Eating for Optimal Health

My Notes from the Food Revolution Summit

Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Eating for Optimal Health

I went to medical school thirty years ago with the intention of being a physician specializing in nutritional medicine using nutritional excellence as a foundation for my medical career, so I attended medical school with that already in mind. I remember thinking when I was a teenager and my young twenties how ridiculous it seemed to be like a physician where people are abusing themselves with their lifestyle predominately with food. Then their going to doctors to get drugs that we know are toxic and put poisons and toxins into the body that’s already been hurt and poisoned by the bad diet how could that lead to wellness and good health. I really tried to go to medical school to try to make things different, to do things differently and offer a different alternative for people it’s been tremendously rewarding. I’ve seen over the last thirty years so many doctors that are dissatisfied with their career and that their not happy seeing people get sicker and sicker and require more medications and not feeling like their healers and really helping people. When your young in medical school were all idealistic we felt we could help people and then these doctors come out and realize their not getting results and their patients aren’t getting better their just prescribing one drug after another. Actually the more we investigate and see the studies come out in recent years we find out that most of what doctors do to treat chronic diseases doesn’t really help much and it many cases make things worse. We are talking about giving people medications for blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol sending them to cardiologists or interventionists for angioplasty or bypass surgery. Were finding out that nutrition works so much more effectively at giving the people the option, the opportunity to get well. I say that without the knowledge and the real education of how futile some of the medications are and a really true in depth look at their side effects until the patient understands the limitations of these procedures and what doctors do their really not getting adequate informed consent to make a decision as to what they should do. That leads many to think that drugs and surgeries can do more than they really can do for people and it’s a disservice to people, the patient winds up unsatisfied the doctor is unsatisfied. Were seeing a small change here because I see everyday more and more physicians moving and incorporating nutrition more into their practice and realizing that teaching and motivating patients is the way to go.

The conventional approach to disease that most common diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, it doesn’t work very well. Those people deteriorate and regress and eventually die of heart disease still the number one cause of death in America. We don’t have an effective solution for the cancer epidemic, nutrition and the modern advances in nutritional science is the real answer and it’s also the answer for most of the chronic conditions including autoimmune conditions that it’s very effective for. In my twenty five years as a physician has demonstrated that nutritional interventions are not only safer but there more effective, they work and the population deserves to know this. The basic principals of the nutritarian approach that I utilize to get the beneficial response there are four principals that I use. Number one is that I want people to eat a diet that is high in micronutrients, especially high in micronutrients per calorie also referred to as nutrient density. To do that you have to eat food that have a high level of naturally occurring micronutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants like green vegetables, berries, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes we want people to eat high nutrient natural foods. We want them to reduce or eliminate foods that are empty calories, that give us calories with no significant nutrient load. People should be aware and I think they are aware that processed foods and highly refined foods like white sugar, white flour, agave nectar, oils, white flour pasta, soda, chips, crackers, cookies, breakfast bars, breakfast cereal are highly processed low nutrient density calorie foods that have to be eliminated or reduced if we want to have excellent health.

The second principle I call comprehensive nutrient adequacy CNA and that means we can’t have a person eating just kale, broccoli and tomatoes and think their going to have great health because they may not get the broad spectrum of nutrients that people require for health. The diet may be nutrient rich but there weaknesses can occur from not getting everything that humans need they could be low in vitamin D, iodine, zinc, DHA so were making sure that people have an adequate amount of everything they need. These individual requirements may differ from person to person so sometimes a blood test can help us evaluate whether a person needs more of something or something else. The second thing is CNA means make sure were not missing anything we need. The third thing is our diet must be hormonally favorable that means that we don’t want to eat a diet that has a high glycemic load that could raise our insulin response because insulin doesn’t just cause us to gain weight it raises our risk of cancer. It’s angiogenesis promoting which means it promotes the growth of blood vessels that can fuel the fat on the body that can also fuel cancer growth. Also high levels of insulin and high glycemic foods have other problems associated with them like promoting advanced glycation end products and promoting cellular replication and in other words it’s hormonally unfavorable for both cardiovascular disease, cancer and aging.

Another hormone we want in a relatively low range is IGF1 which stands for insulin growth factor one, for a diet to be hormonally favorable it has to be relatively low in protein, particularly animal protein, because plant protein does not elevate IGF1 into unfavorable ranges as do animal proteins. With excessive amounts of IGF1 it impairs the ability of the cell to repair DNA damage that can lead to cancer. The forth principal is easy it just means avoid foods that are high in toxins, toxins could be chemicals or infectious agents, parasites, microbes that could be harmful, avoid things that have harmful elements in them that’s pretty obvious. We don’t want to take in food that may have some kind of parasite in it, we don’t want to eat foods that are chemically contaminated. For example a person may go out to eat to a restaurant and they go what can I eat here looking at the choices and they think I’ll get the salmon that’s probably the healthiest form of animal protein. Their not recognizing that commercially raised, farm raised salmon usually has ten times the PCB’s and dioxin levels compared to other products and we have to consider that. That’s an element that can throw a monkey wrench into someone’s health not realizing their exposing themselves to toxic elements and disease causing agents.

I have to say I don’t have a particular predetermined agenda or any anything I’m just trying to go with the evidence the preponderance of evidence. I know people like to get instantaneous results they like to see the fat fall off their body their muscles increase, look if something can do something to you that quickly it’s having a pharmacological effect you don’t get something for nothing without paying a price. The bottom line is we have to keep two things in mind number one is when they do these studies they track people for many years, we have to follow people usually for more than ten years and as it goes from 15-20 years it’s going to have even better results to see if it’s safe or not and we have to have a lot of people in the study too. Let’s look at the data from studies that do have a lot of people in them and tract them adequately and see what the results show. There is a study that followed 6,000 people it was published in the medical journal Cell Metabolism 2014 and they followed them for eighteen years. These people in the 50-65 age range over the eighteen years had a four fold increase in cancer death comparing people who ate about 25% of calories from animal protein compared to those that had less than 10%. Another study followed 43,000 women for fifteen years and noted for the very large study of participants. They rated these people on whether they were on a very high protein diet or a very low protein diet and all the people followed for the fifteen years were all were recommended that they didn’t eat a high sugar diet. Those that had a low carb high protein score they adhered better and they found a 60% increased cardiovascular deaths so it was consistent, it was gradual increasing risk and their conclusion was it was dangerous.

The next study that followed 85,000 women and 4,400 men for twenty years also published in the last few years, were talking about following more than 125,000 people for an average of twenty six years, showing more than a 23% increase of death from high animal protein for all diseases. The only fly in the ointment that a person can be critical of is well their not looking at people over the age of seventy who are already starting to get frail and less muscle utilization of tissue and those people weren’t followed for twenty years. If those people when their starting to get older starting to get frail losing some muscle tissue at that point maybe giving them more animal protein and even more hormones may have some beneficial effect on longevity. There is some indication in the scientific literature that elderly frail people do benefit from higher protein in their diet and could even benefit from growth hormone. My findings and findings from epidemiological studies show that if you eat healthy, were talking about the nutritarian approach which is high in micronutrients high nutrients in plant foods green, beans, nuts and seeds. Were trying to get more protein than the normal nutritarian diet already recommends it’s very protein favorable. Were favoring plant protein over animal protein for many different reasons and were noting that the 70-85 year olds aren’t becoming frail, their not losing muscle mass, their not losing athletic performance. They can’t be equated with the 75 year old that’s been on the American diet who’s getting frail and their body is degenerating more rapidly and degenerating. I would think that even in those cases you wouldn’t need to push the protein higher as their aging because their not aging as rapidly and getting the same effects as a person whose eating more of the standard diet.

The point here is were talking about dark green vegetables, were finding out more and more scientific literature in the last ten years the advances in nutritional science are showing our immune system is intimately associated with the consumption of green vegetables. Without adequate intake of green vegetables we cannot have a normal immune system, the green vegetables also accelerate repair mechanisms. That helps reverse arteriosclerosis if you have eaten poorly for the first half of your life and they also prevent arteriosclerosis from developing more effectively than other foods. When I talk about GBOMBS in general that is greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds I’m identifying that some natural plant foods have more powerful anti-cancer effects than others do. A guy whose eating a lot of plant food they think their not going to get cancer and they probably won’t but if you want the most protection were finding out from the scientific literature that some foods are more protective than others. They want people to be aware and to get those foods into the diet to get maximum protection. That’s where a nutrient light shines giving people a way of eating that’s going to maximize the disease reversal tendencies to not just lower the risk of getting disease but actually reverse the disease. To get well from their asthma to get rid of their fibromyalgia, lupus or psoriasis to help them really reverse heart disease most effectively to get rid of their type 2 diabetes so they don’t need medication at all. Not just improve it but get rid of it and to really maximize the reduction in cancer rates even if the person hadn’t eaten so healthily in the first half of their life. So they know it is helpful to have some raw cruciferous vegetables everyday and it is helpful to have some raw onion everyday, eating seeds like flax and chia seeds is important and eating berries on a regular basis, pomegranate to get those polyphenols is important.

In other words were helping people develop a diet that’s more therapeutically effective and can also push the envelope of human longevity. These things do make a difference because food is the best medicine, for example even a recent study that came out about flax seed showed that taking in flax seeds just on a standard diet when the person was given thirty grams of flax seed a day his blood pressure was high and it lowered it by sixteen points in six months just on the flax seeds. My recent survey of a few thousand people who follow my program found that the average person that had a high blood pressure we tracked them over years that their systemic blood pressure lowered 25 points and that was while their medications were being removed and taken off. Were saying that the average blood pressure medication lowers your blood pressure like 5-7 points compared to flax that’s more effective, diet style is much more effective. Some of these medications obviously have an increased risk of breast cancer and increase your risk of having falls were talking about all types of needless risks their not as effective. With the question of efficacy, safety and obviously long term good health it’s all in favor of eating right and excellent nutrition, not just good nutrition.

I think cancer rates would drop more than 95%, the reason I can say 95% is if we compare the cancer rates in the country today compared to the cancer rates in more primitive societies we have some records on. Even the cancer rates in societies from 30-40 years ago from Mozambique or Costa Rica or even South Korea or areas of Northern India were talking about areas of the world that are eating differently than us. We can compare cancer rates of various populations, if we look at populations around the world the populations that there are whole countries with 90% lower breast cancer rates than we see here in America today. And their not eating so perfectly but they did eat their traditional diet most of their lives and that’s why they have lower rates. When we follow these countries over the years, I even have data from the 1970’s in South Korea when they had an 80% less breast cancer than we have in this country today. I tracked their diet over those years and found they still have less but their breast cancer rates went up 500% when they added more oil, sugar and animal products in their diet. The point is it’s not radical me making an unsupported claim to say that we could reduce cancer rates by 95% if these countries weren’t eating so well or perfectly can have 95% lower cancer rates than we have right now.

These people who are saying it’s luck, there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s mostly genetics that’s not what the literature or studies suggest. Then if we compare that with the people that are high consumers of green vegetables, look at those studies of people that eat more nuts and seeds or flax seeds, studies of people who are even have breast cancer. A study with women who ate more lignans had a 71% decrease of death from breast cancer from women who were already diagnosed with breast cancer that they followed for ten years who had some lignans in their diet compared to those that had no lignans in their diet. The point is I think I can make this argument with sound logic and sufficient evidence that it’s not unreasonable that we could win the war on cancer, easily wipe out 90% most probably if we started early in life starting as a child through adulthood we certainly could wipe out 95% of the cancers in this country.

Food is tremendously addicting and people always come up with rationalizations and excuses why it’s too late for them, they don’t like the taste, they travel too much, they have failed in the past. They have all these rationalizations and I think those thoughts are mostly the delusional part of the brain the self defeating part of the brain talking because it is dreadful to change and the body wants to reduce stress and anxiety. Part of the brain want the status quo it doesn’t want the discomfort of retraining taste buds or learning to cook a new way or getting rid of food addictions, they mostly want to give up and keep all their bad habits. I don’t consider that a legitimate argument when you switch to a healthy diet your risks drop tremendously and that’s more of a reason to advocate what I do. There’s a million other doctors that have different viewpoints and different diet books, different recommendations and I’m looking at those and I’m going yes I guess their appealing to a broader audience. They want to give people what they want to eat and my approach is to start on the opposite end. I don’t start with what people want to eat, want to hear, what will sell the most books, I want to start with what’s the gold standard to maximize lifespan and therapeutic effectiveness.

Now we can say how can we get the best chefs and scientists and make the healthiest diet taste great and make people love it and the answer is yes people love eating this way. Millions of people love eating this way, they develop a taste for it and it makes them feel good they enjoy eating tasty food that they know is good for them too. Were going to live without fear and know that we are in control of our health destiny without medical interventions, you can’t buy good health with better health care coverage. We know that were responsible for our own health outcomes not pills, not medicines and not surgeries, frankly I want to avoid being tortures and having surgeries, medications,  treatments, having limbs and body parts cut apart and cut open, having tubes put in orifices of your body. It’s a much more peaceful life to take care of your own health and protect yourself as opposed to putting yourself in the medical profession. Just think of all the fear people have especially women who have all the testing and fear about cancer. I think that we can expect to have dramatic benefits even if we start later in life, even if those benefits are not absolute.

When it comes to the way manufacturers make the food addictive even though people are somewhat aware their not aware of the extent of the damage that’s really going on otherwise they would put up more of a fight. People are so protective of their sugar and their junk food because these foods are addictive and deadly and they do effect drug centers in the brain like dopamine. Not only that they create tremendous withdrawal symptoms that make us want to go out and grab more food and we’ve got to overeat. They make it so that it’s impossible to maintain your normal weight and how you eventually develop heart disease, cancer and other problems later in life if you eat these foods on a regular basis. I think that part is becoming more generally accepted by people but people don’t know the relation between processed food, fast food, junk food and depression. There’s a dose dependent relationship, people who eat fast food twice a week have double the rate of depression. And people don’t know about the link between processed foods and aggressive behavior, they don’t know there’s a link between processed foods and low nutrient intake and aggressive to criminal behavior. And people in prison don’t know the link between poor success in school and intellectual ability, success on the job, happiness in life, satisfied life with your family. Were talking about food as an addiction and processed food being highly palatable and highly addictive. That these foods are tearing at the core of our American society, ruining families, ruining lives, creating a high rate of childhood cancers, tremendously destructive when you look what’s the potential that would be available to modern society with modern advances without all these foods.

I’m writing a book on this that’s going to be called fast food genocide, it talks about how destructive these foods are for the fabric of our society in all different aspects. How it effects children, how it keeps certain people in poverty, it causes our brains to not be nourished not allowing people to reach their full potential in life because of bad food. When you eat processed foods like french fries and ice cream your not just getting the high sugar load your also getting the high oil load, high salt load, your taking in MSG there’s a whole mixture of vile chemical events that happens in the body that cause disease and magnifies the negativity of a higher glucose load. You can minimize the negativity of foods by having healthier factors in the diet but the point of it is when you do good things together it magnifies the benefits and doing bad things together magnifies their negatives. At some point in this process we have to get adults to say no were not going to have these foods in our house, were not going to these fast food restaurants, were not going to have processed sugars and flour anymore. We have to get our population informed and stop perpetuating this cycle of negativity.

Dr. Fuhrman web page


Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher


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