald's whenever she had a few dollars. At one point she ate eight meals from McDonald's in a week. "Chew on This" changed everything. Descriptions of the way animals are slaughtered and insects used for food coloring were particularly powerful.

As a result, she's off McDonald's entirely. She's eating fruit and salad.

Everyone Else Is Fat!

Last month The New York Times reported on survey results from Apparently 90% of Americans consider others fat, 70% consider acquaintances fat, and just 40% consider themselves overweight. Confused? Eric Nagourney reports:

The numbers may not seem to add up, but that is what a study from the Pew Research Center found in surveying more than 2,250 adults about the worsening obesity problem.

"People tend to see the weight problem of the nation as a whole as being greater than the weight problems of their friends and acquaintances," said the report, online at

The survey respondents are certainly right when it comes to the big picture. Federal studies, the report noted, estimate that about 31 percent of American adults are obese, and that an additional third are overweight.

"But when they think about weight," the researchers wrote of the people surveyed, "they appear to use different scales for different people."

I'm not a doctor, but a telephone survey seems to a horrible way of determining if a person is fat or not. Dr. Fuhrman determines healthy body weight by checking a person's percentage of body fat and measuring their periumbilical fat. What's that? He explains it's as simple as pinching near a person's umbilicus (navel) and measuring the distance between two fingers.

Dr. Fuhrman mentions that a lot of his patients on Eat to Live claim to be "so thin," but once he measures them, they realize they've still got work to do.

For more on this issue check out this previous post: I'm Not Fat

The Phytochemical Revolution

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

We are on the verge of a revolution. Substances newly discovered in broccoli cabbage sprouts sweep toxins out of cells. Substances found in nuts and beans prevent damage to our cells' DNA. Other compounds in beets, peppers, and tomatoes fight cancerous changes in cells. Oranges and apples protect our blood vessels from damage that could lead to heart disease. Nature's chemoprotective army is alert and ready to remove our enemies and shield us from harm.

Hardly a day goes by when some new study doesn't proclaim the health-giving properties of fruits, vegetables, and beans. Unprocessed plant foods contain thousands of compounds, most of which have not yet been discovered, that are essential for maintaining health and maximizing genetic potential. Welcome to the phytochemical revolution.

Phytochemicals, or plant-derived chemicals, occur naturally in plants (phyto means "plant"). These nutrients, which scientists are just starting to discover and name, have tremendously beneficial effects on human physiology. The effects of our not consuming sufficient amounts of them are even more astounding--premature death from cancer and atherosclerosis.

Eating a wide variety of raw and conservatively cooked plant foods (such as steamed vegetables) is the only way we can ensure that we get sufficient amount of these essential health-supporting elements. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements or adding some vitamins to processed foods will no prevent the diseases associated with eating a diet containing a low percentage of calories from whole natural foods.

Scientists cannot formulate into pills nutrients that have not yet been discovered! If the pills did contain sufficient amounts of all the phytonutrients and other essential substances, we would have to swallow a soup bowl full of pills and powders. To date, researchers have discovered more than ten thousand phytochemicals. No supplement can contain a sufficient amount. Thankfully, you can get all these nutrients today by eating a wide variety of plant-based foods.

Please bear in mind that I am not against nutritional supplements. In fact, I recommend various supplements to many of my patients with various health problems, and a high-quality multivitamin/multi-mineral to almost everyone.

I do not recommend that most people consume supplements containing vitamin A, isolated beta-carotene, or iron, as there are risks associated with excess consumption of these nutrients. The point to be emphasized is that supplements alone cannot offer optimal protection against disease and that you cannot make an unhealthy diet into a healthy one by consuming supplements.

Cross-Country Fat Man

In March Followhealthlife learned about Steve Vaught--an obese man from San Diego--and his mission to walk across the country. Two months later Steve is more than 100 pounds lighter and nearing his destination the George Washington Bridge in New York. Matthew Verrinder of the Associated Press reports:

Vaught set out on his journey on April 10, 2005, hoping to complete the trip in six months. By early November, he had reached the halfway point after walking 1,400 miles. After taking a break for the holidays, he resumed walking in January.

He has kept a running log of his trek on his Web site,, which has gotten hundreds of thousands of hits, while others have watched him on Oprah Winfrey's TV show.

"People try to make this about calories and scales, but this is about living your life," he said Monday, walking briskly along Route 46�about 25 miles from his goal�as cars hummed past and beeped, a large paunch still part of his 305 pounds. "I spent 15 years either regretting the past or fearing the future. Now I'm living in the present."

He says he's gone through 15 pair of shoes, 12 pairs of pants, three shirts, 30 pairs of socks and his own sanity�twice.

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 33

The new Grand Rounds is up on Aetiology, click here. This week's edition includes Followhealthlife's post Case Histories: The Atkins Diet.

Carnival of Recipes #90

The new Carnival of Recipes is up on The Common Room, click here. Be sure to check out Dr. Fuhrman's recipes for Asparagus-Potato-Leek Ragout and Creamy Asparagus Soup. *Not all recipes in the carnival are Fuhrman-friendly.


Dr. Fuhrman Addresses Osteoporosis and Protein

In a comment to last week's post Choose Vegetable Calcium Over Animal Calcium Helena sought Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts about Gabe Mirkin's opinion on animal protein and calcium absorption. Here's what Dr. Fuhrman had to say:

Gabe Mirkin, M.D.: Studies done many years ago suggested that eating a lot of protein increases calcium loss in the urine and therefore it was thought that eating protein weakens bones by taking calcium out of them. However, recent studies show that eating protein increases calcium absorption so the extra calcium in the urine comes from increased absorption, not from being take out of bones. Reports in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Volume 78, Issue 3, 2003) show that eating plenty of protein and lots of foods from plants helps to keep bones strong. Most scientists now feel that a very low-protein diet can cause osteoporosis, while a moderately high-protein diet may help to prevent it.

Dr. Mirkin is not giving enough information to understand the entire story. Let's review some of the evidence from the studies in question and come to some recommendations that are more specific. Even though excessive consumption of animal protein over many years does encourage bone disease and bone loss and a higher consumption of vegetable protein over animal protein is conducive to less osteoporosis it is also true that too little protein in later life (after age 70) when digestive efficiency declines could lead to less calcium absorption, muscle wasting and bone thinning. Studies suggest that both too much protein (animal protein) and too little protein are unfavorable to bone mass. Therefore, it may be advisable as we age to assure adequate protein intake and pay more attention to it especially if we find a decrease in weight and muscle mass with later life aging. Let's review the following relevant studies:

Rapuri PB ; Gallagher JC ; Haynatzka V. Protein intake: effects on bone mineral density and the rate of bone loss in elderly women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 77(6):1517-25.
This study investigates the associations of dietary protein intake with baseline bone mineral density (BMD) and the rate of bone loss over 3 y in postmenopausal elderly women. It finds " no association seen between protein intake and the rate of bone loss (in a three-year period). The study did note that all these elderly women did not eat much protein in general and the highest range of protein consumption was only about 70 grams a day. Elderly women with low protein intake at baseline (before the study began were noted to have lower bone mineral density, likely because of a little less muscle mass), because muscle mass and strength is linked to bone mass. This study does not tell us much more than logic and common sense would. Protein digestive efficiency declines in the elderly and getting adequate protein is necessary for adequate muscle and bone mass in later life.

Sellmeyer DE ; Stone KL ; Sebastian A ; Cummings SR. A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women. Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001; 73(1):118-22.
This study followed over 1000 elderly women over a 7 - 10 year period. The study scientists concluded that animal foods provide predominantly acid precursors, whereas protein in vegetable foods is accompanied by base precursors not found in animal foods. Imbalance between dietary acid and base precursors leads to a chronic net dietary acid load that may have adverse consequences on bone. The study found increase bone loss and risk of hip fracture in those with a higher ratio of animal protein to vegetable protein. The study scientists concluded that an increase in vegetable protein and a decrease in animal protein may decrease the risk of hip fracture in the elderly. This study illustrates the importance of getting the majority of calories (and protein) from plant sources and cautions that protein from animal food sources should be a minor contributor to total protein requirements for maximizing bone health. Even if some animal protein is added to a diet, it should not be the major source of protein, green vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, should be the major source of protein and animal source a minor source.

Devine A ; Dick IM ; Islam AF ; Dhaliwal SS ; Prince RL Protein consumption is an important predictor of lower limb bone mass in elderly women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 81(6):1423-8.
This study compared protein intake with bone mineral density in the heel in 75 year old women and illustrated at this later age the higher range of protein intake (above 80 grams a day) had better bone mineral density. They did not follow hip fracture rates. This study shows that as we get older it is important to assure adequate intake of protein (as well as other nutrients).

Kerstetter JE ; O'Brien KO ; Insogna KL. Dietary protein, calcium metabolism, and skeletal homeostasis revisited. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 78(3 Suppl):584S-592S.
This study showed reduction in calcium absorption and very low protein intakes below .8 mg per kg, and support the other evidence that elderly women should strive to maintain their total protein intake above a gram per kilogram of body weight.


  • It is important to keep exercising to maintain muscularity in our later years.
  • To maximize mineral absorption and bone health, supplements of D and many other nutrients are advisable and become increasingly important as we age as digestive efficiency may decrease.
  • Vegetable protein sources, beans, edamame, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables are the most favorable sources of protein for long life and bone health. Adequate protein intake is important and vegetarian diets should be designed so that adequate protein intake is consumed. Vegetarian diets where the vast majority of calories come from grains and roots such as rice and potato are not ideal for long-term health.
  • Attention to protein intake with supplements or some animal products may be a useful to maintain peek muscle and bone mass to prevent the occurrence of increasing frailty, common in the elderly, but for reasons of cardiovascular health, diets should be designed so that animal products are used sparingly and not the major source of protein in the diet.

Seattle Arsenic Scare

You only have to flip through the archives of Followhealthlife to see how dangerous childhood exposure to toxic chemicals can be. The Seattle Times reports that Seattle residents received a scare when the drinking water of five Seattle schools was found to have arsenic levels that exceed government guidelines. Emily Heffter and Warren King report:

Dr. Catherine Karr, director of the University of Washington's Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, said the long-term risk to children would be very low.

Her rough calculation: If 1 million children, each day for five years, each drank one liter of water with arsenic slightly above the federal standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb), about 10 to 30 more cancers of the bladder or lungs would result.

Water from drinking fountains at five schools�Gatewood, Leschi, Loyal Heights and Van Asselt elementary schools and Alternative Elementary No. 2�was found to have arsenic levels between 11 and 18 ppb.

Only one of the fountains had been in use�at Van Asselt, for eight days, according to district officials.

Pediatric Grand Rounds: Volume 1, Edition 2

The newest Pediatric Grand Rounds is now up on Unintelligent Design, click here to take a look. Followhealthlife's post NY Times Questions Diet as Cancer Prevention joins the discussion.

Carnival of the Green #26

Check out this week's Carnival of the Green hosted by HippyShopper, click here. Dr. Fuhrman's post Pomegranate Power was included in the mix.

Big Portions, Small Waistlines

The driving force behind permanent weight control is not eating less, it's eating more! No, not more chips, cookies, and cheeseburgers (staples of the standard American diet), but rather large quantities of nutrient-dense appetite-blunting foods like fruits and vegetables. Dr. Fuhrman elaborates in Eat to Live:

Eating large quantities of high-nutrient foods is the secret to optimal health and permanent weight control. In fact, eating much larger portions of food is one of the beauties of the Eat to Live diet. You eat more, which effectively blunts your appetite, and you lose weight�permanently.

Once you being to learn which foods make the grade�by having a high proportion of nutrients to calories�you are on your way to lifelong weight control and improved health.

A recent report on discusses a new Penn State University study uncovering similar findings to Dr. Fuhrman's claim. Karen Collins, R.D. reports:

In the second half of the Penn State study, when portion sizes were kept the same and subtle changes were made to the foods so that they were 25 percent lower in calories, the women ate virtually the same portion as before. Since they did not eat more food to compensate for the lower calorie content, their calorie consumption dropped by 24 percent, or about 575 calories a day. The women's calorie intakes were slightly below what they needed to maintain their weight. If they continued eating this way for a longer period, they could expect to see weight loss of about one pound a week.

While the first round of research only decreased the amount of food eaten by participants (without focus on nutrient density), the next phase did the opposite; portion size remained the same, but the participants were supplied better nutrition. Collins' report closes with the following recommendations:

When you prepare your own meals and snacks, it's easy to make them less concentrated in calories by substituting ingredients with less fat or calories and increasing the proportion of vegetables and fruits. However, when you eat foods prepared by others, it's harder to judge the number of calories.

In these studies, despite dramatic differences in calorie content, the women thought the foods were equal in calories. Although they could usually tell when foods were lower in fat, lowfat foods are not always low-calorie. When you do eat foods prepared by others, watch your portions and choose plenty of vegetables and fruits.

Click here to read the skinny on nutrient density--and the thinking behind Dr. Fuhrman's approach. And a few parting words of inspiration from Dr. Fuhrman:

The Eat to Live diet does not require any deprivation. In fact, you do not have to give up any foods completely. However, as you consume larger and larger portions of health-supporting, high-nutrient foods, your appetite for low-nutrient foods decreases and you gradually lose your addiction to them. You will be able to make a complete commitment to this diet for the rest of your life.

Do You Need Animal Protein?

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

Animals eat their macronutrients; they don't fabricate them from the air. All protein, all fat, and all carbs are made from soil and water with energy from the sun via photosynthesis. Animals then get all the fat, protein, and carbohydrates for energy from plants. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. All animals, directly or indirectly, receive protein (amino acids) from plants. The lion eats the antelope; the antelope got the protein it supplied to the lion from the grass. Green vegetables (the soil) supplied the nitrogenous compounds to make the protein for the antelope and ultimately the lion.

In North America, about 70 percent of dietary protein comes from animal foods. Worldwide, plants provide 84 percent of calories. In the 1950s human protein requirements studies were first conducted that demonstrated that adults require twenty to thirty-five grams of protein per day.1 Today, the average American consumes 100 to 120 grams of protein per day, mostly in the form of animal products. People who eat a completely vegetarian diet (vegan) have been found to consume sixty to eighty grams of protein a day, well above the minimum requirement.2 Vitamin B12, not protein, is the missing nutrient in a vegan diet.

In modern times, the plant foods we eat are well washed and contain little bacteria, bugs, or dirt, which would have supplied B12 in a more natural environment such as the jungle or forest. To assure optimal levels of B12 in our diet, we require some form of B12 supplementation when eating a diet with little or no animal products.

UPDATE: Animal protein can be part of an extremely healthy diet! Dr. Fuhrman explains this in detail in an earlier post.

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Research: "Baby Fat" in Pre-Adolescents Leads to Grown Up Fat

"Oh it's just baby fat. You'll lose it when you grow up." Remember hearing that? HealthDay News reports a new study in the British Medical Journal says that's not necessarily true. Steven Reinberg reports:

"Contrary to our expectation, children who are overweight at 11, stay that way right through to 16, with no sign that they were growing out of their 'puppy fat,' " said lead researcher Jane Wardle, director of the Cancer Research UK, Health Behavior Unit in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.

In the study, researchers collected data on 5,863 children as they developed into young adults. The results clearly showed that weight problems are established before adolescence. The researchers found that children who were overweight when they were 11, continued being overweight through adolescence.

Choose Vegetable Calcium Over Animal Calcium

A lot of people believe a vegetable-based diet, which excludes milk and cheese, doesn't provide enough calcium. According to Eat to Live fruits and vegetables contain ample amounts of calcium and this veggie-calcium is actually retained more efficiently in our bodies. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

Green vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without problems associated with diary. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don't consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.

Dr. Fuhrman points out that despite its reputation, milk's calcium-absorption rate is lower than what you might think:

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

Given the concentrated calcium dose in green vegetables and the health risks associated with of diary products, veggies are a great tool for protecting yourself against bone debilitating diseases like osteoporosis. The Chicago Tribune agrees�kind of.

In an article entitled Shoring Up Your Bones reporter JoAnn Milivojevic re-hashes a lot of the same recommendations for keeping bones strong and dense that you heard as a kid:

An easy way to combine calcium and vitamin D, according to Blatner, is to have an 8-ounce serving of milk and/or fortified soymilk three times a day. She recommends pouring the fortified beverage of your choice on cereal in the morning, blending it with frozen fruit for a smoothie, drinking a glass with lunch or having a glass of hot chocolate for dessert. Cosman cautioned that the milk be low-fat or non-fat: "There's no way taking in all that saturated fat is good for you," she said.

The daily recommended value for vitamin D is 400 international units (IU). You may need more or less depending on your age or food habits. For example, the NOF suggests that postmenopausal women need more because a decline in estrogen means a decline in calcium absorption. Vegans (vegetarians who don't eat eggs or dairy) may also need to take extra steps to ensure they're getting enough calcium through the plant-based foods they eat.

Good sources of calcium include fortified breakfast cereals, milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu and greens such as collards and kale. To get the most nutritional bang for your bite, create such tasty combinations as broccoli and cheese. A half cup of steamed broccoli with an ounce of cheese gets you 20 percent of your daily recommended value of both calcium and vitamin D.

It's encouraging to see mass-media even suggesting vegetables as a sufficient source of calcium, but Milivojevic, like some many others, is clearly reluctant to wipe away her milk mustache permanently. For those loyal to bovine juice Dr. Fuhrman recommends restricting milk consumption to only fat-free skim and taking supplements as needed.

From his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman provides additional insight on role of animal calcium in the standard American diet (SAD):

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

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Two things are necessary to predictably reverse heart disease: one is to become thin and superbly nourished, and the other is to get your LDL below 100. Reversal of heart disease then occurs. If one expects to diminish atherosclerotic plaque over time and stabilize the plaque so the chance of having a heart attack significantly decreases, I insist that he or she must strive to achieve the following parameters of normalcy:

  • The patient must achieve a normal weight or become thin (less than one inch of abdominal fat in women, and less than three-quarters of an inch in men), or be in the process of steadily losing weight toward this goal.
  • The patient must achieve normal cholesterol. My definition of normal is an LDL cholesterol below 100 (most authorities are now using this benchmark). Drugs are rarely needed to attain this level when an aggressive nutritional approach is taken.
  • The patient's diet must be nutrient-dense. Animal products and detrimental fats must be avoided to prevent the after-meal fat surge.1 Refined carbohydrates should also be avoided to prevent the after-meal glucose surges and to control triglycerides. Homocysteine levels should be normalized, by supplementation with appropriate nutrients if necessary.
  • Blood pressure must return to within the normal range, below 130/85, or be slowly improving and moving toward this minimal goal. The normalization of blood pressure as medications are gradually discontinued represents reversal of atherosclerosis and is an important criterion to predict cardiac safety. The person who has removed his cardiac risk no longer requires blood pressure medication to maintain normal blood pressure readings. The vessels have become more elastic through nutritional intervention.
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All Children Exercise Simultaneously

Yesterday children from all fifty states exercised in unison for fifteen minutes. The program called All Children Exercise Simultaneously (ACES) hopes to encourage kids to incorporate regular exercise into their lives and adopt healthy diets. Matthew Verrinder of the Associated Press reports:

Len Saunders, a grinning New Jersey elementary school gym teacher started Project ACES in 1989. Students in all 50 states and at least 50 other countries were urged to exercise en masse for 15 minutes Wednesday, all to curb alarming rates of childhood obesity. ACES stands for All Children Exercise Simultaneously.

"Now we just have to get them to do it every day, and we'll be fine," said Saunders, 45, who teaches at Valley View Elementary School, about 25 miles west of Manhattan. "The obesity epidemic is crazy in our country right now. This is not going to change their lives for the 15 minutes today, but it may motivate them to exercise in the future."

Childhood Obesity: Parenting a Better Solution than Manufacturing

Getting kids to eat healthy nutrient-rich food starts early, according to Onlyourhealth Your Child too many parents allow their children to consume the standard American diet. Consequently kids grow up rejecting fresh produce and opting for empty-calorie processed foods. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

The unnaturally high level of sugar, salt, and artificially heightened flavors in processed (fake) foods will lessen or deaden the sensitivity of the taste buds to more subtle flavors, making natural food taste flat. For example, the higher the salt content of your diet, the more your taste buds lose their ability to taste salt. After your taste has toned down its sensitivity to salt, salty things don't taste so salty and your deadened taste buds have lost the ability to enjoy the subtle flavorings in more delicately flavored natural foods. Vegetables have less flavor, fruit isn't as sweet, and nuts taste like wood after just one month of over stimulation with industrial-designed flavors.

Dr. Fuhrman urges that unless parents instill healthy eating habits in their children early on, kids are unlikely to make good dietary selections later:

Kids will not develop the intellectual maturity to consume broccoli and peas instead of French fries and pizza for their health. The more subtle flavors of natural food can't compete. The pizza, pasta, cheese, burger, and soft drink diet will win over the fruit-vegetable-nut diet seven days a week.

This dilemma has health agencies grasping at straws for answers. The New York Times reports the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services are turning to the wrong place for help the processed food industry. Melanie Warner reports:

The report, from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services, urges food companies to develop products that are more nutritious and to "review and revise" its marketing practices. It also suggests that the Children's Advertising Review Unit, which was set up by the industry, consider creating minimum nutrition standards for foods advertised to children.

Consumer groups hailed the report as a step in the right direction. "This is the first acknowledgment by the F.T.C. that there should be nutrition standards for food that's marketed to kids," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group and frequent critic of junk-food marketing.

But producers claim they are already doing their part:

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a lobbying group that represents packaged food manufacturers, said that the food industry had already undertaken "initiatives to help families improve their health and wellness." The changes, the group says, include new and reformulated products that are healthier, products that are portion-controlled to have just 100 calories and the addition of "healthy lifestyle messages" on food package labels.

Is it really a good idea to rely on the food producers to come up with solutions? Dr. Fuhrman insists if parents really want kids to eat better, the change has to happen in the home:

If you are committed to your child eating healthfully, there is only one way to do--it make your home off-limits to processed food and low-nutrient foods. No white flour products, no cheese, no sweeteners, no ready-to-eat cereal, no fruit juice, no chips, no junk.

Nutrition for Wellness Foundation

A friend of Dr. Fuhrman's, Douglas D. Mercer has a new project and website.

Nutrition for Wellness Foundation aims to educate the community about the healthful benefits attained through proper nutrition. To achieve this, the foundation collaborates with local schools, presents speaking engagements by noted nutritional authorities, distributes informational materials, and leads a Wellness Circle that acts as a support system for those seeking to eat more healthy foods.

On the website, Dr. Fuhrman's food pyramid is looking better than ever.

Soda Expelled From Schools

The Associated Press is reporting US beverage distributors have agreed to stop nearly all soda sales to public schools in an attempt to help quell childhood obesity. Companies have agreed to only sell unsweetened juice, low-fat milks, and water to elementary and middle schools; diet soda will only be available in high schools. Samantha Gross reports:

The deal follows a wave of regulation by school districts and state legislatures to cut back on student consumption of soda amid reports of rising childhood obesity rates. Soda has been a particular target of those fighting obesity because of its caloric content and popularity among children.

"It's a bold and sweeping step that industry and childhood obesity advocates have decided to take together," said Jay Carson, a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton.

A man who answered the phone at Cadbury Schweppes' London headquarters said no one was available for comment. Calls seeking comment from the other distributors were not immediately returned early Wednesday.

Nearly 35 million students nationwide will be affected by the deal, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation said in a news release. The group, a collaboration between Clinton's foundation and the American Heart Association, helped broker the deal.

"This is really the beginning of a major effort to modify childhood obesity at the level of the school systems," said Robert H. Eckel, president of the American Heart Association.

Using Healthy Food vs. Type II Diabetes

Most people don't know Type II diabetes can be prevented and reversed. Eat to Live explains how maintaining a healthy body weight with a nutrient-rich vegetable-based diet plan can help rid them of the disease. Dr. Fuhrman expounds:

Diabetes can take a severe toll�causing heart attacks and strokes, as well as other serious complication. More than 70 percent of adults with Type II diabetes die of heart attacks and strokes. The statistics are even more frustrating when you watch people gain weight, become even more diabetic, and develop attendant complications, all while under the care of their physicians.

This is a dangerous trend. Dr. Fuhrman points out that as our country's weight has risen, diabetes has increased accordingly. Dr. Fuhrman finds support in a recent headline appearing in Health Day News. The report printed in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine links an increase in Type II diabetes with overweight adolescents. Steven Reinberg reports:

"Among adolescents who have diabetes, the majority of cases are still type 1 diabetes," the inherited form of the disease, Glen E. Duncan, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle said. "However, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, a condition once seen only in adults, has increased over the past decade," he said

"Roughly 29 percent of all adolescents with diabetes now have type 2 diabetes, and the prevalence of impaired fasting glucose�a risk factor or precursor to developing type 2 diabetes�is substantial in this population," Duncan added.

Based on this report, it seems poor dietary digressions set us up for failure. Dr. Fuhrman would agree. Years of consuming the standard American diet (SAD) leads us down the slippery slope of disease and premature death. Why not do something about it? Eat to Live provides the all the framework you'll need:

Type II diabetics adopting this approach can become undiabetic and achieve wellness and even excellent health. They can be diabetes-free for life! Almost all my Type II patients are weaned off insulin in the first month. Thanks to their excellent nutrition, these patients have much better (lower) blood sugars than when they were on insulin. The horrors of diabetes about to befall them are aborted.

Food Triggers and Migraines

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Recurrent headaches are not much different. They are almost always the result of nutritional folly and, like other reasons that keep doctors' offices busy, are completely avoidable.

The relationship between food triggers and migraines has been the subject of much debate, with varying results from medical researchers. Headache specialists such as Seymour Diamond, director of the Diamond Headache Clinic of Columbus Hospital, report that about 30 percent of patients can identify food triggers.1

My experience in treating migraine and severe-headache patients with a more comprehensive nutritional approach has shown that 90 to 95 percent of patients are able to remain headache-free after the first three-month period. These patients avoid common migraine triggers, but also in the healing phase they adhere to a strict natural-food vegan diet of primarily fruits and vegetables rich in natural starches like potatoes and brown rice. These patients must avoid all packaged and processed foods, which are notorious for containing hidden food additives, even though they are not disclosed on the labels. They also avoid all added salt.

15 Common Migraine Triggers
sweetsdairy and cheesesalted or pickled foods
fermented foodschocolatevinegar
pizzasmoked meatsalcohol
monosodium glutamatenutsfood additives
yeasthydrolyzed proteinbaked goods

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Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 32

The new Grand Rounds is up on Polite Dissent, click here. This week's edition includes Followhealthlife's post Beware the High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Stephanie Saul on Weight Loss Drugs

In this audio clip New York Times reporter Stephanie Saul discusses the drug industry's attempt to combat obesity�with pills. The report declares the desperately obese as "a large market going forward." I'm not sure if this is a pun, a marketing strategy, or both.

The report mentions two drugs, Xenical and Meridia. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains why these drugs are poor alternatives to nutritional excellence:

Remember: for anything to be effective, you have to be on it forever. Even if the drugs were remarkably effective, you would have to be prepared to stay on them forever, the minute you stopped, the benefits would slowly be lost. In the long run, it is still your diet that determines your health and your weight. The amphetamine-related appetite suppressants have received much press, and they were quite popular until their dangers became more well known. They were never approved for long-term use, so it wasn't very wise for people to use them.

The two FDA-approved drugs for weight reduction are Meridia (sibutramine) and Xenical (orlistate). Meridia can cause headache, insomnia, constipation, dry mouth, and hypertension and is only slightly helpful.1 Xenical, the fat inhibitor, can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea, and reduces absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins such as D, E, and K. It may help those who consume an unhealthful, fatty diet, but even then it is hardly worth the side effects. Overall, drugs are drugs�they are a poor substitute for healthy living.

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Carnival of Recipes #89

Check out Dr. Fuhrmans recipes for Mild Bean Chutney, Red-Hot Hummus, and Blueberry & Flax Yogurt in the latest Carnival of Recipes hosted by DesertLight Journal, click here. *Not all recipes are Fuhrman-friendly.


Carnival of the Green #25

Included in this week's Carnival of the Green, hosted by Spiral Visions, is Dr. Fuhrman's post "A Symphony of Phytonutrients" from Cruciferous Vegetables, click here to take a look.

Diet Supplements for Weight Loss?

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Don't be conned by diet pills, magic in a bottle, or fat absorbers. Anything really effective is not safe, and those that are safe are no effective. To deal with the real problem, you must make real changes. Here is some data on three of the most popular remedies:

Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid): In spite of an interesting theory and some intriguing animal studies, the human studies are unimpressive. In the best study to date, 135 patients were double-blinded to receive either 1,500 mg per day of hydroxycitric acid or a placebo. They were all placed on a high-fiber, low-calorie diet. After twelve weeks, the placebo group had lost more weight.1 Conclusion: garcinia cambogia doesn't work.

Chitosan: This form of chitin, derived from the shells of crustaceans, supposedly traps fat in the intestine and is frequently advertised as Fat Absorb. A review of the data available seems to indicate that you would have to consume entire bottle every day to have much of a reduction in fat absorption. The amount of fat absorbed is minuscule and clinical data shows that Chitosan does not promote weightloss.2 Conclusion: Chitosan doesn't work.

Ephedra alkaloids (ma huang): Though this natural stimulant has a small effect on reducing appetite, the FDA has issued a warning regarding serious and potentially lethal side effects associated with the use of products containing ephedra, including arrhythmias, heart attacks, strokes, psychosis, abnormal liver function, seizures, rapid heart rate, anxiety, and stomach pain.3 Ephedra is so dangerous that it has been linked with fatalities--even a low dose has detrimental health effects. Conclusion: it's not worth the risk.

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