Kim Dropped 95 lbs and Got Her Health and Life Back!

Kim was 40-years-old, and mother of four, when life took a tailspin into several years of intense stress with ailing parents who eventually passed away within eight weeks of each other.   Between the ongoing struggles and debilitating depression that consumed her life she gained 90 lbs in a relatively short amount of time. Unfortunately, her doctor put her on more and more medications to attempt to relieve the symptoms of dangerously high blood pressure, rising blood sugars, and other maladies of a nutrient-deficient diet. However, today Kim is the epitome of vibrant health and well being as a result of following Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian approach. Welcome to Disease Proof, Kim!  

                    

 

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

My life was a roller coaster.  I was a yo-yo dieter for many years and each time I gained more and more weight.  In 2005 I gave birth to my 4th child just shy of my 40th birthday, and my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.  Stress and hormones ruled my life, and my doctor said my blood pressure was high and that I needed meds.  I took them periodically but never followed up.  In 2007 my mom's health took a 180 degree turn for the worst, and stress, depression and poor eating habits caused me to gain about 30 lbs. The depression sent me to the doctor who decided to put me on a regiment of meds, and then I gained an additional 30 lbs almost instantly.  

My mom and dad passed away within 8 weeks of each other so the doctor doubled my meds, and I gained another 30 lbs! By this time my blood pressure was 165/105 with medication.  My hemoglobin A1c [measures glucose in the blood] was up to 8 so the doctor put me on more meds. I was starting to have mild chest pains and shortness of breath all the time; I even had to lie down after showering. Instinctively, I knew that something had to change quickly or my youngest, who was 5 at the time, could possibly grow up without a Mommy. 



How did you discover Dr. Fuhrman?

One day I was watching TV while folding laundry.  When looking at the TV Preview Guide I saw 3 Steps to Incredible Health listed on PBS.  I’ve always been a sucker to anything weight-loss related so I decided to watch it.  As I listened I was mesmerized. “How could this possibly work?  Eating real food seemed so incredibly simple but this was the answer!” It was that day, June 4, 2011 that I stopped eating any processed food and adopted the 90/10 rule*.  After losing 50 lbs and researching more about eliminating animal products I became a Vegan.

* [Dr. Fuhrman mentioned in 3 Steps to Incredible Health that we have to flip from eating 90% animal products & refined foods and 10% produce to the other way around.]



How do you feel now?

I've lost 95 lbs, and I have nothing but energy! I’m like the Energizer Bunny now; I'll never sit on the sidelines again! Plus, I’m never hungry, and I never count calories, which used to drive me crazy back in the day of other diets.  I cried the day my doctor told me my blood pressure was 106/75. 
 

 

 BEFORE

 AFTER

Height

 5’ 5”

 

Weight

 231 lbs

 135 lbs

Cholesterol

 165

 136

Fasting Blood Sugar

 145

   81

Blood Pressure

 165/105 (with meds)

 106/75 (without meds)

Size

 18

    4

 

What are your success tips?

  • Be organized!  Know what you need for the day ahead.  I’d take too much food to work and took pride when I’d bring more than half of it home.  Once my body received all its necessary nutrients it told me when I was full - truly a miracle!!  
  • When eating out, I always look at the menu before I go so that I know what I'll order beforehand.  That way I'm not making unwise decisions under the pressure of the moment. 

 

In a nutshell, what has the nutritarian approach done for you?

Being a Nutritarian has given me my health and life back.  I’ve really enjoyed learning how nutrition works and incorporating it in all that I do every single day.  I’ll never go back to the Western style of eating.  This is my way of eating for the rest of my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

 

Congratulations Kim! 

 

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! 

 

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: Marty

Marty is your typical, middle-aged male that knew his health was precarious, but he was living in denial of the seriousness of it. Being a Store Team Leader for a Whole Foods Market he wanted to become a better leader by getting a grasp on healthy eating so he signed up to attend one of Dr. Fuhrman’s week-long Health Immersions for Whole Foods team members. His decision to attend was mostly a professional one for the betterment of his career, but he did have a slightly personal goal to lose some weight in the process also. He wanted to lead by example; not just have a bunch of head knowledge. However, he discovered a shocking surprise at the Health Immersion. Welcome to Disease Proof, Marty.

  

What was your life like before attending the Health Immersion?

I was 41-years-old and had reached my highest weight of 286 lbs. (5’9”) last spring.  Even when I was obese I was a happy person; I had a great family, wife, and job, but I was clueless about my health. I played sports all the time, even when I was that heavy. I was on a soft ball team and was embarrassed to be an obese athlete and so out of shape. I clearly recall one game where I was running to first base and suddenly became out of breath. I thought, “What’s happened that I’ve let myself get this out of shape? I can’t believe I’ve let myself go this far.”  

I attributed my declining fitness to working sixty hours a week at a sedentary desk job. I never made any connection to the food that I was putting into my body. My body ached all over, and I was lethargic and thirsty all the time so I’d drink a six-pack of caffeinated soda every day. The caffeine caused sleep deprivation which created a vicious cycle of fatigue and the need for more stimulation to keep me awake during the day.   I started having blurred vision, but associated all the negative symptoms in my life to “old age” creeping up on me. I never liked to go to doctors so I had no idea that my health was rapidly deteriorating. 

 

What happened that changed your life around?

On the first day of the Health Immersion my blood was drawn. A short time later the nurse sat down with me, and looked at me straight in the eyes and asked, “Do you realize that you have diabetes?”

At first I was shocked to hear those words, but then I had an “ah ha” moment. I instantly made the connection: unquenchable thirst, blurred vision, and overwhelming fatigue. My younger brother had been diagnosed with diabetes just a few years earlier and everything made sense to me in that moment. All of a sudden attending the Health Immersion became very personal to me. Then I found out that I had hypertension too. My blood pressure was 156/96 and that was shocking as well! I was also told that due to my  declining health numbers and body fat percentage that I had the biological age equivalent to a 72-year-old! 

The events of that morning were my wake-up call. The denial had ended, and I suddenly had a piqued interest to learn all the information that Dr. Fuhrman was going to be presenting that week. I was no longer there just to learn information to better my profession, but to save my life. I felt like I had just heard the worst news of my life, yet I had won the lottery at the same time! I realized that I had this incredible opportunity in front of me to change and be in control of my future health, and I accepted the challenge!  

 

How do you feel now?

I’m down to 205 lbs. so far, and I feel AMAZING! My fasting blood sugars are between 70 – 80, and my blood pressure averages around 105/70 with absolutely no medications!  My body doesn’t hurt anymore, and I’m no longer tired and thirsty all the time.   I have energy for the first time in years.  The guys on my soft ball team are continually amazed at my progress, and I’m a totally different person because I feel so good now. I no longer have shortness of breath, and people who haven’t seen me in the past six months don’t even recognize me anymore!

 

What success tips do you have to share?

 

  • Don’t be ignorant and in denial of poor health. If you are continually tired, thirsty, and/or have shortness of breath, go to a doctor and get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Don’t put it off. 

  • Knowledge is power. You can change your health destiny. I am the same, happy man that I was before, but now I’m much healthier and in control of my life. If you follow Dr. Fuhrman’s program you can fix your health issues and be off medications. It will save your life!

  • “Good things will come to those who wait”. It took me two months of eating nutritarian foods before I enjoyed them. I fought it. I did not enjoy eating unsalted food, or vegetables, and I did not like giving up sodas. It took two months for my taste buds to change. It was tough, but I discovered that you have to give eating this way a chance. You can’t give up if you want to see results. If you stick with it, and don’t go back to old habits, you will eventually enjoy it! I love eating this way now!

   

Congratulations Marty on winning the lottery of discovering the way to excellent health ~ keep up the great job! You are an inspirational role model to many!

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. 

Almost 20% of young adults have hypertension

Many people believe that it is normal for blood pressure to rise as we age, but this is not true.  Cultures whose diet does not contain excessive added fats, animal protein and salt, and is high in fresh, whole plant foods do not experience the age-related increase in blood pressure that we see in the Western world.1,2 These age-related elevations in blood pressure are not related to age itself – instead they are due to the cumulative destructive effects of a poor diet and insufficient exercise on the circulatory system over years and years. 

Hypertension (blood pressure at or greater than 140/90) is on the rise – between 1996 and 2006, hypertension prevalence in the U.S. increased by 20%.3 Now, new results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health have produced an estimate that 19% of young adults (24 to 32 years old) have hypertension.

Plus, more than half of these individuals were unaware that they had high blood pressure. This 19% figure is markedly higher than previous estimates, and was based on in-home measured blood pressure in 2008 in a population of over 15,000 participants.4,5 This elevated blood pressure will only progress as they continue to harm their blood vessels with salt and processed food. 

If almost 1 in 5 already have blood pressure higher than 140/90 by age 32, just imagine how much trouble this generation is in. First of all, the risk of death from heart attack and stroke begins to increase when blood pressure climbs over 115/75.6  Plus, high blood pressure is an important risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke, kidney disease, stomach cancer, dementia, osteoporosis, hardening of the arteries, arrhythmia, blindness, and enlargement of the heart.7-11

Many people in this age group, who were born between 1976 and 1984, have grown up on diets made up primarily of processed foods and fast food, and this study has revealed that their bodies are starting to show signs of the damage.  If they do not change their habits, they will be prescribed medication that they will have to take for the rest of their lives to control their blood pressure.  But this will not remove the cause of the problem, and will put them at risk for harmful side effects. And their poor lifestyle habits will continue to cause worsening of their cardiovascular disease. Of course, this outcome is avoidable with lifestyle changes.  This generation of young adults can enjoy a long, healthy life without blood pressure-lowering medication by starting to follow these guidelines now:

How to reduce blood pressure naturally

  • Avoid salt.   A population-wide 1200 mg decrease in sodium consumption has been estimated to reduce coronary heart disease cases by 60,000, strokes by 32,000, and heart attacks by 54,000 each year.  Plus, remember that salt does damage unrelated to blood pressure too.

  • Avoid added sugars.

  • Minimize caffeine and alcohol.

  • Focus preferably on plant protein rather than animal protein.12,13

  • Get plenty of minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants by eating primarily whole plant foods. For example, flavonoids from berries have a blood pressure-lowering effect, and nuts can enhance endothelial cell function, which promotes proper blood pressure regulation. Also, a dietary pattern high in fruits and vegetables is consistently associated with healthy blood pressure levels in observational studies.14-16

  • Exercise regularly and vigorously.

  • Follow my micronutrient rich dietary program and regain a normal weight.

 

 

 

References:

1. Freis ED: Salt, volume and the prevention of hypertension. Circulation 1976;53:589-595.

2. Sever PS, Gordon D, Peart WS, et al: Blood-pressure and its correlates in urban and tribal Africa. Lancet 1980;2:60-64.

3. American Heart Association: High Blood Pressure Statistics. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4621. Accessed June 2, 2011.

4. Nguyen QC, Tabor JW, Entzel PP, et al: Discordance in National Estimates of Hypertension Among Young Adults. Epidemiology 2011.

5. Neale T: 1 in 5 Young Adults May Have Hypertention. MedPage Today. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Hypertension/26700?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&userid=322421. Accessed June 2, 2011.

6. Lewington S, Clarke R, Qizilbash N, et al: Age-specific relevance of usual blood pressure to vascular mortality: a meta-analysis of individual data for one million adults in 61 prospective studies. Lancet 2002;360:1903-1913.

7. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2010 Update At-A-Glance. http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/1265665152970DS-3241%20HeartStrokeUpdate_2010.pdf. Accessed January 11, 2011.

8. Sonnenberg A: Dietary salt and gastric ulcer. Gut 1986;27:1138-1142.

9. Tsugane S, Sasazuki S: Diet and the risk of gastric cancer: review of epidemiological evidence. Gastric Cancer 2007;10:75-83.

10. Go O, Rosendorff C: Hypertension and atrial fibrillation. Curr Cardiol Rep 2009;11:430-435.

11. DellaCroce JT, Vitale AT: Hypertension and the eye. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 2008;19:493-498.

12. Elliott P, Stamler J, Dyer AR, et al: Association between protein intake and blood pressure: the INTERMAP Study. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:79-87.

13. Wang YF, Yancy WS, Jr., Yu D, et al: The relationship between dietary protein intake and blood pressure: results from the PREMIER study. J Hum Hypertens 2008;22:745-754.

14. Alonso A, de la Fuente C, Martin-Arnau AM, et al: Fruit and vegetable consumption is inversely associated with blood pressure in a Mediterranean population with a high vegetable-fat intake: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Study. Br J Nutr 2004;92:311-319.

15. Fu CH, Yang CC, Lin CL, et al: Effects of long-term vegetarian diets on cardiovascular autonomic functions in healthy postmenopausal women. Am J Cardiol 2006;97:380-383.

16. Utsugi MT, Ohkubo T, Kikuya M, et al: Fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of hypertension determined by self measurement of blood pressure at home: the Ohasama study. Hypertens Res 2008;31:1435-1443.


 

Berries help keep blood pressure down

Over 5,000 different flavonoid antioxidants have been identified, many of these in commonly consumed plant foods – there are many different types of flavonoids:

  • Flavanols are the most common, and are abundant in onions, kale, leeks, broccoli, apples, blueberries, red wine, and tea.
  • Less common are the flavones, which are found in celery and parsley.
  • Citrus fruits have high levels of flavanones.
  • Flavan-3-ols, which include catechins, are found in grapes, tea, and cocoa.
  • Soybeans contain isoflavones.
  • Anthocyanins (derivatives of anthocyanidins) are potent antioxidants and pigments that color red, blue, and purple foods like berries, grapes, currants, blood oranges, eggplant, red cabbage, red onions, and some beans and grains.1

In addition to their antioxidant capacity, flavonoids may help the ability of the muscle layer of blood vessels to relax (vasodilation). Endothelial cells, which make up the inner layer of blood vessels, produce nitric oxide in order to regulate blood pressure. There is evidence that flavonoids increase the activity of the enzyme (eNOS; endothelial nitric oxide synthase) in endothelial cells necessary for nitric oxide production.2 In agreement with the idea that flavonoids have beneficial effects on blood pressure, a meta-analysis of 15 studies concluded that regular cocoa consumption can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive and pre-hypertensive individuals.3

Photo of strawberries and blueberriesOne notable study focused on the anthocyanins in berries and their effects on blood pressure. Men and women from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and Nurses’ Health study, respectively were followed for 14 years, and their flavonoid intake was calculated based on the foods they reported eating. Reduced risk for hypertension was found for high intake of anthocyanins (an 8% decrease in risk), as well as apigenin (a flavone) and catechin (a flavan-3-ol). The foods that contributed the bulk of the anthocyanin in the diets of the subjects were blueberries and strawberries.

When the researchers analyzed blueberry consumption specifically they found that compared with those who ate no blueberries, those who ate one serving per week decreased their risk of hypertension by 10%. 4,5

If there was a 10% decrease in hypertension risk for one serving of blueberries per week, imagine how protective it would be to eat one serving of berries every day! Also flavonoids act in several other ways to protect against heart disease, for example by reducing inflammation, LDL oxidation, and platelet aggregation. 1,6 As a result of these effects, several prospective studies have found associations between high flavonoid intake and considerable reductions (up to 45%) in the risk of coronary heart disease.7-10 Flavonoids also have documented anti-cancer properties.11,12

Berries truly are superfoods – they are low in sugar, and high in fiber and phytochemicals, with the highest nutrient to calorie ratio of all fruits. Eating berries daily will not only promote vasodilation, but also provide the body with protection against free radicals, inflammation, and cancer.

 

References:

1. Erdman JW, Jr., Balentine D, Arab L, et al: Flavonoids and heart health: proceedings of the ILSI North America Flavonoids Workshop, May 31-June 1, 2005, Washington, DC. The Journal of nutrition 2007, 137:718S-737S.
2. Galleano M, Pechanova O, Fraga CG: Hypertension, nitric oxide, oxidants, and dietary plant polyphenols. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 2010, 11:837-848.
3. Ried K, Sullivan T, Fakler P, et al: Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. BMC medicine 2010, 8:39.
4. Cassidy A, O'Reilly EJ, Kay C, et al: Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2011, 93:338-347.
5. Bioactive Compounds in Berries Can Reduce High Blood Pressure. In ScienceDaily; 2011.
6. Chong MF, Macdonald R, Lovegrove JA: Fruit polyphenols and CVD risk: a review of human intervention studies. The British journal of nutrition 2010, 104 Suppl 3:S28-39.
7. Huxley RR, Neil HA: The relation between dietary flavonol intake and coronary heart disease mortality: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003, 57:904-908.
8. Knekt P, Kumpulainen J, Jarvinen R, et al: Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2002, 76:560-568.
9. Mursu J, Voutilainen S, Nurmi T, et al: Flavonoid intake and the risk of ischaemic stroke and CVD mortality in middle-aged Finnish men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The British journal of nutrition 2008, 100:890-895.
10. Mink PJ, Scrafford CG, Barraj LM, et al: Flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease mortality: a prospective study in postmenopausal women. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2007, 85:895-909.
11. Androutsopoulos VP, Papakyriakou A, Vourloumis D, et al: Dietary flavonoids in cancer therapy and prevention: substrates and inhibitors of cytochrome P450 CYP1 enzymes. Pharmacol Ther 2010, 126:9-20.
12. Ramos S: Effects of dietary flavonoids on apoptotic pathways related to cancer chemoprevention. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 2007, 18:427-442.

 

Blood pressure control with medication does not prevent heart attack, stroke, or death

One in 3 adults in the U.S. has hypertension. In those over the age of 55, more than 50% have hypertension, which is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Sixty-nine percent heart attack sufferers and 77% of stroke sufferers have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg.1 Many organizations recommend that blood pressure be kept below 130/80 in order to prevent heart attack and stroke. However, a meta-analysis of 61 studies has concluded that risk for heart attack and stroke begins to increase when blood pressure is elevated above 115/75.2

The INVEST study involved 22,576 hypertensive participants aged 50 years or older. This particular portion of the study focused on participants that had both diabetes and coronary artery disease, in addition to hypertension . Subjects were given anti-hypertensive drugs (either a calcium channel blocker or a beta-blocker), and were placed in one of three groups according to their level of blood pressure control: tight control (<130), usual control (130-139), or uncontrolled (>139). Incidences of heart attack, stroke, and death were recorded over an 8-year period. Scientists found no differences in any of these outcomes between tight and usual control groups.3,4

This is a classic example of treating the symptom rather than the cause. Of course heart attacks and strokes were not prevented – one specific symptom, blood pressure, was addressed with medication, but the patients already had heart disease and diabetes, and they did not eliminate the toxic diet style that was the initial cause of these conditions. Therefore, their heart disease continued to progress.

Blood pressure can be kept under control naturally. High blood pressure is almost non-existent in non-Westernized populations.5-7 Salt and added sugars are significant contributors to elevated blood pressure, and these must be minimized. Reducing salt consumption alone has the potential to save millions of lives.8 A diet of whole plant foods also provides a favorable ratio of potassium to sodium. another important factor in blood pressure regulation.9

Most importantly, a diet based on natural plant foods does not merely address the problem with blood pressure; by maximizing protective nutrients, it reduces every risk factor for heart disease – LDL cholesterol, inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, etc. – a high nutrient diet is the most comprehensive preventive measure.

Also remember that anti-hypertension medications have plenty of side effects, including fatigue, headaches, and lightheadedness, plus increased risk of developing cardiac arrhythmias and diabetes. 10-12 In fact, excessive blood pressure lowering with medication can be dangerous, especially for the elderly, because it can prevent adequate blood flow to the heart leading to cardiac arrthymias and sudden cardiac death.13 Dietary modifications and exercise can radically prolong your life, not only are they much safer than drugs, but they also prevent dementia, cancer and other diseases simultaneously. If you have not read it already, please read my book Eat For Health, so you can more fully understand some of these basic concepts to take back control of your health destiny. Drugs don’t do it.

 

References:
1. American Heart Association. High Blood Pressure - Statistics. Statistical Fact Sheets - Disease/Risk Factors 2010 August 26, 2010]; Available from: http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/1261003279882FS14HBP10.pdf.
2. Lewington, S., et al., Age-specific relevance of usual blood pressure to vascular mortality: a meta-analysis of individual data for one million adults in 61 prospective studies. Lancet, 2002. 360(9349): p. 1903-13.
3. Cooper-DeHoff, R.M., et al., Tight blood pressure control and cardiovascular outcomes among hypertensive patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease. JAMA, 2010. 304(1): p. 61-8.
4. Schwenk, T., Blood Pressure Control in Patients with Diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease: No benefit for lowering BP to <130/80 mm Hg, in Journal Watch General Medicine. 2010.
5. Murphy, H.B., Blood pressure and culture. The contribution of cross-cultural comparisons to psychosomatics. Psychother Psychosom, 1982. 38(1): p. 244-55.
6. Cooper, R., et al., The prevalence of hypertension in seven populations of west African origin. Am J Public Health, 1997. 87(2): p. 160-8.
7. He, J., et al., Body mass and blood pressure in a lean population in southwestern China. Am J Epidemiol, 1994. 139(4): p. 380-9.
8. He, F.J. and G.A. MacGregor, Reducing population salt intake worldwide: from evidence to implementation. Prog Cardiovasc Dis, 2010. 52(5): p. 363-82.
9. Cook, N.R., et al., Joint effects of sodium and potassium intake on subsequent cardiovascular disease: the Trials of Hypertension Prevention follow-up study. Arch Intern Med, 2009. 169(1): p. 32-40.
10. Swaminathan, R.V. and K.P. Alexander, Pulse pressure and vascular risk in the elderly: associations and clinical implications. Am J Geriatr Cardiol, 2006. 15(4): p. 226-32; quiz 133-4.
11. Mitchell, G.F., et al., Pulse pressure and risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation. JAMA, 2007. 297(7): p. 709-15.
12. Elliott, W.J. and P.M. Meyer, Incident diabetes in clinical trials of antihypertensive drugs: a network meta-analysis. Lancet, 2007. 369(9557): p. 201-7.
13. Messerli, F.H., et al., Dogma disputed: can aggressively lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease be dangerous? Ann Intern Med, 2006. 144(12): p. 884-93.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fructose from added sugars linked to high blood pressure

The consumption of fructose has increased significantly since the 1970s, when high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was introduced into the United States food supply. The use of HFCS now exceeds that of sucrose (table sugar) in sweetened foods in the U.S.

Absorption of fructose and glucose:

Sucrose is composed of one fructose molecule and one glucose molecule.   There are differences between fructose and glucose metabolism. Fructose is absorbed in the small intestine, transported to the liver through the portal vein, and then metabolized via the same process that breaks down glucose to make energy – however, fructose is only broken down in the liver, whereas glucose can be used by any cell in the body.  Ingesting glucose raises blood glucose levels, and ingesting fructose does not raise glucose as quickly or as much, but raises triglyceride levels much more.1

Fructose was once regarded as a “safe” sweetener for diabetics, because of its small effect on blood glucose levels.   However, fructose is a reducing sugar, which means that it contributes to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which contribute to diabetes and its complications, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.2 Since fructose consumption also elevates triglycerides and diabetics are already at risk for cardiovascular disease, increasing triglycerides adds to this risk. Added fructose consumption has also been associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and elevated cholesterol and retinopathy in diabetics.1

 

Fructose in natural foods vs. fructose in HFCS:

Fructose makes up half of the sucrose molecule, and HFCS contains similar proportions of fructose and glucose as sucrose does (HFCS is 55% fructose).   Fructose may be found alone (free) or complexed with glucose as sucrose. In most fruits, much of the fructose is bound to glucose. Fructose entry into blood is slowed when it is in sucrose form, because sucrose must be first split by enzymes in intestinal cells. Fructose molecules in HFCS, however, are free, and therefore absorbed more rapidly. It is thought that the enzymes in the liver responsible for breaking down fructose are overwhelmed by the large loads of fructose delivered by HFCS-sweetened beverages, allowing for large quantities of fructose to be released into the blood.1

 

Fructose and elevated blood pressure:

The current study examined data from 4528 adults, whose median fructose intake from added sugars was 74 grams per day. As a reference point, 74 grams of fructose is roughly the amount present in 2 ½ twenty-ounce soft drinks or 13 bananas.1,3 The researchers determined that fructose intake at or above the median 74 grams per day increased the risk of elevated blood pressure. 

Subjects who consumed 74 grams or more of fructose each day in added sugar increased their risk of blood pressure elevated above 135/85 by 26%, above 140/90 by 30%, and above 160/100 by 77%.4

Essentially, the average fructose intake in the U.S. is a quantity that increases chronic disease risk – and not just risk of diabetes. Elevated blood pressure contributes to risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.

There are no “safe” sweeteners - whole fruits and root vegetables are the only sweet-tasting foods that are health-promoting.   Added sugar in any form is calorie-dense and deficient in nutrients, and therefore detrimental to health.

 

References:

1. Teff KL, Grudziak J, Townsend RR, et al. Endocrine and metabolic effects of consuming fructose- and glucose-sweetened beverages with meals in obese men and women: influence of insulin resistance on plasma triglyceride responses. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 May;94(5):1562-9.

2. Glenn JV, Stitt AW. The role of advanced glycation end products in retinal ageing and disease. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Oct;1790(10):1109-16.

Loy CT, Twigg SM. Growth factors, AGEing, and the diabetes link in Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009 Apr;16(4):823-31.

Peppa M, Uribarri J, Vlassara H. Aging and glycoxidant stress. Hormones (Athens). 2008 Apr-Jun;7(2):123-32.

Peppa M, Stavroulakis P, Raptis SA. Advanced glycoxidation products and impaired diabetic wound healing. Wound Repair Regen. 2009 Jul-Aug;17(4):461-72.

Yamagishi S. Advanced glycation end products and receptor-oxidative stress system in diabetic vascular complications. Ther Apher Dial. 2009 Dec;13(6):534-9.

Barlovic DP, Thomas MC, Jandeleit-Dahm K. Cardiovascular disease: what's all the AGE/RAGE about? Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. 2010 Mar;10(1):7-15.

3. Nutrition Data. http://nutritiondata.self.com/

4. Jalal DI, Smits G, Johnson RJ, Chonchol M. Increased Fructose Associates with Elevated Blood Pressure. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Drugs used to treat preventable diseases carry serious risks (Part 2 - ARBs)

Part 2:

Angiotensin receptor blockers - anti-hypertensive drugs – linked to lung cancer and heart-related deaths

lungs

Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) are used to to treat hypertension, heart failure, and diabetic nephropathy (kidney dysfunction). They work by blocking a hormone system that regulates vascular tone and water and salt balance to control blood pressure.

Because angiotensin can affect cell survival and angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), two important factors in tumor growth, angiotensin is thought to play a role in cancer progression.1 To determine whether taking ARBs affected cancer risk, scientists performed a meta-analysis of several studies to uncover any possible links between ARBs and cancers. They determined that ARBs carry a increased risk of new diagnosis of any cancer (8%), and a significantly higher risk of lung cancer (25%).2

One ARB in particular, olmesartan (Benicar), is now under scrutiny by the FDA for potential cardiovascular risks. In a clinical trial testing olmesartan’s efficacy for slowing kidney damage in diabetics, there were increased rates of sudden cardiac death and death from heart attack and stroke in the subjects taking the drug compared to those taking placebo.3

In my practice, and from results recorded from members at DrFuhrman.com, even people with dramatically high blood pressure readings and dramatically high cholesterol levels have successfully returned their levels to normal without medications. In fact, as published in the medical journal Metabolism, the nutritarian diet is the most effective method to lower high cholesterol, even more effective than drugs.4 If people were very informed of these results and the risks involved with taking medications many more would certainly embrace nutritional excellence as therapy. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are lifestyle-created conditions, and the safest and most effective treatment is a high nutrient diet and exercise.

 

 

References:

1. Li H, Qi Y, Li C, et al. Angiotensin type 2 receptor-mediated apoptosis of human prostate cancer cells.Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Dec;8(12):3255-65.

Feng Y, Wan H, Liu J, et al. The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 in tumor growth and tumor-associated angiogenesis in non-small cell lung cancer. Oncol Rep. 2010 Apr;23(4):941-8.

Zhao Y, Chen X, Cai1 L, et al. Angiotensin II / Angiotensin II type I receptor (AT1R) signaling promotes MCF-7 breast cancer cells survival via PI3-kinase/Akt pathway. J Cell Physiol. 2010 May 10. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Sipahi I, Debanne SM, Rowland DY, et al. Angiotensin-receptor blockade and risk of cancer: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Lancet Oncol. 2010 Jun 11. [Epub ahead of print]

3. Reuters: UPDATE 2 – FDA looking into death risk from Daiichi’s Benicar. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1113920620100611

4. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich DG, et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism. 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.