Health Points: Thursday

  • The AFP examines other explanations for the global obesity epidemic. Would you believe some experts blame air conditioning for our bloated sizes? Richard Ingham reports:
    Air conditioning, which establishes a comfortable temperature zone. In temperatures above this zone, people eat less. The rise in number of air-conditioned homes in the United States virtually mirrors the increase in the US obesity rate.
  • Healthday reporter Ed Edelson explains a new study links antioxidants to preventing kidney damage:
    The Italian study, done at the University of Milan, included 354 patients who underwent the artery-opening procedure called angioplasty after having heart attacks. One-third of them were not given acetylcysteine; one-third got what the doctors called a standard dose, a 600-milligram intravenous injection before the procedure and 2,400 milligrams in the following two days; and the other third got twice that dose.

    Kidney function is tested by measuring blood levels of creatinine, a breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle. Creatinine levels go up as kidney function goes down.

    Among study participants, creatinine levels increased in 33 percent of patients who did not get acetylcysteine, in 15 percent of those getting the standard dose and in 8 percent of those who got the double dose, the researchers reported.

    And 13 of those patients not getting acetylcysteine died in the hospital, while the death rate was lower for those who got the medication -- five of those getting the standard dose and three of those getting the larger dose.

  • Some nutritionists are concerned about athletes' cavalier approach to sports drinks. New York Times reporter Kim Severson explains:

    For some athletes, an energy drink laced with stimulants from various sources can cause problems because it is almost impossible to know how much stimulant actually is in each drink, Mr. Ellis said. Drinking too much can produce a false sense of well-being.


    "They help blunt your perception of pain," he said. "That might be good in the short term, but the bad news is if you don't feel the fatigue in a hot, humid environment, your body won't make you slow down to minimize overheating. Exertional heatstroke is a real possibility."

    Athletes who rely on energy drinks can begin an addictive cycle.

  • Over the past week secondhand smoke has been getting a lot of press. Julie's Health Club shares her experiences growing up with a smoker:

    My father, bless his heart, smoked three packs a day while I was growing up, and I have vivid memories of long road trips with the car windows rolled up. It was such a part of his life that when we joined the YMCA Indian Princesses program, I suggested he take the name of "Big Smoke" and I, naturally, would be "Little Smoke."


    In college, I lived in a cramped dorm room with two roommates, including one smoker. So for the first 21 years of my life, I probably inhaled secondhand smoke on a daily basis.

    What can I do now to undo the damage?

  • Now, not like an Eat to Liver would be caught dead in a Jack in the Box, but the franchise has just added two healthy options to its menu. Fast Food News reports:

    Jack in the Box has added a fruit cup and bottled water to their menu this summer.


    The fruit cup is a 7-ounce serving of cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and red grapes served in a sealed cup.

    "When the summer heat kicks in, consumers crave something that tastes light and refreshing," said Teka O'Rourke, director of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box.

Fish: Pollution Risks

Today, almost all current nutritional advice includes fish as a cornerstone of a healthful diet. But my recommendations are slightly different from those of other respected health authorities. While the differences may seem minor, they are significant, and I contend that they will make it possible for you to achieve extraordinarily good health and an extraordinarily long life span.

Fish: a mixed bag
Fish and shellfish contain high concentrations of protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain the valuable omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. These food factors are thought to contribute to heart health and to children's proper growth and development (there is overwhelming evidence confirming the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids), which is why fish and shellfish are considered to be an important part of a well-balanced diet. Unfortunately, in addition to EPA and DHA, nearly all fish and shellfish contain mercury and other pollutants. Since these toxins in fish have potential health risks, wouldn't it make sense to look for a cleaner, safer source for our omega-3 fats?

Fish polluted with mercury
Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of methylmercury. Mercury accumulates in fish when polluted water is filtered through their gills. The longer a fish lives, the more the mercury accumulates. Large fish eat small fish and accumulate all of the mercury that was in the small fish. Over a lifetime, this mounts up exponentially. Likewise, our tissues accumulate the mercury of all of the fish we eat throughout our lifetimes.

Authorities could warn us not to eat species of fish that contain high amounts of mercury. Instead, they warn us not to eat them too often, based on the misguided notion that the benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential harm from the exposure to mercury.

It has been demonstrated conclusively that fish contain enough mercury to harm an unborn baby or harm a young child's developing nervous system. Since the risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish and the amount of fish and shellfish eaten, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types offish and only eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

The advice given by governmental authorities includes:

1. Never eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

2. Check local advisories about the safety of eating local fish caught by family and friends in local rivers and coastal waterways. If unsure, don't eat more than six ounces at a meal, and do not eat any other fish during that week.

EPA makes recommendations for what it considers an acceptable level of mercury in a pregnant woman's body. As the recognition that mercury damages the brains of our children has increased in the last two decades, EPA has had to lower the "acceptable" level more than once.

I have been telling patients for years that if something can damage a fetus and result in childhood learning abnormalities, it can't be a practice that promotes long-term health and wellness in adults. You can't have it both ways. The developing fetus may be seen as a sensitive indicator of the potential of toxins to cause cellular damage.

This potential damage is a risk to adult cells as well. We just may not see the damage in adults in as short a period of time. Subtle cellular damage from mercury can be a contributory factor in combination with other negative influences that lead to the development of diseases seen later in life. So it is not just youngsters who are at risk of brain damage.

Safe levels a myth
No fish is completely free of mercury and other pollutants. If you eat fish regularly, your body is undoubtedly high in mercury. You cannot remove the mercury from the fish by trimming the fat or by cooking because it is deposited throughout the fish's tissues. I've observed that a person's mercury level correlates exceptionally well with the amount of fish consumed, and medical studies back up this observation. Individuals eating fish a few times a week have been found to have blood mercury levels exceeding the maximum level recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, which is a blood level of below 5 micrograms. Women eating seafood more than twice per week have been found to have 7 times the blood mercury levels compared with women who rarely eat fish, and children eating fish regularly were found to have mercury levels 40 times higher than the national mean.1,2

Fish: no brain food
Mercury is poisonous to the brain. Every year, more than 300,000 newborns are thought to develop adverse neurodevelopmental effects because of mercury exposure in utero. Because of their continual exposure to mercury, dentists also are at risk for later life dementia. Female dentists have been shown to have a higher incidence of malformations and aborted pregnancies in their offspring, and male dentists have higher levels of hypospermia (low sperm production) and decreased sperm motility.

Although the FDA wants us to think that eating a variety of fish with different amounts of mercury assures us we will not be harmed by acute mercury poisoning, they do not guarantee we won't suffer from dementia or other diseases of brain aging from the continual accumulation of mercury over the years. High body stores of mercury cause brain damage and memory impairment, leading to dementia in later life.

The risk of brain damage from mercury increases with age and, besides neurological disease, includes hypertension, heart disease, mental disorders, and endocrine diseases.3

Mercury accumulates in one's bloodstream over time. It can be removed from the body naturally (the kidney does continually excrete mercury into our urine), but even after mercury-containing fish are eliminated from the diet,it may take years for the levels to drop significantly.

For women of childbearing age, it is not sufficient to avoid eating fish after becoming pregnant. Fish must be avoided for a few years before conception to guarantee the baby is not harmed by mercury. For the same reason, it is not a good idea to remove amalgam dental fillings during pregnancy because mercury exposure can increase during removal. It is worth noting that fish consumption dwarfs mercury-containing dental fillings as the primary source of mercury in body tissues and breast milk.

Other pollutants in fish
Like mercury, other pollutants, including PCBs, accumulate in fish and in the body tissues of people who eat fish regularly. These pollutants can remain in your body for decades, creating a higher risk of serious diseases such as cancer. These chemicals also can increase the damage to the brain from mercury. People who would be disgusted at the thought of drinking polluted water don't think twice about eating polluted fish with 1,000 times more pollution in it.

Not wild about salmon
Studies published last year showed that dangerous chemicals were ten times higher in farm-raised salmon compared with wild salmon. I commented on this in a prior newsletter, stating that those who eat fish once a week should eat only the wild variety. As concerns have risen about the high levels of pollution and the artificial colors used to turn farm-raised salmon pink, the price and desirability of wild salmon have risen with it.Wild salmon are suddenly appearing in restaurants and food stores everywhere.

Where is all of this wild salmon coming from? A recent article in The New York Times confirmed my suspicions. They reported that most so called "wild Pacific" or "Alaskan" salmon is just farm-raised salmon with a misleading label. In March 2005, the Times tested salmon sold in eight New York City stores, going for as much as $29 a pound, and found that most of the fish was farm raised, not wild (only one sample tested wild).4

They were able to tell the farm raised salmon from the wild salmon because of the presence of the artificial pink food dye, canthaxanthin, manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche. This pharmaceutical company distributes its trademarked SalmoFan (which is a color chart similar to paint store swatches), so fish farmers can choose among various shades used to make the salmon look their pink-orange color. Salmon in the wild have that color naturally from eating pink crustaceans, but those commercially raised have a gray flesh from eating fish meal. Europeans are suspicious of canthaxanthin, which was linked to retinal damage in people when taken as a sunless tanning pill. The British banned its use as a tanning agent, but it currently is still available in the United States.

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Berries: Phytochemical Powerhouses

MSNBC reports the phytochemicals in berries help slow the growth of cancer tumors. That's probably not news to regular readers of Dr. Fuhrman's writing, but it's great to see the word spreading. Reporter Karen Collins contends berries are great, but eating a variety of produce everyday is key:

Research does show that berries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant content and that they are excellent sources of several phytochemicals that seem to help block cancer development. However, other fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients and phytochemicals with unique health benefits. The best advice, then, is to eat berries often for their great taste and health boost, but stay focused on the main goal of eating a wide variety of produce every day.

Here's some of the berry advantages mentioned in Collins's report:

Strawberries are known as excellent sources of vitamin C, providing as much or more than a whole day's recommended amount in just one cup. But all berries are good sources of vitamin C, with one cup of raspberries or blackberries giving you close to half of amounts currently recommended for a whole day for adults. One of the ways vitamin C protects our health is its function as an antioxidant. Antioxidants attract and neutralize highly reactive molecules called free radicals that could otherwise damage body cells in ways that initiate cancer development, heart disease and age-related eye damage. Yet laboratory studies show that much of the antioxidant power of fruits and vegetables comes not from the classic antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, but from natural protective compounds called phytochemicals.

NBA Star Menu Predicts Future Health Problems

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press described how Richard Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons uses a full time chef to prepare his meals. According to the article, this chef and his team of helpers are responsible for making sure the leading scorer of the Detroit Pistons "eats right." From breakfast to the post-game meal, his meals are designed to fuel Richard and his crew.

Based on the report it looks like breakfast usually consists of grits mixed with eggs and cheese or waffles with pecans and peaches. The lunch menu includes grilled chicken salad, tuna salad or his favorite, a sweet corn soup. For dinner, Hamilton enjoys crab-stuffed steak or barbecued salmon or white chicken lasagna. Favorite desserts are lemon cake or gooey butter cake. Let's take a look at what's on the menu:

Day 1

Breakfast
Yellow Corn Grits with Cheese
Eggs
Coffe with cream and sugar

Lunch
Grilled Chicken Breast
Shredded Romain Lettuce
Italian Salad Dressing
French Bread
Chocolate Milkshake

Dinner
Crab Stuffed Steak
Baked Potato with Sour Cream
Broccoli with Butter
Lemon Cake
Coke

DAY 2

Breakfast
Waffles with Peaches and Pecans
Coffee with Cream and Sugar

Lunch
Chicken Corn Chowder
Italian Bread
Gatorade

Dinner
Barbecued Salmon
White Rice
Green Beans
Chocolate Cake
Coke

DAY 3

Breakfast
Yellow Corn Grits with Cheese
Eggs
Coffe with Cream and Sugar

Lunch
Grilled Chicken Breast
Mixed Baby Greens
Italian Dressing
French Bread
Orange Juice

Dinner
Chicken Lasagna
Italian Bread
Lemon Cake
Coke

Clearly Richard Hamilton and his chef are not nutritionists. His diet is designed to meet Richard's taste preferences, not to maximize health and performance. Let's take a look at what this fit basketball player eats, we'll do a complete dietary analysis of his meals and see if his diet comes up healthful or not.

I had my staff dietician analyze these menus with a computer software program to document the poor nutritional quality of Hamilton's diet. For any person to expect to remain in excellent health as they age, the vast majority (meaning 75- 90 percent) of calories must come from unrefined natural plant foods, not white flour, sugar, oil and animal products. Because Richard's diet is profoundly deficient in vegetables, beans, fresh fruits and raw nuts and seeds (high nutrient plant foods), we can use his diet as an example of a disease-promoting diet-style.

The highlights of our computerized analysis are highlighted below:
Sodium: 6550 mg (recommended level--below 1500)
This high sodium diet guarantees Richard will develop high blood pressure in later life and be at high risk of both a heart attack and a stroke.

Fiber: 26 grams
This low level of fiber assures us Richard will develop colonic diverticulum and remain at higher risk of colon cancer.

Cholesterol 1082 mg, Saturated Fat 52 grams
This high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol guarantees Richard will develop a high cholesterol in later life and will clearly be at high risk of heart disease and cancer, like the rest of Americans.

Vitamin C 165 mg, Vitamin D 96 IU, Vitamin E 13 mg, Molybdenum 34 ug, Beta Carotene 5108
These low levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals assure us that Richard will age prematurely and cut short his years of athletic prowess.

If you have been living in a cave for the last five years and haven't heard, a diet is considered healthy only if it gets the majority of its calories from natural plant foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, avocado, raw nuts, seeds and other nutrient-rich foods. When one bases their diet from a combination of animal products and processed foods a deficiency of plant-derived phytochemicals leads you down the road to cancer later in life.

Even though Richard Hamilton is only 29 years old, slim and wiry, and in great cardiovascular condition does not mean that his body will hold up to this level of activity as he ages. His diet may supply him with adequate macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) to sustain a high level of physical activity, but because the micronutrient levels are so low, he places himself at risk for a shortened career with injury and premature aging of his joints and connective tissues. As a result of this diet I would not risk a long term contract on Richard. His diet will likely prevent him from continuing this high level of athleticism that he displays past the age of 36. When we consider the productivity of players past the age of 36, we must look at their diet. Shaq is 34 years old and clearly his days are limited. It is rare that a person can compete at a professional level effectively past the age of 35.

There are exceptions to the rule, and dietary excellence is the way that young athletes can prolong their athletic careers. Look at Martina Navratilova, the tennis player who has been competing at a high competitive level for decades. She can do this because her diet is scientifically designed to be rich in antioxidants and phytocheimicals.

When I design diets for professional athletes we talk about what they want to achieve. Increase stamina? Strength? Reduce chance of catching infections? Achieve athletic longevity in their sport? Or just maintain their health as they age? You would be amazed that athletes are pretty smart in what they expect nutritional intervention to do.

For example, Dr. Dean Nicolas is a friend or mine who consults with me about nutrition. He coaches world and Olympic ski racers and is cognizant that a racer who is frequently ill or suffers from a prolonged viral infection during the winter can lose his high ranking in the world merely from a bad showing in a few races due to a poorly timed illness. When one of his racers gets ill and has a subsequent poor performance in an event, the ranking loss could cost him as much as $500,000 that year. Not a trivial infection. For example, Eric Schlopy who has skied in three Olympic Games has the good sense to design his diet with intelligence and precision to maximize his performance, disease resistance, and prolong the years of his athletic fitness.

We know that Dwyane Wade had a viral infection that almost cost the Heat their place in the finals and may have had something to do with his mediocre performance in the first two games against the Mavericks. Maybe these young athletes will wake up and realize that nutritional excellence can dramatically increase their resistance to infection, especially when they are on the road so much, exposed to so many people and under stress. It could make the difference between a victory or a loss in the NBA finals and it can prolong their playing years, not to mention their life. Pass all that cake, bread, pasta and cream to the other team Richard, it might get you a few more years of good play and be worth millions to you.

Vegetables Deliver Protein with Micronutrients

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child:

When you eat to maximize micronutrients, your body function will improve; chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, and high cholesterol will likely disappear; and your youthful vigor will last into old age. Heart disease and cancer, the major killers of modern societies, would fade away and be exceedingly rare occurrences if the population adopted a cancer-preventive diet style and lifestyle. And we would hardly ever see any overweight children.

Maintaining a population of normal-weight individuals can be efficiently accomplished only by eating more high-nutrient foods, foods with higher nutrient-per-calorie ratio. The foods with the most nutrients per calorie are vegetables and beans. Vegetables are also very rich in protein and calcium. Most vegetables have more protein per calorie than meat and more calcium per calorie than milk. Nobody can consume too little protein by eating less animal products and substituting vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.

The focus on the importance of protein in the diet is one of the major reasons we have been led down the wrong path to dietary suicide. We were taught to equate protein with good nutrition and have though animal products, not vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, are our best source of protein. We bought a false bill of goods, and the dairy-and-meat-heavy diet brought fourth a heart attack and cancer epidemic.

If we hear something over and over since we were young children, we just accept it as true. For example, it is myth repeated over and over that plant proteins are "incomplete" and need to be "complemented" for adequate protein. In fact, all vegetables and grains contain all eight of the essential amino acids (as well as the 12 other nonessential ones).1 While some vegetables have higher or lower proportions of certain amino acids than others, when eaten in amounts to satisfy one's caloric needs, a sufficient amount of all essential amino acids are provided. Because digestive secretions and sloughed-off mucosal cells are constantly recycled and reabsorbed, the amino acid composition in the bloodstream after meals is remarkably complete in spite of short-term irregularities in their dietary supply.

It is interesting to note that peas, green vegetables, and beans have more protein per calorie than meat. But what is not generally considered is that foods that are rich in plant protein are generally the foods that are richest in nutrients and phytochemicals. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low calorie foods we get plenty of protein, and our bodies get flooded with protective micronutrients simultaneously. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants and phtyochemicals, plant protein does. Plus, animal protein is married to saturated fat, the most dangerous type of fat.

Protein Content From Selected Plant Foods
FoodGrams of Protein
Almonds (3 oz)10
Banana1.2
Broccoli (2 cups)10
Brown Rice (1 cup)5
Chickpeas (1 cup)15
Corn (1 cup)4.2
Lentils (1 cup)18
Peas--frozen (1 cup)9
Spinach--frozen (1 cup)7
Tofu (4 ounces)11
Whole wheat bread (2 slices)5


Even a professional body builder who wants to build one-half pound of extra muscle per week only needs about an extra seven grams per day over a normal protein intake. No Complicated formulas or protein supplements are needed to get sufficient protein for growth, even in the serious athlete. Exercise increases hunger, and as the athlete consumes more calories to meet the demands of exercise, they will naturally get the extra protein they need. Many world-class athletes thrive at world-class competitions on vegetarian and vegan diets.

When you reduce or eliminate animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, you lower cholesterol radically. Vegetables, beans, and nuts and seeds are all rich in protein, and they also have no saturated fat or cholesterol. But the clincher is that they are higher in nutrients than any other foods. We must structure our diets around the foods that supply the most micronutrients.

The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high protein foods) are without question. When adult subjects are feed a vegetable-based diet, cholesterol levels drop radically, much more than with the most powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs.2 These foods also contain an assortment of heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol, and they fight cancer, too.

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Research: Obesity Heightens Prostate Cancer Recurrence

A new study in the journal Cancer claims obese men have an increased risk of cancer recurrence after undergoing treatment with radiotherapy for localized prostate cancer. Reuters reports:

The study, reported in the current online issue of the journal Cancer, involved 873 men who underwent radiation treatment as their only treatment for localized prostate cancer between 1988 and 2001.

Obesity was determined by an elevated body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight commonly used to determine if a person is overweight or underweight. The researchers found that 18 percent of the men were mildly obese and 5 percent were moderately to severely obese.

Obese patients were more likely to be a younger age at diagnosis, to have a more recent diagnosis, and to be African-American.

After an average follow-up period of 96 months, 295 men experienced biochemical failure and 127 had full disease recurrence with symptoms.

Trans Fat Takes a Hit

The American Heart Association (AHA) released new guidelines on Monday urging a strict limit on the intake of trans fat in people's diets—less than one percent of total calories. The Associated Press reports:

A panel of specialists in nutrition and heart disease reviewed more than 90 studies to update the dietary advice the association released in 2000. The guidelines are for healthy Americans ages 2 and older.


Rather than slavishly counting calories and grams of fat, people should try something simpler: getting in the habit of cooking with healthier oils, and balancing calories consumed with calories burned through exercise, said Alice Lichtenstein, a Tufts University nutrition expert who chaired the guidelines panel.

Trans fats, or trans fatty acids such as partially hydrogenated oils, are in many cookies, crackers, breads, cakes, French fries and other fried foods. They contribute to heart disease risk by raising LDL, or the bad cholesterol.

While the AHA's edict is a step in the right direction, Dr. Fuhrman would contend completely eliminating trans fat is the healthiest choice. He has harsh words for trans fat: (From Eat to Live)

Trans fats do not exist in nature. They are laboratory-designed and have adverse health consequences. They interfere with the body's production of beneficial fatty acids and promote heart disease.1 As trans fatty acids offer no benefits and only clear adverse metabolic consequences, when you see the words partially hydrogenated on the side of a box, consider it poisonous and throw it in the trash.
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Chemo: Not Always the Best Option

Cancer and chemotherapy seem to go hand-in-hand in this country: You've got cancer? You need chemo. According to the Associated Press a new gene test challenges this preconception:

Claudia Lowry had a scary decision: Could she safely skip chemotherapy after surgeons removed her breast cancer?

Tens of thousands of women undergo chemo for breast cancer every year when they don't really need it, but doctors don't have an easy way to tell who can gamble on skipping the harsh drugs.

A simple gene test now promises to help women like Lowry make that nerve-wracking choice -- and a major government study is enrolling more than 10,000 patients around the country to see just how well it does the job.

Some doctors already feel many patients can do well without chemotherapy:

"Most of the patients are advised to have chemotherapy. Most of the patients are going to do very well without it," says Dr. Sheila Taube of the National Cancer Institute. "So how can we spare the patients that don't need it?"

Breast cancer is only the opening salvo. Researchers are furiously developing whom-to-treat gene tests for colorectal cancer -- particularly for early Stage 2 disease that doctors fear is being under-treated -- and other malignancies, too.

Today's guidelines for cancer treatment seem to be terribly inefficient:

More than 100,000 U.S. women a year are found to have early breast cancer that has a remarkably good prognosis: The tumors are small, haven't spread, and are hormone-sensitive. The vast majority would survive with surgery, radiation and hormone treatment. Yet guidelines today recommend chemotherapy as well for most of those women to catch the few who need more aggressive help.

In other words, 100 women get chemo, and the risk of harsh, sometimes life-threatening, side effects, to prevent two or three of them from relapsing.

Dr. Fuhrman is no stranger to this discussion, having voiced his opinions on chemotherapy in previous posts: Re-Examining Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer and Diet, Chemotherapy, and the Truth: How to Win the War on Cancer

NY Times: Breastfeed for Better Health

According to Dr. Fuhrman we're a culture indoctrinated by the message, "Drink your milk. It will help you grow big and strong." So many mothers prematurely abandon breastfeeding and turn to cow's milk. In Disease Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman contends this isn't a good idea:

Humans are designed to be raised on human milk in the first few years of life, not cow's milk. Human milk makes for slower growth. Cow's milk is specially designed for baby cows, and it supplies the nutrients to facilitate the rapid growth natural to cows.

Even baby formula isn't an adequate substitute for the real thing. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

No infant formula can duplicate human milk. Human milk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, immunoglobins, and compounds with unique structures that cannot be replicated.

So what's the solution? The answer is to breastfeed. Roni Rabin of The New York Times reports more and more health experts are acknowledging the resounding benefits of breastfeeding. It's worth reading the whole article. It touches on research suggesting breast milk can reduce the likelihood of all kinds of diseases, including obesity:

Ample scientific evidence supports the contention that breast-fed babies are less vulnerable to acute infectious diseases, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, experts say. Some studies also suggest that breast-fed babies are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome and serious chronic diseases later in life, including asthma, diabetes, leukemia and some forms of lymphoma, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The evidence that breastfeeding is better for children's health is so overwhelming that Rabin reports even the formula manufacturers acknowledge that breast milk is the first choice. Senator Tom Harkin has proposed warning labels on infant formula, making clear that the FDA recommends breastfeeding over formula.

Dr. E. Stephen Buescher says breast milk has special properties:

"I think of human milk not just as food, but as a sophisticated and intricate infant support system that has evolved over millions of years to provide the infant with nutrition, protection and components of information," said Dr. E. Stephen Buescher, a professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, who heads the inflammation section in the school's Center for Pediatric Research.


"It isn't just calories," Dr. Buescher said.

The protection that breast-feeding provides against acute infectious diseases—including meningitis, upper and lower respiratory infections, pneumonia, bowel infections, diarrhea and ear infections—has been among the most extensively studied of its benefits and is well documented, said Dr. Lawrence M. Gartner, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' breast-feeding section.

Breast-fed babies have 50 percent to 95 percent fewer infections than other babies, Dr. Gartner said, adding, "It's pretty dramatic."

When it comes to nursing your child, you can't beat the real thing. Dr. Fuhrman says breastfeeding inspires healthy human development:

The antibodies derived from mother's milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child's immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother's antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother's immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.

Dr. Fuhrman recommends feeding an infant only breast milk for the first six months, but he also suggests mothers continue some breastfeeding even if its only twice a day until the second birthday. There is much more on feeding infants in Disease Proof Your Child.

Cancer Is a Disease of Fruit- and Vegetable Deficiency

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Not surprisingly, fruits and vegetables are the two foods with the best correlation with longevity in humans. Not whole-wheat bread, not bran, not even a vegetarian diet shows as powerful a correlation as a high level of fresh fruit and raw green salad consumption.1 The Nation Cancer Institute recently reported on 337 different studies that all showed the same basic information:

  • Vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers if consumed in large enough quantities. Hundreds of scientific studies document this. The most prevalent cancers in our country are mostly plant-food-deficiency disease.
  • Raw vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer properties of all foods.
  • Studies on the cancer-reducing effects of vitamin pills containing various nutrients (such as folate, vitamin C and E) get mixed reviews; sometimes they show a slight benefit, but most show no benefit. Occasionally studies show that taking isolated nutrients is harmful, as was discussed earlier regarding beta-carotene.
  • Beans, in general, not just soy, have additional anti-cancer benefits against reproductive cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.2

Though Americans would prefer to take a pill so they could continue eating what they are accustomed to, it won't give you the protection you are looking for. You can close the cover of this book and put it away right now as long as you can incorporate this crucial dietary change into your life: consume high levels of fruits, green vegetables, and beans. This is key to both weight loss and better health.

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