Standard American Smorgasbord

Overkill, too much, excess, a lot—all words and phrases that I’d use to describe most American’s dietary habits. But is it our fault? Well, one public interest group seems to believe restaurants are responsible for our extreme eating. Will Duhman of Reuters reports:
Michael Jacobson, the group's executive director, took aim at "table-service" chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesday's and Uno Chicago Grill. Such places increasingly stuff their dishes with extra unhealthy ingredients, he said.

"What we're finding is that table-service restaurants have launched into a whole new era of extreme eating," Jacobson said. "If we're going to deal with the epidemic of obesity and the tremendous prevalence of heart attacks and strokes, we're going to have to do something about restaurant foods."
If you follow Eating to Live on the Outside you can certainly see their point. Restaurants just pile on the junk. Take bacon for example, nowadays it’s on everything from salads to steak. It’s practically a condiment. So is it right to point the finger at restaurants or is it our responsibility to learn how to eat right and live well? I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman answer that:
My work over the last few years has demonstrated that I can affect dramatic change in even initially resistant people, not by merely appealing to their rational minds, but by giving them the confidence and tools to overcome their subconscious fears, addiction and cravings. Fear of a looming health crisis may be a motivator too, but even more important is the learnable body of knowledge that is critical to help addicts, especially food addicts get well.
In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman offers up some healthy alternatives that are basically the opposite of the nutrient-sparse calorie-dense restaurant junk food, and, they'll keep you from packing on the pounds:
An important corollary to the principle of limiting high-calorie food is that the only way for a human being to safely achieve the benefits of caloric restriction while ensuring that the diet is nutritionally adequate is to avoid as much as possible those foods that are nutrient poor.

Indeed, this is the crucial consideration in deciding what to eat. We need to eat foods with adequate nutrients so we don’t need to consume excess “empty” calories to reach our nutritional requirements. Eating foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber, and low in calories, “fills us up,” so to speak, thus preventing us from overeating.

Garlic and Garlic Supplements

New research claims garlic and garlic supplements don’t reduce cholesterol. Thomas H. Maugh II of The Los Angeles Times reports:
In an editorial accompanying the paper in the journal, Drs. Mary Charlson and Marcus McFerren of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City wrote that the authors "convincingly demonstrate that raw garlic and two popularly used supplements do not reduce cholesterol."

The study did not rule out the possibility that garlic has some other beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, Gardner said, but those potential effects need to be studied in similar trials.
This is kind of a no-brainer. Dr. Fuhrman will tell you, the key isn’t taking supplements or eating small amounts of healthy food in conjunction with the standard American diet. You need a total diet over all, not just putting a pig in a dress—or should I say putting a garlic supplement in a Chalupa.

Beans and Obesity Prevention

Beans are pretty amazing. Sure they taste great and are loaded with lots fiber and protein, but did you know they do a nice job of stifling hunger as well? Don’t take my word for it. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Eat to Live:
Legumes are among the world's most perfect foods. They stabilize blood sugar, blunt your desire for sweets, and prevent mid-afternoon cravings. Even a small portion can help you feel full. I encourage you to eat at least one full cup daily. They can be flavored and spiced in interesting ways, and you can eat an unlimited quantity of them. Eat some beans with every lunch. Among your choices are chickpeas, black-eyed peas, black beans, cowpeas, green peas, lima beans, pinto beans, lentils, red kidney beans, soybeans, cannelloni beans, pigeon peas, and white beans.
Not bad for a food that is forever linked to stinky punch-lines. In fact, it is well know in the medical community that beans can help people maintain healthy body weight, and, even lose weight. Check out this news break from The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine about beans and weight-loss:
A presentation at the recent Experimental Biology Conference revealed that people who include beans in their diets have healthier diets overall, lower body weights, and reduced risk of obesity. Researchers used data from the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey (1999-2002) to study the associations between bean consumption, nutrient intake, and certain health parameters among children and adults.
Pretty cool, right? Personally I eat a lot of beans—which partially explains why I’m single—I love cooking navy beans with collard greens or escarole. Now, new research helps confirm this good PR for beans. According to HealthDay News rats stayed fitter on a diet of black soya beans. Krisha McCoy reports:
New research in rats suggests that black soya beans may be a wonder food of sorts, helping to prevent obesity, lower cholesterol levels and possibly even reduce risks for diabetes…

…After two weeks, the rats getting 10 percent of their energy from black soya gained half as much weight as those in the control group, and their total blood cholesterol and LDL (so-called "bad") cholesterol fell by 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Dr. Fuhrman likes beans so much that he lists them as one of his top five favorite foods, and, in Eat to Live he points out that beans have also been linked to cancer-prevention. 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
So next time you hear someone call beans a magical fruit, just smile and nod.
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Chinese Veggies

Minus the pan-frying, salt, and cooking oil, here’s an interesting article about cooking with traditional Chinese vegetables. From Amy Scattergood of The Angeles Times:
Vicki Fan, who is co-chef-owner — and general manager — of Beacon with her husband, Kazuto Matsusaka, has assembled this ad hoc vegetable garden to show how easy it is to cook the Chinese leafy greens that she loves.

"I think people are scared of fresh vegetables," says Fan, whose parents came to this country from Shanghai. Increasingly easy to find in California's Asian grocery stores and farmers markets, the greens are fun to cook, delicious to eat and an integral part of Chinese cooking.

Seven Secrets of Longevity: In Conclusion

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, Dr. Fuhrman wraps up his seven secrets to longevity:

Most common diseases do not occur because of insurmountable genetic influences; they occur secondary to environmental influences, and those environmental influences are largely nutritional.

Scientific studies confirm that nutrition overrides genes during the development of disease. Hundreds of studies have demonstrated that people who migrate from a country with high disease risk to a country with low disease risk (and vice versa) get the risk of the country to which they move. Obviously, the people’s genes remain the same; only their diets and lifestyles change. Therefore, the diet (and other lifestyle factors) causes the altered disease risk, not the genes.

Many of the diseases seen today were relatively unknown hundreds of years ago. Our genes haven’t changed, but our environment and nutrition have changed dramatically.

Many people mistakenly believe disease, illness, death, and aging are beyond our control. The fact is, Nature has given us a marvelous, complicated body, capable of repairing and regulating itself and maintaining health excellence when we supply it with some simple prerequisites of health—proper food, clean air and drinking water, adequate sleep, sufficient exercise or activity, and emotional stability. Excellent health and a long life is earned and can be yours.

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Strange Veggies: Kohlrabi

How many times have you gone to an ethnic restaurant with friends and ended up being the only one to order something truly ethnic? Nowadays even the most ardent ethnic restaurants boast a few watered downed traditional dishes reeking of standard American inspiration. Ever notice how many Chinese places offer fried chicken wings? Or sushi joints that sell Philadelphia rolls (sushi made with cream cheese and smoked salmon)?

From my perspective it seems like most people in this country consider the four basic food groups to be cheeseburgers, pizza, breakfast cereal, and General Tso’s Chicken. And beyond that everything else is just hippie, vegan, or health-nut food. So could you imagine serving these yokels a steaming plate of Kohlrabi?

Kohlrabi? Relax. I suspect that even many of you health-nuts, vegans, and hippies out there don’t know what it is either. I didn’t, and I write for a nutrition blog for crying out loud! In fact, I only discovered Kohlrabi a few weeks ago. Remember the Alaskan farmer growing the giant produce?

And that’s precisely what this new series is all about, introducing Freaky Fruits and Strange Veggies. From time to time Followhealthlife will examine an unusual fruit or vegetable that many people have never heard of, let alone, actually eaten. Now if you haven’t figured it out by now, Kohlrabi is first on the menu.

So what is Kohlrabi? It’d certainly make a cool name for a rapper, but according to Vegetarians in Paradise it is an often misunderstood vegetable:
For those unfamiliar with this jewel of a vegetable, its appearance somewhat resembles a hot air balloon. Picture the turnip-shaped globe as the passenger section; its multiple stems that sprout from all parts of its globular form resemble the many vertical ropes, and the deep green leaves at the top represent the parachute. Kohlrabi is often mistakenly referred to as a root vegetable, but in fact it grows just above ground, forming a unique, turnip-shaped swelling at the base of the stem.
It’s pretty easy to see how it can be confused for a root veggie. They look just like a bunch of green beets. Check out this picture from Potomac Vegetable Farms:

Here’s an interesting factoid, Growing Taste points out that Kohlrabi is a member of the Cruciferae family. And we all now how Dr. Fuhrman feels about cruciferous vegetables like broccoli raab and kale. From "A Symphony of Phytonutrients" from Cruciferous Vegetables:
While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds--especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects.
And as you’ll see, Kohlrabi is certainly no slouch when it comes to nutrient-density. Wikipedia has more about:
Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked. The low-calorie plant is high in dietary fibers and contains the dietary minerals selenium, folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and copper.
Now Kohlrabi must be good, just check out this Black Lab chowing down on some:

If that dog could talk, what would he say? "Ruff, ruff!" Yeah, its probably a waste of time to ask a dog what Kohlrabi tastes like, but actually, what does Kohlrabi taste like? Let’s check back with Vegetarians in Paradise's to find out:
Of kohlrabi's two varieties the purple globe is sweeter and tastier than the apple-green. Both have a pale green, almost ivory colored, flesh inside. While the entire vegetable is edible raw or cooked, the small, young kohlrabi, about 1 1/2" to 2" in diameter, is ideal for its flavor and texture.

Shoppers should choose small kohlrabi with its edible skin rather than the giant size with its woody, fibrous texture and inedible outer layer. The larger globes definitely need to be peeled. Kohlrabi is available year round with its peak season and sweetest flavor in spring through early summer
Okay, here’s a few more links to help quell your newfound Kohlrabi obsession:
So there you have it, the first installment of this new Followhealthlife series. Remember, keep your eyes peeled, freaky fruits and strange veggies are all around us. You never know when one might pop up. Oh, and if you’ve got an interesting Kohlrabi story we’d love to hear about it. Just make a comment or email us at

Fast When You are Under the Weather

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s seventh secret to longevity:

Viral infections such as colds and influenza can be seen as life-extension opportunities. These viruses help the body with internal housecleaning and create an excitation of the body’s powers of elimination. Viral infections are opportunities for the body to reduce cellular debris and cellular congestion. In that sense, they can be seen as having anti-aging benefits.

As we produce mucus and develop a fever, we expunge not just virions and dead cells, but other cellular debris and cellular toxins. The body has the innate intelligence and power to heal itself from within, if not hampered. We assist this renewal by thorough rest, which includes not eating much or not eating at all.

We naturally lose our appetite when we are ill. This is Nature’s way of telling us when we are not equipped to digest food efficiently. The loss of appetite when we catch a virus has been labeled “the anoxia of infection,” and the loss of desire to eat when sick should be heeded. Fasting when ill speeds recovery, reduces mucus production, and activates the immune system’s defenses to rapidly and dramatically eliminate the viral load.

Periodic fasting has been shown to increase life span in all species of animals, and this has been seen even when the caloric intake over time was not lowered. When you are sick is the perfect opportunity to partake in a short fast. Stay home, drink pure water, rest. and fast; you can turn the illness into a longevity opportunity.

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Sal Monella meet Peter Pan

How’d you like a peanut butter, jelly, and salmonella sandwich? Because that’s exactly what you’d get if you buy Peter Pan or Wal-mart brand peanut butter. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports 329 people have been sickened in 41 states:
As the official count of those sickened rose to 329 in 41 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported late Thursday that "product testing has confirmed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Tennessee in opened jars of peanut butter, obtained from ill persons.”

The CDC reported that 51 of the 249 patients for whom clinical information is available were hospitalized and that there are no deaths. However, news reports Friday said a Pennsylvania family had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Wednesday claiming an elderly woman had died after eating tainted peanut butter.
To be honest, I can’t believe people eat that name brand peanut butter anyway. I dislike all of them, way to salty and unnatural tasting. I only buy peanut butter that says “just peanuts” on the label. And no, I don’t consider it the end of the world that the oil rises to the top. I’ve got plenty of spoons to deal with that. Crisis averted.

An Emotionally Satisfying Environment is Vital

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s sixth secret to longevity:

Humans are complicated creatures, and our minds have powerful effects on healing and wellness. A positive purpose, loving relationships, self-respect, and the power to control our destiny have beneficial effects on our physiological—and ultimately physical—well-being. Few people have the perfect life without any negative stressors, but it makes a difference if you deal with those stressors with hope and action, rather than resignation and passivity.

A safe and satisfying work environment, a happy marriage, a satisfying social and/or family life, and activities you enjoy are all related to positive health outcomes. Emotional wellness starts right here your finger tips end. As you respect and appreciate the value in the world around you and develop interests in other people and in such things as art, music, entertainment, sports, nature, and physical activity, you can respect yourself more for your ability and desire to appreciate the value of things not yourself.

In other words, as you learn about and begin to care for things, you gain a legitimate reason to be pleased with yourself. A healthy emotional response to life hinges on your ability to grant value and importance to things that are deserving of it. This ability and desire to interact in a fair and equitable way with the world around you forms the basis of your emotional contentment and self-esteem.

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Fight Diabetes with Phytochemicals

I can’t imagine how it must feel to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Sitting their while some lab coat explains your new regiment of blood-testing and insulin injections. One of my biggest fears is chronic illness—I have a fear of commitment—how can a person just accept being sick?

Unfortunately I think we’re a culture that considers disease as a natural part of aging. Heck, certain members of my own family treat their prescribed medications as a badge of honor. And that’s exactly the kind of attitude that gets under Dr. Fuhrman’s skin. He insists you don’t have to go out like that. From Eat to Live:
The diseases that afflict, and eventually kill, almost all Americans can be avoided. You can live a high-quality, disease-free life and remain physically active and healthy. You can die peacefully and uneventfully at an old age, as nature intended.
So then, what about Type 2 Diabetes, you’ve got it, now what? Fight! And fight like the devil. Don’t fall into modern healthcare’s symbiotic relationship between you, the disease, and medication. Dr. Fuhrman will tell you, you don’t have to settle for diabetes. According to him you’ve got options. Consider this from Understanding the Development of Type 2 Diabetes:
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.
I don’t know about you, but given the choice between fresh veggies and an insulin injection, salad wins everyday of the week. And the idea seems to be catching on. The Diabetes Blog is all over research linking increased consumption of vegetables with protective health benefits:
Colorado State University researchers found that, despite eating one less serving daily, people who consumed a wider array of vegetables experienced more health benefits than those who chose from a smaller assortment. The source behind these benefits come from phytochemicals, compounds that guard cells against free radical damage. By eating a wider assortment of vegetables, people had a better chance of consuming a greater amount of protective phytochemicals.
For more on Dr. Fuhrman’s approach towards treating diabetes with vegetable-based nutritional excellence, here are some previous posts:

Binge Eating is the Diagnosis

Earlier this month Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times reported on a new survey pointing to binge eating as an actual diagnosis. Here’s a little of the article:
The first nationally representative study of eating disorders in the United States, a nationwide survey of more than 2,900 men and women, was published by Harvard researchers in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. It found prevalence in the general population of 0.6 percent for anorexia, 1 percent for bulimia and 2.8 percent for binge-eating disorder…

… 'It confirms that anorexia nervosa and bulimia are uncommon but serious illnesses, especially among women,'' Dr. B. Timothy Walsh, director of the eating disorders research unit of the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center said. ''It also finds that many more individuals, especially those with significant obesity, are troubled by binge eating, and underscores the need to better understand this problem.''
I was curious to get Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on this, so I asked him. You’ll see that he isn’t all that impressed:
My thoughts are that the diagnosis of the disease (naming it) is not the cause of it and eating nutrition-less foods play a role in triggering overeating and other addictive behaviors. If the American diet relied more on natural, high fiber, plant foods, food addictions would dramatically be reduced.

Childhood Eating: The Pack Mentality

Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel and seen those nature shows with hungry hyenas frenzying over a fallen gazelle? That’s exactly what this next report reminded me of, except, it involves children and not blood thirsty predators of the Serengeti. Although some of you might be able to relate to that comparison. According to new research when young children are part of a large group they eat more. Eric Nagourney of The New York Times explains:
The researchers, who report their findings online in The Archives of Disease in Childhood, say it has often been observed in animals and adults that consumption goes up as the number eating increases. People will even keep eating past the point when their appetite has been satisfied…

…The tools of the study were simple: hungry children, a snack area and that mainstay of childhood, graham crackers. The researchers looked at how children ate when they were in groups of three or nine. They found that in the larger groups, the children ate 30 percent more.
Here’s what troubled me about this study. The researchers used graham crackers—in other words—junk food. Now, if you’re familiar with Dr. Fuhrman’s concept of toxic hunger, you know that sugary refined flour treats like graham crackers contribute to it. Now before I continue, here’s a refresher on toxic hunger. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
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 are withdrawal symptoms from an unhealthful diet, and this discomfort is mistakenly interpreted as the need to eat more frequently and take in more calories. Continual eating stops the discomfort, just like frequent coffee drinking stops the headaches from caffeine withdrawal.
So this brings me to this question. By feeding participants graham crackers, wouldn’t that by default increase their risk of overeating? After all, graham crackers are nothing more than standard American snack food. It seems to me that it would have made more sense to conduct this study using natural or “real” food. That way you avoid the risk of toxic hunger, which obviously would taint the results.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “What would have been a good food to use?” How about green vegetables? According to Dr. Fuhrman green veggies do a great job of filling you up, provide lots of essential nutrients, and don’t contain a lot of calories. Check out Foods That Make You Thin for more that:
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked--keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.
But you know what? I’m sure a lot of people succumb to social influence and kids are probably no different. Take me for example, I come from an Italian family and if you don’t eat—or in most cases overeat—there’s automatically something from with you. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the findings of this study were the same, even if they ditched the graham crackers in favor of something healthier. Although, what do you think about this? If children are raised around good food and people who don’t overeat, might they be able to resist the social feeding frenzy? I’ll leave that one to speculation.

Get Sufficient Rest and Sleep for Recovery

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s fifth secret to longevity:

Adequate sleep is a necessary component of good health. Our modern society stays up late into the night and wakes in the morning to an alarm clock—long before sleep requirements have been fulfilled. To make matters worse, most Americans partake in stimulating substances—such as caffeine and sugar—to remain artificially alert during the day.

During sleep, your body removes the buildup of waste in the brain. Sufficient sleep is necessary for the normal function of your nervous and endocrine systems. Most civilizations in human history recognized the value of mid-afternoon naps. The desire for a rest, short sleep, or “siesta” after lunch should not be seen as an abnormal need, but rather a normal one. People who “cover up” their lack of sleep by using drugs (such as caffeine) as food and/or food (such as highly processed, sugary foods) as drugs sometimes claim (even boast) that they can get by with very little sleep. As you begin to live more healthfully, you may quickly recognize that you need more sleep than you previously thought.

We need to avoid stimulants in order to be in touch with our body’s need for sleep, and only by meeting these needs can we maximize the body’s tremendous capacity for ongoing repair and regeneration of cells.

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The Social Status of Breastfeeding

Fortunately for me, I’m a guy. And as a guy, I am ill-equipped to get pregnant. Good thing too, because a pregnant me would be the laziest creature on earth, second only to the giant tree sloths of yore. But, if I ever con a woman into having children with me, I’d hope that she’d breastfeed.

In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman makes it clear that breast milk is the human fuel that babies need to grow and develop:
The antibodies derived from mother’s milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.
And it seems their might be something to the whole idea of “maximizing intelligence.” New research shows that people who were breastfed as children are more likely to move up the social ladder. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
Researchers at the University of Bristol analyzed data on more than 1,400 people from 16 rural and urban areas in England and Scotland who were born from 1937 to 1939. Among these people, the likelihood of being breast-fed was not dependent on household income, spending on food, birth order, number of siblings, or social class in childhood.

The study found that individuals who were breast-fed as babies were 41 percent more likely to advance up the social ladder than those who'd been bottle-fed. The longer a person was breast-fed, the more likely they were to be upwardly mobile.

Strawberries Out of Season?

I’m a big fruit eater. My breakfast plate looks like feeding time at the gorilla exhibit. Filled with bananas, pineapple, kiwis, blueberries, peaches, strawberries—I love strawberries! But lately the crop at the farmers market has been a little off. I guess they’re out of season in the tri-state area.

In the meantime, if you're like me and can’t enjoy eating fresh strawberries, you can always enjoy painting them. Take a look at this video I found on YouTube, and please, try not to lick your computer screen:

Darn it! I left bite marks on my monitor...again.

Avoid Toxins, Including Medication

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s fourth secret to longevity:

Our environment has become very polluted. Between contamination of our food and water supplies and the use of chemical cleaners and insecticides in our homes and weed killers on our front lawns, most of us simply cannot avoid being exposed to a little poison here and a little poison there.

Drugs of all kinds are part of our toxic problem. The first thing we were taught in the pharmacology course in medical school was that all drugs are toxic. Whether prescribed by a physician, or by the drug pusher on the street corner, prescription medication is not health food. It is best to live in a manner to avoid the need for medicinal substances.

Antibiotics are some of the most frequently used and most toxic of all drugs. More studies are documenting the relationship between antibiotic use and occurrence of cancer in later life. Most recently, a study illustrated a doubling of breast cancer in women who used antibiotics frequently in their life. This is especially frightening when you consider that 95 percent of all antibiotics used are prescribed inappropriately. For most medical visits, physicians cause more harm than good and prescribe dangerous drugs, instead of teaching patients how to build and maintain high-level health.

Take steps today to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals that enter your body. If possible, plant your own organic garden; support organic agriculture and purchase organic food; politically support a clean environment; and do not put chemical weed killers and insecticides on your property. Use nontoxic cleaners, and try to manage insects and pests without contaminating your home. Eat low on the food chain (plant-based diet) and avoid animal fats, which are known to contain the highest levels of dangerous chemical pollutants.

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Regular Exercise Pays Big Health Dividends

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s third secret to longevity:

Despite the well-known benefits of exercise, only about 15 percent of Americans engage in regular physical activity. In people of all body weights, poor aerobic fitness is an independent risk factor for all-cause mortality.1

Exercise is important for healthy psychological function and to maintain significant muscle and bone mass as we age. It has been shown to improve mental function; to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; and to improve sleep patterns, aiding healthful cycles of deep sleep.

If you plan on living a long time, you want to have your bones last along with you. A good measurement of your bone density and strength is to test the strength of the muscle that moves that bone. Bone density correlates perfectly with muscle strength. As we condition our muscles and gain strength, our bones thicken and strengthen along with the muscle. Without regular exercise along the way, your bone structure can deteriorate as you get older. Some people survive with weak bones, but their quality of life suffers when they are immobilized by arthritis and osteoporosis.

Ideally, exercise should be a part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth and taking a shower. If you have a busy work schedule and commute, get in fifteen minutes of exercise every day before your morning shower. For example, if you routinely shower every morning, work up a sweat with some abdominal crunches, back extensions, toe raises, walk up and down the stairs in your home, mock jump rope, and then take your shower. Keep in mind; it is important to exercise your lower back frequently. Get in the habit of exercising the same time every day. Make the days where you do not exercise the exception, not the rule.

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Salt Wars: The Phantom Menace

Salt, when you hear the word, what thoughts come to mind? “Too much salt is bad for me.” Or, “That reminds me, I’ve got to check my bid on Ebay for that Elvis salt & pepper shaker set that I simply must have.” Heck, maybe you even have one of these lines, “My grand daddy lived to the ripe ole’ age of ninety-six and he put salt on everything from pasta to pickled pigs feet.”

That pretty much sums up salt’s MO. Lot’s of people who think it’s bad and limit their exposure to it, and then there are others who dump it on everything. As for Dr. Fuhrman, he’s no fan of salt. In fact, he considers it to be one of the seven worst foods for health and longevity. Here’s all seven:
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
Now not everyone shares Dr. Fuhrman’s disdain for salt. Rather, some “diet experts” basically endorse consumption of salty food. Take Dr. Atkins for example, he’d like people to use salted pork rinds as a substitute for dinner rolls and toast—and for making pie crusts! No, I'm not joking. Check it out over at
Atkins rivals the creativity of the raw-food chefs of today in his uses for pork rinds. Pork rinds are chunks of pigs’ skin that are deep-fried, salted and artificially flavored. He recommends people use them to dip caviar. Or, perhaps for those who can't afford caviar, one can use fried pork rinds as a "substitute for toast, dinner rolls...You can use them as a pie crust... or even matzo ball soup (see our recipe on p. 190)."[144] Matzo balls made out of pork rinds?--now that is a diet revolution!
You’ve got to wonder about recommendations like this, especially since according to Dr. Fuhrman salt consumption has been linked to the development of stomach cancer and hypertension. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:
Any excess salt added to food, outside of what is contained in natural foods, is likely to increase your risk of developing disease. Salt consumption is linked to both stomach cancer and hypertension.1 For optimal health, I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food. The famous DASH study clearly indicates that Americans consume five to ten times as much as they need and that high sodium levels over the years has a predictable effect on raising blood pressure.2 Just because you don’t have high blood pressure now doesn’t mean that you won’t. In fact, you probably will have high blood pressure if you keep eating lots of salt over the years.
So, what happens when dangerous diet information is put out there? The masses eat it up. For example, from Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb here’s Jimmy Moore’s take on salt:
Unless you are salt-sensitive (and it just so happens that I am!), there is no reason why you should watch your salt intake. An overwhelming majority have no reason to cut down on their salt intake. NONE! The fact that a minority of the population has sensitivity to salt should not make this a universal recommendation.
Luckily for Jimmy, he’s “salt-sensitive.” So he is limiting his exposure to it, but saying that the majority of people have no reason to avoid salt, well, that seems a little misguided because in addition to the hypertension and stomach cancer risk, Dr. Fuhrman associates salt intake with osteoporosis and heart attacks. More from Eat to Live:
Salt also pulls out calcium and other trace minerals in the urine when the excess is excreted, which is a contributory cause of osteoporosis.3 If that is not enough, high sodium intake is predictive of increased death from heart attacks. In a large prospective trial, recently published in the respected medical journal The Lancet, there was a frighteningly high correlation between sodium intake and all cause mortality in overweight men.4 The researchers concluded, “High sodium intake predicted mortality and risk of coronary heart disease, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure. These results provide direct evidence of the harmful effects of high salt intake in the adult population.”
Now these dangers are clear, but arguably the biggest problem with salt is it shows up where you least expect it to. Sure, you can crack down on your habit of burying every meal in it, but, that’s only half the battle. Sally Kuzemchak of Prevention magazine explains that the main problem with salt is that it’s everywhere:
It's crammed into cheese slices and canned vegetables and sprinkled into cinnamon-raisin bagels and sandwich bread. You can consume a day's worth of the mineral with an order of mu shu pork with rice from your local Chinese restaurant, according to an analysis by the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest, in Washington, DC. As much as 80% of the sodium we get every day comes from these processed and prepared foods—not the salt shaker.
Sally also points to additional research highlighting the dangers of high-sodium diets:
There's also evidence to suggest that high-sodium diets may up the risk of gastric cancer. And in a small study from Colorado State University, a high-salt diet (more than 5,000 mg per day) worsened lung function in people with exercise-induced asthma, which occurs in as many as 90% of asthmatics. A low-salt diet improved it.
Information like this really makes you wonder how Dr. Atkins could endorse eating salty snacks like pork rinds. Now, the concern over people’s salt exposure is growing. Back in September Melanie Warner of The New York Times reported that the American Medical Association wants the government and the food industry to limit the amount of salt that can be used in food production. More from the report:
Specifically, the medical association, which had never before called for regulation of a food ingredient, asked the F.D.A. to revoke salt’s long-time status as a substance that is “generally recognized as safe,” a classification that warrants little oversight. Instead, the F.D.A. should regulate salt as a food additive, the medical group said.

If the recommendation were adopted, packaged-food companies would have to adhere to limits on allowable sodium levels for various categories of food, and speed up the search for an alternative to salt as a preservative and flavor enhancer.
What I take away from all this is more evidence of people’s emotional attachment to food, in this case salt; when you talk with Dr. Fuhrman he often refers to this phenomenon. Sometimes people are so blinded by their emotional crush on certain foods that they can’t face facts. The evidence shows that salt is bad for us, but, I guess some people just can’t stand the thought of a lonely pepper shaker.
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Prevent Deficiencies with Plant-Based Nutrition

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s second secret to longevity:

As seemingly healthful as one’s diet may be, disease, accelerated aging—or even death—can occur if that person is missing B12, vitamin D, or any other individual nutrient. For example, one well-known advocate of a fruit-based, raw-food diet, died in his sixties of a vitamin B12 deficiency. The B12 deficiency leads to high levels of homocysteine, which can destroy the heart and blood vessels, even while the person eats an otherwise excellent vegetarian diet.

The most dramatic finding in nutritional science in the last fifty years is the power of plant-derived phytochemicals to affect health. Phytochemicals, along with the rich assortment of powerful antioxidants found in unrefined plant foods, fuel a defensive system that removes toxic cellular metabolites that age us. Phytochemicals also are required for maintenance and repair of our DNA.

Cancer may be promoted by toxic compounds, but we have cellular machinery, fueled by phytochemicals, to detoxify and remove noxious agents and to repair any damage done. Our body is self-healing and self-repairing when given sufficient nutrient support to maximize efficiency of protective cellular machinery. But, only when we consume large amounts of green vegetables and a diversity of natural plant foods can we maximize phytochemical delivery to our tissues.

Here's more from this Followhealthlife miniseries:

Know Your Ginger and Garlic

Do you like ginger? What about garlic? Me too, but have you ever asked yourself, “I wish I knew more about them?” Well you’re in luck. Vegan Grandma drops a little history on us:
Ginger is popular in the Caribbean Islands, where it grows wild. Jamaican ginger is prized for its strong flavor. Jamaica provides most of the world's supply, followed by India, Africa and China…

…The Chinese were using ginger as long ago as the 6th century BC. Ginger was used by the ancient Romans, but almost disappeared in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Marco Polo's brought ginger back from the Far East, and it again became popular in Europe, becoming a much-coveted expensive spice.

Food Dudes to the Rescue

Can’t get your kids to eat their veggies? Well have you tried dragging them through a lettuce patch with their mouths open? Just kidding, don’t do that, dirt stains are hard to get out. Seriously now, according to Dr. Fuhrman the key to getting your kids to eat right, is to lead by example. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
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 perfect 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.
Clearly most parents don’t heed this advice. Otherwise why else would new research cite obesity as the most important health issue facing children in the United States? In fact, 98% of the people surveyed believe that responsibility for childhood obesity lies with the parents. More on this from HealthDay News:
The survey showed that responsibility for helping to address the obesity issue in the United States lies to some or a great extent with parents (98 percent), individuals (96 percent), schools (87 percent), health care providers (84 percent), the food industry (81 percent), and government (67 percent).
Okay, so let’s assume the worst case scenario. Your kids are obese and you haven’t exactly been the best role model for healthy eating. What should you do? Have your kids drag you through a lettuce patch with your mouth open? No. Instead take control now, consider Dr. Fuhrman’s tips in How to Help Your Overweight Child. Here are a couple good ones:
5. Make dietary goals that the entire family understands and can agree to adopt. Lay out an eating plan for dinners and school lunches that promotes long-term health.

6. Praise your child for issues not related to weight loss or gain. Make other issues as important, such as school work, ethics, care for others, attitude towards learning, and development skills.
Of course if all else fails—and you don’t live near a lettuce patch—just call THE FOOD DUDES! Who are The Food Dudes you ask? Just a group of mild-mannered preteen superheroes on a mission to promote healthy eating amongst youngsters. Maria Cheng of the Associated Press tells their tale:
The Food Dudes series uses peer pressure, peer modeling and a reward system to get kids to shun unhealthy foods. Prizes like small toys, pencils and pens are an enticement. And the superheroes are slightly older than their viewers, making them believable role models. Each character gets super powers from one of four healthy foods — broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and raspberries.

In Ireland's pilot program, which began in 2005, children aged 2 to 11, doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten and in some cases boosted consumption of such foods by 10 to 14 times, the organizers say.

In one primary school, the fruit consumption of 5- and 6-year-olds more than doubled. The kids were originally eating 28 percent of the fruit given them; six months later they were eating nearly 60 percent. Vegetable consumption jumped from 8 percent to 32 percent.
Sounds like a good idea to me. Growing up my generation had Captain Planet and now lots of my friends are environmentally conscious. Hence me actually taking the time to find this quote, "Let our powers combine! Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet! GO PLANET! "

Now for the many of us that can’t get our hands on those Food Dudes videotapes, have a listen to Dr. Fuhrman’s podcast on getting children to eat better.

Eat Fewer Calories and Live Longer

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s first secret to longevity:

Eating more calories than the body needs to maintain a thin, muscular weight ages us. Extra calories (whether from fat, carbohydrate, or protein) are especially toxic when they are low nutrient calories—the so-called “empty” calories of refined and highly-processed foods. For our cells to be well nourished and maintain a clean internal environment, all of the calories we eat must be nutrient-rich. The most nutrient-rich foods are vegetables, beans, fruits, grains, and nuts and seeds. Refined foods, oil, sugar, and white flour are examples of calorie-rich but nutrient-poor foods. Centenarian studies in Europe illustrate that those individuals living into their hundreds were likely to have consumed a plant-based diet consisting of fewer than 2000 calories per day. Multiple studies have confirmed that the thinnest people live the longest.

Here's more from this Followhealthlife miniseries:

Cold and Fever Claims

Recently The New York Times examined the old “starve a cold, feed a fever” claim, every heard of it? Personally my family didn’t have these little adages. My old man believed in, “You’re not sick. Now get up and get ready for school!” Anyhow, here’s what reporter Anahad O’Connor turned up:
The only study suggesting that either claim had any validity was published in the journal Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology in 2002 by a team of Dutch scientists. They found that eating a meal increases a type of immune response that fights off the viruses responsible for colds, while fasting seemed to stimulate an immune response that could help fight off the infections associated with most fevers.

But other scientists have said those findings have little merit because the study involved a small number of subjects and has not been replicated. Most doctors, and years of research on cold and flu sufferers, say there is only one tried-and-true treatment: plenty of rest and fluids. It helps to know that once a person has contracted a cold or the flu, it will run its course in 5 to 10 days.
I don’t worry about memorizing little slogans like that. Why? Well, not to brag, but I never get sick. That’s right, no colds, no fevers, no sore-throats, no nothing. How come? Maybe it has something to do with all the fruits and veggies I devour each day. What do you think?

Diet-Blog: Are We Too Obsessed With Processed Food?

Okay readers. Let’s hear it, “Yes!” Just watch television for a few minutes and you’re bound to be bombarded with numerous ads for sugary breakfast cereals, reduced fat mini-cupcakes, or low-carb crackers. The industrial revolution never ended, it just shifted focus. Diet-Blog ponders our obsession with processed junk food:
Go to any grocery store, and you'll see rows and rows of shelves filled with processed food. Many boast various health claims – less sugar, more fiber, low fat, heart healthy – you get the picture…

… In my opinion, it's time to get back to basics and consume foods that will nourish our bodies. Then we might actually see a decline in obesity rates and our next generation might not die before their parents.
Now Dr. Fuhrman also has a gripe with refined foods, centering on their lack of important dietary fiber and nutrients. He elaborates on this in Eat to Live:
The reality is that healthy, nutritious foods are also very rich in fiber and that those foods associated with disease risk are generally fiber-deficient. Meat and dairy products do not contain any fiber, and foods made from refined grains (such as white bread, white rice, and pasta) have had their fiber removed. Clearly, we must substantially reduce our consumption of these fiber-deficient foods if we expect to lose weight and live a long, healthy life.

Fiber intake from food is a good marker of disease risk. The amount of fiber consumed may better predict weight gain, insulin levels, and other cardiovascular risk factors than does the amount of total fat consumed, according to recent studies reported in the October 27, 1999, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.1 Again, data show that removing the fiber from food is extremely dangerous.
For more on America’s obsession with industrialized food check out these recent posts:
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Seven Secrets of Longevity

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

A careful study of long-lived people and long-lived populations around the world—combined with a comprehensive understanding of animal experiments effecting animal life span—makes it clear that decisive action must be taken if we wish to retard aging and protect ourselves against the diseases of aging. (Check out Animal Fat and Cancer and Animal vs. Plant Foods and Heart Disease in Pictures.)

With so many conflicting theories and ideas swirling about, it is not surprising that there is mass confusion in the general population about what is healthy and what is not. However, there is nothing confusing about the scientific evidence regarding health. Health excellence, high-level mental and physical performance as we age, disease prevention, and longevity all are linked to certain well-documented behaviors. In short, health is the result of healthful living, and healthful living involves seven key concepts.

The human body has a built-in capacity for healing and rejuvenation. This inborn process can be inhibited by a variety of influences, such as personal habits and the environment. The best and most effective methods for renewing health are to follow the requirements of proper diet, wholesome environment, appropriate activities, and adequate sleep.

The idea that you can purchase health or longevity by taking Growth Hormone, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, or IV vitamin drips has not been backed up by animal or human studies. You simply cannot purchase longer life from a health food store or from an anti-aging physician who dispenses hormones. Food choice is the single most important factor effecting human health, and it is easily within our control. Good food choices, in combination with other important health factors, give you your best possible chance for a long and rewarding life.

The seven key concepts in longevity are listed below. Your best health insurance is to keep these guidelines in mind and to put them into practice. The finest health care in the world is proper self care—learning to live so healthfully that you can safely avoid hospitals, doctors, drugs, and surgery.

Today, many people in our society mistakenly think heart disease and cancer are the result of living longer—a natural consequence of aging. (A similar misconception is the notion that disease is largely genetic and beyond our control.) Healthy populations around the world see no heart disease or cancer in their eldest. Plus, there are no strokes in populations consuming natural food diets with no added salt.

Disease is not caused by aging. Disease is caused by those negative influences that stress the body over the years and lead to eventual cellular dysfunction and breakdown. Water dripping on a rock over thousands of years may eventually wear a hole in the rock. But it is not time that makes the hole; it is the water hitting the rock over and over. In a similar way, we create the diseases of aging through our behavior. Fortunately, we can just as easily create a long, hundred year life span, free of serious illness from birth to a gentle death.

Here's more from this Followhealthlife miniseries:

Stress Cardiomyopathy

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, Dr. Deborah Serani enlightens us on a condition known as "The Broken Heart Syndrome." A bigger deal than you might think:
First described in Japan 15 years ago, Broken Heart Syndrome occurs because reactive trauma floods the body with adrenaline and similar stress hormones, which over-stimulate the nervous system and stun the heart muscle.
Odd, because given my own romance history, I think it would be more aptly named “I Can’t Believe She Threw All My Stuff Out On The Lawn Syndrome.” But, that’s just my personal experience, sigh.

Okay newbies, for more on Stress Cardiomyopathy check out Dr. Perry Cox’s diagnosis of the condition. And yes, I am a total Scrubs mark. Take a look:

An Antibiotic Dilemma

Here’s a question for you, how many times in your life have you been prescribed antibiotics? Now, I’m not a betting man, but I’d put the farm on “a lot.” Personally, when I was a kid I remember getting antibiotics for everything, especially recurrent ear infections, which according to Dr. Fuhrman isn’t exactly the wisest course of action. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
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.
“The vast majority of ear infections resolve nicely on their own.” Sounds a little weird, right? I mean, try telling a member of our heavily medicated society that an EAR INFECTION can go away by itself—they’d probably have to pop a Prozac before they could even consider it! But hold on a minute, there’s proof in the pudding. Check out this study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, it seems something know as the "wait-and-see prescription" does a good job treating Acute Otitis Media, otherwise known as middle ear infections:
Results: Overall, 283 patients were randomized either to the WASP [wait-and-see prescription] group (n = 138) or the SP group (n = 145). Substantially more parents in the WASP group did not fill the antibiotic prescription (62% vs 13%; P<.001). There was no statistically significant difference between the groups in the frequency of subsequent fever, otalgia, or unscheduled visits for medical care. Within the WASP group, both fever (relative risk [RR], 2.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.75 - 4.99; P<.001) and otalgia (RR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.26 - 2.03; P<.001) were associated with filling the prescription.

Conclusion: The WASP approach substantially reduced unnecessary use of antibiotics in children with AOM [Acute Otitis Media] seen in an emergency department and may be an alternative to routine use of antimicrobials for treatment of such children.
So then, if we don’t need antibiotics for every ailment that ails us, why are we getting them? Well that’s a tough one to answer. I know I can’t, but if I had to guess, I’m sure there’s a whole stewpot full of reasons why. Dr. Fuhrman talks about this in January 2004 edition of Healthy Times:
Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors. The more widely these newer (and often ten times more expensive) antibiotics are used, the greater the chances that the bacteria will develop resistance…

…Many patients don't think a doctor is doing his job if he doesn't prescribe antibiotics or other medication. If he doesn't prescribe the medication they want, some patients actually will look for another doctor who will…

…Most doctors perpetuate this problem because they give in to the pressure to prescribe antibiotics. They like to appear that they are offering an important and necessary service by writing prescriptions.
Okay, so it’s very clear that our love affair with antibiotics is far and wide, but how dangerous is it? What are the repercussions of having a society so saturated in antibiotics? For starters, according to Dr. Fuhrman our “good bacteria” is at stake. More from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, digestive disturbances, yeast overgrowth, bone marrow suppression, seizures, kidney damage, colitis, and life-threatening allergic reactions. The unnecessary over prescription of antibiotics during past decades has been blamed for the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of deadly bacteria. Besides these potential risks, in every single person who takes an antibiotic, the drug kills a broad assortment of helpful bacteria that live in the digestive tract and aid digestion. It kills the “bad” bacteria, such as those that can complicate and infection, but it also kills these helpful “good” bacteria lining your digestive tract that have properties that protect from future illness.
And in Antibiotics for Colds, Bronchitis, and Sinusitis Dr. Fuhrman explains excessive antibiotics also put us at risk for certain health problems later in life:
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. This use of antibiotics early in life is likely a contributor to the increasing incidence of allergies and asthma and other problems later in life. Medical studies have linked a significant increased incidence of asthma, hay fever, and eczema to those who received multiple antibiotic prescriptions early in childhood, especially in the first year of life.2
Is that it? I’m afraid not. Take a look at this video report from ABC News. It seems that the habit of prescribing all these antibiotics is leading to more and more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Here's a quote from the report:
A new study offers the most conclusive proof yet that overuse of antibiotics is contributing to the resistance problem. Researchers took healthy volunteers and gave them one of two different kinds of antibiotics. After just one course of treatment, the volunteers showed increase in bacteria in their mouth that were resistant to the specific drugs they’d been treated with. In some cases drug resistant bacteria stayed in the mouth for more than half a year. This means that every time we take antibiotics we are potentially adding to the resistance problem and weakening the drug’s overall effectiveness.
Now, all this brings up a very good question, when is it okay to use antibiotics? Okay, back to Antibiotics for Colds, Bronchitis, and Sinusitis:
Antibiotics are the appropriate treatment for severe bacterial infections. These infections include cellulitis, Lyme disease, pneumonia, joint infections, cat bites, meningitis, and bronchitis in a long-term smoker. Bronchitis in a non-smoker is just a bad cold. Almost every viral syndrome involves the bronchial tree and sinuses. The presence of yellow, brown, or green mucus does not indicate the need for an antibiotic. Likewise, sinusitis is not an appropriate diagnosis for the routine use of an antibiotic. Antibiotics should be reserved for the more serious sinus infections that show evidence of persistent symptoms lasting more than a week, such as continual fever and headache that accompanies facial pain and facial tenderness.
The important thing to remember is if you’re following Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendation of a nutrient-dense biologically-diverse vegetable-based diet, you’re already doing an exceptional job of helping your body ward off many of the common maladies that pack doctor’s offices every day, and apparently, help fuel our antibiotic addiction. For more on this, check out Six Steps to Protect Your Family from Avian Flu:
If you are deficient in virtually any known vitamin and mineral, research has shown these host defense functions can be negatively affected.
It has also been demonstrated that when diets are low in consumption of green and yellow vegetables, (rich in carotenoids) viral illnesses take a more serious form.

Multiple micronutrients including lutein, lycopene, folic acid, bioflavoinoids, riboflavin, zinc, selenium, and many others have immunomodulating functions. That means they influence the susceptibility of a host to infectious diseases and the course and outcome of such diseases. These micronutrients also possess antioxidant functions that not only up-regulate immune function of the host, but also alter the genome of the microbes that can result in more prolonged and serious infection, particularly in viruses. Viruses are able to assume a more virulent form and new more severe infections are more likely to emerge when nutritional deficiencies are present in the host. A healthy immune system adequately armed with a symphonic assortment of plant-derived phytochemicals inhibits DNA variation in the virus that could allow it to better evade host defenses.
Works for me, I haven't had a cold in well over a year, and I used to get them all the time. How's it working for you?
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Drugs for Autoimmune Disease

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

Immunosuppressive medications used by rheumatologists for autoimmune diseases are fraught with danger. That is the reason these drugs are used only by rheumatologists and not by internists, family physicians, or other medical specialists. Rheumatology is a medical specialty developed to prescribe and monitor the side effects of these high-risk medications.

Cytotoxic (toxic to cells) agents and chemotherapeutic agents, traditionally used in cancer therapy, also have become an established part of therapy for autoimmune diseases. The most powerful and dangerous drugs in the medical arsenal often are needed to control the raging immune system in cases of autoimmune illnesses. In rheumatology, chemotherapy is designed to decrease immune cell production and suppress the immune system, which is why these drugs are sometimes called immunosuppressive drugs, instead of chemo. Although much of the initial data on toxicity was accumulated in the setting of cancer treatment, these agents can cause illness or death even at the doses used to treat autoimmune disease. For this reason, the risks of treatment with a cytotoxic agent or any of the other immunosuppressive agents must weigh against the potential benefits.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned health-care professionals of an increased risk of lymphoma, leukopenia, and opportunistic infections with fatal outcome associated with the use of Remicade. Imuran is known to have mutagenic and carcinogenic potential and cause pancreatitis. All the immunosuppressive agents increase one’s risk of cancer. The risk of developing malignancies is related to the duration of immunosuppressive drug exposure in general. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology followed 1,773 patients started on treatments by rheumatologists for ten years and found a 400% increased rate of cancer in the treatment group in the ten-year period compared to controls.1

Doctors know the dangers of these drugs, and patients are supposed to be informed about them. Patients choose conventional medical care because they wrongly assume there is no other approach. The rationale for doctors is that we can’t have a person suffering with pain while their joints and internal organs are being destroyed by autoimmune illnesses. Patients and their doctors evidently believe the increased likelihood of cancer and a premature death from immunosuppressive drugs is worth the risk. Unfortunately, patients are not informed of the nutritional options.

A significant body of literature exists documenting the effectiveness of nutritional intervention for treating autoimmune diseases, but these articles are not being read by doctors or distributed to patients with autoimmune disease. I feel strongly that giving a potentially life-threatening drug with no other option for treatment is malpractice and should be stopped.

A packet of medical journal articles documenting the results achievable with nutritional intervention could be given to every patient, and physicians could offer simple nutritional protocols for people initially presenting with autoimmune diseases. The earlier this information is given, the better, because it is early on—before years of medication use—when there is the greatest possibility of achieving a remission.

Autoimmune illness is serious. It causes immense suffering and pain and can kill. Autoimmune diseases, just like heart disease and cancer, are caused predominantly by the inadequate diet consumed in our youth and are potentially preventable with prolonged breast-feeding and better childhood nutrition. It is always preferable to prevent illness rather than just offer treatments to the sick. However, even after these diseases develop, recovery is still possible in most cases. The opportunity to live a life fully recovered, free of illness, and free of the toxic effects of drugs should not be passed up. Today, we have an epidemic of autoimmune illnesses that continues to grow daily, and the offices of rheumatologists are flooded with suffering people. I am hoping that one day rheumatologists only will treat a small segment of patients with autoimmune disease; the rest will simply recover with modern nutritional intervention.
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Protection Against a Banana Attack

Did you know being attacked with fresh fruit is a serious problem? Don’t laugh. Assaults with a deadly banana are on the rise. Hey, I said don’t laugh! Okay fine. Don’t believe me. Well drill sergeant John Cleese has this message for you:
Well let me tell you something my lad. When you’re walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of loganberries, don’t come crying to me.
Hopefully you’ve been scared straight. Now check out this self-defense video and you’ll have all the skills you need to keep the banana-attackers at bay:

Food Over Medicine?

Here’s some great news. Most Americans would prefer to treat diabetes with healthy diet and not medication. The Diabetes Blog is all over it:
According to a survey of 1,022 adults (515 women and 507 men), 69% of Americans would prefer to try a dietary approach, whereas only 21% preferred treating diabetes with medicines. The survey reinforces results from clinical research on diabetes, which has consistently found that people with diabetes adapt well to low-fat vegetarian diets and gain important health benefits. A dietary approach to diabetes based on scientific research shows that a low-fat vegan diet can lower high blood sugar levels three times more effectively than oral medications.
Well gee, I don’t know, would it work? Consider these success stories:

Animal Fat and Cancer

In preparation for this post I decided to sift through Followhealthlife’s archives for posts discussing the link between animal products and cancer. And in the end, even I was surprised by the number of them. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Meat-Disease Connection
“Red met is not the only problem. The consumption of chicken and fish is also linked to colon cancer. A large recent study examined the eating habits of 32,000 adults for six years and then watched the incidence of cancer for these subjects over the next six years. Those who avoided red meat but at white meat regularly had a more than 300 percent increase in colon cancer incidence.3 The same study showed that eating beans, peas, or lentils, at least twice a week was associated with a 50 percent lower risk than never eating these foods.”
Do Primitive Peoples Really Live Longer?
“Inuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the overall Canadian population.1”

Magical, Mythical Protein?
“Study after study has shown that as protein consumption goes up, so does the incidence of chronic diseases. Similar studies show that the incidence of chronic diseases also goes up when carbohydrate and fat consumption go up. This is because if the consumption of any of the macronutrients exceeds our basic requirements, the excess hurts us. Americans already get too much protein (and fat and carbohydrates), and this is reflected in soaring increases in the diseases of excess—heart disease, high-blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and numerous others.”
Now this brings me to these graphs, which I’ve been sitting on for a while now, and honestly I don’t know why. Dr. Fuhrman sent them over months ago with this batch of graphs that illustrate the relationship between animal and plant foods and heart disease. So, without any further ado, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s graphs on animal fat and cancer:

Animal Fat vs. Cancer Above Age 55

Animal Fat vs. Female Breast Cancer

Animal Fat vs. Intestinal Cancer

And for more information on cancer and animal products, take a look at these previous posts:
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Eat like a Primate

Personally, I’m of the belief that humans came from monkeys. In college I took a class called Human Origins which made it pretty evident that modern man evolved from hulking ape-like vegetation-chewing primates. Not the fierce predators some would have you believe.

In fact, when we weren’t busy hanging around in trees munching on copious amounts of leaves and fruits. We were totally preoccupied with not becoming a well-equipped predator’s lunch. In my opinion, it was that constant stress of being hunted that helped us develop higher brains.

But who am I say this? I’m just a writer who happened to take a few electives outside my degree requirements. So how do I know what earlier human beings were eating? And for that matter, how do I know what modern man should be eating now? Well, let’s take a look at a couple recent reports and see if we can figure that out.

Back in November The New York Times examined the diet of the Paranthropus, one of our very early ancestors. And according to research the Paranthropus were rather Fuhrman-friendly, regularly munching on green vegetation, fruits, and nuts. Reporter Henry Fountain explained:
The researchers used a laser to ablate small layers of enamel from the fossilized teeth of a 1.8-million-year-old P. robustus specimen. By analyzing the concentrations of carbon isotopes in the enamel they were able to determine whether P. robustus was eating grasses or the fruits and leaves of trees and bushes. Grasses use a different photosynthetic pathway than trees and bushes and have a higher concentration of carbon-13, which gets incorporated in animal tissue when the foods are eaten.
This makes a lot of sense to me. Back in my Human Origins class I remember the professor passing around skulls of early hominins. The skull structures were very robust, with flat-looking molars, and room for huge chewing muscles. To be honest, they looked a lot like gorilla skulls, and not at all like predator skulls. For anyone who’s ever had to give a cat or a dog pill, you know what I mean, especially when you look at their teeth.

My opinions on human evolution are a big part of the reason why I think Dr. Fuhrman is right on target with his dietary recommendations. If eating hearty amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts worked for our ancestors, who are we to muck up millions of years of evolution with lots meat, processed foods, and artificial sweeteners? So this begs the question, how would modern people fair eating a diet that closely resembles that of our primate cousins?

Now, I’ve got to thank Stephen for sending this to me—great catch man! A group of people in the United Kingdom volunteered to eat as monkeys do; lots of raw veggies, fruits, nuts, and small portions of oily fish and honey. The experiment was designed to uncover the health benefits of bringing our diet back to basics. So how’d they do? Claire Heald of BBC News reports:
Overall, the cholesterol levels dropped 23%, an amount usually achieved only through anti-cholesterol drugs statins.

The group's average blood pressure fell from a level of 140/83 - almost hypertensive - to 122/76. Though it was not intended to be a weight loss diet, they dropped 4.4kg (9.7lbs), on average.

The regime provided an education for all, and a permanent change for some.

"The main lesson that they took away was to eat more fruit and veg," says Ms Garton. They also cut salt intake from a group average of 12g a day, to 1g (against a guideline maximum of 6g) and reduced saturated fat - which makes cholesterol - from 13% to 5% of calories (recommended, 11%).
Not only did the volunteers reap these rewards, but they also reported never going hungry and in many cases not being able to finish their daily ration; check out Foods That Make You Thin more on this. Additionally, once they finished withdrawing from things like caffeine, the volunteers enjoyed good energy levels and improved mood. And, on a funny note, the volunteers joked about their newfound gassiness as their bodies adjusted to their healthy diet. Now for more on that, take a look at this post, adeptly named Adjusting to a Healthy Diet:
Don’t forget that when you change your diet to one that is so much lower in salt and higher in nutrients your blood pressure will drop significantly and you will begin a detoxification process that can be compared to stopping additive drugs. You may actually feel worse, not better for a week or two.

During this temporary adjustment period that usually lasts less than a week, and rarely more than two weeks, you might feel fatigue, headaches, gassy, or other mild symptoms as your body withdraws from your prior toxic eating habits. For example, stopping dangerous but stimulating foods, including caffeine, causes temporary fatigue and headaches.
Studies like this make it abundantly clear, even to somebody like me with only a limited understanding of anthropology, that as far as diet goes, humans appear to be better off keeping it simple. Low-carb cookies, low-fat potato chips, grilled chicken, diet-cola, orange drink, salted pork, and free-range beef only seem to complicate things.

Sleep Keeps Kids Slim

Now, I transform into a monolithic dinosaur if I don’t get enough sleep. And you don’t have to be a health expert to know, sleep is important. How important? Well new research has determined that children who get more sleep are less prone to weight problems. Juhie Bhatia of HealthDay News has more:
Researchers at Northwestern University found that children who get more sleep tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) and are less likely to be overweight five years later, than kids who get less sleep.

Sleeping an extra hour a night reduced the chance of being overweight from 36 percent to 30 percent in young children, and from 34 percent to 30 percent in older children.

Down on the Farm

Years back, when I was still a standard American dieter, if you were to ask me where I thought my food came from, I’d probably answer, “The supermarket.” How obnoxious is that? But now, especially since I eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, if you were to ask me that very same question, I’d have to respond, “The farm.” So, how many of you have been to a farm?

Now, I live around a bunch of farms, but for those of you who aren’t as fortunate, why don’t you join Sesame Street’s Ernie as he learns how stuff grows:

"Plants can grow, high! And plants can grown, low!"

Adolescents Don't Eat Their Veggies

I believe it. When I was in high school I barely ate any fruits and vegetables. My diet was almost entirely comprised of bagels, cream cheese, cookies, chicken, pizza, and the occasional veggie side dish. Looking back on it, it seems like the standard American diet really takes hold during people’s teenage years. What do you think?

Not sure? Well, take a look at this report by Eric Nagourney of The New York Times. According to new research as kids grow up they eat less and less vegetables, especially during their teenage years. Here’s more:
Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 young people about their eating habits in 1999; when they surveyed the same group five years later, most of the teenagers were eating fewer fruits and vegetables.
The timing could not be worse, and the researchers said it was important “to understand why consumption is decreasing among adolescents and to develop more effective interventions for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption during this critical developmental period.”
I wonder why this happens. My guess is the seeds of this problem are sown early on. Dr. Fuhrman discusses this in Disease-Proof Your Child:
If childhood memories of vegetables included being forced to choke down peas, it does not help to nurture positive feelings and an affinity toward the taste of peas. Children will learn to enjoy these foods best by watching adults appreciate the flavors and health benefits in a subtle manner, which will lead to a lifetime appreciation of vegetables prepared in a variety of interesting ways.

Are Dairy Products the Answer to Osteoporosis?

Written by Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Anna Quisel, M.D. for the July 2003 edition of Healthy Times:
As a woman and a breast-feeding mother, I almost feel guilty when someone asks, “You don’t drink milk? How do you get your calcium?” As people learn more about the problems associated with osteoporosis, interest in calcium is skyrocketing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the dairy industry has done a terrific job of promoting dairy products as the only adequate dietary source of calcium. Dairy products are far from the solution, and may very well be a cause of the problem.

Adequate amounts of calcium are necessary for high-level health. Calcium is necessary for heart muscle contraction, skeletal muscle contraction, the action of most hormones in the body, and bone strength. Because calcium is so crucial to survival, our bodies carefully regulate the amount of it in our blood. We even have a back-up reservoir of calcium available at all times—our bones.

Calcium reservoir
To keep a constant level of calcium in the blood, our bodies are continually adding and removing calcium to the bloodstream. When there is extra calcium in the bloodstream, the body removes some of it and stores it in the bones. When there is too little, the body takes calcium from the bones and adds it to the bloodstream.

It works like this: When serum calcium levels fall, a hormone called parathyroid hormone, produced in four small glands attached to the thyroid gland, stimulates osteoclasts. The osteoclasts break down bone and release calcium. When calcium is plentiful, a hormone called calcitonin, made in the thyroid, stimulates osteoblasts, cells that store calcium by building bones.

For a long time, scientists thought this was the whole story—if you don’t get enough calcium, your body will withdraw calcium from your bones, and eventually you will develop osteoporosis. But the story is turning out to be more complex.

High intake, weak bones
Much to the chagrin of the dairy industry, scientists have discovered that more calcium isn’t better. In fact, the countries around the world with the highest rates of calcium intake—including the U.S. and Canada—have the highest rates of hip fractures among the elderly. The largest source of calcium in these countries is dairy products. In one of the largest studies of diet and health ever undertaken in the U.S., the Nurse’s Health Study, researchers found that high total calcium intake and milk consumption did not protect against osteoporotic fractures.1 In a comprehensive review of all studies of dairy intake and bone strength in 2000, researchers concluded “that the body of scientific evidence appears inadequate to support a recommendation for daily intake of dairy foods to promote bone health in the general U.S. population.”2

Japanese women have lower total calcium intake than U.S. women at about 400-500 mg per day from soy products, vegetables, and small fish bones—yet they have lower rates of hip fracture despite having smaller bones.3 So high calcium intake alone, especially when the source of calcium is dairy products, does not ensure bone strength. Even bone mineral content (the amount of calcium- phosphate in bones) does not necessarily determine risk of fracture. This mineral-content finding is very important because physicians currently assess risk for bone fractures using x-ray measurement of bone mineral content.

Building strong bones
Adopting an Eat to Live-style diet is crucial for strong bones. Vegetables, beans, fruits, and nuts are the best sources of calcium, potassium, vitamin K, magnesium, and vegetable protein, as well as the phytochemicals (such as isoflavones) and micronutrients that are gaining recognition as important for bones. Keep in mind that the current U.S. daily calcium recommendation of 1200 to 1500 mg for postmenopausal women is an attempt to offset the ill effects of the typical vegetable-and nutrient deficient American diet, which is laden with salt, caffeine, and junk-food. Sadly, even this attempt to flood the body with extra calcium to compensate for poor nutrition has not been proven to prevent fractures.4 (Check out Get Some Veggie Calcium for good sources of calcium.)

Weight bearing and resistance exercise are extremely important to bone strength, and can reverse osteoporosis even in postmenopausal women.5 Walking is particularly important to hip bone strength.

Vitamin D might be more important to bone strength than calcium. Vitamin D promotes the uptake of calcium from the intestines and also increases bone building. The sun is probably our best source of vitamin D. Vitamin D needs are probably met with 15 minutes of exposure in the middle of the day three times per week. Many studies have shown that vitamin D supplements increase bone density in postmenopausal women; however, a recent comprehensive review of the subject determined that the efficacy of vitamin D supplements had not been proven.6 If you haven’t had your vitamin D blood levels checked, you might consider it so that you can increase your sun exposure or add a supplement if necessary.

Avoid toxins. The ingestion of animal protein—especially when combined with low vegetable intake, steroids, caffeine, cigarettes, vitamin A (retinol—found only in animal foods, fortified foods, and vitamin pills), and salt all have been associated with weak bones.
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Childhood Asthma and Allergies

From the May 2006 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

A large prospective study demonstrated an inverse relationship between vitamin D intake in pregnant women and asthma and eczema (allergic skin rash) in their offspring after controlling for multiple confounding factors. This study was reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Lead author Dr. Carlos Camargo reported that the present literature still recommends 200-400 IU vitamin D per day, in spite of multiple studies over the last five years demonstrating that this level of vitamin D is too low to protect our population against diseases promoted by vitamin D deficiency (800-1000 IU a day is a recommendation more consistent with the scientific literature).

More and more, we are finding that vitamin D deficiency is widespread in the modern world, and this problem has far-reaching negative health effects. Most of the modern world no works indoors and does no get sufficient sun exposure to assure optimal vitamin D status. Vitamin D supplementation is simply one of the most critical nutritional supplements to assure optimal health for ourselves and our children.
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Fruit and Veggie Contamination

Contamination of our food supply is a big deal, but, I feel its something that often goes unspoken. Why? For starters, it’s a huge issue, and for most people it’s just easier to pretend like it’s not happening than to takes steps towards rectifying it. Also, those responsible for jeopardizing our food don’t want to be sought out; keeping the issue quiet is smart business sense.

But for those of us who realize the danger, mercury contamination in fish and pesticide residue on produce are probably the most salient examples of toxic exposure. For example, about a year ago The Chicago Tribune detailed the plight of a piece of swordfish shipped from Singapore to the United States. Reporters Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne revealed some daunting findings:
When the Tribune bought and tested this particular piece of fish, the results showed not just high amounts of mercury, but levels three times the legal limit.
That’ll make you think twice next time you’re at the fish market; check out Fishing for the Truth for a list of fish Dr. Fuhrman considers safe to eat. The other big issue is pesticides and their role in tainting our fresh fruits and vegetables. Now of course that kicks up the debate as to whether or not we should buy organic produce. Dr. Fuhrman talked about this in Is Organic Food Safer? Take a look:
Some scientists argue that the extremely low level of pesticide residue remaining on produce is insignificant and that there are naturally occurring toxins in all natural foods that are more significant. The large amount of studies performed on the typical pesticide-treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, is related to lower rates of cancer and disease protection, not higher rates. Certainly, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than not eating them at all. The health benefits of eating phytochemical-rich produce greatly outweigh any risk pesticide residues might pose.
Okay let’s stay with the pesticide issue. Which fruits and veggies are the most contaminated? This is something that every person should know. Well I’ve got two answers for you, here’s the first one. From Diet-Blog, the twelve produce items that have the highest pesticide residue:
1. Strawberries
2. Bell peppers (green and red)
3. Spinach (tied with number 2)
4. Cherries (grown in the United States)
5. Peaches (grown in Chile)
6. Cantaloupe (grown in Mexico)
7. Celery
8. Apples
9. Apricots
10. Green beans
11. Grapes
12. Cucumbers
Now, from Reduce Your Pesticide Exposure By 90%, here’s Dr. Fuhrman’s list of the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables:
1. Apples
2. Bell peppers
3. Celery
4. Cherries
5. Imported grapes
6. Nectarines
7. Peaches
8. Pears
9. Potatoes
10. Red raspberries
11. Spinach
12. Strawberries
Sure, the lists might be a little different, but between the both of them you get a pretty good idea of which fruits and veggies to look out for. But one thing Dr. Fuhrman and Diet-Blog completely agree on is the advantages of eating lots of fruits and vegetables dwarf the risks of pesticide residue. More from Diet-Blog:
It's sobering - but I believe that the health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks from ingesting the pesticides on them. Washing and peeling can significantly reduce pesticide levels. Buying locally grown and in-season also helps as produce is often treated (with fungicides) to increase shelf-life and for long-distance distribution.
Sounds a lot like Dr. Fuhrman, doesn’t it?

EGCG: Voodoo Nutrition?

I’m a skeptic. I don’t believe something simply because someone says it’s true. I especially don’t buy into glorious marketing schemes. My motto, prove it. And it seems Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal feels the same way, because he plans to investigate the claims surrounding EGCG. Susan Haigh of the Associated Press explains:
An Enviga Web site claims that the drink's blend of green tea and caffeine burns more calories than it contains and can help drinkers maintain an ideal weight. According to a Nestle study, young people who drank three of the 12-ounce drinks a day burned an average of 106 calories.

Blumenthal demanded copies of all scientific studies, clinical trials, tests and papers that prove the calorie-burning claim by next week.

Unless there are credible scientific studies, claims "may be nothing more than voodoo nutrition," Blumenthal said. "Promise of wondrous weight loss must be supported by science, not magic."

Megnut Sums Up Unhappy Meals

Last week Michael Pollan dropped the hammer on Nutritionism, and provided lots of reasons why Americans aren’t exactly making the wisest dietary decisions. Now, I tried my best to crystallize the main point, but, let’s face it—that was long an article! Loaded with tons of quality information, heck, even I think I left a lot out. Good thing Megnut did a great summing it all up. Here’s a bit of it:
1. Eat food. Don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Non-dairy creamer? You're out. You too, breakfast-cereal bars.

2. Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims.
Science keeps changing, so trying to follow fads won't guarantee health. You have a better chance at health by just eating a well-balanced diet.

3. Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup. All those signs point to food that's been processed. More process = less nutrients and vitamins, never mind the environmental costs of producing the food.

Get Ready, Get Set, Cook

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

An important thing to remember is most of the foods your children and family consume can be simple fruits, raw vegetables, and nuts that require no preparation. Always keep lots of fresh fruit and raw vegetables such as sliced peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes, okra, raw string beans, English peas, and snow pea pods available and left out in bowls on the kitchen table at all times, so the children can grab and snack on them as they please. These vegetables are fine to leave unrefrigerated for a few days, and you will be surprised at how the raw vegetables and raw nuts slowly disappear. Instead of flowers to decorate your tables, use bowls of seasonal fruit. It is fine for you children to forage during the day and eat less at mealtimes. Offer an array of healthful food and let them control their own intake. Over time you will realize you do not need to cook and prepare a complete array of foods at dinner. A salad, one cooked main dish, and a simple fruit-based dessert are sufficient.

Steaming vegetables and making soups is called water-based cooking. Water-based cooking is the preferred way to cook because you can avoid cancer-causing acrylamides that are created when foods are browned by baking or frying.

Never eat browned or overly cooked food. Burnt food forms harmful compounds. If by accident something is overcooked and browned, discard it. Avoid fried food and food sautéed in oil. Experiment with low heat cooking to prevent nutritional damage to the food and the formation of dangerous heat-generated compounds.

I consider dairy fat dangerous and since so many children are lactose intolerant, many of my recipes show you how to make calcium-rich and nutrient-rich meals without diary. Soy milk is available fortified with vitamin D and calcium, and I find it very useful for making delicious smoothies and fruit-based deserts. There are many brands to pick from that all taste slightly different. It is easy to find one that suits your taste and the taste preferences of your child.

Also, get yourself a good food processor or quality blender for many of my recipes. I recommend owning a centrifugal juicer, an orange juicer, and a food processor or high-quality blending machine. The blenders that contain a plunger to stir and force the food down into the blades are helpful for making fruit-based sorbets, sauces, and dressings.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Month

Honestly, I didn’t know there was such a thing, but apparently February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. Eating disorders are a bit of a mystery to me. I was a chubby kid growing up—clearly eating disorders never gained a foothold. So if eating disorders are alien to you too, Dr. Deborah Serani offers up some quick factoids, like these uncategorized eating disorders:
*Eating problems with some, but not all, of the characteristics of a full-fledged eating disorder; for example, people who severely restrict food intake, but who do not meet the full criteria for anorexia nervosa

*Chewing food and spitting it out (without swallowing)

*Bingeing and purging irregularly, such as at times of increased stress

Great Big Veggies

I’ve been around gardens my whole life. My grandparents had a massive one. It literally took up their entire backyard. They had everything from romaine lettuce, hot peppers, strawberries, and mint, to grape vines and fig trees brought over from Italy. Pretty amazing, considering they had a small house in suburban north Jersey, but, they never had anything quite like this.

This gardening enthusiast from Alaska is digging up some heavy duty fruits and veggies. Like a 39-pound turnip, a 64-pound cantaloupe, and a 75-pound rutabaga. Not to mention some very giant kohlrabi plants. Now that’s a lot of phytonutrients! Here’s the video:

Not sure what a kohlrabi is? I wasn’t either. So be sure to check out its page on Wikipedia:
The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet. Except for the Gigante cultivar, spring-grown kohlrabi much over 5 cm in size tend to be woody, as do fall-grown kohlrabi much over perhaps 10 cm in size; the Gigante cultivar can achieve great size while remaining of good eating quality.

Antibiotics for Colds, Bronchitis, and Sinusitis

From the January 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Antibiotic use has skyrocketed in recent years, but the misuse of antibiotics isn't a new problem. Since the 1970s, medical studies have concluded that as much as 80 percent of all outpatient prescriptions are prescribed inappropriately.

Antibiotic sales are soaring, but—in direct response—so are drug-resistant infections. As more and more antibiotics are used inappropriately, more and more strains of bacteria are mutating and becoming resistant to antibiotics. As a result, many patients who have infections that in the past could have been appropriately and effectively treated with antibiotics will die because the antibiotics will no longer work.

Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors. The more widely these newer (and often ten times more expensive) antibiotics are used, the greater the chances that the bacteria will develop resistance.

Demanding patients
Many patients don't think a doctor is doing his job if he doesn't prescribe antibiotics or other medication. If he doesn't prescribe the medication they want, some patients actually will look for another doctor who will. For example, Robert Dristan is an emergency room physician well aware of the dangerous and inappropriate overuse of antibiotics. He told me that he sees a steady stream of patients with colds, bronchitis, or the flu. He always patiently describes the viral nature of these ailments, explains that no antibiotic can kill a virus, and informs patients that inappropriate use of antibiotics for these conditions could only harm them. He said that on more than one occasion, patients for whom he did not prescribe antibiotics returned, waving bottles of pills in his face, triumphantly stating, "My doctor said I almost had pneumonia." Patients can easily find a doctor willing to fabricate a diagnosis to justify coming to the rescue with a treatment.

Once a patient called me screaming on the telephone that her husband came to me for an antibiotic for his terrible cold, and all he got was a lecture. She wanted her money back and said she and her husband would never be coming again. Numerous patients have made similar demands. Most doctors perpetuate this problem because they give in to the pressure to prescribe antibiotics. They like to appear that they are offering an important and necessary service by writing prescriptions.

Powerful medicine
Antibiotics are not harmless. Their use should not be undertaken without a convincing prognosis that serious harm will result if the antibiotic is not used. Antibiotics kill the normal bacteria that inhabit the intestines. These healthy bacteria serve an important function in digestion and production of fatty acids and nutrients. The use of antibiotics, and the change in flora that results, reduces vitamin absorption (for example, of vitamin K) and can lead to nutritional deficiency.

Furthermore, the use of antibiotics results in yeast overgrowth. It can cause severe allergic reaction, as well as food and environmental allergies to develop more readily.
Overuse of antibiotics also can result in future infections with more serious (and resistant) bacterial organisms. Side effects can range from mild diarrhea and stomach upset to severe bone marrow suppression and serum sickness.

When to use antibiotics
Antibiotics are the appropriate treatment for severe bacterial infections. These infections include cellulitis, Lyme disease, pneumonia, joint infections, cat bites, meningitis, and bronchitis in a long-term smoker. Bronchitis in a non-smoker is just a bad cold. Almost every viral syndrome involves the bronchial tree and sinuses. The presence of yellow, brown, or green mucus does not indicate the need for an antibiotic. Likewise, sinusitis is not an appropriate diagnosis for the routine use of an antibiotic. Antibiotics should be reserved for the more serious sinus infections that show evidence of persistent symptoms lasting more than a week, such as continual fever and headache that accompanies facial pain and facial tenderness.

Childhood ear infections, a multi-billion dollar industry
Ear infections (otitis media) are the most common medical problem in children under seven years of age in the United States. Not only do nine out of ten children develop at least one ear infection each year, almost one-third of them develop chronic congestion with fluid in the middle ear that can lead to hearing loss and make the child a candidate for myringotomy or tube placement. Children who are breast fed for over a year have been shown to have many fewer infections than those weaned earlier.1 Studies also point to the fact that most ear infections early in life are viral, not bacterial.2 The vast majority of ear infections resolve nicely on their own, whether bacterial or viral, without an antibiotic. An international study following 3,660 children treated by general practitioners in nine countries showed that antibiotics did not improve the rate of recovery from ear infections.

It is 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. This use of antibiotics early in life is likely a contributor to the increasing incidence of allergies and asthma and other problems later in life. Medical studies have linked a significant increased incidence of asthma, hay fever, and eczema to those who received multiple antibiotic prescriptions early in childhood, especially in the first year of life.3

Conservative treatment
In Europe, antibiotics are used for ear infections only when there is persistent drainage or persistent pain because these infections resolve on their own, without treatment, over 85 percent of the time.4 Studies show that the majority of ear infections are of viral etiology. For example, a microbiologic survey found that 75 percent of pediatric ear infections were caused by common respiratory viruses.5 Generally speaking, the use of antibiotics should be reserved for serious infections, not conditions the body is well equipped to resolve on its own. More and more physicians and authorities are recommending only treating ear infections with antibiotics when symptoms are not improving after three days and they are accompanied by drainage, fever, or persistent pain. Instead, ear drops for pain relief and other pain relievers can be used if the child is too uncomfortable to sleep.

A British study reported on 168 children treated in this manner. Antibiotics only were used if the illness followed an unusual course with high fever or profound weakness, or if the child had a history of purulent meningitis or a concurrent documented bacterial infection. They followed up on any child ho did not recover in the typical time frame. s a result of this well-designed protocol, antibiotics were recommended by the physicians in only 10 children—fewer than 6 percent of all children presenting with acute ear infections. No serious complications, such as mastoiditis, meningitis, or permanent hearing loss, were observed.6

This is similar to the way I treat childhood ear infections, except I also incorporate nutritional excellence, which I find reduces even further the likelihood of needing an antibiotic. The children of families who adopt my dietary recommendations simply stop getting ear infections.

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Fad Diets: Low-Carb the New Low-Fat?

What do you think? Is the standard American diet a problem? Now, I’m no health expert, but I can answer that—with a resounding YES! Just look at yesterday’s post The Standard American Shockwave, and you’ll see that everything the standard American diet touches turns bad. So then, what makes it so terrible? Dr. Fuhrman explains in Eat to Live:

The reason people are overweight is too little physical activity, in conjunction with a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet. Eating a diet with plenty of low-fiber, calorie-dense food, such as oil and refined carbohydrates, is the main culprit.

As long as you are eating fatty foods and refined carbohydrates, it is impossible to lose weight healthfully. In fact, this vicious combination of sedentary lifestyle and eating typical “American” food (high fat, low-fiber) is the primary reason we have such an incredibly overweight population.

Now if you consider the exercise component, the standard American diet becomes more complex. So, perhaps it should be more aptly named the standard American lifestyle. But, for the purposes of this post, let’s stay focused on diet and ignore the lack of sufficient physical activity. I know, kind of hard to overlook, but try.

Okay just diet, so let’s look at what we’ve got: high fat foods and various refined fare. Let’s start with the refined foods. What’s the problem with them? Well, Dr. Fuhrman will tell you, all the fiber and nutrients have been stripped out of them until they’re basically just empty calories. For more on this, I refer to Michael Pollan’s recent article on nutritionism. In it, he talks about the ebbs and flows of processed food. Here’s a peek:

The typical real food has more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can’t easily change its nutritional stripes (though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem). So far, at least, you can’t put oat bran in a banana. So depending on the reigning nutritional orthodoxy, the avocado might be either a high-fat food to be avoided (Old Think) or a food high in monounsaturated fat to be embraced (New Think). The fate of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather, while the processed foods are simply reformulated. That’s why when the Atkins mania hit the food industry, bread and pasta were given a quick redesign (dialing back the carbs; boosting the protein), while the poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the cold.

Now this brings me to the next topic of discussion, the high-fat portion of the standard American diet, but more specifically the mass media phobia of it; which is ironic because Americans deep down love their fat. A lot of industrialized foods make claims to be “low-fat” which in many cases I’m sure they are, but this begs the question, what about calorie content? Well to answer that, let’s take a look at this article from Men’s Health magazine. It reports that the low-carb fad is destined to follow the same road as the low-fat diet, and ultimately, forget all about total calorie consumption:

We've been here before - about 10 years ago, in fact. The last time a diet craze swept the country, it ushered in more than 3,000 new food products on the wings of just three simple words: Eat less fat. And yet, in the ensuing decade, the number of overweight Americans increased by 15 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and the average American man's waist size increased by an inch and a half. Weight management became even more difficult, because the supermarket became more confusing, and the three simple words that were supposed to squeeze us back into our wedding suits let us down, terribly.

And it's about to happen all over again. "Consumers think carb-free is calorie-free, which it's not," says Leslie Bonci, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). "They think someone's giving them permission to eat that food. And what's going to happen is, we're going to see people start to gain weight."

In January of this year, more than 400 people who work in the food industry gathered at the Adam's Mark hotel in Denver for the first-ever LowCarbiz Summit to learn how they could profit from the new craving for low-carbohydrate foods. What they heard at the start was a warning from Fred Pescatore, M.D., a protege of Dr. Robert Atkins, the original low-carb guru: "We can't be like low-fat," he said. "We can't be just a fad."

And then, for 2 days, they learned ways to turn the low-carb craze into exactly that. In between snacking on low-carb foods and drinking Bacardi and diet cola (the official adult beverage of the low-carb movement), conference goers attended sessions like "Low Carb for the Nondieter" and "The Scientific Case against Low Carb: Know What the Industry's Detractors Are Saying and How to Respond."

Are you starting to see where I’m going with all this? Years back the country demanded low-fat everything. So what ensued? Decades of diet-books and food products proclaiming the benefits of a low-fat eating. And what did we get? Something now commonly referred to as the standard American diet, an epidemic of obesity and all the problems that go along with it; diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. And that’s not it.

We also got the avalanche of reactionary diets known as low-carb, South Beach, Atkins, or whatever catchy name some marketing company has come up with today. They basically say, “We’ve forsaken fat for too long! The real devil is carbs. Embrace the meat.” And we as a meat-loving, but fat-nervous culture eat it up. Why? Well because we recognize that the verson of the low-fat diet we have come to understand hasn’t worked. So why not give something that goes against the grain a try? Actually, the low-fat diet that has been forced down our throats all these years would more appropriately be described as the standard American low-fat diet. After all, how much better for us is it than the actual standard American diet? And how does it really differ?

But here’s the problem, and this why I think the Men’s Health article is right on target. The low-carb diet is now following the same path as the standard American low-fat diet. Lots of products touting the low-carb label—just like all the foods with the low-fat stamp of approval! And what are we left with? Tons of industrialized calorie-dense nutrient-stripped foods that people gobble up assuming they are eating intelligently, but all the while, not realizing that they’re consuming more and more empty calories. Isn’t this is exactly what caused us the problems we now have!

For me the answer is clear, realize that the average standard American diet and the standard American low-fat diet has failed, abandon all processed foods and their over-hyped claims, and perhaps most imporant of all, ignore the reactionary claims of the low-carb diet. How’d I arrive at this conclusion? That should be an easy one to figure out. I’m just regurgitating what’ve learned from Dr. Fuhrman. He’ll tell you, you want to lose weight, not consume too many calories, still get plenty of nutrients, and protect yourself from disease? A vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet is the answer. Just take green vegetables for example, look how they stack up against other foods. Check out this table from the Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables:

Nutrients present in 100-calorie portions
  Broccoli Sirloin Steak Romaine Lettuce Kale
Protein 11.2 gm 5.4 gm 7.5 gm 11 gm
Calcium 322 mg 2.4 mg 374 mg 470 mg
Iron 3.5 mg .7 mg 7.7 mg 5.8 mg
Magnesium 74.5 mg 5 mg 60.5 mg 97 mg
Fiber 4.7 g 0 4 g 3.4 g
Phytochemicals Very High 0 Very High Very High
Antioxidants Very High 0 Very High Very High
Folate 257 mcg 3 mcg 969 mcg 60 mcg
B2 .71 mg .04 mg .45 mg .32 mg
Niacin 2.8 mg 1.1 mg 2.2 mg 2.1 mg
Zinc 1.04 mg 1.2 mg 1.2 mg gm .55 mg
Vitamin C 350 mg 0 100 mg 329 mg
Vitamin A 7750 IU 24 IU 10,450 IU 23,407 IU
Vitamin E 26 IU 0 32 IU 34 IU
Cholesterol 0 5.5 mg 0 0
Weight 307 gm 24 gm 550 gm 266 gm
  (10.6 oz) (.84 oz) (19 oz) (9.2 oz)

And here's one more from Foods That Make You Thin:

Caloric Ratios of Common Foods
Foods Calories Per Pound Calories Per Liter Fiber Grams Per Pound
Oils 3,900 7,700 0
Potato chips of French fries 2,600 3,000 0
Meat 2,000 3,000 0
Cheese 1,600 3,400 0
White Bread 1,300 1,500 0
Chicken and Turkey (white meat) 900 1,600 0
Fish 800 1,400 0
Eggs 700 1,350 0
Whole Grains (wheat and rice) 600 1,000 3
Starchy Vegetables (potatoes and corn) 350 600 4
Beans 350 500 5
Fruits 250 300 9
Green Vegetables 100 200 5

I often wonder. If produce companies started sticking health claims on fresh fruits and vegetables and bolstered them with huge advertising budgets, would people finally realize that they’re the real health foods? Maybe so, because after all history would seem to predict that.

What Epidemiologic Studies Tell Us

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease-Proof Your Child:
  • Saturate fat is a powerful cancer promoter.
  • Refined sugar and white flour promote cancer.
  • Root vegetables and whole grains offer minimal cancer protection.
The largest and most impressive epidemiologic study was the China Project. The New York Times called this investigation the "Grand Prix of all epidemiologic studies" and "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease." 1

The reason this large undertaking, involving hundreds of researchers from Cornell and Oxford universities, produced such respected data is because China was the perfect test tube, "a living laboratory," to detect the effects food has on the incidence of different cancers. The people in one small area of China eat a certain diet, while just 100 miles away they may eat a vastly different one. The investigators were able to study populations with a broad rage of dietary differences. In addition, the Chinese individuals who were tested had lived their entire lives in the same town, and therefore the dietary effects were present for the subjects' entire lives. In America, there is comparatively little difference in diet form one city to the next.

This project reported disease rates from towns that ate almost a complete plant-based diet and from other areas that ate a significant amount of animal products. The researchers found that as the amount of animal products increased in the diet, even in relatively small increments, so did the emergence of the types of cancers that are common in the West. The researchers noted that most cancers increased in diet proportion to the quantity of animal products eaten and decreased relative to the amount of fruits, vegetables, and beans consumed.

The more animal products in the diet, the great the cancer occurrence.

The more fruits and vegetables in the diet, the less cancer they found.

Areas of China with exceptionally low intakes of animal products were virtually free of the cancers and heart disease that develop in most people living in Western countries. Even lean meats, chicken, eggs, and wild and naturally raised livestock (without hormones and antibiotics) were shown to increase the heart attack and cancer rates in proportion to the amount consumed by the population under study. Green vegetable consumption showed a strong protective effect.2

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Pomegranates, Atherosclerosis, and Diabetics

The pomegranate is a bad mama jama and I mean that in the cool Shaft way. According to Dr. Fuhrman pomegranate juice can help lower blood pressure and reduce in atherosclerotic plaque buildup? Not to mention, it’s a powerful anti-oxidant and has strong anti-cancer effects. He discusses pomegranates at length in Pomegranate Power. Have a taste:
Recent medical research completed in 2004 studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages. They were given an ounce of pomegranate juice for a year, and not only did their blood pressure lower by over 20 percent, but there was a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque…1

…Pomegranates’ potent antioxidant compounds have also been shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.2 Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.
Here’s some more good PR for pomegranates. Apparently a new study has revealed pomegranate juice also reduces the risk of arthrosclerosis in diabetics. The Diabetes Blog is on it:
The results of this study suggest that the antioxidants found in pomegranate juice may be beneficial in reducing these heart-related risks associated with diabetes. The sugars in pomegranate juice are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis. Researchers examined the effects of drinking a concentrated pomegranate juice that is the equivalent to about a 6-ounce glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for three months in 10 healthy adults and 10 adults with type 2 diabetes (who were not dependent on insulin therapy).
Perhaps the only knock against pomegranates is they can be hard to find. Take my farmers market for example, unfortunately they only have them a fraction of the year—argh! Anyone else have difficulty tracking down fresh pomegranates?

If you’d like to know more about pomegranates, check out these previous posts. They deal with pomegranates and prostate health. Take a look:
And for all of the foodies out there, give these pomegranate inspired recipes a try:
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Certified Organic Cloned Meat

That’d certainly make a great title for a science-fiction book, but it might be a reality sooner than you think. According to The Washington Post there’s quite a debate going on about whether or not cloned-meat can be called organic. Rick Weiss has more:
In the opinion of some in the biotechnology arena, the federal definition of organic food would allow them to label food from clones as organic, as long as those clones were raised organically.

"My interpretation is that it's not excluded at this time," said Barbara Glenn, chief of animal biotechnology at the Washington-based Biotechnology Industry Organization.

But the mere thought that a clone might earn the coveted organic label makes even the most mild-mannered foodies rabid.

"Over my dead body," said Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy organization in Washington.
Very creepy if you ask me.