The Chocolate Bar in the Health Food Aisle

The New York Times has a big story in today's business section about a candy bar from Mars that is dressed up with some supplements to allegedly be something we should all eat two of every day to keep our hearts healthy.

I'm not a scientist (or a doctor--as you'll see at the top of the post, this is Henry writing, not Dr. Fuhrman), but I'm just betting that if this product went head to head with something low-tech like apples in long-term trials, the apples would win hands down.

Or, to put it another way, if your primary concern is defeating heart disease, it's hard to imagine what kind of research you'd do to end up with a candy bar, a product that is famously comprised of dairy fat and refined sugar. On the other hand, if your primary concern is selling chocolate bars...

A blog called "Jeff's blog" has some funny perspective on the new product, which is called "CocoaVia."

"Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the world, and chocolate is the No. 1 favorite ingredient in the world," said Jim Cass, Mars's vice president of marketing. "When you put those two giant macro trends together, we know this is a big idea."

...I can just imagine the boardroom meeting that launched this. 12 suits sitting around looking at different charts. Too bad they didn't try to make a hybrid-SUV with chocolate steering wheels.

Dr. Fuhrman Discusses Eat to Live

This spring, Dr. Fuhrman was interviewed by Marshall Glickman of Green Living Journal. The conversation gives an overview of the unique equation that underlies Dr. Fuhrman's approach (health = nutrition/calories), touches on the social challenges of healthy eating, and concludes with some meaningful news for those concerned about heart disease. With Mr. Glickman's permission, here is some of their conversation:

Thanks so much for the chance to ask you some questions, and especially for the huge amount of hours you've put into research. It seems hard to disagree with the formula Health = Nutrients/Calories. Can you flesh out your approach a bit, with a quick summary of what you advocate in Eat to Live?
Sure. There are a few points that together make the H = N/C approach unique. One is the concept of nutrient density; that is, as you start to meet the body's nutrient needs, it desires less food. This mean we're not going to crave food as much or want to eat as often.

Another is that when you eat foods that have toxic properties or that aren't healthy for you, they create addictive withdrawal symptoms once you stop eating them. Since those addictive withdrawal symptoms are relieved by frequent eating, they drive people to eat more frequently than is necessary. For example, if you stop drinking coffee, you get headaches. You can get rid of the headaches by breaking the caffeine habit or by drinking more coffee. Likewise, a diet that contains processed foods and trans fats, lots of saturated fats and plenty of salt is relatively toxic, and when you stop eating for a few hours, you start to feel lousy. Weakness, achiness, abdominal spasms, and headaches are not symptoms of true hunger. Like thirst, true hunger is felt in the throat, not the stomach. So the point is, in order to stop the addictive drives and perverted cravings that lead to compromised health and our current obesity epidemic, we must restore nutritional excellence. This puts people back in touch with the amount of calories they actually need. Dieting doesn't work because you are always fighting your addictive sensations.

Restoring nutritional excellence not only improves health, drops weight, and lowers cholesterol, once the perverted food cravings and addictions are gone, you can make appropriate connections between the body's natural signals--directing you to the right amount of calories needed to maintain an ideal weight. Otherwise, dieting becomes a guessing game of how much food to eat, measuring of calories, walking around starving all the time, and fighting against the natural drive to eat.

The third point is taste. As you start to eat more healthfully in a nutrient-dense diet, your taste adjusts itself so that you actually get more pleasure from eating, not less. That's why I say this is a knowledge-based system. You need to know that giving up some of your favorite, unhealthy foods requires only a temporary loss, but after a while you'll actually like this way of eating as much or more than your old way. When you're eating food that tastes good and aren't restricted on the quantity, you don't feel deprived.

Continue Reading...

Diet-Sensitive Chronic Diseases are Top Global Killers

Shaoni Bhattacharya of the news service passes along news of a major new report of the World Health Organization, which says chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are causing far more deaths around the globe than all other causes combined.

By the end of 2005, twice as many people will have died from chronic diseases as from all infectious diseases, starvation and pregnancy and birth complications combined, international experts have warned.

The "neglected epidemic" of chronic disease will take 35 million lives in 2005, out of the total 58 million who will die globally. And contrary to popular belief, most of the deaths - 80% - from chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer will be in low to middle-income countries.

The two factors behind this epidemic are smoking and obesity, says Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, in a commentary accompanying four studies published on Wednesday. "These risks and the diseases they engender are not the exclusive preserve of rich nations."

If action is taken now, 36 million lives could be saved by 2015, says a major World Health Organization (WHO) report on chronic diseases also published on Wednesday.

If you poke around a bit, you'll see that Dr. Fuhrman has had a lot of success treating and preventing these exact same chronic diseases with a healthy diet. This "silent epidemic" is a terrible thing. The only good news: as the WHO acknowledges, we already have the knowledge we need to reverse the epidemic. It's just a question of spreading the word and putting what we know into practice.