Interview with a Nutritarian: Felicia

Felicia didn’t own a scale, and she had stopped going to the doctor because she didn’t want to get on one. Then one day Felicia was visiting her sister and decided to weigh herself. She was shocked to discover that she weighed almost 350 lbs! Thankfully, soon after that she was channel surfing and found the local PBS station broadcasting Dr. Fuhrman’s 3 Steps to Incredible Health, and her life was radically changed! Welcome to Disease Proof, Felicia. 

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian approach? 

I was a “vegetarian”, or so I thought; not realizing the food I was eating contained animal products. I’d been a vegetarian for many years but continued to gain weight. I got to the point where I didn’t even want to tell people that I was a vegetarian because of my weight. Most people think vegetarians are thin and healthy, and I was not.

I didn’t own a scale because I didn’t want to know how much I weighed. I even stopped going to the doctor, because I didn’t want to get on a scale.

I continued going through life ignoring some of the signs indicating I needed to lose weight. For example, I would get out of breath if I walked a certain distance or if I had to climb a flight of stairs. If I sat on the floor, it was difficult to get back up. My daughter would ask me to go to the mall with her, and I wouldn’t go because my back would hurt if I stood or walked around, and I would get tired or start sweating profusely. I was not living my life to the fullest, because my weight was a hindrance. I felt limited in my activities.  

One day I was visiting my sister, and I decided to get on her scale and was shocked to discover that I weighed almost 350 pounds! I thought, “Gee, I’m bigger than a lot of football players!” I decided to go on a diet and lost a few pounds but gained them back and more. That’s when I said to myself, “I have to do something soon, because I refuse to purchase bigger clothes.”

 

How did you find out about it?

One Saturday I was supposed to go to the movies with my daughter and nephew, but I opted not to go. They went on and I stayed at home and watched television instead. I started scanning through the channels and saw Dr. Fuhrman on our local PBS station, and he was talking about his Eat for Health book. It was refreshing to hear a doctor talk about eating our way back to health instead of using medicine to treat chronic illnesses. As a rule I would’ve turned the channel, but for some reason I continued to watch it. I took notes and started on the program the next day. Soon afterwards my daughter gave me Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live, and I used that as a guide.

 

How do you feel now?

I feel fantastic! I’ve lost 161 pounds so far (my goal is to lose 30 more pounds). My back no longer hurts, I have energy, and I don’t have vertigo episodes anymore. I feel physically liberated from the chains of obesity.  It has completely changed my life for the better!

 

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

  • Make nutritarian eating a lifestyle; not a weight loss program.

  • Be 100% committed.

  • Take it one day at a time. 

     

 

Congratulations Felicia ~ you are a wonderful inspiration! Keep up the great job!

Interview with a Nutritarian: Helyn

I recently came across Helyn’s success story on Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center, and her excitement for healthy eating is contagious! However, when she was first introduced to Eat to Live by a friend she didn’t think she could ever eat foods without oil and salt. Now, over a year later, she can’t imagine life without eating high-nutrient foods and the benefits of getting her health back! Welcome to Disease Proof, Helyn. 

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

I’ve always had a busy life and finding balance in my diet was insane. I was always searching for answers regarding nutrition. I’d taken a great interest in health and nutrition in my 20s. I read a lot of books and tried many different eating plans. I wasn’t looking for weight loss, per se, but more for health in all these different diets. My “favorite” was the blood type diet because the author said that I should drink coffee!  That’s when I realized that something was seriously amiss. Deep down I knew that coffee was not a healthy substance, that I didn’t feel well when I tried to eliminate it, and that I was addicted to it. How could it possibly be good for me?

After all this study and the many trials and errors I decided that I’d create my own diet, based on the things I'd learned. I settled into a regimen of eliminating red meat, most sugar, all processed foods and wheat. Yes, I still drank coffee!

Obviously my self-prescribed diet wasn’t working, because I had slowly become borderline obese… 183 pounds!  [I’m 5’5”]

 

How did you feel then?

I started experiencing ailments that I never had before, such as bursitis, which can be crippling. I had such pain in my hip that I couldn’t walk for weeks. My mother said to me, “Welcome to old age. Do you want to borrow my cane?” What!? That was last year, and I was 56 at the time. My shoulder hurt, and I was not sleeping soundly. I was tired and felt bloated all the time. My blood pressure was high. At one point it was 190/118, and I was taken to the ER. They told me I needed blood pressure medication. I refused, because I knew that was not the answer.

 

How did you find out about Dr. Fuhrman's nutritarian approach?

I had heard about Eat to Live from a dear friend of mine. She even had me over for lunch to introduce me to “Fuhrman Foods”, but when she told me that she didn’t add oil or salt to anything she ate, I just “knew” I could never do it! I thanked her and went on with the same unsuccessful routine I was holding onto. But after the bout of bursitis, I thought about my friend again and decided that I’d read the book. This was it! I had finally found the answers I’d been searching for condensed into one book. I immediately started Dr. Fuhrman’s Six-Week Plan and lost eight pounds the first week.

 

How do you feel now?

I feel exhilarated! I am pain-free, sleeping soundly, and my skin is smooth. I have a lot more energy now and weighing 40 pounds lighter is such a gift. My hair is growing like a weed, and I no longer have the beginning signs of fungus growing on my toenails; they now look exactly like my fingernails: thin, pink and healthy. That may seem trivial to some, but it’s an example of how eating nutrient-dense foods can affect the body as a whole in positive ways!

Every day is such a blessing. I now enjoy healthy foods, and I’m excited for the future; knowing that I’ll be strong and healthy for the rest of my life.

 

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

  1. If you are drinking coffee, wean yourself off immediately.

  2. Read Eat to Live, and read it thoroughly so you make sure you understand the content.

  3. Follow the Six-Week Plan 100%.

  4. Find others who are becoming, or already are nutritarians. Some cities have meet-up groups. Find  them or create your own.

  5. Join Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center. It is so worth the small fee to be able to have a support group around you.

  6. Purchase and watch Dr. Fuhrman’s Immersion Excursion DVD set. There is so much vital information in these DVDs. You will know more than most doctors after you watch them. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and when you really know this information nothing can take you off this path.

  7. After six weeks you’ll be feeling so well that you won’t want to change; however, chances are you won’t be completely rid of some food addictions. To avoid falling for your old SAD (Standard American Diet) foods until your good eating habits have stronger roots I suggest the following:

  • Don’t eat out! This is disaster in the making for a new nutritarian. Even in “health food restaurants” you’ll be fighting with the menu over salt and oil, and the menu will usually win.

  • In the beginning, avoid holiday eating traditions, because you’ll be so tempted to eat all the addicting foods that you grew up with.  Dr. Fuhrman always has a “Holiday Challenge” for us. Accept the challenge and stick to the plan.

  • Create menu plans each week; otherwise, you may not have what you need on hand to make a healthy meal. I make my menu plans on Saturdays, before I do my food shopping so I know what to buy. Then in the middle of the week I replenish my greens.

  • Don’t weigh yourself every day. Once a week is better, and don’t stress about it.

  • Try new recipes and find healthy, new foods that you love. Create NEW traditions for yourself and your family. If you don’t yet have a high-powered blender, this is a must! Invest in a VitaMix to create delicious smoothies. 

 

 

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

Nutritarian eating has given me the confidence that I’m feeding my body what it needs, and that I’m getting stronger and healthier. Growing old does not have to come with disease and dementia. With this comes a serenity that you can’t put a price on. It’s been one year since I started nutritarian eating, and I’m finally rid of my food addictions and toxic hunger. I can now taste all the natural flavors in my foods, down to the smallest nuances.

I’m now planning on becoming a Nutritional Education Trainer (NET), because I want to help others to achieve the same miracles that I have through this amazing adventure! I will start my studies next month, and I can’t wait!

 

 

BEFORE

AFTER

BP

190/115 (highest)

123/79 (still dropping!)

Weight

183

145 (still losing!)

Triglycerides

168

114 (after 3 months of nutritarian eating-- no recent recording)

 

Congratulations Helyn and keep up the great job! 

 

Red meat, gut bacteria and heart disease

Red meat intake has been associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular death.1-5 For example, combined data from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up study, comprising over 120,000 people, estimated that each serving (100 grams) of red meat raises the risk of cardiovascular death by 18 percent

Two widely accepted factors that are thought to link red meat to increased cardiovascular disease risk are the high saturated fat and heme iron contents of red meat. Saturated fats are known to elevate total and LDL cholesterol levels, and excess iron is associated with oxidative stress, which promotes atherosclerosis.6-9 However, scientists have theorized that these factors alone do not explain the contribution of red meat to cardiovascular risk.3 Additional properties of red meat are likely involved.

Fascinating new research presents a new potential mechanism by which red meat may increase cardiovascular risk – by modulating the species of bacteria that populate our digestive tract!

We are now learning that our intestinal flora interacts with the cells of the intestinal wall to exert profound effects on our health. Beneficial microbes produce vitamins, protect us against pathogenic microbes, promote healthy immune function, facilitate energy extraction from food, and break down fiber and resistant starch into beneficial short chain fatty acids, which protect us against colon cancer. Importantly, what we eat determines which species of bacteria thrive in our digestive tract. Healthful, fiber-rich plant foods provide an energy source (“prebiotics”) for beneficial bacteria to grow.10,11

Is the reverse true? Do unhealthy foods promote proliferation of unhealthy gut bacteria?

Carnitine is an amino acid involved in energy production, and it is abundant in animal products, especially red meat; there is little or no carnitine in plant foods, and the human body can produce adequate carnitine from other amino acids, lysine and methionine. Studying mice, the scientists found that carnitine was metabolized by intestinal bacteria, producing trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a substance previously shown to contribute to atherosclerotic plaque development by slowing the removal of cholesterol from the arterial wall. They then sought to confirm these findings with human subjects. When analyzing the blood levels of carnitine and TMAO in human subjects, they found that the combination of high carnitine and high TMAO was associated with increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular events (heart attack and stroke). When they gave humans carnitine supplements, they interestingly found that omnivores produced far more TMAO in response to carnitine than vegans and vegetarians. In addition, the species of gut bacteria in omnivores were different from those in vegetarians and vegans. These results suggest that regularly eating carnitine-containing foods promotes the growth of gut bacteria that can metabolize carnitine into a heart disease-promoting substance.12-14  

Our overall dietary pattern determines the bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tract, and this research indicates that eating red meat regularly promotes the growth of bacteria that produce harmful substances from the components of red meat. It also indicates that those of us that regularly consume a healthful diet of whole plant foods have a healthier microbial profile, and we are less susceptible to the disease-promoting effects of high-carnitine meats. Future studies will continue to uncover more of these intriguing links between diet, gut bacteria, and health. 

Carnitine content of animal foods:15

Food Carnitine (mg)
Beef steak (3 ounces) 81
Ground beef (3 ounces) 80
Pork (3 ounces) 24
Milk (whole; 1 cup) 8
Fish (cod; 3 ounces) 5
Chicken breast (3 ounces) 3
Cheese (1 ounce) 1

This new research highlights an additional way that red meat likely increases heart disease risk, but certainly the high amount of carnitine in red meat does not exonerate fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products. We already have plentiful evidence that excessive consumption of animal products in general are associated with increased risk of death from all causes. Animal products overall are micronutrient-poor, void of phytochemicals and antioxidants, contain pro-inflammatory fats, increase cholesterol levels, calorically concentrated, promote weight gain, and most importantly elevate IGF-1 which increases heart disease and cancer risk.

 

References:

1. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al: Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med 2009;169:562-571.
2. Bernstein AM, Sun Q, Hu FB, et al: Major dietary protein sources and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Circulation 2010;122:876-883.
3. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, et al: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies. Arch Intern Med 2012.
4. Ascherio A, Willett WC, Rimm EB, et al: Dietary iron intake and risk of coronary disease among men. Circulation 1994;89:969-974.
5. Larsson SC, Virtamo J, Wolk A: Red meat consumption and risk of stroke in Swedish men. Am J Clin Nutr 2011.
6. Tholstrup T, Hjerpsted J, Raff M: Palm olein increases plasma cholesterol moderately compared with olive oil in healthy individuals. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:1426-1432.
7. de Oliveira Otto MC, Alonso A, Lee DH, et al: Dietary intakes of zinc and heme iron from red meat, but not from other sources, are associated with greater risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. J Nutr 2012;142:526-533.
8. Ahluwalia N, Genoux A, Ferrieres J, et al: Iron status is associated with carotid atherosclerotic plaques in middle-aged adults. J Nutr 2010;140:812-816.
9. Brewer GJ: Iron and copper toxicity in diseases of aging, particularly atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Exp Biol Med 2007;232:323-335.
10. Neish AS: Microbes in gastrointestinal health and disease. Gastroenterology 2009;136:65-80.
11. Backhed F: Host responses to the human microbiome. Nutr Rev 2012;70 Suppl 1:S14-17.
12. Koeth RA, Wang Z, Levison BS, et al: Intestinal microbiota metabolism of l-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nat Med 2013.
13. Wang Z, Klipfell E, Bennett BJ, et al: Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease. Nature 2011;472:57-63.
14. Woolston C: Red meat + wrong bacteria = bad news for hearts. 2013. Nature. http://www.nature.com/news/red-meat-wrong-bacteria-bad-news-for-hearts-1.12746. Accessed April 12, 2013.

15. Linus Pauling Institute: Carnitine. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/carnitine/
 

Mistaken identity

Seven years ago this month marks the anniversary of the tragic accident that involved a Taylor University van full of students and staff on I-69; not far from my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Five lives were lost on the fateful evening of April 26, 2006. The story not only hit national news immediately, but six years later it became one of NBC Dateline’s most popular stories in their twenty year history due to the mistaken identity of two, blonde haired students at the scene of the accident.

For anyone not familiar with the story, in a nutshell, a young female student that was supposedly Laura VanRyn was thrown some fifty feet from the van and sustained multiple broken bones, lacerations, bruises and a traumatic brain injury.  She was airlifted to a hospital in Fort Wayne. When her parents and siblings arrived from out-of-state, they were told by the physician a couple of times to be prepared for what they would see when they entered her dimly lit room in ICU. Her face would be swollen, scratched, bruised, and bandaged; she was on a respirator; and tubes would be coming out of her body.

Long story short, at the scene of the accident, in the midst of the chaos with purses and items strewn all over two blonde-haired students’ identities were accidentally switched. For five weeks the VanRyn family unknowingly watched vigil at the bedside of a young woman that was not their daughter. Even though the girl’s college roommate and a couple family friends noticed the person in the hospital bed was not Laura VanRyn; it wasn’t until she started waking up from her coma and saying that her name was Whitney, did the reality of the mistaken identity start to unfold. 

The story is unbelievably sad, and I can’t begin to imagine the traumatic confusion those families endured.  

Every since learning about the mistaken identity, I’ve been both intrigued and amazed how the mind has the potential to believe and become most anything it is told.

Years ago I attended a Twelve Step program, and at the beginning of this particular group of meetings everyone went around the room and introduced themselves as a 'Compulsive Overeater'. Seriously. That was the introductory declaration before each meeting. After declaring that repeatedly, it started to become my identity. So guess what I did every time I was stressed out? . . . .or sad, tired, happy, frustrated, bored, lonely, or discouraged? I compulsively overate! 

In the summer of 2008, when I committed to the nutritairan eating-style, from day one onward I told myself and everyone around me that I was a nutritarian. A nutritarian is someone who eats high-nutrient foods to meet the body’s biological needs for optimal nutrition; not for emotional, social, or recreational reasons. Being a nutritarian became my new identity; a compass so-to-speak. And guess what? My identity changed! I became a nutritarian!

We really do become what we believe, and what we repeatedly tell others.

We all need to ask ourselves if we are believing and declaring an identity that is incongruent with that which we want to become. If we are, we need to change what we believe; for only then can our true, positive identity come forth.

In other words, we need to be careful not to believe that we are someone we don’t want to become. We must not live with a mistaken identity. Life is too short to become someone we never intended to be!

 

Here’s to being a healthy and vibrant nutritarian to all!

 

 

image credit:  flickr by Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad History

 

Salt: another public health hazard

Closely following the news that sugary beverages may be responsible for 180,000 deaths per year, the same group of scientists has reported an estimate of the number of deaths due to excess salt consumption.

High sodium intake is associated with poor health outcomes, including elevated blood pressure, heart attack and stroke (even in the absence of high blood pressure), kidney disease, ulcers, gastric cancer, osteoporosis, and now autoimmune inflammation.1,2  Elevated blood pressure, a consequence of excess sodium intake, is a significant threat to one’s health, and its prevalence is rising. Hypertension is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., contributes to heart attack and stroke risk, and is associated with dementia.3

Using data gathered from the World Health Organization, the average worldwide daily sodium intake was found to be more than double the American Heart Association’s recommended limit of 1500 mg/day. Average worldwide sodium intake was 3,950 mg, and American adults came in just under that average at 3,600 mg.  Most of the world – 119 of the 187 countries studied, or 88% of all adults – consumed more than 3,000 mg sodium a day. Out of the 187 countries, only one (Kenya) had an average sodium intake meeting the American Heart Association’s guideline of 1,500 mg a day. Excess sodium has clearly become a global issue.

With excess sodium consumption now common throughout the entire world, are more people dying from heart attacks and strokes?

Higher sodium intake is consistently associated with greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death in healthy populations.1 The scientists gathered data on deaths in 50 different countries and concluded that 2.3 million deaths per year worldwide may be due to excess salt consumption, and 40% of those deaths occurred in individuals under the age of 70 – suggesting that excess sodium is needlessly cutting many lives short. They estimated that excess salt contributes to one in 10 deaths of American adults, and that 15 percent of all deaths from cardiovascular disease were a consequence of excess salt intake.4-6

Could reducing sodium intake really prevent some of these deaths?

Clinical trials have clearly shown that reducing sodium intake reduces blood pressure in both healthy and hypertensive subjects.1  Additional clinical trials have shown that cardiovascular events could be  reduced by 20% with sodium reduction.7 A recent publication in the New England Journal of Medicine used mathematical models to estimate that a 1200 mg reduction in daily sodium intake population-wide in the U.S. could result in 60,000 fewer cases of CHD, 32,000 fewer strokes, and 54,000 fewer heart attacks every year.8 The effort to reduce sodium intake is substantially worthwhile.

Added salt is ubiquitous in processed foods and restaurant meals, and is contributing to the rampant cardiovascular disease in the modern world. Since most of the added sodium in the American diet comes from these foods, it is simple to avoid added salt by preparing most of your meals at home.  Sodium is an essential mineral that becomes dangerous in excess; by consuming only the sodium present in natural foods, we get adequate but not disease-causing levels of sodium. 

 

References:
1. Whelton PK, Appel LJ, Sacco RL, et al: Sodium, blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease: further evidence supporting the American Heart Association sodium reduction recommendations. Circulation 2012;126:2880-2889.
2. Tsugane S, Sasazuki S: Diet and the risk of gastric cancer: review of epidemiological evidence. Gastric Cancer 2007;10:75-83.
3. Murphy SL, Xu J, Kochanek KD: Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2010. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2012;60.
4. Phend C: Whole World Uses Too Much Salt, Study Finds. 2013. MedPage Today. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Prevention/38011. Accessed
5. Armour S: High Salt Consumption Tied to 2.3 Million Heart Deaths. 2013. Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-21/high-salt-consumption-tied-to-2-3-million-heart-deaths.html. Accessed
6. Gray N: High salt intake causes 2.3 million deaths per year. 2013. Food Navigator. http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/High-salt-intake-causes-2.3-million-deaths-per-year/. Accessed
7. He FJ, MacGregor GA: Salt reduction lowers cardiovascular risk: meta-analysis of outcome trials. Lancet 2011;378:380-382.
8. Bibbins-Domingo K, Chertow GM, Coxson PG, et al: Projected effect of dietary salt reductions on future cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med 2010;362:590-599.