What are true health-promoting and disease-promoting foods?

To truly consume a healthy diet, the vast majority of the diet must be composed of health-promoting foods, and disease-promoting foods must be avoided. To define health-promoting and disease-promoting foods, we can turn to science to learn which foods are consistently shown to be protective against chronic disease (or associated with disease risk), which foods are associated with longevity (or mortality), and which foods contain known anti-cancer substances (and which contain cancer-promoting substances).

True health-promoting foods – these foods have the power to protect, to heal and prolong human lifespan:

Green vegetables. Many green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, and kale) belong to the cruciferous family, vegetables that contain potent anti-cancer compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs).1 Green leaves are perhaps the most powerful longevity-inducing foods of all.

Onions and mushrooms also have well-documented cancer-protective properties. Onions and their Allium family members contain chemoprotective organosulfur compounds2, and consuming mushrooms regularly has been shown to decrease risk of breast cancer by over 60%.3

Fruits, especially berries and pomegranate. Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. They are full of antioxidants and have been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.4 Pomegranate has multiple cardiovascular health benefits, for example reducing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. 

Beans are an excellent, nutrient-dense weight-loss food - they have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain substances that lower cholesterol, and regular bean consumption is associated with decreased cancer risk.5

Nuts and seeds. Nuts contain a spectrum of beneficial nutrients including healthy fats , LDL-lowering phytosterols, circulation-promoting arginine, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet has been shown to aid in weight control.6 Seeds have even a richer micronutrient profile, abundant in trace minerals, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique. Flaxseeds provide abundant omega-3 fats, pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc and iron, and sesame seeds are high in calcium and multiple vitamin E fractions.

 

True disease-promoting foods – harmful foods that should be avoided:

Cheese, butter, and ice cream. These are dangerous foods that are loaded with saturated fat, that contribute to elevated cholesterol levels and several cancers.7 Dairy products are also associated with prostate cancer in men.8 

Potato chips and French fries. High heat cooking produces acrylamides, dangerous cancer-promoting substances. Acrylamides have been shown to cause genetic mutations in animal studies leading to several cancers. Fried starchy foods, like potato chips and fries, are especially high in acrylamides and other toxic compounds. Baked starchy foods like breakfast cereals and crackers also contain these dangerous substances.

Refined carbohydrates. Sugar and white flour products are not nutritionally inert, simply adding a few extra calories to the diet – they are harmful. Devoid of fiber and stripped of vital nutrients, these refined foods promote diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.9

Salt. The dangers of salt are increasingly recognized, with government agencies finally considering salt reduction programs. Excess salt intake contributes not only to high blood pressure, but also to kidney disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, ulcers, and stomach cancer. Salt consumption becomes the leading contributor to a premature death in a individual eating an otherwise health-supporting diet.

Pickled, smoked, barbecued, or processed meats. Processed meats have been strongly and consistently linked to colorectal cancer, and have also been linked to prostate cancer. Processed meats contain carcinogenic substances called heterocyclic amines.10 In fact, any type of meat cooked at a high temperature will also contain these substances – for example, grilled or fried chicken was found to have the highest level of heterocyclic amines.11 High processed meat intake is also associated with increased rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.12

 


References:

1. Higdon JV et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March ; 55(3): 224–236

2. Powolny AA, Singh SV. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):305-14.

3. Zhang M, et al. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer. 2009;124:1404-1408

4. Bazzano LA, Li TY, Joshipura KJ, Hu FB. Intake of fruit, vegetables, and fruit juices and risk of diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jul;31(7):1311-7.

Hannum SM. Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17.

Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Willis LM. Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1813S-7S.

Stoner GD, Wang LS, Casto BC. Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Sep;29(9):1665-74.

5. Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, et al. Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Aune D, De Stefani E, Ronco A, et al. Legume intake and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Causes Control. 2009 Nov;20(9):1605-15.

6. Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1643S-1648S. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

Mattes RD et al. Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults. J Nutr. 2008 Sep;138(9):1741S-1745S.

7. Kesteloot H, Lesaffre E, Joossens JV. Dairy fat, saturated animal fat, and cancer risk. Prev Med. 1991 Mar;20(2):226-36.

Genkinger JM, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al. Dairy products and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Feb;15(2):364-72.

Keszei AP, Schouten LJ, Goldbohm RA, et al. Dairy Intake and the Risk of Bladder Cancer in the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Dec 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Denke MA. Dietary fats, fatty acids, and their effects on lipoproteins. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2006 Nov;8(6):466-71.

8. Ma RW, Chapman K. A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer

prevention and treatment. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2009 Jun;22(3):187-99; quiz 200-2.

Kurahashi N, Inoue M, Iwasaki M. Japan Public Health Center-Based Prospective Study Group. Dairy product, saturated fatty acid, and calcium intake and prostate cancer in a prospective cohort of Japanese men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Apr;17(4):930-7.

Allen NE, Key TJ, Appleby PN, et al. Animal foods, protein, calcium and prostate cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Br J Cancer. 2008 May 6;98(9):1574-81. Epub 2008 Apr 1.

Ahn J, Albanes D, Peters U et al. Dairy products, calcium intake, and risk of prostate cancer in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trial. Cancer

Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Dec;16(12):2623-30.

Qin LQ, Xu JY, Wang PY, et al. Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer in Western countries: evidence from cohort studies. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16(3):467-76.

 Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, et al. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians Health Study. Presenta- tion, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.

 Bosetti C, Tzonou A, Lagiou P, et al. Fraction of prostate cancer attributed to diet in Athens, Greece. Eur J Cancer Prev 2000;9(2):119-23.

9. Barclay AW, Petocz P, McMillan-Price J, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk--a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):627-37.

Sieri S, Krogh V, Berrino F, et al. Dietary glycemic load and index and risk of coronary heart disease in a large italian cohort: the EPICOR study. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Apr 12;170(7):640-7.

Pisani P. Hyper-insulinaemia and cancer, meta-analyses of epidemiological studies. Arch Physiol Biochem. 2008 Feb;114(1):63-70.

10. Zheng W, Lee S. Well-done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer

Risk. Nutr Cancer. 2009 ; 61(4): 437–446.

11. Thomson B. Heterocyclic amine levels in cooked meat and the implication for New Zealanders. Eur J Cancer Prev 1999;8(3):201-06.

12. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al. Meat Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):562-571.

Junk food desensitizes the reward centers of the brain

 

 

Dr. Fuhrman’s concept of toxic hunger states that the unhealthy foods at the center of the standard American diet are addictive. Like all other drugs, addictive substances involve both pleasure and pain. By definition, an addictive substance is toxic and therefore produces uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when the body attempts to detoxify the waste products left behind. When we feel this discomfort, eating relieves the symptoms – when the body begins digestion it stops detoxification. So we mistakenly believe that these feelings are hunger, and we are then almost forced to eat too frequently in order to lessen the withdrawal symptoms from our low nutrient diets. This leads us to progressively eat more and more of the addictive food, and makes becoming overweight inevitable. Dr. Fuhrman further asserts that foods, lacking sufficient micronutrients, lead to a buildup of oxidative stress, free radicals and other inflammatory substances that are mobilized during catabolism causing distressful symptoms curtailed by overeating. 

Scientists studying addiction are now confirming Dr. Fuhrman’s assertion that unhealthy food is indeed addictive. Scientists following up their preliminary data on the subject

have published a new study in Nature Neuroscience showing that drug addiction and compulsive eating have the same effects on the brain – they desensitize brain reward circuits.1 In the brain, eating is motivated by pleasure and reward. 

The researchers studied three groups of rats – all three groups were allowed access to their standard (healthy) chow at all times. In addition, rats had either no access, restricted access (1 hour per day), or extended access (18-23 hours per day) to palatable energy dense food for 40 days. This palatable energy dense food consisted of nutrient deficient processed foods readily available to humans – things like sausage, bacon, and cheesecake.2

Extended access rats gained weight rapidly, and were significantly heavier than chow only or restricted access rats. Their calorie intake was almost double that of the chow only rats. Even the restricted access rats developed binge-like eating behaviors, getting about 66% of their daily calories during their 1 hour of access to the unhealthy food. 

The scientists used electrodes to measure the rats’ reward thresholds. The reward threshold is the minimum amount of stimulation that produces feelings of satisfaction. As the experiment continued, extended access rats had progressively higher reward thresholds. This means that their reward circuitry became less and less responsive, and a greater amount of unhealthy food was therefore required to satisfy their appetites. Even when the rats were taught to anticipate an electric shock, they kept eating, not even trying to avoid the shocks. This compulsive behavior in the face of negative consequences is a hallmark of addiction.

The scientists traced these effects to a decrease in levels of specific dopamine receptors in the striatum region of the brain. These exact neurobiological changes have been shown to occur in rats that are given extended access to heroin or cocaine. In fact, after access to the unhealthy food was no longer permitted, withdrawal (measured by continued elevation of the reward threshold) persisted in these rats for a full 14 days - rats in withdrawal from cocaine have been reported to experience withdrawal for only 48 hours. These results demonstrate how powerfully addictive – and powerfully toxic – unhealthy food is.

In the Western world, we have extended access to unhealthy food – nutrient-deficient processed food seems to be everywhere we turn. In such an environment, it is almost inevitable that we will become addicted, progressively gain weight, and suffer the health consequences. Only by removing the toxic, addictive foods from our diets and replacing them with health promoting foods can we break the cycle of toxic hunger and achieve excellent health.

 

References:

1. Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nat Neurosci. 2010 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Scripps Research Institute (2010, March 29). Compulsive eating shares addictive biochemical mechanism with cocaine, heroin abuse, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100328170243.htm

Food Navigator. Food addiction: Fat may rewire brain like hard drugs. http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Food-addiction-Fat-may-rewire-brain-like-hard-drugs/?c=DFrDdGqlXj9PxLeDW0x8cw%3D%3D&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BDaily

NewScientist: Junk-fed rats have ‘drug-addict’ brains. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18706-junkfed-rats-have-drug-addict-brains.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=health

 

Bypass Surgery

In January I interviewed Ronnie, who had quadruple heart bypass surgery at the relatively young age of 46. On the member center of DrFuhrman.com I recently asked him to describe what the surgery was like, and requested that he “spare no details.” All of us were deeply moved by his story, and Dr. Fuhrman suggested that I post it here on Onlyourhealth. Dr. Fuhrman also stated that bypass surgeries are performed all over the country, every hour of every day; and that this suffering can be completely avoided. May we all wake up to the serious reality of eating disease promoting foods.

patient after heart bypass surgery

What were the few days leading up to your surgery like?

My addictions and health had deteriorated to the point that when I ate, I would have difficulty breathing. I couldn’t do the simplest of tasks (shower, take out the trash, move furniture, mop or vacuum the floor) without being out of breath. My entire body hurt continuously. I had bleeding hemorrhoids and had to wear protection that often wasn't adequate. Every time I went to the doctor, about every two weeks, he would look at me and shake his head in disgust as he wrote out a new or stronger prescription. Every time he listed the same reason for my infirmities: morbid obesity.

I was taking high doses of two, powerful blood pressure medications and was prescribed the third because it was still high, 161/110. I knew I was in trouble. In the few days preceding my surgery, I remember feeling impending doom. I shucked it off like I always did thinking in the end I would get everything right with a pill or a sudden burst of self will. On September 8, 2005, I ate a heavy lunch and then went to my office and sat down at the computer. I felt discomfort in my chest, but it wasn’t severe so I thought it was indigestion. It got a little stronger so I told my staff that I was going home. I was awakened the next morning by chest pain that was more severe, and it wouldn’t go away. I went to the local hospital and was sent home after a battery of tests which they forwarded to my doctor.

My doctor called on Saturday at 8pm and told me to go immediately to a specific emergency room in Dallas that specializes in heart care. They took one look at me and the symptoms I was presenting and admitted me. I remember the doctor bending over me, and in a solemn tone said, “Mr. Valentine, I’m so, so sorry, but you’re going to have to have bypass surgery, and you’re going to have it quickly.” Needless to say my wife and I were devastated.


Please explain what bypass surgery was like.

I can’t begin to explain all the images and thoughts that ran through my head as I awaited open heart surgery. The regrets of past actions weighed heavily on my heart. I felt utterly hopeless and full of self disdain.  Plus, it was humiliating to be shaved from head to toe by two aides who were more concerned with the way their kids had been misbehaving than the patient who was facing the most traumatic event of his life. 

Right before being transferred to the operating room, I asked to see my wife, kids and brother. They were standing by my side as I explained what I wanted in the event the surgery didn't go well. I made it clear that I didn’t want to remain on life-support, and told them how much I loved them. As they were leaving the room, I called my brother aside, grabbed his hand, and felt his strength as he clasped my hand. I pulled him close and looked deep into his tear filled eyes and said, "Gary, you will be the one that has to make the call. Peggy will not have the strength." We put our foreheads together and shared one of the deepest, most heartfelt moments that I have ever experienced. Neither one of us could speak, but volumes were communicated in that utter silence.

I was ready. I called for the techs, and as they began to transfer me to the gurney, I tried to rise up a little and my back suddenly cramped. I exclaimed, "My back is cramping" but they just laughed it off and said, "Pretty soon you won't be feeling anything."

In the OR they transferred me to a stainless steel slab, and I keep telling them that my back was cramping in a full spasm and that I needed to sit up to relieve it. They wouldn’t let me due to all the needles and wires hooked up to me. So I suffered in excruciating pain while staring at the bright light overhead.

Next, the doctor put a mask on my face and said, “This will take care of your pain and give you relief.”  I said a prayer, pictured my wife in my mind, and then closed my eyes...

The next thing I recall was the most exhilarating thing I've ever heard: my name!

My wife and the nurses were calling my name in the recovery room. I had survived! I was given a new lease on life; a new chance, and I was ready for anything . . . so I thought.

That joyful moment was overcome with excruciating pain in my back. My spasm was still there after five hours of surgery!  Then I felt like I was choking to death because of the ventilating tube that was stuck down my throat. The back spasm would not let my lungs expand enough to get a good breath. When I tried, I would get a sharp pain that would stop my lungs from expanding and filling with air. I desperately tried to communicate this to the nurses, but they just blew it off as me wanting the tube out of my throat, which is normal for everyone after surgery.

I was strapped to the bed. I couldn’t move for over eight hours while feeling the awful cramping, coupled with the fact that I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I’d been buried alive. When they finally took the tube out, and let me sit up, my spasm immediately went away. 

Then I was transported to a hospital room for the arduous task of recovery.

Six days afterwards, the surgeon came into my room to examine me, and after pushing on my chest, he made the decision to operate again to re-secure my chest bone because one of the wires had given way.

I had no choice. I had to undergo another major surgery.

          surgery                 

Almost three years later, Ronnie had to have three stents put into an artery, and was sent home to die.  The next morning he awoke at 3am with more chest pain so he typed “reverse heart disease” into his computer’s search engine.  That day, July 10, 2008, he discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site and embraced the high nutrient eating-style.  Today, Ronnie is the epitome of health and fitness.  Not only did he lose 140 lbs, but he is now free from all medications, surgical procedures and dependence upon doctors.  He is now well! 

                      male before after pic

Imagine if Ronnie had found Dr. Fuhrman earlier, none of this would’ve been necessary. When the nation learns about how effective Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian diet is to rapidly reverse even very advanced heart disease, who in their right mind would choose bypass surgery? 

 

image credit: surgery, 62mileclub.com

Cigarettes

Surgeon General Warning: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

person smoking cigarette

A year ago I bought my first pack of cigarettes.  Yes, you read correctly. This mother of five made the big purchase.  The entire episode at my neighborhood gas station lasted no longer than four minutes, and it was the most pathetic thing that I've ever done in my life. Obviously, I had no clue of what to even ask for; my ignorance was obvious to all. I felt like I was robbing the place. I was paranoid that someone would recognize me, and kept looking over my shoulders to see if anyone I knew was lurking behind the candy counters.   

The cost was $4.71; and that was for the cheapest brand. I spent almost five dollars for something that ruins health. I immediately thought, “What a waste of money.” I quickly threw the cigarettes into my purse and scrambled out. 


Since childhood I'd been influenced by teachers, coaches, 4-H leaders, clergy, and various other leaders that smoking was wrong. It was totally out of the question if one wanted to be successful; not so much a health issue as a moral issue.  

However, this same conservative community saw absolutely nothing wrong with eating fried tenderloins, apple dumplings, and cotton candy at school carnivals; serving donuts and hosting all-you-can-eat potlucks at religious gatherings; or devouring BBQ sandwiches, taffy, and sno cones at the 4-H County Fair. They taught their values well. I didn’t become a nicotine addict.        

                            banana split                        

A Dairy Queen treat averages $3.50. Add carbonated fountain drinks, and the evening indulgence can easily cost a family of five more than $30. According to statistics, two of those family members may end up developing diabetes on down-the-road. In today’s economy, that would cost one person ten or fifteen dollars a day just to manage insulin dependent diabetes. That number doesn’t reflect the cost of doctor visits, lab tests or hospitalizations due to complications from the disease.  In the next 24 hours 4,384 cases of diabetes will be diagnosed in America.1 Is eating for disease a negligent waste of money? 

 

Exploding Epidemic Set to Potentially Cripple our Healthcare System; Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes Tops 40 percent of US Adults  by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. 

          pizza

morals - ideal codes of conduct which are held to be authoritative in manner of right and wrong (Wikipedia)


By the way, I hid the cigarettes.  I sure didn’t want my kids to discover them in my purse!  That would certainly set a bad moral example for them, wouldn't it?

Don’t worry.  I’m never going to smoke the pack of cigarettes.  I only bought them to prove how psychologically brainwashed we’ve become that suicidal and self-destructive eating is the acceptable norm in our culture.   

 

1  stopdiabetes.diabetes.org
image credits: tabaccofreeaz.wordpress.com; heitmannsnuts.netfirms.com; pizza slice by ruthboller.com