Health Points: Friday

  • Personally I don’t put much stake in the Body Mass Index, but in case you’re interested, Abby Ellin of The New York Times reports on its growing popularity:
“Our society is really fixated on numbers, and the problem is when it comes to weight distribution and the risk for heart disease, it’s not just one number — it’s the percentage of body fat, B.M.I. and waist size that matters,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Dieting will be with us for a long time to come, and so will a plethora of popular diets. My hope is that the popular diets today (many of which have useful nutritional advice) will not just be used as a brief attempt at a quick fix - but that the good principles of nutrition will be taken to heart.
A review of nearly 2,000 3-year-old, low-income children and their mothers found that one-third of white and black children were overweight or obese, while a stunning 44 percent of Latino children fell into those categories.
  • Fast Weight Loss offers up some pretty basic diet tips. I’m not sure Dr. Fuhrman would agree with all of them, but here are a few that seem okay:
    5. Give some time to exercise. It is not going to take hours to exercise. What you have to do is give 30 or 40 minute to exercise.

    6. Avoid drinking soda as much as you can and replace that by water.

    7. Avoid breads, cereals and pasta in your food.
  • Next time you’ve got aches and pains you might want to reach for the spice-rack. At least that seems to be the message of this CNN report. More from Amy Paturel:
Turmeric: Because rates of Alzheimer's disease are lower in India, where the population eats a diet containing more turmeric than Western diets, scientists have suggested the spice may be linked to preserving mental function. "The compounds in turmeric have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties -- all thought to be involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease," says Sally Frautschy, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and neurology at UCLA.
Lots of craziness and hilarity at work these last few nights. Christmas night wasn’t horrible, but it was busier than I expected. At least the holiday kept the violence down… until 0016, when there was a shooting two miles from the hospital and we got two really bad gunshot wounds in as traumas… It was sort of a nice, “well, it’s not Christmas anymore” moment… Not Norman Rockwell, exactly…
Inside a recent issue: an interview with pro volleyball player Kerri Walsh, stories on flag football and kids' cross-country running, and step-by-step photos that demonstrate how to do five morning exercises, such as squats and shoulder rotations. There are also articles on how to pick a healthy lunch at school, study smarter and snack right.
Researchers from George Washington University tested a vegan diet and the ADA-recommended diet to see which worked best in the management of diabetes, kidney function, cholesterol levels and weight loss. Around 100 adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes participated, with half following a low-fat vegan diet and half following the ADA-recommended guidelines. Overweight ADA dieters were also advised to reduce their calorie intake by 500-1,000 calories. According to experts, one small risk associated with a vegan diet is a lack of vitamin B12, so the vegan participants’ meals were supplemented with B12 vitamins.

Leafy Greens and Blood Pressure

Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports new research links nitrates found in leafy green vegetables to the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide. According to the report, nitric oxide molecules help relax blood vessels. Read on:
"What this study suggests is that the well-known beneficial effects of vegetables on cardiovascular disease may at least partly depend on nitrate," said Dr. Eddie Weitzberg, professor of anesthesiology and intensive care at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and a leader of the study…

… Weitzberg said research on nitrates and high blood pressure will continue at the Karolinska Institute, in part because the researchers aren't sure about the mechanism of the nitrate effect.
While we wait for more research to be conducted, check out these previous posts for more on the powers of cruciferous vegetables:

Woman's Courage Leads to Years of Vibrant Health

From the January 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

It is always a special pleasure to see longtime patients who have been with me since my medical practice began thirteen years ago. The vibrant health of these patients is a tribute to their ongoing efforts and to the powerful healing capacity that resides in all of us.

A dramatic recovery
I remember the first time I saw Alicia. She came to me complaining of recurrent urinary tract infections. Her episodes were painful. She had been taking antibiotics every two to three months for years and had experienced no permanent relief. She was fed up with the continual infections and urinary burning and was concerned about taking antibiotics so frequently. She wanted to know if there was anything she could do to stop the infections without having to keep taking the antibiotics.

I explained the role of the immune system and how it can protect us against infections and suggested to Alicia that if she followed my high-nutrient diet and eliminated all processed carbohydrates, she might be able to rid herself of this recurrent problem. As you would expect from someone who had suffered for so long, she had numerous concerns, doubts, and fears that I tried to allay. I spent time during those early visits describing the nutritional foundation of most of the illnesses that plague Americans.

Breaking the cycle
In order to break the cycle, Alicia agreed to take cranberry tablets (two to three times daily) the instant she felt any symptoms coming on. I also asked her to call me immediately to describe her symptoms, so that we could determine if she should begin a water-only fast at that time.

The goal was to see if we could provoke a heightened immune response from her body that would break the cycle. Once her nutritional status became strong enough, I knew we could overcome the bacteria with a powerful immune response. Once that was accomplished, her immune system's reaction to the bacterial antigens would be stronger in the future and more likely to prevent recurrences.

Alicia made a radical change in her diet. She included an assortment of seeds—flax, sunflower, and sesame—and ate her daily one-pound requirement of green vegetables. Like clockwork, four weeks into the plan she developed a severe infection. She phoned me, complaining of burning with urination. The discomfort was severe enough to make her want to resume her antibiotics.

Alicia's courage

I asked Alicia to wait and see if two or three days of water-only fasting would help stimulate a more powerful immune response—one that would result in a more long-term remission. She bravely agreed. By the end of the second day, the symptoms lessened, and on the third day they completely resolved. For the first time, she resolved her infection without taking any antibiotics. That was thirteen years ago, and she has not had another urinary tract infection since.

Additional successes
Over the years, Alicia resolved other health problems, too. Beginning in her teenage years and continuing into her twenties, Alicia had experienced very irregular menstrual cycles. Sometimes she went without a period for six months. Her gynecologist did some blood work and diagnosed Alicia with a form of polycystic ovary syndrome. He told her that she might have trouble having children, but not to worry because fertility drugs could help take care of that. She was not reassured.

Fortunately, after a few years of following my nutritional recommendations, Alicia's periods became more regular. She became pregnant four times (never needing medication to induce ovulation) and has four beautiful children. Her follow-up visits with her gynecologist have confirmed that she no longer has polycystic ovary syndrome.

A powerful tool

Superior nutrition is a powerful tool, one that patients and their physicians would be wise to use more regularly. I routinely see people recover from the so-called chronic illnesses that medical science only partially understands. And it always is a pleasure.

Health Points: Wednesday

Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live and Disease-Proof Your Child, claims that salt and processed oil are both bad for us. Salt, he claims, citing dozens of "research studies" done by "scientists," raises blood pressure and can predispose us to stomach cancer. Processed oil, he would have us believe, contains 120 nutrient-barren calories per teaspoon, and when cooked at high temperatures, releases the potent carcinogens known as acrylomides.

Well, Dr. Fuhrman, I've got you now - I use about a tablespoon of salt per day, and about a gallon of oil. And I'm just fine.
Men with the largest sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD) were 42 percent more likely to develop heart disease during follow-up compared to those with the smallest SAD, while a large SAD increased heart disease risk by 44 percent for women, Dr. Carlos Iribarren of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California in Oakland and his team found.
Canadian and international researchers suspect adding a high-dose vitamin D pill to chemotherapy might improve treatment for advanced prostate cancer. So they are recruiting 1,000 men for a two-year clinical trial in order to investigate their suspicions. Currently, there is little to offer patients who no longer respond to standard treatment.
  • If you feel too drowsy to drive, leave it to someone else.
  • Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night in order to maintain good health and optimum performance.
  • If you become drowsy while driving, pull off in a rest area and take a 15-20 minute nap.
  • Consume caffeine, which improves alertness in people who are fatigued.
  • Don't drink alcohol. If you're tired, alcohol can further impair your ability to stay awake and make good decisions. Just one glass of alcohol can affect your level of fatigue while you're driving.
  • Don't drive after midnight, which is a natural period of sleepiness.
The look of total shock on the visitor's face as they shot out of the room was priceless. Picture the movie The Exorcist and amplify it by 100 times. The patient was profusely apologizing to me and I told him that it was okay and not to worry.
"There are plenty of germs out there that people can get as they circulate," said Dave Zazac, a spokesman with the Allegheny County Health Department. "In the general course of holiday greeting and meeting, people are going to get sick."
#4: Modern Ronald McDonald

Does this one really require explanation? The flaming red hair. The pasty white face. The demonically shaped mouth and the pencil thin arched eyebrows. Yikes!

Clowns, clowns, clowns. Clowns are evil. Clowns are bad! Don't believe me? Check out this Wikipedia article on evil clowns.

More creepy evidence: There's no shortage of horrific McDonald's television commercials, but this one 'Ronald's New Hairdo' really bugs me.
It is precisely this lack of data that makes aromatherapy so important to study, said Ohio State University health psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser. She is currently analyzing her results from a government-funded study in which she exposed one group to lavender, "which is supposed to be a relaxant," she said, another to lemon, "which is supposed to be stimulating or uplifting," and the third group to distilled water, which has no smell.

Electronic Engineers and Dietary Advice

Do you remember Followhealthlife’s week-long examination of The Atkins Diet? In it Dr. Fuhrman discusses the risks and misinformation associated with high-protein diets. In case you missed it, here are the five posts:

Now, why do I bring this up again? Well as you can imagine it more than miffed many of the low-carb loonies out there. One in particular was Barry Groves, PhD. Who is he? To quote Dr. Fuhrman, Barry Groves is “an electronic engineer and honorary board member of the Weston Price Foundation.” Mr. Groves was so flustered by Dr. Fuhrman’s opinion of high-protein diets that he actually made a few comments, that later spawned a couple of posts. Here they are:

The last post in particular has proved quite popular. Now even though it’s many months old and buried deep in the archives it’s still good for an occasional comment. But most of the comments are nothing more than lemming-like meat mongering or Fuhrman bashing. Like this:

Why does saturated fat increase cholesterol? Why the addition of a few hydrogen atoms suddenly makes fat more likely to be turned into cholesterol? what ISOLATED, OBJECTIVE, REPEATABLE evidence do you have that saturated fat from healthy sources increases cholesterol? im not either for your argument or against it, its just i have searched the internet for PROOF of the health harming effects of saturated fat and found none.

Epidemiological evidence is nothing like enough! groves has plenty of that in his favour and you seem to have a small amount in yours, but neither is any form of proof. You can correlate sesame seeds with cancer but only because there sprinkled upon most burgers.

You should not post YOUR OPINION as though it is scientific fact, many real scientists disagree, so it seems to me either you PROOVE IT or ZIP IT.

So as you can imagine I just approve comments like this and pay them no mind. But that doesn’t mean the occasional negative comment or dissenting opinion is just automatically ignored. Actually, a well supported counterclaim is always welcome here on Followhealthlife. Check out this one from last week:

Most Importantly we should remember that no randomised controlled Clinical Trial has ever shown any reduction at all in Coronary heart Disease mortality or overall mortality from replacing animal fats with polyunsaturated vegetable fats.

In fact, just the opposite persons randomised to polyunsaturated fat had significant increases in Coronary Heart Disease mortality rates.
Are you familiar with the research Dr. Fuhrman?

There are 18 Clinical Dietary Intervention Trials and 26 prospectiuve Trials to date on the saturated fat/Coronary Heart Disease issue.

Here are all 18 Clinical and you can look them up at a Medical University Library to confirm it everyone.

*Sydney Diet Heart Study
*National Diet heart Study
*Los Angeles Veterans Administration Study
*Ball et al
*Minnesota Survey
*Lyon Diet Heart Study
*Women's Health Initiative
*Bierenbaum et al
*Anti Coronary Club
*Medical Research Council
*Hood et al
*Finnish Mental Hospital Stusy
*Medical research Council
*Rose etal
*Oslo Diet Heart Study

Clearly when you look these up you will see the research does not support the anti-cholesterol/anti-saturated fat paradigm.

Okay, now as I’ve said many times before, I’m not the expert. So when Followhealthlife receives a comment like this, I pass it on to the man. And here’s what Dr. Fuhrman say—it’s thorough to say the least:

I am familiar with the research, but there are lots more than that. I have made an effort to review every study on this subject in the last 20 years and through a comprehensive view of all the literature, the message is clear. I realize that there are people out there that deny the link between a diet rich in animal products and heart disease, diet and cancer and diet and any disease. The internet has become a forum for all different type of individuals to express their alternative beliefs, and the occasional disagreeing comments here serve a good purpose because by addressing them it helps the informed health seeker improve their view of the issues and get a better handle of the complexities of human nutrition. It is only that I am so busy working that makes the length of these responses somewhat limited and that to get the whole view it would help to first read Eat to Live and then review the posts here on this subject that have been already posted before reading this one.

I think if this commenter was already familiar with my body of work and not just commenting on one issue in a vacuum he may have already understood my answer here. Also, obviously, this is a complicated subject, but I have addressed the complexities before on this blog and in my recent newsletter addressing the poor science promoted by the Weston Price crowd and those denying that the amount and the type of animal products in one’s diet does matter when it comes to disease risk. More explanation can’t hurt though and we can review the reasons for the inconsistency in the scientific studies.

Eating less animal products and avoiding trans fat and in their place, utilizing more fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts is a goal of those seeking to reduce their risk of both heart disease and cancer. The evidence regarding these guidelines is overwhelming and I have referenced over 1500 scientific references in Eat to Live. What makes my dietary advice somewhat unique is that I insist that increasing the micronutrient density of food is an important component of a good diet and that foods that are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals are also rich in thousands of phytochemicals that are a critical (but largely ignored and unmeasured) link to good health. Since 90 percent of calories consumed in America is either animal products or processed foods, neither which contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, we suffer the medical tragedies as a result of this nutritional folly. It is the total micronutrient and phytochemical density of the diet which is more important in disease-prevention than moderating fat intake. The standard modern diet is disease-promoting and just decreasing or exchanging the type of fat can’t change its pitiful level of protective nutrients. I repeat, micronutrient density and variety overwhelms saturated fat (lowering) as a disease protector. If interested, as it will help you understand this, check out the library on There you can view a chart of nutrient per calorie density of selected foods.

I also teach that the saturated fat content of the animal products chosen to include in one’s diet does also make a difference when it comes to health science and promoting optimal health; not just for heart disease, but for cancer reduction too. Animal fats are more risky than vegetable fats, but they both promote disease if eaten in excess and the fact that cheese has much more saturated fat than fish and fowl, makes it a more risky food to include in one’s diet in any substantial amount. That does not mean I advocate eating vegetable oils and consider them health foods. I am not a promoter of processed oils as they dilute the nutrient density of our diet and are a high calorie, low nutrient food. Saturated fat does not become good because trans fat and some processed oils are bad. Polyunsaturated oils are processed foods, consumed in a rancid state, with little or no fiber, micronutrients, antioxidants or phytochemicals. In no way do I agree with Walter Willet and other highly esteemed names in the field of nutritional science who think that substituting polyunsaturated oils in place of saturated fats is the answer for optimal health. Oil is too fattening a food to be promoted has health food and I thinks Willet’s message to put olive oil and other polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oil at the base of a nutrition pyramid is ridiculous and most likely reflects his desire to commercially appeal to America’s food preferences. Instead, I recommend most of our fat intake come in the whole food form from flax seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, avocados, sesame seeds and other foods that are not only rich in healthy fats, but also contain antioxidants, lignans, flavonoids and other protective compounds (and I make delicious salad dressings from these whole-food plant fats).

When we consider these complicated issues we must be familiar with hundreds and in some cases thousands of research articles to understand the complexities of human nutrition. One thing that stands out in all this is that it is not one element good or bad that can explain the complicated nutritional component in disease-causation. So I would never encourage the thinking that looking at saturated fat intake alone in a diet and no other critical factors would afford us good health and protection from heart disease and cancer. Comparing one type of low nutrient diet to another does not show much, they are all bad. But I agree with the point made by some of the articles the commenter mentioned; that moderate reductions in saturated fat intake, in an elderly population, while the diet stays relatively low in high-nutrient plant foods is not likely to offer dramatic health benefits. Especially because what we do at a younger age has a more powerful effect to modulate the expression of these later life diseases compared to what we do at a later age. This is especially true with cancer, where we expect to see a 25 to 50 year lag time between cause and effect. So another element that this question and a review of all these studies indicate is that the earlier in life that dietary change is instituted more dramatic protective effects are seen and the later in life, the smaller the benefit, if any. I spend a lot of time discussing this in my book, Disease-Proof Your Child, which explained that dietary factors in childhood are the largest component of adult cancer causation.

More recent studies are accumulating that show eating more high-nutrient plant food is a more powerful intervention to prevent disease, than just reducing saturated fat alone. You can reduce cheese and butter and still be eating a crummy, low nutrient, disease-promoting diet; big deal! But the best protection from disease occurs and the most dramatic amount of disease reversal is accomplished when the diet is both low in saturated fat and high in micronutrients. This is the pattern of the dietary recommendations in Eat to Live and my other works. Eat to Live because it is written for the overweight individual is more restricted in nuts, seeds and avocados (higher fat, higher calorie plant foods) compared to Disease-Proof Your Child, which contains dietary guidelines somewhat higher in the fattier whole foods (healthy fats) geared for a general audience, not for those who are so weight-challenged.

So even though we could point to some older studies that looked at a population with a high animal product intake and then compared it to one that was still high in animal products but somewhat lower in saturated fat and added oils to it, to show an unclear differences in outcome is not surprising. Especially when both studied diets are still rich in processed foods and animal product, and especially when the subjects are older and not followed for enough years to see the differences or when both the size of the study, the amount of dietary change, and the number of years studied make the difference in “relative risk” insignificant. So contrary to the commenter’s assertion most of the studies mentioned show insignificant and inconsistent mortality differences. When you read the whole study, you can usually understand why it found the outcome it did and the better quality studies explain the inconsistencies better. And you have to look at the nutritional quality of the whole diet studied to predict the outcomes not merely one of the many variables that give a diet its disease promoting or health promoting properties.

Let’s look at some of the most recent studies (click “Permalink” or “Continue Reading”) and see what they really say. Oh, and for other readers who want to post references to support their views, like this commenter did, please include the complete reference so others can easily look it up and check the facts.

Of course some people are not interested in science or logic, to them nutrition is based on emotion and what they want to believe and what they want to eat and no matter what I say or the research says won’t change their fixed views.

Don’t forget, click Permalink or Continue Reading to check out those studies Dr. Fuhrman mentioned—there’s a bunch of them!

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Invasive Cardiology Procedures and Surgeries Are Not Effective

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

Bypass surgery and angioplasty only attempt to treat a small segment of the diseased heart, usually with only temporary benefit. Since atherosclerotic plaque blankets all the vessels in the heart, bypassing or removing the most diseased portion, still does not address all the shallow and non-obstructive lipid deposits. The major burden of disease is left intact and therefore the potential for a deadly heart attack is largely unaffected. The vast majority of patients who undergo these interventions do not have fewer new heart attacks or longer survival. The procedures themselves expose the patients to more risk of new heart attacks, strokes, infection, encephalopathy, and death. In addition, the symptomatic benefits erode with time.

Since these mechanical interventions do not address the cause of the disease and only treat the symptoms it is not surprising that the patients undergoing bypass and angioplasty experience disease progression, graft shutdown, restenosis, and more procedures because their heart disease continues to advance. The vast majority of these treated patients needlessly die prematurely from heart disease because their disease remains essentially untreated.

Using surgical and high-tech interventions as a substitute for a healthful diet is doomed to fail. When extensive coronary artery disease is present and surgical/high-tech intervention occurs, we still leave the vast bulk of plaque essentially untreated because atherosclerosis is a dietary-induced disease and is spread all over the heart, not only in those areas visualized by angiograms and then treated. When we combine these marginally effective or ineffective medical interventions with the wrong dietary advice given by most doctors and dieticians (to reduce fat and cholesterol and eat less red meat and more chicken and fish) we get predictable future cardiac tragedies. Numerous studies have demonstrated that following the typical dietary recommendations of the American Heart Association to hold cholesterol to less than 200 mg per day and to reduce dietary fat to less than 30 percent doesn't work. These diets fail to realize that the nutritional cause of heart disease is not simply a question of eating less fat. Moderation kills, because heart disease still advances.

Heart attacks result from a defect in the plaque wall which leads to a thrombus (blood clot). Even a small coating of vulnerable plaque, invisible to cardiac testing, can cause a heart attack and typically does. The important point to remember is this: Individuals without major blockages of their great vessels, with only 30 to 50 percent stenosis (narrowing), are even more likely to develop a fatal cardiac event, (compared to those with more significant blockages) yet these individuals are not even shown to have heart disease with a stress test or angiography. Stress testing only identifies blockages that obstruct greater than eighty-five percent of the vessel lumen. A normal stress test is meaningless and does not mean you do not have significant heart disease or won't shortly have a heart attack.

Even coronary catherization (angiography) does not identify those smaller non-occluding atherosclerotic deposits, and therefore interventional strategies do not treat patients with shallower lesions, in spite of the fact that these are the people who suffer the most heart attacks. It is not the extent of the blockage that determines risk; it is the vulnerability of the plaque or its propensity to rupture.

Seventy to eighty percent of all myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) are caused by plaque that is not obstructive or visible on angiography or stress tests.

When atheromas (lipid deposits) first develop on the wall of a blood vessel, the walls remodel outward, preserving the lumen. These are the most vulnerable or lethal plaques and they do not obstruct or encroach on the blood flow. These heart attack prone lesions have dangerous characteristics that are not revealed by cardiac testing. A normal test by your cardiologist means very little in reassuring you about your risk of a future heart attack.

Inflammatory cells, and a large lipid core of cholesterol in the plaques is characteristic of the most dangerous lesions. The breakage or rupture of these vulnerable lesions causes heart attacks. Cardiac surgery and angioplasty does not address one's risk of a later heart attack, as it does not remove or reduce the probability that these unrecognized vulnerable plaques will rupture and create a clot. Most people think going to cardiologists and radiologists to get evaluated to see if they have a significant coronary blockage will enable an intervention at an early enough point to save their life; they are dead wrong. Angioplasties and stent placements as well as cardiac surgery treat symptoms, not the disease.

The good news is symptoms, as well as blockages, easily melt away with nutritional excellence, without any cardiac intervention. The risks and complications of cardiac interventions and bypass surgeries are simply not necessary when people adopt an effective nutritional strategy. Instead of expensive and invasive medicine, we need doctors to educate and motivate patients to take charge of their own health. While our population is committing suicide with their knives and forks, they run to doctors expecting to be saved. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to escape from the biological laws of cause and effect. Good health has to be earned, it can't be bought.

Compelling data from numerous population and interventional studies show that the combination of a natural plant-based diet and aggressive lipid-lowering will prevent, arrest, and even reverse heart disease. Only via nutritional excellence can you address all the invisible, but potentially dangerous plaque throughout your coronary arteries. Unlike surgery and angioplasty, the dietary approach addressed in this book does not merely treat your heart, but rejuvenates all your blood vessels and protects your entire body against heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolisms, venous thrombosis, peripheral vascular disease, and vascular dementia. It is your most valuable insurance policy to secure a longer life free of medical tragedy.

In the 20th century, the average American diet shifted from one based on fresh, minimally processed vegetable foods to one based on animal products and highly refined, processed foods. As a result, Americans now consume far more calories, fat, cholesterol, refined sugar, animal protein, sodium, and alcohol and far less fiber and plant-derived nutrients than is healthful. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer have skyrocketed.

Heart attacks and strokes kill more than half of the modern world today and are the largest killers of both men and women. But, the promising news is that these common causes of death are avoidable and can be effectively reversed through aggressive nutritional intervention.

By adopting a program of superior nutrition in conjunction with the judicious use of cholesterol-lowering nutritional supplements with proven cardio-protective effects, you can actually lower your cholesterol more than cholesterol-lowering drugs. It is possible to achieve an LDL cholesterol level below 100, get significantly more benefits, (almost total protection from heart attacks) and none of the risks associated with conventional drugs and invasive procedures to prevent and treat heart disease.

When it comes to your health and your heart, do not be satisfied with mediocrity. This is critical information and the most important decision you may face in your life. I encourage you to make the decision to protect yourself from the possibility of future tragedy.

Fish Oil for Baby's Hand-Eye Coordination

Most news outlets push fish oil on us with greater fervor than a Central Park Rastafarian. But whenever I hear fish oil or just plain fish, I immediately think of mercury, chemicals, and pollution. Not to mention I conduct a mini risk-benefit analysis in my head before eating things like sushi or steamed salmon. Sure fish and fish oil is loaded with omega-3, but the level of contamination in seafood always gives me pause, and is the reason why I space out my fish consumption. From Fishing for the Truth, here’s a small refresher on the potential dangers of contaminated fish:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.
Dr. Fuhrman takes fish contamination seriously. So seriously, that he actually includes fish in his list of foods mothers should avoid during pregnancy. Take a look. From a previous post entitled Precautions to Take When Pregnant or Nursing:
The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
So with all this being said, a new study that touts the benefits of consuming fish oil during pregnancy is enough to make anyone say, “What the—?” Well it’s true. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports Australian researchers have determined toddlers whose mothers took fish oil supplements during pregnancy developed superior hand-eye coordination. Why? Well those omega-3’s of course:
"Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly referred to as 'fish oil,' are essential nutrients for human health," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study…

… It will take more research to clarify the optimal dose of omega-3 fatty acids, and the long-term health effects of supplementation during pregnancy, Katz said. "But we know enough already to conclude that fish oil from supplements is generally a good idea, during pregnancy especially. I routinely advise 1 gram, twice daily, of fish oil to my pregnant patients -- and my non-pregnant patients, too."
I don’t think Dr. Fuhrman would agree with Katz’s fish oil recommendation, especially if that particular brand of supplement ran the risk of containing mercury or some other contaminate. So this begs the question, are we stuck with fish? Or are there other sources of omega-3’s that don’t potentially expose mothers or unborn children to harmful chemicals and compounds? Yes. Check out what Dr. Fuhrman recommends in this post, Dr. Fuhrman's Anti-ADHD Plan:
Flax seeds and walnuts are rich sources of beneficial but hard-to-find short-chain omega-3 fats, plus they are rich in lignans, minerals, and vitamins. Until recently, the primary source of DHA dietary supplements was fish oil. However, new products are available that contain DHA from algae, the fish’s original source. Unlike fish oils, the algae-derived DHA, grown in the laboratory, is free of chemical pollutants and toxins that may be present in some fish oil-based brands.
Now I’m no doctor, in fact I’m just a lowly blogger with a Marketing degree, but if I had to pick, I’d go for the contaminate-free option every time. How about you?
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Gut Bugs Again

Back in May the Boston Globe introduced us to an alternative cause for obesity—gut bugs. To be more specific, the trillions of bacteria that live in the human digestive system. And now, a new report in The Washington Post shows that some obesity researchers are excited by the potential of the gut bug study. Not all of them. Others are still pretty skeptical. Rob Stein has more:
"This is very exciting," said Barbara Corkey, an obesity researcher at Boston University. "We don't know why the obesity epidemic is happening. People say it's because of gluttony and sloth. I think there must be something else. It's exciting to see some work being done on alternative explanations…"

"…This is extremely interesting," said Hans-Rudolf Berthoud of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. "But lifestyle and the environment are still the major factors in the obesity epidemic."
Now, you don’t have to be a genius to know that the human body is inhabited by all sorts of bacteria—you learn that in grammar school! So I’m not wowed by these findings. And I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to blame your particular type of digestive bacteria for you being overweight. It’s more likely that package of Double-Stuffed Oreos has something to do with it.

And since every news agency in the country picked up this story, I decided to run it by our resident expert. So tells us Dr. Fuhrman, how do you feel about the gut bugs:
This is interesting but nothing new. Antibiotics have been used in farm animals for years to promote rapid weight gain, so they can be slaughtered quicker. We also already know that when people eat a healthy diet, rich in natural plant materials the bacteria in the gut are different from those eating refined sugars and refined flours. So to peg the difference only on being fat or thin is a little bit misleading. It is all in the slant of how they reported the findings. They could have also found that a diet rich in junk food promotes different bacteria than a diet rich in vegetables. If you note, as the participants ate healthier the bacteria quality changed.

I do not believe these findings will translate into any hope for overweight individuals. And it is misleading to give the impression that manipulating the bacteria will cause weight loss or that this is a major finding that will enable us to solve the obesity epidemic. It boils down to this, stop stupid diets of all description and eat healthy.

Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

You know, there might be something to all this talk about nutrient-rich diets and disease prevention. And I’m not just talking about what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about it. Check out this report. According to the Associated Press vitamin D could be instrumental in the prevention of multiple sclerosis. Lindsey Tanner explains:
An abundance of vitamin D seems to help prevent multiple sclerosis, according to a study in more than 7 million people that offers some of the strongest evidence yet of the power of the "sunshine vitamin" against MS…

"…If confirmed, this finding suggests that many cases of MS could be prevented by increasing vitamin D levels," Dr. Alberto Ascherio, the senior author and an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health said.
Although the study, appearing in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, warns people not to automatically assume that vitamin D deficiency can cause multiple sclerosis. Now, all this spurred my curiosity. What’s the deal with vitamin D? How important is it? And are people getting enough?

Dr. William Finn, a vitamin D expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, doesn’t think so. In Tanner’s article he calls vitamin D deficiency an epidemic in the United States. And he’s not alone, so does Dr. Fuhrman in the September 2005 edition of Healthy Times:
The modern world has an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and most often a multivitamin containing the RDA for D is simply not sufficient to bring blood levels up to the ideal range, especially as we age.
Okay, so if it’s an epidemic, a vitamin D deficiency must be a pretty easy thing to determine—right? Apparently so, check out this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live:
Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin, is another common deficiency I find when I check the blood levels of my patients. Most of us work indoors and avoid the sun or wear sunscreen, which lowers our vitamin D exposure. Some of us don’t absorb it as well and just require more.
Man we’re a trouble lot; heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and now an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Why’d we bother evolving! But what about the study’s claim, can adequate vitamin D intake actually prevent MS? Back to Healthy Times:
Vitamin D also works in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones to promote bone mineralization. Research also suggests that vitamin D is important to maintain a healthy immune system, regulate cell growth, and prevent cancer. Vitamin D has been shown to protect against the development of autoimmune disease such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It also has been shown to be helpful in decreasing disease severity for those suffering with autoimmune disease.1
Wow, I guess vitamin D is pretty important. Now given all this, an interesting thing to mention is the danger of vitamin D over-consumption, because according to Dr. Fuhrman it can bring on a whole different set of problems. Here’s a little more from the September 2005 Healthy Times:
Vitamin D toxicity can cause nausea, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, confusion, and weight loss. Sun exposure does not result in vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D toxicity is only a possibility from high intakes of vitamin D from supplements. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set the recommended upper intake level to 50g (2,000 IU) for children, adults, and pregnant and lactating women. Vitamin D is one of those vitamins where the right amount is essential—not too much and not too little.
Now you’re probably wondering, what are good sources of vitamin D? In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman points to the sun, but since most people work indoors, he realizes getting enough sun exposure can be difficult. So some other sources include fortified soy milk and orange juice. And if you’re looking for supplements, give Dr. Fuhrman’s Osteo-Sun a try.
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Thursday Health Points: Blogs Only

So please forgive me if I come into the consulting room with a couple of smudges on my lips, a tighter white coat, overpowering chocolate breath, and giddy with sugar and a sense of well-being.
We compared USDA data for the average "large" US farm - defined as a farm with over $250,000 of income. The USDA says there are 151,000 large farms in the US - this makes up 7% of all the farms, but 59% of all farm production. That means a small number of big farms are growing most of our food.
Sometimes men and women alter their physiques and appearance to please others. Sometimes they change it to spite those who've rejected them. If you don't have enough self-respect to like who you are and how you look, do things to build up your own self-esteem until you get to the point where you like who you are or are motivated to become the person you'd like to be.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an intense sweetener used in a vast and diverse array of food products, has been labeled the Devil’s candy and a sinister invention by the American media. A widely publicized book in the US, Fat Land, by the journalist Greg Critser, along with scientific research, proposes that its consumption is to blame for America’s obesity epidemic, while Juan Zapata, a Republican in the Florida House of Representatives, calls HFCS the crack of sweeteners and wants it banned.
The ancient Romans grew and cooked parsnips to make broths and stews. Throughout the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages, parsnips were the main starchy vegetable for ordinary people. Parsnips were easy to grow and provided a good source of starch during the lean winter months. They were also valued for their sugar content. Sweet parsnip dishes like jam and desserts became part of traditional English cookery, and they were used for making beer and wine. Today parsnip wine is still one of the most popular of the country wines in England.
Angelina Jolie recently returned with her adopted son Maddox to his homeland of Cambodia, and while there she fed him a local delicacy: a plate full of crickets, with their guts intact. Angelina told reporters, "I recently took Mad to Cambodia and it was the first trip there where he really understood it. We took him to a restaurant in the middle of the night and he had his first plate of crickets."
Insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels: a cluster of traits typically referred to as Metabolic Syndrome. All are known to be indicators of diabetes and heart disease in adults. What has recently been discovered, however, is that these same traits are also on the rise in adolescents.
I don't understand it. I'm not sure I want to. I just want people to respect the fact that someone having a bigger crisis than them may be in the bed next to them. And I may be needed more over there. I probably won't respond quickly to you if you scream at me to get your pain medicine. I will be busy with the man next door who is passing from this world. His problem supercedes yours. Your pain may last longer - but you'll still be alive at the end of it. He won't.

Nutrition as Medicine

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease-Proof Your Child :

Most families seek me out because they are tired of having a perpetually sick child and have learned of my success in helping children reclaim and have learned of my successes in helping children reclaim their health and stay well. The most common complaint is recurrent ear infections, and at the first visit many parents bring in a list of ten to twenty antibiotic prescriptions given to their child over the last year by their well-meaning family physician or pediatrician. Some of these children are faced with the prospect of undergoing sinus surgery or having tubes placed in their ears. Others are on drugs such as Ritalin for behavioral disorders. Doctors and parents tend to assume that because almost all children suffer from these common problems and frequent infections, they are normal.

When children are repeatedly or chronically ill, today's doctors treat patients as they were taught to—with antibiotics and other drugs. I see things very differently. If a child is repetitively or chronically ill, with one infection after another, I see that there is a problem with immunity—a problem that likely comes from an inadequate diet. I know that rather than antibiotics and other drugs, nutritional excellence must be the first choice in recovery and prevention. I have seen it work in my own practice. After seeing me and making dietary adjustments, almost every chronically ill child recovered and is able to maintain good health without resorting to more drugs and antibiotics.

You Might be an Eat to Liver if...

First off, let me offer a sincere apology to Jeff Foxworthy for utterly butchering his famous bit. Okay, now that that’s out of the way—let the bad jokes begin!

Recently those crazy members over at had an idea, and I decided to run with it. Or, perhaps more appropriately, stumble with it. So with out any further ado, You Might be an Eat to Liver if...
1. All your salt shakers are filled with ground flaxseed.
2. You start thinking your pets need to eat healthier too.
3. You constantly check out Consumer Reports for the best paring and slicing knives.
4. You're always on the look out for fruits and vegetables you've never tried before.
5. You're annoyed that spell-check doesn't recognize the word "phytonutrient!"
6. You're not startled by the "coloring effects" of beets.
7. You know all the Fuhrman-friendly restaurants within a fifty mile radius of your  home.
8. Fast food commercials actually make you angry!
9. You know that avocado can be eaten in things other than guacamole.
10. You look forward to the new fruits the changing of the seasons brings.
11. At least once a week you spend time convincing people that vegetables contain protein.
12. You always eat the kale garnish.
13. For your birthday you've asked for a Vita-Mix, pressure cooker, or crock pot.
14. Your children actually enjoy eating their veggies.
15. You don't care if your skin looks yellowish.
Go ahead, throw your tomatoes—I’ll just chop them up and make a nice salad! So what do you think? Got your own You Might be an Eat to Liver if’s? Post a comment or send us an email at Who knows, I just might make a post out of it.

The Pros and Cons Our "Natural Sweet Tooth"

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Even though we have many unique human traits, we are genetically closely related to the great apes and other primates. Primates are the only animals on the face of the earth that can taste sweet and see color. We were designed by nature to see, grasp, eat, and enjoy the flavor of colorful, sweet fruits.

Fruit is an essential part of our diets. It is an indispensable requirement for us to maintain a high level of health. Fruit consumption has been shown in numerous studies to offer our strongest protection against certain cancers, especially oral and esophageal, lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.1 Thankfully, our natural sweet tooth directs us to those foods ideally "designed" for our primate heritage—fruit. Fresh fruit offers us powerful health-giving benefits.

Researchers have discovered substances in fruit that have unique effects on preventing aging and deterioration of the brain.2 Some fruits, especially blueberries, are rich in anthocyanins and other compounds having anti-aging effects.3 Studies continue to provide evidence that more than any other food, fruit consumption is associated with lowered mortality from all cancers combined.4 Eating fruit is vital to your health, well-being, and long life.

Regrettably, our human desire for sweets is typically satisfied by the consumption of products containing sugar, such as candy bars and ice cream—not fresh fruit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that the typical American now consumes an unbelievable 32 teaspoons of added sugar a day.5 That's right, in one day.

We need to satisfy our sweet tooth with fresh, natural fruits and other plant substances that supply us not just with carbohydrates for energy but also with the full complement of indispensable substances that prevent illness.

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Health Points: Tuesday

The better restaurateurs never used trans fat and find it inexplicable that there’s an argument about it. They think it is not in their self-interest to feed people things that are likely to kill them.
Dr Miles Fisher, consultant physician at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: "Santa is the archetypal picture of abdominal obesity." He added: "The image of Santa is of a round, jolly person and it is meant to be one of hilarity, but if you have obesity around your tummy, then it is very bad for you.
The apparent protective effect of alcohol has to do with something that happens in brain cells, the study found. The researchers also assessed more than 500 patients who suffered severe injuries to the torso and found no effect of blood alcohol levels on the death rate.
Yes, just two martinis to send me over the edge into the realm of intractable nausea and vomiting. What I would have given for a little Zofran... I had the displeasure of experiencing my scallops and salmon twice...
As with all studies relating to diet, however, there is always the possibility that the benefit stems from something other than an altered diet -- like increased intake of other foods like fruits and vegetables, weight loss, or better overall health that accompanies the decrease in fat.
A national stress survey the association conducted in January showed one in four people in the United States agrees that "when I am feeling down or facing a problem, I turn to food to help me feel better." The October survey showed that the proportion increases to one in three people during the holidays.
The study included 30 young women who would eat a meal of pasta with tomato sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese, under two different scenarios. In the first scenario, study participants were given a large spoon and told to eat as quickly as possible. In the other scenario, participants ate with a small spoon, which they put down after each bite, and were told to take small bites and chew each bite 15 to 20 times. When eating quickly, the women took in an average of 646 calories in 9 minutes. But when they slowed down, they consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes. The women rated eating slowly as more pleasant.
In general, doctors’ advice is listen to your body. If you are tired or achy, take a rest. Take days off and vary the intensity of your workout. Robert Irwin, a chiropractor in suburban Albany New York, counsels runners to watch out for signs they’re working out too hard, such as a resting heart rate 10 beats a minute over the normal rate.

“You have to have recovery time even if you are healthy,” Irwin said. “Give yourself some time to rest.”

It's Christmas Grand Rounds, Charlie Brown!

Member Center: A Meat Eater's Rant

Got a question for Dr. Fuhrman? Want to ask him directly? Do you know about the “Ask the Doctor” section of That’s where Dr. Fuhrman can address your individual concern or inquiry. Like this one.

Recently one member wanted doctor’s reaction to this tirade by someone bashing the vegetable-based/vegan diet and promoting the advantages of gobbling up lots of animal products and organ meats. Here’s the actual rant:
It's disgraceful that you steer (or help steer) people toward veganism in your capacity as a professional nutrition consultant. No one in your profession should ever be allowed to practice if they approve of veganism as being healthy and safe for most, especially over the long haul. Meat and fish contain many nutrients that are either absent from, or present in only scarce amounts in, plant foods. Here are some examples:

Creatine is used to form adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP), our ultimate source of cellular energy. Creatine availability is critical during situations when neither fat nor glucose can be processed quickly enough to form ATP, such as during the first few seconds of high-intensity physical activities like sprinting and picking up heavy objects. Creatine supplements have been shown in numerous studies to aid performance in power-oriented sports, and to improve muscular strength in patients with congestive heart failure [Kreider RB].

Creatine only occurs naturally in animal foods, with meat by far the richest source. Not surprisingly, habitual vegetarians exhibit poorer creatine status than omnivores [Maughan RJ].

Meat, along with certain species of fish and seafood, is a rich source of taurine, an important amino acid whose concentration in eggs, milk, and plant foods ranges from negligible to none [LaidlowSA][Pasantes-Morales H]. Taurine is found in high concentrations in the heart, brain, and central nervous system, where it helps stabilize the cellular response to nervous stimulation. Taurine possesses antioxidant capabilities and has been shown in double-blind clinical trials to improve cardiac function in patients with congestive heart failure [Schaffer SW][Azuma J][Azuma J].

Taurine cannot be found in plant foods. Humans can manufacture their own taurine but with far less efficiency than herbivorous animals, as evidenced by significantly lower blood taurine levels in vegans and rural Mexican women reporting low meat intakes [Laidlaw][Pasantes-MoralesH].

Carnitine is a remarkable amino acid that plays a pivotal role in energy production, and is absolutely essential for the fat-burning process to proceed. Because of its pivotal role in energy production, high levels of carnitine are found in the heart and skeletal muscle. Clinical trials have observed markedly improved survival outcomes resulting from carnitine supplementation in patients with heart failure and coronary heart disease [Davini P][Rizos I][Singh RB][Iliceto S]. A review of the scientific literature shows that this versatile amino acid has been shown to benefit anorexia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, male infertility, sexual dysfunction and depression in aging men, and pregnancy outcomes. Exercise, even at moderate levels, can cause a significant drop in muscle carnitine levels; in patients with angina and respiratory disorders, carnitine enhances exercise tolerance [Kelly GS][Cavallini G][Gentile V].

The richest food source of carnitine, by far and away, is meat. Compared to omnivores, vegetarians repeatedly exhibit lower blood levels of carnitine [Krajcovicova-Kudlackova M][Lombard KA]. Carnitine status appears to also be worsened by the high-carbohydrate diets recommended by folks like Campbell. In healthy men receiving the same amount of dietary carnitine, blood levels of this all-important amino acid rose significantly in individuals following a high-fat, low-carb diet, while no change in carnitine levels were observed in individuals on a high carb, low-fat diet [Cederblad G].

Meat is the only food containing significant amounts of carnosine, an amino acid with some rather interesting and highly beneficial properties [Chan KM]. Carnosine is a potent antioxidant, being particularly effective in protecting cellular fats against free radical damage. Research shows carnosine may accelerate wound healing, boost the immune system, protect against cataracts, reduce gastric ulcer formation, rid the body of toxic metals, and even help fight against cancer [Hipkiss AR]. The most potent effect of carnosine however, appears to be its ability to prevent glycation, which, along with free-radical production, is a major contributor to degenerative illness and the aging process [Price DL, et al].

The potent anti-glycation effects of carnosine may explain why a comparison of vegetarians, vegans and meat-eating omnivores revealed the latter to have significantly lower levels of nasty glycation end-products known as advanced glycosylation end-products (AGEs) circulating in their bloodstreams. The difference couldn't be explained by total carbohydrate intake, blood sugar, age or kidney function, as all these variables were similar between the vegetarian and omnivorous groups [Sebekova K].

Meat, especially red meat, is the richest source of B-complex vitamins. The B vitamins perform a myriad of crucial functions in the body and requirements for these vital nutrients are dramatically increased during periods of stress, illness and physical activity. Unfortunately, the body can't store a surplus of B-vitamins for times of increased need, so optimal amounts must be consumed daily.

Meat, especially red meat, is also a rich source of iron. Iron forms an essential component of hemoglobin, the red pigment in blood that transports oxygen from the lungs to the various body tissues. Insufficient iron intake can result in impaired immune function, decreased athletic performance and lack of energy. A double-blind Swiss study of women aged 18-55 who had sought medical advice for fatigue, found that most of the women had low blood concentrations of iron. After four weeks, a significantly greater number of women receiving iron supplements reported a decrease in fatigue symptoms than those receiving placebo [Verdon F]. Australian women complaining of fatigue showed similar improvements when treated with either iron supplements or a high-iron diet [Patterson AJ].

Those who need to boost their iron stores should look to red meat rather than supplements or plant foods. When previously sedentary women were challenged with 12 weeks of aerobic exercise, a high meat diet protected iron stores more effectively than iron supplements[RM Lyle]. Heme iron (the form of iron found in meat) is far more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron from plant sources. Men and women on lacto-ovo vegetarian diets consistently exhibit lower blood levels of iron, even when consuming similar total amounts of dietary iron as omnivores [Alexander D][Hunt JR].

Animal foods are also by far and away the richest source of zinc. Apart from oysters, meat is the richest source of this mineral, with red meats again containing greater amounts of this mineral than white meats. Zinc is essential for optimal growth and repair, being involved in the actions of several vital hormones and hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc is essential for the formation of superoxide dismutase, one of the body's most potent antioxidants. Zinc deficiencies can result in growth retardation in children, significantly weakened immune function, poor wound healing and muscle loss, lowered testosterone levels and sperm counts, and have also been linked to depression and gastric cancer [Prasad AS][Brown KH][Siklar Z][Dardenne M][Ibs KH][Maes M][Nakaji S][Prasad AS][Hunt CD].

Overt zinc deficiencies are common to Third World countries where animal protein consumption is low. Milder, 'sub-clinical' zinc deficiencies also appear to be a common phenomenon in modernized nations. Those who follow low fat diets are at even greater risk of zinc deficiency [Retzlaff BM][Baghurst KI, et al].

Animal foods, most notably brains and fatty fish, are the only dietary source of long chain omega 3 fats such as DHA and EPA (special algae supplements containing LCPUFA have only recently become available). Some plant foods do contain omega-3 fatty acids, but in a form known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). To obtain the LCPUFA the body needs, ALA must be converted endogenously to longer-chain omega-3s such as DHA and EPA. The conversion rate, however, is very low, with clinical studies repeatedly showing that omega-3 fats from plant sources to be vastly inferior to those from animal foods when it comes to boosting long-chain omega-3 status [Fokkema MR][Francois CA][Tang AB, et al].

Numerous studies have shown that vegetarians consume far lower levels of long-chain omega-3 fats--not surprising considering their avoidance of meat and fish [Rosell MR, et al]. Studies of pregnant women show that, compared to omnivores, vegetarians have significantly lower levels of DHA in their breast milk, with vegans displaying the lowest levels of all. These negative fatty acid profiles are reflected in infants, with vegan newborns displaying significantly lower red blood cell levels of DHA. This is an ominous finding, given the critical role that omega-3 fats play in healthy immune function and cognitive development [Williams C][O'Connor DL][Helland IB][Moriguchi T][Dunstan JA].

Along with lowering one's omega-3 levels, low meat intakes also increase the concentration of omega-6 fats inside the body. A high dietary and bodily ratio of omega-6: omega-3 fats increases the risk of numerous diseases, including cardiovascular disease. A sizable portion of heart attacks are triggered when blood clots lodge themselves in narrowed coronary arteries and prevent the flow of blood to the heart, a process also known as arterial thrombosis. One of the early and key events in the development of thrombosis is platelet aggregation, the 'clumping together' of blood platelets. Researchers from Melbourne, Australia, compared heavy-meat eaters, moderate-meat-eaters, lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans and found that as meat consumption increased, platelet aggregation decreased. Heavy-meat-eaters displayed the lowest levels of platelet aggregation, while vegans displayed the highest levels.

While meat eaters ate more of the omega-6 fat arachidonic acid, vegetarians consumed significantly higher concentrations of the omega-6 fat linoleic acid and significantly lower amounts of long chain omega-3's. The resultant unfavorable omega-6: omega-3 is believed to be responsible for the higher levels of thromboxane A2 (TXA2) seen in the vegetarian group[Li D]. TXA2 is an eicosanoid that stimulates platelet aggregation. Chilean researchers have similarly observed significantly lower blood levels of EPA and DHA, and concomitant increases in blood platelet aggregation, among vegetarians [Mezzano D].
Now, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s response. As usual he pulls no punches in his support of the vegetable-based (and not necessarily vegan) diet:
Most people eating omnivorous diets in America are severely deficient in antioxidants and phytochemicals because of a low percentage of calories from fruits and vegetables; especially raw vegetables and green vegetables. It is this major deficiency that is a large component in the development of cancer.

Most people eating vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diets in America are severely deficient in antioxidants and phytochemicals because of a low percentage of calories from fruits and vegetables; especially raw vegetables and green vegetables. It is this major deficiency that is the biggest factor in the development of cancer, however it has been shown that this deficiency is less compared to the meat-eating counterparts.

But since we are talking here about lifespan and not about success as a linebacker on the Chicago Bears, and since the major cause of death in America is heart disease, it is still true that a person with less B-vitamins, iron, zinc, fatty acids and amino acids on the “junkatarian” vegan diet will still have lower risk of a life threatening disease compared to the average meat-eating American.

We are not just adding up nutrients here, it is end points (age of death and cause of premature death) that should be our main consideration, not just what nutrients might be optimized with one type of diet versus another.

So, while a conventional and unsupplemented vegan diet may be low in Omega-3 fatty acids, B12, other B-vitamins, zinc, and many non-essential amino acids, there are still other advantages that make this less-than-optimal diet better than the conventional omnivorous diet. When supplemented appropriately even the conventional vegan diet would grant a higher probability of a longer life than a conventional omnivorous diet.

When we are considering my nutritional recommendations it is a horse of a different color because we are not comparing a low-nutrient vegan diet to a low nutrient omnivorous diet. We are comparing a vegetable-based vegetarian, flexitarian (near vegetarian diet) that emphasizes lots of green vegetables both raw and cooked in the menus.

Plus my conservative supplemental recommendations assure nobody is low in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, B12 or Vitamin D. Some people call this diet-style Eat to Live to match the name of my best-selling book, but it may be more descriptively be described as a high nutrient density, vegetable-based, flexitarian diet. So let’s call it Eat to Live for simplicity here. Since green vegetables are rich in iron, zinc and B-vitamins, you can no longer critique this type of vegan diet as being low in these nutrients. The typical essential amino acids that a vegan diet is low in is lysine and methionine, but these are not deficient in a vegan diet that follows my Eat to Live recommendations as lysine is high in nuts and seeds and beans are rich in methionine and greens have both.

In other words, it would be extremely rare for someone following a truly healthy and well-designed vegan diet to be dangerously low in any essential or non-essential amino acids. When all the essential amino acids are adequately present, the non-essentials will also be produced in an adequate fashion. But even if they were relatively low in amino acids compared to a meat eater that lowness would most likely be a good thing not a bad thing because lower protein diets are linked to longer life and lower cancer risk, not the other way around.

The writer, who proposed a higher level of non-essential amino acids from animal products is favorable, may be able to show muscle growth is enhanced, but he can’t show lifespan is enhanced or cancer rates are lowered because the preponderance of the evidence shows less animal proteins, less cancer.

What is interesting is my book Eat to Live is critiqued on Amazon for not recommended the “proven” benefits of a diet containing grass-fed animal products. As if there are studies showing the consumption of more grass-fed animal products lower cancer rates or increase lifespan? People are just so ignorant about nutrition it is frightening. And, because the review is on Amazon, I cannot comment on some of those inaccurate and even ridiculous critiques.

In fact even a study this month December 2006 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is just about this topic. It is a study that shows that less animal products result in less cancer and more animal protein raises IGF-1 and promotes breast and prostate cancer.

To conclude, my recommendations to eat a whole food, high vegetable, plant-based diet with less than three serving of animal products a week (vegan or flexitarian) is still hands down the most healthful diet to eat. I can’t speak on behalf of other vegetarian diets; they may be less than ideal. This does not mean that a vegan diet is healthier or more lifespan promoting compared to one that eats a small serving of animal products a few times a week. This we don’t know yet.

Here's a good article on the missing nutrients in a vegan diet go to: VeganOutReach
Be sure to click “continue reading” or “permalink” for more references and resources.
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More Smarts Equal More Veggies

Did you see this report from late last week? According to Food Navigator having a higher IQ in childhood means you’re more likely to become a vegetarian when you grow up. Why you ask? Well, the proof is in the pudding—or should I say, the phytonutrients are in the vegetables:
Children with a higher IQ in childhood are more likely to be vegetarian in adult life, researchers report in the British Medical Journal…

… Since the vegetarian diet has been linked to a lower incidence of heart disease, lead researchers Catharine Gale speculated that this could help explain the link between higher IQ in childhood or adolescence and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease as an adult.

The Nutrient-Weight Con-FLAB-ulation

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Nutrient-weight ratios hide how nutrient-deficient processed food is and make animal-source food not look so fatty. Could this be why the food industry and the USDA chose this method? Could it be a conspiracy to have consumers not realize what they are really eating?

For example, a Burger King bacon double cheeseburger is clearly not a low-fat food. If we calculate its percentage of fat by weight and include the ketchup and the bun, we can accurately state that it is only 18 percent fat (over 80 percent fat-free). However, as a percentage of calories it is 54 percent fat, and the hamburger patty alone is 68 percent fat. McDonald's McLean burger was advertised a few years back as 91 percent fat-free using the same numbers trick, when in fact 49 percent of its calories came from fat.

Likewise, so-called low-fat 2 percent milk is not really 2 percent fat. Thirty-five percent of its calories come from fat. They can call it 98 percent fat-free (by weight) only because of its water content. Low-fat milk is not a low-fat product at all, and neither are low-fat cheeses and other low-fat animal foods when you recalculate their fat on a per calorie percentage basis. This is just a sad trick played on Americans. Incidentally, 49 percent of the calories in whole milk come from fat.

Beets and Toilet Humor

Okay, I was born and raised a New Jersey Italian, so at no point were beets part of my diet—until recently. Over the past month I’ve been eating beets at least a couple times a week. Why? Well to quote Dr. Fuhrman, “They are high in fiber and antioxidants compounds such as cartonoids and betacyanin, a powerful cancer protective agent found to inhibit cell mutations.”

But, there’s one thing about beets Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t tell you. To explain, I now present a recent email conversation I had with the good doctor:
Oh, and Joel, I just wanted to mention this, because I think its funny, lately I've been incorporating more beets into my diet. They're wonderful, but, they do have a tremendous coloring effect on one's evacuations—both varieties. This was quite a distressing realization for me. Let’s just say I uttered a few obscenities upon discovering this.
Sorry to be gross, but my sense of humor is generally in the toilet.
Dr. Fuhrman
Gerry, all of us long time health nuts, know that beets are a fun way to change the color of our pee and poop. Glad you are enjoying it too.
Here’s where I had a good idea. But I was too nervous to proceed without Dr. Fuhrman’s blessing.
Joel let me know how you feel about this. I'd love to make a post about beets using our little dialogue here, what do you think? I totally understand if you don't want to use it, the subject matter is a little grimy, but I think it’s very funny.
Get ready, Dr. Fuhrman’s response is just classic.
Dr. Fuhrman
I have no problem talking about pee and poop.
Who said doctor’s don’t have a sense of humor!

Not Everyone Gets It

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

What if my family, my friends and my doctor think this is not right?

Keep in mind that nutritional excellence is not for everyone. Some people will choose to smoke cigarettes, eat unhealthful, or pursue other reckless habits. Dangerous habits are powerfully addicting and some people would risk their lives rather than fight them. They have the inalienable right to live their life the way they choose. The problem is that most people have not been given a choice. They haven't been told clearly by authorities and their physicians that they have a choice to get well and enjoy life without serious illness and the real threat of an early death. Watered down, ineffective advice sells out every person hoping for life-saving answers and real help. Giving people what is socially and politically acceptable, rather than what works, causes millions to die needlessly.

I have seen people violently reject this information. This is a physical manifestation of a subconscious process. Our brains are designed to dim awareness to information that causes us anxiety; information that would require people to take action and make changes in their lives. Almost any change can be anxiety provoking. Some people may fear the loss of some beloved food, rejection of their peers or some other irrational consequence. In response, to these subconscious objections many people will chose to ignore or degrade the importance of this message. This may be even more apparent in people who don't think they have imminent health issues. Don't let this happen to you.

Unhealthy foods are a slow-working poison. Many ailments related to food take years to develop; these ailments often won't display visible symptoms until they are well advanced. The only visible issue for most people is their excess weight.

Studies have shown that most overweight people routinely underestimate the extent of their obesity. They don't see themselves as overweight. Consequently, it is not too difficult to imagine how so many can ignore the evidence. They don't see what it has to do with them.

People do the same with their heart disease risk factors. They ignore the threat upon their lives from high cholesterol and they don't act to protect their lives, often until it is too late.

The decision to ignore this information happens on a subconscious level. A multitude of other diets promise weight loss and good health without changing the way you eat. This promise alone is enough to keep people from doing the work to change; it gives our subconscious minds a way out. The allure to the subconscious mind does not have to be logical, and when the mis-information about nutrition is popular or supported by a celebrity, all the more alluring.

The good news is that you do have control over your health and your weight. You are not at the mercy of your genes or your subconscious mind. And you do not have to get the diseases other Americans (including your doctor) do. Heart diseases, strokes, cancer, dementia, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, and other common illnesses are not predominantly genetic; rather they are the result of incorrect dietary choices.

Disease and a premature death are not inevitable. They are however the inevitable consequence of eating a disease-causing diet that Americans and other modern societies eat. We dig our graves with our knives and forks. On the other hand, we have an unprecedented opportunity in human history to use science to live longer and achieve health unobtainable by prior generations. We are only given one body in this lifetime, so take proper care of it. I urge you to become an example of excellent health which will encourage others to take your lead.

Protein, Protein, Protein!

Protein, protein, protein—I’m tired of hearing about how “essential” animal protein is to our bodies! Yeah, man the big giant hunter, distinguishable by our sharp talons, large canine teeth, and pack-mentality. Ask Dr. Fuhrman, he’ll tell you, most people can get all the protein they need from plant sources; check out Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables.

But Americans love their meat! Beef, pork, bacon, chicken, sausage—you name it, we’ll fry it, and slam it in between two pieces of white bread. Yum. Borrowing a catch phrase from Stephen Colbert, “Guess what Nation?” According to Sally Squires of The Washington Post a little extra lean protein in the morning will help satisfy you until lunch, and beyond! Here’s more:
Of all the macronutrients that we eat, "protein blunts your hunger the most and is the most satiating," says Wayne Campbell, who leads a team investigating protein at Purdue University's Campbell Laboratory for Integrative Research in Nutrition, Fitness and Aging…

…It doesn't seem to matter what type of protein is eaten as long as it's lean. So poultry without the skin, fish, vegetable protein such as soybeans, eggs, low-fat or nonfat dairy products are just as good as eating lean cuts of meat. Nor does it take a lot of protein to see the effects. For healthy people, "an extra three ounces per day is well within the acceptable range," says Campbell, whose study was funded by the National Pork Board. (If you have type 2 diabetes or any medical condition that could affect your kidneys, be sure to check with your doctor before boosting protein intake.)
How ironic is it that PURDUE University is leading this investigation, not to mention the study was funded by the National Pork Board—who would have thought there was such a thing? I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this, and he was blunt, to say the least:
It was funded by the pork industry. Of course they found out that giving people an extra piece of Canadian bacon helped!!
Now, I question the merit of these studies just as much as I do studies funded by pharmaceutical companies. It would seem there is a hidden—or not-so hidden—agenda at work. What’s really sad is someone could read a report like this and then start downing bacon seven days a week—I give you the Atkins crowd.

Hungry for more on the protein issue? Read this post by Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jeff Novick: Complementary Protein Myth Won't Go Away!

Health Points: Thursday

“I don’t think people who count calories eat at McDonald’s,” said Michelle Iadarola of Staten Island. Although she rarely eats at McDonald’s, she was about to order a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (440 calories) because she was in a hurry. The calorie count made no difference.

The law is considered radical both by people who hold food companies partly responsible for the obesity crisis and by those who see the government’s regulation of food deemed unhealthy as an affront to freedom of choice.
This doesn’t mean that the road is not long and rough. I do feel disappointed when I end up caving to myself and eating food that I shouldn’t. Eating for comfort and stress relief is something that I do have to get a grip on, and will. Sometimes I do get feeling down about my progress, especially when I get into these places where I struggle to get the scale moving. Losing weight is tough, and I want to be as honest about my experience as possible. It’s not all good, but I do try to find the positive. I’m sorry if sometimes this doesn’t come through, I will be more vigilant about it in the future.
Dr. Teri Brentnall, an associate professor of gastroenterology at the University of Washington in Seattle, announced the discovery Tuesday during a news briefing in New York, saying the discovery marks one of the biggest advances in pancreatic cancer.

With the gene now in hand, scientists have a marker that can be spotted in blood tests. Brentnall has used such a test in her Seattle studies. By testing for the cancer, she said, doctors can mount an assault on the cancer before it starts.
  • People thought that low-fat snacks were 20-25 percent lower in calories (confusing low-fat with low-calorie - in fact low-fat snacks tend to be about 15% less calories).
  • Normal weight people would eat 30 more calories per session (i.e. when presented with a low-fat snack).
  • Overweight people would eat an average of 90 more calories when presented with a low-fat option.
"We have identified several ingredients that may be associated with the outbreak. These include lettuce, ground beef and cheddar cheese," Dr. Christopher Braden, a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a teleconference late Wednesday. "The most likely food vehicle is lettuce. But we are still looking at other food items."
Obesity cannot go unchecked and it is a threat to the health and welfare of children and adults alike, as obesity is linked to greater increased risks for a number of life-threatening diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But, it is uncomfortable to think that one of the solutions to childhood obesity is a scalpel.
In a study of older women, researchers found that a physically active smoker had a 35 percent lower risk of lung cancer than a sedentary smoker.

Even so, one expert called that reduction trivial because smoking itself is so risky. And Dr. Kathryn Schmitz, the study’s lead author, stressed that exercising does not give women a free pass to smoke.

Understanding the Development of Type 2 Diabetes

From the September 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

The heavier you are, the greater your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For certain susceptible individuals, even a moderate amount of excess fat on the body can trigger diabetes.

Your body's cells are fueled by glucose. When you have excess fat on your body, the extra coating of fat around your cells makes it difficult for the hormone insulin to transport glucose into the cells. To overcome this problem, your body produces additional insulin, which is manufactured by your pancreas. Adult diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance, not one of insulin deficiency.

Dangerous weight gain

As little as five pounds of excess fat on your frame can inhibit the ability of insulin to carry glucose into your cells. When you have twenty pounds of extra fat, your pancreas may be forced to produce twice as much insulin. With fifty or more pounds of excess fat on your frame, your pancreas may be forced to produce six to ten times more insulin than a person who is lean.

What do you think occurs after ten or twenty years of overworking the pancreas? That's right, it becomes exhausted and loses the ability to keep up with the huge insulin demands. As time goes on, even though your overworked pancreas may still pump out much more insulin than a thinner person might need, it won't be enough to overcome the effects of your disease-causing body fat.

The pancreas's ability to secrete insulin continues to diminish as the diabetes and the overweight condition continue year after year. Unlike with type 1 (childhood onset) diabetes, total destruction of insulin-secreting ability almost never occurs in type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. But the sooner a type 2 diabetic loses the extra weight causing her diabetes, the greater the likelihood that she will be able to maintain a functional reserve of insulin-secreting cells in her pancreas.

Taking insulin dangerous for type 2 diabetics
The damage caused by higher than normal insulin production (as a result of excess body fat) begins years before a person is diagnosed as being diabetic. Excess insulin promotes atherosclerosis, which in turn leads eventually to heart attacks and strokes.

Findings from numerous studies have shown that hyper-insulinemia promotes atherosclerosis even in non-diabetics. In diabetics, the effects of excess insulin are even worse. In a study of 154 treated diabetics, the prevalence of blood vessel disease was greatest in those with the highest levels of insulin. It made no difference whether the insulin was endogenous (self-produced) or exogenous (taken by injection).

Quite a few studies illustrate the dangers of giving insulin to adult diabetics. When these patients are given insulin—compared with those given metaformin (Glucophage)—the risk of death from heart attacks tripled.1

Additional problems
When you give an adult diabetic who has been suffering from the damaging effects of excess insulin for years more insulin to drive her sugar level down, you create additional problems. Giving the diabetic patient insulin increases appetite, which causes significant weight gain (often more than 20 pounds), which makes the patient more diabetic. Thus, the administration of insulin creates a vicious cycle that cuts years off a person's life.

Exposure to insulin in injectable form can create a blood vessel wall injury that is an early step in the formation of atherosclerotic lesions. Insulin both blocks cholesterol removal and delivers cholesterol to cells in the blood vessel walls, accelerating the creation of atherosclerotic plaque. Simply put, it increases the risk of cardiac death. Almost 80 percent of all deaths among diabetics are due to atherosclerosis, particularly coronary artery disease.

Since the level of insulin in your blood is a good predictor of your risk for heart attack, and since a tape measure around your waist is nearly as good a predictor of insulin levels, it makes sense to remember the ancient saying, "The longer your waistline, the shorter your lifeline."

Although an elevated cholesterol increases mortality somewhat in the non-diabetic, a diabetic's risk for death increases fivefold for each twenty points that cholesterol is elevated above normal. The bottom line is this: if you have diabetes or know anyone with diabetes, they must get rid of their diabetes and not merely "manage it." Do not rely on standard drug methods of treating diabetes, especially injecting more insulin. An aggressive approach based on nutritional excellence is the only effective way to reverse this dangerous condition.

A tough situation
Conventional diabetologists are in a bind. They know that high glucose levels accelerate aging of the eyes and kidneys, leading to devastating complications such as kidney failure and blindness. They want to prescribe aggressive insulin therapy to get patients' blood sugars down. The problem is they also are aware that the extra insulin accelerates atherosclerosis (which leads to heart attacks) and weight gain (which eventually makes patients more diabetic).

Tightening blood sugar control with insulin is risky business. Diabetologists engaging in this conventional medical practice are endangering their patient's lives. The risks are so great, I consider it malpractice to start giving insulin to type 2 diabetics without offering the option of treatment utilizing nutritional excellence.

Dangerous advice
The American Diabetes Association and most dieticians and physicians offer dangerous advice to the diabetic. They give lip service to weight reduction and cholesterol lowering, but since the diets they recommend are ineffective at achieving substantial weight loss and sustained ideal weight, even these recommendations are generally worthless. Typical diabetes care focuses on general glucose control, by monitoring blood glucose to determine when it is necessary to change insulin dosages and when glucose-lowering medication is warranted.

Here is a policy statement from a physician organization dictating diabetic care: "It is nearly impossible to take very obese people and get them to lose significant weight. So, rather than specifying an amount of weight loss, we are targeting metabolic control." This is doublespeak for—"Our recommended diets don't work, so we just give medications and watch patients deteriorate."

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

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

Predictable success
I have achieved marked success with diabetic patients and the success at becoming "non diabetic" or almost "non-diabetic" regularly occurs on the Eat To Live program whether the patient follows a strict vegan diet or not. I describe the diet-style as a "vegetable-based" diet because the base of the pyramid is vegetables, not grains. Even though most animal products are excluded, it is not necessary to adopt a completely vegan diet to achieve the goals.

I offer patients the choice of adding two servings a week of low-fat fish, such as tilapia, flounder, sole, and scrod, as well as an egg-white omelet, once or twice each week. A few servings of very low-saturated-fat animal products each week can be interspersed with the vegan meals without diminishing the results achievable from the vegetable-based diet.
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Heart Health: Folic Acid Supplementation

Now here’s a question you don’t hear everyday: How effective are folic acid supplements for maintaining a healthy heart? Uh, I don’t know. I wonder what the experts are saying. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News reports some health researchers aren’t exactly impressed with folic acid supplementation:
"Consuming a supplement of folic acid is probably not going to mitigate your risk of cardiovascular disease," said the study's lead author, Dr. Lydia Bazzano, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in New Orleans…

… According to Dr. Stephen Siegel, a cardiologist at New York University Medical Center in New York City: "The whole concept [of folic acid supplementation] began because we know there's an association between homocysteine levels and atherosclerotic disease, and we know that we can safely lower homocysteine with folic acid. But we don't know if there's a cause-and-effect relationship between homocysteine and cardiovascular disease, or simply an association. Many doctors jumped on the bandwagon, however, because folic acid didn't have the potential to do any harm, but it looked like it might help."
Okay, so far we’ve got two thumbs down. Let’s see what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about folic acid supplements for heart health. In Cholesterol Protection For Life it comes up during his analysis of high homocysteine levels:
Consider an abnormal homocysteine that may require treatment above 15, not above 10. Levels between 10 and 15 have not been consistently associated with worse outcomes.1

If one homocysteine is elevated above 15, make sure a blood level of B12, and MMA (methlymalonic acid) and a folate level is drawn.

Mild elevations of homocysteine between 10 and 15 do not appear to place people at higher risk. In most of these cases, the mild elevation is just a marker for a low nutrient diet in general and the correct treatment is the improvement of the entire diet, not just a supplement to lower homocysteine. Folate alone in these cases cannot compare with the value of actually eating a diet rich in folate and gaining all the other essential cardio-protective compounds that are found in natural plant foods. It is similar to taking a cholesterol-lowering drug instead of eating healthfully; a pill cannot take the place of the full symphony of dietary elements that contribute to heart and vascular health.

When the abnormality (elevated homocysteine) is due to B12 deficiency it is wise to take more B12. Whether you are consuming sufficient B12 or not is best ascertained by a normal MMA (methylmalonic acid) because a B12 level in the 200 to 400 range, which is considered in the normal range could still be abnormal. Paradoxically, MMA is actually a better marker for B12 deficiency than B12 itself. If the MMA is elevated a B12 deficiency exists, even if the B12 is in the normal range. When this is the case, extra B12 is the correct treatment for the elevated homocysteine.

If the folate level is excellent (15 – 25) and the B12 level is normal (as documented with a normal MMA) and the homocysteine is still significantly elevated,then the cause of the elevation is most likely a genetic defect in folate conversion. In this case, folate (or folic acid) supplementation may not be totally effective; because the patient is just taking more of the folate that they don’t convert effectively to begin with. They don’t need more folate, rather they need more of the biologically active form of folate that they don’t make well (called methyl tetrahydrofolate or formyl tetrahydrofolate.)

So if the B12 is normal and the folate is normal, and the homocysteine is still significantly elevated, it may make more sense to take a supplement containing additional tetrahydrofolate, and not just pile on huge doses of folate (folic acid) attempting to drive the homocysteine down with overwhelming high doses of folate.

In conclusion, it is wise to target therapy based on known deficiencies and not just blanket patients with high dose supplements that they do not need. Nevertheless, an attempt to uncover the cause of the homocysteine elevation and lower it accordingly may be an important intervention for patients with unique needs.
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Antibiotics and E. Coli

Here’s more evidence that perhaps antibiotics aren’t the wonder drugs many believe them to be. Mary Engel of The Los Angeles Times reports some health experts are warning against the usage of antibiotics to treat E. coli:
A 2000 study found that children infected by E. coli O157:H7 and given antibiotics developed a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome at higher rates than children who did not take antibiotics. The syndrome is the leading cause of kidney failure in children…

…Not everyone who takes antibiotics gets worse. And some develop hemolytic uremic syndrome without taking antibiotics. CDC scientists believe that the unusually high proportion of people in the spinach outbreak who were hospitalized or developed the syndrome was probably the result of a particularly lethal sub-type of E. coli O157:H7. They also think that the spinach may have been especially heavily contaminated with E. coli.
To put it mildly Dr. Fuhrman is leery of antibiotics. Check out Monday’s post Inappropriate Use of Antibiotics for more.

Gimme a Shot of Snail Venom?

Okay, everyday I scour the newswires and blog feeds for relevant information on health, fitness, and nutrition, but, I’m a natural humorist, so part of me is always on the look out for the unusual—the out-there! Things like baseball’s worst burger, the fatness of Australian pets, or, my personal favorite, this insane comment from another low carb loony. Well here’s a new one. Kristina Collins of The Cancer Blog discusses the potential of tropical snail VENOM as pain medication:
Conotoxin is toxin made by cone snails, which are fish eating snails that inhabit tropical coral reefs. Each of the 500 species of cone snail produces roughly 50 to 100 distinct conotoxins which they use to immobilize prey. Researchers believe that this sea snail venom could be used to create a pain medication to replace morphine.
Now, I’m no doctor and maybe conotoxin has lots of merit, but it sure seems weird to me. Then again, penicillin is made from fungus and no one finds that odd. Man, science is crazy—although this is good PR for poisonous tropical snails.

Health Points: Tuesday

“Personally, I don’t want the government telling me what I can eat,” Mr. Schwartz said, making it clear that he considered the city’s new rule a blow to his civil liberties. Nevertheless, he said, his cooking skills were up to the task…

…The rules adopted by the city’s Board of Health are to be phased in. Restaurants will have to eliminate margarines and shortenings that contain more than a trace of trans fats by July 1, and to remove all items from their menus that exceed a limit of a half-gram of trans fat per serving by July 1, 2008. Violators will face fines of at least $200.

2 oranges, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups fresh or canned pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Mix all ingredients well. Refrigerate and let the flavors mingle for at least a day. Serves about 4. Truly nectar of the gods!
  • You won’t find high fructose corn syrup getting any love on this blog. But what you will find it turning up in a lot more foods than you might think. Edward M. Eveld of The Seattle Times explains:
Amanda Welch, a Kansas City hairstylist, expected to find high fructose corn syrup in cookies, ice cream, drinks, etc. The shocker, she said, is how often it shows up in items we don't think of as sweet. But here it was in hot dogs, pickles, ketchup, hummus, yogurt and bread, to name a few.
  • Okay, even though I don’t think I have anything to worry about. This next report still scares. According to the Associated Press height loss is linked to heart disease in men. I’m short, so I’m especially sensitive to shrinking—it’s already hard enough for me to find clothes! Carla K. Johnson has more on this study:
A study of older British men finds that those who shrink in height by about an inch or more over 20 years are more likely to die earlier than other men. Those men also have a greater risk of heart disease…

… Other research has shown similar factors underlie both osteoporosis and heart disease, such as high cholesterol, inflammation and high blood pressure, she said. Inflammation and lipids in the blood may contribute to low bone mineral density, although the exact mechanism is unclear.
Christmas Lima Beans pair beautifully with the traditional mix of sweet chestnuts and Brussels Sprouts. The Brussels sprouts are finely shredded and almost disappear into the dish -- a nice way to get sneaky with those sprouts if your family doesn't take to them whole.
Obese men often experience a sharp decline in testosterone levels while obese girls show much higher levels of the sex hormone than girls of normal weight, according to scientific research released on Monday.
  • I don’t know about you, but outbreaks of disease in our food supply give me the willies—even if it originates in place like Taco Bell. We’ve got to take serious precautions against stuff like this! Dan Majors Pittsburgh Post Gazette points out that I’m not the only to feel this way:
Patricia Buck, 60, of Grove City, Mercer County, who lost a grandson to E. coli in 2001, such steps amount to damage control. It's too little, too late.

"We have the knowledge and technology to change it, to make [food] safer," said Mrs. Buck, who has spent the past five years pushing for stronger food-safety legislation. "Unfortunately, food safety is a very complex issue. The situation we're in today didn't develop overnight, so untangling the situation isn't going to be [like using] a magic wand and everything's going to be fixed."
The study found that those who consumed at least 3 weekly servings of green vegetables could cut their chances of developing the cancer by up to 55%.

Inappropriate Use of Antibiotics

A recurring topic here on Followhealthlife is the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. According to Dr. Fuhrman antibiotics are too often prescribed for conditions that when treated with proper nutrition will resolve naturally, without medication—ear infections are a big one. More from a previous post entitled Childhood Ear Infections: A Multibillion-Dollar Industry:
Studies also point to the fact that most ear infections early in life are viral, not bacterial.1 The vast majority of ear infections resolve nicely on their own, whether bacterial or viral, without an antibiotic. It is a common practice in this country to treat all ear infections with an antibiotic. Whether bacterial or not, our children get a routine prescription for an antibiotic at every minor illness. This cycle often is repeated many times, which may beget other medical problems in adulthood…

…Another international study following over 3,000 children treated by general practitioners in nine countries showed that antibiotics did not improve the rate of recovery from ear infections. Nearly 98 percent of U.S. physicians in the survey prescribed antimicrobials routinely, the highest percentage of all countries surveyed.2 The variable showing the strongest relationship with protection from ear infections was breast-feeding.3
So after considering all this, I wasn’t exactly surprised by the contents of this report from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Apparently a lot of patients associate antibiotics with pain-management, which doesn’t appear to be a good thing. Read on:
"Our study suggests that the patient's desire for an antibiotic may be based on the mistaken view that this treatment is best for pain relief," say Mieke van Driel, M.D., M.Sc., of the department of general practice and primary health care at Ghent University, Belgium, and the other authors. They call for a clinical trial "to find out whether exploring patients' expectations about treatment for pain and offering adequate analgesic treatment can assist physicians in the management of sore throats more often without prescribing antibiotics."
Now, I’m sure most people can relate to this. When you’re hurting, priority one is stopping the pain, and in a distant second is determining the source or cause of your discomfort. So with this being said, I decided to get a professional opinion on the AAFP’s report. And here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say:
Everyone knows antibiotics are overused by physicians and that they are dangerous drugs. So called “Lyme Disease” specialists and some of the labs that support them are some of the worst offenders, repeatedly falsely diagnosing patients with chronic Lyme, and giving antibiotics because they can relieve pain and make patients feel better from a host of potential causes. All physicians should work aggressively to curtail unnecessary antibiotic use.

Most doctors want to please their patients and they want to do it quickly and move to the next patient as soon as they can. Patients often expect them for common respiratory illnesses and many doctors comply with their wishes. Antibiotics as a solution work great; they enable the doctor to maintain their important role in the eyes of the patients, reinforce the value of doctor visits, and allow the patient to think their care was indispensable. The only problem is that most prescriptions are either not needed, or not in the best long-term interest of the patients.

Nutritional excellence practically negates the need for most prescriptions such as those prescribed for headaches, cholesterol lowering, high blood pressure and diabetes. Antibiotics are more dangerous, than most physicians and their patients consider. I believe much more care should be taken to restrict antibiotic use to only the most severe infections and documented bacterial conditions.
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Anesthesia the "Nebulous Entity"

UroStream has got me rolling again. This time she points out how surgeons continually pass the buck of post-op pain onto the ever-hardworking anesthesiologist:
When a post-op patient comes in, complaining of various little ills, I nod slowly, and in my most "knowing" and empathic tone, I will say: "yes, it's all because of the anesthesia." I can usually get away with this for up to three weeks after the surgery. And it's a no-blame situation. It's certainly not the fault of the anesthesiologist who usually does a stellar job, it's just this *nebulous* entity know as "the anesthesia".
Three weeks after the surgery! She is one funny urologist.

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Magic Beans

Beans, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them, but they’re actually pretty strong medicine. Now I’m no doctor, so I’ll defer to one. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman points out that, among beans’ many other talents, they can decrease a person’s risk of colon cancer and even reproductive cancers. Take a look:
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.1 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…

..Beans, in general, not just soy, have additional anti-cancer benefits against reproductive cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.2
Now, I doubt you thought about that when you were singing, “Beans beans a magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot.” Want more bean factoids? Vegan Grandma has got a whole bunch of them:
In some Eastern cultures, legumes have been a basic dietary staple for more than 20,000 years. The lima and pinto bean were cultivated for the first time in the very earliest Mexican and Peruvian civilizations more than 5,000 years ago, being popular in both the Aztec and Inca cultures.
Be sure to check out the part of the post where she lists the many different varieties of beans. You’ll see things like Adzuki Beans and Cranberry Beans—I’m getting hungry already! Continue Reading...

High Protein Diets and Cancer

No surprise here. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports high protein diets may increase cancer risk:
"Many people in the United States and Italy are eating 50 percent more protein than what is recommended," Dr. Luigi Fontana, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis said. "If we eat 50 percent more calories than recommended, we become overweight and obese. What happens if you eat 50 percent more protein than required -- we don't know."

He speculated that eating too much protein increases the risk for cancer and also accelerates aging, "but we need more studies to see if my hypothesis is true or false."

One expert also thinks that a high-protein diet increases the risk for certain cancers.

"We recently published a paper that also shows that a high-protein diet is bad for you. It reduces survival; it increases the risk of cancer," said Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos, the Vincent L. Gregory Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology.
For more on the meat-disease connection check out these previous posts:

How Some Kids Eat

As you know, Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child is devoted to improving children’s diets and educating parents on the benefits of nutritional excellence. But is a book like this needed? Do kids really have poor eating habits? Granted, childhood obesity is on the rise, but surely parents know how to feed their kids, right? No, that doesn’t appear to be the case at all.

This report by Andrea Pyenson of The Boston Globe provides plenty of evidence that many kids aren’t nutritionally sound—and their parents aren’t exactly helping either:
Courtney, a petite 14-year-old (she’s not quite 5 feet, and 98 pounds) who loves to eat, watch TV cooking shows, and cook, admits, ‘‘I just think about what tastes good. I eat whatever my Mom cooks.’’ She doesn’t like green vegetables, and says fruit ‘‘hurts my mouth.’’ Her favorite foods are pizza, french fries, and chicken…

…Michael, 13 (he’s 5-foot-4 and 120 pounds), the most health-conscious of the three, isn’t crazy about food that grows in the ground, unless it’s starchy, like potatoes or corn. ‘‘I eat any fruit, but I’m not into vegetables,’’ he says. Michael is mostly a pizza, tacos, and steak kind of guy. Every day he spends one to two hours at a computer, the same for TV. His day one dinner menu was steak tips, mashed potatoes, corn, and a glass of water; the following night it was roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, and a glass of water.
I’ve got to admit, I don’t understand the “fruit hurts my mouth” comment—maybe she should try peeling the cactus pear before she eats it! But I wasn’t surprised to read that pizza, French fries, and chicken are among kid’s favorite foods. I’m twenty-five and many of peers exist on that stuff.

So, to put it mildly, I do think kids and parents need helping improving their diets. What’s the answer? Check out this section of Disease-Proof Your Child, in it Dr. Fuhrman makes a pretty clear case that healthy eating is a family affair:
Parents are entrusted with the responsibility of securing the selection of healthy foods for the family and preparing the food in a way that makes it desirable. Children are responsible for deciding how much they eat. If they are in an environmental of healthful foods they will have no problem regulating variety and timing. They can choose what they eat, when they eat, and if they will eat. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Don’t offer a treat because the child was good or ate well. Offer healthy treats as part of the normal well-balanced diet.

No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not prefer either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.
This makes sense to me, because after all everything is easier when you have good strong team effort. But in case you need a little more advice, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s podcast Getting Children to Eat Well.

Vitamin D and Prostate Cancer

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

More and more research is accumulating showing that low blood levels of vitamin D increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. In fact, one recent study showed a doubling of the cancer risk in those whose vitamin D levels were low. This may be one of the important reasons why African Americans (who have more melanin in their skin) are reported to have higher rates of prostate cancer than people with lighter skin. If you have dark skin, your need for sunshine may be greater. If, in addition, you work indoors, it may be even more important that you take supplemental vitamin D. Don’t try to increase your vitamin D intake by drinking milk, since it has been demonstrated to significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Health Points: Thursday

  • I’m sure most parents would agree, too many kids just sit around the house all day playing video games and futzing with the computer. Who goes outside to play anymore? No wonder why childhood obesity is on the rise. You know what we need? A kiddy gym. Virginie Montet of the AFP reports two sisters thought this was a pretty good idea. Introducing Youth Visions:
Tonya Manago, a former paralegal, and her sister Keitha Howerton opened the gym last April when Manago noticed that her daughter was putting on weight.

Desha, nine, has since managed to lose 12 pounds (5.5 kilos) and now weighs 116 pounds (53 kilos), while her girlfriend Ravin, who is 10 and weighs 257 pounds (117 kilos) has reached star status at the gym by losing 22 pounds (10 kilograms).
  • Now, I’m not a smoker, so a ban on smoking in public places doesn’t really upset me, but I admit, losing the romance of a smoke-filled bar is a little depressing. Well people in Ohio, a tobacco-producing state, are about to see that imagine dissipate. According to The Chicago Tribune Ohio is poised to join the smoking prohibition:
Starting Thursday, forget about smoking in Ohio bars, restaurants, bingo halls and private clubs. Even the last bastions of smoke-filled heaven, bowling alleys, will be off-limits for smokers. Ashtrays have effectively been outlawed.

This is the thrust of one of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the nation, approved by voters last month, making Ohio the first state in the Midwest to go smoke-free and the first tobacco-producing state to enact such a ban.
  • Oh that zany “Diet Detective” Charles Stuart Platkin is at it again. This time the king of calorie-counting is going to help you overcome those pesky “Diet Villains.” Just take his diet quiz and all will be revealed, your troubles will melt away—insert tongue in cheek. From The Seattle Times:
Mostly G's: The health nut. You shop only in health-food stores, buy organic, follow a vegetarian diet, take loads of vitamins and preach about the virtues of eating "healthy." Nevertheless, you're overweight.

The fix: Don't confuse the concept of eating foods that have health benefits with eating to lose weight. Even if foods are healthy, calories still count.
Beta carotene, an antioxidant found in such foods as squash and carrots, was -- and still is, in some circles -- considered a powerful cancer fighter and a combatant against free-radical damage. While the evidence regarding the latter still, at least ostensibly, holds true, some new research suggests that beta-carotene is completely ineffective as a cancer fighter (of course, it can be argued that by helping to fight against free-radical damage, beta carotene is also battling against the increased risk of developing cancer).
According to a study led by Dr. Evelyn Cohen Reis, of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, parents of youngsters who are obese and have high blood pressure or elevated triglycerides are likely to have the same issues.

"What we took from that was, 'Gosh, you could look at the children's health and help predict whether the parents are at increased risk of heart disease,' " Dr. Reis said.
  • Are you a cell phone addict? Do you know one? Personally, I’m not into cell phones—the obsession with texting and ring tones is a mystery to me. But hey! At least we now know that they don’t cause cancer. A new study involving 420,000 Danish cell phone users determined cellular phones don’t trigger cancer. More from the Associated Press:
Cell phones beam radiofrequency energy that can penetrate the brain’s outer edge, raising questions about cancers of the head and neck, brain tumors or leukemia. Most research has found no risk, but a few studies have raised questions. And while U.S. health officials insist the evidence shows no real reason for concern, they don’t give the phones a definitive clean bill of health, either, pending long-term data on slow-growing cancers.

Hungry, Hungry, Humans

One thing I don’t miss about being a standard American dieter is the hunger pains. Remember those? You haven’t eaten in a while, and before you know it weakness sets in, your stomach begins to growl, and you get a headache. Dr. Fuhrman refers to this as toxic hunger. He discusses it further in "Toxic Hunger" Can Kill:
A few hours after eating, feeling weak, headachy, tired, mentally dull, and stomach cramping or discomfort is not true hunger! These symptoms of stomach cramping and fluttering, headaches and fatigue that begin when digestion is completed I call “toxic hunger” because these symptoms only occur in those who have been eating a toxic diet. These withdrawal symptoms from an unhealthful diet, and this discomfort is mistakenly interpreted as the need to eat more frequently and take in more calories.
I’m not the only one who’s glad to be done with toxic hunger. Before getting hip to nutritional excellence Nicole from Full of Veggies went to desperate lengths to cope with her toxic hunger—and she definitely doesn’t think a gumball a day keeps the hunger pains away:
Before I started ETLing I had such toxic hunger it wasn't funny. If I didn't eat sooner or later it would catch up with me and I'd get headaches or feel weak etc. I can remember a time where I was really hungry and hubby and I were out and about; it was going to be an hour or so until we were going to be home to eat and I was so hungry I got one of those horrible gum balls out of a vending machine to help curb the hunger. I remember hubby saying to me "you're so hungry you can't wait an hour for dinner?" and I really didn't think I could. The feeling of hunger felt unbearable at the time. Looking back, it makes me sad that I was such a slave to junk and it was effecting my body so much.
Now, Nicole and I are grown ups, but according to Dr. Fuhrman toxic hunger and its sequelae start young. Here’s more from Toxic Hunger and Kids:
After enough time goes by continually consuming more calories than they need, children will feel discomfort when they do not have food constantly in their stomach. They must keep their digestive tract going all the time, because the minute it empties, they feel uncomfortable. By the time they become an overweight adult, they are true food addicts.

Food-Cancer Connections

What causes cancer? The answer seems larger than life—like pondering the age old question, “Why are we here?” For a long time I assumed you only got cancer from toxic chemicals or unlucky genes. I never imagined eating habits could have something to do with it. Good thing I read Eat to Live:
Most Americans are not aware that the diet they feed their children guarantees a high cancer probability down the road.1 They don’t even contemplate that eating fast-food meals may be just as risky (or more so) than letting children smoke cigarettes2…
More reason to put fast-food in the junk category, but what about meat (or animal products) in general? Back to Eat to Live:
In China, animal-food consumption correlated well with early menarche and increasing levels of sex hormones. Serum testosterone levels had the best correlation with breast cancer, even better than estrogen. Of note is that increasing levels of testosterone significantly increases the risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer. Testosterone rises as well with increasing levels of obesity, and being overweight is another consistent risk factor.3
Let’s also check out what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about dairy, refined foods, and fats? More from Eat to Live:
Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical compound that even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits is a prominent cause of many types of cancer in those consuming dairy fat, such as butter and cheese4…

…Medical investigations clearly show the dangers of consuming the quantity of processed foods that we do. And because these refined grains lack fiber and nutrient density to turn down our appetite, they also cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and significantly increased cancer risk5…

…Numerous epidemiological and clinical trials have shown that diets low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates correlate with lower body weights worldwide. High-fat diets always show a direct response relationship not only to obesity but also to heart attacks and cancer.6
Now this next question should be obvious, “What kind of diet reduces the risk of cancer?” Well Eat to Live has gotten us this far, let’s go full-circle with it:
Phytochemicals, or plant-derived chemicals, occur naturally in plants. These nutrients, which scientists are just starting to discover and name, have tremendously beneficial effects on human physiology. The effects of our not consuming sufficient amounts of them are even more astounding—premature death from cancer and atherosclerosis…

…Plant fibers—the indigestible and unabsorbed part of the plant foods—are now looked at in a completely different way than in the past. We now understand that it is not merely the amount but the variety of fiber in the diet that protects against cancer. Our digestive tract is teeming with many species of bacteria that convert these fibers into numerous essential fatty acids and other nutritive substances with strong immune-enhancing and anti-cancer properties.7 These bacterial degradation products are essential for optimal health and protection against various cancers, especially colon cancer...

…Eating a wide variety of raw and conservatively cooked plant foods (such as steamed vegetables) is the only way we can ensure that we get a sufficient amount of essential health-supporting phytochemicals. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements or adding some vitamins to processed foods will not prevent the diseases associated with eating a diet containing a low percentage of calories from whole natural foods.
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Health Points: Tuesday

  • Did you hear about the E. coli outbreak in New Jersey? No? Well I live in Jersey, and I can tell you—it’s all over the news! So if you haven’t heard about it, Chris Newmarker of the Associated Press will fill you in:
Authorities were still trying to determine how and where the victims became infected over the past two weeks. At least 11 of them ate at a Taco Bell restaurant in South Plainfield, and authorities were expected to finish tests on restaurant workers Monday.
I shaped a slice of firm tofu into a tiger's head, then fried it in a bit of oil until it turned golden brown. The tiger stripes are bits of nori seaweed cut with scissors; the face is more nori cut out with a "happy face" paper punch. The tiger sits on a bed of rice, and up above you can see a plastic squirting fish filled with soy sauce.
Outdoor clothing company L.L. Bean, Inc. shuts down its manufacturing line three times a day for mandatory five-minute stretches, designed to prevent the most common injuries the workers suffer…

…After L.L. Bean increased the price for burgers and lowered the price for salads in its cafeteria fruit and salad bar purchases doubled while French fry and burger sales fell by half.
  • Honestly, I thought a Kiwano was the type of robe people in Japan wear. Not so. FatFree Vegan Kitchen shares her take on this freakish looking fruit:
When you cut open a kiwano, you find that it's attractive even on the inside, a bright green color with lots of nicely formed seeds. But when you try to remove the "fruit" from the shell you discover that it's just a gelatinous mass and that those seeds are too tough to eat. Taste it and you find that it tastes decidedly "green"--not bad, really, but not good either. And the one I bought wasn't sweet at all.
  • Do we have any readers from Minnesota? If so, take a bow because according to the Associated Press your state is the healthiest in the country. You’ve topped United Health Foundation rankings for the fourth straight year—congratulations! Frederic J. Frommer has more:
Minnesota, which has held the top spot in 11 of the 17 years of the survey, was cited for, among other things, its low rate of uninsured (8.4 percent), low percentage of children in poverty (10 percent), and low infant mortality rate (5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • Something that really amazes me is fast food restaurants in hospitals. I don’t know. It just doesn’t put the vibe out there that Americans are serious about health. “Hey guys! Since my triple-bypass was a success, let’s celebrate with a cheeseburger and fries!” According Robert Preidt of HealthDay News some health researchers share this concern:
"At a time when obesity has become the most common, critical medical condition of childhood and consumption of fast food is widely considered to be a major contributor to this epidemic, the location of such restaurants in pediatric health care facilities promotes dietary choices that are contrary to the desired messages and established recommendations of our profession," lead researcher and pediatrician Dr. Hannah Sahud, of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, said in a prepared statement.
  • Ever wonder what doctors would be if they weren’t doctors? Well UroStream has decided that if she wasn’t taking care of people, she’d be a restaurant critic. Sounds like a good premise for a sitcom. Urologist by day, restaurant connoisseur by night—I just hope she washes her hands. Here’s her story:
But I've thought this over, and I've finally reached my dream alternative career choice: restaurant critic. I mean, I love food, I have an adventuresome yet discriminating palate, I like to write, and I eat out a lot. If I could get paid to do this, it would indeed be my ideal job.
Early results suggest some compounds in mangoes work by activating or inhibiting groups of receptors known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, or PPARs. PPARs play a role in cellular metabolism. The findings of this study could present positive nutritional health benefits for diabetes and high cholesterol. Furthermore, preliminary findings also suggest that mango skin, often a component of mango juice, is particularly rich in these compounds.

Calories, Calories, Calories!

We spend a lot of time worrying about calories. “How many calories are in that? What’s the serving size? I burned 100 calories on the treadmill today!” But is it just all about calories? Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. He’ll tell you, it’s also about nutrition. If it wasn’t, then calories from milk, meat, oil, vegetables, and fruit would all be the same. Guess what? They’re not!

Now we all know people like Charles Stuart Platkin the “Diet Detective” don’t get it. He makes all his food determinations based solely on calorie content. But laypeople can be just as misguided. Candice Choi of the Associated Press explains more and more people love new low-calorie foods—loaded with dairy, Olestra, sugar alcohols, and fat and sugar substitutes:
According to ACNielsen, U.S. supermarket, drug-store and discount sales of products labeled low-, no- and reduced-fat reached $32.1.billion for a one-year period ending Oct. 7, up from $31.7.billion for the same time period in 2002…

… Many diet foods, however, rely on fat and sugar substitutes that have raised health concerns, he said. Olestra, the fat substitute used in Frito Lay's light potato chips, can cause cramps and diarrhea. Sugar alcohols, used in a variety of desserts and low-carb foods, including Snackwell's Sugar Free Shortbread Cookies, can have a laxative effect in high quantities.
In my opinion, you want a quick snack? Have a piece of fruit and don’t worry about the calories—that’s what I do. Personally, I don’t pay much attention to “health food.” To me, all those South Beach bars, Snackwells cookies, and low-carb treats are just junk. I don’t care if some ice-creams are low-fat, low-carb, reduced-calorie, trans-fat free, all natural, or with no chemical additives—I’m still not eating it.

Veggie Vitamin Sources

From the March 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

Here are your healthiest sources of dietary vitamin C, betacarotene, and vitamin E.

Vitamin C: melons, berries, oranges, kiwifruit, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, tomato

Betacarotene: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, broccoli, and asparagus); deep orange fruits (apricots, cantaloupe, mango, and papaya); deep orange vegetables (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin)

Vitamin E: whole grains, seeds, nuts, asparagus, avocados, berries, green leafy vegetables, and tomato

Asthma: The Bronx Bomber

I’ve never known that many asthmatics, so my familiarity with the condition is minimal. But until I read Disease-Proof Your Child I didn’t realize that asthma is another condition that can be treated with superior nutrition. Like many Americans I thought it was just one of those things you’re born with and can’t really do much about. Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman:
Allergies and asthma are often a reaction to inhaling substances such as pollen, house dust, and cat hair, or the hyperactivity of the airways may be triggered by infections, chemical irritants, exercise, and even emotions. In virtually every case, there is an underlying abnormality—an excessive irritability of the airways that leads to inflammation and narrowing of the airways.

It is always prudent to avoid and remove things that are known to trigger a reaction in a sensitive child, but what is most important, but rarely even considered, is why an individual is so hypersensitive or allergic to begin with. Learning why a person has allergies or asthma makes it possible to take steps to improve and reverse this common chronic condition.
So, why do I bring this up? Well a couple days ago The New York Daily News ran a rather startling article. Apparently the Bronx is a hotbed of childhood asthma attacks, despite the overall decline in the number of kids being hospitalized for asthma citywide. Lisa L. Colangelo has more:
The overall hospitalization rate for the city decreased last year from 6.5 per 1,000 children to 5.4 per 1,000, according to a recent Health Department study. But the Bronx rate was 8.9 per 1,000, and the numbers in three Bronx neighborhoods were higher still…

…Similar high numbers were found in low-income neighborhoods around the city.
Now, I’m no detective, but maybe these low-income neighborhoods have something to do with it. This excerpt from Disease-Proof Your Child might leave you feeling the same way:
The occurrence of asthma and allergies is also related to lifestyle factors and dietary patterns. Genetics play a role, but not the major role. Children’s growing bodies and dividing cells make them more susceptible to damage, but there is an up side, too. Their growing bodies are also more malleable and can make dramatic recoveries from serious diseases such as asthma easier than an adult’s can, when a program of superior nutrition is adopted.

Certainly, living in an urban area around pollution is an important contributor. Non-dietary risk factors include exposure to day care before four months of age, and exposure to wood smoke, oil smoke, or exhaust anytime from birth to age five all increase asthma risk by 50 percent.1 But nutritional influences are also powerfully linked and appear again and again in multiple scientific studies. One important risk for the development of allergies and asthma is lack of breast-feeding and high dietary ration of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.2 Animal products (except for fish) are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, while flax seeds and walnuts are rich plant sources of omega-3 fats. This same inadequate dietary fatty acid pattern in mother’s diet during pregnancy has also been shown in scientific trial to beget a higher number of allergic and asthmatic children.3
This report reminded me of January's New York Times investigation of diabetes in Manhattan . Check it out and let me know if you see some similarities too.
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A Raw Perspective on Food

Dhrumil over at We Like It Raw offers a brief, but insightful comment on the food we eat. Here’s a tidbit:
The food that we eat, as a world society, has changed more in the last 50 years than it has in the last 5000 years.

Most of the decisions that have led to that change have not been made in the interest of human health, but rather in the fattening of a few pocket books.