Interview with a Nutritarian: Molly

I met Molly, a college student, at the Weekend Immersion in Princeton this past November. She glowed with exuberant radiance; I had no idea that just a few years back she hated fruits and vegetables! Thanks to a mother who quietly modeled healthy eating choices, Molly decided to commit to Dr. Fuhrman’s Six Week Challenge to see what would happen. The rest, of course, is history. Welcome to Disease Proof, Molly.

 

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

I lived a typical, college student lifestyle. I generally ate cheap, easy-to-prepare foods such as cereal bars, pasta and sandwiches; interspersed with sweet coffee drinks to fuel my late night studying, and frequent "treats" to satisfy my sweet tooth (cookies, muffins, etc.). I've always had a hearty appetite so I steadily gained weight through high school and college. I never thought of myself as being fat, but I knew that I was plumper than I wanted to be, and I was frustrated that my sporadic efforts to cut back on eating and increase physical activity never yielded any results.

I played sports throughout my childhood and was on the varsity fencing team my freshman and sophomore years in college, but I rarely exercised outside of participation in team sports; and after I quit fencing I led a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Plus, I always suffered from severe seasonal allergies, allergies to animals, and asthma so I had strong motivation to stay indoors when the weather was nice.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of my pre Eat to Live days was that I scrupulously avoided eating fruits and vegetables. I didn't like the taste and texture of plants, especially fruit, and I would get very upset if anyone encouraged me to try dishes with fruits or vegetables in them. I gradually added some vegetables into my diet, including lettuce, cauliflower, peppers, onion, and green beans, but my vegetable consumption remained very limited, and I wouldn't touch any fruit besides an occasional orange.

 

How did you feel then?

My allergies were a very annoying problem, and I frequently caught bad colds, but otherwise I felt relatively fine. Super healthy eating always seemed out of reach due to my stubborn refusal to eat fruits and vegetables.

 

How did you find out about Eat to Live?

My mom read Eat to Live and followed nutritarian eating so I looked into it. It made sense to me so I decided to do the Six Week Challenge to see what would happen.

 

How do you feel now?

I’ve significantly improved the quality of my life. I’m 5’5 ½” and started at 156 lbs and today I weigh 122 lbs. My allergies are less severe, and I haven't had a cold since starting ETL even though my siblings come home with awful colds. This is quite remarkable for me, because I used to catch every cold that came through the house!

Losing weight and taking control of my eating and health has also improved my outlook on life. It was a major area that I never felt like I had control of before, but now I feel confident that I know how to treat my body right for the rest of my life. I’ve started exercising regularly, because it felt like a natural extension of my commitment to healthy eating. I now cherish my outdoor runs and hikes and the way they make my body feel.

Perhaps the most astonishing part of my transformation is that, through an open mind and perseverance, I’ve successfully changed my taste buds, and now I LOVE fruits and vegetables. They are the core of my diet. It has been great fun to discover the joy of eating food that I know is both delicious and good for me. I also enjoy eating fresh, seasonal foods, and I've come to love cooking. Food has become a passion and a pleasure for me in ways that it never was before.

 

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

  • Don't be afraid to try a new way of eating and give your taste buds time to adjust to the change.
  • Schedule time into your day for prepping and chopping vegetables because having healthy food on hand is the best way to stave off bad cravings.

 

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

It has made me feel strong, confident, and HEALTHY! It has made eating and food a supremely satisfying aspect of my life.

 

We applaud you Molly for investing in your health at such a young age ~ keep up the great job!

Fruits and vegetables provide only modest protection from cancer?

vegetables

 

You’ve probably seen these headlines on the internet or television recently, claiming that fruits and vegetables provide very little protection against cancer. Of course something like this makes big news – it makes eaters of the typical Western diet feel validated in their unhealthy choices. But is it true? Do fruits and vegetables really offer only weak protection against cancer? Let’s look at the details of the study.

Researchers analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a large study of over 400,000 people. Subjects reported dietary intakes and were followed for approximately 8 years. The researchers reported the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and risk of total cancer. Two-hundred grams of combined fruits and vegetables (approximately 2 servings) offered a 3% decrease in risk that was statistically significant.1 

According to the lead scientist, Dr. Paolo Boffetta, from Mount Sinai Medical Center, “The bottom line here is that, yes, we did find a protective effect of fruit and vegetable intake against cancer, but it is a smaller connection than previously thought. However, eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial for health in general and the results of this study do not justify changing current recommendations aiming at increasing intake of these foods.”2

A tiny amount of plant food offers a tiny amount of benefit.

Yes, 3% is a tiny reduction in risk – but 200 grams is also a tiny amount of fruits and vegetables! One medium apple is approximately 180 grams, one cup of blueberries is 150 grams, and 1 cup of chopped raw broccoli is 90 grams. So keep in mind all these people did is eat the standard cancer-causing diet and add one apple or two cups of vegetables with dinner, they did not follow a vegetable-centered diet. They were still eating all the cancer-causing processed foods and animal products as their major source of calories.

The median daily intake in this study was 335 grams of fruits and vegetables combined per day – only about three servings. According to the CDC, only one-third of U.S. adults eat two or more servings of fruit per day, and only one-quarter of adults eat three or more servings of vegetables per day.3 These minimal amounts cannot be expected to provide disease protection. I recommend a far more substantial intake of fruits and vegetables with 90 percent of calories coming from nutrient rich plant material, lots of it raw and green. I recommend about two pounds of vegetables per day (approximately 900 grams) and at least 4 fresh fruits per day (which adds another 600 grams). Most importantly, attention should be paid to the highly cancer-protective plant foods, greens, onion, berries, beans and seeds. 

The more fruits and vegetables the subjects ate, the more cancer protection they got.

Many of the news stories on this subject neglected to mention the fact that the researchers found a dose-response relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cancer risk – this means that as the number of servings increased, rates of cancer decreased. Those eating five servings per day reduced their risk by 9% compared with those eating 2.5 or less, and those eating more than eight servings per day reduced their risk by 11%.4 The benefits of lifestyle changes are proportional to the changes made. As we add more vegetable servings, we increase our phytochemical intake and leave less room in our diet for harmful foods, enhancing cancer protection even further. 

Different fruits and vegetables offer different levels of protection.

In this study, all fruits and vegetables were lumped together in one category – this could have diluted the results. Leafy greens and potatoes have nutrient profiles that are quite different, but in this study, they are both treated the same.   The participants did not eat an extra 200 grams of raw greens - French fries and ketchup counted as a vegetable.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, cabbage, collards, and broccoli, contain potent chemopreventive compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs have a variety of anti-cancer actions including inhibition of angiogenesis (blood vessel formation; important for tumor growth), detoxification or removal of carcinogens, inhibition of cancer cell growth, promotion of cancer cell death, and prevention of DNA damage by carcinogens. Epidemiological studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables, onions, and mushrooms are far more protective against cancer than vegetables overall - inverse relationships between cruciferous vegetable intake and breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers have been found.5  For example, in one prospective study, one or more servings per week of cabbage reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%.6 And that was just one serving a week, demonstrating dramatic protection is available and real when a diet is ideally designed. The regular consumption of mushrooms has been demonstrated to decrease risk of breast cancer by over 60 percent.7 Onions, berries, seeds and beans also have dramatic beneficial effects.8 In other words, high nutrient plant foods work synergistically and a well designed diet can offer dramatic protection against not just cancer, but heart disease, strokes and dementia.

Healthful eating is a lifetime commitment

The EPIC study followed adult subjects for 8 years, but the foundation of adult cancers was very likely laid down in childhood or early adulthood.9   These researchers missed the most important tenet of nutritional research and that is—childhood diets are the major cause of adult cancers. I wrote a book about this—Disease-Proof Your Child, with all the supporting scientific references. The protective substances contained in fruits and vegetables are more effective if they are consistently present in the diet since childhood.  Making moderate changes later in life, like adding a serving of fruit and vegetables, is not likely to make much of an impact on cancer risk. For later life changes to dramatically reduce cancer risk a total dietary makeover is required, that is one of the purposes of my nutritarian diet-style, to offer people real protection from an ideally designed diet that is adopted later in life.

Conclusion

Most people are confused about nutrition, and results like these can add to the confusion. There is clear evidence that unrefined plant foods protect against chronic disease, but modest nutritional improvements offer only modest health benefits. Cutting back on cigarettes does not offer much protection against lung cancer either.  It is the total package of a well-designed, nutrient-dense diet, regular exercise, and a healthy weight that offers optimal benefit. We can win the war on cancer.

 

References:

1. Boffetta P, Couto E, Wichmann J, et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010 Apr 6.[Epub ahead of print]

2. Mount Sinai Study Shows Only a Weak Link Between Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Reduced Risk of Cancer. http://mountsinai.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/mount-sinai-study-shows-only-a-weak-link-between-fruit-and-vegetable-intake-and-reduced-risk-of-cancer

3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults --- United States, 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report March 16, 2007 / 56(10);213-217

4. NewScientist. Short Sharp Science: Five fruit and veg a day won't keep cancer away. http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/04/five-fruit-and-veg-a-day-wont.html

5. Higdon JV et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March ; 55(3): 224–236

6. Larsson SC, Hakansson N, Naslund I, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. Fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to pancreatic cancer: a prospective study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15:301–305.

7. Zhang M, et al. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer. 2009;124:1404-1408

8. Powolny AA, Singh SV. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):305-14.

Stoner GD, Wang LS, Casto BC. Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Sep;29(9):1665-74.

Aune D, De Stefani E, Ronco A, et al. Legume intake and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Causes Control. 2009 Nov;20(9):1605-15.

Jenab M, Ferrari P, Slimani N, et al. Association of nut and seed intake with colorectal cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Oct;13(10):1595-603.

9. Maynard M, Gunnell D, Emmett P, Frankel S, Davey Smith G. Fruit, vegetables, and antioxidants in childhood and risk of adult cancer: the Boyd Orr cohort. JEpidemiol Community Health. 2003 Mar;57(3):218-25. Erratum in: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Mar;61(3):271.

Fuemmeler BF, Pendzich MK, Tercyak KP. Weight, Dietary Behavior, and Physical Activity in Childhood and Adolescence: Implications for Adult Cancer Risk. Obes Facts. 2009;2(3):179-186.

Beginning Gardening Tips

Spring is arriving, which means it’s time for planning and preparing gardens. With the rebirth of healthy eating, many want to grow their own vegetables. However, there's a science and an art to it so I’ve asked 85-year-old master gardener, Robert Taylor, to share a few tips with us. He earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Purdue University’s Agricultural and Horticultural programs; and has spent most of his life successfully growing all varieties of plants, and professionally teaching and helping others do the same. Welcome to Disease Proof, Mr. Taylor.    

      

What’s the first thing to consider when starting a garden?

Make sure the location is sunny, and the top soil is highly organic without pollutants such as mercury and lead. Most every county in the US has a County Extension Office directed by the agricultural university of that state. For a nominal fee, soil samples can be taken to them for testing and recommendations. 

Urban and suburban developments have a lot of clay soil, so most likely black top soil will need to be purchased. Many landscaping companies can haul truckloads of garden soil for a fraction of the cost of bagged soils bought from stores. However, if space is limited, and soil is poor quality, it's best to grow plants in containers filled with bags of potting soil.

 

What’s next?  

At the county extension office you can also pick up a garden planning guide, because it’s important to plan your garden before purchasing seeds and/or seedlings. You can purchase packs of seeds from most any store, including grocery stores. However, I highly recommend buying seeds from reputable garden catalogues such as Burpees, Gurneys, or Henry Fields. Seeds from nurseries are the best as they have been tested and dated for quality germination. To help avoid diseases such as tomato wilt and cucumber wilt, select hybrid seeds that are disease-resistant. They cost a bit more, but are worth the investment. Now is the time to be placing orders for seeds. 

A new product this year from several catalogues is a seed starting kit. Each kit includes a cell growing tray, humidity dome, water reservoir tray, and 55 grow plugs. This combination allows each seedling to take in the proper amount of water for healthy root development and uniform germination of the seeds. This is a great tool for beginning gardeners.

 

In a few weeks, after seedlings are started, Mr. Taylor will discuss tilling, gardening tools, when to plant outdoors, spacing, staking, composting, and controlling insects, diseases and fungus. Also, if you enjoy the aesthetic beauty of flower beds, you can grow vegetables right along with flowers that require full sun. Some gorgeous combinations are spring lettuces and pansies, tomatoes and marigolds, peppers, Swiss chard, kale, and eggplants. 

Enjoy your gardening endeavors!  

 

image credits: chiotsrun.com; coopext.colostate.edu

Reprogram the Way You Eat


As a society, we have programmed ourselves to eat in a way that is unnatural and harmful. We mistakenly prefer the taste of harmful foods. The most natural and healthy way of eating now seems strange, and, as a result, it eludes us. The benefits of eating natural foods, as opposed to processed foods, seem obvious, yet they are lost to many. Here are a few of the common excuses that I hear from patients:

 

  • “It takes too much effort and time to prepare fresh food.”
  • “I don’t like the taste of fruits and vegetables, so why should I even try?”
  • “People will think I am strange if I eat this way.”

Others who may not have voiced these objections were still thinking these or other negative thoughts. It is the substance of their inner dialogue. This kind of talk is not useful. Its purpose is to prevent you from taking action. It is a type of learned helplessness: you didn’t believe you could succeed in the first place. This gives you the rationale for not trying. Right now, resolve to fight those thoughts when they enter your head. Excuses or reasons are not based on facts. They are an opinion formed before adequate knowledge is achieved, and, as you now know, knowledge is the cornerstone to success. Your internal programming and fixed beliefs can have you fail before you even start. A key concept is that our internal programming operates outside of our conscious awareness, yet it influences our thoughts and action.

Psychologists tell us that both these preconceived notions and the inner dialogue that resists change to a preexisting belief are a type of “automatic thought.” An automatic thought is an unconscious process that determines how we interpret the events of our lives. In many people, these thoughts are negative, pessimistic, and completely illogical. They persist because they operate beyond awareness and because they go completely unquestioned and unchallenged. Our automatic thoughts are the result of our core beliefs, and our core beliefs establish our perceived boundaries of what we can and cannot do.

The key to reprogramming yourself is to select an activity that elicits the desired objective, and then perform this activity habitually. As you continue to perform this activity, your skill will improve, your brain will reprogram to the preferred wiring, and your desired outcome will manifest itself. Your brain is not only flexible and adaptable, but it also will restructure itself to accommodate whatever lifestyle you wish to create. This book and the exercises it contains are designed to cultivate a skill and transform some aspect of your brain and your life. The cumulative result of all of these skills is superior health and your ideal weight. Your brain is ready and willing to make the changes

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

Image credit: limonada

Fruits and Vegetables May Be More Powerful Than We Think!

I’ve heard Dr. Fuhrman say that we still don’t know all the healthful properties of plant foods, and a new study seems to confirm that, claiming scientists underestimate the amount of nutrients in fruits and vegetables:

While the polyphenol content of fruits usually refers to extractable polyphenols, new research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that the non-extractable polyphenol content is up to five times higher than extractable compounds.

According to studies with apple, peach and nectarine, previous measures to quantify polyphenols may have been limited by the extraction technique.

"These [non-extractable] polyphenols need to be treated with acid to extract them from the cell walls of fruit in the lab," said lead author Sara Arranz from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in Madrid. "If non-extractable polyphenols are not considered, the levels of beneficial polyphenols such as proanthocyanidins, ellagic acid and catechin are substantially underestimated."

I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this and his quick answer was, “Repeat after me, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and beans! When you eat whole foods, you get much more than science has been able to measure so far.” And here Dr. Fuhrman explains why foods like green vegetables are so healthy:

While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds--especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects.

Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens. These vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity.

In related news, researchers determined nutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, like apples, broccoli and berries, help improve oxygen intake and exercise endurance.

Image credit: leoncillo sabino

More Garden Bounty

For those of you new to the blog, I was formerly an obese and chronically malnourished food addict who has been completely set free from all food addictions and eating disorders; including anorexia, nutrient restrictive dieting, yo-yo dieting, and binge eating disorder as result of embracing the nutritarian lifestyle that’s described in Eat to Live and Eat for Health. Here is my transformation.

It’s been hot and sunny in Indiana, and the tomatoes are ripening almost faster than I can pick them. This novice gardener is becoming addicted to growing vegetables as I’m already starting to plan my garden for next year!

I discovered a practical and innovative way to store up the bountiful harvest.

I took the overflowing supply of garden vegetables: zucchini, summer squash, cabbage, kale, and tomatoes galore; and combined them with various other vegetables that I had on hand, and made a “Harvest Puree” that I’m freezing to use as a base for soups, sauces, and even salad dressings this upcoming winter.

I followed the basic principles of making Anti-Cancer Soup as demonstrated in Joel and Lisa Fuhrman’s Secrets to Healthy Cooking DVD, except I used less water to make it the thickness of sauce instead of soup.

The puree is a deep shade of red, and full of vital nutrients.

Cost?

Cheaper than a bottle of cough syrup, trip to the doctor, and three days of missed work productivity.

Cheaper than a trip to the plus size “fashion” store to buy yet another size of black stretch pants.

Cheaper than the quart of cookie dough ice cream on the way home to drown the sorrows.

And cheaper than the anti-acid medicine needed before bed.

And much cheaper than the vial of insulin (a.k.a. liquid gold) that will be needed on down the road.

Cost?

Priceless.

Nutritional excellence; cheaper than…you fill in the blank!

Cartoon Animals Go "Nom Nom Nom" on Veggies

 

Fans of the “Hamster Dance” will love this. A whole bunch of animated animals eating vegetables to the tune of “Nom Nom Nom.” I watched it a dozen times already.

 

 

I have a sick sense of humor. So while this little ditty may grade on your nerves. I find it annoyingly charming. Besides, it’s better than that horrible canned chicken!

Via Serious Eats.

Image credit: Oglio

 

When It Comes To Heart Risk, Healthy Living Pays Off!

According to a new study published in Journal of the American Medical Association, eating right and exercising is still the best way to protect your health, and your heart.

I know. It’s hardly a revelation, but earlier this year a report said nowadays more Americans have multiple chronic illnesses—including heart disease—than ever before.

Clearly, a lot of us aren’t getting the message. We’ve got too many cheeseburgers and hotdogs on the brain!

The research found individuals that lost weight, exercised, avoided smoking and drinking, and ate plenty of fruits and vegetables have a lower lifetime risk of heart failure and high blood pressure.

So next time you see someone coming out of a Burger King, slap the bag out of their hand, and run! It’s good exercise.

In related news, low-calorie, plant-based diets also help lower heart risks.

Via HealthDay News.

Image credit: friedwontons4u

Dorothy Loses 70 Pounds and Her Medications...

 

No one wants to be overweight and no one likes taking a bunch of pills. Martha and Stanley didn’t. That’s why today they’re fit, trim and off their meds. Now check out Dorothy. She lost over 70 pounds, ditched her medications and loves her new diet:

I started at 254 pounds, which can be documented through my doctor’s charts. I had no idea what I was doing only that I could eat veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds!

The early days were very hard for me. I had to find stores and health stores that could supply me with the foods I now needed to buy. Now it’s a snap. I know exactly where to go to get what I need and more stores including Wal-Mart are selling organic produce and organic frozen fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices.

I now weigh 179 pounds and I am 5 feet 5 ½ inches tall. I have just turned 62 years-old. I still have about 40 pounds to lose. I have had many slips along the way and regained some of my weight back but have gotten back on track and have lost it…continue reading.

Animal Fat Increases Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a new study claims high intake of saturated fat—specifically red meat and dairy—results in a 36% higher risk of pancreatic cancer, compared to people with lower consumption. And a high in take of total fat lead to a 53% increased risk of pancreatic cancer in men and 23% higher risk in women. Scientists examined data on 500,000 individuals, in which 1,337 were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; Food Navigator reports.

Meat, i.e. saturated fat, is risky and research paints a grim picture. Previous studies have linked meat with higher risk of heart disease, age-related vision loss and various cancers. Fortunately, foods like fruits and vegetables lower the risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In related news, experts found people who regularly eat charred or barbecued meat have a 60% higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Burned meat builds up of cancer-causing heterocyclic amines.

Image credit: wickenden