This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.
Our society has evolved to a level of economic sophistication that allows us to eat ourselves to death. A diet centered on milk, cheese, pasta, bread, fried foods, and sugar-filled snacks and drinks, lays the groundwork for obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune illnesses. It is not solely that these foods are harmful; it is also what we are not eating that is causing the problem. What we are not eating is enough nutrient-rich foods.
As this chart shows, when you calculate all the calories consumed from the Standard American Diet, you find that the calories coming from phytochemical-rich foods, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, and seeds, is less than ten percent of the total caloric intake. This dangerously low intake of unrefined plant foods is what guarantees weakened immunity to disease, frequent illnesses, and a shorter lifespan. We will never win the war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and other degenerative illnesses unless we address this deficiency. Though the American diet has spread all over the world, bringing with it heart disease, cancer, and obesity, studies still show that in the populations that eat more fruits and vegetables, the incidences of death from these diseases is dramatically lowered.1
Most health authorities today are in agreement that we should add more servings of healthy fruits and vegetables to our diet. I disagree. Thinking about our diet in this fashion doesn’t adequately address the problem. Instead of thinking of adding those protective fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts to our disease-causing diet, these foods must be the main focus of the diet itself. This is what makes my eating-style different. Once we understand that concept, then we can add a few servings of foods that are not in this category to the diet each week, and use animal products and grains as condiments or small additions to this naturally, nutrient-rich diet.
1. Gardner CD, Coulston A, Chatterjee L, et al. The effect of a plant-based diet on plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(9):725-733. Tucker KL, Hallfrisch J, Qiao N, et al. The combination of high fruit and vegetable and low saturated fat intakes is more protective against mortality in aging men than is either alone: the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Nutr. 2005;135(3):556-561.