Interview with a Nutritarian: Sue

As a Grandma to three energetic grandsons, Sue is thankful to have lost the 117 pounds that she was carrying around on her small, 5’ 2-1/2” frame. She’s your typical American woman who was caught in the downward spiral of yo-yo dieting, malnutrition and poor health as a result of the dieting industry; that is, until she was introduced to eating for health. Welcome to Disease Proof, Sue.   


before and after weight lossWhat was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

When I was 28-years-old I weighed 245 pounds and wore a size 22.  Climbing the stairs caused me to be out of breath, and leisurely walks and bike rides were tiring. In our house we ate a steady diet of McDonalds, pizza, roast beef with mashed potatoes, and we didn’t eat fruits and vegetables except for some occasional sweet corn. Needless to say, my body was starving for nutrition and I didn't even know it.

When my son started school, I decided that I would lose some weight, so I started the cycle of yo-yo dieting.  I tried many different diets: Weight Watchers, Protein Power, Atkins, The Carbohydrate Addicts’ Diet, and Pure Weight Loss...these diets worked temporarily, but I always gained the weight back. Nothing made me healthy, and I was always on a continual search for a quick fix to lose unwanted pounds.

However, at the end of my 89-year-old mother’s life, I spent time assisting her in a nursing home. Watching her in physical therapy trying to do simple tasks like lifting her hands above her head made me realize that I needed to take care of myself NOW! That was my “wake-up call.” 


How did you feel then?

I didn’t feel well.  I was pre-diabetic, lethargic, and my legs, feet and back hurt.  I intentionally stayed away from my doctor, because I was afraid of what he might find. 


How did you find out about ETL?

I joined a 12-week weight loss program, led and taught by Dr. Kachmann, a neurosurgeon in Fort Wayne who introduced me to a healthy lifestyle. At one of the sessions, Emily Boller shared her story of how she became healthy as a result of following Dr. Fuhrman’s books, Eat to Live and Eat for Health. I bought Eat to Live and couldn’t put it down. 


How do you feel now?

I’m totally energized and no longer pre-diabetic.  I walk for exercise; plus, I take yoga classes 5 days / week.  I have three grandsons and I can keep up with them; even from opening to closing at Disney World for five days in a row!






245 lbs

128 lbs

Waist Circumference









Fasting blood sugar

120 (at age 16)



      before and after weight loss portraits

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

  • Put your health first.

  • Read "Eat to Live." Mark it up and know what it says. 

  • Eat high nutrient foods, and don’t worry about weight loss as you’ll naturally become thin, healthy and happy as a result.

  • Take your time and get used to eating correctly.  Your body will love you for it!


In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you? 

At age 61, I’m now healthy and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and beans, and very little meat; plus, I’m no longer bound by counting calories and points, and the downward cycle of yo-yo dieting.  Eat to Live has changed my life!  

Congratulations to a healthy and energetic Grandma . . . for years to come!

Metabolic rate: the slower, the better

“Metabolism” has become quite a buzzword in our culture. Weight gain or inability to lose weight is often blamed on having a slow metabolism and the prevailing myth is that a faster metabolism is preferable, because it would lead to weight loss. However, having a fast metabolism does not mean that you are healthier – in fact, it may cause you to age more quickly. Many supplements claim to increase your metabolism and promote weight loss, but these are merely stimulants. Instead of trying to increase your metabolism with the goal of losing weight, I say, get your body to run on fewer calories and slow your metabolism for a longer, healthier life.

A study on thyroid function and longevity in families supports my view. This research is part of the Leiden Longevity Study in the Netherlands, in which recruited families had at least two siblings who were alive and had reached age 90 or older – these individuals are referred to as “nonagenarian siblings”.

Since thyroid function is influenced by genetics, and thyroid hormone regulates both basal metabolic rate (energy expenditure at rest with an inactive digestive system) and overall daily energy expenditure [1], the researchers studied thyroid function and longevity in nonagenarian siblings and their family members. [2, 3]

In a study published in 2010, it was established that middle-aged children of nonagenarian siblings had altered thyroid function compared to a control group. They tended to have higher levels of thyrotropin and lower levels of thyroxine (T4) and free triiodothyronine (free T3 – active form of the hormone), indicating lower thyroid function and therefore lower metabolic rate.[2]

A second study measured thyroid hormone levels in nonagenarian siblings and correlations to longevity of their parents. Low thyroid activity in nonagenarian siblings was indeed associated with their parents’ lifespans.[3] The average lifespan of the parents of nonagenarian siblings was an impressive 93 years.

These studies suggest that hereditary factors associated with metabolic rate (thyroid function) are associated with lifespan. This means that taking steps to slow metabolic rate, rather than accelerate it, could be beneficial.

How might a higher metabolic rate promote aging?

One theory is that increased energy expenditure shortens lifespan – that the human body works somewhat like a machine – if it is forced to work too hard and too fast, it will “wear out” more quickly. In a number of small mammal species, daily energy expenditure is indeed inversely related to lifespan, supporting this theory.[4] Accordingly, caloric restriction has been consistently shown to prolong maximal lifespan up to 60% in a variety of species.[5] By reducing calorie intake and still meeting micronutrient demands, daily energy demands are also reduced. Eating predominantly high nutrient, low calorie foods can help to achieve this effect – the body’s micronutrient requirements are satisfied with fewer calories, leading to reduced energy intake and therefore reduced energy demand.

Oxidative damage resulting from the continuous production of reactive oxygen species (as a byproduct of energy metabolism) over time is a related theory of aging.[6] A high nutrient diet would also be effective in this case, since whole plant foods provide both variety and abundance of antioxidants.

The point is we want to eat a diet with excellent micronutrient quality, we will not be hungry as often, we will be comfortable with eating less, and our metabolic rate will slow so that we can eat less and not get too thin.

Don’t buy into the myth – when it comes to metabolism, faster is not better.



1. Kim, B., Thyroid hormone as a determinant of energy expenditure and the basal metabolic rate. Thyroid, 2008. 18(2): p. 141-4.
2. Rozing, M.P., et al., Low serum free triiodothyronine levels mark familial longevity: the Leiden Longevity Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2010. 65(4): p. 365-8.
3. Rozing, M.P., et al., Familial Longevity Is Associated with Decreased Thyroid Function. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2010.
4. Speakman, J.R., et al., Living fast, dying when? The link between aging and energetics. J Nutr, 2002. 132(6 Suppl 2): p. 1583S-97S.
5. Fontana, L., The scientific basis of caloric restriction leading to longer life. Curr Opin Gastroenterol, 2009. 25(2): p. 144-50.
6. Hulbert, A.J., et al., Life and death: metabolic rate, membrane composition, and life span of animals. Physiol Rev, 2007. 87(4): p. 1175-213.


Interview with a Nutritarian: Theresa

I first met Theresa on the member center of on the day that she announced reaching her 100 lb weight-loss milestone. I was ecstatic when I read it, but what I didn’t know at the time was just how desperate she was to get her health back. Prior to discovering nutritarian eating, three of Theresa’s family members had died within a ten month period of time, and she was ready to do anything to eradicate chronic disease and premature death from her life. Although that was a very sad time for her, it produced a passionate desire to do anything to get well. Welcome to Disease Proof, Theresa.       

before and after female

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

I had always been pudgy and had tried numerous diets over the years: low-fat, Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slim Fast, etc. I would lose some weight and then go right back to eating anything when I couldn’t afford the diet anymore. It seemed like eating “normal” like everyone else caused me to gain weight.

In the summer of 2008 I got married, and that happiest day of my life was also the worst day of my life due to the fact that I was the heaviest that I had ever been. When I looked in the mirror, I couldn't believe what I saw; at 5'2" I weighed 227 lbs. I was horrified.

At age 47, I was on cholesterol medicine and knew that diabetes and heart problems were just around the corner for me. It was an effort to walk a short distance, and even tying my shoes became a challenge. I was having chest pains and afraid that I was getting close to my first heart attack. I became desperate and had given up hope that I would ever get in control of my eating and health.  


How did you find out about ETL?

I went to a local health food store, and a store employee, no more than twenty-years-old, had just lost 130 lbs by following Eat to Live.  He briefly explained Dr. Fuhrman’s high nutrient eating style to me, and said that he wasn’t hungry and was healthier than ever before. I wanted to live.... so I ran out and bought the book. I started the following Monday by cleaning out the kitchen cupboards and haven't looked back.


How do you feel now?

I’ve lost 102 lbs with 21 more to go to reach my ideal weight of 104 lbs. I’ve gone from size 20 to a size 2.  I now have energy and stamina, and I’m no longer on cholesterol medication; plus, my skin has even become soft and clear.

I now ride a bike, and have a membership at the Y where I swim and walk. I also love exercising on my little rebounder trampoline at home.  My goal is to run a 5 K fundraiser next spring for my sisters and friends who have died of cancer; and I know I will make it!





 227 lbs

 125 lbs


 227 (Dec. ’08)                

 182 (Dec. ’09)








 140 / 90

 112 / 65


 40 inches

 26.5 inches


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

  • "Keep it simple." I have found that keeping this a low key, natural part of my life has been easy. I cook pots of soups and beans once or twice a week so I can grab them on-the-go.
  • Make wonderful salsas and experiment with new spices to replace salt. 
  • Try to make a new dish every week.
  • Follow Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid. Eat the favorite foods that you like in the quantities that he prescribes. You will lose weight and feel fantastic!

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?  

I am making choices that are best for my health and absolutely having an adventure doing it! Nutritarian eating has given me hope and my life back!


Congratulations Theresa for earning your health and life back ~ keep up the great work!


Weight-loss drug Meridia increases heart attack and stroke risk

Meridia (Sibutramine) is an appetite suppressant, and is prescribed by physicians to help obese individuals lose weight. Meridia works by blocking the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters in the brain related to appetite. Meridia was shown to reduce food intake and body weight compared to placebo in several trials[1]. However there is no such thing as a drug without side effects.

Concerns regarding adverse cardiovascular events led to a large clinical trial in order to assess Meridia’s safety In 2009, preliminary results from the trial prompted European health officials to withdraw the drug from the market. The final results were published in 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine, and due to those results, the manufacturer stopped producing Meridia. [2] 

The trial evaluated cardiovascular events in subjects assigned to either Meridia or placebo over approximately three years. The trial’s 10,000 participants were overweight or obese individuals over age 55 with either cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, or both. The average weight loss on Meridia was 9.5 lbs. Although the researchers found no increase in death rates among Meridia users, they did find a 28% increase in risk of heart attack, and a 36% increase in risk of stroke. [3]

Weight loss is beneficial for overall health, in part because it helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. So essentially, this drug had the exact opposite of its intended effect. Plus the weight loss in this trial was miniscule – 9.5 lbs. is inconsequential for someone who is obese. The Nutritarian diet-style has helped many people lose 50 lbs., 100 lbs., or more and keep it off. Plus healthy eating does not carry an increased risk of cardiovascular events – it only reduces risk.

The bottom line: there are no shortcuts to weight loss or to good health.



1. Tziomalos, K., G.E. Krassas, and T. Tzotzas, The use of sibutramine in the management of obesity and related disorders: an update. Vasc Health Risk Manag, 2009. 5(1): p. 441-52.
2. Heavey, S. Diet drug Meridia study renews calls for U.S. ban. 9/1/2010 9/9/2010]; Available from:
3. James, W.P., et al., Effect of sibutramine on cardiovascular outcomes in overweight and obese subjects. N Engl J Med, 2010. 363(10): p. 905-17.


Low-carb, high-protein diet increases risk of death from all causes

The low-carb fad has had its peak, and although it is declining in popularity, the myth persists that eating lots of meat and little or no ‘carbs’ is a great way to lose weight.

Plenty of studies have established that low-carb diets are moderately effective for weight loss over periods of 6 months to 2 years[1-3], though much of the weight lost initially is typically regained. This may be a better option than the processed food-soda diet many other Americans consume, so of course they are moderately effective – the number of calories consumed decreases as refined carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet. Low-carbohydrate diets cause people to lose some weight but at what cost? The short durations of these studies meant that they could not determine whether the diets are sustainable for long-term health. The current state of the medical literature would suggest that they are not – there is abundant data associating high meat consumption with adverse outcomes: weight gain, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and all-cause mortality, just to name a few.[4-10] I have been warning for years that the long-term outcome of meat-based diets would not be favorable.

A long-term observational study of low-carbohydrate diets was finally published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and the results are intriguing. This study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health is the nail in the coffin of the low-carb, high-protein myth. The article details data from a prospective study in which 130,000 total participants provided information about their eating habits and were followed for a minimum of twenty years – this is true long-term data. At baseline, none of the participants had heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. The researchers classified the participants’ diets according to degree of adherence to the following dietary patterns: overall low-carbohydrate, animal-based low-carbohydrate, and high-vegetable low carbohydrate. They then compared death rates between the highest and lowest adherence groups for each pattern.

The authors’ conclusions: A low-carbohydrate diet rich in animal foods was associated with a 23% increased risk of death from all causes (14% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease). In contrast, a low-carbohydrate diet rich in vegetables was associated with a 20% decreased risk of death from all causes (23% decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease).[11]

The low-carb proponents had one thing right: the avoidance of refined carbohydrates – white flour, white rice, white pasta, added sugars, etc. are disease-promoting foods. However, the protein sources emphasized in most low-carb diets are micronutrient-poor animal products rather than micronutrient-packed plant products. The study suggests that plant sources of protein (for example vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds) promote longevity, whereas high protein animal foods have the opposite effect. This data supports the essential nutritional concept I illustrate with my health equation: Health = Nutrients / Calories. Micronutrient density determines the quality of one’s diet, and since animal products are deficient in micronutrients, they should be minimized. The authors agree that their results likely reflect the lack of protective fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals in animal products. [12]

Many proponents of meat-based diets argue that the refined carbohydrate rather than the meat content of the American diet is to blame for our skyrocketing rates of chronic disease. However, too many studies contradict this opinion – and this study clearly demonstrates that choosing plant foods instead of animal foods, even within the context of minimal refined carbohydrate, promotes longevity.

There really should not be any controversy anymore about the health effects of low-carb, high-protein diets. This study (among others) confirms that the current amount of animal-source foods within the American diet should be reduced, not increased, and that meat-centered diets promote premature death; and that diets based predominantly on whole plant foods are lifespan-enhancing.

The “nutritarian” diet I recommend is unique because it focuses on consuming more of the highest micronutrient containing vegetation, as it reduces animal products to a condiment or minimal role held to less than 10 percent of total calories. Vegetables rule!


1. Foster, G.D., et al., Weight and metabolic outcomes after 2 years on a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med, 2010. 153(3): p. 147-57.
2. Brinkworth, G.D., et al., Long-term effects of a very-low-carbohydrate weight loss diet compared with an isocaloric low-fat diet after 12 mo. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 90(1): p. 23-32.
3. Sacks, F.M., et al., Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med, 2009. 360(9): p. 859-73.
4. Sinha, R., et al., Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med, 2009. 169(6): p. 562-71.
5. Vergnaud, A.C., et al., Meat consumption and prospective weight change in participants of the EPIC-PANACEA study. Am J Clin Nutr, 2010. 92(2): p. 398-407.
6. Zheng, W. and S.-A. Lee, Well-Done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer Risk. Nutrition and Cancer, 2009. 61(4): p. 437-446.
7. Key, T.J., et al., Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr, 1999. 70(3 Suppl): p. 516S-524S.
8. Ashaye, A., J. Gaziano, and L. Djousse, Red meat consumption and risk of heart failure in male physicians. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2010.
9. Snowdon, D.A., R.L. Phillips, and G.E. Fraser, Meat consumption and fatal ischemic heart disease. Prev Med, 1984. 13(5): p. 490-500.
10. Aune, D., G. Ursin, and M.B. Veierod, Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia, 2009. 52(11): p. 2277-87.
11. Fung TT, v.D.R., Hankinson SE,Stampfer M, Willett WC, Hu FB, Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: Two Cohort Studies. Ann Intern Med, 2010. 153(5): p. 289-298.
12. Fiore, K. Low-Carb Diet is Better When Rich in Veggies. 2010 September 7, 2010]; Available from: