Which foods should we buy organic?



The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causes. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma and cancers of the stomach and prostate.1 

The question remains, however, does the low level of pesticides remaining on our food present much of a risk? 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 increased disease protection. The health benefits of eating phytochemical rich produce greatly outweigh any risk pesticide residues might pose. Certainly, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than to not eat them at all, but it is also wise to minimize our pesticide exposure. 

Environmental concerns

When we buy organic, we minimize our pesticide exposure, and we are also minimizing the amount of these pesticides that our environment is exposed to. Organic farming is clearly the more environmentally-friendly choice. According to the USDA, organic farming “integrat[es] cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Although organic cropland acreage in the U.S. has increased five-fold since 1995, organic cropland still accounts for only 0.57% of total cropland. Supporting organic agriculture will increase the demand for organic produce and decrease the percentage of farmland (and farm workers) exposed to potentially harmful agricultural chemicals.

Nutritional benefits

Organic produce usually has more nutrients – especially minerals and antioxidant nutrients – than conventional produce.  Organic apples, plums, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, and corn have all been shown to have higher antioxidant capacities than their conventional counterparts. Organic strawberries were even found to have more anti-cancer activity than conventional strawberries! Scientists have theorized that when the plants are grown without pesticides, they are forced to deal with the stress of insects, which causes them to produce more antioxidant compounds, which are beneficial to humans.4,5 

The Environmental Working Group provides lists of produce called the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (highest in pesticides) and the ‘Clean 15’ (lowest in pesticides). These are their most recent lists.3   


Highest in pesticides – buy organic if possible:

 1. Celery

 2. Peaches

 3. Strawberries

 4. Apples

 5. Blueberries

 6. Nectarines

 7. Bell Peppers

 8. Spinach

 9. Kale

10. Cherries

11. Potatoes

12. Grapes (imported)

Peaches have the most pesticide residue of all fruits – 97% of conventional peaches test positive for pesticides, and as many as 53 different pesticides can be found on peaches. The most pesticide-laden vegetables are celery and bell peppers. Sixty-four different pesticides were found on bell peppers. Imported produce is also more likely to contain higher levels of pesticides.2,3 Choosing to buy these fruits and vegetables organically grown will help to protect us against the possible risks of pesticide exposure. If you do buy the conventional versions of these foods, it is best to wash them with soap and remove the skin before eating them.


Lowest in pesticides – buy either organic or conventional:

 1. Onion

 2. Avocado

 3. Sweet corn

 4. Pineapple

 5. Mango

 6. Sweet peas

 7. Asparagus

 8. Kiwi

 9. Cabbage

10. Eggplant

11. Cantaloupe

12. Watermelon

13. Grapefruit

14. Sweet potato

15. Honeydew melon


Buying organic is a wise choice – organic foods taste better, and organic agriculture protects farmers and our environment.



1. Sanderson WT et al Environ Res. 1997;74 (2): 133-144. 

Zahm SH, Blair A. Am J Ind Med 1993;24(6): 753-766.

Brown TP et al. Environ Health Perspect 114:156–164 (2006).

2. Reynolds JD. J Land Use Environ Law, 1997;13(1). 

Whitford F et al. Purdue Univ Coop Ext Serv p22, 1/17/05

3. http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php , http://www.foodnews.org/methodology.php, http://www.foodnews.org/sneak/EWG-shoppers-guide.pdf

4. .Grinder-Pederson L et al. J Agric Food Chem 2003; 51(19): 5671-5676.

Lairon D. Agron. Sustain. Dev.30 (2010) 33-41

5. Olsson ME et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 22;54(4):1248-55.

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



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.



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


Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on Emily's 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution' post

Wow, all those comments on the Jamie Oliver post are great.  That’s what makes this so much fun, I appreciate everyone posting.  Clearly there are some positive aspects to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: and certainly he is bringing attention to the deplorable school food situation in this country.

He also genuinely wants to improve health of our country’s children, and he aims to teach people how to cook for themselves.  Jamie Oliver’s passion for healthy eating is admirable, but his recommendations on healthy eating are not scientifically sound.  ‘Made from scratch’ does not mean ‘health-promoting' and the missed opportunity for significant change is enormous.

The science of nutrition unfortunately is not common knowledge.  In order to make meaningful dietary changes, people need to be educated.  They need to be given accurate information, not a diluted version designed to keep them in their comfort zone to avoid making them uncomfortable. When people are given the accurate information, they can make an educated decision, and many will be inspired to make significant dietary changes, excited about the prospect of excellent health.  Others will never be convinced or at least not until their lives are in immediate danger.  Unfortunately moderate dietary changes do not remove food addictions, prevent overeating and do little to nothing to lower rates of heart disease and cancer.   We are not talking about veganism here, but there is both an opportunity and a responsibility when you have a public voice advocating a healthful diet to really advocate something that is healthy.  Large changes do not have to happen overnight, but with the right information, people will know what their eventual goals are and overall many more people could be positively affected. .

Many of the comments on this post call Jamie’s show a “step in the right direction” – but does the show actually represent Jamie’s recommendations as only the first step?  Similar to the U.S. government’s recommendation to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, Jamie’s recommendations are simply not enough to prevent or reverse disease or to result in significant weight loss.  This information misleads people into thinking that the first step is actually the whole journey.  So many people think they already eat healthy diets when they don’t – and it is in part because half measures and baby steps are portrayed as the real thing.

It is not enough to simply switch from very harmful foods to freshly prepared and somewhat less harmful foods.  Moderate changes most often don’t even bring moderate benefits, they bring no benefits.  Complacency in moderate changes will not prevent heart attacks and cancers and people will continue to suffer and die needlessly.  If people do not want to eat healthfully, that is their right, but let’s make it clear, Jamie is well-intentioned, but he is not teaching anything close to a health-supporting diet.  



Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

picture of Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s televised Food Revolution is an American sensation. I’m totally blown away and appreciative of his passion, genuine concern, overwhelming commitment, and sacrifice beyond-the-call-of-duty to see America (and beyond) get healthy; however, I’m concerned that zeal without accurate knowledge is potentially leading vulnerable people down a dangerous path.

Yes, Jamie is getting many, especially children, to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and that is a noble task. Most certainly he’s leading a renaissance of cooking again; getting both Americans and Europeans back into their kitchens to make food from scratch instead of filling freezers with frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets. We applaud him for accomplishing that wonderful feat!

However, and a big however, just because foods are made from scratch, using fresh ingredients, are they necessarily healthy? They may be healthier than processed foods, but are they truly health promoting? There’s a big difference.   

What struck me recently was watching the tears fall down Brittany’s cheeks, the obese teen from the Cabell County, West Virginia school corporation who only has five to seven more years to live due to complications from obesity. Will merely increasing fruits and vegetables in Brittany’s diet, removing flavored milk, and making food from scratch prevent her from dying an early death? Will it prevent any of us from needing dangerous drugs that have serious side effects such as insulin and diuretics?

I browsed through Jamie’s Food Revolution cookbook1, and some of his recipes call for for sugar, white flour, heavy cream, butter, eggs, bacon, and cheeses. Are they truly healthy for the heart, pancreas and waistline? Will the following recipes free us from toxic hunger that propels food addiction, the root cause of obesity?

Perfect Pot Roast
Bacon Omelet
Grilled Filet Mignon
Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham
Grilled Lamb Chops
Pork Kabobs
Pan Fried Glazed Pork Chops
Spanish Style Grilled Steak
Baked Creamy Leeks
Braised Bacon Cabbage
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Bacon and Mushroom Cream Sauce
Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake (serves 4-6:  8oz cheddar cheese, 4oz parmesan cheese, sea salt, 1 c. sour cream, 1/2 head of cauliflower)
Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake (2/3 c. brown sugar, 4 eggs, flour)
Vanilla Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping (serves eight: 13 Tablespoons of butter, 24 oz of cream cheese, ¾ c. sugar, and 1 ¼ c. heavy cream) 
Sponge Cake (made with 2 1/2 c. of heavy cream)
Pudding Cake
Fruit Scones
Chocolate Fruit Nut Tart

Jamie OliverSalads are doused with oily dressings; three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon, with the addition of pepper, sea salt, mustard, and sometimes yogurt. 

Among Jamie’s list of essential ingredients to have stocked in the kitchen cupboard are: olive oil, vegetable oil, all purpose flour, super fine sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, dry pasta, egg noodles, honey, maple syrup, mayonnaise; plus, ready made pie crusts and puff pastries for the freezer.  

If meals are made from scratch, using fresh and even organic ingredients, at home or in the school kitchen, versus processed through a factory assembly line then they’re health promoting, right?   

You be the judge. 

Jamie's a great guy. I admire his bravery, passion and zeal; but is he truly saving the sinking ship, or is this just more noise adding to the confusion?

       sinking titanic                            



image credits:  rhinestonesandtelephones.com; celebrifi.com; geography-site.co.uk  

1.  Oliver, Jamie (2009). Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution; New York: Hyperion Publishing

Fruits and vegetables provide only modest protection from cancer?



You’ve probably seen these headlines on the internet or television, claiming that fruits and vegetables provide very little protection against cancer. Of course something like this makes big news – it makes eaters of the typical Western diet feel validated in their unhealthy choices. But is it true? Do fruits and vegetables really offer only weak protection against cancer? Let’s look at the details of the study.

Researchers analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a large study of over 400,000 people. Subjects reported dietary intakes and were followed for approximately 8 years. The researchers reported the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and risk of total cancer. Two-hundred grams of combined fruits and vegetables (approximately 2 servings) offered a 3% decrease in risk that was statistically significant.1 

According to the lead scientist, Dr. Paolo Boffetta, from Mount Sinai Medical Center, “The bottom line here is that, yes, we did find a protective effect of fruit and vegetable intake against cancer, but it is a smaller connection than previously thought. However, eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial for health in general and the results of this study do not justify changing current recommendations aiming at increasing intake of these foods.”2

A tiny amount of plant food offers a tiny amount of benefit.

Yes, 3% is a tiny reduction in risk – but 200 grams is also a tiny amount of fruits and vegetables! One medium apple is approximately 180 grams, one cup of blueberries is 150 grams, and 1 cup of chopped raw broccoli is 90 grams. So keep in mind all these people did is eat the standard cancer-causing diet and add one apple or two cups of vegetables with dinner, they did not follow a vegetable-centered diet. They were still eating all the cancer-causing processed foods and animal products as their major source of calories.

The median daily intake in this study was 335 grams of fruits and vegetables combined per day – only about three servings. According to the CDC, only one-third of U.S. adults eat two or more servings of fruit per day, and only one-quarter of adults eat three or more servings of vegetables per day.3 These minimal amounts cannot be expected to provide disease protection. I recommend a far more substantial intake of fruits and vegetables with 90 percent of calories coming from nutrient rich plant material, lots of it raw and green. I recommend about two pounds of vegetables per day (approximately 900 grams) and at least 4 fresh fruits per day (which adds another 600 grams). Most importantly, attention should be paid to the highly cancer-protective plant foods, greens, beans onion, mushrooms, berries, and seeds. 

The more fruits and vegetables the subjects ate, the more cancer protection they got.

Many of the stories on this subject neglected to mention the fact that the researchers found a dose-response relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cancer risk – this means that as the number of servings increased, rates of cancer decreased. Those eating five servings per day reduced their risk by 9% compared with those eating 2.5 or less, and those eating more than eight servings per day reduced their risk by 11%.4 The benefits of lifestyle changes are proportional to the changes made. As we add more vegetable servings, we increase our phytochemical intake and leave less room in our diet for harmful foods, enhancing cancer protection even further. 

Different fruits and vegetables offer different levels of protection.

In this study, all fruits and vegetables were lumped together in one category – this could have diluted the results. Leafy greens and potatoes have nutrient profiles that are quite different, but in this study, they are both treated the same.   The participants did not eat an extra 200 grams of raw greens - French fries and ketchup counted as a vegetable.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, cabbage, collards, and broccoli, contain potent chemopreventive compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs have a variety of anti-cancer actions including inhibition of angiogenesis (blood vessel formation; important for tumor growth), detoxification or removal of carcinogens, inhibition of cancer cell growth, promotion of cancer cell death, and prevention of DNA damage by carcinogens. Epidemiological studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables, onions, and mushrooms are far more protective against cancer than vegetables overall - inverse relationships between cruciferous vegetable intake and breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers have been found.5  For example, in one prospective study, one or more servings per week of cabbage reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%.6 And that was just one serving a week, demonstrating dramatic protection is available and real when a diet is ideally designed. The regular consumption of mushrooms has been demonstrated to decrease risk of breast cancer by over 60 percent.7 Onions, berries, seeds and beans also have dramatic beneficial effects.8 In other words, high nutrient plant foods work synergistically and a well designed diet can offer dramatic protection against not just cancer, but heart disease, strokes and dementia.

Healthful eating is a lifetime commitment

The EPIC study followed adult subjects for 8 years, but the foundation of adult cancers was very likely laid down in childhood or early adulthood.9   These researchers missed the most important tenet of nutritional research and that is—childhood diets are the major cause of adult cancers. I wrote a book about this—Disease-Proof Your Child, with all the supporting scientific references. The protective substances contained in fruits and vegetables are more effective if they are consistently present in the diet since childhood.  Making moderate changes later in life, like adding a serving of fruit and vegetables, is not likely to make much of an impact on cancer risk. For later life changes to dramatically reduce cancer risk a total dietary makeover is required, that is one of the purposes of my nutritarian diet-style, to offer people real protection from an ideally designed diet that is adopted later in life.


Most people are confused about nutrition, and results like these can add to the confusion. There is clear evidence that unrefined plant foods protect against chronic disease, but modest nutritional improvements offer only modest health benefits. Cutting back on cigarettes does not offer much protection against lung cancer either.  It is the total package of a well-designed, nutrient-dense diet, regular exercise, and a healthy weight that offers optimal benefit. We can win the war on cancer.



1. Boffetta P, Couto E, Wichmann J, et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010 Apr 6.[Epub ahead of print]

2. Mount Sinai Study Shows Only a Weak Link Between Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Reduced Risk of Cancer. http://mountsinai.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/mount-sinai-study-shows-only-a-weak-link-between-fruit-and-vegetable-intake-and-reduced-risk-of-cancer

3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults --- United States, 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report March 16, 2007 / 56(10);213-217

4. NewScientist. Short Sharp Science: Five fruit and veg a day won't keep cancer away. http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/04/five-fruit-and-veg-a-day-wont.html

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

6. Larsson SC, Hakansson N, Naslund I, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. Fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to pancreatic cancer: a prospective study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15:301–305.

7. 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

8. 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.

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

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.

Jenab M, Ferrari P, Slimani N, et al. Association of nut and seed intake with colorectal cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Oct;13(10):1595-603.

9. Maynard M, Gunnell D, Emmett P, Frankel S, Davey Smith G. Fruit, vegetables, and antioxidants in childhood and risk of adult cancer: the Boyd Orr cohort. JEpidemiol Community Health. 2003 Mar;57(3):218-25. Erratum in: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Mar;61(3):271.

Fuemmeler BF, Pendzich MK, Tercyak KP. Weight, Dietary Behavior, and Physical Activity in Childhood and Adolescence: Implications for Adult Cancer Risk. Obes Facts. 2009;2(3):179-186.

My Recent Interview with Dr. Fuhrman

pairs ice skating competition

Dr. Fuhrman, tell us about your earlier years as a world class figure skater and member of the United States World Figure Skating Team. How did you get involved in skating and where did your hours of training and practice take you?

pairs ice skating competitionBeing a member of the World Figure Skating Team required a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. We trained seven days a week and most practices at the ice rink began at 3am. Then I attended school all day and trained more after school; lifting weights, running and acrobatics.

When I was nineteen, my younger sister and I place second in pairs at the 1973 US National Championships. Soon afterwards, while ranked # 1 in the nation, at the peak of my competitive career, I sustained a heel injury that resulted in a prolonged hospitalization. I was on crutches for about a year. [It took about ten years for the injury to completely heal.] This was a huge setback for me at this high level of competition, which had no room for error. Even though I hadn’t fully recovered or got my strength and stamina back, my sister and I placed fourth in the Nationals in 1976; however, only the top three places went on to compete in the Olympics that year. I then quit competitive skating, because in those days you had to remain an amateur to compete in the major international and Olympic events, and I was already 23. As I look back, the hardest years of my life, tougher than medical school and residency, were juggling skating practices and competitions with being academically successful in high school and college. 


How did you become interested in nutrition, and what sparked your desire to pursue a career in nutritional research and medicine; specifically as a family physician?

Being a competitive skater, I was always seeking ways to improve my athletic performance, which nutrition was obviously a big part of it. My dad had some health issues, and through proper nutrition, his health was restored. We had many books on nutrition and health at home, so there was always plenty of information for me to read and contemplate. My dad was in the shoe business, so along with naturally enjoying being a professional skater and coach, it was the natural and expected progression of things for me to take over the family business. I graduated from NYU (1975) as an economics and business major; however, I had a deep passion inside of me that people needed to know critical nutritional information that I had studied and incorporated into my own life. I pondered going back to school for medicine. 

At my sister’s college graduation party, I was talking to a friend of hers named Lisa (who is now my wife) about my interest in nutrition and health, and my desire to be a nutritionally-oriented physician to offer a different option from conventional drug-based medicine. She said, “You can’t turn your back on your dreams.” Soon we started dating. I thought I might be too old already, and was also concerned about not having taken any pre-med requisites in college. Lisa encouraged me not to just talk about it, but to just do whatever it takes if I was so passionate about it. I took the plunge. My father sold the family business and retired, and I registered in the post-graduate, pre-med program at Columbia University. Then I attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. I chose my residency in family practice because I wanted the freedom to be able to care for people of all ages with the broadest umbrella of practice.


When did you start writing books and developing an on-line presence?

I was working about 80 hours a week seeing patients, and worked late into the night to write my first book, Fasting and Eating for Health, in 1995. Then I was able to reduce my patient load somewhat to write Eat to Live, published in 2003; followed by launching my web site, DrFuhrman.com, in 2004. I saw both writing books and the web site as an opportunity to extend my medical practice and get my message out so that many could have the opportunity to recover their health. Unlike television, radio and magazines, the internet is unhindered by advertisers’ interests controlling the information stream. Because of this freedom, pharmaceutical funding, food manufacturers, political agendas, and the status quo can’t silence the message. I can inform the public with up-to-date research and information that’s not predetermined by these biased agendas. Of course, lots of crazy, worthless and harmful information is on the net as well, but certainly more information is out there today.


Tell us about the member center of DrFuhrman.com. 

After Eat to Live came out, I began receiving hundreds of e-mailed questions a day. People wanted more help and information. There arose a tremendous need for ongoing support, and to get specific questions answered by me. There was just no way I could maintain a busy medical practice plus answer emails and correspondence that I was being deluged with. The member center and the “Ask the Doctor” forum enabled me to answer people in an open forum for all to learn from and touch more lives in a personal way; again, extending my unique perspective on health and healing to a wider number of people.


What is the biggest frustration that you’ve encountered with proponents of the standard American diet and the dieting industry in general?

Due to all the contrary and biased messages circulating out there, the public gets sub-optimal results and become confused and disillusioned with conventional dieting. The conflicting information makes it difficult for those who truly want to be healthy and achieve dramatic enhancement of healthy life expectancy. So many lose faith and trust, become discouraged, and eventually give up altogether.  


What’s been the most rewarding part of your career as a nutritional researcher, physician and author?

I get to see what mainstream doctors don’t get to see. I get to witness lives turned around and people get well without the debilitating side effects of surgeries and drugs. I get to see people who were suffering terribly under traditional drug-centered medical care get their health and their lives back and the thrill of that victory for them.


From your vantage point of working closely with literally thousands of patients, what is the common denominator that enables someone to successfully overcome food addiction and get health back?

Those who are most successful have a dedication to learn the information thoroughly. In other words, they study and work to really understand the science and the logic behind my recommendations.  


In a nutshell, if there is one statement that you would like to share with the Onlyourhealth reader, what would it be?

Nutritional science can be such a blessing in our lives. It enables us to have a better quality of life; we can win the war against cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. And, it gives us more pleasure from eating and from life. The body of science, my discoveries, and my years of experience applying this science to medical conditions gives remarkable results. I work hard to present comprehensive information with no predetermined biases or agendas. My research and information is based on science; untainted by political, economic, ethical or social acceptability, or prior pre-determined opinion. Not that some of those issues are unimportant, but it's also important for people to be able to trust that their source of nutritional information is untainted and accurate.   


Thank you, Dr. Fuhrman for diligently working to discover and make applicable your findings and the latest research in nutritional science.  

                   Dr. Fuhrman and family



Dr. Fuhrman in world premiere of 'Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead'

World Premiere of FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD

At Sonoma International Film Festival

movie poster

Newswire: April 9, 2010 – Sonoma, California – Us & Us Media is excited to announce the world premiere of FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD at the 2010 Sonoma International Film Festival. Part road trip, part wellness manifesto, this feature length documentary is the uplifting story of two men whose chance meeting and struggle to overcome the same rare disease saves one life, and changes another for good. Across two continents and 9,000 miles, what emerges is nothing short of a miracle – an inspiring tale of healing and human connection.

100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well-- with one foot already in the grave, the other wasn’t far behind. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health.

With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long-term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body’s ability to heal itself. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. Across 3,000 miles Joe has one goal in mind: To get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle.  

Dr. Fuhrman oversees Joe’s medical care along the way and is featured throughout the film providing him with guidance, support, and encouragement.

While talking to more than 500 Americans about food, health and longevity, it’s at a truck stop in Arizona where Joe meets a truck driver who suffers from the same rare condition. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing in at 429 lbs; a cheeseburger away from a heart-attack. As Joe is recovering his health, Phil begins his own epic journey to get well. 

Read other dramatic success stories at DrFuhrman.com/success.

Screening Times:

Friday, April 16, 2010 – 12:30 pm

Vintage House

264 1st St. East, Sonoma, CA


Saturday, April 17, 2010 – 6:00pm

House of Docs at the Woman's Club

574 1st St. East, Sonoma, CA


Details on the festival screenings can be found at SonomaFilmFest.org

There will be a presentation of the film for all attendees, with a special guest appearance by Joe Cross, at Dr. Fuhrman’s Health Getaway 2010.


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Vitamin D may protect against colon cancer

Vitamin D insufficiency is widespread, and is thought to contribute to a variety of disease states, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, depression, and cancers.

Vitamin D affects calcium absorption and metabolism in the bone, kidney, and intestine, but it also acts as a regulator of gene transcription in many tissues, affecting genes that control cell growth, adhesion, differentiation, proliferation, and programmed cell death. Vitamin D’s action on such genes has been shown to suppress proliferation of human colon cancer cells and tumor growth.1,2

Also, the cells of the colon, whether they are normal or cancerous, are capable of converting 25(OH)D to its active form 1,25(OH)2D. It is likely that this ability has purpose – vitamin D may have yet unidentified actions specific to the cells of the colon.

Researchers analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, which has over 520,000 participants. Blood levels of vitamin D, which were measured at the start of the study, were compared between 1248 colorectal cancer patients and matched controls after diagnosis.

Circulating 25(OH)D levels of below 20 ng/ml were associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer compared with levels between 20-30 ng/ml.  When the researchers arranged the data into 5 quintiles of Vitamin D levels, they found a dose-dependent reduction in colon cancer risk; highest quintile (greater than 40 ng/ml) had 40% reduced risk compared to lowest quintile (less than 10 ng/ml). When cancers were distinguished by site, the association between Vitamin D levels and colon cancer was even stronger – the highest quintile showed a 60% risk reduction.3

This large study followed up at least 25 previous studies since 2002. A 2009 review of these previous studies confirmed that there is indeed an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and colorectal cancer. Even after a diagnosis of colon cancer, vitamin D levels are associated with increased survival – in colon cancer patients, higher vitamin D levels were predictive of a decreased risk of death from any cause, not only colon cancer.4

The 2009 review concluded that 25(OH)D levels of 32 ng/ml would be sufficient to achieve the protection against colorectal cancers seen in the literature, and the most recent study cited saw benefits with as low as 20 ng/ml. A minimum of 30 ng/ml 25(OH)D is thought to be required for vitamin D to properly exert its many beneficial effects.5 Accordingly, I  recommend that levels be maintained in the range of 35-55 ng/ml. 

About 50% of the U.S. population is deficient in vitamin D and cannot rely on sun exposure because of indoor jobs, skin color, and their climate. Plus, with the depletion of the ozone layer, the amount of sun most people would require to achieve these levels may result in too much skin damage and skin cancer.6 



1. Ingraham BA, Bragdon B, Nohe A. Molecular basis of the potential of vitamin D to prevent cancer. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Jan;24(1):139-49.

2. Journal of Clinical Investigation (2009, July 7). Understanding The Anticancer Effects Of Vitamin D3. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/07/090706171500.htm

Emory University (2008, April 14). Vitamin D And Calcium Influence Cell Death In The Colon, Researchers Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/04/080413161052.htm

Rockefeller University Press (2008, November 26). Vitamin D Can Alter Color Cancer Cells In Many Ways, Through One Pathway. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/11/081117091614.htm

3. Jenab M, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Ferrari P, et al. Association between pre-diagnostic circulating vitamin D concentration and risk of colorectal cancer in European populations:a nested case-control study. BMJ. 2010 Jan 21;340:b5500.

High vitamin D levels linked to lower risk of colon cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/01/100122002340.htm

4. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (2008, June 20). Vitamin D Linked To Colon Cancer Survival. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/06/080619090749.htm

5. Holick MF, Chen TC. Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences.Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87(suppl):1080S– 6S.

6. Terushkin V, Bender A, Psaty EL, et al. Estimated equivalency of vitamin D production from natural sun exposure versus oral vitamin D supplementation across seasons at two US latitudes. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Apr 2. [Epub ahead of print]


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.


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

Obesity during pregnancy puts the child in danger

Over 50% of women of childbearing age in the U.S. are either overweight or obese. In the U.K., the percentage of obese pregnant women has doubled in the past 19 years, from 7.6% to 15.6%.1 Obesity is closely linked to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, and evidence is now mounting that excess maternal weight can have dangerous effects on fetal development.2

Obesity contributes to infertility, making it more difficult to become pregnant. Obese women who do become pregnant are at risk for serious complications such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and are more likely to require Caesarian section and labor induction.

The pregnancy of an obese women itself is at risk – obese women are more likely to experience early miscarriage or spontaneous intrauterine demise.3

The children of obese women are at increased risk of excessive birth weight, neural tube defects, and congenital heart disease.

Maternal overeating during pregnancy is even thought to produce adaptive cues that may predispose the developing fetus to obesity during childhood or adulthood.4

This is a serious issue that needs to be brought to women’s attention. All women want to have healthy pregnancies and to give their babies the healthiest possible start. Achieving a healthy weight prior to becoming pregnant can help to prevent devastating complications for mother and baby. Obesity is not benign, and it is not just a cosmetic issue – it is a serious health hazard, especially during pregnancy.



1. Heslehurst N, Rankin J, Wilkinson JR, et al. A nationally representative study of maternal obesity in England, UK: trends in incidence and demographic inequalities in 619,323 births, 1989–2007. International Journal of Obesity (2010) 34, 420–428

2. Wiley-Blackwell (2010, January 26). Pregnant women who are overweight put their infants at risk, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/01/100120121558.htm

Walters MR, Taylor JS. Maternal obesity: consequences and prevention strategies. Nurs Womens Health. 2009 Dec;13(6):486-94; quiz 495.

3. Satpathy HK, Fleming A, Frey D. Maternal obesity and pregnancy. Postgrad Med. 2008 Sep 15;120(3):E01-9.

4. Wax JR. Risks and management of obesity in pregnancy: current controversies. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Apr;21(2):117-23.

USDA/Agricultural Research Service (2010, March 15). Baby's obesity risk: What's the mother's influence?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100315125551.htm

Walnuts keep your blood flowing

It’s no secret that nuts are good for your heart. We know that consuming nuts can dramatically reduce cardiovascular disease risk, but scientists are just beginning to figure out how this works.  We recently learned that almonds have a potent antioxidant effect, leading to decreases in circulating oxidized LDL, helping to keep the arteries clear of atherosclerotic plaque.

Like all nuts, walnuts are rich in fiber, minerals, micronutrients, phytosterols, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fats, but walnuts stand out because of their distinctively high levels of ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid and precursor to EPA and DHA.

Researchers at Yale University wondered whether walnuts would have beneficial effects on blood vessel function in individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease – those with type 2 diabetes.

Twenty-four subjects with type 2 diabetes were included in the study.  Half were assigned to supplement their diets with 2 ounces of walnuts per day for 8 weeks

The researchers tested flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), which is a measure of how well the endothelial cells, the cells that line all blood vessels, are working to keep blood pressure in a favorable range.  One of the endothelial cells’ most important jobs is to produce nitric oxide, which regulates blood pressure by relaxing the muscle in the walls of the arteries.

After 8 weeks of daily walnut consumption, flow-mediated dilatation was improved – the blood vessels were able to dilate more in the subjects who ate walnuts.1  This is good news for overall cardiovascular disease risk since loss of endothelial function is one of the initiating events in atherosclerotic plaque development.

Want another reason to eat some walnuts?  They may also protect against breast cancer and prostate cancer2, according to animal studies. Fascinatingly, nuts and seeds also promote weight loss.  Research on the issue shows when an equal number of carbohydrate calories are replaced with nuts and seeds weight loss increases. Scientists from Purdue University did a thorough review of all the research studies that looked at nut intake and weight loss. Not only did they find nuts were a rich source of nutrients and protect the heart and blood vessels, but they found a surprising inverse association between nut intake and Body Mass Index. Most studies explained this as being due to the appetite suppressing effect of nuts, but like beans all the calories may not be bio-accessible, meaning that not all of the calories in nuts are absorbed. Plus, they enhance the absorbtion of nutrients in vegetables when consumed in the same meal. 3

We can apply this information by following Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations to include a variety of nuts and seeds in our diets. As time goes on, we can be sure that scientists will continue to reveal many more health-promoting properties of nuts and seeds. 



1. Ma Y, Njike VY, Millet J, et al. Effects of walnut consumption on endothelial function in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Diabetes Care. 2010 Feb;33(2):227-32. Epub 2009 Oct 30.


Medscape Medical News: Walnuts Shown to Improve Endothelial Function in Diabetics


2. Eurekalert! Walnuts slow prostate tumors in mice: UC Davis research shows walnuts affect genes related to tumor growth


3. 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.


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. 


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