Interview with a Nutritarian: Mark

Mark was experiencing the same physical symptoms and emotional fears that befall many middle-aged males; that of living in fear of an impending heart attack and leaving their children prematurely with no father to help raise them. Not only did Mark take control of his health destiny and get his health back, but became one of Dr. Fuhrman’s first Nutritional Education Trainers (NETs) to help others do the same! Welcome to FHEALTH LIFE, Mark. 

 before after images of Mark  

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

I was overweight, but in denial.  Being 6'3" and carrying around an extra 65 lbs. wasn't as noticeable on me as it would have been on someone that was a bit shorter.  I was always playing sports when I was young, so it was hard for me to accept that I was overweight.  I was on four prescription medications for asthma and a perpetual runny nose.  I always over ate and consumed a deadly diet.

How did you feel then?

I was tired all the time and would wake up every night needing my inhaler so I could breathe.  I was also worried about the heart attack that I knew was probably only a year or two away and was very concerned that if I didn't do something my two daughters may lose their father to some disease.


How did you find out about ETL?

After experiencing a severe cramp during a morning run I took a look at my leg and noticed how it had lost a lot of hair, just like my dad's legs before he died due to heart disease.  This was a wake-up call for me.  I started searching for ways to improve my health and began doing a lot of reading.  I learned about "detoxifying" during a cruise.  While researching detoxifying I learned about some of the benefits of fasting and looked for books on fasting in the library.  That's when I found Dr. Fuhrman's first book, Fasting and Eating for Health.  While reading this book everything made sense.  Unlike many of the previous "health" books I had been reading, Dr. Fuhrman didn't just tell what to do, but why this advice worked and the proof with references to scientific studies. Soon after, I also found Eat to Live.

after photo of MarkHow do you feel now?

Great!  I now weigh the same as I did in high school, and I no longer wake up at night struggling for air.  I've been off all medications since I began the program about five years ago.  I don't feel hot or sweat all the time like I used to.  Gone are the days of being lethargic.  In fact, two years after beginning the program I began training and ran my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon; one week before turning 51.  I did it in 4 hours 22 seconds and didn't walk a single step along the way.  It was pretty emotional for me when the Marine Officer (I'm a former Marine) placed that medal around my neck as I reflected on how much I was enjoying my new life of health!  The nutritarian lifestyle didn't just heal me physically; it increased my self esteem and gave me a different outlook on my future. 

   Before  After
Weight  249 lbs  185 lbs
Cholesterol  163  120
Blood pressure  144 / 95  118 / 75

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

  • Learn as much as you can before starting the program. 

  • Learn that your taste buds will change; that you can lose your addictions to toxic foods; that this way of eating will become more and more enjoyable; and it will eventually become what is "normal" for you. 

  • Don't be discouraged by those around you who will come up with any number of reasons why you should go back to eating the way they do. 

  • Take it one step at a time.  You don't have to go all out in the beginning, but it's okay if you do. 

  • Find positive support somewhere.  Dr. Fuhrman's Member Center on the web is a great place for this.


In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?  

It has changed my whole outlook on life.  After years of worrying about a heart attack, these thoughts are now gone.  Every day seems brighter when you have your health.  It has also been rewarding to be able to help others with what I've learned.  Along these lines, I decided to become a Nutritional Education Trainer (NET).  I figured having this title would give me more credibility when telling others about the benefits of the nutritarian lifestyle.  Even though I'm too busy with my current job, I hope to get more involved and lead group sessions after I retire in a few years.  What a great hobby!

Congratulations Mark for earning your health back and your Nutritional Education Trainer certification!

Childhood diet linked to asthma prevalence, adult diet linked to asthma severity

Asthma has skyrocketed in the U.S. – the prevalence of asthma doubled between 1986 and 2005. Obesity is known to mechanically compromise proper function of the lungs and airways and is associated with asthma-related inflammation. Increased prevalence of asthma in obese individuals has been demonstrated in several studies, and there exists a dose-response relationship such that as BMI increases, asthma risk increases. Obesity is thus an independent risk factor for asthma. It is now widely believed that the rise in childhood obesity is a causative factor for the recent rise in asthma. [1, 2]

Inhaler. Photo credit: net_efekt (Flickr)

In addition to obesity, metabolic abnormalities in children and teens, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and hyperinsulinemia, regardless of body weight have now been associated with asthma. This means that even if a child is of normal BMI, the standard American diet is likely taking its toll on lung function, producing early metabolic abnormalities that may set the stage for asthma, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic disease. [3]

In adults who already have asthma, previous data has been inconclusive when trying to determine whether obesity affects asthma severity. However, there is a strong connection between poor nutrition and asthma, including evidence that a single high-calorie, low-nutrient meal can spark airway inflammation, which can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Asthmatic adults consuming a single high-calorie, low nutrient meal, high in animal protein and added fat (1,000 calories worth of fast food hamburgers and hash browns) showed increased airway inflammation four hours later. Researchers compared this to a 200 calorie meal, which did not increase inflammation. [4]

Obesity, resulting from the cumulative effects of years of overeating low-nutrient, high-calorie food is a risk factor for asthma. However, deleterious effects of a low-nutrient diet on lung function occur even in the short term, and can begin early in life. Collectively, these studies tell us that asthma is another disease whose major causes include poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle.

Since asthma is both a lifestyle- and inflammation-related disease, dietary changes and weight loss are effective at improving asthma symptoms. A high-nutrient diet floods the body with protective micronutrients, reduces inflammation, and promotes weight loss – allowing the body to resolve the risk factors for asthma mentioned above (obesity, high cholesterol, etc.). Dr. Fuhrman has had much success using a high-nutrient diet to treat patients with asthma – many recover completely and no longer need asthma medication. He recently conducted a survey of hundreds of nutritarians, in which 82% of respondents with asthma reported a significant improvement in their symptoms after switching to a high-nutrient diet. Here is just one example:

“Dr. Fuhrman has truly been a blessing to me and my family. My husband has lost weight as so has my 11-year-old son. My son had put on a lot of weight and has asthma, making it almost impossible to complete the running portion of a physical challenge in gym class. But a couple of weeks ago, I had tears in my eyes as he crossed the finish line without wheezing!

I have more energy and have never felt this good. I tell everyone I know about Eat To Live and Eat For Health and will continue to sing Dr. Fuhrman’s praises.





1. Sutherland, E.R., Obesity and asthma. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am, 2008. 28(3): p. 589-602, ix.
2. Canoz, M., et al., The relationship of inflammatory cytokines with asthma and obesity. Clin Invest Med, 2008. 31(6): p. E373-9.
3. Cottrell, L., et al., Metabolic Abnormalities in Children with Asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 2010.
4. High-fat meals a no-no for asthma patients, researchers find. ScienceDaily. , in American Thoracic Society 2010 International Conference. 2010: New Orleans, LA.


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.


Antibiotic overuse is a danger to public health, and especially dangerous for pregnant women

 The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has warned the public that antibiotic overuse has the potential to cripple the entire modern medical system.1

Despite public awareness campaigns about responsible use of antibiotics, antibiotics continue to be prescribed for colds, flu, sinusitis and bronchitis. Medical authorities continually warn doctors that antibiotics should NOT be prescribed for routine bronchitis and sinusitis. The scientific studies show that they do not improve outcome.  These are infections that, except in rare instances, are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Plus, these infections resolve by strengthening the immune system with excellent nutrition, not weakening it and creating more serious future infections that can develop as a result of antibiotic use.

As inappropriate use of antibiotics continues, more and more resistant microbes will spread, and antibiotics will consequently become less effective. Drug-resistant bacteria emerge from mutations – microbes are constantly mutating, and these mutations eventually cause resistance to antibiotics.

Drug-resistant infections kill about 19,000 people each year in the U.S., and are a significant cost to the healthcare system.1 Drug-resistant bacteria have the potential to compromise our ability to perform procedures for which antibiotics are crucial.

"If this wave of antibiotic resistance gets over us, we will not be able to do organ transplants, hip replacements, cancer chemotherapy, intensive care and neonatal care for premature babies."

- Dominique Monnet, ECDC scientific advice unit1

The dangers of antibiotic overuse extend further than infection alone – all drugs have side effects, and antibiotics are especially toxic, and their side-effects are significant. Antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately – therefore they disrupt our microbial balance, killing the beneficial flora that aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients and keep other microbes at bay. Children who are prescribed more antibiotics in the first year of life are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and allergies during childhood.3  Antibiotic use has even been linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer.4   

Antibiotics are one of the most common medications taken by pregnant women, and a new study has made connections between antibiotics use during pregnancy and incidence of birth defects. Sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins were each associated with several birth defects – women who took these classes of antibiotics while pregnant were 2-4 times as likely to give birth to a baby with a heart defect. The more commonly used penicillins, eythromycins, and cephalosporins were each associated with at least one birth defect.2  

Antibiotics are not harmless medications and should be reserved for severe (and carefully documented) bacterial infections - infections that would seriously threaten the health of the patient if left untreated. We have powerful immune systems which, when supported by excellent nutrition, will clear the more moderate infections without help from drugs. 



  2. Crider KS et al. Antibacterial medication use during pregnancy and risk of birth defects: National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009 Nov;163(11):978-85.
  3. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.
  4. Velicer CM et al. Antibiotic Use in Relation to the Risk of Breast Cancer. JAMA. 2004;291:827-835.


Health-Points: Friday 5.22.09

  • Sex is important, especially if you’re not getting any, and for women with type-1 diabetes sex can be a real drag. According to a new study in the journal Diabetes Care involving 652 women with type-1 diabetes, completing a survey on sex and undergoing a physical examination, mood evaluation and laboratory testing, 51% of women reported orgasm problems; Reuters explains.
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Health-Points: Friday 5.1.09

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Broccoli Sprouts Protect Against Respiratory Inflammation

I love broccoli! This is great awesome. A new study in the journal Clinical Immunology claims consuming broccoli sprouts contributed to a significant boosting antioxidant which protect airways against inflammation and asthma. Researchers gave test subjects varying does of oral sulforaphane, an anti-cancer agent found in green vegetables like broccoli, for three days and rinses of nasal passages revealed high doses result in a 101% to 199% increase in GSTP1 and NQO1 antioxidant enzymes; Food Navigator reports.

Previous studies show broccoli protects blood vessels against heart disease and stroke, especially good for diabetics, who are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating broccoli also helps fight prostate cancer and skin cancer.

Wow, asthma has been all over the news lately, this week we’ve seen reports link asthma risk with traffic pollution and watching too much television. Eek!

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TV Turns Up Asthma Risk in Kids...

To be published in an upcoming issue of Thorax, new research claims children who watch more than two hours of television each day have a higher risk of asthma. The study tracked respiratory function of 3,000 children from birth to 11.5 years of age. Starting at age 3.5, parents were asked to describe their child’s respiratory health and if they manifested any symptoms, such as wheezing, or if they had been diagnosed with asthma. Data revealed only 6% of kids developed asthma, but those watching two or more hours of TV each day were twice as likely have asthma; HealthDay News reports.

Sitting around watching Sponge Bob all day isn’t healthy, especially since previous research has associated obesity with a greater likelihood of asthma, as well as exposure to common household chemicals like cleaning sprays and air fresheners. So get the kids out of the house!

In related news, traffic pollution, specifically polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the byproduct of incomplete gasoline combustion, has been linked to asthma risk in babies.

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Asthma Risk, Pregnant Moms Avoid Traffic Pollution!

We all hate traffic. But unborn babies hate it more. According to a new research in the journal PLoS One exposure to traffic pollution in the womb may increase a child’s risk of developing asthma later in life. The suspect pollutants are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the byproducts of incomplete combustion of gasoline, which scientists believe cause genetic disturbances leading to asthma. This information is extremely pertinent to families living in high-traffic areas; HealthDay News reports.

Car pollution is only one of a long list of asthma-causing chemicals. Previous studies have associated acetaminophen, a.k.a. Tylenol, to a higher incidence of asthma-related symptoms in children ages 6 to 7 years. And even the season change is to blame! Believe it or not, babies born in the fall have a 30% greater risk of developing asthma.

Here’s some advice. Dr. Fuhrman insists it’s the parents’ job to shield kids from harmful environments. That means in the womb too. Oh, cockroaches have been linked asthma-risk too.

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Acetaminophen Linked to Asthma in Children

Infants given acetaminophen, a.k.a. Tylenol, have a higher risk of developing asthma later in life than kids not exposed to the drug. The study, published in The Lancet, claims infants given acetaminophen for fever during their first year of life, were 50% more likely to develop asthma-related symptoms at 6 or 7 years of age. Researchers also discovered an increased risk of rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema associated with acetaminophen; via Family Practice News.