Dr. Fuhrman's Health Getaway; part 1 - the meals

Rancho Bernardo Inn, tucked away in beautiful San Diego County, was the location for Dr. Fuhrman’s Health Getaway that took place on July 11-17. Every detail was perfectly orchestrated to make it an incredible week of learning the latest nutritional discoveries by Dr. Fuhrman, motivational encouragement, special presentations, physical fitness classes, healthy eating, tasting new recipes, health assessments, relaxation, and forming lasting friendships.  Because describing the Getaway is like trying to capture Niagra Falls into a glass jar, I’ll focus on different parts of it over the next few weeks; plus, I’ll include some commentaries from others so you can hear various perspectives also. [Special thanks to Dan Williams, a guest at the Getaway and a phenomenal photographer, for sharing some wonderful images that I'll be posting over the next few weeks.] 

The following were highlights of the week’s meals:

  • The Sunday evening welcome reception was on the San Bernardo patio overlooking beautiful views of the landscapes below; complete with a refreshing California breeze and delicious hors d’oeuvres: Fruit Kabobs, No Meat Balls with Marinara Sauce, Endive stuffed with Tuscan Bean Dip, Cantaloupe Slush, and Coconut Slushy.
  • This was followed by dinner in the San Bernardo Ballroom: French Minted Pea Soup, Pistachio Crusted Tempeh and Shiitake Mushrooms, Wild & Basmati Rice, Fresh Greens with Dr. Fuhrman’s Salad Dressings, Steamed Green Beans, California Creamed Kale, and Poached Pears with Raspberry Sauce. 
  • Every meal for the entire week, including each breakfast, was a lavish celebration of delicious foods and visual beauty.  Breakfasts and lunches were served on the Santiago Courtyard; complete with outdoor fountains, sculptures, flowers, linens, and dinnerware. 
  • The recipes came directly out of Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Eat for Health, or the recipe section of Member Center of DrFuhrman.com. I tasted almost everything, and there wasn’t one recipe that I would not make for my family and/or dinner guests.  Some of my favorites were:
  • California Creamed Kale (I could eat this for every meal for the rest of my life!)
  • Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti Cancer Soup
  • Broccoli Vinaigrette (doesn’t get much better!)
  • Braised Bok Choy (delicious! a must make-again)
  • Roasted Vegetable Pizza
  • Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream (tastes a lot like chocolate/cherry cordials)
  • Broccolini with Tomato Almond Sauce (my favorite of favorites!)
  • Asian Vegetable Stir Fry
  • Eat Your Greens Fruit Smoothie
  • Eggplant Roll Ups (the tops; fascinating combination of flavors)
  • Mixed Berry Freeze (refreshing)
  • Banana Walnut Ice-Cream
  • Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie (to die for ~ in my opinion)
  • Apple Surprise (a wonderful breakfast treat)
  • Apple Carrot Custard Pie (“Wow, this is healthy?!”)tomatoes
  • Many were ecstatic to have dropped several pounds by the end of the week while eating such delicious foods!  As one guest described it, "The food was delicious and so satisfying I was surprised this was good for me. I really CAN eat this way for life."  May we all incorporate such great tasting food into our lifetime journeys of eating for health. – Bon Appetit!   



image credits:  meal settings by Rancho Bernardo Inn; food by Dan Williams of KalareStudios.com

Can a plant-based diet fuel performance in serious athletes?

In 2010, Dr. Fuhrman was asked by the scientific journal Current Sports Medicine Reports to write a review of the literature and accordingly provide dietary recommendations for vegan athletes. His review was published in the July/August 2010 issue. An abstract of the article, "Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete", can be found on the American College of Sports Medicine's website here

A complete summary of Dr. Fuhrman's specific recommendations, specific considerations, a menu plan and recipes for maximum performance can be found in Dr. Fuhrman's Position Paper: Fueling the Vegan Athlete (available free to Members in the Member Center library). Dr. Fuhrman discusses the links between diet and athletic performance, specifically the role of plant foods in maintaining the health and performance of serious athletes. 

Athletes have specific nutritional needs due to the long-term physical stress of daily intense physical activity.

Athletes require a greater amount of caloric energy than sedentary individuals in order to fuel their training, and are particularly susceptible to certain micronutrient deficiencies as well as viral infections. Dr. Fuhrman's review provides guidance on using dietary means to maintain immunocompetence and to avoid exercise-induced oxidative stress as well as supplementing properly to circumvent deficiencies.

There is a widely held belief that a large amount of animal protein is required in order to build significant muscle or to sustain intense physical activity.

Plant foods are health-promoting, but lower in caloric density than animal foods. They are therefore thought by many to be inferior forms of fuel for athletes, especially in size and strength sports such as bodybuilding. However, the micronutrients in plant foods are indispensable for overall health; maximizing long-term athletic performance requires much more than protein (macronutrient) adequacy, micronutrient density and adequacy are crucial as well. Dr. Fuhrman addresses these issues and gives recommendations for obtaining adequate but not excessive amounts of protein with whole plant foods and also discusses the potentially deleterious effects of excess protein consumption by athletes.

Read Dr. Fuhrman's Position Paper, Fueling the Vegan Athlete.

Fructose from added sugars linked to high blood pressure

The consumption of fructose has increased significantly since the 1970s, when high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was introduced into the United States food supply. The use of HFCS now exceeds that of sucrose (table sugar) in sweetened foods in the U.S.

Absorption of fructose and glucose:

Sucrose is composed of one fructose molecule and one glucose molecule.   There are differences between fructose and glucose metabolism. Fructose is absorbed in the small intestine, transported to the liver through the portal vein, and then metabolized via the same process that breaks down glucose to make energy – however, fructose is only broken down in the liver, whereas glucose can be used by any cell in the body.  Ingesting glucose raises blood glucose levels, and ingesting fructose does not raise glucose as quickly or as much, but raises triglyceride levels much more.1

Fructose was once regarded as a “safe” sweetener for diabetics, because of its small effect on blood glucose levels.   However, fructose is a reducing sugar, which means that it contributes to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which contribute to diabetes and its complications, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.2 Since fructose consumption also elevates triglycerides and diabetics are already at risk for cardiovascular disease, increasing triglycerides adds to this risk. Added fructose consumption has also been associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and elevated cholesterol and retinopathy in diabetics.1


Fructose in natural foods vs. fructose in HFCS:

Fructose makes up half of the sucrose molecule, and HFCS contains similar proportions of fructose and glucose as sucrose does (HFCS is 55% fructose).   Fructose may be found alone (free) or complexed with glucose as sucrose. In most fruits, much of the fructose is bound to glucose. Fructose entry into blood is slowed when it is in sucrose form, because sucrose must be first split by enzymes in intestinal cells. Fructose molecules in HFCS, however, are free, and therefore absorbed more rapidly. It is thought that the enzymes in the liver responsible for breaking down fructose are overwhelmed by the large loads of fructose delivered by HFCS-sweetened beverages, allowing for large quantities of fructose to be released into the blood.1


Fructose and elevated blood pressure:

The current study examined data from 4528 adults, whose median fructose intake from added sugars was 74 grams per day. As a reference point, 74 grams of fructose is roughly the amount present in 2 ½ twenty-ounce soft drinks or 13 bananas.1,3 The researchers determined that fructose intake at or above the median 74 grams per day increased the risk of elevated blood pressure. 

Subjects who consumed 74 grams or more of fructose each day in added sugar increased their risk of blood pressure elevated above 135/85 by 26%, above 140/90 by 30%, and above 160/100 by 77%.4

Essentially, the average fructose intake in the U.S. is a quantity that increases chronic disease risk – and not just risk of diabetes. Elevated blood pressure contributes to risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.

There are no “safe” sweeteners - whole fruits and root vegetables are the only sweet-tasting foods that are health-promoting.   Added sugar in any form is calorie-dense and deficient in nutrients, and therefore detrimental to health.



1. Teff KL, Grudziak J, Townsend RR, et al. Endocrine and metabolic effects of consuming fructose- and glucose-sweetened beverages with meals in obese men and women: influence of insulin resistance on plasma triglyceride responses. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 May;94(5):1562-9.

2. Glenn JV, Stitt AW. The role of advanced glycation end products in retinal ageing and disease. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Oct;1790(10):1109-16.

Loy CT, Twigg SM. Growth factors, AGEing, and the diabetes link in Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009 Apr;16(4):823-31.

Peppa M, Uribarri J, Vlassara H. Aging and glycoxidant stress. Hormones (Athens). 2008 Apr-Jun;7(2):123-32.

Peppa M, Stavroulakis P, Raptis SA. Advanced glycoxidation products and impaired diabetic wound healing. Wound Repair Regen. 2009 Jul-Aug;17(4):461-72.

Yamagishi S. Advanced glycation end products and receptor-oxidative stress system in diabetic vascular complications. Ther Apher Dial. 2009 Dec;13(6):534-9.

Barlovic DP, Thomas MC, Jandeleit-Dahm K. Cardiovascular disease: what's all the AGE/RAGE about? Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. 2010 Mar;10(1):7-15.

3. Nutrition Data. http://nutritiondata.self.com/

4. Jalal DI, Smits G, Johnson RJ, Chonchol M. Increased Fructose Associates with Elevated Blood Pressure. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print]

The anatomy of a binge

binge eating

Binge eating isn’t necessarily a household word, but it’s become a common and secretive behavior behind closed doors. Binge eating is consuming abnormally large amounts of food in a rapid amount of time. The binge eater feels uncomfortably bloated afterwards; followed by feelings of remorse, guilt and disgust. Immobility and fatigue are the immediate responses following a binge, but over time, obesity and rapidly deteriorating health are the ultimate outcomes.  

How do I know? I was a chronic binge eater for nearly thirty years of my life; plus, I’ve been interacting with many binge eaters [aka “overeaters”] over the past two years. It’s a behavior that shrouds the participant with shame and embarrassment. Like all unhealthy addictions, it is disease promoting, and one must overcome it to live in optimal health. 

A binge usually starts with a small compromise of some sort.  It may be as simple and innocent as an extra handful of nuts with dinner. A healthy response to that extra handful of nuts would be to acknowledge it, “Okay, I just overrate an extra handful of nuts.” Then the next step would be to quickly move on and not think anymore about it. The key phrase here is quickly move on. Most likely he/she will not feel hunger for breakfast the next morning, and that’s perfectly fine. Perhaps after a vigorous workout and a morning of work, a light lunch at eleven, when he/she is truly hungry again, will be most welcome and pleasurable. This natural response is health promoting.

The mindset of a chronic binge eater is, “I blew it. I over ate that extra handful of nuts with dinner. I’m a failure. I might as well give up and eat anything and everything in sight now.” The problem with this unhealthy thinking pattern is the person will go to bed stuffed and miserably uncomfortable; only to wake up the next morning full of remorse and defeat which will immediately perpetuate more binge eating. The cycle continues until the person has created a pathway of ruts straight into the dungeon of obesity. 

So, if you are reading this post and caught in the cycle of a binge:

1)      Stop. Stop immediately. Put that spoonful of nut butter down. Throw that handful of M&M’s in  the trash.   

2)      Acknowledge it.  Verbally list in your mind what you just over ate. Don’t deny it. 

3)      Move on quickly. Depending upon the amount that you over ate, you may not feel well. No big deal. This too shall pass. Be kind to yourself and don’t eat until you are truly hungry again. 

4)      Listen to Dr. Fuhrman’s teleconference in the member center library, “Curtailing Overeating.” Watch the Livestream by Dr. Fuhrman from the Health Getaway on Food Addictions and Weight Loss. Thoroughly understand his instructions on not eating again until your body is at the end of the catabolic phase of digestion and repair.

5)      Visualize what you will look and feel like when chronic binge eating is completely removed from your life. 

6)      Be 100% committed to overcoming binge eating. 100% commitment is not the same as 100% perfection. Slip-ups happen on occasion. They just do. The key to success is minimizing slip-ups and move on quickly. Quickly is the key word! 

7)      Feeling good is highly motivating. Once you feel good again, it will be a thoroughly pleasurable experience, and will thrust you into the contagious cycle of enjoying optimal health for life!

Freedom from binge eating to all!


image credit: avidityfitness.net

Pooled data from 12 different studies: High meat intake increases diabetes risk

Usually, when we think about foods that increase diabetes risk, we think of white flour-based processed foods, sugary sodas, and desserts, since these foods are known to produce dangerous increases in blood glucose. Also, many diabetics are under the impression that that they should avoid carbohydrate-containing foods, and eat higher levels of protein to keep their blood glucose levels in check. However, dietary factors associated with diabetes are not a simple question of carbohydrate vs. protein. Whole food sources of carbohydrate, like fruit and whole grains, are protective.1 On the other hand, several studies have now confirmed that high intake of meat, which contains no carbohydrate, increases the risk of diabetes.

A meta-analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies has revealed that high total meat intake increased type 2 diabetes risk 17% above low intake, high red meat intake increased risk 21%, and high processed meat intake increased risk 41%.2

All the reasons behind these associations are not yet clear. One possibility is the pro-oxidant properties of heme iron (found only in animal products), the primary source of which is red meat. High dietary intake of heme iron and also high body stores of iron have been previously associated with increased diabetes risk in multiple studies3,4, whereas dietary nonheme iron (found only in plant foods) was protective. Heme iron from fish and poultry was also associated with diabetes risk.4 Oxidative stress, which may be brought on by excessive iron, plays an important role in the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which contribute to both insulin resistance and diabetes complications.5 Also meat is a concentrated source of calories, it has a high caloric density and people can get a good blast of fat and protein, easily exceeding the body’s requirements for macronutrients.  Meat eating is also associated with weight gain and of course, excess body weight is the most important risk factor for diabetes. Like most other chronic diseases that plague Americans, diabetes is a consequence of a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet-style that is deficient in protective unrefined plant foods. 



1. Bazzano LA et al. Intake of fruit, vegetables, and fruit juices and risk of diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jul;31(7):1311-7.

Kastorini CM, Panagiotakos DB. Dietary patterns and prevention of type 2 diabetes: from research to clinical practice; a systematic review. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2009 Nov;5(4):221-7.

2. Aune D, Ursin G, Veierød MB. Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia. 2009 Nov;52(11):2277-87.

3. Rajpathak SN, Crandall JP, Wylie-Rosett J, et al. The role of iron in type 2 diabetes in humans. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jul;1790(7):671-81.

Luan de C, Li H, Li SJ, et al. Body iron stores and dietary iron intake in relation to diabetes in adults in North China. Diabetes Care. 2008 Feb;31(2):285-6.

4. Rajpathak S, Ma J, Manson J, Willett WC, Hu FB. Iron intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women: a prospective cohort study. Diabetes Care. 2006

5. Reddy VP, Zhu X, Perry G, Smith MA. Oxidative stress in diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009 Apr;16(4):763-74.

Schalkwijk CG, Brouwers O, Stehouwer CD. Modulation of insulin action by advanced glycation end products: a new player in the field. Horm Metab Res. 2008 Sep;40(9):614-9.

Diet soda depletes the body's calcium stores

Soda drinking has previously been associated with lower bone mineral density in women and children1,2, and other studies focus specifically on the effects of diet soda on bone health. The authors commented that this research was sparked by the observation that diet soda drinking behaviors are often different than regular soda drinking behaviors – women often use diet sodas in an effort to avoid weight gain – either to stave off hunger between meals or as a replacement for calorie-containing beverages. Many women drink over 20 diet sodas per week.3

The average American drinks 216 liters of soda each year.4

Pouring soda

These researchers discovered that parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentrations rise strongly following diet soda consumption. PTH functions to increase blood calcium concentrations by stimulating bone breakdown, and as a result release  calcium from bone.

In the study, women aged 18-40 were given 24 ounces of either diet cola or water on two consecutive days, and urinary calcium content was measured for three hours. Women who drank diet cola did indeed excrete more calcium in their urine  compared to  women who drank water. The authors concluded that this calcium loss may underlie the observed connection between soda drinking and low bone mineral density.5

Although caffeine is known to increase calcium excretion and promote bone loss6, caffeine is likely not the only bone-harming ingredient in sodas. A 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found consistent associations between low bone mineral density and caffeinated and non-caffeinated cola (both regular and diet), but not other carbonated beverages.7 One major difference between the two is the  phosphoric acid in  colas, absent from most other carbonated beverages. 

In the Western diet, phosphorus is commonly consumed in excess – at about 3 times the recommended levels, whereas dietary calcium is often low.  Although phosphorus is an important component of bone mineral, a high dietary ratio of phosphorus to calcium can increase parathyroid hormone secretion, which is known to increase bone breakdown.   Studies in which women were given increasing quantities of dietary phosphorus found increases in markers of bone breakdown and decreases in markers of bone formation.8,9 Therefore it is likely that the phosphorus content of colas,  triggers calcium loss.

There is nothing healthy about diet soda. It is simply water with artificial sweeteners and other chemical additives, such as phosphoric acid. The safety of artificial sweeteners is questionable, and their intense sweetness disrupts the body’s natural connection between taste and nourishment,  promoting weight gain.10 Diet sodas don’t just weaken our bones, they are linked to kidney dysfunction and promote obesity and other common medical problems.



1. McGartland C, Robson PJ, Murray L, et al. Carbonated soft drink consumption and bone mineral density in adolescence: the Northern Ireland Young Hearts project. J Bone Miner Res. 2003 Sep;18(9):1563-9.

Mahmood M, Saleh A, Al-Alawi F, Ahmed F. Health effects of soda drinking in adolescent girls in the United Arab Emirates. J Crit Care. 2008 Sep;23(3):434-40.

2. Tucker KL, Morita K, Qiao N, Hannan MT, Cupples LA, Kiel DP. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):936-42

3. Frieden J. ENDO: Diet Soft Drinks Deplete Urinary Calcium. Medpage Today. http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ENDO/20831

5. NS Larson, et al "Effect of Diet Cola on urine calcium excretion" ENDO 2010; Abstract P2-198. http://www.endojournals.org/abstracts/P2-1_to_P2-500.pdf

6. Vondracek SF, Hansen LB, McDermott MT. Osteoporosis risk in premenopausal women. Pharmacotherapy. 2009 Mar;29(3):305-17.

Massey LK, Whiting SJ. Caffeine, urinary calcium, calcium metabolism and bone. J. Nutr. 19923 Sep;123 (9): 1611-14

7. Tucker KL, Morita K, Qiao N, et al. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):936-42.

8. Kemi VE, Kärkkäinen MU, Karp HJ, et al. Increased calcium intake does not completely counteract the effects of increased phosphorus intake on bone: an acute dose-response study in healthy females. Br J Nutr. 2008 Apr;99(4):832-9.

9. Kemi VE, Kärkkäinen MU, Lamberg-Allardt CJ. High phosphorus intakes acutely and negatively affect Ca and bone metabolism in a dose-dependent manner in healthy young females. Br J Nutr. 2006 Sep;96(3):545-52.

10. Swithers SE, Martin AA, Davidson TL. High-intensity sweeteners and energy balance. Physiol Behav. 2010 Apr 26;100(1):55-62. 

Dangers associated with food dyes

Synthetic food dyes are used in many processed foods, such as colored breakfast cereals, candy, and “fruit-flavored” beverages and snacks. A total of 15 million pounds of dyes are added to the U.S. food supply each year. Our consumption of food dyes has increased 5-fold since 1955 as our nation has consumed more and more packaged foods.1

These synthetic dyes have been linked to a wide variety of health concerns including behavioral problems, hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and even cancers. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an organization that advocates for nutrition and food safety, called for a ban on these synthetic dyes. Food-based dyes such as beet juice and turmeric are readily available, but are more expensive and often less bright, making synthetic dyes more attractive to food manufacturers.

Food dyes and allergic reactions:

Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 have been reported to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Food dyes and hyperactivity:

Food dyes are of particular concern for children, since many colored foods are marketed to children, and their smaller body size makes them more susceptible to potential toxins. Hyperactivity in children following ingestion of food dyes is well-documented in placebo-controlled studies. Furthermore, a 2004 meta-analysis of 16 studies in children who were already hyperactive showed that their hyperactive behavior increased in response to food colorings.2 In a study published in Lancet in 2007, researchers tested two different mixtures of food dyes vs. placebo in children of two age groups – one mixture increased hyperactivity in 3 year old children, and both mixtures increased hyperactivity in the 8-9 year-olds.3 This study sparked a reaction by the British government. They instructed food manufacturers to eliminate all of these synthetic dyes by the end of 2009. In fact, a warning notice is now required on dyed foods in Europe stating that these foods “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”4  As a result, several international food companies now produce products with food-based dyes or no dyes in the U.K., but continue to include synthetic dyes in their U.S. products.

Food dyes and cancer:

There are eight commonly used synthetic dyes in the U.S., and all have undergone toxicity and tumorigenicity testing in animals. CSPI summarized the results of cancer-related studies in a report1:

  • Red 3 was acknowledged by the FDA to be a carcinogen in 1985 and was banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. However Red 3 is still used in ingested drugs and foods.
  • The three most widely used dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6) which account for 90% of dyes in the U.S. are contaminated with low levels of chemical carcinogens, as byproducts of the manufacturing process. Although the FDA places limits on the concentrations of these contaminants in the final dye products, they still may pose risks.
  • Citrus Red 2 added to the diet resulted in bladder tumors.
  • Red 3 resulted in thyroid tumors and caused DNA damage.

In their report, CSPI noted flaws in many of the animal cancer studies on Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Green 3, and Blue 2, including bias – most studies were either commissioned or conducted by dye manufacturers, short duration, and lack of exposure to dyes during fetal development. Additional studies are likely needed to determine whether these dyes are safe.

The simplest and most effective way to avoid the potential harmful effects of synthetic dyes is to avoid processed foods.   Unrefined plant foods contain health promoting phytochemicals, not empty calories and synthetic additives of questionable safety. When buying the occasional packaged food, check the ingredient list to avoid synthetic dyes.


1. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks. http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

2. Artificial food colouring and hyperactivity symptoms in children. Prescrire Int. 2009 Oct;18(103):215.

Schab DW, Trinh NH. Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind placebo-controlled trials. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004 Dec;25(6):423-34.

3. McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al. Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2007 Nov 3;370(9598):1560-7.

4. CSPI Says Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks. http://cspinet.org/new/201006291.html

Am I straddling the fence?


There comes a time in the journey of getting health back that it’s good to honestly evaluate progress and ask, “Do I have both feet in nutritarian eating or am I straddling the fence?” Many start the journey with the mindset of, “I’ll eat high nutrient foods during the week and splurge with family and friends on the weekends,” or “I’ll eat nutritarian at home, but eat SAD at work.”

The danger of straddling the fence is that taste buds never change and one never gets to the point of naturally desiring nutrient rich foods. Worse yet, one never gets through the withdrawal phase of crossing the threshold of overcoming toxic food addiction. Unfortunately this results in never getting free of SAD food addiction which is the root culprit of obesity and deteriorating health.

One hundred percent commitment to Eat to Live produces significant results rapidly. It’s not uncommon for many to lose 10-20 lbs a month, and for blood pressure and cholesterol to drop right along with the weight loss. This progress creates ongoing momentum that is highly motivating and begets more success. Yet, those who straddle the fence do all the work to attempt to get health back, but because they are not 100% committed, they never see results. They may lose a few pounds here and there, but repeatedly gain it back with each SAD occasion. At best, this cycle is the ultimate frustration.  

In order to get completely out of food addiction and restore health, 100% commitment is required. Both feet have to be in nutritarian eating all the way. No exceptions. No shortcuts. [100% commitment doesn’t mean 100% perfection. Occasional slip-ups happen for many; they just do. The key is to not allow a slip up to produce the dangerous mindset of, “I’ve blown it now so I’ll just throw in the towel and eat whatever for the rest of the week and start over again next Monday.” If a relapse happens, the key to success is to get up quickly, keep moving forward and don’t look back!] 

At times it’s beneficial to stop and honestly ask, “Am I 100% committed and experiencing great results, or am I straddling the fence resulting in captivity and poor health?” 

May we all choose 100% commitment. For life.     



image credit: pecorfamily.com 

Vegetable-fueled athlete breaks American record in 24-hour run

A recent New York Times article focused on Scott Jurek, an ultramarathoner with an impressive record – for example:

  • 7 consecutive wins in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run
  • 3 wins in the 152-mile Spartathlon in Greece
  • 2 wins in the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon in California
  • 1 win in the 100-mile Hardrock Hundred in Colorado

And he also happens to be vegan.

When Scott Jurek was in college, he began to realize the connections between lifestyle and disease, and he transitioned his diet toward unrefined plant foods.

Scott Jurek recently competed in the 24-Hour-Run world championship in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France. He broke the American record by running 165.7 miles in the single-day run, finishing second overall. USA Today then named him their Athlete of the Week.

So what does Scott Jurek eat?

According to Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times, Jurek’s lunches and dinners consist of “huge salads, whole grains, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and usually beans of some sort or a tempeh-tofu combination.”

Sounds quite close to a nutritarian diet, doesn’t it? Dr. Fuhrman would of course make sure that nuts and seeds were included in this overall plan. A diet based on unrefined plant foods benefits overall health, lifespan, immune function, and cardiovascular health, so it should certainly promote athletic performance also. Phytochemical-rich foods may suppress exercise-induced oxidative stress and micronutrient adequacy promotes immunocompetence, which helps to prevent disruptions to the training schedule due to illness. Unrefined plant foods, high in micronutrients, are therefore well-suited foods for athletes.

To the average person, it might seem unthinkable that Jurek could run these extreme distances fueled only by plant foods, which speaks to our society’s misguided overestimation of the importance of protein.

Scott Jurek simply increases his number of calories as he increases training volume – Dr. Fuhrman agrees with this approach. Athletes do have elevated protein needs compared to sedentary individuals, since protein is the raw material for muscle growth. However, protein needs increase proportionally with calorie needs. The main concern for vegan athletes is obtaining sufficient calories because of the high nutrient to calorie ratio of plant foods. Dr. Fuhrman advises athletes that they can easily meet these needs by putting additional focus on foods that are rich in both micronutrients and protein – like seeds, tofu, nuts, whole grains, and large quantities of green vegetables.

Dr. Fuhrman addresses dietary considerations for vegan athletes in his most recent newsletter, Fueling the Vegan Athleteand in his recent publication in Current Sports Medicine Reports.  In this newsletter, Dr. Fuhrman discusses micronutrients and supplements of particular concern to vegan athletes, as well as strategies for meeting their enhanced calorie and protein needs.



New York Times. Diet and Exercise to the Extremes by Mark Bittman. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/sports/13runner.html?ref=health

USA Today. Scott Jurek sets record in 24-hour race, earns athlete of the week. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2010-05-17-athlete-of-the-week_N.htm

Fuhrman J, Ferreri DM. Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2010 July/Aug;9(4):233-241



Live webcast by Dr. Fuhrman

This week is Dr. Fuhrman’s annual Health Getaway, which this year is taking place in San Diego, California. Please join us for a sneak peek into the event on Tuesday, July 13th, when Dr. Fuhrman gives a lecture on food addictions and weight loss. For the first time at a Dr. Fuhrman event, we will be streaming LIVE over the internet.

According to Dr. Fuhrman, toxic hunger is an extremely important nutritional concept to understand when adopting a health-promoting, high nutrient diet.   In this webcast, Dr. Fuhrman will discuss the difference between true hunger and toxic hunger, the addictive properties of unhealthy foods, the societal and emotional aspects that cause resistance to dietary changes, and the mindset required to overcome this resistance, lose weight, and keep it off.

This webcast is free to the public – please join us on Tuesday at

9:45am-11:00am Pacific

10:45am-12:00pm Mountain

11:45am-1:00pm Central

12:45pm-2:00pm Eastern




Tell your friends & family to join in too! You’ll be able to chat with other viewers during the webcast.

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That's cool, because I am into healthy eating, too!

I’ve come to realize over the past three years of my college experience that the phrase “I am a healthy eater,” is used liberally and with conviction among my peers. Amazingly, in spite of eating almost no produce they believe that they eat healthful diets. Telling them otherwise would result in defensiveness and rationalizations. I have friends who are athletes, environmental activists, pre-meds, you name it, and are intelligent, forward-thinking people. Yet, when it comes to what they put in their mouths, they are clueless. For example, I just moved into an apartment with two new roommates (one female, one male) and the refrigerator and cabinets were already stocked with food (well, if you could call it that) when I arrived. After living at home for a while with its endless supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, I was taken aback by what I saw: oreos, chips, weight watchers bars, and other convenient, imperishable foods were in the cabinets, frozen pizzas, macaroni dishes, and fake meats with unpronounceable, artificial ingredients, in the freezer. Other than a few carrots and a melon, no fresh vegetables and fresh fruits, no mushrooms, no beans and no raw nuts or seeds were in the kitchen. 


I began chatting with my new roommate about my upbringing and how important eating healthfully is to me. As a competitive runner, he heartily agreed with me about the importance of fueling your body with nutritious foods and he explained that healthy eating is very important to him too. There was a clear discrepancy between his nutritional philosophy and the foods he had stocked in our kitchen. This has been a frequent occurrence for me over the years and shows how nutritionally uneducated people are. Little is done to educate the American populace about one of the most important topics of their lives: how to eat a disease- preventing diet.   I do my best to educate my friends when they ask me for advice, but I’ve learned from experience not to push my eating philosophy on others. Their chosen eating habits are like a religion to some people, and not open to debate. I hope my friends are curious about what I eat and ask me questions, and in many instances they do. I also have friends who could care less about what I put in my mouth, convinced that their mediocre diet is just as healthy, if not more so. I accept this, but I do wish that all my friends and others were blessed with the nutritional knowledge that I am fortunate to possess. 

Have you found those around you to be curious about your diet and the nutritarian lifestyle? How do you handle conflicting nutritional beliefs?

Staying safe in the sun

The weather is warm, school is out, and summer is upon us. Because of depletion of the ozone layer that protected against harmful radiation in earlier times, today’s sun exposure is not truly natural, and is more damaging. As we plan to spend more time outdoors, we must also avoid excessive sun exposure to protect ourselves from the free radical damage and wrinkling that can ensue and to minimize the risk of skin cancer. First we should be sure to seek shade often, wear protective clothing, and avoid noon time sun. When choosing a sunscreen or sunblock is important to use the safest and most effective methods of sun protection – the SPF number does not tell the whole story.

Exposure to sunlight triggers vitamin D production. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology there is no safe amount of unprotected UV exposure that can allow for sufficient vitamin D production without increasing the risk of skin cancer. Supplementation is the safest method of maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels.1



Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been steadily on the rise since, its prevalence increasing approximately 2.9% per year since 1981.It is essential to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

UVA and UVB rays

UVB rays are the rays that cause sunburn. They bind DNA and can cause mutations that lead to skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin, causing oxidative damage that can lead to skin aging and skin cancer.3

Both types of radiation are believed to contribute to melanoma, but many sunscreens block only UVB.

Types of sun protection

  • Sunscreen absorbs and deflects the sun’s rays away from the skin through a chemical reaction. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVB and UVA rays depending on the ingredients used. Common sunscreen ingredients include oxybenzone, octisalate, and avobenzone.
  • Sunblock creates a physical barrier between the UVA and UVB rays and the skin.4 Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the most common sunblocks. Physically blocking sunlight from penetrating the skin is the most effective way to block UVA radiation.

Which type of sun protection is safer? Which is more effective?

Many sunscreens do not protect against UVA rays. The SPF listed on these products refers only to UVB protection. The FDA has no standards for measuring how well a sunscreen blocks UVA rays. Ironically, a product with a high SPF, and no UVA protection, could promote unsafe sun exposure behaviors – you may falsely believe that you can safely stay in the sun longer, overexposing yourself to UVA rays even though you avoid sunburn from the UVB rays.5

The Environmental Working Group reported troubling news about sunscreens: Vitamin A is often listed on sunscreen labels as an antioxidant that can fight skin aging. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, but in isolation it could be dangerous, both in supplements and for the skin. Sunscreens may actually promote the progression skin cancer if they contain vitamin A – vitamin A applied to the skin has been shown by FDA studies to accelerate the growth of skin tumors in animals.6

Sunscreens may also damage your skin. Common sunscreen ingredients can generate free radicals, causing oxidative damage. The sunscreen itself and how often it is applied determines whether it releases or absorbs more free radicals.7

Chemical sunscreen ingredients, including oxybenzone, can potentially disrupt hormonal systems in the body, which could have long-term health implications.8

In addition, a number of studies have linked allergic reactions to chemical sunscreens, particularly oxybenzone.9 Little is known about the potential harm of chronic sunscreen use and the systemically absorbed chemicals deposited after topical application.10

These sunscreen ingredients are potentially harmful and should be avoided:11

  • Oxybenzone (found in 60% of sunscreen products)
  • Octisalate (found in 58% of sunscreen products)
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC; found in 40% of sunscreen products)
  • Padimate O

Mineral sunblocks contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and these are preferable to chemical sunscreens. These minerals do not penetrate as deeply into the skin as chemical sunscreens. They lie on top of the skin and penetrate only into superficial layers, reflecting UV rays before they cause damage. Mineral sunblocks are the only method of sun protection that blocks UVA rays.

Nanoparticles in sunscreens

There are concerns about certain sunblock products that use small particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide produced via nanotechnology. The purpose is to make the sunblock more easily absorbed by the skin and therefore more transparent. These tiny nanoparticles, however, can penetrate biological membranes and easily reach cells. Nanoparticles are smaller than anything humans have put into commercial products before.  Preliminary investigations have found only a limited ability of mineral nanoparticles to penetrate the skin12, but oxidative stress and DNA damage to skin cells have been observed. Also, upon inhalation these particles reach the bloodstream and several organs.11,13 Additional studies are needed in order to definitively determine whether these products are safe.

Mineral sunblock is the safest choice.

Overall, the physical sunblocks, with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are the safest choices for sun protection. They are the least irritating, and they safely provide protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays. According to the Environmental Working Group, mineral sunblocks containing nanoparticles are still a safer option than chemical sunscreens. Unfortunately, sunblock labels most often do not disclose whether the product contains nanoparticles. We've done our research and found a product-line which uses nonmicronized zinc oxide that is safe and effective. Our GreenScreen line protects against both UV-A and UV-B without the use of nanoparticles or harmful chemicals.

Remember, sun protection products must be applied liberally to insure you receive the SPF protection claimed on the label. Most people apply 25-75% less sunscreen than the amount used when the manufacturers test their products.14

Make the summer sunshine a safe, fun, and healthy experience for you and your family!

4. Levy S. "Sunscreens and Photoprotection." www.emedicine.com (accessed June 20, 2007).

5.  Autier P. Sunscreen abuse for intentional sun exposure. Br J Dermatol. 2009 Nov;161 Suppl 3:40-5.

8. Schlumpf M, Schmid P, Durrer S, et al. Endocrine activity and developmental toxicity of cosmetic UV filters--an update. Toxicology. 2004 Dec 1;205(1-2):113-22.

Schlumpf M, Cotton B, Conscience M, et al. In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens. Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Mar;109(3):239-44.

9. Szczurko C, Dompmartin, Michel M, et al. "Photocontact Allergy to Oxybenzone: 10 years of Experience." Photodermatol PhotoimmunolPhotomed 1994;10(4):144-7.

Schauder S, Ippen H. "Contact and Photocontact Sensitivity to Sunscreens: Review of a 15-year Experience and of the Literature." Contact Dermatitis 1997;37(5):221-32.

10. Hayben H, Cameron, M. Roberts H, et al. "Systemic Absorption of Sunscreen after Topical Application." The Lancet 1997;350:9081.

Gustavsson G, Farbrot A, Larko O. "Percutaneous Absorption of Benzophenone-3, a Common Component of Topical Sunscreens." ClinExp Dermatol 2002;27(8):691-4.

11. Environmental Working Group. Nanomaterials and hormone disruptors in sunscreens.


12. Filipe P, Silva JN, Silva R, et al. Stratum corneum is an effective barrier to TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticle percutaneous absorption. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2009;22(5):266-75.

13. Consumer Reports - July 2007 " Nanotechnolody Untold promise, unknown risk."

14. "Sunscreens: Some are short on protection." Consumer Reports July 2007.

Interview with a Nutritarian: Anthony

Anthony was only 33-years-old when he was denied a life insurance policy due to obesity and poor health. In desperation he had to do something so he scoured the internet and discovered Eat to Live. Today, Anthony is 163 lbs lighter, has his health restored, and has more energy than he could’ve ever imagined. Most importantly, he doesn’t feel like he’s given up anything; he’s truly been set free from toxic food addiction!  Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Anthony! 

before and after male

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

I thought my life was fine; not great, but certainly not too bad either. I describe my prior life as being “functionally obese.” I was relatively active, usually happy and able to do almost anything I wanted.  I’ve been snowboarding, skateboarding, bicycling, and hiking for the past 20 years and was pretty good at those things.  However, there were some things I couldn’t do:

  • go on rides with my son at amusement parks
  • wear a seat belt on an airplane without an extension
  • ride in small cars
  • sit in plastic outdoor chairs,
  • climb a ladder (unless it was extra heavy duty)
  • weigh myself on a "normal" bathroom scale
  • participate in anything that had a weight restriction

I also had frequent migraine headaches, and when I had a headache I couldn't do anything except lie very still.

Health wise, I was in bad shape. Doctors had been telling me to lose weight and watch my blood pressure for as long as I can remember, and I eventually stopped listening. I accepted obesity as a part of who I am, because it is common in my family.  We all looked the same and had similar health concerns so it was easy to accept my condition as unavoidable.

I did occasionally get depressed in the evenings after finishing the better part of a decadent pint of ice cream.  I distinctly remember my beautiful and physically fit wife consoling me through some of those tough times.  The problem was neither one of us knew what to do about it. I hit my lowest when I was denied a twenty-year term life insurance policy at age 33. The thought of not making it to age 53 hit hard, especially coming from a life insurance company.  Logic told me that insurance companies have the data to predict life expectancy and want monthly premiums, so the fact that they didn't want my business was not good. I had to do something.

How did you find out about ETL?

Luckily I discovered Eat To Live while scouring the internet for weight loss information. I needed something that made sense to me, and I bought it immediately after reading the description and reviews. I couldn’t wait to start reading it!  [After finishing the book I was surprised to find out that Dr. Fuhrman's practice is about eleven miles from my house.  I'm still looking forward to the day that I bump into him and introduce myself as one of his success stories!]


before and after male skateboardingHow do you feel now?

Now I feel great!  I wake up every morning ready to take on the day.  I can do all of the things I enjoy in life, now better than ever.  I can out run my kids and all of their friends.  I’m always in a good mood and calm. I have more energy today than I could’ve ever imagined, and I never get tired during the day.  I also never get sick or feel depressed.  My self confidence is higher than it has ever been, and I’m truly proud to be me!  [read more . . .]




Medical stats
  before after
weight  360 lbs  197 lbs
height   6' 4"    6' 4"
blood pressure

 140/90  (with medication)

 115/71  (without medication)
cholesterol  214  128
HDL  38  50
LDL  143  67
triglycerides  166  55
AST [liver function]  55  29
ALT [liver function]  71  23
GGT [liver function]  78  31


Do you have any success tip(s) to share?

The first tip is to not worry if you slip-up once in awhile.  The most important thing is to keep moving in the right direction.  Think of slip-ups like speed bumps; they don't stop you from trying to get where you are going, they just slow you down a little.  As long as you stay on course and keep moving in the right direction, it will get easier and you will hit fewer speed bumps, and eventually you’ll be exactly where you want to be.

Another tip is to never allow junk food to displace healthy food.  If you do slip-up, and eat something unhealthy, make sure to also eat some healthy food as well. 


before and after male portrainIn a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?

Nutritarian eating has given me a new life!  I actually feel like a new and improved version of myself.  I am better in every way!  Some things are also much easier for me now.  I fit comfortably into airplane seats.  I buy regular size clothes from regular stores.  I don't worry about weight limits on chairs, ladders or anything else.  I enjoy snowboarding, skateboarding, biking, and hiking more than ever, and I've now added running to my list of favorite activities.

I truly enjoy eating the most nutritious foods available. I love knowing that by doing so I am ensuring my own health, and setting a great example for my family and friends.  Becoming a nutritarian has added so much to my life that I never even think about the things I used to eat and drink.  People sometimes ask how I could give up this or that.  The truth is I don't feel like I have given up anything!  What I have gained is so great that it could never compare with the temporary feeling of putting junk into my body.

Congratulations Anthony ~ we celebrate with you and applaud your life-saving accomplishment of earning health back!


Good eating is skin deep


Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States.   Every year, over one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer. Given the thinning of the ozone layer around the earth and the increased potential for skin cancer with “normal” sun exposure, clearly, we must minimize our skin cancer risk by applying (non-chemical) sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds and limiting the amount of hours we spend in the sunlight. What most people are not aware of however, is the power of a high nutrient diet in the prevention of all types of skin cancer. Cancers, in general, can only flourish in the body when cells that undergo free radical damage and the subsequent DNA damage, are unable to be repaired by the cell’s DNA monitoring and repair tools. 

Natural, plant based foods are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, substances that are needed for these repair mechanisms to function most optimally.   If one’s diet is low in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, the body will not be supplied with enough micronutrients for its cells to defend itself from oxidative damaged caused by UV radiation. Nutrients penetrate every cell in the body and are needed in every cell, including skin cells. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals from sunlight exposure can be opposed when a healthful diet rich in antioxidants is consumed. Vegetables, both raw and cooked, offer much needed protection from skin cancer, as they would for other cancers. Green vegetables, most notably the cruciferous variety, win the competition for cancer defending properties. The concept of consuming a high-nutrient, plant based diet has been supported in a recent study conducted in Australia. Researches analyzed the diet, skin color, and sunlight exposure of 1,360 adults, aged 25-75, who participated in a community-based skin cancer study from 1992-2002. Two main eating patterns were identified: a meat and fat pattern and a vegetable and fruit pattern. Not surprisingly, the meat and fat pattern diet was positively associated with development of skin cancer, and even more strongly associated in participants with a skin cancer history. Increased consumption of the vegetable and fruit dietary pattern reduced skin cancer occurrence by 54%, with the protective effect mostly attributed to the consumption of green, leafy vegetables. In conclusion, the researchers deemed that a dietary pattern characterized by high meat and fat intakes increases skin cancer odds, while a dietary pattern characterized by higher consumption of green vegetables decreases it. 

While enjoying summer days out by the pool this summer, remember not just to apply a non-chemical sunscreen, but to fill up on those ever remarkable and delicious fruits and veggies. And, don’t forget to invite me to your 100 year old birthday party..



Ibiebele TI, van der Pols JC, Hughes MC, et al. “Dietary pattern in association with squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: a prospective study.” Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 85(5):1401-8.

Broccoli Rob encourages kids to give peas a chance

Robert always was active and athletic, but as an adult he began to struggle with an autoimmune condition. He consulted with several physicians, but did not find much relief for his condition. Then Robert read Eat to Live, and began incorporating Dr. Fuhrman’s dietary recommendations into his lifestyle. Switching to a high nutrient diet made all the difference for Robert, who was free of his autoimmune symptoms within six weeks.  

This experience moved Robert to get the message out about good nutrition, especially to children. As a musician, Robert created “The Broccoli Rob Show,” a performance aimed at children which combines several of his passions - music, fitness, nutrition, and martial arts. Broccoli Rob, along with his friends Bruce Leek and Elvis Parsley, performs in schools and encourages children to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Children’s health and development, both physical and mental, are dependent on the beneficial micronutrients contained in natural plant foods. However, very few children eat sufficient fruits and vegetables. By 15-18 months of age, French fries are the most commonly consumed vegetable among children.1 Only about 5-10% of teenagers in the U.S. consume two or more servings of fruit and three or more servings of vegetables per day.2  American children are becoming a generation of “picky eaters” who would choose to live on nothing but cheese, chicken fingers, and soda.

The Broccoli Rob Show attempts to intervene and initiate healthy habits in children at a young age, encouraging kids to eat their vegetables with music and comedy.  

Robert is making a valiant effort to get the word out about healthy eating to kids – he models healthy behaviors in a fun and engaging way that gets kids excited about eating greens. And it’s working – take a look at Broccoli Rob’s video:



1. Fox MK, Pac S, Devaney B, Jankowski L. Feeding infants and toddlers study: What foods are infants and toddlers eating? J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Jan;104(1 Suppl 1):s22-30.

2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2009. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/health_professionals/statereport.html