Interview with a Nutritarian: Kurt

When I met my husband, Kurt, over 30 years ago, he was a bon a fide cowboy. Being athletic, he was fit and trim and rarely had a health concern so he never went to a doctor. He also had the uncanny ability to only eat when hungry. Even if there were only a couple bites of his favorite pie left on a plate, and he was full, he couldn’t take another bite. However, he was a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy; a 16 oz steak and baked potato slathered with butter was the ultimate meal.

Over time, Kurt traded his saddle in for a computer to financially support raising our family, and his life became sedentary. However, his diet changed considerably about four years ago when I decided to embark on a health makeover by following Eat to Live. For over three years Kurt’s meals at home consisted of high-nutrient foods, but he affectionately called his way of eating “Fuhrman-Lite”. He basically followed the principles of nutritarian eating about 70% of the time, but his daily lunches out consisted of fried chicken dinners, Greek specials or Subway sandwiches and chips, and he loved to treat himself to chocolate shakes, cookies, and candy bars on a regular basis. Since he wasn’t significantly overweight he continued to enjoy his daily splurges.

Last year, at age 53 he was experiencing frequent chest pains. It occurred when under stress at work, exercising or exerting himself, and eventually he started to be more and more uncomfortable even at rest, while sitting and lying down. He’d even re-position the seatbelt shoulder strap while driving, thinking that may be the cause of the pain. It increased over several months, but he didn’t talk much about it or go to a doctor. 

Thankfully, Dr. Fuhrman came to my hometown to speak at an all-day Health Immersion, and I happened to mention Kurt’s symptoms to him, and he spoke to Kurt about them.  Dr. Fuhrman was immediately concerned and said that Kurt was experiencing unstable angina; that he had one or more arteries that were over 90% blocked. Even with Dr. Fuhrman telling him the gravity of his life-threatening situation, Kurt continued to eat the standard American diet for another week until his blood pressure shot up dangerously high one morning. (Dr. Fuhrman had instructed him to check his blood pressure on a daily basis). That afternoon he was sweating, had pain in his neck and left arm, and felt terrible overall. The denial was over, and Kurt instantly became a fully committed nutritarian. That was a year ago this week.  Welcome to Disease Proof, Kurt.

 

What was your life like before fully committing to the nutritarian eating-style?

I was tired and didn’t feel well most of the time, but because the symptoms developed so gradually, I accepted them as normal. It was challenging for me to go for a walk down the road, and I usually had to take a nap after lunch every day but didn’t realize it was connected to the food that I was eating. I also had chest pain, eventually even when sitting and lying down. I was concerned about the pains and knew that I needed to change my eating habits, but the thought of giving up meat was the biggest obstacle that kept me from fully doing it. Being married to you [Emily] I thought I was eating “healthy enough” at home, at least healthier than I had for most of my life so I was relatively content. 

 

How do you feel now?

I have a lot more energy now, and I can walk briskly without exertion. I wake up rested every morning, and I no longer need a nap after lunch. I lost over 25 lbs those first three months, (and dropped a clothing size), and I’ve been maintaining that weight since. My blood pressures are consistently under 115/75, and the ongoing chest pains are gone.

I used to get a lot of sinus infections during the winter months, but I haven’t been sick this entire year; not even a cold. I’m a computer consultant and work on client’s computer systems. Invariably someone at a customer’s site is sick so I’m exposed to a lot of bugs, but I haven't caught anything all year.  I can even smell things now that I couldn’t before, and my taste buds have greatly improved. Foods and beverages that I used to like, I don’t even like anymore; including milk, pop, and lemonade, and foods that I used to not like, I now enjoy.  

 

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

 

  • It’s important to have a good understanding of Dr. Fuhrman’s teachings. Emily had tried to encourage me to read Eat to Live, but reading it just wasn’t that big of a deal to me.  I saw her success after many years of fad dieting and gimmicks that didn’t work so I knew this was the “real deal”. I knew it was the healthiest way to eat, but I wasn’t ready to fully embrace the changes for myself. Then Dr. Fuhrman came to Fort Wayne for the Health Immersion, and I listened to his lectures and they made a lot of sense. I finally understood that in order to reverse heart disease there could be no margin for cheating. It clicked, even though I still wasn’t ready to give it 100%. 

  • It’s helpful to have support from others. Most likely I could’ve changed on my own, because I was desperate to reverse my blocked arteries, but Emily’s ongoing support has been a huge contributing factor to my success. 

  • Be persistent and give it time. If unsalted food doesn’t taste that good to you in the beginning, be patient, because eventually your taste buds will change and you’ll enjoy the subtle flavors of foods without salt. It really does happen.   

 

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

It has changed my entire family’s life. First, Emily got her health back, and now all of us are eating healthy and feeling better because of it.  Plus we’ve all been spared a lot of unnecessary and costly suffering and tragedy as well. 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Helen

A year ago this month I received a phone call from my sister informing me that my mom had experienced a stroke and was en-route to the ER via an ambulance. Living five minutes from the hospital I made a mad dash there only to discover my mother intensely suffering in a triage unit. The next day would be her 86th birthday, but at that moment her future looked grim. 

Having older parents who have faithfully put their trust in their doctors’ instructions over the years, I’ve been with them through their heart attacks, bypass and stent surgeries, and ongoing maladies and procedures. I’ve witnessed the negative side effects of their multiple (and astronomically expensive) pharmaceuticals that filled their kitchen counter top. I’ve seen first hand the results of conventional disease management, yet this episode was different. As my mom lied there on the gurney, writhing in excruciating pain from a leg spasm, paralyzed on one side of her body, unable to speak clearly, and crying; I could tell that this was the ultimate nightmare that she didn’t want to be experiencing. However, thankfully my mom discovered that it’s never too late to improve one’s health by eating to live.

 

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

I was tired all the time, but I thought it was due to old age; not wrong food choices. Because my mother had diabetes, suffered a stroke at age 66, and my siblings and I cared for her in my parents' living room for two years before her death, I made a conscious decision to carefully follow everything that my doctors told me to do over the years; not knowing that it would lead me down a dangerous path. Plus, other women my age were also being instructed to do the same so I thought I was doing the right thing. There was no different way at the time. 

Around age 60 I developed diabetes and was put on an oral diabetes medication for a couple of years, and then the doctor put me on insulin. I followed the recommended meal plan, insulin calculations and dosages; and when my blood sugars kept rising I complied with increasing the units of insulin. I even carried a glucose meter and injections in my purse so I would never miss a shot. 

I also ate animal protein at every meal; it was a part of the food plan that the diabetic educators instructed me to follow: eggs with breakfast, lean meats with lunch and dinner, and a peanut butter sandwich before bed. Every endocrinologist that I went to said the sandwich before bed was important to prevent dangerously low blood sugars in the night. Even with carefully following instructions, my blood sugars were either too high or too low. I lived in fear of the lows, especially when I was out in public or during the night. I even took a sandwich and juice to bed with me, just in case. 

Then my blood pressure also climbed higher with each passing year so blood pressure medications were added to my growing list of medications. However, even with four medications, my cardiologist could never get it below 199/99.  I had two heart attacks and multiple stents put into my body over the years: four stents in my kidneys, seven in my legs, and four in my heart, but I never got well. By the time of my stroke, I also had congestive heart failure and weighed 215 lbs. (5'8") 

Even though you [Emily] improved your health through Eat to Live, I was too dependent upon my doctors’ instructions to feel safe to make such radical changes at my age. Plus, a part of me thought it was too late to change; what’s the use.

 

What changed your mind?

Having the stroke changed my mind.  I was paralyzed on the entire right side of my body. My leg went into an intense spasm that wouldn’t let up, even with medication to try to relax it. I couldn’t speak so that others could understand me. I couldn’t swallow my food. I couldn’t even swallow a drink of water without a special ingredient to thicken it. My hand was clutched tight and I couldn’t open it. I couldn’t use the toilet without help. I wore adult diapers.  I was suddenly trapped in a body that was immobile which required 24/7 nursing care; totally dependent upon others for everything. 

After being discharged from the hospital, I was transferred to a nursing home for ongoing care and therapy. The night staff neglected to clip my call button onto my gown for me to reach it. I’d accidently wet myself during the night and couldn’t call anyone for help. I was totally at the mercy of someone discovering my situation early the next morning. Needless to say, my family transferred me to a stroke rehab facility that following day; but even with the best care, the total loss of independence was enough to change my mind. I was ready to do anything to get better if/when I would be discharged; no matter if my doctors approved it or not. * 

 

When did you start following Eat to Live?

After spending five weeks eating pureed meat and processed institutional foods, totally void of color, I was delighted to watch Dr. Fuhrman’s 3 Steps to Incredible Health that aired on our local PBS station the weekend after I returned home. Something “clicked” that day; plus I liked watching TV versus reading a book as my eyesight hadn't been good for the past couple of years. I totally understood what Dr. Fuhrman was talking about in his presentation. I began eating for health from that moment onward, and I’ve never looked back!

What’s happened since then?

I’ve been off insulin for over six months now, and after giving myself four shots a day for over twenty years it’s been wonderful to be totally free from them!  Also, with eating this way I don’t experience low blood sugars anymore so that all-consuming fear is gone.

I’ve lost about 65 lbs so far, and my blood pressure is never higher than 115/65. I’m down to just ½ dose of a blood pressure medication now, compared to four medications and continual, dangerously high blood pressures before following Eat to Live.

I’m more alert, I don’t tire so easily, and I even have the stamina to ride a stationary bike for 2 ½ miles/day; plus, I lift weights and do various exercises to continue to strengthen my arms, legs, back, and facial muscles. I noticed this past winter when I got a cold and cough that it only lasted for a couple of days. The same thing happened with a sore and infected toe; it healed quickly, when it used to take a long time for a wound to heal.   

Had I not followed high-nutrient eating this past year, there’s no way that my weakened muscles from the stroke could’ve supported the obese weight. It would be very difficult for me to get around with sixty-five extra pounds on my body. I use a walker for stability, but I can now walk in grocery stores, go to the mall with assistance, attend church and family events, and see my friends. I know that I would be completely homebound without following Eat to Live

 

Do you have any success tips to share?

 

  • Yes, keep it simple. You [Emily] had knee surgery at the same time that I started eating high-nutrient foods so I had to find an easy way to make it work on my own. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. I kept the meals simple. I steamed enough vegetables to have on hand for several meals. I made a pot of lentils once a week. I made sure to include cooked mushrooms and chopped onions daily. Bob [her husband of sixty-five years and my dad] has always grown a big garden, and he helped me prepare the vegetables, but I haven’t made fancy recipes yet; that may come this next year.

 

  • However, the most important tip is that one’s health should come first above all other priorities. Health first; everything else second! That’s got to be the mindset or other things will crowd it out. My main occupation now is making time for my food preparation, daily exercises, and adequate rest.  If you are young, don’t wait until you are old to change your eating habits. If you are old, it’s never too late to change and get health restored. Don’t cheat yourself out of the best health that’s possible.

 

Congratulations Mom ~ I’m truly proud of you for overcoming a myriad of obstacles to contend for your health, no matter what. And happy eighty-seventh birthday this year!

[By the way, the top picture was taken the day after the stroke, on her 86th birthday.  She had a smile on her face only because the grandchildren were in the room with balloons and cards to celebrate her birthday.] 

 

  

* Helen has been medically supervised, via phone consultations, by Jay Benson, D.O. Dr. Benson is board certified in family medicine, specializing in nutritional medicine, and sees patients at Dr. Fuhrman’s Medical Associates in Flemington, New Jersey. 

Eat fiber-rich foods now, not later!

There are a few different classifications of fiber, and their common characteristic is resistance to digestion in the human small intestine.   Eating fiber-rich foods is associated with a number of health benefits:

  • Fiber promotes weight maintenance by slowing gastric emptying; and adding volume to food, promoting satiety
  • Fiber helps to prevent diabetes by slowing entrance of glucose into the bloodstream, curbing glucose (and insulin) spikes after meals
  • Soluble fiber (a type of fiber abundant in oats and beans) has cholesterol-lowering effects.
  • Cardiovascular health – a pooled analysis of 10 prospective studies found that an increase of 10 grams of dietary fiber per day was associated with a 24% decrease in deaths from coronary heart disease.1
  • Digestive health – fiber adds bulk and acts as a stool softener, making bowel movements faster and easier, and preventing constipation and diverticular disease.
  • Fermentation of fiber and resistant starch by bacteria in the large intestine helps to prevent colorectal cancers 2

Fiber vs. fiber-rich foods: Fiber can be isolated and taken as a supplement or added to a processed food, but these are not the recommended ways to get your fiber.  Although fiber itself has beneficial properties, fiber-rich whole foods come packaged with disease-fighting phytochemicals.  There have been inconsistencies in the results of studies on fiber and colorectal cancer, probably because it appears to be high-fiber foods, not fiber alone that reduces risk. 3-8

The American Heart Association recommends consuming 25 grams of fiber each day –a nutritarian diet far exceeds that recommendation, providing about 60-80 grams of fiber each day, since the vast majority of my recommended food pyramid is made up of fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, seeds and beans.  

A study relating dietary fiber intake to lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease was presented at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism conference last week. Data from the 2003-2008 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys were analyzed. The researchers used a mathematical algorithm to predict lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease, based on diet, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and history of diabetes.  All of the participants were free of cardiovascular disease at the start.  

The algorithm placed participants in groups of either high or low lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease.  Then they were arranged into four groups according to the ratio of their intake of dietary fiber to calories - dietary fiber only, no fiber supplements were included.  The lowest fiber intake was 0.1g/1000 calories, and the highest was on par with a nutritarian diet, 49.1g/1000 calories.

Individuals aged 20-39 in the highest quartile of fiber intake were almost twice as likely to be in the low risk category than those in the lowest quartile. Middle aged individuals in the highest quartile were about 50% more likely to be in the low risk category. Interestingly though, a similar association was not seen in 60-79 year olds.  The researchers theorized that many older adults with high fiber intake may have already developed significant risk for heart disease before they added more high-fiber foods to their diet.   They concluded that starting to increase fiber intake at a younger age helps to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.9,10

It is important to eat healthfully your entire life to get maximum benefits, however once you have not eaten properly for the first 60 years, then to get the disease-protective benefits to dramatically reduce heart attack, stroke and cancer risk from a plant-based diet (vegan or flexitarian) later in life, it is not good enough to just be good, you have to be great.  In other words, a nutritarian diet with attention to the most nutritionally powerful and protective plant foods is necessary, not just the dietary mediocrity practiced by most vegans and vegetarians.

Eating to Live is a lifetime commitment – just like it takes years for heart disease to develop, it takes years to build up protection against heart disease.  No matter what your age, you can benefit from improving your diet – but the point is, the time to start is right now and the place to start is with a nutritarian diet that pays attention to the disease-fighting nutrients in foods. Once you are past middle age, the way to start is not with some wishy-washy low fat, high fiber diet.  That is not good enough, you have to do better than that and pay attention to the micronutrient-richness of your meals and achieve comprehensive nutritional adequacy, which is the core of my message.  

 


References:

1. Pereira MA, O'Reilly E, Augustsson K, et al: Dietary fiber and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of cohort studies. Arch Intern Med 2004, 164:370-376.

2. O'Keefe SJ, Ou J, Aufreiter S, et al: Products of the colonic microbiota mediate the effects of diet on colon cancer risk. J Nutr 2009, 139:2044-2048.

3. Singh PN, Fraser GE: Dietary risk factors for colon cancer in a low-risk population. Am J Epidemiol 1998, 148:761-774.

4. Uchida K, Kono S, Yin G, et al: Dietary fiber, source foods and colorectal cancer risk: the Fukuoka Colorectal Cancer Study. Scand J Gastroenterol 2010, 45:1223-1231.

5. Park Y, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al: Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer: a pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association 2005, 294:2849-2857.

6. Michels KB, Fuchs CS, Giovannucci E, et al: Fiber intake and incidence of colorectal cancer among 76,947 women and 47,279 men. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 2005, 14:842-849.

7. Terry P, Giovannucci E, Michels KB, et al: Fruit, vegetables, dietary fiber, and risk of colorectal cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2001, 93:525-533.

8. Wakai K, Date C, Fukui M, et al: Dietary fiber and risk of colorectal cancer in the Japan collaborative cohort study. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 2007, 16:668-675.

9. Northwestern University (2011, March 23). Load up on fiber now, avoid heart disease later. . In ScienceDaily; 2011.

10. Ning H, Van Horn L, Shay CM, et al: Dietary Fiber Intake and Long Term Cardiovascular Risk: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2003-2008. In American Heart Association: Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism 2011.


 

Red meat consumption increases ischemic stroke risk

Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., and the third leading cause of death, killing 137,000 Americans each year.[1]

There are two types of stroke – ischemic and hemorrhagic. Most strokes (about 85%) are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain becomes blocked either by a clot or a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque. The minority of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes, caused by the rupture of a blood vessel leading to bleeding in the brain. Ischemic stroke, similar to a heart attack, is caused by atherosclerosis, whereas hemorrhagic stroke is primarily caused by vessel damage due to years of elevated blood pressure.

A recent study has found that the consumption of red meat, at quantities similar to the average American’s intake, is associated with a large increase in risk of ischemic stroke. Processed meats were also associated with ischemic stroke risk. [2]

In this study, dietary patterns of 34,670 Swedish women were recorded, and the incidence of stroke was recorded over the following 10 years. The women had no cancer or cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. Women who ate at least 3.6 ounces of red meat daily were 42% more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, compared to those who ate less than one ounce per day. The average American eats 3 ounces of red meat daily, which in this study was associated with a 22% increase in risk. Also, women who ate 1.5 ounces or more of processed meat per day had a 24% increase in risk for ischemic stroke compared to those who ate less than 0.5 ounces per day.[3, 4]

In contrast, there is new evidence that dietary antioxidants, as measured by total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of the diet are protective against ischemic stroke.

Participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), with the highest vs. lowest TAC had a 59% reduction in risk. Of course the foods with the highest antioxidant capacity are the nutrient-dense plant foods like green vegetables and berries. [5]

What is the connection between red and processed meats and ischemic stroke?

Atherosclerosis. First, red meat is a calorie-dense, protein-concentrated, saturated fat-rich food with a low content of micronutrients – these characteristics promote inflammation, weight gain and increased cholesterol levels, leading to formation of atherosclerotic plaque. As such, red meat consumption is associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease and all-cause mortality. [6-9] Since atherosclerotic heart disease and ischemic stroke are so similar, it makes sense that red meat consumption would also increase stroke risk.

Blood pressure is another potential connection. Processed meats are usually high in sodium, which contributes to elevated blood pressure, the most important risk factor for both types of stroke; elevated blood pressure accounts for 62% of strokes.[10] Although salt intake is the dietary factor most known for increasing blood pressure, red meat intake is also associated with high blood pressure. Women who consumed 3.5 servings of red meat per week were found to have a 24% increase in risk of hypertension over a ten-year follow-up period.[11] A 7-year study of middle-aged men similarly found that meat intake was associated with larger increases in blood pressure, while vegetable and fruit intake were associated with smaller increases in blood pressure over time.[12]

Heme iron present in red meat is another factor, which may raise blood pressure and increase oxidative stress. Positive associations were found between heme iron (found only in animal foods) and blood pressure, and negative associations were found between non-heme iron (found in plant foods) intake and blood pressure. [13] Also, the heme iron in red meat can accumulate and cause free radical damage, which is known to contribute to the atherosclerotic process. [14]

These studies paint a clear picture – high nutrient, high antioxidant foods like vegetables and fruit are protective against stroke, and red and processed meats – low nutrient, low antioxidant foods - increase the risk of stroke.

 

References:
1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Stroke. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/.
2. Larsson, S.C., J. Virtamo, and A. Wolk, Red meat consumption and risk of stroke in Swedish women. Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation, 2011. 42(2): p. 324-9.
3. Reuters: Red meat raises women's stroke risk: study. The Montreal Gazette.
4. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Loss-adjusted Food Availibility: Spreadsheets. Available from: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodConsumption/FoodGuideSpreadsheets.htm#meat.
5. Del Rio, D., et al., Total antioxidant capacity of the diet is associated with lower risk of ischemic stroke in a large Italian cohort. The Journal of nutrition, 2011. 141(1): p. 118-23.
6. Preis, S.R., et al., Dietary protein and risk of ischemic heart disease in middle-aged men. Am J Clin Nutr, 2010. 92(5): p. 1265-72.
7. 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.
8. Jakobsen, M.U., et al., Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 89(5): p. 1425-32.
9. Fraser, G.E., Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases? The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2009. 89(5): p. 1607S-1612S.
10. He, F.J. and G.A. MacGregor, A comprehensive review on salt and health and current experience of worldwide salt reduction programmes. J Hum Hypertens, 2009. 23(6): p. 363-84.
11. Wang, L., et al., Meat intake and the risk of hypertension in middle-aged and older women. Journal of hypertension, 2008. 26(2): p. 215-22.
12. Miura, K., et al., Relation of vegetable, fruit, and meat intake to 7-year blood pressure change in middle-aged men: the Chicago Western Electric Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2004. 159(6): p. 572-80.
13. Tzoulaki, I., et al., Relation of iron and red meat intake to blood pressure: cross sectional epidemiological study. Bmj, 2008. 337: p. a258.
14. Brewer, G.J., Iron and copper toxicity in diseases of aging, particularly atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 2007. 232(2): p. 323-35.

 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Mark

Mark was experiencing the same physical symptoms and emotional fears that befall many middle-aged males; that of living in fear of an impending heart attack and leaving their children prematurely with no father to help raise them. Not only did Mark take control of his health destiny and get his health back, but became one of Dr. Fuhrman’s first Nutritional Education Trainers (NETs) to help others do the same! Welcome to Disease Proof, Mark. 

 before after images of Mark  

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

I was overweight, but in denial.  Being 6'3" and carrying around an extra 65 lbs. wasn't as noticeable on me as it would have been on someone that was a bit shorter.  I was always playing sports when I was young, so it was hard for me to accept that I was overweight.  I was on four prescription medications for asthma and a perpetual runny nose.  I always over ate and consumed a deadly diet.


How did you feel then?

I was tired all the time and would wake up every night needing my inhaler so I could breathe.  I was also worried about the heart attack that I knew was probably only a year or two away and was very concerned that if I didn't do something my two daughters may lose their father to some disease.

 

How did you find out about ETL?

After experiencing a severe cramp during a morning run I took a look at my leg and noticed how it had lost a lot of hair, just like my dad's legs before he died due to heart disease.  This was a wake-up call for me.  I started searching for ways to improve my health and began doing a lot of reading.  I learned about "detoxifying" during a cruise.  While researching detoxifying I learned about some of the benefits of fasting and looked for books on fasting in the library.  That's when I found Dr. Fuhrman's first book, Fasting and Eating for Health.  While reading this book everything made sense.  Unlike many of the previous "health" books I had been reading, Dr. Fuhrman didn't just tell what to do, but why this advice worked and the proof with references to scientific studies. Soon after, I also found Eat to Live.


after photo of MarkHow do you feel now?

Great!  I now weigh the same as I did in high school, and I no longer wake up at night struggling for air.  I've been off all medications since I began the program about five years ago.  I don't feel hot or sweat all the time like I used to.  Gone are the days of being lethargic.  In fact, two years after beginning the program I began training and ran my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon; one week before turning 51.  I did it in 4 hours 22 seconds and didn't walk a single step along the way.  It was pretty emotional for me when the Marine Officer (I'm a former Marine) placed that medal around my neck as I reflected on how much I was enjoying my new life of health!  The nutritarian lifestyle didn't just heal me physically; it increased my self esteem and gave me a different outlook on my future. 

   Before  After
Weight  249 lbs  185 lbs
Cholesterol  163  120
Blood pressure  144 / 95  118 / 75



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

  • Learn as much as you can before starting the program. 

  • Learn that your taste buds will change; that you can lose your addictions to toxic foods; that this way of eating will become more and more enjoyable; and it will eventually become what is "normal" for you. 

  • Don't be discouraged by those around you who will come up with any number of reasons why you should go back to eating the way they do. 

  • Take it one step at a time.  You don't have to go all out in the beginning, but it's okay if you do. 

  • Find positive support somewhere.  Dr. Fuhrman's Member Center on the web is a great place for this.

     

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

It has changed my whole outlook on life.  After years of worrying about a heart attack, these thoughts are now gone.  Every day seems brighter when you have your health.  It has also been rewarding to be able to help others with what I've learned.  Along these lines, I decided to become a Nutritional Education Trainer (NET).  I figured having this title would give me more credibility when telling others about the benefits of the nutritarian lifestyle.  Even though I'm too busy with my current job, I hope to get more involved and lead group sessions after I retire in a few years.  What a great hobby!



Congratulations Mark for earning your health back and your Nutritional Education Trainer certification!

Interview with a Nutritarian: Mike

Recently Mike posted a thread titled, “Down 10 pant sizes!” on the member center of DrFuhrman.com.  I asked him if he’d be willing to be interviewed on Disease Proof to inspire others to get their health back also, and he graciously obliged to share his story.  Not only did he drop pants sizes, but also his bottles of medications.  Welcome to Disease Proof, Mike!   

before after pics of male nutritarian

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

Due to unhealthy eating habits, including eating out too much, I had been getting heavier and slowing down with each passing birthday. At age forty I weighed 165 lbs; at fifty I weighed 195 lbs; and at sixty I weighed 215 lbs.  I’d always been active at playing golf, surf fishing and cycling.  However, the extra weight made a walk around the golf course an adventure, surf fish very tiring, and small hills on bike rides seemed like pedaling the Alps.  I was also getting tired at work and needed stimulants to make it through the second part of each day. I was a fixture at the local chocolate shop as I needed a shot of chocolate to get me through the afternoons.
 
I was scared because I started having chest pains while climbing stairs, hiking hills on the golf course, and in stressful situations. One day I encountered difficulty swallowing, followed by chest pains which landed me in the hospital. I ducked a heart attack, but tests revealed that my left descending lower artery was 50% blocked so they started me on aspirin, blood pressure meds and statins.


How did you find out about ETL?

I’d given up smoking in the mid 80’s and tried Pritkin, McDougall, and a few others to get healthy, but they required a lot of food preparation so I eventually quit following them.  When I got home from the hospital, I wanted to see if there was anything “new” on the market for healthy eating so I scoured the book section of the local health food store and discovered The China Study and Eat to LiveEat to Live was just what I was looking for: simple to shop for and prepare, with very little clean up.  This was perfect for me as I worked and wanted to be able to do most of the shopping, prep and cleaning myself. 

I visited Dr. Fuhrman for the first time in January 2009.  After I was weighed and measured (including my waist size and level of nutrients in my body), he clearly explained to me that I needed to follow the “straight and narrow” and lose a lot of weight pronto, or else suffer the consequences.  He told me that the extra fat on my mid section was probably as much responsible for my artery blockage as my cholesterol, because that fat produces plaque; an important reason not to be overweight!  I decided to listen to Dr. Fuhrman as he made a lot more sense to me than the cardiologist who was only interested in my cholesterol and blood pressure. 

 

How do you feel now?

ETL has given me 10 to 15 years of my life back!  I’m now off of all meds (statins and blood pressure lowering meds), and I feel better, look better, and think better than ever before; plus, I have the additional confidence that I’ll live a long and healthy life devoid of needing to see a cardiologist again!  I also don’t have to worry about developing diabetes (it runs in my family) or having a stroke, and eating lots of cruciferous vegetables, fruits and beans greatly reduces my risk of getting cancer. From a mental perspective this is huge as I’m a big believer that actively doing something is akin to moving forward under fire, and increases confidence and outlook on life. 

[At age 63, Mike recently finished a 102 mile bike ride in 6:10; and over Memorial Day weekend he completed a sixty mile ride with an “A” team of cyclists, and was able to hang with the group for the entire time.  He finds this to be unbelievable, because two years ago he was afraid to ride to with “C” cyclists, because he didn’t think that he could keep up with them.  Now he’s approached by some of the top riders and asked, “What’s the name of that book you told me about?”!]

 

 

before

now

Weight

216 lbs

158 lbs

Waist measurement

  43”

  33”

Blood pressure

145/90 (with meds)

115/70 (no meds)

Cholesterol

165 (105/35 ratio)

125 (60/45 ratio)

 

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

Nutritarian eating is a simple and healthful way to eat that combats all major and chronic diseases killing modern man . . . so go for it!  You won’t be sorry!
 
Also, when I first read Dr. Fuhrman’s claims, and even after I’d met him, I wasn’t so sure if I was being taken as it seemed too simple: Greens to the rescue? No meds? No fancy formulas?  All these things sounded too good to be true, but I found everything to be true! 

Don’t wait for fear of a heart attack to be motivated to change!

 

Congratulations Mike ~ we applaud you for getting your health back!

Bypass Surgery

In January I interviewed Ronnie, who had quadruple heart bypass surgery at the relatively young age of 46. On the member center of DrFuhrman.com I recently asked him to describe what the surgery was like, and requested that he “spare no details.” All of us were deeply moved by his story, and Dr. Fuhrman suggested that I post it here on Disease Proof. Dr. Fuhrman also stated that bypass surgeries are performed all over the country, every hour of every day; and that this suffering can be completely avoided. May we all wake up to the serious reality of eating disease promoting foods.

patient after heart bypass surgery

What were the few days leading up to your surgery like?

My addictions and health had deteriorated to the point that when I ate, I would have difficulty breathing. I couldn’t do the simplest of tasks (shower, take out the trash, move furniture, mop or vacuum the floor) without being out of breath. My entire body hurt continuously. I had bleeding hemorrhoids and had to wear protection that often wasn't adequate. Every time I went to the doctor, about every two weeks, he would look at me and shake his head in disgust as he wrote out a new or stronger prescription. Every time he listed the same reason for my infirmities: morbid obesity.

I was taking high doses of two, powerful blood pressure medications and was prescribed the third because it was still high, 161/110. I knew I was in trouble. In the few days preceding my surgery, I remember feeling impending doom. I shucked it off like I always did thinking in the end I would get everything right with a pill or a sudden burst of self will. On September 8, 2005, I ate a heavy lunch and then went to my office and sat down at the computer. I felt discomfort in my chest, but it wasn’t severe so I thought it was indigestion. It got a little stronger so I told my staff that I was going home. I was awakened the next morning by chest pain that was more severe, and it wouldn’t go away. I went to the local hospital and was sent home after a battery of tests which they forwarded to my doctor.

My doctor called on Saturday at 8pm and told me to go immediately to a specific emergency room in Dallas that specializes in heart care. They took one look at me and the symptoms I was presenting and admitted me. I remember the doctor bending over me, and in a solemn tone said, “Mr. Valentine, I’m so, so sorry, but you’re going to have to have bypass surgery, and you’re going to have it quickly.” Needless to say my wife and I were devastated.


Please explain what bypass surgery was like.

I can’t begin to explain all the images and thoughts that ran through my head as I awaited open heart surgery. The regrets of past actions weighed heavily on my heart. I felt utterly hopeless and full of self disdain.  Plus, it was humiliating to be shaved from head to toe by two aides who were more concerned with the way their kids had been misbehaving than the patient who was facing the most traumatic event of his life. 

Right before being transferred to the operating room, I asked to see my wife, kids and brother. They were standing by my side as I explained what I wanted in the event the surgery didn't go well. I made it clear that I didn’t want to remain on life-support, and told them how much I loved them. As they were leaving the room, I called my brother aside, grabbed his hand, and felt his strength as he clasped my hand. I pulled him close and looked deep into his tear filled eyes and said, "Gary, you will be the one that has to make the call. Peggy will not have the strength." We put our foreheads together and shared one of the deepest, most heartfelt moments that I have ever experienced. Neither one of us could speak, but volumes were communicated in that utter silence.

I was ready. I called for the techs, and as they began to transfer me to the gurney, I tried to rise up a little and my back suddenly cramped. I exclaimed, "My back is cramping" but they just laughed it off and said, "Pretty soon you won't be feeling anything."

In the OR they transferred me to a stainless steel slab, and I keep telling them that my back was cramping in a full spasm and that I needed to sit up to relieve it. They wouldn’t let me due to all the needles and wires hooked up to me. So I suffered in excruciating pain while staring at the bright light overhead.

Next, the doctor put a mask on my face and said, “This will take care of your pain and give you relief.”  I said a prayer, pictured my wife in my mind, and then closed my eyes...

The next thing I recall was the most exhilarating thing I've ever heard: my name!

My wife and the nurses were calling my name in the recovery room. I had survived! I was given a new lease on life; a new chance, and I was ready for anything . . . so I thought.

That joyful moment was overcome with excruciating pain in my back. My spasm was still there after five hours of surgery!  Then I felt like I was choking to death because of the ventilating tube that was stuck down my throat. The back spasm would not let my lungs expand enough to get a good breath. When I tried, I would get a sharp pain that would stop my lungs from expanding and filling with air. I desperately tried to communicate this to the nurses, but they just blew it off as me wanting the tube out of my throat, which is normal for everyone after surgery.

I was strapped to the bed. I couldn’t move for over eight hours while feeling the awful cramping, coupled with the fact that I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I’d been buried alive. When they finally took the tube out, and let me sit up, my spasm immediately went away. 

Then I was transported to a hospital room for the arduous task of recovery.

Six days afterwards, the surgeon came into my room to examine me, and after pushing on my chest, he made the decision to operate again to re-secure my chest bone because one of the wires had given way.

I had no choice. I had to undergo another major surgery.

          surgery                 

Almost three years later, Ronnie had to have three stents put into an artery, and was sent home to die.  The next morning he awoke at 3am with more chest pain so he typed “reverse heart disease” into his computer’s search engine.  That day, July 10, 2008, he discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site and embraced the high nutrient eating-style.  Today, Ronnie is the epitome of health and fitness.  Not only did he lose 140 lbs, but he is now free from all medications, surgical procedures and dependence upon doctors.  He is now well! 

                      male before after pic

Imagine if Ronnie had found Dr. Fuhrman earlier, none of this would’ve been necessary. When the nation learns about how effective Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian diet is to rapidly reverse even very advanced heart disease, who in their right mind would choose bypass surgery? 

 

image credit: surgery, 62mileclub.com

A Valentine Love Story

 

For many, Valentine’s Day is filled with candlelit dinners, flowers and romance. Yet, unfortunately, for many others, it's just another day filled with disappointment due to a loved one’s confusing perils of addiction. 

Addiction is not solitary; it painfully affects everyone, especially those closest to the person caught in the web of its entanglements. 

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Peggy, the lovely wife of Ronnie Valentine, who I recently interviewed on Disease Proof. If you recall, Ronnie was not only caught up in food and alcohol addiction, but smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. I asked Peggy if she’d be willing to share her perspective of what it was like being married to someone drowning in addiction, (with Ronnie’s blessing), and she wholeheartedly agreed to it. Welcome to Disease Proof, Peggy.

  

 

 

                      picture of young couple

What was your life like being married to someone trapped in addiction?

When Ronnie and I married in 1985, he was disciplined, athletic, healthy, and balanced. His addiction to cigarettes, alcohol and food developed slowly over time, as did my coping mechanisms. I definitely progressed in a downward spiral, in my own way, right along with him. 

As a couple, our once normal, loving partnership turned to one of caregiver and sick, disabled person.  Having to pick up additional responsibilities to cover for Ronnie’s physical incapacities and emotional absence due to behaviors that were chosen by him, I continued in a repetitive cycle of anger, pity, hope, and forgiveness, which was detrimental to my own health and well being. 

 

How did Ronnie’s addictions affect your children and other relationships?

Addiction in our case, as I think for most people suffering from it, affected every relationship within our family, plus our social relationships, in a negative way. Our children experienced the absence of their father. His desire to be in their lives was limited as the addictions were the driving force in his life. I remember telling the kids about a year before Ronnie discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site that I felt strongly their father would not be around much longer. We were living with a person who was voluntarily and slowly killing himself. I knew that his will to live had long departed. Although we never talked about it, I knew that Ronnie was putting affairs in order so that I could carry on in his absence. And because his preference was to socialize with those who liked to participate in the same things, our social life also became out-of-balance as isolation took place of relationships.

 

married coupleHow did it affect your finances?

Ronnie was taking medications that were costing over $600/month in out-of-pocket expenses! Our finances were crippled, because more than $2500 every month was being thrown out the window to fund his addictions and medications. Today I’m proud to say that we spend absolutely nothing on prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, cigarettes, alcohol, eating out, junk food, or any other vice. 

 

How did you cope with the ongoing stress? 

I wish I could say that I was the pillar of strength and support, but that would be an inaccurate assessment. However, I do believe for those married that we ultimately want our marriages to succeed. The need to WANT to trust our partner is strong. I knew that this was the foundation to our relationship. If the trust was gone, we were through.

I experienced a naïve type of hope that wanted to find something good to hang on to, which became my coping mechanism. However, eventually over the years, my instinct and good sense confirmed to me that this problem wasn’t going to get any better or go away. As a last resort, I went to my God on Ronnie’s behalf and begged for mercy. I began to pray a lot.

Only God can change a heart. All the diets, disciplined efforts, exercise programs, treatment centers, hypnosis, or any other methods are destined to fail if the heart of the person has not decided to live. I think many people have to hit bottom in order to look up, and Ronnie was no exception. After his second trip to the hospital for treatment of serious heart disease in three years, we were both at rock bottom.

 

What was the turning point for you?

Upon returning home after having three stents put into his arteries [two years after quadruple bypass surgery], I watched Ronnie search for a new way to live. He discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site and began to communicate with him about his health. As Ronnie gained information, he began to change. Although that first year was hard, (Ronnie had been smoking four packs of cigarettes a day and stopped cold turkey), his decision to live never faltered. It was an instant decision on his part. Seeing his will to live again was a turning point for me as I could look forward to a future with the man that I loved the most in the world. My assumption of being a widow was no longer valid! God had come through in His mercy.

 

          before and after pics of male

What has it been like to see Ronnie change right before your eyes?

There has been a lot of attention, and rightfully so, spent on gaining knowledge about vitamins, minerals, what and when to eat, how foods affect the body, human anatomy, exercise, and managing stress; almost a hobby and passion for Ronnie. I am very proud of his dedication to learn this information and his willingness to share it with anyone ready to listen.

A new trust has been restored to our relationship. We are now on the same page for the first time in years.  Our children have been released of the constant burden of worry, not only for their father, but for me as well.

Sometimes I still forget that I don’t have to do everything by myself anymore. I now have a healthy and fit husband who can help bring in groceries, mow the lawn, and move heavy boxes and furniture with ease; all of which he couldn’t do when he was sick and incapacitated.  I no longer see our money flying out the door with nothing to show for it. Our life is so much better and easier, and an open book to family and friends with nothing to hide.

 

Is there anything that you would like to share with those who are committed to a loved one through the devastation of addiction?

Ronnie was hurting, but he was a dynamic and extraordinary individual waiting to jump out and live again.  I think it’s important not to put a lot of unnecessary blame on someone caught in addiction, and in the process, bypass our own shortcomings. 

If you are reading this and are a parent or grandparent, be watchful of your children and grandchildren. Their physical and emotional well-beings are impressionable, and their nutritional habits are being formed by you. Some of the answers to addiction may lie here, and I suspect that if taught early, good habits and health would carry throughout a lifetime.

 

                                          

Happy Valentines Day Ronnie and Peggy Valentine! May you have many wonderful years together!

 

 

Image credits: roses, theresampetoskey@Flickr; silhouette, emergingcity.com