Health Points: Friday

  • Light and fluffy like a butterfly, sweet and tangy like a bee. According to The New York Times Muhammad Ali is rolling out his own line of health food. Michel Marriott reports:
    The first products to roll out in convenience stores early next year will be packaged snacks with names like Rumble, Shuffle and Jabs — fruit-laden rolls and finger foods baked into vaguely signature shapes like boxing gloves and punching bags. Some flavors, like barbecued chicken and Buffalo wings, are a twist on snack classics, while others, like sweet corn and cole slaw, evoke the farmer's market.

    The new line has the lofty aim of fighting youth obesity, with no snack containing more than 150 calories. Each is fortified with vitamins and fiber, said Edward Rapp, a senior member of Mr. Ali's new company, GOAT Food and Beverage (GOAT being an acronym for — what else? — Greatest of All Time).

  • Aetiology offers a maddening amount of information on “mad cow” disease, and an even more insidious infliction called Kuru:
    So-called "mad cow" disease, in humans, is a progressive neurological disorder more correctly called variant Creuzfield-Jacob disease (vCJD). This is due to infection with an agent called a prion. Additional background can be found here, but briefly, the prion is actually a misfolded form of a normal host protein (called PrPc, standing for "prion protein, cellular form"). Its a concern to human health largely because the disease swept through cattle herds in the UK in the 1980s, and it is uncertain just how many humans unknowingly consumed contaminated beef--and therefore, how many may eventually develop vCJD.

    vCJD is one of a family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs); others in this family include scrapie (which affects sheep), chronic wasting disease (which affects deer, elk, and moose, among others), and another human TSE called kuru (discussed further below).

  • Salt has been in the news lately, Sally Squires of The LA Times presents some tips to help get salt out of our lives.
  • Kottke has some seriously funny issues with his wife’s recent reaction to Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals:
    Lately though, Mr. Pollan, the situation has become much worse. Meg has completely forsaken her marital duties, turning her evening attentions elsewhere. It took me a few weeks to discover what she was up to, but she finally admitted to tending a hayfield in an empty lot in Queens. Oh, didn't I tell you? Meg has purchased a cow. I don't know where this cow is located, but his name is Arthur. She's taking me to meet him before he's humanely slaughtered so that, and I quote precisely, "you know where your food comes from for a change".

    After the cow news became widely known in our household, Meg turned our extra bedroom into a hay mow, which mow is the subject of our building's co-op board meeting next month. An eighth floor resident complained about the conveyor belt chucking bales into the building's alley and the straw situation in the elevator was getting on everyone's nerves. I dare not add to the register of complaints by mentioning my acute hay-fever at this point.

Vegan Lunchbox: Q & A With Dr. Fuhrman

We all know Jennifer over at Vegan Lunchbox can pack a serious lunchbox, but did you know she moonlights as an investigative reporter? It's true, recently she interviewed Dr. Fuhrman--this is one multitalented Shmoo!

Jennifer wanted to know how well vegans measure up in the pursuit of nutritional excellence and how to help kids eat healthfully. Check out what Dr. Fuhrman had to say: An Interview with Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Health Points: Thursday

  • The AFP examines other explanations for the global obesity epidemic. Would you believe some experts blame air conditioning for our bloated sizes? Richard Ingham reports:
    Air conditioning, which establishes a comfortable temperature zone. In temperatures above this zone, people eat less. The rise in number of air-conditioned homes in the United States virtually mirrors the increase in the US obesity rate.
  • Healthday reporter Ed Edelson explains a new study links antioxidants to preventing kidney damage:
    The Italian study, done at the University of Milan, included 354 patients who underwent the artery-opening procedure called angioplasty after having heart attacks. One-third of them were not given acetylcysteine; one-third got what the doctors called a standard dose, a 600-milligram intravenous injection before the procedure and 2,400 milligrams in the following two days; and the other third got twice that dose.

    Kidney function is tested by measuring blood levels of creatinine, a breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle. Creatinine levels go up as kidney function goes down.

    Among study participants, creatinine levels increased in 33 percent of patients who did not get acetylcysteine, in 15 percent of those getting the standard dose and in 8 percent of those who got the double dose, the researchers reported.

    And 13 of those patients not getting acetylcysteine died in the hospital, while the death rate was lower for those who got the medication -- five of those getting the standard dose and three of those getting the larger dose.

  • Some nutritionists are concerned about athletes' cavalier approach to sports drinks. New York Times reporter Kim Severson explains:

    For some athletes, an energy drink laced with stimulants from various sources can cause problems because it is almost impossible to know how much stimulant actually is in each drink, Mr. Ellis said. Drinking too much can produce a false sense of well-being.

    "They help blunt your perception of pain," he said. "That might be good in the short term, but the bad news is if you don't feel the fatigue in a hot, humid environment, your body won't make you slow down to minimize overheating. Exertional heatstroke is a real possibility."

    Athletes who rely on energy drinks can begin an addictive cycle.

  • Over the past week secondhand smoke has been getting a lot of press. Julie's Health Club shares her experiences growing up with a smoker:

    My father, bless his heart, smoked three packs a day while I was growing up, and I have vivid memories of long road trips with the car windows rolled up. It was such a part of his life that when we joined the YMCA Indian Princesses program, I suggested he take the name of "Big Smoke" and I, naturally, would be "Little Smoke."

    In college, I lived in a cramped dorm room with two roommates, including one smoker. So for the first 21 years of my life, I probably inhaled secondhand smoke on a daily basis.

    What can I do now to undo the damage?

  • Now, not like an Eat to Liver would be caught dead in a Jack in the Box, but the franchise has just added two healthy options to its menu. Fast Food News reports:

    Jack in the Box has added a fruit cup and bottled water to their menu this summer.

    The fruit cup is a 7-ounce serving of cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and red grapes served in a sealed cup.

    "When the summer heat kicks in, consumers crave something that tastes light and refreshing," said Teka O'Rourke, director of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box.

Berries: Phytochemical Powerhouses

MSNBC reports the phytochemicals in berries help slow the growth of cancer tumors. That's probably not news to regular readers of Dr. Fuhrman's writing, but it's great to see the word spreading. Reporter Karen Collins contends berries are great, but eating a variety of produce everyday is key:

Research does show that berries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant content and that they are excellent sources of several phytochemicals that seem to help block cancer development. However, other fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients and phytochemicals with unique health benefits. The best advice, then, is to eat berries often for their great taste and health boost, but stay focused on the main goal of eating a wide variety of produce every day.

Here's some of the berry advantages mentioned in Collins's report:

Strawberries are known as excellent sources of vitamin C, providing as much or more than a whole day's recommended amount in just one cup. But all berries are good sources of vitamin C, with one cup of raspberries or blackberries giving you close to half of amounts currently recommended for a whole day for adults. One of the ways vitamin C protects our health is its function as an antioxidant. Antioxidants attract and neutralize highly reactive molecules called free radicals that could otherwise damage body cells in ways that initiate cancer development, heart disease and age-related eye damage. Yet laboratory studies show that much of the antioxidant power of fruits and vegetables comes not from the classic antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, but from natural protective compounds called phytochemicals.


Coming soon is new "hybrid" food product for all of you who've ever thought the typical garden burger doesn't quite cut the mustard. According to the Associated Press a St. Louis-based company has invented the solution. Jim Salter reports:

Solae LLC has come up with a solution, a patent-pending invention called SoleCina that involves both the process and the ingredients to produce either a "hybrid" meat�part soy, part real meat�or a completely meatless food that tastes like chicken, beef, pork or turkey.

The company said both versions taste�and feel to the mouth�much like real meat, but are much healthier. For example, a hybrid burger dubbed the "Better Burger" by Solae has two-third the calories and half the fat and saturated fat as a burger of comparable size.

This engineering marvel took ten years of development and Solae is already making grand claims about its nutritional quality:

SoleCina converts a blend of vegetable and meat protein into a meat substitute or hybrid with the consistency of cooked, whole-muscle meat, said Jonathan McIntyre, Solae's vice president of research and development.

"You would be hard-pressed to take a look at this product and have any idea it's anything other than what you're used to in a cutlet, a flank steak, that type of product," McIntyre said. "You get the chewiness and mouth-feel quality."

You also get a healthier meal. McIntyre said soy is the only plant-based protein with a protein quality equal to that of meat, milk and eggs. It is also rich in iron and vitamin B, and is cholesterol free.

Before you run out and stock up on this Frankstein-like creation, consider that Dr. Fuhrman recommends against processed foods, is very specific in his thoughts about meat, and there are even previous Followhealthlife posts about soy products worth noting:

  • Salt: Potentially More Dangerous For Vegans and Vegetarians
    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.
  • Too Much Soy?
    You should be aware that soy nuts, soymilk, and other processed soy products do not retain many of the beneficial compounds and omega-3 fats that are in the natural bean. The more the food is processed, the more the beneficial compounds are destroyed. Remember, though, tofu and frozen or canned soybeans are a good source of omega-3 fat and calcium.

American Heart Association Recommendations Are Dangerous

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

The typical dietary advice, represented by the American Heart Association's guidelines, is still a dangerous diet. It is not likely to protect you from having a heart attack and does not allow heart disease to reverse itself. Moderation kills. The fact is that such dietary advice still allows heart disease to advance in the overwhelming majority of patients.

WARNING: Do not merely comply with these overly permissive recommendations of the American Heart Association, or you will most likely die of a heart attack.

  • Total fat intake should be restricted to no more than 30 percent of total calories.
  • Cholesterol intake should be less than 200 mg daily.
  • Salt intake should not exceed six grams of sodium chloride daily.

Just to highlight a small difference between the American Heart Association guidelines and my recommendations: My diet have lass than 300 mg of cholesterol and six grams of sodium chloride per week! More than a dozen studies have demonstrated that the majority of patients with coronary artery disease who follow an American Heart Association step one or step two diet have their condition worsen.1 No study has ever shown that the patients who follow an American Heart Association diet can reverse or stop worsening of coronary artery disease.

In contrast, numerous studies have documented that heart disease is reversible for the majority of patients following a vegetarian diet.2 Most often diets, such as the Ornish program, are no even optimal diets, as they do not sufficiently limit processed grains, salt, and other low-nutrient-density processed foods. Nevertheless, they are still effective for most patients.

The medical literature continues to refer to the diet recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program as "low-fat." By worldwide standards it should be called a high-fad diet, but more important, it should be called a low-nutrient-density-diet--one with a dangerously low level of plant-derived nutrients. As a result of following this almost worthless advice, heart disease patients usually eat a diet that derives over 80 percent of its calories from processed foods and animal products.

No matter how poor patients' diet, most claim that they are already on a low-fat diet. They believe that eating a chicken-and-pasta-based diet is in some way healthy merely because they eat less red meat. Yet chicken is almost as dangerous for the heart as red meat; switching from red meat to white meat does not lower cholesterol.3 Such conventional diets simply do not lower cholesterol sufficiently and do no contain adequate heart-protective factors such as fiber, antioxidants, folate, bioflavonoids, and other phytochemicals.

Another real problem with these so-called low-fat diets is that they are often low in fiber and phytochemical-rich vegetation and may not be carefully designed to include enough of the cardioprotective fats. For example, multiple studies have shown the protective effects of consuming walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A study of 34,192 Californian Seventh-Day Adventists showed a 31 percent reduction in the lifetime risk of ischemic heart disease in those who consumed raw nuts frequently.4The ideal diet for heart disease reversal, then, is free of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol; rich in nutrients and fiber; and low in calories, to achieve thinness. However, it should contain sufficient essential fatty acids, so it is important to add a small amount of nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flaxseed.

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NBA Star Menu Predicts Future Health Problems

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press described how Richard Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons uses a full time chef to prepare his meals. According to the article, this chef and his team of helpers are responsible for making sure the leading scorer of the Detroit Pistons "eats right." From breakfast to the post-game meal, his meals are designed to fuel Richard and his crew.

Based on the report it looks like breakfast usually consists of grits mixed with eggs and cheese or waffles with pecans and peaches. The lunch menu includes grilled chicken salad, tuna salad or his favorite, a sweet corn soup. For dinner, Hamilton enjoys crab-stuffed steak or barbecued salmon or white chicken lasagna. Favorite desserts are lemon cake or gooey butter cake. Let's take a look at what's on the menu:

Day 1

Yellow Corn Grits with Cheese
Coffe with cream and sugar

Grilled Chicken Breast
Shredded Romain Lettuce
Italian Salad Dressing
French Bread
Chocolate Milkshake

Crab Stuffed Steak
Baked Potato with Sour Cream
Broccoli with Butter
Lemon Cake


Waffles with Peaches and Pecans
Coffee with Cream and Sugar

Chicken Corn Chowder
Italian Bread

Barbecued Salmon
White Rice
Green Beans
Chocolate Cake


Yellow Corn Grits with Cheese
Coffe with Cream and Sugar

Grilled Chicken Breast
Mixed Baby Greens
Italian Dressing
French Bread
Orange Juice

Chicken Lasagna
Italian Bread
Lemon Cake

Clearly Richard Hamilton and his chef are not nutritionists. His diet is designed to meet Richard's taste preferences, not to maximize health and performance. Let's take a look at what this fit basketball player eats, we'll do a complete dietary analysis of his meals and see if his diet comes up healthful or not.

I had my staff dietician analyze these menus with a computer software program to document the poor nutritional quality of Hamilton's diet. For any person to expect to remain in excellent health as they age, the vast majority (meaning 75- 90 percent) of calories must come from unrefined natural plant foods, not white flour, sugar, oil and animal products. Because Richard's diet is profoundly deficient in vegetables, beans, fresh fruits and raw nuts and seeds (high nutrient plant foods), we can use his diet as an example of a disease-promoting diet-style.

The highlights of our computerized analysis are highlighted below:
Sodium: 6550 mg (recommended level--below 1500)
This high sodium diet guarantees Richard will develop high blood pressure in later life and be at high risk of both a heart attack and a stroke.

Fiber: 26 grams
This low level of fiber assures us Richard will develop colonic diverticulum and remain at higher risk of colon cancer.

Cholesterol 1082 mg, Saturated Fat 52 grams
This high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol guarantees Richard will develop a high cholesterol in later life and will clearly be at high risk of heart disease and cancer, like the rest of Americans.

Vitamin C 165 mg, Vitamin D 96 IU, Vitamin E 13 mg, Molybdenum 34 ug, Beta Carotene 5108
These low levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals assure us that Richard will age prematurely and cut short his years of athletic prowess.

If you have been living in a cave for the last five years and haven't heard, a diet is considered healthy only if it gets the majority of its calories from natural plant foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, avocado, raw nuts, seeds and other nutrient-rich foods. When one bases their diet from a combination of animal products and processed foods a deficiency of plant-derived phytochemicals leads you down the road to cancer later in life.

Even though Richard Hamilton is only 29 years old, slim and wiry, and in great cardiovascular condition does not mean that his body will hold up to this level of activity as he ages. His diet may supply him with adequate macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) to sustain a high level of physical activity, but because the micronutrient levels are so low, he places himself at risk for a shortened career with injury and premature aging of his joints and connective tissues. As a result of this diet I would not risk a long term contract on Richard. His diet will likely prevent him from continuing this high level of athleticism that he displays past the age of 36. When we consider the productivity of players past the age of 36, we must look at their diet. Shaq is 34 years old and clearly his days are limited. It is rare that a person can compete at a professional level effectively past the age of 35.

There are exceptions to the rule, and dietary excellence is the way that young athletes can prolong their athletic careers. Look at Martina Navratilova, the tennis player who has been competing at a high competitive level for decades. She can do this because her diet is scientifically designed to be rich in antioxidants and phytocheimicals.

When I design diets for professional athletes we talk about what they want to achieve. Increase stamina? Strength? Reduce chance of catching infections? Achieve athletic longevity in their sport? Or just maintain their health as they age? You would be amazed that athletes are pretty smart in what they expect nutritional intervention to do.

For example, Dr. Dean Nicolas is a friend or mine who consults with me about nutrition. He coaches world and Olympic ski racers and is cognizant that a racer who is frequently ill or suffers from a prolonged viral infection during the winter can lose his high ranking in the world merely from a bad showing in a few races due to a poorly timed illness. When one of his racers gets ill and has a subsequent poor performance in an event, the ranking loss could cost him as much as $500,000 that year. Not a trivial infection. For example, Eric Schlopy who has skied in three Olympic Games has the good sense to design his diet with intelligence and precision to maximize his performance, disease resistance, and prolong the years of his athletic fitness.

We know that Dwyane Wade had a viral infection that almost cost the Heat their place in the finals and may have had something to do with his mediocre performance in the first two games against the Mavericks. Maybe these young athletes will wake up and realize that nutritional excellence can dramatically increase their resistance to infection, especially when they are on the road so much, exposed to so many people and under stress. It could make the difference between a victory or a loss in the NBA finals and it can prolong their playing years, not to mention their life. Pass all that cake, bread, pasta and cream to the other team Richard, it might get you a few more years of good play and be worth millions to you.

Vegetables Deliver Protein with Micronutrients

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

When you eat to maximize micronutrients, your body function will improve; chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, and high cholesterol will likely disappear; and your youthful vigor will last into old age. Heart disease and cancer, the major killers of modern societies, would fade away and be exceedingly rare occurrences if the population adopted a cancer-preventive diet style and lifestyle. And we would hardly ever see any overweight children.

Maintaining a population of normal-weight individuals can be efficiently accomplished only by eating more high-nutrient foods, foods with higher nutrient-per-calorie ratio. The foods with the most nutrients per calorie are vegetables and beans. Vegetables are also very rich in protein and calcium. Most vegetables have more protein per calorie than meat and more calcium per calorie than milk. Nobody can consume too little protein by eating less animal products and substituting vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.

The focus on the importance of protein in the diet is one of the major reasons we have been led down the wrong path to dietary suicide. We were taught to equate protein with good nutrition and have though animal products, not vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, are our best source of protein. We bought a false bill of goods, and the dairy-and-meat-heavy diet brought fourth a heart attack and cancer epidemic.

If we hear something over and over since we were young children, we just accept it as true. For example, it is myth repeated over and over that plant proteins are "incomplete" and need to be "complemented" for adequate protein. In fact, all vegetables and grains contain all eight of the essential amino acids (as well as the 12 other nonessential ones).1 While some vegetables have higher or lower proportions of certain amino acids than others, when eaten in amounts to satisfy one's caloric needs, a sufficient amount of all essential amino acids are provided. Because digestive secretions and sloughed-off mucosal cells are constantly recycled and reabsorbed, the amino acid composition in the bloodstream after meals is remarkably complete in spite of short-term irregularities in their dietary supply.

It is interesting to note that peas, green vegetables, and beans have more protein per calorie than meat. But what is not generally considered is that foods that are rich in plant protein are generally the foods that are richest in nutrients and phytochemicals. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low calorie foods we get plenty of protein, and our bodies get flooded with protective micronutrients simultaneously. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants and phtyochemicals, plant protein does. Plus, animal protein is married to saturated fat, the most dangerous type of fat.

Protein Content From Selected Plant Foods
FoodGrams of Protein
Almonds (3 oz)10
Broccoli (2 cups)10
Brown Rice (1 cup)5
Chickpeas (1 cup)15
Corn (1 cup)4.2
Lentils (1 cup)18
Peas--frozen (1 cup)9
Spinach--frozen (1 cup)7
Tofu (4 ounces)11
Whole wheat bread (2 slices)5

Even a professional body builder who wants to build one-half pound of extra muscle per week only needs about an extra seven grams per day over a normal protein intake. No Complicated formulas or protein supplements are needed to get sufficient protein for growth, even in the serious athlete. Exercise increases hunger, and as the athlete consumes more calories to meet the demands of exercise, they will naturally get the extra protein they need. Many world-class athletes thrive at world-class competitions on vegetarian and vegan diets.

When you reduce or eliminate animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, you lower cholesterol radically. Vegetables, beans, and nuts and seeds are all rich in protein, and they also have no saturated fat or cholesterol. But the clincher is that they are higher in nutrients than any other foods. We must structure our diets around the foods that supply the most micronutrients.

The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high protein foods) are without question. When adult subjects are feed a vegetable-based diet, cholesterol levels drop radically, much more than with the most powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs.2 These foods also contain an assortment of heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol, and they fight cancer, too.

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Carnival of Recipes #97

Booklore hosts this week's carnival of recipes. Be sure to check out Dr. Fuhrman's recipes for Lisa's Lovely Lentil Stew, Tomato Barley Stew, and Quick Corn Stew. *Don't forget, not all recipes in the carnival are Fuhrman-friendly.

Health Points: Friday

  • According to HealthDay researchers say childhood obesity leaves overweight children more prone to migraine headaches: Migraines More Common in Overweight Kids
    "The numbers tell us that being overweight may contribute to kids having more headaches, most often migraines," Dr. Andrew D. Hershey, director of the Headache Center and a pediatric neurologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a prepared statement. "There are likely a number of causes, including poorer general health, body stress, lack of exercise and nutrition. It may not be that being overweight directly causes migraine, but that the reasons for being overweight cause these children to have worsening headaches."
  • CNN reports parents and caregivers too content to let kids sit around all day: At home and school, kids are sedentary

    "One of the guidelines is that children should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time. In other words, after 60 minutes they should be up and moving for 10 minutes blocks of time," he said. "As children move into elementary school, they shouldn't be sedentary for more than 90 minutes at a time."
  • The Associated Press introduces amaranth and other alternative fibers: Goodbye wheat, hello amaranth, say consumers
    Amaranth, grown for millennia by the Aztecs, has twice as much iron as wheat and is higher in protein and fiber. Quinoa, an ancient Andean crop, has less fiber but more protein and iron than wheat.
  • Organic Authority talks about the dangers of salt: Hold the salt
    Excess sodium greatly increases the chance of developing hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Research shows most Americans consume two to three times the amount of sodium that is healthy, with an estimated 75%-80% of daily intake coming from processed and restaurant foods.
  • Healthy Eating would love to see Buffalo New York become the restaurant capital of the world by serving healthy food: Restaurants Can Offer Healthy Choices
    My dream is to find restaurants offering healthy choices and changing preparation to include steaming, poaching, broiling and crock-pot cooking. Like the revolution that eliminated smoking from restaurants, this will not be easy. People will claim that it won't sell. They will claim loss of customers and people's right to eat bad food. People eat Chinese food, Greek food, French, English, Italian and American food, so why can't they eat "Healthy Food?" This was no accident, just the first of many attempts to satisfy the market for healthy foods. These changes are an answer to "leaning toward the dream." The U.S. has just dropped from 25th to 29th in ranking the longevity of Americans as compared to the other industrialized nations of the world.
  • Julie's Health Club takes a look at the ever-resilient issue of mercury contamination: Don't touch the tuna
    The government still won't protect consumers against mercury in certain kinds of seafood by requiring warning labels, but select retailers are doing their part. Whole Foods, Safeway and Wild Oats have all volunteered to post signs in stores that alert shoppers about possibly high mercury levels, reports Progressive Grocer.

Foods to Keep Away from Babies

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

Do not feed babies anything with added salt, sugar, or honey. Only organic fruits and vegetables and organic baby food should be used. To reduce the chance of developing allergies, delay feeding strawberries and citrus fruits until twelve months of age, and hold off on ground nuts and nut butters until nine months of age. Of course, children should not be given whole nuts until the age of two and a half because of a choking hazard, but raw nut butters and food made with ground raw nuts are fine after nine months of age. Avoid peanuts and peanut butter until the age of two, because they have such a strong potential for food allergy.

Raw nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein, the healthiest type of fat, and are loaded with minerals and vitamins. Grind up sunflower seeds, almonds, and walnuts and store these ground nuts in the freezer to add to vegetables and fruit dishes for your child after nine months of age.

Important Foods to Avoid (at least) Until the First Birthday:
Eggs, fish and other seafood, meat, cow's milk, cheese, butter, oils, wheat, strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, fruit juice, sweeteners, honey peanuts, and processed foods with additives or salt.

Eat to Live: Knowledge Motivates Change

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

When I began my medical practice as a specialist in nutrition, I focused my attention on individuals who were looking for nutritional intervention as a means of reversing their medical conditions to recover their health and avoid taking medication or having invasive surgery. The inevitable outcome was that when my patients were committed to superior health through nutritional excellence, they were able to reduce and eventually stop their dependency on medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and a host of other conditions. Spectacular disease reversals were the norm, not the exception.

I found that when people ate a diet comprised of the most nutritious and powerful "anti-cancer" plant foods their cholesterol dropped more powerfully than it could from the typical cholesterol-lowering medication. Their diabetes went away. I soon said, "Let's not just treat your diabetes and control it. Let's get rid of it and make you non-diabetic."

The focus was never on caloric restriction; rather, it was on eating more high nutrient food, and as a result, eating less of everything else that was not a high nutrient food.

Besides reversing chronic disease and preventing heart disease and cancer, I found that my patients were able to reach their ideal weight with ease. No calorie counting, no complicated formulas, pills or unfulfilled promises. The basic plan is simple: just take the healthiest foods and make them taste great and eat as much as desired. My patients dropped the weight they could not lose before, and they achieved these results relatively quickly.

The traditional viewpoint is often stated that if you lose your weight too rapidly it won't stick and you will gain it all back. I have never advocated that people be in a race to lose their excess weight. I see no reason, however, to eat unhealthy foods or to eat when you are not hungry under some notion that losing weight slower would be better. The reality is that your body just drops its unhealthy weight relatively quickly and naturally when you eat so well under the Eat to Live program.

The permanence of the results can be attributed to the fact that the program is knowledge-based. Knowledge motivates the change, not willpower. The Eat to Live diet-style supplies spectacular results in the weight loss arena that are permanent because once a person becomes a nutritional expert and experiences the results, they Eat to Live forever. The secret is to gain the education first. You must do the work; read Eat to Live, or gain the knowledge on line from my membership services, but you must study and understand the science. If the preponderance of evidence and logic does not make perfect sense to you, don't do it. The more you learn, the easier it becomes to eat this way for the rest of your life.

The Carb Conundrum

In yesterday's post Unrefined Carbohydrates Encourage Weight Loss Dr. Fuhrman stated carbohydrates are an important part of the human diet; calling carbs our body's most needed substance--blasphemy to the carb-fearing pop-culture.

Now, Dr. Fuhrman isn't advocating you run out and devour huge plates of pasta, bread, and sugary drinks. You've got to get your carbs from the right places! Dr. Fuhrman recommends avoiding refined carbohydrates like white rice and sweets, and getting your carbs from fresh fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains, and root vegetables.

Starchy foods like these will get you the carbs you need and other important nutrients like protein and healthy fat. A new report from seems to agree:

Despite the recent craze to cut carbs, the bottom line is that not all foods containing carbohydrates are bad for your child, whether they're complex, as in whole grains, or simple carbohydrates, such as those found in fruits. If carbohydrates were such a no-no, we'd have a huge problem, considering that most foods contain them. But, of course, some carbohydrate foods are healthier than others.

Good sources of carbohydrates include:

  • whole-grain cereals
  • brown rice
  • whole-grain breads
  • fruits
  • vegetables

Bad carbs are ruining it for the right kinds of carbs:

The so-called "bad" carbs - sugar and refined foods - tend to be significant contributors to excess calories. Why? Because they're easy to get our hands on, come in large portions, taste good, and aren't too filling.

People tend to eat more of these refined foods than needed. And, often, foods like colas and candy provide no required nutrients, so we really don't need to eat them at all.

The report goes on to suggest whole grains should serve as our primary source of carbohydrates because they're high in fiber, broken down slowly in the body, and contain more nutrients than refined grains. Of course, Dr. Fuhrman would rather you get most of your calories from fruit and vegetables, which have dramatically more nutrition per calorie. Check out Dr. Fuhrman's food pyramid.

Trans Fat Takes a Hit

The American Heart Association (AHA) released new guidelines on Monday urging a strict limit on the intake of trans fat in people's diets�less than one percent of total calories. The Associated Press reports:

A panel of specialists in nutrition and heart disease reviewed more than 90 studies to update the dietary advice the association released in 2000. The guidelines are for healthy Americans ages 2 and older.

Rather than slavishly counting calories and grams of fat, people should try something simpler: getting in the habit of cooking with healthier oils, and balancing calories consumed with calories burned through exercise, said Alice Lichtenstein, a Tufts University nutrition expert who chaired the guidelines panel.

Trans fats, or trans fatty acids such as partially hydrogenated oils, are in many cookies, crackers, breads, cakes, French fries and other fried foods. They contribute to heart disease risk by raising LDL, or the bad cholesterol.

While the AHA's edict is a step in the right direction, Dr. Fuhrman would contend completely eliminating trans fat is the healthiest choice. He has harsh words for trans fat: (From Eat to Live)

Trans fats do not exist in nature. They are laboratory-designed and have adverse health consequences. They interfere with the body's production of beneficial fatty acids and promote heart disease.1 As trans fatty acids offer no benefits and only clear adverse metabolic consequences, when you see the words partially hydrogenated on the side of a box, consider it poisonous and throw it in the trash.
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Unrefined Carbohydrates Encourage Weight Loss

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Our bodies need carbohydrates more than any other substance. Our muscle cells and brains are designed to run on carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods, when consumed in their natural state, are low in calories and high in fiber compared with fatty foods, processed foods, or animal products.

Fat contains about nine calories per gram, but protein and carbohydrates contain approximately four calories per gram. So when you eat high-carbohydrate foods, such as fresh fruits and beans, you eat more food and still keep your caloric intake relatively low. The high fiber content of (unrefined) carbohydrate-rich food is another crucial reason you will feel more satisfied and not crave more food when you make unrefined carbohydrates the main source of calories in your diet.

It is usually the small amount of added refined fat or oils that makes natural carbohydrates so fattening. For example, one cup of mashed potatoes is only 130 calories. Put just one tablespoon of butter on top and you have added another 100 calories.

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are called macronutrients. Vitamins and minerals are referred to as micronutrients. All plant foods are a mixture of protein, fat, and carbohydrate (the macronutrients). Even a banana contains about 3.5 percent protein, almost the same as mother's milk. Fruit and starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, and butternut squash, are predominantly carbohydrate but also contain some fat and protein. Green vegetables are about half protein, a quarter carbohydrate, and a quarter fat. Legumes and beans are about half carbohydrate, a quarter protein, and a quarter fat.

One of the principles behind the health and weight-loss formula in this book is not to be overly concerned about the macronutrient balance; if you eat healthful foods, you will automatically get enough of all three macronutrients as long as you do not consume too many calories from white flour, sugar, and oil. So don't fear eating foods rich in carbohydrates and don't be afraid of eating fruit because it contains sugar. Even the plant foods that are high in carbohydrate contain sufficient fiber and nutrients and are low enough in calories to be considered nutritious. As long as they are unrefined, they should not be excluded from your diet. In fact, it is impossible to glean all the nutrients needed for optimal health if your diet does no contain lots of carbohydrate-rich food.

Fresh fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains, and root vegetables are all examples of foods whose calories come mainly from carbohydrate. It is the nutrient-per-calorie ratio of these foods that determines their food value. There is nothing wrong with carbohydrates; it is the empty-calorie, or refined, carbohydrates that are responsible for the bad reputation of carbs.

Health Points

  • According to the Associated Press health and fitness experts believe the answer to the obesity epidemic is in the blueprints: New Urban Designs Sought In Obesity Fight
    It'll take more than public service campaigns to solve the nation's obesity problem, according to fitness experts who say neighborhoods must be designed so people can get around without their cars.
  • Medicine and Man takes a look at the many origins of skin allergies: Top 10 Causes Of Skin Allergy
    4. Neomycin sulfate - A topical antibiotic common in first aid creams and ointments, also found occasionally in cosmetics, deodorant, soap, and pet food

    5. Fragrance mix - A group of the eight most common fragrance allergens found in foods, cosmetic products, insecticides, antiseptics, soaps, perfumes, and dental products.

  • All you've ever wanted to know about Lyme Disease presented by Doc Around The Clock: The Bugs Of Summer

    According to the CDC the states that report the largest number of cases of LD are, in no particular order except alphabetical: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
  • Bitter Poison presents a myriad of reasons to start eating healthier regardless of your previous dietary misgivings: Does eating healthy make a difference after a lifetime of junk food?
    Most people who start to get interested in healthier eating wonder sometimes if there is a point to it all. If you ate junk food your entire life, can you still undo some of the damage you did? There is good news and bad news. The bad news: you could still get cancer. The good news: there is a good chance you can reverse all damage to your arteries. Even though you might still get cancer, your chances at survival are much higher if you adopt a healthy diet.
  • People react to last week's New York Times about breastfeeding: Letters
    If our country is serious about the benefits of mothers' milk, we need to make sure that insurance covers a longer stay, that all hospitals are supportive of breast-feeding, that lactation consultants visit every new mother, and that questions and problems are dealt with in a comprehensive way during childbirth classes and prenatal visits.
  • You nature buffs will get a kick out of this, Sweet Riot teaches us about cacao: Cacao Farm!
    Cacao farms are not nearly as orderly, so one can't walk straight through them -- the cacao trees grow upward and outward over many years time. The funny looking football-sized cacao pods (the fruit) actually grow straight out of the trunk!

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 39

The Glossary of Cholesterol

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection For Life:

Fat is one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and carbohydrate) that supply calories to the body. Fats provide 9 calories per gram, more than twice the number provided by carbohydrates or protein.

Fats provide the "essential" fatty acids, which are not made by the body and must be obtained from food. Fatty acids provide the raw materials that help control blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation and other important body functions.

Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat. Fat helps in the absorption and transport through the bloodstream of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats perform vital and valuable role in the body. For example, fats:

  • Are a part of all cell membranes.
  • Make up part of the material that insulates nerves and increases the efficiency of nerve conduction.
  • Make up an integral part of certain hormones that regulate blood pressure, clotting and inflammation.
  • Are the major component of brain tissue and are necessary for emotional well being. The energy or calories that one consumes in excess of the body's needs is mainly stored as fat (adipose). Eating too much fat, just like eating too much carbohydrate and too much protein (the three sources of calories), can lead to excessive storage of body fat, weight gain and obesity. Too much fat, as well as too many calories in general contribute to coronary artery disease and other heart-related problems.

Like certain vitamins and minerals, there are also certain fats that are essential to humans. Eliminating fat completely from one's diet can lead to an essential fatty acids deficiency with negative health consequences. Therefore, a heart-healthy diet should aim to include dietary fats in a balance with other nutrients to provide essential fatty acids to meet daily energy needs and other metabolic needs of the body. Emphasis should be placed on minimizing or eliminating saturated fat and trans fat intake.

Some naturally occurring fats are called saturated because all the carbon atoms are single bonds. These fats are solid at room temperature and generally recognized as a significant cause of both heart disease and cancer. Saturated fats are found mainly in meat, fowl, eggs, and dairy. The foods with the most saturated fat are butter, cream, and cheese.

Saturated fat raises your LDL-cholesterol level more than anything else in the diet. Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol is the main reason for the high number of heart attacks seen in North America and other countries.

These fats are a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Eating unsaturated fats lowers cholesterol when substituted for saturated fats, but excessive amounts may promote cancer and obesity. Examples of unsaturated fats are the fats in nuts and seeds such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia and pistachio nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, as well as avocados and olives.

Are fats with more than one double bond in the carbon chain. Like monounsaturated fat, these natural fats are also found in their natural state in raw seeds such as sesame, sunflower as well as in corn and soybeans and are essential for normal body development and function.

Are fats with only one double bond in the carbon chain. They are liquid at room temperature and thought to have health benefits. The supposed health benefits of these fats appear when these fats are used in place of dangerous saturated fats. Monounsaturated fat is found in avocados, olives, almonds, peanuts, and most other nuts.

Hydrogenation is a process of adding hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats which makes plant oils that are liquid at room temperature, solidify. An example is margarine. These fats are also called TRANS FATS. The hardening of the fat extends its shelf life so that the oil can by used over and over again to fry potatoes in a fast food restaurant or be added to processed foods, such as crackers and cookies. While hydrogenation does not make the fat completely saturated, it creates trans-fatty acids, which act like saturated fats. These fats raise cholesterol and increasing evidence is accumulating demonstrating the harmful nature of these man-made fats and their relation to both cancer and heart disease. Avoid all foods whose ingredients contain partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils.

Cholesterol is a waxy fat produced by the body and found in animal foods such as meat, fowl, dairy, and eggs. Eating cholesterol does raise blood cholesterol, but ironically not as much as eating saturated fats and trans fats. The amount of cholesterol in plants is so negligible that you should consider them cholesterol free.

LDL cholesterol is the bad guy that promotes the plaque that leads to blockages and heart attacks. Thus, the more LDL-cholesterol you have in your blood, the greater your risk of heart disease.

HDL cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol and carries cholesterol back to the liver for removal from the body. So a higher HDL helps keep cholesterol from building up in the walls of the arteries. Individuals with a total cholesterol/HDL ratio above 4 are considered to have an exceptionally high risk of heart disease. So, the higher your HDL-cholesterol, the better. However, those with exceptionally low LDL cholesterol do not have to worry about their HDL level. You don't need the garbage collectors when there is no garbage.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long chain omega 3 fat that is made by the body, but can also be found in algae and fish, such as salmon and sardines. DHA is used in the production of anti-inflammatory mediators that inhibit abnormal immune function and prevents excessive blood clotting. DHA is not considered an essential fat because the body can manufacture sufficient amounts if adequate short chain omega-3 fats are consumed (flax, walnuts, soybeans, leafy green vegetables). However, because of genetic differences in the enzyme activity and because of excess omega-6 fats, many people, who do not consume fish regularly, are deficient in this important fat.

AA is a long chain omega 6 fat produced by the body, but also found in meat, fowl, dairy and eggs. Products formed from excessive amounts of this fatty acid have the potential to increase inflammation and are disease-causing. They may increase blood pressure, thrombosis, vasospasm, and allergic reaction. They are linked to arthritis, depression, and other common illnesses.

Triglycerides comprise the largest proportion of fats (lipids) in the diet, in the adipose tissue, and in the blood. Immediately after a fatty meal, triglycerides rise in the bloodstream. We store triglycerides in our fatty tissues and muscle as a source of energy, and gradually release and metabolize it between meals according to the energy needs of the body. Only a small portion of your triglycerides is found in the bloodstream. High blood triglyceride levels are reflective of increased body fat stores. High triglycerides further promote and contribute to atherosclerosis in people with high cholesterol.

Dr. Fuhrman: Don't Fear Good Food

One question that comes up from time to time about Eat to Live is the notion that eating this way is too difficult--that the bar is set too high. Sometimes people are intimidated.

Before starting Eat to Live, here are some things to consider:

  • This is not an all or nothing plan, but you have to thoroughly understand what constitutes an ideal diet and how to make it taste great.
  • Nobody is perfect. However taste is learned phenomenon; we like what we get used to eating. Only by eating some of my great-tasting healthy recipes for a while can you really know how much you will like it.
  • Most people after the first six months actually like the taste of this way of eating at least as much or more compared to their old diet. Many people prefer the flavor because the ability of the taste buds to detect the subtle flavors in natural foods is enhanced when you lose food addictions and salt tolerance which deadens the taste buds.
  • If you become a real student of my work, become a member at, read the books, newsletters, listen to the teleconferences and ask me questions in the forum, I guarantee that you will make significant changes in your life, and it will come naturally without feeling like you are following some diet. It will just naturally become the way you prefer to eat, same as it does for other Eat to Livers.

The other day I sat back and thought about it. Why do I eat the way I do? So what if I die younger, why not just enjoy all the great (fake) food our high-tech, modern world has to offer? Why not eat cheeseburgers, fries, soda and ice cream for lunch and take my chances with an earlier death? At least I will enjoy the time I am alive.

Certainly eating healthfully is only an option; it is your choice. Each individual has the right to care for their own body as they choose and some may appropriately continue to follow risky behaviors using the rationale that they would rather enjoy life more and live less healthfully or for a shorter time. The fallacy with this way of thinking is the belief that people, who smoke, drink, take drugs, or eat dangerous foods are enjoying life more. I don't believe that's true. In fact, they enjoy life less. You might feel a temporary feeling of pleasure or satisfaction, but toxic habits and rich, disease causing foods over time inhibit your ability to get as much pleasure from eating. Your taste is lessened, the smoking or the drinking loses it thrill, but now you are stuck with feeling uncomfortable if you don't continue the habit.

The habit now controls you and you (the real you) is no longer in total control of your life. You live to feed your addiction, otherwise you feel too poorly. Get up in the morning and take a drug to get going, you need that caffeine hit and that sugar buzz or you can't concentrate, then you need a few antacids to deal with your sour stomach, a stool softener, a little mouthwash for your bad breath and you are on your way.

Pass the age of fifty and it doesn't get better; it gets worse. Now your bad habits really take their toll on the body and you age rapidly. In you go to the doctor's office every few months for more drugs, as if you didn't have enough toxic filth in your body already. You don't just live shorter, your next twenty years, if you live that long, are filled with hell as your health spirals downward out of your control. Into hospital emergency rooms, seeing cardiologists and other specialists for invasive testing, angioplasties, maybe some surgeries, a gallbladder removal, a pneumonia, maybe a few procedures to break up kidney stones, it keeps going and boy is it fun, I know.

Before I get too carried away, let's get back to the question. I noticed that I actually enjoy eating the healthy diet, I really do. And I am quite sure that I enjoy the taste and pleasure from eating more than a person does who lives on unhealthy food. I would eat this way anyway, even if there was a slight decrease in the pleasure of eating, but after years of eating this way, I prefer the taste. The fact that it is healthy too is certainly the largest attraction, but health destroying foods are not an attraction for me anymore. I enjoy the healthy stuff just as much, so I might as well stay healthy and not play Russian roulette with my life. Anyway, I am not in jail I have complete freedom to eat anything I want and if I occasionally want to eat something unhealthy I will and do. But what happened over the years is I desire this less and less because over time I found I did not feel well after doing so and the taste was not as pleasurable as I thought it would be compared to other stuff that is healthy or healthier and still made to taste great.

I may not eat perfectly all the time, but I have balanced pleasure with health in my diet so that I am not sacrificing one to have the other. The objective is to have both comfortably married. So this just happens to be the way I prefer to eat. But, I eat this way for lots of reasons.

  • I enjoy this way of eating, it tastes great and I like to eat lots of food.
  • I want total control of my health and want complete assurance I will not suddenly have a heart attack or a stroke.
  • I enjoy living too much. I love sports, travel, entertainment, exercise, my work, and my family and I want to maintain my youthful vigor and enjoyment of life
  • I feel well eating this way and do not like the way I feel, the way I sleep, the way my bowels work, my digestion or my mental energy when I do not eat this way.
  • I want to live longer and without medical interference, pain and unnecessary suffering in my later years
There is joy in using good food to be healthy. Many people who have adopted my advice for nutritional excellence have reversed auto-immune diseases, got rid of their diabetes, their headaches, and heart disease, and have been brought back from the brink of death, simply by changing the way that they eat.

So, I say to you again. You have very little to lose and a huge potential for gain. Join my member site and put just a little time into learning the details of the program you may find that you are making permanent changes that result in permanent benefits for your long-term health. Focus on learning more and more over the next three to six months and let me know what happens to you. I would like the opportunity to see if we could make this work for you and I would really be fascinated to know if your attitude changes.

Veggies Protect Your Heart

Dr. Fuhrman contends a vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet is essential for protecting against and reversing heart disease. In Cholesterol Protection for Life Dr. Fuhrman advises people to center their diets on health promoting foods and to limit staples of the typical American diet:

Vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds are nature's nutrient-rich natural foods. Your meals need to revolve around these foods, not grains, oils or animal products.

Limit the amount of processed foods, refined breads, and pasta�preferably to not more than once a week.

The health protective effects of vegetables are exemplified in a new study published in the July issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Mice fed a vegetable-rich diet received a 38 percent reduction in atherosclerosis risk. Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay News reports:

After 16 weeks, they assessed the animals' health and found those who ate the vegetable-rich diet had lower total cholesterol levels, lower levels of the so-called "bad" cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a 7 percent lower average body weight.

"The mice who consumed 30 percent of their diet as vegetables developed atherosclerotic plaques that were 38 percent smaller than those of the mice who consumed no vegetables," Michael Adams, a professor of pathology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine said.

Researchers believe this has strong implications for human health as well:

The study is "interesting and encouraging," said Alice Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Lab and Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center, Tufts University, Boston, and chair of the nutrition committee for the American Heart Association.

"The observation has been made in humans that people who eat fruits and vegetables have less coronary artery disease and less heart disease," she said. But to her knowledge, no one knows the mechanism.

"It may be a direct effect, or people eating a lot of fruits and vegetables may have a diet [that is also] healthy in other ways."

As for advice, Adams said boosting vegetable and fruit intake is always wise. "The average consumption in this country of green and yellow vegetables and of fruits is two to three servings a day. If people just ate 2 or 3 more servings a day, odds are they would be much healthier for it."

This isn't the first time health professionals have noted the advantages of a diet rich in unrefined plant matter. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains numerous authorities have already cited the benefits of high intake of fruits and vegetables:

After years of examining the accumulating evidence, eight top health organizations joined forces and agreed encourage Americans to eat more unrefined plant food and less food from animal sources, as revealed in the new dietary guidelines published in the July 27, 1999, Journal of the American Heart Association. These authorities are the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, the American Dietetic Association, the Division of Nutrition Research of the National Institutes of Health, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition.

Their unified guidelines are a giant step in the right direction. Their aim is to offer protection against the major chronic diseases in America, including heart disease and cancer. "The emphasis is on eating a variety of foods, mostly fruits and vegetables, with very little simple sugar or high-fat foods, especially animal foods," said Abby Bloch, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Cancer Society. Based on a culmination of years of research, these health experts' conclusion was that animal-source foods, with their high levels of saturated fat, are one of the leading causes of heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetics, obesity, etc.�all the major chronic diseases that cost 1.4 million Americans their lives each year (more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States).

Carnival of the Green #32

Pediatric Grand Rounds: Volume 1, Edition 5

Lower Cholesterol Radically

From the revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life, now available!

We know that populations worldwide with very low cholesterol simply do not have heart attacks. For example, in rural China where the average total cholesterol was found to be 127 and very little animal foods are consumed, less than 5% of the population suffered from heart attacks. These findings, from the China Project, suggest that even small intakes of foods of animal origin are associated with significant increases in plasma cholesterol concentration, which are associated, in turn, with significant increases in heart disease mortality rates.1

By comparison, in the United States more than 40 percent of the population dies of heart attacks. It is a simple fact that if you eat American-style food you will die an American-style death. Don't expect to escape from the biological laws of cause and effect. The Standard American diet is also responsible for our relentless epidemic of obesity and cancer. This book is all about taking charge of our own health destiny through excellent nutrition and not waiting helplessly until a major disease strikes.

In the famous Framingham study, 35 percent of heart disease occurred in those with total cholesterol levels in the range of 150 to 200 mg/dl, but no heart disease deaths occurred in those whose total cholesterol levels were below 150 mg/dl.2

Multiple dietary intervention trials have taken place in our country with diets suggested by the American Heart Association that only offer small improvements over what Americans usually eat. These moderate, politically-correct dietary recommendations have failed to show substantial benefits. Therefore, most medical authorities and physicians place no importance on dietary modifications and instead rely almost exclusively on medications since the "typical" dietary recommendations do not lower cholesterol effectively. Certainly, the "ideal" cardio-protective cholesterol ranges cannot be achieved with traditional dietary recommendations.

The vast majority of people are not aware that the proper diet can heart-attack-proof their body. They do not know that there is a more effective option than the American Heart Association's dietary guidelines. I have no problem with people choosing to eat a diet that places them at risk of heart disease, or people choosing to smoke or to not exercise, that is their right. However, at the very least they should be correctly informed of the dangers of their choices and not have doctors, dieticians and health authorities let them think they are doing all they can to protect themselves.

Unfortunately, economic and political forces make it difficult for Americans to be clearly informed that heart disease is nutritionally-induced by our outmoded and incorrect dietary model. For example, six of the eleven members, including the chairman, of the USDA's Dietary Guidelines Committee in the year 2000 had financial ties to the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Not surprisingly, the foods these industries produce figure prominently in government dietary recommendations in spite of their documented links to increased health risks. Similar problems exist in recommendations by non-profit health organizations who receive funding from industry. Sadly, even the American Heart Association advocates a diet that actually has been shown to increase heart disease.3 The researchers concluded that "the response to the AHA diet is too small to have any value in the clinical management of adults with high cholesterol"

Another problem is that in America, we have been told that compared to the standard American diet, the Mediterranean diet lowers heart disease risk about 30 percent, the Asian diet lowers heart disease risk about 35 percent and the Polynesian diet lowers heart disease risk and so on. I am not satisfied with just reducing my risk somewhat. I want more for myself, my family, and my patients.

My point of view is this--let's use modern nutritional science to the fullest extent and not be satisfied with reducing our risk by 20 to 50 percent; let's reduce our risk by as close to 100 percent as possible. It is possible for you to live a long life with your intellect intact until an uneventful death, without strokes, heart attacks, cancer or dementia. Only nutritional excellence, not drugs can offer all these protective features.

In this day and age, we can use the best features of diets from around the world, and we can use a variety of great-tasting regional recipes. If we understand the precise qualities of each of these diets that account for the benefits and avoid the worthless parts, we can get radically better results. The fact is, every heart disease death is a tragedy, because it simply did not have to happen.

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Warning Labels for Salt

Since childhood we've been told go easy on the salt, and as it appears, for good reason. According to Dr. Fuhrman salt consumption is dangerous; heightening risk of stomach cancer, hypertension, and osteoporosis. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:

Any excess salt added to food, outside of what is contained in natural foods, is likely to increase your risk of developing disease. Salt consumption is linked to both stomach cancer and hypertension.1 For optimal health, I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food. The famous DASH study clearly indicates that Americans consume five to ten times as much as they need and that high sodium levels over the years has a predictable effect on raising blood pressure.2 Just because you don't have high blood pressure now doesn't mean that you won't. In fact, your probably will have high blood pressure if you keep eating lots of salt over the years.

Dr. Fuhrman references research by The Lancet which bolsters salt's villainous reputation:

Salt also pulls out calcium and other trace minerals in the urine when the excess is excreted, which is a contributory cause of osteoporosis.3 If that is not enough, high sodium intake is predictive of increased death from heart attacks. In a large prospective trial, recently published in the respected medical journal The Lancet, there was a frighteningly high correlation between sodium intake and all cause mortality in overweight men.4 The researchers concluded, "High sodium intake predicted mortality and risk of coronary heart disease, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure. These results provide direct evidence of the harmful effects of high salt intake in the adult population."

So when you consider all this, it should come to no surprise that the American Medical Association is moving to slash the nation's sodium intake by half over the next decade. According to HealthDay News warning labels are being proposed for high-salt foods:

"Sodium or salt intake is a growing problem in this country, and high-salt foods are associated with a lot of processed foods which, in general, aren't necessarily the healthiest foods," said Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Any education or labeling is always helpful."

"I think it would be helpful to the American public to have a better understanding of the amount of sodium in foods they consume. There is hidden sodium in many foods, for example baked goods and bagels," added Samantha Heller, senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City.

Spotting these high-salt items isn't always easy, since many pass the "taste test," Heller said.

"High-sodium foods do not necessarily taste salty, because sodium is used not just for taste but as a preservative, flavor enhancer and for texture," she said. "More than 75 percent of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed food, not the salt shaker on the table."

But as Amanda Gardner reports this proposal is drawing fire from the food industry.

"Rather than additional government requirements, what is needed is consumer education. For example, advice on sodium consumption can be found in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans," Robert Earl, senior director of nutrition policy for the Food Products Association, said in a statement.

"It is important for consumers to know that the amount of sodium in foods is clearly labeled on food packaging, and that a broad range of foods containing no sodium or low sodium, or with no added salt, are widely available," he added. "This broad range of food products on the market -- coupled with the information contained on the Nutrition Facts panel and food labels -- are critical components that enable consumers to choose food products that are appropriate for their dietary needs."

Did you know there is a Salt Institute? I didn't. Apparently they're miffed by the proposal as well:

"The American Medical Association has misread the science, confusing blood pressure effects with health outcomes. Of the 13 studies that have examined whether cutting salt will reduce heart attacks or improve mortality -- what AMA calls 'the population burden of cardiovascular disease' -- not a single study supports the AMA resolution," institute president Richard L. Hanneman said in a statement. "Following the AMA recommendation is scientifically unjustified, and a waste of time and money. What we really need is a controlled trial of the health outcomes of salt reduction."

Dr. Fuhrman discourages salt consumption. Advocating people resist adding salt to foods and only purchase salt-free canned goods. He explains, "Since most salt comes from processed foods, bread, and canned goods, it shouldn't be that hard to avoid added sodium." But what if you truly crave salt? From Eat to Live, here's Dr. Fuhrman's advice:

If you desire to salt your food, do so only after it is on the table and you are ready to eat it. It will taste saltier if the salt is right on the surface of the food. You can add lots of salt yet hardly taste it if the salt is added to the vegetables or soup while they are cooking. VegiZest instant soup mix has a nice salty flavor and can be added to salads or sprinkled on food. Use herbs, spices, lemon, vinegar, or other non-salt seasonings to flavor food. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and relish are very high in sodium, so if you can resist them, use the low sodium varieties sparingly.

Ideally, all your foods should have less than one milligram of sodium per calorie. Natural foods contain about half a milligram of sodium per calorie. If a food has a serving size of 100 calories yet contains 400 mg of sodium, it is a very high salt food. If it has 100 calories and less than 100 mg of sodium, it is a food with hardly any added salt and is an appropriate food for you diet. Try to rarely use products with more than 200 mg per 100 calories. Within these guidelines, you should be able to keep your average daily sodium intake around or below 1,000 mg.

Although for those with strong willpower, eating salt-free can become an even more enjoyable experience:

If you don't use salt, your taste buds adjust with time and your sensitivity to taste salt improves. When you are using lots of salt in your diet, it weakens your taste for salt and makes you fell that food tastes bland unless it is heavily seasoned or spiced. The DASH study observed the same phenomenon that I have noted for years�it took sometime for one's salt-saturated taste buds to get used to a low sodium level. If you follow my nutritional recommendations, without compromise, avoiding all processed foods or highly salted foods, your ability to detect and enjoy the subtle flavors in fruits and vegetables will improve as well.
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Secret Chemicals in Our Food

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science released a public report in June 2003, warning the public about the cancer risk from consuming food containing dioxin and other polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs). The Institute of Medicine advises the federal government on medical matters and appoints experts to research and produce reports. The report concluded with the statement:

The most direct way for an individual or a population to reduce dietary intake of dioxins is to reduce their consumption of dietary fat, especially from animal sources that are known to contain higher levels of these compounds.

This report from the National Academy of Science came out only one day after the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the amount of dioxin released into the environment by industry increased to 328 pounds in 2001, up from 220 pounds the year earlier. The EPA added that 6.16 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment in 2001.

The EPA explained that these compounds persist in the environment and build up in the bodies of farm animals that eat contaminated feed or grass. While many of these toxic chemical compounds are resistant to degradation in the natural environment, they dissolve readily in oil and thus accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish, birds, and mammals. Humans are exposed predominately by eating contaminated animal products. Every time an animal is exposed to a tiny bit of these toxic chemicals, it remains in the animal's body for life, only released when the animal is eaten by humans, through fatty animal products such as meat, cheese, and full-fat milk.1 Animal products tested to be exceptionally high in these harmful compounds are catfish, lobster, mollusks, cheese, butter, and ice cream.2

Unborn children and breast feeding infants are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of these chemicals. These chemicals are linked to a broad range of diseases, including behavioral disorders, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis, and cancer.3 Since these chemicals are stored in the fatty tissues of animals and in our fat stores too (because we are animals as well), a woman has to begin eating more carefully before she gets pregnant to prevent harmful exposure to the developing fetus.

The health of children is not merely the result of what they have been fed as youngsters, but is strongly influenced by a mother's diet and what she consumed and stored in her fat-supply years before her child is conceived. The National Academy of Science gave a clear public warning against eating a diet rich in animal fats, especially fatty fish and shellfish. Again, a plant-based diet containing healthy fat from avocados, raw nuts, and seeds, with much less or no animal fats, is revealed as a powerful weapon to beat the modern cancer epidemic.

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Happenings in the Health World: Wednesday

Here at Followhealthlife we plow through dozens of health-related news stories every day, here are recent stories of note:

  • KFC Getting Grilled According to The New York Times a nutrition advocacy group is suing Kentucky Fried Chicken to stop using partially hydrogenated oils in food preparation. Marian Burros reports:
    The plaintiff, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which frequently criticizes the food industry and the government, seeks to have the District of Columbia Superior Court either ban use of the oils in KFC's cooking or force the company to post signs telling customers that its food contains trans fat and can cause heart disease.
  • Trans Fat to the Tummy HealthDay News reports a new US study shows trans fats chub up mid sections even when calories are reduced. Diana Kohnle writes:
    "Diets rich in trans fat cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled," Lawrence L. Rudel, a professor of pathology and biochemistry and head of the Lipid Sciences Research Program, said in a prepared statement.
  • Teen Smoking at a Plateau Since the 1990s the number of teenagers who smoke was on a steady decline, but a new survey reveals a standstill. The Associated Press reports:
    A survey released this week showed that smoking among high school students held steady at around one in four teenagers between 2003 and 2005. Two other surveys in the past year or so found that teen smoking has apparently plateaued since 2002.
  • Save a Buck and Your Health Rising gas prices and the high cost of eating out has left many members of the work force packing lunch and eating at their desks. It's a great way to save money and protect your health too. Elizabeth Lee of The Chicago Tribune explains:
    When you make the meal, you control what goes in it. Want lower-sodium deli meat? It's available at the grocery store. Watching your weight? You control portion size.

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Adapted from the revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life, now available!

There are literally hundreds of respected scientific studies that demonstrate that as animal products increase in a population's diet, cholesterol levels soar and the occurrence of heart disease increases proportionally with the increase in animal product intake.1 Saturated fat is the element of the modern diet that shows the most powerful association in these medical research studies with high cholesterol and premature death from heart attacks.2

Though saturated fat is the most heart-disease-promoting substance in animal products, it is not merely saturated fat and cholesterol in animal products that is the problem. Animal protein raises cholesterol too. Those who cut out red meat and instead eat plenty of chicken and fish do not see substantial changes in their cholesterol levels or a profound reduction in cardiac events.3

If you are looking for maximum protection from heart disease, your diet must receive 90 to 100 percent of its calories from unrefined plant foods. If you choose to include a small amount of animal products in your diet, white meat chicken and white meat turkey are better choices, but if you have more than one or two servings a week, you are not going to see optimal results. One serving of a non-polluted fish a week, and one serving of white meat fowl is the maximum amount of animal products permitted. Any more than that will prevent the huge drop in cholesterol level and heart disease risk observed from eating a plant-based diet style.

Books touting the benefits of high-protein diets for weight-loss are very popular because they appeal to the many Americans who are looking to maintain their addiction to high-fat, nutrient-inadequate, animal foods. These consumers form a huge market for such topsy-turvy, scientific-sounding quackery. All animal products are severely deficient in fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants--and contain too much saturated fat, cholesterol, and arachadonic acid.

As animal product consumption goes up in a country or population, so does heart attacks; as animal product utilization goes down, so does heart attacks. One cannot prevent or reverse heart disease while one continues to consume significant amounts of animal foods.


In some countries, such as Mozambique, the Fiji Islands, and Guatemala, where few refined foods are eaten and animal products account for less than 10% of the calories consumed, their populations are virtually free from heart disease.

Guidelines to lower your cholesterol naturally that can save your life

Restrict or eliminate animal products: A few ounces of white meat turkey, once a week and a small piece of fish once a week is the maximum one should consume if seriously looking for cardiac reversal or protection and only these animal products, low in saturated fat should be eaten. If eating animal products, only eat 4-6 ounces of white meat turkey or white meat chicken per week, using them as a condiment in soups or a vegetable dish or sandwich. Low mercury fish such as tilapia, flounder, sole or scrod are also permitted in the range of 4-8 ounces per week. Non-fat dairy or an egg white omelet may also be consumed once per week.

Eliminate all processed grains and sweeteners: No white flour, white rice, processed breakfast cereals, sugar or other sweeteners. Instead, use one serving of whole grains daily such as brown rice, millet amaranth, oats, and barley. If using pasta occasionally, use whole wheat, bean or lentil pasta, not white flour pasta.

Do not use oil: Instead, use nuts and avocado to flavor dressings and sauces. Oil is a high calorie food, with the vast majority of nutrients lost. In comparison, the use of raw nuts and seeds such as flax, walnuts, and sunflower seeds have shown remarkable protective effects for both heart disease and cancer. When you consume your fat in nature's protective package, (nuts and seeds) in place of extracted oils, you get the lignins and flavonoids and other valuable nutrients that support excellent health.

For example, flax seed oil is also oil and just like other oils it contains 120 calories per tablespoon. Ground flax seeds contain lignans, flavonoids beneficial fibers, sterols and a host of other beneficial substances and only has 30 calories per tablespoon. Eat the food not the extracted oil. Excessive amounts of oil are not favorable. Even too much of the benefical oil in flax is linked to higher rates of prostate cancer.4

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Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 38

LA Times: Soy Losing Its Luster

According to The Los Angeles Times soybeans are no longer being perceived as the wonder food they were once touted to be. It appears many researchers and scientists are losing faith in the bean. Hilary E. MacGregor reports:

Some are worried about reproductive problems. Last year, researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found that mice given genistein right after birth developed irregular reproductive cycles and problems with ovulation and fertility. This year, they reported that genistein disrupted the development of ovaries.

"Whether these things cause problems in humans, we just don't know," says Wendy Jefferson, an NIEHS scientist and the paper's lead researcher. "But so many babies are on soy formulas. If these things are going to be a problem it is a problem that would only manifest later, when a woman was trying to get pregnant, or having reproductive-cycle problems."

The research led an independent panel of 14 scientists to meet in March and decide whether soy formula is hazardous to human development or reproduction.

The panel concluded that soy formula was safe but one pediatrician on the panel expressed concerns, saying exposure to soy formula occurs during a critical time in infancy and might possibly affect development of the brain and reproductive system.

In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman discusses some of the issues surrounding soy and how to incorporate it into a healthy diet. Here's an excerpt:

The evidence is not sufficient to warrant being fearful of consuming soybeans as part of a healthful diet. However, this brings to mind my basic theme of nutritional biodiversity�eat a variety of plant foods, and do not eat a soy-based diet.

Most of the processed soy products can be tasty additions to a plant-based diet, but they are generally high in salt and are not nutrient-dense foods, so use them sparingly. In conclusion, the soybean is a superior food, containing the difficult-to-find omega-3 fats. Beans in general are superior foods that fight against cancer and heart disease, which is why you will benefit from using a variety of beans in your diet.

Rather than vilifying soybeans, the wiser approach seems to be not centering a diet on one particular food (in this case soybeans), but rather incorporate soybeans into a nutrient-dense plant-based diet. Instead of gobbling up everything that has soy in it.

Back to the LA Times article, Dr. Gregory Burke makes a strong case for continuing consumption of soy:

"If a drug company came up and said 'We are going to develop a product that reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces the rate of prostate cancer, that alleviates hot flashes and does good things for bone, and that doesn't have any side effects,' they would be laughed out of the room," says Dr. Gregory Burke, a professor in the department of Health Sciences at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

But just because soy is not a magic cure for hot flashes and breast cancer does not mean it isn't a good food.

Healthy Eating, Diet and Fitness Blog Carnival #1

Examining The Push For Organic

You've probably noticed that a lot of groceries stores are renovating and making room for more and more organic products. Concern for food contaminants has pumped up America's demand for alternative options to conventionally farmed food. Despite higher costs a growing number of people are going organic, but is it worth it? Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay news reports:

The organic food industry in the United States surpassed $10 billion in consumer sales in 2003, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), which is based in Greenfield, Mass. The market has grown from between 17 percent to 21 percent each year since 1997, according to OTA estimates.

In a survey done by Ohio State University Extension, researchers interviewed 2,000 Ohio residents in 2004 and found that 40 percent "often" or "occasionally" buy organic foods. Thirty-two percent of the respondents said they would pay 10 percent more for organic foods; six percent said they'd pay 25 percent more for organics, and one percent said they'd be willing to pay 50 percent more.

At face-value the shift in consumer preference appears to be a good thing, but the recent organic movement has its skeptics:

A critic of the organic movement, Alex Avery, director of research for the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues, a Washington, D.C. think tank, said organic farmers use pesticides, too. Instead of calling them pesticides, however, organic farmers are likely to call them "botanical products." For example: some organic farmers use pyrethrum, which is a derivative of the chrysanthemum plant.

That's a fact organic farmers don't dispute.

As for organic food advocates' claim that non-organic foods contain too many pesticides, Avery said: "You are talking about residues at the part per billion level."

Avery's position is not totally off base. In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman echoed similar sentiments. Here's an excerpt:

Some scientists argue that the extremely low level of pesticide residue remaining on produce is insignificant and that there are naturally occurring toxins in all natural foods that are more significant. 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.

If you're curious about organic food, there's plenty more worth reading in that post.

What If I Fall Off The Eat to Live Diet?

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Since the goal of the Eat to Live plan is to eat at least 90 percent of your diet from nutrient-dense plant foods, if you fall off the plan in one area, make up for it in another. If you've eaten all the recommended amounts of green vegetables, beans, and fruits you will have consumed fewer than 1,000 calories of nutrient-dense food, with more than 40 grams of fiber. By consuming so many crucial nutrients and fiber, your body's drive to overeat is blunted.

Do you see the difference between these recommendations and those of more traditional authorities who recommend eating less food to lose weight? With my program you are encouraged to eat more food. Only by eating more of the right food can you successfully be healthy and well nourished and feel satisfied. On this plan you consume more than ten times the phytochemicals and ten times the fiber that most Americans consume. Keep in mind that it is the undiscovered nutrients in whole natural foods that offer the greatest protection against cancer.

Eating to Live Omniverously

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

Much of the people in the modern world today eat a diet that is poorly designed to maximize human health. In fact, the incidence of heart disease, stroke, and cancer is higher in more developed countries and kills the vast majority of all adults, despite the fact that the nutritional causes of these illnesses have been adequately explained by scientific studies.

Nearly the entire populations in developed countries today suffer from diseases of nutritional extravagance leading to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease and premature death. While Americans jump from one diet craze to another, their waistlines and leading causes of death change little because the popular diets appeal to the most popular way to eat, consuming animal products, oils, and dairy at every meal. The most commercially successful diet books in our country appeal to America's love affair with saturated-fat-rich animal products and still leave the public with a dangerous solution to their growing waistlines. These books encourage a high percentage of animal products in spite of the preponderance of evidence showing the links to heart disease and cancer.

There are three main problems with diets that contain significant amounts of animal products:

  • More than a thousand well-designed studies have led all major health authorities around the world to conclude that saturated fat is a leading contributor to high cholesterol, heart disease, and many cancers.
  • Fat-soluble petrochemicals such as PCBs and dioxin as well as other toxic elements such as mercury, are transferred to humans predominantly via the fatty portions of fish, dairy, meat, poultry, and in that order. Fatty fish that are rich sources of omega-3 fats are also typically heavily contaminated with harmful pollutants. These pollutants are linked neurological problems, immune system dysfunction, and cancer.
  • Animal products contain no fiber, and almost no antioxidant vitamins such as vitamins C, K, E, and folate. They also are lacking in all the anti-cancer phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, lignins, and carotenoids that are so essential to protect us against chronic illnesses, immune system disorders, and a premature death.

With animal products occupying a major caloric percentage of the diet, less the remains for natural, unrefined plant produce. The inclusion of sugar, white flour, oil, and other low-nutrient calories in an omnivorous diet virtually guarantees phytonutrient deficiency and greatly increases the risk of late-life cancer.

The low levels of certain essential nutrients are inevitable unless an omnivorous diet is designed to receive the vast majority of its calories from fruits, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, and seeds to supply crucial food elements necessary for optimal health. The amount of animal products must be held to much lower amounts than are presently consumed, and those animal products chosen must be very low in saturated fat and pollutants. The animal products that are lowest in saturated fat are egg whites, low-fat fish, skinless white meat turkey, and chicken. The highest saturated-fat animal products are butter, cheeses, and red meat.

If you choose to include animal products in your diet and your children's diet, they should be utilized sparingly, as condiments or flavorings for soups and vegetable dishes, not as the main dish. Use one piece of chicken to flavor a vegetable bean soup that will be used for the whole family all week. Use fresh turkey breast sliced very thin in a sandwich with avocado or tomato-based dressing, lettuce, tomato, and red onion. In other words, only use one or two ounces a day per person. A pound of animal product can be used for an entire family of five for a few days, so that the family's diet is comprised of vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts with only a few ounces of animal products every few days. I call this a near-vegetarian diet. It allows for more variety and flavor in cooking and recipes without losing the main health advantages of a plant-based diet.

Because animal products do not contain significant omega-3 fat, and fatty fish are such a polluted food, it is important for those on an omnivorous diet to consume walnuts, flax, hemp and other plant sources of omega-3. The valuable omega-3 fats should not be derived from the regular consumption of fatty fish. Instead, I recommend the lower-fat (less polluted) fish such a flounder, sole, and tilapia. Utilizing plant sources of omega-3 such as flax seeds and walnuts is still important. Because the contamination level in fish is always questionable, even these less polluted fish should be used sparingly, just like other animal products.

A multivitamin and a DHA supplement are still a good idea, for the assurance that optimal levels of these nutrients are met.

NY Times: The Food Police Debate

Last week's New York Times article Well-Intentioned Food Police May Create Havoc With Children's Diets raised questions about the role schools play in fostering healthy eating habits in kids. The issue fueled multi-sided debate in this week's letters to the editor.

Some respondents support the intent of the measures mentioned in the piece. Seemingly adopting the "every little bit helps" point of view:

Too many food rules and restrictions at school can certainly backfire if they cause children to compensate later in the day by overeating or seeking out highly palatable foods like soda and pizza that they have limited or no access to while at school. But we can't just sit back, as the author suggests, and watch our kids balloon in size.

The least we can do is limit nutrient-poor foods and provide more fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods and include programs and activities to increase physical activity. These small steps can at the very least help fuel children's bodies and give them energy to run faster and throw the ball farther.

Elisa Zied, Manhattan

This mindset undoubtedly shows concern for the health of our children, but others advocate taking action merely for the sake of taking action isn't wise. Contending that many of these solutions risk doing more harm than good:

It's an outrage that schools will post body mass index on report cards. I have friends who have struggled with anorexia and bulimia, and seeing their B.M.I.'s four times a year can make them much more self-conscious and exacerbate their eating disorders.

Eric Schleien, Larchmont, N.Y.

Developing bad eating habits early in life is dangerous. We've all heard, "You are what you eat." So using a little common sense, one would assume children with poor eating habits grow up to become unhealthy adults with poor eating habits. Seems logical, right?

Last week Followhealthlife explained Dr. Fuhrman's approach to getting kids to eat healthier. He explained it's important not to coax children to eat better, but instead to surround them with healthy high-nutrient food. This way children will gravitate to healthy diets on their own, without adults hanging over their shoulders making them feel guilty about this or that thing they're eating. This concept does not fall on deaf ears:

Thank you for finally printing a much-needed and sensible reply to the rampant obsession with childhood obesity ("Food Police"). Children are naturally able to regulate their own hungers and appetites, and I share the writer's concern about the ramifications of the current notion that there should be stringent rules and regulations placed on children's diets.

Although bulimia and anorexia get the spotlight among eating disorders, overeating is itself a disorder that should not be disregarded. Perhaps we should look to see what voids exist in the lives of today's children that are causing them to seek comfort and fulfillment in food, rather than planting the seeds of further lifelong problems.

Anne Throdahl, N.Y.

Another respondent claims the key is to teach kids proper nutrition:

Contrary to Harriet Brown's assertion, it is possible for school-based programs to prevent both obesity and eating disorders. A 2005 Harvard study of a comprehensive obesity prevention program found that teaching children about healthful eating and physical activity actually led to lower rates of disordered eating.

Further, the hypothesis that removing unhealthy snacks at school causes a rebound effect at home is unsupported. In a 2005 Yale study, unhealthful snacks were removed from elementary and middle schools, and children did not compensate by eating more of these snacks at home.

Children see the hypocrisy of teaching nutrition in the classroom and selling junk food down the hall. Nearly everywhere, children are surrounded by cheap, heavily marketed high-fat and high-sugar foods with negligible nutritional value. But schools can be a haven. It's time to extend nutrition education into the lunchroom, and surround children with healthful foods to enjoy.

Marlene B. Schwartz, New Haven

On what side of the dicussion do you fall? Do you believe that childhood obesity has gotten so out of hand that any attempt (with in reason) to control it is worthwhile or will the proposed measures do more harm than good? Good ahead, light up the comments!

Fruit is Great No Matter How It's Sliced

The New York Times reports a new study shows fruit loses no nutritional value when sliced and packaged. Nicholas Bakalar writes:

Using fresh pineapples, mangoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, strawberries and kiwis, the researchers found some variations among the fruits.

Cantaloupes, for example, had minimal reductions in vitamin C and beta carotenoids after the nine-day test, while pineapples exposed to light as part of the experiment actually increased in vitamin C content. After six days, the strawberries and kiwis appeared "under the limit of marketability," even though they suffered no loss of vitamin C and other nutrients.

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 37

The newest Grand Rounds is now up on The Medical Blog Network. This week includes Dr. Fuhrman's post Q&A On Vitamins.

A Shmoo Eats to Live

With a lunchbox in one hand and Eat to Live in the other, Jennifer Shmoo, (of Vegan Lunch Box fame) jumps aboard the nutritional excellence train:

Today marks one week of Eating to Live, and one week of abstinence from sugar. So far, I feel good. I'm eating lots of greens, lots of salads and veggies, lots of fresh fruit. I'm not craving anything, I'm not hungry all the time, and the food I'm eating tastes really good. Who knew carrots could taste so sweet?

Check out Shmoo Blog for updates on Jennifer's progress.

Cancer Is a Disease of Fruit- and Vegetable Deficiency

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Not surprisingly, fruits and vegetables are the two foods with the best correlation with longevity in humans. Not whole-wheat bread, not bran, not even a vegetarian diet shows as powerful a correlation as a high level of fresh fruit and raw green salad consumption.1 The Nation Cancer Institute recently reported on 337 different studies that all showed the same basic information:

  • Vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers if consumed in large enough quantities. Hundreds of scientific studies document this. The most prevalent cancers in our country are mostly plant-food-deficiency disease.
  • Raw vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer properties of all foods.
  • Studies on the cancer-reducing effects of vitamin pills containing various nutrients (such as folate, vitamin C and E) get mixed reviews; sometimes they show a slight benefit, but most show no benefit. Occasionally studies show that taking isolated nutrients is harmful, as was discussed earlier regarding beta-carotene.
  • Beans, in general, not just soy, have additional anti-cancer benefits against reproductive cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.2

Though Americans would prefer to take a pill so they could continue eating what they are accustomed to, it won't give you the protection you are looking for. You can close the cover of this book and put it away right now as long as you can incorporate this crucial dietary change into your life: consume high levels of fruits, green vegetables, and beans. This is key to both weight loss and better health.

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Pediatric Grand Rounds: Number 4

Report: Should Restaurants Manage Caloric Intake?

According to Andrew Bridges of the Associated Press a new report suggests restaurants should monkey with menu offerings and portions sizes to help fight fat:

Today, 64 percent of Americans are overweight, including the 30 percent who are obese, according to the report. It pegs the annual medical cost of the problem at nearly $93 billion.

Consumer advocates increasingly have heaped some of the blame on restaurant chains like McDonald's, which bristles at the criticism while offering more salads and fruit. The report does not explicitly link dining out with the rising tide of obesity, but does cite numerous studies that suggest there is a connection.

The report encourages restaurants to shift the emphasis of their marketing to lower-calorie choices, and include more such options on menus. In addition, restaurants could jigger portion sizes and the variety of foods available in mixed dishes to reduce the overall number of calories taken in by diners.

Bundling meals with more fruits and vegetables also could improve nutrition. And letting consumers know how many calories are contained in a meal also could guide the choices they make, according to the report. Just over half of the nation's 287 largest restaurant chains now make at least some nutrition information available, said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Prescribed Antibiotics and You

If you read Onlyourhealth Your Child you'll notice Dr. Fuhrman spends a significant amount of time discussing antibiotics, and the American medical community's habitual prescribing of them. Dr. Fuhrman contends, "Too often doctors dispense the drugs without a legitimate clinical rationale for their use." Stern words, but Dr. Fuhrman is making a serious point.

Consider this excerpt from his book:

Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria; they do not kill viruses. Unfortunately, that is not how they are typically used. Approximately 90 percent of antibiotics are given for viral illnesses, against which they have no value. Antibiotics are routinely and repeatedly administered by physicians for illnesses such as colds and bronchitis, which are viral, not bacterial.1 This use of antibiotics is inappropriate and dangerous. In one study, more than half of the patients who visited a physician in the United States with cold symptoms left with a prescription for an antibiotic.2

Now Dr. Fuhrman isn't anti-antibiotics. According to him antibiotics have their legitimate uses, but these instances only encompass less than 10 percent of all antibiotics utilized in this country today. Here he explains the best way to treat a typical viral syndrome:

When ill with a typical viral syndrome, it is best to rest, drink water, avoid cooked food, and only consume high-water-content fruits and vegetables if hungry. Avoid physicians, medications, and remedies. See a doctor only if the illness is unusual or unusually severe or prolonged.

Antibiotics aren't necessarily the perfect treament for some bacterial illnesses either. According to Dr. Fuhrman proper nutrition (a vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet) can help you fight fire with fire:

Nearly one-third of the dry weight of our stool is bacteria. Hundreds of different species of good bacteria play a very important role in your health by producing certain vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin K; they break down various fibers, and they produce other nutritive substances. For instance, these friendly flora make short-chain fatty acids (such as lipoic acid) and other nutrients that have antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties. In addition to these health-enhancing activities that enable your body to function more efficiently, these good bacteria secrete antibacterial substances that prevent the disease-causing bacteria from taking hold in your body.

Therefore, the presence of health-promoting bacteria crowds out and prevents the development of bacterial illnesses. When you eat a healthful, nutrient-rich, plant-based diet, you promote the growth of the right species of bacteria. For example, having a proliferation of the health-promoting species of bacteria is though to offer protection against colon cancer. When you eat an unhealthful diet, it promotes the growth of microbes that can damage your health and body.

Unnecessary antibiotics can compromise and even kill helpful bacteria:

Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, digestive disturbances, yeast overgrowth, bone marrow suppression, seizures, kidney damage, colitis, and life-threatening allergic reactions. The unnecessary over prescription of antibiotics during past decades has been blamed for the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of deadly bacteria. Besides these potential risks, in every single person who takes an antibiotic, the drug kills a broad assortment of helpful bacteria that live in the digestive tract and aid digestion. It kills the "bad" bacteria, such as those that can complicate and infection, but it also kills these helpful "good" bacteria lining your digestive tract that have properties that protect from future illness.

If you take antibiotics repeatedly when you are young, you further diminish the population of good bacteria that protects you against harmful bacteria. In addition, the harmful bacteria become more resistant (harder to kill with antibiotics the next time). Over 100 different helpful intestinal bacteria are lost with the use of antibiotics, which then give pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes and yeast the chance to proliferate and fill the ecological vacuum created by the repeated administration of antibiotics.

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Research: Body Produces Own Antiobiotics

Our bodies are pretty amazing, with many disease-fighting protections already built in. Consider this article from Healthday News. Diana Kohnle reports new research shows our bodies produce an antibiotic to fight urinary tract infection:

Although it was once thought that urine passing through the urinary tract prevented bacteria from accumulating in its membranes, researchers at the Department of Microbiology, Tumour and Cell Biology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm have proven differently. Instead, they found that the body produces an antibacterial peptide, called LL-37, that helps prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

"Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a growing problem," research leader and professor Annelie Brauner said in a prepared statement. "As the development of resistance to the body's own antibiotic is very rare, it can be used as an alternative or a complement to conventional antibiotic medication."

During the study, urine from healthy children and those with UTIs was tested for levels of LL-37. Results showed very low levels of LL-37 in the urine of healthy children, but high levels in the urine of children with UTIs.

"We were able to show that LL-37 is produced in the epithelial cells of the urinary tracts and the kidneys, and that its build-up and secretion occur within a few minutes after a bacterial attack," said Brauner.

For more on antibiotics, see the previous post.

The Anti-Cancer Powers of Plant Food

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

Allium compoundsFlavonoidsPhenolic acids
Alllyl sulfidesGlucosinolatesPhytoesterols
Caffeic acidIsoflavonesPolyphenols
CatechinsIsothiocyanatesProtease inhibitors
Ellagic AcidPectinsSterols
Ferulic acidPerillyl alcoholTerpenes

The list above is only a small sample of beneficial compounds, and more are being discovered daily. Cancer-prevention studies attempting to dissect the precise ingredients or combination of ingredients in fruits and vegetables are ongoing; but these studies, like the many others before them, are likely to be a huge waste of resources. There are simply too many protective factors that work synergistically to expect significant benefit from taking a few isolated substances. These beneficial compounds have overlapping and complementary mechanisms of action. They inhibit cellular aging, induce detoxification enzymes, bind carcinogens in the digestive tract, and fuel cellular repair mechanisms.1

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