Eat for Health

Reviewed by John, Suppers member

Dr. Joel Fuhrman's books have been life changing for me. These are my notes taken from his book, Eat For Health, which explains how to incorporate the principles from his earlier book, Eat To Live (2003), and includes some new information. 

What I like about Dr. Fuhrman is that he is a data-analysis guy. Fuhrman has studied over 20,000 journal articles on nutrition. His recommendations are not based on one study, but on thousands of studies. Out of this collected wisdom, vetted on thousands of patients over decades, he has simplified what he has learned.

The Problem

Refined foods cause us to be malnourished in direct proportion to how much we consume them. Americans are severely malnourished and because of this, they cannot control cravings and overeat. There is a lot of nutritional ignorance out there. Eighty years ago there was ignorance regarding how bad smoking was for you. Today, there is ignorance regarding how bad refined and processed food is for you. People would not let their children sit around the table smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey, but it is socially acceptable to let them consume soda, fries, cheeseburgers, doughnuts, cookies, chips and candy on a daily basis. People don't understand the insidious, slow destruction of health that occurs when one consumes junk foods.

Our palates have been hijacked by food manufacturers peddling processed foods full of sweeteners and artificially concentrated flavors. An important hurdle to achieving excellent health is getting rid of your addictions to toxic foods. When that occurs you will free yourself from unnecessary pain and suffering.

We are living among an addicted population of compulsive eaters, creating sickly individuals. Eat and live like most Americans and you will eventually suffer from an assortment of ailments, like most Americans. Many times, visiting traditional doctors for chronic diseases only gives you symptomatic relief but the root causes are left unaddressed. The majority of doctors have no experience treating disease naturally with nutritional excellence. Too many people are unaware that many illnesses are self-induced and can be reversed with aggressive nutritional methods. 

Dr. Fuhrman writes that there is nothing preprogrammed in the human genome that says as people get older they automatically get over weight and have high blood pressure. They are getting high blood pressure because their diets are calorie rich and nutrient poor. They are eating processed foods and too much salt, and they are avoiding physical exercise. Nutrition and lifestyle are more significant determinants of your health than genetics and age. 

Whole, natural foods are highly complex; a tomato, for example, contains more than 10,000 different phytonutrients. Many phytonutrients are just now being discovered and named, so it is unlikely that we can extract the precise symphony of nutrients found in vegetation and place it all in a pill. The healing power of man-made pills can't compare to the power of natural, whole foods.

The Good News   

Modern nutritional science can work miracles. The right foods have miraculous powers to prevent and reverse what are conventionally considered incurable, chronic diseases. Do not underestimate the tremendous self-healing power of the human body once nutritional excellence is put into place and stresses are minimized. The longest lived populations had a diet rich in vegetables and very low in animal products. Flood your body with nutrient rich foods and you will see amazing results. With nutritional excellence, patients with acne, allergies, asthma, reflux, migraines, heart disease, cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and many more diseases have made dramatic recoveries! Eat high-nutrient foods combined with exercise and Dr. Fuhrman says you should stay healthy and active into your 90s!  

Dr. Fuhrman offers these tips for choosing, cooking and eating food:  

  • Try natural methods before resigning yourself to a life of dangerous medications and progressively worsening disease and suffering. Eat a whole food diet rich in vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, and seeds with an emphasis on green vegetables. 
  • A general rule of thumb: The closer food is to its natural state, the healthier it is.
  • Salads, soups, smoothies and sorbets are the main components of the food plan (just think of the four "S's").
  • G-BOMBS is an acronym to remember: It stands for Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds, which are the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet; they're extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity.
  • One of the core tenets of nutritarianism is being plant strong by eating 16 ounces of raw vegetables (e.g., a salad) and another 16 ounces of cooked vegetables each day.  
  • Don't overcook vegetables -  they should have a little crunch.
  • Good choices for grains are buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, and brown and wild rices.
  • Don't snack between meals so your body can rest and repair. The healthier you eat, the less you crave snacks.
  • Chew, chew, chew. Chew your food well. Wait until food is completely in your stomach before taking another bite. It is important to eat slowly. Really enjoy the look, smell, texture and taste of food, and savor it!
  • Stop eating before you are full. Also, stop eating three hours before bed so your body can rest and repair all night long.
  • Cold turkey is the most effective way to stop eating junk food. If you cheat it will keep you hooked. One of the most important steps in healthy living is to eliminate temptation by getting rid of all unhealthy foods in your kitchen.
  • Plan ahead: Pre-fill with high nutrient foods before going places that may tempt you to eat junk. Never go to an event or party with an empty stomach. 
  • Exercise. Work out at least four times per week.

Dr. Furhman recommends we avoid: 

  • Sugar: The more you eat low-nutrient foods, the more hypoglycemic cravings you will have. Sugar is extremely inflammatory.  
  • Salt: Eventually 90% of people who are on the Standard American Diet (SAD) will develop high blood pressure, and salt contributes to osteoporosis.
  • Saturated fat (cheese), red meat, trans fats and processed oils lead to artery disease, dementia, stroke and cancer. Get healthy fats from seeds, nuts and avocados.
  • Processed food such as chips, crackers, cereals, bread and pasta all are low-nutrient foods and therefore should be avoided.
  • Carbohydrates should come mostly from fresh fruit, squashes, carrots, peas, and beans and NOT from bread or pasta. Pasta and bread are not health food – they are "hurt" food. “The whiter the bread the sooner you’re dead!”
  • With bread specifically, do not eat brown bread crust because it contains carcinogenic advanced glycation end products.

Dr. Fuhrman’s notes on protein:

  • Too many animal products promote cancer and also cause osteoporosis. Only 10% of the diet should be animal protein. Use animal products primarily as condiments –- to add flavor -- not as the main dish. 
  • Avoid red meat, processed, salted, barbecued and blackened meats entirely.
  • Baking, frying, barbecuing, browning and other high-heat cooking methods that brown and damage food form acrylamides, which are carcinogenic. Cooking techniques like steaming, soup making or stewing in a pressure cooker do not have these drawbacks. They do not brown foods or form acrylamides.
  • Regarding seafood, it's a double-edged sword because it has health benefits when clean, but it's also one of the most polluted foods. Some of the less polluted seafood are flounder, haddock, tilapia, trout, shrimp, sole and scallops. Eat seafood no more than once a week.

Dr. Furhman’s notes on the psychology of changing habits:  

  • People eat poorly for emotional comfort, to dull the pain and dissatisfaction of life. But like other addictions, it is a fleeting pleasure. It is never a long term solution and only winds up complicating things further. 
  • The solution to emotional eating is to replace junk food with healthy outlets that offer comfort in healthy ways (e.g., music, walks, relationships, gardening, etc).
  • Hang with healthy people because habits are contagious. It is important to build a support group of other like-minded people living a healthy life. With planning and support you can overcome any challenge. Never give up. The only failure is to stop trying!
  • Before people change their behavior, they have to first change the way they think. For example, when tempted to eat junk food, instead of thinking of it as a treat, think of it as toxic poison that will cause you pain and suffering. Also, when you don't feel like eating your vegetables or exercising, think of the long-term benefits of looking younger, increased energy, and increased mental sharpness. Studies show long lived people ate a lot of vegetables, were slim, optimistic, had a supportive social network, and were physically active.

Conclusion

You can prevent many diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and dementia. Prevention is easier than treatment. Don't wait to dig a well until after the house is on fire. Start today. Your health is your greatest wealth! Take control of your nutrition and be rewarded with mental clarity, a younger appearance, and youthful vigor! Give it time. To see the full remarkable results, it will three months. Remember: Health equals nutrients per calories. Get lots of nutrient bang for each caloric buck.