Interview with a Nutritarian: Helen

A year ago this month I received a phone call from my sister informing me that my mom had experienced a stroke and was en-route to the ER via an ambulance. Living five minutes from the hospital I made a mad dash there only to discover my mother intensely suffering in a triage unit. The next day would be her 86th birthday, but at that moment her future looked grim. 

Having older parents who have faithfully put their trust in their doctors’ instructions over the years, I’ve been with them through their heart attacks, bypass and stent surgeries, and ongoing maladies and procedures. I’ve witnessed the negative side effects of their multiple (and astronomically expensive) pharmaceuticals that filled their kitchen counter top. I’ve seen first hand the results of conventional disease management, yet this episode was different. As my mom lied there on the gurney, writhing in excruciating pain from a leg spasm, paralyzed on one side of her body, unable to speak clearly, and crying; I could tell that this was the ultimate nightmare that she didn’t want to be experiencing. However, thankfully my mom discovered that it’s never too late to improve one’s health by eating to live.


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

I was tired all the time, but I thought it was due to old age; not wrong food choices. Because my mother had diabetes, suffered a stroke at age 66, and my siblings and I cared for her in my parents' living room for two years before her death, I made a conscious decision to carefully follow everything that my doctors told me to do over the years; not knowing that it would lead me down a dangerous path. Plus, other women my age were also being instructed to do the same so I thought I was doing the right thing. There was no different way at the time. 

Around age 60 I developed diabetes and was put on an oral diabetes medication for a couple of years, and then the doctor put me on insulin. I followed the recommended meal plan, insulin calculations and dosages; and when my blood sugars kept rising I complied with increasing the units of insulin. I even carried a glucose meter and injections in my purse so I would never miss a shot. 

I also ate animal protein at every meal; it was a part of the food plan that the diabetic educators instructed me to follow: eggs with breakfast, lean meats with lunch and dinner, and a peanut butter sandwich before bed. Every endocrinologist that I went to said the sandwich before bed was important to prevent dangerously low blood sugars in the night. Even with carefully following instructions, my blood sugars were either too high or too low. I lived in fear of the lows, especially when I was out in public or during the night. I even took a sandwich and juice to bed with me, just in case. 

Then my blood pressure also climbed higher with each passing year so blood pressure medications were added to my growing list of medications. However, even with four medications, my cardiologist could never get it below 199/99.  I had two heart attacks and multiple stents put into my body over the years: four stents in my kidneys, seven in my legs, and four in my heart, but I never got well. By the time of my stroke, I also had congestive heart failure and weighed 215 lbs. (5'8") 

Even though you [Emily] improved your health through Eat to Live, I was too dependent upon my doctors’ instructions to feel safe to make such radical changes at my age. Plus, a part of me thought it was too late to change; what’s the use.


What changed your mind?

Having the stroke changed my mind.  I was paralyzed on the entire right side of my body. My leg went into an intense spasm that wouldn’t let up, even with medication to try to relax it. I couldn’t speak so that others could understand me. I couldn’t swallow my food. I couldn’t even swallow a drink of water without a special ingredient to thicken it. My hand was clutched tight and I couldn’t open it. I couldn’t use the toilet without help. I wore adult diapers.  I was suddenly trapped in a body that was immobile which required 24/7 nursing care; totally dependent upon others for everything. 

After being discharged from the hospital, I was transferred to a nursing home for ongoing care and therapy. The night staff neglected to clip my call button onto my gown for me to reach it. I’d accidently wet myself during the night and couldn’t call anyone for help. I was totally at the mercy of someone discovering my situation early the next morning. Needless to say, my family transferred me to a stroke rehab facility that following day; but even with the best care, the total loss of independence was enough to change my mind. I was ready to do anything to get better if/when I would be discharged; no matter if my doctors approved it or not. * 


When did you start following Eat to Live?

After spending five weeks eating pureed meat and processed institutional foods, totally void of color, I was delighted to watch Dr. Fuhrman’s 3 Steps to Incredible Health that aired on our local PBS station the weekend after I returned home. Something “clicked” that day; plus I liked watching TV versus reading a book as my eyesight hadn't been good for the past couple of years. I totally understood what Dr. Fuhrman was talking about in his presentation. I began eating for health from that moment onward, and I’ve never looked back!

What’s happened since then?

I’ve been off insulin for over six months now, and after giving myself four shots a day for over twenty years it’s been wonderful to be totally free from them!  Also, with eating this way I don’t experience low blood sugars anymore so that all-consuming fear is gone.

I’ve lost about 65 lbs so far, and my blood pressure is never higher than 115/65. I’m down to just ½ dose of a blood pressure medication now, compared to four medications and continual, dangerously high blood pressures before following Eat to Live.

I’m more alert, I don’t tire so easily, and I even have the stamina to ride a stationary bike for 2 ½ miles/day; plus, I lift weights and do various exercises to continue to strengthen my arms, legs, back, and facial muscles. I noticed this past winter when I got a cold and cough that it only lasted for a couple of days. The same thing happened with a sore and infected toe; it healed quickly, when it used to take a long time for a wound to heal.   

Had I not followed high-nutrient eating this past year, there’s no way that my weakened muscles from the stroke could’ve supported the obese weight. It would be very difficult for me to get around with sixty-five extra pounds on my body. I use a walker for stability, but I can now walk in grocery stores, go to the mall with assistance, attend church and family events, and see my friends. I know that I would be completely homebound without following Eat to Live


Do you have any success tips to share?


  • Yes, keep it simple. You [Emily] had knee surgery at the same time that I started eating high-nutrient foods so I had to find an easy way to make it work on my own. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. I kept the meals simple. I steamed enough vegetables to have on hand for several meals. I made a pot of lentils once a week. I made sure to include cooked mushrooms and chopped onions daily. Bob [her husband of sixty-five years and my dad] has always grown a big garden, and he helped me prepare the vegetables, but I haven’t made fancy recipes yet; that may come this next year.


  • However, the most important tip is that one’s health should come first above all other priorities. Health first; everything else second! That’s got to be the mindset or other things will crowd it out. My main occupation now is making time for my food preparation, daily exercises, and adequate rest.  If you are young, don’t wait until you are old to change your eating habits. If you are old, it’s never too late to change and get health restored. Don’t cheat yourself out of the best health that’s possible.


Congratulations Mom ~ I’m truly proud of you for overcoming a myriad of obstacles to contend for your health, no matter what. And happy eighty-seventh birthday this year!

[By the way, the top picture was taken the day after the stroke, on her 86th birthday.  She had a smile on her face only because the grandchildren were in the room with balloons and cards to celebrate her birthday.] 



* Helen has been medically supervised, via phone consultations, by Jay Benson, D.O. Dr. Benson is board certified in family medicine, specializing in nutritional medicine, and sees patients at Dr. Fuhrman’s Medical Associates in 19126, New Jersey. 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Augie

It’s not everyday that one is introduced to a legend, but today you are about to meet one. His name is Augie, and when he was celebrating his eightieth birthday two years ago, he was glad that he'd made the conscious decision, more than a decade earlier, to make health and fitness a goal for his retirement years.  Augie ran his first marathon two days after turning 70, and ended up running twenty-nine marathons by his eightieth birthday; including running in the Boston Marathon three times. It was during that time that he also started researching nutrition in earnest, and started following Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations as outlined in Eat to Live. Just two weeks ago, at the age of 82, Augie finished his first 50K run (31 miles) in Florida! Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Augie.


Tell us about your recent 50K.

The 50K was a heat endurance event, because it was a sunny, 83 degree day in Florida. The aid stations were about 4 to 5 miles apart, and I drank a bottle of water between each one. By the 9.5 mile mark I was feeling the beginning symptoms of heat exhaustion so I put six ice cubes in a zip lock bag and placed it on top of my head; holding it in place with my cap. I refilled these ice bags at each station. 

I was doing a 1:1 run/walk pace pretty much all the way to the 26 mile aid station, the marathon distance. (Strangely, at this point I felt like I was at mile 20 of a marathon.) From there I went to 30-40 second running surges interspersed with 90 second walks to the finish line. My time was 7:33:22; and there were only 59 of us at the start. 

Now I can say that I’ve completed a total of 40 marathons and beyond, (eleven marathons since age 80); plus, twenty-two, half marathons and many 5K’s to 20K’s. Hopefully I’ll still be in good condition to run a 50K again next year.


Do most know your age at these events?

 Ha, that question makes me chuckle. The 70+ age division runners are very competitive. Many times, before, and even during a race, a runner will come up along side me and ask my age. When I tell them, they are relieved, because I’m not in their age group for awards. Most times I’m 1st place out of one entrant in the 80+ age group.


How far do you run/walk daily to train?

My goal is to average 18 miles per week, and I’ve done this for the past twelve years. I run no more than 3 to 4 days per week, because longer distances provide better training than frequent, shorter ones; plus, rest days are just as important as running days.


Tell us about your nutritarian journey.

My dad died at age 84 from colon cancer, and I watched him slowly fade away for two years. He was a heavy steak and potato eater, and I was following the same path. I knew that eating beef was his problem, although I didn’t do anything to change my own eating habits for several more years. However, it planted the seed to change, because deep within I knew there was a better way. It wasn’t until I retired that I decided to make health and fitness, instead of golf, my retirement hobby. I researched several books before discovering Eat to Live seven years ago, and I was convinced that it was the best of the best. I’ve read it at least ten times since.

I’m 5’ 6.5”, and my weight at age 70 was 166 lbs. (I’ve never had any health issues or taken any medications.) I dropped to 150 lbs by age 75; and then after I started following Eat to Live, I lost another ten pounds over a two year period of time. Today, at age 82, I’ve maintained 140 lbs for the past five years. 

In the beginning I had severe withdrawal symptoms from comfort foods and salt, and that detox time was like going through boot camp. However, the discomfort was short lived, and now I'm thoroughly enjoying my 80’s. My priorities, as always, are family, travel and fitness. (This coming June I will celebrate 56 years of marriage to my dear wife, Josie.) I hope you all don't mind me tooting my own horn, but I think Eat to Live has been a big part in being able to do what I've done. It’s never too late to start eating for health!


What do you eat the day before and the day of a race?

In my early marathons I was brainwashed into needing a pasta dinner the day before. As the years went by, and now with the experience of 40 marathons and beyond, I find that my normal meals are sufficient; although I eat a larger portion, eat earlier, and go to bed earlier the evening before. For me, the breakfast that morning is far more important and lasting into the marathon: a bowl of rolled oats that soaked overnight in pomegranate juice with a handful of frozen blueberries and a banana. It’s very filling and lasting. 

During a marathon I’ve experimented with everything. I’ve finally settled on Medjool dates, pitted and individually wrapped in wax paper. I wear a fanny pack with a water bottle holder, my supply of dates, a cell phone, napkins, and band aids for emergencies. I’ve found 8 to 10 dates to be plenty, and I drink plenty of water.


What are your success tips for nutritarian eating?

To be successful, you must have a deep passion, reason or goal to be healthy; and a firm belief that you will see results to get through the initial detox stage. If you follow Eat to Live, you’ll be guaranteed to see results. Today, to maintain the nutritarian eating-style, I continually remind myself, “I don’t want the health problems that my friends have who eat the standard American diet.”


What advice do you have to become more physically active?

When I started running I had no idea where it would lead; I only knew that aerobic training was necessary. I started running at age 68 and gradually worked up to running three miles at a time. I had a dream goal to run a marathon to celebrate my 70th birthday. (I’ve read that we are all capable of achieving seemingly unattainable goals.) When I achieved that goal, and experienced the thrill of accomplishing something that I didn’t think I could do, it moved me to set other goals. 

  1. Find a passion.

  2. Set a dream goal that stretches your limits.

  3. Push and challenge yourself to successfully achieve that goal.

  4. Go for it!


 Thank you Augie for setting a high standard of “senior achievement” for all of us to aspire to ~ what a great inspiration you are for our retirement years ahead!

Interview with a Nutritarian: Susan

The most wonderful benefit of nutritarian eating is that it helps all ages and body sizes, from normal weight to morbidly obese get optimal health restored. Susan, a mother of seven, grandmother of 47, and great-grandmother of eight (and two more on the way!) is no exception. To meet her in person is a real treat, because she’s the epitome of youthful vitality even though she’s in her elderly years. Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Susan.


female nutritarianWhat was your life like before discovering Eat to Live?

I'm 77-years-old, and my cholesterol was over 250 in October 2008 so I decided I must do something to bring it down. I was never overweight, but I was starting to have shortness of breath after climbing steps.  One of my son-in-laws was also having difficulty with his cholesterol so in December of that year, he and I started following Eat to LIve. [We had both learned about Eat to Live from my daughter-in-law who forwarded an email from you about the fantastic results you were experiencing from following it.]


How do you feel now?

After just a couple of months following Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations I no longer had the shortness of breath, and I started losing weight.  I am 5' 6" and weighed about 135 lbs when I started so I didn't anticipate that I would lose much weight. However, within five months I was down to 118 lbs. and have stayed about that weight ever since.  I’d never had a pair of jeans before, because I didn't think I would like the way I'd look in them; but after losing the weight from my hips I bought my first pair at the age of 75!


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

I have a smoothie that includes spinach nearly every morning, and at least five days a week I have vegetable soup for one of my meals.  I make large batches of soup and always have at least a half dozen containers of soup in the freezer at all times.


In a nutshell what has nutritarian eating done for you? 

When I had my cholesterol checked this past October it was down to 175.  My HDL was fairly high at 71, and my TC/HDL ratio was 2.5; which is very good.   Previously I had some problems with aches and pains, but they are totally gone now.

 I feel better now than I did ten or even fifteen years ago!

family field day

The picture above is Susan's family (minus ten members plus several new babies that have been born since it was taken.)  What an awesome clan!  We are so happy that she's feeling her best to fully enjoy many more quality years ahead with all of them! 


[Susan's son-in-law, Rod, was interviewed last year on Onlyourhealth.  Click here to read his story.]

Avandia Linked to Congestive Heart Failure and Death

In 2007 researchers believed the diabetes drug Avandia might triple heart risks. And now they know for sure! A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine reveals elderly diabetics taking rosiglitazone, the other name for Avandia, were more likely to suffer congestive heart failure and more likely to die; The New York Times reports.