Your Genetics And Your Life

“Heart attack? I’m not going to stop eating bacon! My grand pappy ate bacon three times a day, everyday, and he died of natural causes at the ripe ole’ age of a’ hundred and three.” We’ve all heard this or something like it before. A lot of people seem to stake their long-term health on family genetics and dumb down the importance of their environment, nutrition, and exercise habits.

A new article by Gina Kolata of The New York Times takes a look at how genetics affects our overall health and lifespan. The information will surprise you, it seems people’s cavalier attitude about family genetics and individual health is a little unfounded:
Life span is determined by such a complex mix of events that there is no accurate predicting for individuals. The factors include genetic predispositions, disease, nutrition, a woman’s health during pregnancy, subtle injuries and accidents and simply chance events, like a randomly occurring mutation in a gene of a cell that ultimately leads to cancer.

The result is that old people can appear to be struck down for many reasons, or for what looks like almost no reason at all, just chance. Some may be more vulnerable than others, and over all, it is clear that the most fragile are likely to die first. But there are still those among the fragile who somehow live on and on. And there are seemingly healthy people who die suddenly.

Some diseases, like early onset Alzheimer’s and early onset heart disease, are more linked to family histories than others, like most cancers and Parkinson’s disease. But predisposition is not a guarantee that an individual will develop the disease. Most, in fact, do not get the disease they are predisposed to. And even getting the disease does not mean a person will die of it.
Apparently genetics can still leave you at risk for certain diseases, but it isn’t a slam dunk:
Yet even diseases commonly thought to be strongly inherited, like many cancers, are not, researchers found. In a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000, Dr. Paul Lichtenstein of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and his colleagues analyzed cancer rates in 44,788 pairs of Nordic twins. They found that only a few cancers—breast, prostate and colorectal—had a noticeable genetic component. And it was not much. If one identical twin got one of those cancers, the chance that the other twin would get it was generally less than 15 percent, about five times the risk for the average person but not a very big risk over all.

Looked at one way, the data say that genes can determine cancer risk. But viewed another way, the data say that the risk for an identical twin of a cancer patient is not even close to 100 percent, as it would be if genes completely determined who would get the disease.
Earlier in Kolata’s article she mentions that decades ago people were more inclined to believe environment factors, eating right, exercising, and quality medical care most strongly influenced long-term health. I think Dr. Fuhrman would agree. Check out this from Eat to Live:
Both patients and physicians act as though everyone’s medical problems are genetic, or assumed to be the normal consequence of aging. They believe that chronic illness is just what we all must expect. Unfortunately, the medical-pharmaceutical business has encouraged people to believe that health problems are hereditary and that we need to swallow poisons to defeat our genes. This is almost always untrue. We all have genetic weaknesses, but those weaknesses never get a chance to express themselves until we abuse our body with many, many years of mistreatment. Never forget, 99 percent of your genes are programmed to keep you healthy. The problem is that we never let them do their job.
Most chronic illnesses have been earned from a lifetime of inferior nutrition, which eventually results in abnormal function or frequent discomfort. These illnesses are not beyond our control, they are primarily genetic, and they are not the normal consequence of aging. True, we all have our weakest links governed by genetics; but these links need never reveal themselves unless our health deteriorates. Superior health flows naturally as a result of superior nutrition. Our predisposition to certain illnesses can remain hidden.

Vending Machines Rigged For Bad Health

If you’ve ever worked around a vending machine you’ve seen how people pump money into them, like they’re playing the slots! But in regard to your health those snacks never pay off. According to The Orlando Sentinel vending machine foods are a jackpot of unhealthiness. Reporter Stephanie Allmon provides the calorie and fat content of some of the usual suspects:
Corn Nuts (4-ounce bag) 520 calories; 17 grams fat

Little Debbie Double Decker Oatmeal Creme Pie; 470 calories; 18 grams fat

Otis Spunkmeyer Banana Nut Muffin; 460 calories; 22 grams fat

Mrs Baird's Orchard Cherry Pie; 450 calories; 22 grams fat

Act II Butter Lover's popcorn; 394 calories; 28 grams fat

Mrs Baird's cinnamon rolls (package of 2); 380 calories; 12 grams fat

Duchess Powdered Sugar Donuts (package of 6); 370 calories; 18 grams fat

Fritos Chili Cheese corn chips; 320 calories; 20 grams fat

Cheetos; 320 calories; 20 grams fat
The list goes on and on, it’s worth a look see. Oh, and a lot of good the nutrition facts on the package do, you can’t even read them until you’ve already bought the item.

The Eat to Live Dojo

From the September 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

Adopting the Eating to Live diet and lifestyle might seem daunting at first. But don’t let the challenge of eliminating your bad habits discourage you. Many people achieve remarkable success after an initial period of failure.

With coaching and support, even those who have multiple food and other addictions, difficult lives, and initial trouble achieving success can eventually succeed. They move up the ladder and earn what I call the “belts” of accomplishment. The point is to move forward one step at a time and never give up.

Here are some things you might experience at the various levels.

White Belt
You still eat inappropriate amounts of food, eat when not really hungry, and are physically and emotionally addicted to rich food. You feel withdrawal symptoms (weak, headachy, and lightheaded) after eating meals containing only whole, unrefined plant foods. You continue to use “comfort” foods to relieve stress, loneliness, and boredom. You still like the taste of processed foods, sweets, fatty food, cheese, and meat better than natural plant foods, and prefer foods that are salted.

Orange Belt

You now only eat three meals a day and snack only occasionally. You rarely experience hunger as a mouth and throat sensation, but you do not overeat. You no longer get weak and headachy within a few hours after eating. You enjoy many healthful recipes, salads, and fruits, but still like the taste of coffee, cheese, meat, and pastries and find it difficult to resist them when offered. You’ve lost some weight, but put some back on during a vacation, family visit, or business trip, and you resume healthful eating after setbacks.

Blue Belt

You frequently feel hunger as a mouth and throat sensation and rarely overeat. After dinner, you do not think of food until the following morning. You enjoy the taste and pleasure of healthful eating, but still enjoy and eat unhealthful foods occasionally. When you eat animal products or grains, you choose healthier kinds (such as whole grains, unsalted, low-saturated fat).You are attempting to make further changes to achieve superior health.

Black Belt

Most often, you eat only when truly hungry. You experience hunger as a mouth and throat sensation on a daily basis. You have no emotional attraction to “comfort” foods. You get much pleasure from eating—and prefer the taste of—healthful foods. Your taste is now highly sensitive, and you dislike added salt and strong spices. You feel ill after eating unhealthful foods, such as animal products and unhealthful desserts, which you eat only on special occasions (fewer than a few times a month).

Eat to Live For Dummies

If you’ve been reading my blog, it is likely you already know a lot about the relationship between what you eat and your health. It is likely you are already attempting to eat differently from those around you in our society.It is also likely you are not 100 percent perfect, but you are still trying and still doing much better than most people.

You are not alone. Not only are thousands of people from around the globe now utilizing the dietary principles in Eat To Live, but millions of enlightened individuals who have never read the book have heard about the science that supports the principles it describes. Millions are trying to increase their consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts, while at the same time reducing their intake of processed foods and animal products.

Categories of foods
Foods eaten today can be divided into three categories—Animal Products (AP), Processed Foods (PF), and Unprocessed Plant Foods (UPF). The key component of the lifestyle that I call Eat To Live is the reduced consumption of both AP and PF and the increased consumption of UPF.

As you know, to build superior health, your diet should be predominately UPF. But did you know that, in addition, the largest portion (by volume) of your diet should be those UPF foods that have the highest nutrient-per-calorie density? The Unrefined Plant Foods (UPF) category can be divided into six specific subcategories, and these subcategories can be ranked by their approximate nutrient-per-calorie density.

Nutrients per calorie
These UPF subcategories are ranked from highest to lowest in nutrient per-calorie density.
1. Green and other Low-Starch Vegetables
2. Beans or Legumes
3. Fresh Fruit
4. Nuts/Seeds/Avocado
5. Starchy Vegetables (mostly Root Vegetables)
6. Grains
As you can see, to achieve the highest nutritional excellence, you need to eat many more servings of green and other low-starch vegetables, beans, and fresh fruit than starchy vegetables and grains.

For maximizing nutritional diversity and disease-resistance, your daily goals should include:
  • 5 servings of fresh fruit
  • 5 servings of vegetables (both raw and cooked)
  • 1 serving of raw nuts or seeds
  • 1 serving of beans
Optimal recommendations
My dietary recommendations are different from virtually all other diets, and it is important to understand the differences. Popular high protein diets marketed for weight loss are meat-based or chicken based. The USDA recommended diet is grain-based.The most popular vegetarian diets are also potato/grain-based. Raw food diets are mostly fruit- and nut-based.

By contrast, Eat To Live is vegetable/bean/fruit/nut-based, with an emphasis on a high volume of greenvegetables and soups containing greens and beans. It has powerful disease-reversal properties, is satisfying, and dramatically lowers body weight and cholesterol. It is the optimal diet for those fortunate enough to be well-informed.

Health Points: Wednesday

The Center for Science and the Environment announced in August that drinks manufactured by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in India contained on average more than 24 times the safe limits of pesticides, which could come from sugar, water and other ingredients.

When those reports appeared on the front pages of newspapers in India, Coke and Pepsi executives were confident that they could handle the situation. But they stumbled.

They underestimated how quickly events would spiral into a nationwide scandal, misjudged the speed with which local politicians would seize on an Indian environmental group’s report to attack their global brands and did not respond swiftly to quell the anxieties of their customers.
This is an especially difficult admission for younger docs who are just starting their practice and I have discovered that part of the maturing process as a physician is to accept that you simply cannot have all the answers. Naturally you should not proclaim ignorance too many times or you would be just plain incompetent. As a specialist, I am also very aware of the fact that I should know "my" area of the body more thoroughly, and that patients have been specifically referred to me because of this knowledge.
The bacteriophage additive was approved for use on ready-to-eat meats, which are normally consumed without additional cooking, said Andrew Zajac, acting director of the division of petition review in the FDA Office of Food Additive Safety.

These foods can become contaminated with listeria when they are made, and because they're not cooked the contaminants won't be killed. The phage product will be sprayed on meats before packaging so that contaminated meats will be purged of listeria before the products reach the consumer.
Hundreds of sixth graders in 42 middle schools will begin taking part in a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The HEALTHY study will determine if changes in school food services and physical education classes, along with activities that encourage healthy behaviors, lower risk factors for type 2 diabetes, an increasingly common disease in youth. Participating schools will be randomly assigned to a program group, which implements the changes, or to a comparison group, which continues to offer food choices and PE programs typically seen in middle schools across the country. Students in the program group will have healthier choices from the cafeteria and vending machines (e.g., lower fat foods, more fruits and vegetables, and drinks with no added sugar) longer, more intense periods of physical activity, and activities and awareness campaigns that promote long-term healthy behaviors. After 2.5 years, all students will be tested for diabetes risk factors, including blood levels of glucose, insulin, and lipids. They will also be measured for fitness level, blood pressure, height, weight, and waist circumference.
Under the program, the federal government paid $130 each time a chemotherapy provider assessed a Medicare patient's pain, fatigue and nausea. The payments were designed to encourage doctors to report information that might one day lead to improved care for cancer patients.

In a report to be released Wednesday, the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department cast doubt on whether the money was well-spent. He questioned the integrity of the data that doctors submitted.
What remains baffling to the scientists is "why a sour receptor would come to be." They can explain 'bitter' as our way of avoiding poisonous substances, and 'sweet' as our way of knowing what to eat when we need a boost in energy. But sour??? They still don't know why we would need to detect sour food items.

The Obesity-Disease Connection

In the opening pages of Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman makes a point that is often overlooked by the average American dieter:
Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue—extra weight leads to an earlier death, as many studies confirm.1 Overweight individuals are more likely to die from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.
Much of Dr. Fuhrman’s work strives to show people the strong correlation between diet and disease. You know the old adage, you are what you eat. Being overweight doesn’t just mean your favorite outfit is a little snug, it means you’re putting yourself at an increased risk of premature death. More from Eat to Live:
Two-thirds of those with weight problems also have hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or another obesity related condition.2 It is a major cause of early mortality in the United States.3
Health Complications of Obesity
  • Increased overall premature mortality
  • Adult onset diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cancer
  • Lipid disorders
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Fatty infiltration of the liver
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Gastrointestinal disease
Considering all this, this recent report from The New York Times shouldn’t be all that surprising. New research reveals being obese can make ovarian cancer even deadlier and harder to survive. Nicholas Bakalar explains:
It is well known that obesity is associated with various malignancies, including kidney, throat, breast and colon cancers. Findings about obesity and ovarian cancer have been somewhat less clear, the researchers say, but evidence from previous studies suggests that obesity predicts a worse outcome for ovarian cancer patients as well.

The scientists wanted to know whether excess fat, apart from any other health problems it might cause, had direct effects on tumor growth. They reviewed the medical records of 216 patients at Cedars-Sinai who had surgery for epithelial ovarian cancer. The data included information on height, weight, age and any other diseases. The cause of death was presumed to be cancer related if the patient had advanced recurrent disease at the time of death.

Half the patients had ideal weight, with a body mass index from 18.5 to 24.9, and 8 percent had a B.M.I. of less than 18.5, considered underweight. Twenty-six percent were overweight, with indexes exceeding 25, and 16 percent were obese, with indexes higher than 30.

The overweight and obese differed little from normal and underweight people in age or in health status, except that they had more hypertension and diabetes.

But among patients with Stage III or Stage IV disease, the most advanced stages, those with B.M.I.’s greater than 25 survived disease free for an average of 17 months, compared with 25 months for people with indexes lower than 25.

For each increase of one unit in the index, the researchers found a 4 percent increase in the risk of recurrence and a 5 percent increase in the risk of death.

This “dose response” effect strongly suggests that obesity alone is responsible for the decreased survival time, Dr. Li said.
The results of this research are pretty jarring. It seems like being obese is like dragging around an old refrigerator; it slows you down, makes you uncomfortable, creates its own problems along the way, and makes many other problems worse. Time to ditch the fridge!

Or more importantly what’s in it. Dr. Fuhrman will tell you the typical American diet rich in processed foods, saturated fats, refined sugar, and salt is a one way ticket to obesity, disease, and early death. Back to Eat to Live:
As long as you are eating fatty foods and refined carbohydrates, it is impossible to lose weight healthfully. In fact, this vicious combination of a sedentary lifestyle and eating typical “American” food (high-fat, low-fiber) is the primary reason we have such an incredibly overweight population.
On the other hand he believes the secret to healthy bodyweight, disease prevention, and increased longevity is just the opposite; a plant-based diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds:
There is no longer any question about the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diet. The greater the quantity and assortment of fruits and vegetables consumed, the lower the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.4
Continue Reading...

Milk: Does It Do A Body Good?

From the January 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

Recent research sheds a very bad light on dairy consumption.

Parkinson’s disease

Recent studies have shown that men who consume more dairy products and who are big milk drinkers have a higher occurrence of Parkinson’s disease.

Honglei Chen, M.D., of Harvard University reported his findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition (December 2004) and presented a few other studies, one of which was the Parkinson’s Disease Honolulu Study, that showed the same association. The interesting finding was that it was not the fat in milk and dairy that were implicated. Usually, the high saturated fat content of dairy is blamed for its disease risk. But in this case, according to Chen, fat was “out of the picture.” Calcium and added vitamin D also were unrelated. That means something else in dairy is the culprit. The relationship between Parkinson’s and milk consumption has been suspected for decades1 and was first reported by researchers a few years ago. Chen’s and other recent prospective studies have confirmed the earlier, less definitive findings.

Heart disease
A related recent finding is that deaths from heart disease also are strongly associated with milk drinking in adulthood. Of particular interest is that (as is the case with Parkinson’s) the association is with the non-fat portion of milk. Non-fat and skim milk consumption shows the same association as that of whole milk. Researchers found that heart disease death is strongly associated with circulating antibodies against milk. These antibodies are found to bind to human lymphocytes and platelets, thus increasing the likelihood of clot formation. The researchers also concluded that the non-fat aspects of milk have atherogenic effects (plaque-building) both biochemical and immunological, and the simultaneous attack from all these directions explains why milk was found to have such a strong effect on death rate.2

Ovarian cancer
A recent study of 61,000 women found that those who consumed more than 2 glasses of milk per day had twice the risk of serous ovarian cancer than women who consumed fewer than two glasses. The risk of those who drank two glasses a day was double that of women who rarely drank milk.3 Lactose in milk seemed to be the primary culprit. Again this larger study confirms earlier studies with the same findings.
Continue Reading...

Smaller Plates?

It seems like commonsense to me: You want to lose weight? Eat lots of healthy nutrient-dense plant matter, exercise, and strictly limit health-destroying foods like saturated fats, refined grains, sodium, etc. This approach is too mystifying for some, though, and some are blaming the plate their food comes on. It has given rise to the smaller plate diet. MSNBC reports:
Want to lose weight? Try eating off smaller plates. A new study shows that using smaller bowls and spoons may curb the amount of food eaten.

"People could try using the size of their bowls and possibly serving spoons to help them better control how much they consume," write researchers in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Those interested in losing weight should use smaller bowls and spoons, while those needing to gain weight — such as the undernourished or aged — could be encouraged to use larger ones," add Dr. Brian Wansink, of Cornell University, and colleagues.
In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman says worrying about portion sizes is misleading:
It is meaningless to compare foods by weight or portion size. Let me provide and example why this is the case. Take one teaspoon of melted butter, which gets 100 percent of its calories from fat. If I take that teaspoon of butter and mix it in a glass of hot water, I can now say that it is 98 percent-fat-free, by weight. One hundred percent of its calories are still from fat. It didn’t matter how much water or weight was added, did it?

Adjusting To A Healthy Diet

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

"I don’t feel well when I eat this way."

Don’t forget that when you change your diet to one that is so much lower in salt and higher in nutrients your blood pressure will drop significantly and you will begin a detoxification process that can be compared to stopping additive drugs. You may actually feel worse, not better for a week or two.

During this temporary adjustment period that usually lasts less than a week, and rarely more than two weeks, you might feel fatigue, headaches, gassy, or other mild symptoms as your body withdraws from your prior toxic eating habits. For example, stopping dangerous but stimulating foods, including caffeine, causes temporary fatigue and headaches.

So feeling increased fatigue for a week or so is to be expected. You should be aware that if you are on medication for high blood pressure or diabetes you may require a gradual reduction in medications to prevent the dangers of overmedication, which could include your blood pressure getting too low or your blood sugar becoming too low.

If you are on medication, for these conditions please have your blood pressure and glucose levels monitored more closely in the beginning, especially in the first few weeks, and your medications adjusted accordingly.

New England Journal of Medicine: Overweight Contributes to Mortality

Last year some researchers found that being slightly overweight actually lowered the risk of death. Kenneth Chang reports in today's New York Times that two new, larger studies tell a different tale: being even slightly overweight can increase mortality.
The researchers said the more telling analysis arose when they focused on 186,000 healthy men and women who had never smoked. Among men and women, being overweight raised the risk of death 20 percent to 40 percent compared with normal-weight people, the researchers said...

Researchers have almost universally found that obese people have considerable health risks. But there has been debate over whether someone who is less severely overweight is at a greater risk of illness. Other factors, especially smoking, can complicate analysis of the data. Smoking greatly increases the chances of deadly lung diseases, but smokers tend to weigh less.

“No single study is able to solve a controversy of this magnitude,” Dr. Leitzmann said, but he recommended that anyone overweight “should be looking to lose weight.”

A second study by researchers at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and Johns Hopkins University looked at 1.2 million Koreans ages 30 to 95 and followed them for 12 years. The researchers looked at 82,372 deaths and correlated them with the body mass index. They found, too, that risk of death and cancer increased in people who were overweight, but not obese.
Both studies have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. You can read both the American and Korean studies online.

As we have blogged about before, Dr. Fuhrman has long been citing the work of Harvard's Dr. I-Min Lee--who studied nearly 20,000 men over nearly thirty years. She found that you practically can not be too thin: the lightest group of men had the lowest mortality. (Of course, he cautions, there is such a thing as being too thin, which is usually anorexia.)

Coffee A Health Food?

A few days ago Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times wrote a story quoting researchers saying that coffee might actually be good for us; suggesting its has the ability to reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver:
Coffee is not usually thought of as health food, but a number of recent studies suggest that it can be a highly beneficial drink. Researchers have found strong evidence that coffee reduces the risk of several serious ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

Among them is a systematic review of studies published last year in The Journal of the American Medical Association, which concluded that habitual coffee consumption was consistently associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. Exactly why is not known, but the authors offered several explanations.

Coffee contains antioxidants that help control the cell damage that can contribute to the development of the disease. It is also a source of chlorogenic acid, which has been shown in animal experiments to reduce glucose concentrations.
Accompanying the article (on the left) is a list of related studies also proclaiming the healthful qualities of java. Since coffee consumption is a hot topic (pun intended) I decided to ask Dr. Fuhrman what he thinks of all this. His response:
Coffee is a toasted plant food that contains some nutritive and some toxic substances. It has both beneficial and hurtful properties. There are enough really healthy foods and drinks available that do not carry addictive baggage like coffee. Plus, the withdrawal from caffeine leads to more frequent eating. Just because there might be some phytonutrient contribution from coffee that has some value for a junk-food-eating American, does not make me classify it as a health-supporting practice. Addicts are always searching for justification so they can rationalize continuing their addictions. We are a nation of addicts and coffee is a contributor to that. Anyone can see the results, with 80 percent of people overweight and sickly with the vast majority of people dying of diseases of nutritional ignorance. Drinking coffee may not be the worst thing people do, but it is not a solution either.
Dr. Fuhrman also suggested I take a look at a recent study linking coffee consumption with heart attacks. Here’s a link to the ABC News Report: Does Coffee Brew Heart Attacks?

Salting Away Our Futures

Next time you grab that novelty salt shaker, you might want to think twice before you rattle the contents of Mickey Mouse’s head all over your meal. Salt is far more insidious than most people realize. From Disease-Proof Your Child, here’s what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about it:
A large body of data illustrates that populations with low salt consumption have lower levels of blood pressure compared to populations with higher salt intake. In Japan and China, salt intakes are often as high as eighteen grams or more per day. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke are the major causes of premature death in these nations. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in the United States, the man salt intake is eight grams per day. This high intake of sodium assures that we have an elderly population with high blood pressure.

High salt intake, and resultant high blood pressure later in life, does not merely increase the risk and incidence of stroke. It also can lead to kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and heart attack.
Last week J.M. Hirsch of The Washington Post took a look at America’s fiend-like salt addiction. He offered up some stern words for the state of salt consumption in this country:
When it comes to health, it doesn't matter if it was mined in Kansas, solar-evaporated from the Mediterranean Sea or hand-harvested in French marshes. Salt is salt, the experts say, and it's bad for your health. Chances are you're eating way too much of it.

If you think setting down the shaker will make a difference, take that advice with a grain of salt. Most salt comes from processed foods and restaurants.
Someone should send this to “health guru” Dr. Joseph Mercola who, on his website, sells and touts the benefits of Himalayan Salt:
When you use pure Himalayan Crystal Salt, you receive 250,000,000 years of accumulated sunlight and energy, plus all the natural minerals your body needs for restoring balance and life force.
Although, dramatic claims like this aren’t the primary pushers of our salt addiction. In his article Hirsch points out processed and restaurant foods are the main culprits (not really a new concept for this blog):
For perspective, a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese contains nearly half a teaspoon of salt, while two slices of Pizza Hut Meat Lover's Stuffed Crust pizza has more than a teaspoon. Even most low-sodium canned soups contain nearly a quarter teaspoon.

And taste isn't always a good indicator. A serving of Cheerios has more salt than a serving of Ruffles potato chips.

Because processed and restaurant foods dominate the American diet, it can be hard to cut back—unless you eat out less and buy fewer processed foods.
Believe it or not, there can be life without salt, even the Himalayan variety. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman offers up some suggestions for those trying to cut back or remove salt from their diets:
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.
And for those totally committed to eliminating salt or together, a salt free life can actually make eating more enjoyable. As discussed in a previous post: Warning Labels for Salt
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.
According to Dr. Fuhrman if you’re a vegan or vegetarian you’ve got even more reasons to avoid salt. Check out this post: Salt: Potentially More Dangerous For Vegans and Vegetarians

Nutrition and Mood Disorders

From the March 2006 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

Adequate nutrition is needed for countless aspects of brain functioning.Poor diet quality, ubiquitous in the United States, may be a modifiable risk factor for depression. The ability of the brain to adapt and respond to stress is correlated with nutritional status. High antioxidant intake prevents oxidation tissue stress in the brain. Scientific studies have documented that when lipid peroxidation in a person is high, depression is much more likely.1

Lipid peroxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs as fats become rancid. As free radicals build up in the lipid cell membranes, the local environment becomes disease prone. Byproducts of peroxidation build up in our tissues, and researchers can measure these in our blood or urine.Lipoperoxidation byproducts such as malondialdehyde, 4-hydroxynonenal and F2 isoprostane are typical examples.Without adequate micronutrient intake in our diet, our internal environment becomes “toxic or rancid,”and this is measurable as a marker of malnutrition and ill health. Studies have linked these by-products to depression, heart disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s, and more.

It is clear that people are more prone to depression and other diseases when their intake of high nutrient-containing plant food is low. It also has been shown that the response to medication and other therapeutic intervention can be suboptimal when antioxidant nutritional status is inadequate.2 Whenever we measure low levels of vegetable-derived nutrients, we find depression more prevalent. For example, low folate intake and low folate blood levels have been shown to correlate with depression.3 Low folate in the bloodstream is a marker for low fruit and vegetable intake. Deficiencies of folate, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and selenium tend to be more common among depressed than non-depressed persons.4

Childbearing-aged women are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of poor nutrition on mood because pregnancy and lactation are major nutritional stressors to the body. The depletion of nutrient reserves throughout pregnancy and postpartum may increase a woman’s risk of depression soon after childbirth.

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Food Processing Techniques and Obesity

Here’s a concept, processed foods are “toxic” and “addictive.” Sound like something Dr. Fuhrman would say? According to The Scotsman some health experts are becoming more and more leery of manufactured foods. Lyndsay Moss reports:
Professor Robert Lustig, from the University of California, said changes in manufacturing processes were making food "toxic" and "addictive", leading to obesity.

Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, faces a growing health timebomb as more and more youngsters become obese.

Figures show that a third of 12-year-olds in Scotland are overweight and a fifth are obese.

The latest study said food manufacturing processes had created a "toxic environment" that dooms children to being overweight.

Prof Lustig said that the way in which food was now processed, which had changed significantly in the last 30 years, had created an environment in which foods were essentially addictive due to their effect on the hormone insulin.

"In particular, fructose [sugar] - too much - and fibre - not enough - appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin," he said.
Dr. Fuhrman has written about the perils of processed foods numerous times. For instance:
Refined Foods Raise Your Cholesterol
All refined sweets are low in nutrients and fiber and are rapidly absorbed. These refined sweets include sugar, honey, corn syrup, molasses and corn sweeteners. They all contain insignificant amounts of nutrients (per calorie) and no fiber. More and more studies offer evidence that the consumption of these sweets and white-flour products are a significant cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.1

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

Jim Hage of The Washington Post tells the story of marathon runner Casey Smith who, despite some early success, is currently out of racing and on the mend. Why? She found out the hard way that her sudden, dramatic weight-loss wasn’t as healthy as it seemed:
Shortly thereafter, Smith began to lose weight. "This shouldn't be happening," she told herself. But in the world of elite racing, particularly for women, fast times are often a function of body weight, and racers tread a fine line between competition and self-destruction. By the spring, Smith had shed 15 pounds from her 5-foot, 100-pound frame. At the St. Patrick's Day 10K, Smith dropped out of a race for the first time.

"At first, I was worried," said Smith, 27. "But then, I said I'm feeling good, my workouts were good, and I started running pretty well again. It's hard to describe what was happening. Lots of runners watch what they eat."
She decided to do something about it:
Smith began to work with a nutritionist and sought professional assistance. She didn't regain the lost weight, but she realized she had a problem and resolved to adopt "a healthy attitude."

"Eating disorders, that's crazy," she says now. "How does that ever happen? But keeping the weight off becomes a subconscious thing; you don't want to put it back on. It's like an addiction."
The issue of athletes not fueling their body with nutrient-rich longevity-promoting food is nothing new to Followhealthlife. Check out Dr. Fuhrman’s critique of Detroit Pistons star Richard Hamilton’s diet.

Land of Plenty

It may be hard to believe but according to the AFP there are actually more people who are overweight than starving in the world today. Hard to believe? Lawrence Bartlett explains:
The transition from a starving world to an obese one had happened with dramatic speed, US professor Barry Popkin told the annual conference of the International Association of Agricultural Economists on Monday.

"The reality is that globally far more obesity than undernutrition exists," Popkin said, adding that while hunger was slowly declining, obesity was rapidly spreading.

There are more than a billion overweight people in the world and 800 million who are undernourished, he said at the Gold Coast convention centre near Brisbane. The world population is estimated at about 6.5 billion.
What can be done? Popkin offers some further explanation:
Food prices could be used to manipulate people's diets and tilt them towards healthier options, he suggested.

"For instance, if we charge money for every calorie of soft drink and fruit drink that was consumed, people would consume less of it.

"If we subsidise fruit and vegetable production, people would consume more of it and we would have a healthier diet."

Weighing Food and Trying to Eat Smaller Portions is Futile

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

It is meaningless to compare foods by weight or portion size. Let me provide and example why this is the case. Take one teaspoon of melted butter, which gets 100 percent of its calories from fat. If I take that teaspoon of butter and mix it in a glass of hot water, I can now say that it is 98 percent-fat-free, by weight. One hundred percent of its calories are still from fat. It didn’t matter how much water or weight was added, did it?

In fact, if a food’s weight were important, it would be easy to lose weight, we would just have to drink more water. The water would trigger the weight receptors in the digestive tract and our appetite would diminish. Unfortunately, this is not the way our body’s appestat—the brain center in the hypothalamus that controls food intake—is controlled. As I’ve explained in the past, bulk calories and nutrient fulfillment, not the weight of the food, turn off our appestat. Since the foods Americans consume are so calorie-rich, we have all been trying to diet by eating small portions of low-nutrient foods. We not only have to suffer hunger but also wind up with perverted cravings because we are nutrient-deficient to boot.

We must consume a certain level of calories daily to feel satisfied. So now I ask you to completely rethink what you consider a typical portion size. To achieve superior health and a permanently thin physique, you should eat large portions of green foods. When considering any green plant food, remember to make the portion size huge by conventional standards. Eating large portions of these super-healthy foods is the key to your success.

Carnival of the Recipes: Default BBQ Edition

In The Head Lights hosts this week's carnival of recipes. Be sure to check out Dr. Fuhrman’s recipes for Green Banana Power Blended Salad and Pecan Maple Salad. *Don't forget, not all recipes in the carnival are Fuhrman-friendly.

The Meat-Disease Connection

Dr. Fuhrman’s position on the consumption of animal products is pretty clear, meat and diary dairy products leads to disease like heart disease and cancer. Even “healthy” choices like fish and chicken put you at risk. Take a look at this section from Eat to Live:
There is a relationship between animal protein and heart disease. For example, plasma apolioprotein B is positively associated with animal-protein intake and inversely associated (lowered) with vegetable-protein intake (e.g., legumes and greens). Apolioprotein B levels correlate strongly with coronary heart disease.1 Unknown to many is that animal proteins have a significant effect on raising cholesterol levels as well, while plant protein lowers it.2

Scientific studies provide evidence that many animal protein’s effect on blood cholesterol may be significant. This is one of the reasons those switching to a low fat-diet do no experience the cholesterol lowering they expect unless they also remove the low-fat animal products as well. Surprising to most people is that yes, even low-fat dairy and skinless white-meat chicken raise cholesterol. I see this regularly in my practice. Many individuals do not see the dramatic drop in cholesterol levels unless they go all the way by cutting all animal proteins from their diet.
According to Dr. Fuhrman white meats are no savior either:
Red met is not the only problem. The consumption of chicken and fish is also linked to colon cancer. A large recent study examined the eating habits of 32,000 adults for six years and then watched the incidence of cancer for these subjects over the next six years. Those who avoided red meat but at white meat regularly had a more than 300 percent increase in colon cancer incidence.3 The same study showed that eating beans, peas, or lentils, at least twice a week was associated with a 50 percent lower risk than never eating these foods.

Chicken has about the same amount of cholesterol as beef, and the production of those potent cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are even more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef.4 Another recent study from New Zealand that investigated heterocyclic amines in meat, fish, and chicken found the greatest contributor of HCAs to cancer risk was chicken.5 Likewise, studies indicated that chicken is almost as dangerous as red meat for the heart. Regarding cholesterol, there is no advantage to eating lean white instead of lean red meat.6
The correlation between disease and consumption of animal products seems very clear. Even newer research warns of heighten stomach cancer risk associated with eating processed meats, like sausage, smoked ham, and bacon. Reuters reports:
A review of 15 studies showed the risk of developing stomach cancer rose by 15 to 38 percent if consumption of processed meats increased by 30 grams (1 ounce) per day, the Karolinska Institute said in a statement.
These foods possess cancer-causing additives outside of meat’s normal cancer-causing agents:
The institute said processed meats were often salted or smoked, or had nitrates added to them, in order to extend their shelf-life which could be connected to the increased risk of stomach cancer, the fourth most common type of cancer.
If this information spooked you, you might want to consider Dr. Fuhrman’s advice, “The best bet for overall health is significantly limit or eliminated all types of meat—red and white.”

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The Fish Debate Rages On

If you keep up with the headlines regarding mercury contamination in fish you’ll soon realize there are a few different schools of thought; totally avoid fish, the benefits of seafood outweigh the risks, or downplay/disregard mercury contamination all together. You can find all three positions in a recent article written by Sally Squires of The Washington Post:
Some health experts worry there's enough conflicting advice to make the public avoid fish altogether.

"It's a shame that people are running away from seafood at a time when it gives so many benefits," notes William Lands, a retired National Institutes of Health researcher who has studied the healthy fats found in fish.

That could be a big mistake. The benefits of eating seafood "are likely to be at least 100-fold greater than the estimates of harm, which may not exist at all," according to Walter Willett, professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. He notes that "the kinds of levels of contaminants that are being talked about are not a reason for people to reduce their fish intake."
Some call limiting fish consumption unfortunate:
Whether fish is farm-raised or wild, "it would be unfortunate if people cut their consumption," Willett says. Neither the mercury concern nor the PCB contamination levels are "enough for people to reduce their fish intake."

Also lost in much reporting is the fact that any potential problems of mercury contamination appear to be limited to children and to women of childbearing age.

"Other adults should not be concerned about mercury at all," notes Joshua Cohen, author of a recent analysis of mercury exposure conducted for the Harvard School of Public Health's Center of Risk Analysis.
The worry about abandoning or strictly limiting seafood intake stems from concern over people not getting enough Omega-3:
Omega-3s are so crucial for brain and nervous system development "that limiting fish consumption during pregnancy may cause the very harms that everyone involved has been working to prevent," says Nicholas Ralston, who studies mercury at the University of North Dakota's Energy & Environmental Research Center.
Whether or not you believe in mercury contamination or you feel that eating fish does more good than harm, I still ask this question. Since mercury contamination is a concern and Omega-3s are so vital, why don’t news reports inform people of alternative sources of Omega-3, instead of harping on the risk-reward dilemma of eating or not eating fish?

Dr. Fuhrman will be the first to tell you Omega-3s are an important part of a healthy diet, but fish isn’t the only place you can get them. In Eat to Live and in his store you’ll find some mercury-free options:
Add A Few Grams of Omega-3 To Your Diet
  • Flaxseed, 1 tablespoon = 1.7 grams
  • Flax oil, 1 teaspoon = 2.2 grams
  • Walnuts, English (12 walnut halves), 4 tablespoons = 2 grams
  • Soybeans (green, frozen, or raw), 1 1/2 cup = 2 grams
  • Tofu, 1 1/2 cup = 2 grams

Chubby Cheeks

Don’t be surprised if infant gyms starting popping up across the country because according to a new study children under the age of six are more likely to be overweight than they were two decades ago. Melissa Trujillo of the Associated Press reports:
"This just adds more weight to the growing body of evidence that there's an epidemic of obesity in the United States," said Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Obesity Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, who was not involved with the study. "Good habits need to begin at the very beginning of life."

The study's authors looked at medical records of more than 120,000 children who visited doctors from 1980 through 2001. All were enrolled in a health maintenance organization that used an electronic medical record system and most came from middle-class families.

The study found that over the 22-year period, the prevalence of overweight children increased from 6.3 percent to 10 percent, while the rate of risk for being overweight increased from 11.1 percent to 14.4 percent.

In infants under 6 months — a group Gillman said has seldom been included in weight studies — the prevalence of being overweight increased from 3.4 percent to 5.9 percent during the same period, a jump of more than 73 percent.
Trujillo explains for some having an overweight child can be quite a wake up call:
Sara Keng, 29, a mother of three from Woonsocket, R.I., said she wasn't surprised by the study's results. She blamed the increase of overweight children on "super-sized" foods and on harried parents who rely on fast foods to feed their families.

Keng said she got a wake-up call when her oldest son, now 4, became overweight when he was a toddler, forcing her and her husband to change the family's eating habits.
And there you have an important part of improving children’s eating habits. According to Dr. Fuhrman eating healthier is a commitment the whole family has to make. Consider this excerpt from Disease-Proof Your Child:
The major cause of this recent phenomenon of obesity is the availability and consumption of high-caloric, low-nutrient foods and the decreased consumption of high-nutrient foods. When families finally realize that the consumption of vegetables, beans, and fruits is the essential foundation of an adequate diet, we will rarely see an obese child. It is literally impossible to become obese when consuming a diet that predominates in healthful, natural food.
For more pointers on getting children to eat better, check out this podcast: Dr. Fuhrman on Getting Children to Eat Well

Saturated Fat vs. Polyunsaturated Fat

If you’ve read Eat to Live you know Dr. Fuhrman’s position on saturated fat: avoid it. Especially since it leads to heart disease and cancer:
Some naturally occurring fats are called saturated fats because all the carbon are single bonds. These fats are solid at room temperature and are generally recognized as a significant cause of both heart disease and cancer. Saturated fats are found mainly in meat, fowl, eggs, and dairy. Coconut and palm oil are largely saturated and are also not desirable. The foods with the most saturated fat are butter, cream, and cheese.
Another fat Dr. Fuhrman talks about in Eat to Live is polyunsaturated fat, found in many vegetable oils:
These fatty acids have more than double bond in their chain. These fats include corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. They are soft at room temperature. These fats promote the growth of cancer in lab animals more than olive oil does.
According to the Associated Press a recent study examined the differing effects of consuming polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat. Even though both aren’t exactly health promoting, polyunsaturated fat does appear to be less harmful on the body. Joe Milicia reports:
Saturated fat has long been linked to the buildup of plaque that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. HDL, the "good" cholesterol, protects arteries from the inflammation that leads to artery-clogging plaques. And plaque hurts the ability of arteries to expand to carry blood to tissues and organs.
The researchers, led by Dr. Stephen Nicholls, a cardiologist now at the Cleveland Clinic, found that three hours after eating the saturated-fat cake and shake, the lining of the arteries was hindered from expanding to increase blood flow. And after six hours, the anti-inflammatory qualities of the good cholesterol were reduced.

But the polyunsaturated meal seemed to improve those anti-inflammatory qualities. Also, fewer inflammatory agents were found in the arteries than before the meal.
If you had to choose between the two Dr. Fuhrman would probably advise passing on both. What kind of fats does he recommend? One favorite is DHA:
DHA is a long-chain Omega-3 fat that is made by the body, but it can also be found in 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, 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.

Health Points: Wednesday

An extra can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds in a single year, and the "weight of evidence" strongly suggests that this sort of increased consumption is a key reason that more people have gained weight, the researchers say.

"We tried to look at the big picture rather than individual studies," and it clearly justifies public health efforts to limit sugar-sweetened beverages, said Dr. Frank Hu, who led the report published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Patients must be able to trust their surgeon. Lest you trust your surgeon completely, you should not allow her/him to approach you with a scalpel. That has been my personal policy, though I concede that I have never required any surgery yet. Patients meet me, talk to me, discuss medical issues with me, and I formulate a plan that sometimes involves surgery. And when the patients agree, there are brief moments when I am amazed that they will trust me to operate on them. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt my abilities (I even admit to being secretly quite proud of my skills), but I find this trust almost overwhelming.
Exercise regularly, eat fruits and vegetables, control your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol. It may sound like a prescription for avoiding heart disease, but this checklist also serves as a guide for preventing Alzheimer's. According to a new study out of Sweden, people can gauge their risk for the brain-wasting condition by their lifestyle habits in middle age.
  • If you’ve ever been interested in a pet parasite read this Jewish fishworm story. Larry Zaroff of The New York Times explains:
Enter Dr. Earl Lipman, a close friend of Bob’s and an outstanding internist and diagnostician, who identified the culprit over the phone.

Earl asked, “Does Rita make her own gefilte fish?”


“Does she ever taste the raw fish before adding salt?” Earl continued.


“She most likely has a fish tapeworm.”

The fish tapeworm — a beast, stubborn as a dog with a beef bone — is reluctant to move, tightly gripping the wall of the small intestine with its two suction cups. The worm requires a powerful purging medicine to persuade it to leave its cozy cave and exit the gut into the light.

Can An Omnivorous Diet Be Safe For Children?

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:

Clearly the omnivorous diet most children consume today is particularly dangerous to their future health. They eat a diet that receives most of its calories from flour, cheese, oil, and sugar, with negligible fruit and vegetables.

Many American children develop autoimmune illnesses as young adults before heart disease and cancer strike at a later age. Diseases of nutritional ignorance flourish, but they have not been connected to their cause—childhood diets—until now. The amount of animal products consumed and the type of animal products consumed by people including children is a major contributor to the health tragedies that occur later in life. An omnivorous diet with the typical consumption of dairy or meat at every meal is simply foolish.

High dairy fat and animal food consumption in childhood assures unnaturally high levels of hormone promoters that raise our children’s blood level of estrogen and testosterone, induce an earlier maturity, and initiate changes that promote adult cancers. One could make an omnivorous diet safer if dairy fat were removed, if one avoided the potential pollutants in fish, if processed food were significantly limited, and if an abundance of produce were consumed.

If you choose a limited amount of animal products to be included in your family’s diet, I favor eggs over fish or dairy, because of the potential for transmission of chemicals, mercury, and PCBs in the fish and dairy. Eggs, because they are virtually pollution-free, would be favored choice over other animal products to add to an otherwise vegan diet.

Therefore, I encourage consumption of a carefully planned vegetarian diet or a carefully planned diet that includes a very small amount of animal products, perhaps 10 percent of total calories or less, rather than the 40 to 60 percent that children eat today. An animal-product-rich-omnivorous diet cannot be called healthful.

If one is to utilize animal products in their family’s diet they should only choose low-fat or nonfat varieties of dairy products, if they are included in the diet at all. I recommend substituting nuts, seeds, and avocados as the major sources of fat in the diet, instead of dairy fat, oils, and meat.

Fruits, vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds, beans/legumes, and whole grains are the optimal foods for children. Here are some of the long-term of plant-based diets:
  • Vegetarian diets prevent and reduce high blood pressure.1
  • Cholesterol levels are much lower in vegetarians.2
  • Cancer rates are much lower in vegetarians.3
  • Vegetarians are leaner and have less obesity in adulthood.4
  • Plant-based diets encourage a later menarche, which has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of prostate and breast cancer.5
Both omnivorous and vegetarian diets can be made healthful or harmful, depending on food choices, wise supplementation, and nutritional sophistication. Inclusion of high-nutrient produce, including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and beans are an essential part of every healthy diet.
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Calories: More Than Meets The Eye

Charles Stuart Platkin of The Seattle Times examines the claim many distressed dieters make, “I hardly eat anything, but I can’t lose weight!” Is there any truth in this? Dr. Fuhrman would likely contend if you’ve reached this impasse you’re probably eating the wrong foods and following a poorly constructed diet plan, but let’s see what Platkin turned up:
It's been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that people attempting to lose weight tend to underestimate the amount they eat by as much as 47 percent and to overestimate their physical activity by as much as 51 percent. When scientists at the USDA's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland asked 98 men and women how much they ate in a 24-hour period, they found that 6 out of 7 women underreported by an average of 621 calories, and 6 out of 10 men underreported by an average of 581 calories.

When the American Cancer Institute did a study asking Americans to determine the portion sizes of eight specific foods, only 1 percent got them all right. Sixty-one percent couldn't get more than four correct.
So, clearly many dieters have good intentions, but limited or poor knowledge of nutrition (specifically that of certain foods) sabotages their weight-loss goals. Imagine if people knew better! Consider this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked—keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.
This previous post has more: Foods That Make You Thin

In order to test caloric misconception Platkin pits a number of popular snack foods against each other. For example, did you know a Pringles potato chip actually has more calories than a McDonalds French fry? It’s true! Check it out:
One Pringles potato chip vs. one McDonald's french fry

Believe it or not, one french fry has only five calories, while a single Pringle is double at 10 calories.

One bite-size cube of cheddar cheese vs. one Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie

Clearly the cheese is the better choice nutritionally, but cheese is not a health food you can consume without guilt — one bite-size (1/2") cube has 55 calories, whereas the cookie has only 37.5. Whenever possible, go with low-fat cheese. A great one is Cabot's Vermont 50% Light Cheddar — 35 calories per 1/2" cube.

One Fritos Original Corn Chip vs. one cashew nut

Here again, the cashew has health benefits that far outweigh those of the nutritionally bland corn chip; however, cashews have 8.5 calories per nut, whereas Fritos have five per chip. So just because nuts are healthful doesn't give you carte blanche to overindulge — you're supposed to eat nuts in place of something else in your diet that's high in calories and nutritionally inferior, not simply add them.

Heart Disease Starts Young, Too

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits.1 What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels. For many, changing the diet to a plant-based, low-saturated-fat diet in later life does not result in the favorable cholesterol levels that would have been seen if the dietary improvements were started much earlier in life.

As a result of the heart-unfriendly diet, blood vessel damage begins early. Not only does the development of coronary atherosclerosis develop in childhood, but earlier development of atherosclerosis and higher serum cholesterol levels in childhood result in a significantly higher risk of premature sudden death relatively early in life. Sometimes the effects of childhood dietary abuses can be seen relatively early, with premature death or a heart attack at a young age.

When we study people who died young of coronary artery disease, we find that the highest risk of an earlier death occurs in those who were above average weight in childhood.2 Findings from the famous Bogalusa Heart Study show that a high saturated fat intake early in life is strongly predictive of later heart disease burden and the higher blood pressure in childhood and adolescence is powerfully predictive of cardiovascular death in adulthood.3

A low-fiber, high-saturated-fat diet with lots of animal products, dairy fat, white flour, and sugar creates a heart attack-prone person with high cholesterol levels. The anti-cancer lifestyle, a healthy diet style for the entire family, started early in life, will have the added benefit of making it easier for children to become heart attack-proof. A diet high in plant fiber shows a protective effect against developing high cholesterol, obesity, and elevated insulin levels. Eating more of the natural high-fiber plant food in childhood has a powerful protective effect on preventing later-life heart problems, even for those a strong family history of heart disease.4 For those whose family genetically predisposes them to heart disease, early-life dietary excellence can make the difference between a long life free of heart disease and a heart attack in one’s forties or fifties.

The new recommendations developed by the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young acknowledge that heart disease starts early in life and that the eating habits and food preferences that are continued into adulthood are more difficult to change. They advise the entire family to limit salt and saturated fat. This is an important message for our society to understand. Heart disease may be preventable and reversible with nutritional excellence in adulthood, but in most cases, people do too little too late and suffer the tragic consequences—40 percent of the American population is stilly dying of heart disease.

Heart disease as a pediatric disease best treated by physicians with the ability to intercede during childhood is an issue that has been discussed by researchers in this field for almost twenty years. At a 1986 heart disease symposium, Roger Williams, M.D., the director of Cardiovascular Genetic Research and professor of medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, explained that the best way to prevent heart disease in genetically prone patients is to intervene in childhood. He reported, when looking at those genetically predisposed to heart disease, that the only way to strongly protect against a sudden heart attack death at a comparatively young age is to intervene in their youth.5 He also said that telling patients and their families to “watch fat” is sufficient.

Scientific literature has continued to strongly support the view that coronary artery disease leading to heart attacks is an avoidable event, even for those with a strong family history. It is the high nutritional quality of the diet, with more fruits, vegetables, beans, and healthy fats from raw nuts and seeds that offers the type of protection that is really effective.
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Health Points: Friday

More than three-quarters of obese Americans say they have healthy eating habits, according to a survey of more than 11,000 people.

About 40 percent of obese people also said they do "vigorous" exercise at least three times a week, the telephone survey found.

"There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack of understanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy, and what is vigorous exercise," said Dr. David Schutt of Thomson Medstat, the Michigan-based health-care research firm that conducted the survey.
Heat exhaustion symptoms:
* Often pale with cool, moist skin
* Sweating profusely
* Feels faint or has collapsed
* May be complaining of headache, weakness, thirst, and nausea
* Core (rectal) temperature elevated—usually more than 100°F—and the pulse rate increased

Heat stroke:
* Unconscious or has a markedly abnormal mental status
* Flushed, hot, and dry skin (although it may be moist initially from previous sweating or from attempts to cool the person with water)
* May experience dizziness, confusion, or delirium
* May have slightly elevated blood pressure at first that falls later
* May be hyperventilating
* Rectal (core) temperature of 105°F or more
In the test, the researchers used three different types, or cultivars, of watermelon, storing them separately at 41 degrees (refrigerator temperature), 55 degrees and 70 degrees for 14 days. The findings appear in the Aug. 9 issue of The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Watermelons contain significant amounts of lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes and a few other fruits and vegetables. Lycopene, an efficient scavenger of free radicals, has been associated with various beneficial health effects, including a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

At 41 and 55 degrees, the lycopene content changed little compared with fruit fresh off the vine. But the content when stored at room temperature increased as much as 40 percent in some types.
The researchers believe this is due to a 'survival preference': in times of food shortage - a heavier woman becomes ideal. They also point to physiological factors (blood sugar, hormones) that may affect drives and interests.

To be honest, this sounds like a bunch of male university students (going to and from the dining hall no less) playing a 'hot-or-not' game... However the researchers do plan to see how hunger impacts female attraction to men.

Fanciful Folklore Is No Match For Modern Science

The Weston A. Price web site states that “people with high cholesterol live the longest,” and that it is a myth that “for good health, serum cholesterol should be less 180 mg/dl,” adding, “There is no greater risk for heart disease, even at levels as high as 1,000 mg/dl.” This doesn’t jive with every respected scientific authority in the world and is utterly ridiculous in light of thousands of respectable studies.

WAPF correctly points out that processed foods, sugar, corn syrup, and white flour are harmful, but nutritional deficiencies caused by “junk foods” are not remedied by a diet high in meat and butter, animal products that are devoid of plant-derived phytonutrients, which promote health and slow the “aging” process. By contrast, the saturated fat in meat and butter raises cholesterol and is one of the significant causes of heart disease.

Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, is a smorgasbord of woefully outdated and potentially dangerous advice. For example, “If you cannot get your family to eat organ meats when served as such, there are plenty of ways to add them to their food without their knowledge…Poached brains can be chopped up and added to any ground meat dish, as can grated raw liver.” Even if it were not so clearly known that animal products in general need to be strictly limited in the diet, common sense should tell us not to eat the brains of animals in light of what is know about Mad Cow disease and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Nourishing Traditions
is full of bad science and illogical reasoning and its appeal is dependent on people’s ignorance about nutrition. Fallon and Enig perpetuate long-held nutritional myths by referencing the same people who started the myths in the first place.

Nutrition is a complicated subject, and it takes familiarity with a comprehensive body of scientific studies and articles to devise recommendations to prevent disease and promote longevity. Science is not perfect, but evidence builds on prior studies, and ongoing research attempts to test each hypothesis and check validity in an unbiased manner. Today, we have a comprehensive body of knowledge with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950s documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and beans and the increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

While Nourishing Traditions has over 200 references, many are antiquated, with poor observations. For the most part, the authors reference their own articles and those of other Weston A. Price Foundation authors. Only fourteen of the references are from peer-reviewed journals published in the last ten years, and for most of those fourteen, the authors misrepresented what was stated in the articles. By contrast, my book Eat to Live contains over 1,000 medical references to peer-reviewed medical journals.

Nutrient Dense Foods Are Key

According to new research low-calorie dieting can allow you to eat more food and ingest less calories. Now, if you read Eat to Live you already know this to be true. The key is to consume large amounts of healthy nutrient-rich plant matter which fills you up, but doesn’t burden you with excess calories. The Reuters report seems to agree:
Using dietary information from 7,500 U.S. adults, researchers found that those who reported eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains and other lower-calorie foods typically ate a larger amount of food than their peers who favored richer fare.

Yet they ate several hundred fewer calories a day, while consuming more calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A, C, B6 and folate.
It all boils down to those fiber-full fruits and veggies:
In general, foods that have a high amount of water and/or fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, also have a low calorie density. Water and fiber add to a food's bulk, but contribute few or no calories.

Sugar, fat and flour, on the other hand, pack on the calories, and calorie-dense foods include chips and other snack foods, nuts, sweets and processed or fatty meats.

So while study participants who filled their diets with low-cal fare ate more food by weight, they ingested fewer calories — an average of 425 fewer among men, and 250 fewer among women.

Do Primitive Peoples Really Live Longer?

No. For example, Inuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the overall Canadian population.1

Similar statistics are available for the high meat-consuming Maasai in Kenya. They eat a diet high in wild hunted meats and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world. Life expectancy is 45 years for women and 42 years for men. African researchers report that, historically, Maasai rarely lived beyond age 60. Adult mortality figures on the Kenyan Maasai show that they have a 50% chance of dying before the age of 59.2

We now know that greatly increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential, due in large part to broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains. By taking advantage of the year-round availability of high-quality plant foods, we have a unique opportunity to live both healthier and longer than ever before in human history.

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Dr. Fuhrman's Five-Day Super-Diet Challenge

You’ve heard about so-called “miracle cleansing” and detox diets, now you can give your body a real cleanse with high-quality foods.

You’ll be amazed at what Mother Nature can do with real food and no magic formulas. The Five-Day Super-Diet Challenge is completely different from the all-too-common fake “bowel cleansing” and “liver detox” programs you’ve heard about-programs that are little more than typical alternative-medicine scams.

Mother Nature’s Cleanse

The most important thing to understand about detoxification is that it is an ongoing bodily process. It isn’t something you can buy in a package. The healthier you are, the easier it is for your body to keep its tissues clean.

In order to maintain excellent health and true internal cleanliness, you must avoid all harmful, irritating substances (such as salt, pepper, and hot spices) and eat a diet rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain the most powerful healing agents. They nourish your body and help maximize its normal functions. The only way to effectively detoxify is to live and eat healthfully, and allow your body to do its thing at full throttle.

At the end of this article are delicious recipes that you can use to jump start your diet and detox program and lose weight at the same time. Let’s see how you feel after five days of eating Nature’s most powerful healing foods. Follow my cleansing diet for five days (or more) and send your results to me. I want to know how good you feel and how much weight you lose!

Toxic, Irritating Laxatives
Why am I so opposed to the “detox in a box” programs that have become so popular? The most important reason is they don’t work. Besides that, they also are harmful.

No special pills, powders, or herbs can detoxify you. The “health food” and supplement manufacturers combine a mix of herbal laxatives—such as senna and cascara—with some walnut hull, and they claim that these bowel irritants will detoxify you. Laxatives can no more detoxify you than washing your mouth out with soap can.

A false claim commonly made in “natural” laxative advertising is that you have years of hardened mucus and food stuck like glue on the wall on your colon. Well, guess what? You don’t, and thousands of sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies done by me and other physicians prove it.

When you eat a nutritious, high fiber diet, the walls of your intestines and colon will be pristine. Long-term exposure to the right amount and balance of natural fibers and natural food containing nutrients is the only way to protect your bowel and your body against disease.

Another problem with laxatives is that they are habit-forming. The more you stimulate your bowels by irritating the nerves lining your gut, the less reactive your bowel will become to the normal nerve stimulation from food. Before too long, you will be dependent on laxatives for normal bowel movements.

You can’t transform a toxic substance into a healthful one by asking your marketing department to give it a catchy name like “Ultimate Cleanse” or “Super Detox Cleanser.” Below are two examples of popular, but toxic, bowel-irritating formulas (and the claims made for them), sold on the internet and in health food stores.

Bowel Clear—Each tablet contains: cascara cagrada 500mg, golden seal 150mg, black walnut 350mg, rhubarb 200mg, elecampane 100mg, wormwood 100mg, sage 500mg, rice bran 800mg, soya bran 667mg.
The label claims that these ingredients “work like an Intestinal Broom; scrubbing & sweeping the inner walls of your colon, allowing larger amounts of unwanted waste matter to pass easily & regularly through your bowel.”
Ultimate Cleanse—Each tablet contains: psyllium seed, aloe vera powder, senna leaf, cascara sagrada, barberry root, rhubarb, slippery elm bark, cayenne 40,000 H.U.
The label claims that this product features “29 powerful cleansing herbs that stimulate the cleansing and release of toxins and poisons trapped in the body from poor dietary habits and environmental pollutants.”
Detoxification is an ongoing process in a healthy body. No substance can pull toxins out of the body. The body can utilize nutrients to fuel its normal processes, and it acts to keep itself clean when given the chance. Your body does all the work.

Toxic substances stimulate; healthful substances nourish. Simulation is a form of irritation; it ages you. Avoiding stimulation is an important component of a health-building program.

Detoxify Naturally
Follow my Five-Day Super-Diet Challenge and you will be amazed at what happens! Use the recipes below periodically and enjoy a genuine internal cleanse. You will lose weight and feel better—and you might decide to change your diet forever.

Dr. Fuhrman’s Five-Day Diet-Cleanse Recipes

Fruit Plate
One whole grapefruit or two oranges
One box of blueberries
One box of strawberries
Lettuce (optional)

Arrange on a plate and serve.
Blended Salad
8 oz. baby greens
One orange
Juice of ¼ lemon

Blend in a blender and serve.

Healthy Slaw
½ cup shredded raw cabbage
½ cup shredded raw beets
½ cup shredded raw carrots
1 cup shredded apple
¼ cup raisins

Toss together and serve.
Spinach Salad
4-6 oz. baby raw spinach
¼ finely shredded red onion
2 Tbsp. unhulled sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1 box (pint) blackberries
2 Tbsp. pear or fig vinegar, if desired

The Green Machine
4-8 oz. raw chopped kale
4-8 oz. raw chopped bok choy
4-8 oz. chopped broccoli rab
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms
One medium onion, chopped

Add tomato, garlic, onion, and mushrooms to pan. Cover and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Add greens on top and continue to cook in covered pan on low heat for 5 more minutes.

Apple-Stuffed Peppers
One red pepper
One medium apple
½ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Chop apple. Mix with cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut top off of pepper and remove core and seeds. Stuff pepper with apple mixture and bake in oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

NY Times: Serving Sizes Making Us Fat?

Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times follows up on yesterday’s Associated Press coverage of a new research linking serving sizes to how much we actually consume. Bakalar provides more details on this study:
At a social gathering of 85 faculty members, graduate students and staff workers in the department of food science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the partygoers served themselves ice cream. They did not realize that they were also the subjects of an experiment. Half the participants were given 17-ounce bowls, and half 34-ounce bowls. In addition, half were given 2-ounce spoons to scoop out their ice cream, and half were given 3-ounce serving spoons.

With larger spoons, people served themselves 14.5 percent more, and with a larger bowl, they heaped on 31 percent more. With both a large spoon and a large bowl, the nutrition experts helped themselves to 56.8 percent more ice cream than those who used the smaller utensils. And all but three of them ate every bit of the ice cream they took.

People who used small spoons took more spoonfuls, but not nearly enough to compensate for the total amount taken by those with larger equipment.
In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman talks about our stretch receptors that naturally send signals to our brain when our stomachs are full. But junk foods like ice cream which lack sufficient fiber and nutrients blunt these signals and allow us to over consume large servings. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The brain controls our dietary drive. A complicated system of chemoreceptors in the nerves lining the digestive tract carefully monitor the calorie and nutrient density of every mouthful and send such information to the hypothalamus in the bran, which controls dietary drive.

There are also stretch receptors in the stomach to signal satiety by detecting the volume of food eaten, not the weight of the food. If you are not filled up with nutrients and fiber, the brain will send out signals telling you to eat more food, or overeat.

In fact, if you consume sufficient nutrients and fiber, you will become biochemically filled (nutrients) and mechanically filled (fiber), and your desire to consume calories will be blunted or turned down. One key factor that determines whether you will be over weight is your failure to consume sufficient fiber and nutrients. This has been illustrated in scientific studies.1

How does this work in practice? Let’s say we conduct a scientific experiment and observe a group of people by measuring the average number of calories they consumed at each dinner. Next, we give them a whole orange and a whole apple prior to dinner. The result would be that the participants would reduce their caloric intake, on the average, by amount of calories in the fruit. Now, instead of giving them two fruits, give them the same amount of calories from fruit juice.

What will happen? They will eat the same amount of food they did when they had nothing at the beginning of their meal. In other words, the juice did not reduce the calories consumed in the meal—instead, the juice became additional calories. This has been shown to occur with beer, soft drinks, and other sources of liquid calories.2

Liquid calories, without the fiber present in the whole food, have little effect at blunting our caloric drive. Studies show that fruit juice and other sweet beverages lead to obesity in children as well.3

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