Deprivation dieting, binge eating, guilt . . .

Eating donuts

Deprivation dieting, binge eating, guilt, deprivation dieting, binge eating, guilt . . .

Know what I’m talking about? 

For those reading this post and have never struggled with an eating disorder, count your blessings and feel free to move onto reading something else of interest. 

However, for those who can relate, and know exactly what the cycle is like, let’s dialogue about the subject. 

Here’s how the typical scenario goes: 

Nutrients are unrealistically and severely restricted to cause the numbers on the scale to go down; aka deprivation dieting.  It's like trying to desperately breathe with no oxygen available.

 One survives a few days, and then . . bam, pent up emotions emerge out of nowhere. 

McDonalds ~ quickly! Big Mac, fries, chocolate shake, and apple pie. 

Next, Dairy Queen is in sight. Oreo blizzard and a caramel sundae.

Gas station is on the way home. Two chocolate bars and a bag of salted cashews. 

At home more food is ravenously eaten like a giant monster that has been let loose.

The belly expands. Fatigue overwhelms. Guilt engulfs. Remorse entangles. Vows are made.

 “I’ll diet again tomorrow,” is the infamous promise. 

Three days pass, and without warning, the monster returns with full vengeance.

How does one stop the cycle? 

The following are suggestions that have worked for me:

  • scalesStop deprivation dieting. If one’s focus is on calorie restriction for the scales instead of eating necessary nutrients for optimal health, that mindset will eventually lead to binge eating, guilt, and more binge eating. Guaranteed every time.
  • Take food addiction seriously. It’s right up there with destroying one’s life every bit as much as heroine and cocaine. Know that literally thousands have been set free from severe food addictions by following Dr. Fuhrman’s eating plan for optimal health. Thoroughly study his books and articles to understand the science behind his recommendations. Hold onto his life-saving instructions and don’t let them go, no matter what.
  • Establish habits of creative expression to replace the habit of releasing emotions through eating. For example, I’m a painter, and when I began the journey to get my health back, I chose to document my feelings along the way through visual creativity. I cut up 4”x 4” pieces of illustration board and committed to make one artwork per day. Sometimes I painted on the illustration boards, other times I wrote or doodled on them with markers, and a few times I glued items that I had collected on a walk. Any form of creative expression, whether it is quilting, knitting, wood working, sculpting, dancing, journaling, writing poetry, singing, songwriting, playing an instrument, or whatever one enjoys, will keep the mind engaged and distracted from the habit of turning to food for emotional release. Plus, as an additional benefit, a creative project specifically dedicated to documenting the journey, will keep one continually focused on the goal of earning health back, even in the midst of life’s many, and sometimes stressful circumstances.
  • friends walkingDevelop a healthy support system with likeminded friends, and seek professional counseling for the deep stuff. Isolation fuels pent up emotions like kerosene fuels a fire. I learned to process and communicate my thoughts and feelings on the member center instead of turning to food. The gift of understanding that others gave was priceless, and helped me establish a new path of emotional health. 
  • Exercise. And I’m not necessarily talking about the regularly scheduled, daily workout; although that’s vitally important. Get out in the fresh air. Go for a walk with a friend. Hop on a bike and ride around the neighborhood. Play a game of ping-pong with the kids. Many times, just a brief diversion of exercise will release pent up emotions that are brewing within.
  • Be still and visualize. Take a few moments to be quiet, close the eyes, and visualize life in one, five, and ten years from now living in optimal health. Make time for daily,
    quiet moments to recharge vision.  

Food addiction and emotional eating can be successfully overcome. The availability of toxic foods and the ebb and flow of emotional turmoil will always be a part of life; but food addiction and emotional eating doesn’t have to be!

What’s worked for you?   


image credits:  scales,;  friends walking,

Blood pressure control with medication does not prevent heart attack, stroke, or death

One in 3 adults in the U.S. has hypertension. In those over the age of 55, more than 50% have hypertension, which is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Sixty-nine percent heart attack sufferers and 77% of stroke sufferers have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg.1 Many organizations recommend that blood pressure be kept below 130/80 in order to prevent heart attack and stroke. However, a meta-analysis of 61 studies has concluded that risk for heart attack and stroke begins to increase when blood pressure is elevated above 115/75.2

The INVEST study involved 22,576 hypertensive participants aged 50 years or older. This particular portion of the study focused on participants that had both diabetes and coronary artery disease, in addition to hypertension . Subjects were given anti-hypertensive drugs (either a calcium channel blocker or a beta-blocker), and were placed in one of three groups according to their level of blood pressure control: tight control (<130), usual control (130-139), or uncontrolled (>139). Incidences of heart attack, stroke, and death were recorded over an 8-year period. Scientists found no differences in any of these outcomes between tight and usual control groups.3,4

This is a classic example of treating the symptom rather than the cause. Of course heart attacks and strokes were not prevented – one specific symptom, blood pressure, was addressed with medication, but the patients already had heart disease and diabetes, and they did not eliminate the toxic diet style that was the initial cause of these conditions. Therefore, their heart disease continued to progress.

Blood pressure can be kept under control naturally. High blood pressure is almost non-existent in non-Westernized populations.5-7 Salt and added sugars are significant contributors to elevated blood pressure, and these must be minimized. Reducing salt consumption alone has the potential to save millions of lives.8 A diet of whole plant foods also provides a favorable ratio of potassium to sodium. another important factor in blood pressure regulation.9

Most importantly, a diet based on natural plant foods does not merely address the problem with blood pressure; by maximizing protective nutrients, it reduces every risk factor for heart disease – LDL cholesterol, inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, etc. – a high nutrient diet is the most comprehensive preventive measure.

Also remember that anti-hypertension medications have plenty of side effects, including fatigue, headaches, and lightheadedness, plus increased risk of developing cardiac arrhythmias and diabetes. 10-12 In fact, excessive blood pressure lowering with medication can be dangerous, especially for the elderly, because it can prevent adequate blood flow to the heart leading to cardiac arrthymias and sudden cardiac death.13 Dietary modifications and exercise can radically prolong your life, not only are they much safer than drugs, but they also prevent dementia, cancer and other diseases simultaneously. If you have not read it already, please read my book Eat For Health, so you can more fully understand some of these basic concepts to take back control of your health destiny. Drugs don’t do it.


1. American Heart Association. High Blood Pressure - Statistics. Statistical Fact Sheets - Disease/Risk Factors 2010 August 26, 2010]; Available from:
2. Lewington, S., et al., Age-specific relevance of usual blood pressure to vascular mortality: a meta-analysis of individual data for one million adults in 61 prospective studies. Lancet, 2002. 360(9349): p. 1903-13.
3. Cooper-DeHoff, R.M., et al., Tight blood pressure control and cardiovascular outcomes among hypertensive patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease. JAMA, 2010. 304(1): p. 61-8.
4. Schwenk, T., Blood Pressure Control in Patients with Diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease: No benefit for lowering BP to <130/80 mm Hg, in Journal Watch General Medicine. 2010.
5. Murphy, H.B., Blood pressure and culture. The contribution of cross-cultural comparisons to psychosomatics. Psychother Psychosom, 1982. 38(1): p. 244-55.
6. Cooper, R., et al., The prevalence of hypertension in seven populations of west African origin. Am J Public Health, 1997. 87(2): p. 160-8.
7. He, J., et al., Body mass and blood pressure in a lean population in southwestern China. Am J Epidemiol, 1994. 139(4): p. 380-9.
8. He, F.J. and G.A. MacGregor, Reducing population salt intake worldwide: from evidence to implementation. Prog Cardiovasc Dis, 2010. 52(5): p. 363-82.
9. Cook, N.R., et al., Joint effects of sodium and potassium intake on subsequent cardiovascular disease: the Trials of Hypertension Prevention follow-up study. Arch Intern Med, 2009. 169(1): p. 32-40.
10. Swaminathan, R.V. and K.P. Alexander, Pulse pressure and vascular risk in the elderly: associations and clinical implications. Am J Geriatr Cardiol, 2006. 15(4): p. 226-32; quiz 133-4.
11. Mitchell, G.F., et al., Pulse pressure and risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation. JAMA, 2007. 297(7): p. 709-15.
12. Elliott, W.J. and P.M. Meyer, Incident diabetes in clinical trials of antihypertensive drugs: a network meta-analysis. Lancet, 2007. 369(9557): p. 201-7.
13. Messerli, F.H., et al., Dogma disputed: can aggressively lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease be dangerous? Ann Intern Med, 2006. 144(12): p. 884-93.







The longer your waistline...

Although body mass index (BMI) is a popular indicator of normal, overweight, or obese, it is certainly an imperfect indicator. BMI takes into account only height and weight, but not muscle mass or weight distribution.

Scientists are now finding that waist circumference may be the best indicator of disease risk related to excess weight – waist circumference has been associated with diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, elevated cholesterol, sleep apnea, and hypertension. Waist circumference has gained interest because it is an indicator of visceral fat, believed to be more deleterious to health than subcutaneous fat. The exact mechanisms by which visceral fat confers greater risk than subcutaneous fat are still unclear, but it is known that these two types of fat have different gene expression profiles, visceral fat more frequently expressing certain substances that may contribute to chronic diseases.1,2

A study that followed over 100,000 individuals for nine years has found that waist circumference correlates with risk of death, supporting the previous links between visceral fat and disease. When comparing waist size only, they found that very large waist circumferences – 120 cm (47 inches) for men and 102 cm (40 inches) for women – were associated with a doubling of the risk of death from all causes.

The most striking finding in this study was that increased waist circumference is an important predictor of mortality regardless of BMI. Even in those with “normal” range BMI, increased the risk of death. A 4-inch increase in waist circumference was associated with a 16% increase in mortality risk in men and 25% increase in mortality risk in women. 

This means that excess fat around the waist is a significant risk – even in “normal weight” individuals.3 This data suggests that the size of one’s waist is even more important than the number on the scale.

Of course there is no way for us to control our bodies’ distribution of fat – whether our excess fat goes to our hips or around our organs – but we can control how much excess fat we have. Any and all excess fat is dangerous - it increases insulin levels and promotes inflammation, not to mention placing unnecessary demand on the heart. Focusing on nutrient density - emphasizing foods that minimize calories and maximize disease-protective nutrients – is an effective way to keep excess fat – both visceral and subcutaneous – to a minimum.



1. Matsuzawa Y. Establishment of a concept of visceral fat syndrome and discovery of adiponectin. Proc Jpn Acad Ser B Phys Biol Sci. 2010;86(2):131-41.

2. Bergman RN, Kim SP, Catalano KJ, et al. Why visceral fat is bad: mechanisms of the metabolic syndrome. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Feb;14 Suppl 1:16S-19S.

3. Jacobs EJ, Newton CC, Wang Y, et al. Waist circumference and all-cause mortality in a large US cohort. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Aug 9;170(15):1293-301.

Dr. Fuhrman's Health Getaway; part 3 - the activities

This is the last post in a series describing Dr. Fuhrman’s 2010 Health Getaway that took place in beautiful southern California this summer. Although the meals were phenomenal and the presentations life-changing, I had no idea how much FUN a group could have together over the course of a week! Thanks to Dr. Fuhrman's warm and enthusiastic staff, and the many wonderful guests who attended, every activity was a delight; ending with the infamous Fuhrman Idol Talent Show on the final night.

exercise class, hiking, and yoga session

After the welcome reception and dinner on Sunday evening, emcee Sarah Taylor hosted a “get to know you” mixer. In a short amount of time, everyone knew a little bit about each other that broke the ice for ongoing conversations for the rest of the week. With daily fitness classes, yoga sessions with Deborah Morin (John Mackey’s wife), health assessments, power walks and tennis lessons with Dr. Fuhrman; plus, the resort’s saline spa pool, golf course, and miles of hiking paths; no one was in want for something to do!  In addition, there were two, off-site excursions: scenic hiking at the Mission Trails Regional Park ~ 5,800 acres of rugged hills, valleys and open areas; and sightseeing at Balboa Park, which also houses the San Diego Zoo. Of course there was the Eat for Health trivia game night, which is now a popular, yearly tradition at the getaways. The teams were highly competitive and much lighthearted laughter erupted in the midst of it all.  

The week came to a close with the culmination of the Fuhrman Idol Talent Show on Friday night. I had no idea what to expect until I entered the room and saw the panel of judges; true to their TV personalities, including Simon Cowell (played by Lisa Fuhrman.)  Dr. Fuhrman was Ryan Seacrest, the host of the show, and the contestants were a hoot! 

talent show contestants

There was everything: a flute solo, a hula hoop act, a basketball spinning act, a boy’s talented tap dance, a jingle about vegetables sung by two ladies with vegetables pinned on them, the children’s adorable skit about healthy and unhealthy foods, and a charming song by Margie who won the hearts of everyone with her creative version of "American Pie" . . . Fuhrmanized. 

It was quite the night of energetic celebration ~ a perfect ending to a perfect week.

images of the people from Dr. Fuhrman's Health Getaway

Hugs were shared. Emails exchanged. Total strangers . . . gathered together in southern California for a week became friends for life. What a fulfilling and healthy getaway!

“I loved everything about attending my first Getaway, but what I appreciate the most is the enthusiasm that I brought home with me. In fact, I believe my excitement encouraged my husband to read Eat to Live and start incorporating the principles! Seeing Dr. Fuhrman in action truly showed me the benefits of a nutritarian lifestyle. He went nonstop for the entire week!”  -Lois


“The Getaway was the perfect combination of the best, life changing information, and the greatest vacation in a luxurious setting with gourmet meals.”  -Sandi


special thanks to the following guests who contributed pictures: talent show images by Dan Williams of; exercise, hiking, and images of the guests by Wendy Jaehnig; image of Emily Boller and Martha, courtesy of Martha and Stanley

Fructose fuels cancer cell growth?

A study showed that treatment of pancreatic cancer cells with fructose increased cell proliferation – uncontrolled proliferation is a hallmark of cancer. This follows on the heels of another study that linked fructose consumption from added sugars to elevated blood pressure. The bad press on fructose is making people question the safety of the ubiquitous commercial sweetener, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Due to the introduction of HFCS, fructose intake has increased dramatically in the U.S. since the 1970s. Between 1970 and 2000, HFCS intake increased by 100-fold, and total fructose intake increased by 30%.1

Fructose makes up half of the sucrose molecule (with glucose), but may also be present in “free” form. Absorption of fructose and glucose, and the differences between fructose in natural foods and fructose in HFCS are explained in this post.

These authors investigated whether cancer cells could use fructose for energy, because they are known to use glucose – cancer cells are known to have a greater number of glucose transporters and metabolize glucose more rapidly than normal cells because their rapid proliferation requires greater amounts of energy.2

Although different transport mechanisms are used to get fructose and glucose into cells, their metabolism is thought to be similar once they enter cells. However, these scientists found that in human pancreatic tumor cells, metabolism of fructose and glucose occurs via different pathways, both leading to cell proliferation. Keep in mind that both sugars led to increased cell proliferation at similar rates – that is, this study did not show that fructose is “worse” than glucose, just that they stimulate proliferation by different mechanisms. Glucose was used by the cancer cells for energy production, whereas fructose was used to generate nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). This study was the first to show that cancer cells could differentiate between fructose and glucose, and that they could use fructose as efficiently as glucose to fuel cell growth.3,4

Sucrose intake, fructose intake, and high glycemic load have all been associated with pancreatic cancer in epidemiological studies, and diabetes also increases risk.5,6  

The message of this study and others on the negative effects of fructose is that added sugars, abundant in the Western diet, are detrimental to health and should be minimized, but sadly this is not the message that is getting through to the public. 

With the media frenzy around HFCS, the conventional wisdom seems to have become that sugar is superior to HFCS because it is more ‘natural’ – prompting many companies to switch from HFCS to sugar for sweetening their products. Meanwhile, the high fructose, low glycemic index sweetener agave nectar, once elevated to health food status, is now being doubted because of the negative press on fructose. 


Comparing sweetener to sweetener is missing the point. All sweeteners have negative health effects, regardless of their relative quantities of fructose, glucose, and sucrose. 

Some sweeteners spike blood glucose, others raise triglycerides and form advanced glycation end products (AGEs), and all provide excess calories and are devoid of nutrients. This is not a question of which sweeteners are healthy and which are unhealthy. None are healthy. All are merely concentrated sugars – contributing to obesity and all its consequences – and therefore should all be minimized or completely avoided in a health-promoting diet.



1. Bray GA, Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM. Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;79(4):537-43.

2. Medina RA, Owen GI. Glucose transporters: expression, regulation and cancer. Biol Res. 2002;35(1):9-26.

3. Liu H, Huang D, McArthur DL, et al. Fructose induces transketolase flux to promote pancreatic cancer growth. Cancer Res. 2010 Aug 1;70(15):6368-76.

4. EurekAlert! Pancreatic cancers use fructose, common in the Western diet, to fuel their growth. August 2, 2010

American Institute for Cancer Research Blog. Glucose, Fructose, and the Alarming Pancreatic Cancer News. August 4, 2010.

5. Nöthlings U, Murphy SP, Wilkens LR, et al. Dietary glycemic load, added sugars, and carbohydrates as risk factors for pancreatic cancer: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Nov;86(5):1495-501.

6. Michaud DS, Liu S, Giovannucci E, et al. Dietary sugar, glycemic load, and pancreatic cancer risk in a prospective study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Sep 4;94(17):1293-300.

Radiant Skin 101

As a young person living in America, the superficial society that it is, I have an aversion for any blemish, pimple, or mark that threatens to make its presence known on my face. Glowing, blemish free skin is the ideal and a sign of good health.    Every girl is entitled to radiant, clear skin and avoidance of the bad mood that occurs as a consequence of the appearance of a gargantuan pimple. Granted, I do realize that there are infinitely worse scenarios that can be inflicted upon a person, but at the same time one should not have to face the awfulness of pimples or a dull complexion amidst all the other chaos in one’s life.

Thankfully, as the daughter of Dr. Fuhrman, I know that diet plays a huge role in maintaining healthful, as well as youthful, looking skin. The same nutrient dense diet that keeps us healthy and prevents chronic diseases naturally helps prevent pimples, acne, and the like. Welcome to Radiant Skin 101, my one article class on the ins and outs of how to attain and maintain healthy, radiant skin:


Radiant Skin 101:

1)     The hormones inside our bodies are important contributors to what cause pimples to appear on the outside. In particular, the hormone insulin an important modulator of breakouts. Insulin is most commonly known as the hormone for regulating blood sugar and is associated with diabetes, yet interestingly it also increases   oils that appear on our skin. Who would have thought? Insulin levels fluctuate based on what we eat, and these fluctuations can affect other hormones such as testosterone that also promote acne.

2)     Processed foods made with white flour and sugar lead to blood sugar spikes, causing insulin levels to go into the hateful “pimple-producing zone”. Sugar and processed foods are nada good for our skin. 

3)     Of course this is more complicated than just sugar and insulin. The peeps at Harvard say milk is not skin-friendly food. The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study in which the diets of 6,084 teenage girls were analyzed. Girls who drank two or more servings of milk per day were 20 percent more likely to have acne. Milk contains bioactive molecules that act on the glands where blackheads are formed. William Danby MD, a dermatologist at Dartmouth, noted in an editorial accompanying the study that 70 to 90 percent of all milk comes from pregnant cows and that the milk contains hormones such as progesterone, testosterone precursors and insulin-like growth factor releasing hormones, all linked to acne.

4)     The foods you should eat for radiant skin? Green vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, avocadoes, starchy vegetables, and whole grains, of course. These foods are loaded with antioxidants, substances that help our skin repair damage. Plant foods also contain an array of phytochemicals. The foods rich in carotenoids are super foods for your body, not just your face. They supercharge the immune system’s defensive capabilities and help prevent many diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Many thousands of these chemicals are found in brightly colored plant foods. So in regards to the health of our skin, the more carotenoids and phytochemicals that are present, the faster our skin can repair damage, and remove and detoxify waste products and toxic compounds. 

So, in summary, consumption of micronutrient-rich natural plant foods leads to radiant, pimple free skin and processed foods and dairy are blackhead friendly.   How many more teenagers would eat a cancer-protective diet, if they knew it would repair their skin and keep them looking good? Avoiding dairy and junk food is easy when there are so many healthier, just as tasty, food options available. I’m a huge fan of soymilk and almond milk, for example. To me, faux milks taste better than actual cow’s milk. Resisting processed foods becomes pie in the sky when I know I can have a delicious fruit smoothie instead. Instead of poppin’ M and M’s, pop blueberries and cherries. Great skin and tasty food? Check!  

The danger of exhaustion

exhausted male


The kind of fatigue that develops as a result of the newborn crying again at 3 am. 

The kind that develops while recovering from major surgery.

The kind that no amount of cheering fixes. 

Exhaustion is dangerous stuff that leads to apathy. 

Apathy says, “I don’t give a rip. I don’t care.”   

When one’s body gets to that degree of fatigue, watch out! 

Recently, I found the following writing that I had posted on the member center of during the year that I’d lost 100 lbs.   It was dated, March 14, 2009; a little over eight months into the journey of earning my health back. The scales were down about eighty pounds, and I was well out of toxic food cravings. Just a few weeks prior to this writing I had had a major surgery, and decided to take a road trip to visit my son at college; a 3 1/2 hour drive away.


          I had a wonderful drive to visit my son. It was beautiful weather, and he had an eventful afternoon planned for my 14-year-old daughter and me. We went gallery hopping, window shopping, grocery shopping; plus, we toured the campus. On the outside I look relatively well now, but I’m still recovering from a major surgery that I had just a few weeks ago. This trip was my first "day away" since surgery. Can anyone spell s-t-u-p-i-d? 

          Well, between cleaning the house, and a 1/2 hour incline treadmill walk in the morning before departing; plus, all the excitement of the day, by early  evening, I had bit off way more than my body could physically manage. I was extremely exhausted, and was facing another 3 1/2 hour drive back home. At that moment, my rational mind shut down, and the irrational thought of "I don't care anymore" took over.

          My son had given his little sister a sack full of chocolate pop tarts (leftovers from his dorm breakfasts ~ the breakfasts of champions for college students.)  In "I don't care" mode, I asked for a pop tart, and my daughter graciously obliged. I opened the package, and the two pop tarts were stale, but I didn’t care. I ate them anyway. Then I read on the package that I had just eaten 73 grams of carbs. This freaked me out so I bought some tuna salad that was swimming in mayonnaise at a deli to compensate for any blood sugar issues that I might have created with the pop tarts. You know where this story is going . . . 

          I stopped mid-drive home, and got a gooey, hot fudge sundae. Then an hour later, I bought a candy bar and cream filled caramels at a gas station, scarfed them down, and then devoured a peanut butter sandwich when I got home. Then I collapsed in bed. Forget brushing the teeth . . . my body was beyond exhausted. There was not one ounce of self care or nurturing left. *

exhausted female holding cupWhen we are extremely exhausted, we have a tendency to make unwise choices. Oftentimes, we no longer desire to properly nurture and care for our bodies. When the body is pushed beyond healthy limits, it automatically shuts down, and goes into "I don't care" mode; and that's the most dangerous place to be! One can have good intentions, but in "I don't care" mode irrationality takes over.

We need to be diligent to make time for proper self-care; that includes nurturing as well as nourishment. We need to be kind to our bodies and not abuse them by overextending their capabilities. We need to make time for rest and rejuvenation, which may include asking others for help; especially in seasons of additional stress.

Wise choices produce freedom! 


After two years of eating high nutrient foods, I now have a strong aversion to junk food, and would get violently sick if I binged on those same foods.



image credits:;











Sesamin: a protective lignan found in sesame seeds

 Unhulled sesame seeds are rich in calcium as well as several forms of vitamin E.  Natural forms of vitamin E such as those found in sesame seeds are thought to have anti-aging properties, and sesame consumption is known to raise plasma levels of tocopherols (vitamin E) in humans.1 Sesame seeds display high antioxidative capacity and inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, especially black sesame seeds, which have triple the phenol antioxidant content of white sesame seeds.2

Research is accumulating on sesamin, the most abundant antioxidant in sesame seeds.  Sesamin is a lignan – a class of phytoestrogen with antioxidant activity.  Flaxseeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds are the richest sources of lignans.3

In human studies, sesamin has been previously shown to have cholesterol-lowering , antihypertensive, and antioxidative effects.Consumption of sesame seeds has also been found to result in decreased total and LDL cholesterol and oxidative stress, and increased sex hormone binding globulin concentrations, which could have implications for prevention of hormonal cancers.5

In cell culture studies, sesamin has been found to have these protective biological activities:

  •  Suppression of angiogenic activity (formation of new blood vessels) and expression of pro-angiogenic, pro-inflammatory, and pro-invasion molecules in breast cancer cells.6
  • Inhibition of proliferation of tumor cells from leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast, colon, prostate, pancreas, and lung cancers.7
  • Decreased expression of adhesion molecules on endothelial cells initiated by an inflammatory stimulus (expression of adhesion molecules contributes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque by attracting white blood cells).8,9

These data suggest that sesame seeds can be an important tool for prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.  Be sure to buy raw, unhulled sesame seeds or raw tahini (sesame seed butter) for maximum nutritional benefit.  White or black sesame seeds (or tahini) are a great addition to dips and salad dressings.


1. Cooney RV, Custer LJ, Okinaka L, Franke AA. Effects of dietary sesame seeds on plasma tocopherol levels. Nutr Cancer. 2001;39(1):66-71.

2. Shahidi F, Liyana-Pathirana CM, Wall DS. Antioxidant activity of white and black sesame seeds and their hull fractions. Food Chemistry 2006 99(3):478-483.

3. Coulman KD, Liu Z, Hum WQ, et al. Whole sesame seed is as rich a source of mammalian lignan precursors as whole flaxseed. Nutr Cancer. 2005;52(2):156-65.

4. Miyawaki T, Aono H, Toyoda-Ono Y, Maeda H, Kiso Y, Moriyama K. Antihypertensive effects of sesamin in humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2009 Feb;55(1):87-91.

5. Wu WH, Kang YP, Wang NH, et al. Sesame ingestion affects sex hormones, antioxidant status, and blood lipids in postmenopausal women. J Nutr.2006 May;136(5):1270-5.

6.  Lee CC, Liu KJ, Wu YC, Lin SJ, et al. Sesamin Inhibits Macrophage-Induced Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 Expression and Proangiogenic Activity in Breast Cancer Cells. Inflammation. 2010 Jul 9. [Epub ahead of print]

7. Harikumar KB, Sung B, Tharakan ST, et al. Sesamin manifests chemopreventive effects through the suppression of NF-kappaB-regulated cell survival, proliferation, invasion, and angiogenic gene products. Mol Cancer Res. 2010 May;8(5):751-61. Epub 2010 May 11.

8. Wu WH, Wang SH, Kuan II, et al. Sesamin attenuates intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1 expression in vitro in TNF-alpha-treated human aortic endothelial cells and in vivo in apolipoprotein-E-deficient mice. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print]

9. Lee WJ, Ou HC, Wu CM, et al. Sesamin mitigates inflammation and oxidative stress in endothelial cells exposed to oxidized low-density lipoprotein. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Dec 9;57(23):11406-17.

Dr. Fuhrman's Health Getaway; part 2 - the presentations

Last month over 160 people gathered for a week of relaxation, pampering, education, inspiration, physical fitness, great food, friendship, and fun at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn in southern California for Dr. Fuhman's Health Getaway.  Recently, I wrote about the delicious foods that were served that week; everything from California Creamed Kale and Eggplant Roll-Ups to Apple Carrot Custard Pie. Just like the top-notch quality meals left the body feeling well nourished, each presentation was loaded with powerfully transforming information for the mind.  Below is a brief overview of them.    

Dr. Fuhrman, John Mackey, Chef Chad Sarno

After the welcome reception and dinner on Sunday evening, the week kicked-off with an early morning power walk, led by Dr. Fuhrman; followed by breakfast and a dynamic lecture on healthy muscles and bones.  Immediately after Dr. Fuhrman demonstrated exercises that are important to structural health, he led a fitness class to put the information into practice.  The entire week was like that; a powerfully life-changing message on everything from the basics of eating for health, food addiction and weight loss, reversing heart disease and diabetes, to cancer prevention and longevity; laced with Dr. Fuhrman's humor, and plenty of fitness classes, yoga sessions, health assessments, and fun activities woven in-between.  Of course, he also gave practical cooking demonstrations, and there was always plenty of opportunity for Q & A after each lecture.  

                        health assessment and yoga

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, shared his vision of the Healthy Eating Revolution involving the immersion of healthy eating into corporate America and beyond.  I was blown away by the astronomical amount of dollars that Whole Foods Market has saved in health care costs by introducing its employees to this healthy eating initiative.   

Master Chef and Whole Foods culinary educator, Chad Sarno, entertained us with his delightful cooking demonstrations:  Base Recipes for a Delicious Nutritarian Lifestyle, and Entertaining with Canapes.  He proved that healthy cooking can be fun and easy!  

Lisa FuhrmanLisa Fuhrman's transparent approachability welcomed personal questions in her discussion forums throughout the week. Her practical tips and honest experiences with raising children to eat healthfully were most helpful. 

The week was emceed by the lovely Sarah Taylor, who imparted hope to all with her inspiring motivational talk on overcoming obstacles.  Joe Cross spoke after the showing of his documentary movie, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead;" the compelling journey of not only getting his own health back, but helping others that he met along the way.  

As an exciting, new addition this year, the entire week of presentations were professionally filmed and DVDs will be available sometime in September. Please check soon for more details.  

"Since returning from the Getaway I'm delighted to find that I'm now able to prepare delicious salads, sorbets, and steamed vegetables.  I'm now ten pounds lighter, exercising vigorously, sleeping soundly, and have a body of like minded friends to share my experiences."  - Diana


"I left inspired, renewed and committed.  I am so excited!"  -Joy


"I was expecting to be inspired, to learn a lot, and to enjoy not cooking for a week.  It was all that and more!  The unexpected and delightful surprise was making new friends, and talking endlessly with them at each meal and while exercising.  It made an impact on me how important community is."  -Barb


"We could hardly imagine how our third Getaway could be even better than the first two, but it was!  Lifesaving health information, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, great food, exercise and yoga, and inspiration . . . everything a beginning or veteran nutritarian could want."  - Darryl



image credits: special thanks to Getaway guest, Dan Williams of for his many wonderful images of the food, speakers, and activities; the picture of Lisa Fuhrman is courtesy of Getaway guests, Stanley and Martha




Excess weight and animal protein contribute to early puberty

A study published in Pediatrics measured the proportion of girls who had entered puberty by ages 7 and 8, and saw striking increases compared to data collected in 1997, only 13 years ago. This study of U.S. girls found that by age 7, 10.4% of Caucasian girls (5% in 1997), 23.4% of African-American girls (15% in 1997), and 14.9% of Hispanic girls had already entered puberty. By age 8 the percentages were 18.3%, 42.9%, and 30.9%.1

This is distressing information, since early maturation is a well-established risk factor for breast cancer later in life.2 Cumulative exposure to ovarian hormones is a major determinant of breast cancer risk, and entering puberty early results in increased cumulative hormone exposure in young women.3

Age at menarche has been consistently decreasing over the past 100 years.4 In the medical literature, the probable causes of this continuing trend are clear – excess body fat and excess consumption of animal products are contributing factors to the declining age of puberty. 

Obesity is a factor that increases one’s exposure to estrogen, and multiple studies have found associations between excess weight during childhood and early menarche.5 Soft drink consumption, which is a contributor to the increasing rates of childhood obesity, is also associated with early menarche.2 A study supporting this evidence was also published online in Pediatrics, analyzing connections between early childhood weight and age at onset of puberty. These researchers found that increased weight and body mass index (BMI) even at the early ages of 0-20 months was associated with earlier puberty.6

Total animal protein and meat intake at ages 3 and 7 were positively associated with age at menarche in a British study. Girls with the highest meat intake at age 7 were 75% more likely to have begun menstruating by age 12 ½ than those in the lowest category of meat intake.7

Physicians and parents are concerned about the social implications of this trend toward earlier maturity - seven year old girls are most likely not emotionally equipped to handle the onset of puberty. Unfortunately, the consequences of this trend are not only emotional. Early in life, our bodies are much more susceptible to carcinogenic influences – childhood diets are the major cause of adult cancers.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the Western diet of meat, cheese, and processed food is harming our children, but many parents unknowingly continue to feed their children these disease-promoting foods. As parents, we must be proactive – we want the best for our children, and as such we must feed them the best possible foods. We can help to slow our children’s development by feeding them a diet based on natural plant foods, which will groom their taste buds to prefer healthy foods at a young age and provide them with significant protection against cancers and other chronic diseases as they grow into adulthood.




1. Biro FM, Galvez MP, Greenspan LC, et al. Pubertal Assessment Method and Baseline Characteristics in a Mixed Longitudinal Study of Girls. Pediatrics. Published online August 9, 2010

Puberty coming earlier for U.S. girls: study. Yahoo! Health. August 9, 2010

2. Vandeloo MJ, Bruckers LM, Janssens JP. Effects of lifestyle on the onset of puberty as determinant for breast cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2007 Feb;16(1):17-25.

Leung AW et al. Evidence for a programming effect of early menarche on the rise of breast cancer incidence in Hong Kong. Cancer Detect Prev. 2008;32(2):156-61.

3. Pike MC, Pearce CL, Wu AH. Prevention of cancers of the breast, endometrium and ovary. Oncogene. 2004 Aug 23;23(38):6379-91.

Bernstein L. Epidemiology of endocrine-related risk factors for breast cancer. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2002 Jan;7(1):3-15.

Key T, Appleby P, Barnes I, et al. Endogenous sex hormones and breast cancer in postmenopausal women: reanalysis of nine prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002;94:606–16.

Eliassen AH, Missmer SA, Tworoger SS, et al. Endogenous steroid hormone concentrations and risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2006;98:1406–15.

4. Tanner JM. Trend toward earlier menarche in London, Oslo, Copenhagen, the Netherlands and Hungary. Nature 1973;243:75-76.

5. Mounir GM, El-Sayed NA, Mahdy NH, Khamis SE. Nutritional factors affecting the menarcheal state of adolescent school girls in Alexandria. J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2007;82(3-4):239-60.

Britton JA, Wolff MS, Lapinski R, Forman J, Hochman S, Kabat GC, Godbold J, Larson S, Berkowitz GS. Characteristics of pubertal development in a multi-ethnic population of nine-year-old girls. Ann Epidemiol. 2004 Mar;14(3):179-87.

6. Maisonet M, Christensen KY, Rubin C, et al. Role of Prenatal Characteristics and Early Growth on Pubertal Attainment of British Girls. Pediatrics. Published online August 9, 2010

7. Rogers IS, Northstone K, Dunger DB, et al. Diet throughout childhood and age at menarche in a contemporary cohort of British girls. Public Health Nutr. 2010 Jun 8:1-12.

Interview with a Nutritarian: Dorothy

I met Dorothy on the member center of I was thrilled to observe her excitement as she became set free from food addiction and  yo-yo dieting this past year. Although she’s happy to have reached her “dream weight”, like so many others have experienced, she is most excited about the freedom that eating for health has brought to her life . . . for the rest of her life! Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Dorothy.

                         female nutritian; before and after images

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?
My life was like a miserable rollercoaster ride. I was a chronic yo-yo dieter, and caught in the cycle of deprivation dieting to lose weight; however, I was unable to maintain it as I always fell back into bad habits. At age 20 I required a gallbladder removal as a consequence of following the low carb, Stillman Diet during my high school years.

I was always hungry, and dealt continually with food cravings and binge eating. Dieting to lose weight for an upcoming event, and then sabotaging my efforts became a way of life for me. I started to wonder if I was just going to gain and lose the same 20 lbs forever and maybe it was time to face the reality of being heavier than I liked. However, because my family has a strong cardiac disease history, the fear of getting sick drove me to keep looking for a solution. I prayed that I could find something that made me healthy as well as thinner.


How did you discover Eat to Live?
In November of 2009, at age 53, I searched and found a website called Peer Trainer, and through that site I was introduced to nutritarian eating and Dr. Fuhrman’s teachings. His basic message was eating a lot of high quality nutrients, and the focus was not about, “You can’t have this or that.”

I thought to myself, “Okay, I can make a smoothie and add some kale and spinach.” I remember standing in the supermarket looking for kale and not knowing what it looked like.I started eating green vegetables and making smoothies, and it was like someone flipped a switch and my hunger and cravings vanished. I actually started craving healthy food, and willpower became a non-issue for me. The more I learned online, the more I wanted to know about Dr. Fuhrman’s high nutrient eating style so I bought his books, and the rest is history.


female portrain

How do you feel now?
I feel great! I’ve gone from weighing 172 lbs to 134 lbs; which is below my dream weight of 135, and my total cholesterol has dropped 38 points. I now enjoy exercising regularly and shopping for fashionable clothes; going from size 12’s and 14’s down to 6’s and 8’s. I also like eating high nutrient foods, because my taste buds have changed and I no longer desire salty, processed, and greasy foods. [Plus, as an additional bonus, my daughter who has type 1diabetes, has been eating high nutrient foods right along with me, and has significantly reduced her insulin requirements!] 


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

  • Eat high nutrient foods, and the desire for junk food becomes less and less desirable. 
  • Focus on what you can eat; not on what you can’t eat.  
  • Make delicious, fruit smoothies with berries, a ripe banana, almond milk, spinach, and/or kale. 
  • Establish a support system. I’m a member of Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center, and being able to communicate with Dr. Fuhrman has been really helpful for me. Additionally, the other members have a lot of practical advice, encouragement, and recipes to share. The member center helps me stay on track.


In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?  
It has totally changed my life because I’ve been freed from “Food Jail!” I feel good about myself now that I’m in control of the food that I put into my body. Cooking is now more enjoyable as I’ve discovered new foods and recipes. I also handle stress better, and I longer turn to food for self-medication. As a nurse I know that nutritarian eating will certainly increase my odds of staying healthy for the rest of my life.


Congratulations Dorothy ~ we applaud you! 


Weight loss benefits the immune system

We are all aware that excess weight is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and currently the links between overweight and cancer are beginning to become more widely known. But did you know that carrying excess weight can also prevent your immune system from working properly?

Obesity is known to be associated with a state of chronic systemic inflammation. Fat is an endocrine organ, secreting many factors that immune cells respond to – excess fat is thought to stimulate white blood cells (WBC) that produce inflammatory molecules as a part of the normal immune response upon injury or infection. Fat cells may also produce these inflammatory molecules. Obesity’s effects on the immune system likely underlie some of its connections to chronic diseases.1

Obesity is associated with elevated numbers of circulating immune cells and total WBC,2 as well as elevated activation levels of certain WBC and suppressed immune cell function.3 In short, excess weight seems to promote a state of overstimulation of the immune system, which impairs normal immune function. Calorie restriction, on the other hand improves immune function and reduces production of inflammatory molecules.1

The current study evaluated immune cell number and activation in response to a significant amount of weight loss (average 13.5% of body weight) in type 2 diabetics and prediabetics over a 24-week period.  The researchers found an 80% decrease in circulating T-helper cells (a type of immune cell); decreased activation of circulating immune cells and other WBC, and also reduced activation of adipose tissue immune cells.4

This study suggests that weight loss can reverse the damage to the immune system that occurs due to obesity. Weight loss, therefore, in addition to reducing systemic inflammation and risk of chronic disease, may also improve resistance to bacterial and viral infections by restoring balance to the immune system. 

Consistent with these data, those who follow a Nutritarian diet often have lower than average white blood cell counts, reflecting appropriate levels of systemic inflammation and immune system activation. Lower WBC counts are reflective of excellent health and associated with longer lifespan.5 As such, those whose healthful eating habits cause WBC counts drop below the normal range should not be alarmed. 



1. Dixit VD. Adipose-immune interactions during obesity and caloric restriction: reciprocal mechanisms regulating immunity and health span. J Leukoc Biol. 2008 Oct;84(4):882-92.

2. Womack J, Tien PC, Feldman J, et al. Obesity and immune cell counts in women. Metabolism. 2007 Jul;56(7):998-1004.

3. Nieman DC, Henson DA, Nehlsen-Cannarella SL,et al. Influence of obesity on immune function. J Am Diet Assoc. 1999 Mar;99(3):294-9.

4. Viardot A, Lord RV, Samaras K. The effects of weight loss and gastric banding on the innate and adaptive immune system in type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. JClin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jun;95(6):2845-50.

5. Candore G, Colonna-Romano G, Balistreri CR, et al. Biology of longevity: role of the innate immune system. Rejuvenation Res. 2006 Spring;9(1):143-8.

Image credit:

Child eats rice to expand stomach for contest

All over the United States this summer, in every county, the youth of America are celebrating the 4-H fair. Some are showing their cows, pigs, lambs, and llamas; many are displaying their homemade butter cakes, yeast rolls, cookies, and garden produce; most are having the time of their lives!  All are participating in a week of county fair activities; everything from midway rides to tractor pulls to eating Funnel Cakes and Elephant Ears.

4-H fair emblemIf you were a 4-H’er as a kid, you know the infamous pledge: 

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

 I wrote about the paradoxical message of 4-H pledge last summer on Onlyourhealth.

Recently, I was glancing through my hometown’s evening paper, and my eye caught the following title, Technique Matters: Contestants feel the need for speed . . . eating.” 1 It was an article devoted to the pizza eating contest at the 4-H fair. An eleven-year-old boy won the contest by stacking one slice on top of the other before devouring them. He was interviewed and said that he didn’t really prepare, but ate rice the night before to expand his stomach. He enters the contest because it’s fun. 


Are we really teaching the next generation of youth to devote his/her health to better living? . . . . to pledge their heads to clearer thinking?

As Dr. Fuhrman expressed in a follow-up post last year, “It’s not just the 4-H fair, it’s everywhere.” read more . . . .

What are your observations of the county fairs and festivals this summer? What tangible and proactive ways can we be contributors and role models of health to this next generation? Let’s dialogue and see if we can come up with some innovative solutions to this ongoing crisis.  


1 The News Sentinel; July 23, 2010, 3L, by Paige Chapman

image credits:   4-H emblem,; boy eating pizza,  

Vitamin D update: Diabetes, cognitive decline, asthma, and heart attack

Vitamin D continues to make news.  Although previously well-known for its effects on calcium absorption and therefore bone health, vitamin D has also emerged as a contributor to many nonskeletal physiological processes, and functions have been attributed to vitamin D in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, infections, autoimmune diseases, and more. There are vitamin D receptors in almost every cell in the human body, and vitamin D regulates the expression of over 200 different genes. It is not surprising that sufficient vitamin D is crucial to the proper function of so many of our body’s tissues.1

Scientists estimate that 50% of the population of North America and Western Europe has insufficient blood vitamin D levels (as measured by 25(OH)D; sufficient is defined as greater than 30 ng/ml). Although recommended vitamin D intakes remain at only 200-400 IU per day, there is consensus among the scientific community that 2000 IU or more may be necessary for most  people to maintain sufficient blood levels.2

The newest research has found that vitamin D sufficiency is important for preventing type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, asthma, and cardiovascular disease.




Type 2 diabetes

There is some evidence that vitamin D is involved in insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells, since insulin secretion is a calcium-dependent process. Vitamin D may also prevent the development of insulin resistance by stimulating expression of the insulin receptor on the surface of cells that use glucose as fuel.3 A study performed at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on type 2 diabetics found that 91% of the patients were either deficient (less than 15 ng/ml) or insufficient (between 15 and 30 ng/ml) in vitamin D. Furthermore, there was inverse association between vitamin D levels and HbA1c, an indicator of blood glucose levels over the preceding 2-3 months, implying that vitamin D sufficiency contributes to glycemic control in diabetics.4 Vitamin D’s effects are not specific to type 2 diabetes; there is also convincing evidence that vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood can reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes, and prospective studies on this topic are ongoing.1,5

Cognitive decline

Vitamin D receptors are present throughout the entire human brain, and genes that are regulated by vitamin D are involved in processes such as memory formation and neurotransmission.6,7 Although previous studies have been inconclusive8, this data supports a role for vitamin D in maintaining brain health in older adults. 


Two studies on asthma, one in adults and one in children, has linked vitamin D insufficiency with increased asthma severity.9 Those with 25(OH)D levels above 30 ng/ml had greater lung function, and used less medication.10 A similar study in children also found that lower vitamin D levels were associated with increased asthma severity, and that higher vitamin D levels were associated with reduced odds of hospitalization for asthma.11 Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory actions or regulation of smooth muscle cell contraction via calcium handling may be the responsible factors. The researchers also conducted a trial investigating vitamin D supplementation as a therapeutic option for asthma. Vitamin D is also important for lung development in utero, so maternal supplementation with vitamin D during pregnancy is recommended.12

Cardiovascular disease

There is continually building evidence in the literature that sufficient vitamin D levels protect against cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely prevalent among heart attack sufferers – 96% of heart attack sufferers in a recent study were either insufficient (21%) or deficient (75%) in vitamin D. Those with sufficient vitamin D levels are less likely to die from heart attack or stroke.  Vitamin D insufficiency may allow for increased cholesterol uptake by inflammatory cells, which contributes to atherosclerosis.13 A study recorded vitamin D levels at baseline and throughout 6 years of follow-up. At the start of the study, the average 25(OH)D level was 19.3 ng/ml (insufficient). During the trial, about half of the subjects increased their levels to the sufficient range (above 30 ng/ml), and these subjects had significantly reduced incidence of heart attack, heart failure, and coronary artery disease. Some subjects raised their 25(OH)D levels above 44 ng/ml, and they received even stronger protection against cardiovascular disease. Compared to those who reached levels above 44 ng/ml, those whose levels stayed between 10 and 19 ng/ml had a 27% increase in coronary artery disease, a 32% increase in heart failure, and a 59% increase in heart attack incidence.14

Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels is essential to our health. 

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D and we cannot rely on sun exposure alone because of indoor jobs, cool climates, and the risk of skin cancer that may arise from adequate amounts of sun exposure to maintain vitamin D levels.   Plus, requirements vary with genetics and skin type greatly effecting Vitamin D production in the skin.  Taking a multivitamin is not the answer because almost all  multivitamins still provide an inadequate amount of vitamin D (400 IU). Favorable levels can be confirmed with a blood test, and supplementation can be adjusted accordingly.   I recommend supplementing with an adequate amount of vitamin D in order to maintain 25(OH)D levels of 35-55 ng/ml. For some people 2000 IU will be sufficient, but others may require more.


1. Hyppönen E. Vitamin D and increasing incidence of type 1 diabetes-evidence for an association? Diabetes Obes Metab. 2010 Sep;12(9):737-43.

2. University of California - Riverside (2010, July 19). More than half the world's population gets insufficient vitamin D, says biochemist. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from /releases/2010/07/100715172042.htm

3. Pittas AG, Lau J, Hu FB, Dawson-Hughes B. The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;92(6):2017-29.

4. The Endocrine Society (2010, June 21). Poor control of diabetes may be linked to low vitamin D. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from /releases/2010/06/100621091209.htm

5. Zipitis CS, Akobeng AK. Vitamin D supplementation in early childhood and risk of type 1 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Dis Child. 2008 Jun;93(6):512-7.

6. McCann JC, Ames BN. Is there convincing biological or behavioral evidence linking vitamin D deficiency to brain dysfunction? FASEB J. 2008 Apr;22(4):982-1001.

7. Llewellyn DJ, Lang IA, Langa KM, et al. Vitamin D and Risk of Cognitive Decline in Elderly Persons Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(13):1135-1141.

8. Annweiler C, Allali G, Allain P, et al. Vitamin D and cognitive performance in adults: a systematic review. Eur J Neurol. 2009 Oct;16(10):1083-9.

9. EurekAlert! Low vitamin D levels associated with more asthma symptoms and medication use.

Jancin B. Vitamin D Tied to Airway Hyperresponsiveness. Family Practice News. May 1, 2010.

10. Sutherland ER, Goleva E, Jackson LP, et al. Vitamin D levels, lung function, and steroid response in adult asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010 Apr 1;181(7):699-704.

11. Brehm JM, Celedón JC, Soto-Quiros ME, et al. Serum vitamin D levels and markers of severity of childhood asthma in Costa Rica. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 May 1;179(9):765-71.

12. Litonjua AA. Childhood asthma may be a consequence of vitamin D deficiency. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Jun;9(3):202-7.

13. Washington University School of Medicine (2009, August 25). Why Low Vitamin D Raises Heart Disease Risks In Diabetics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from /releases/2009/08/090821211007.htm

14. Jancin B. CAD Events Less Likely With Normal Vitamin D. Family Practice News, May 15, 2010.


Oh, Poor Me, No Junk Food in my Childhood?

Girl eating watermelon

While growing up, food is what set me apart from my peers. Naturally, being the daughter of Dr. Fuhrman is going to result in some pretty unconventional school lunches and after school snacks. As a young child, it didn’t take me long to figure out that my friends were being packed ham sandwiches and chips and I was not. My parents only packed me healthy stuff, never processed foods, white bread sandwiches or Lunchables, those highly processed convenience foods that children thought (due to commercials) were as cool as winning a game of dodgeball. I did not try a McDonald’s French Fry until I was in the fourth grade. I felt like a rebel buying chocolate chip cookies in middle school, a thought process never occurring to my friends. 

During my childhood, I chose to ignore the health consequences of what I ate and was a pleasure seeking eater, as any little one has a right to be. I was allowed to have pizza at lunch on some Fridays and I was never denied Carvel ice cream cake at my friend’s birthday parties. I looked forward to those Fridays and any other time my mom would let me eat something she deemed “unhealthy”. My parents were not completely rigid; they just only had healthy foods at home. They did not make me feel guilty or punish us if we strayed. They understood that kids need some flexibility and are going to want to explore the food culture in our society. Yet, while I had some occasional treats, I still wished I was like the other kids. I wanted a box of Brownie cookies when my Brownie troop sold them and I wanted my mom to buy me Lucky Charms like my friend Alyssa’s mom bought them for her. Don’t get me wrong, I liked, and even loved, many of the foods that were provided for me at home. Yet, as a young child, acceptance and pleasure trump health any day of the week.   

Then everything changed. It began in the seventh grade and became an unstoppable force in eighth. Instead of being rebellious, I wanted to be the epitome of a healthful eater. The phrase, “You are what you eat,” finally kicked in, a pride in my unconventional eating habits blossomed, and I became an unstoppable walking nutrition encyclopedia. I went so far as to criticize my friends for their poor eating choices. “Are you really going to eat that donut?” I would proclaim, and then begin a diatribe on the dangers of consuming partially hydrogenated oils and trans fatty acids. Understandably, my friends were annoyed and thought I was nuts. After having so many friends become angry with me that year, I learned my lesson to set a good example, yet not attempt to give others diet advice unless I was asked.

Since that time, I have continued to appreciate eating a natural, plant based diet, not only because it is delicious, but because it grants me the gift of health. I could not be more grateful for being raised on our unconventional diet and I am happy to report that I suffered no permanent damage from being allowed only three pieces of candy on Halloween and no other candy. Many of the foods I grew up eating have become my favorite foods and I realize how fortunate I am to never have to transition to eating healthier foods, as I was already there from the get-go. 

Let my previous words be words of encouragement to all mothers who are having difficulties raising nutritious eaters in our junk food world. Even if your child or children don’t appreciate the foods you are feeding them now or resent the denial of junk foods, they will in later years. Years that will be filled with good health, rather than debilitating health problems. Eating well is a lifestyle that should be embraced by the entire family and every child deserves to have the best start in life and can learn to love being “different,” just like I did.