My Recent Interview with Dr. Fuhrman

pairs ice skating competition

Dr. Fuhrman, tell us about your earlier years as a world class figure skater and member of the United States World Figure Skating Team. How did you get involved in skating and where did your hours of training and practice take you?

pairs ice skating competitionBeing a member of the World Figure Skating Team required a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. We trained seven days a week and most practices at the ice rink began at 3am. Then I attended school all day and trained more after school; lifting weights, running and acrobatics.

When I was nineteen, my younger sister and I place second in pairs at the 1973 US National Championships. Soon afterwards, while ranked # 1 in the nation, at the peak of my competitive career, I sustained a heel injury that resulted in a prolonged hospitalization. I was on crutches for about a year. [It took about ten years for the injury to completely heal.] This was a huge setback for me at this high level of competition, which had no room for error. Even though I hadn’t fully recovered or got my strength and stamina back, my sister and I placed fourth in the Nationals in 1976; however, only the top three places went on to compete in the Olympics that year. I then quit competitive skating, because in those days you had to remain an amateur to compete in the major international and Olympic events, and I was already 23. As I look back, the hardest years of my life, tougher than medical school and residency, were juggling skating practices and competitions with being academically successful in high school and college. 


How did you become interested in nutrition, and what sparked your desire to pursue a career in nutritional research and medicine; specifically as a family physician?

Being a competitive skater, I was always seeking ways to improve my athletic performance, which nutrition was obviously a big part of it. My dad had some health issues, and through proper nutrition, his health was restored. We had many books on nutrition and health at home, so there was always plenty of information for me to read and contemplate. My dad was in the shoe business, so along with naturally enjoying being a professional skater and coach, it was the natural and expected progression of things for me to take over the family business. I graduated from NYU (1975) as an economics and business major; however, I had a deep passion inside of me that people needed to know critical nutritional information that I had studied and incorporated into my own life. I pondered going back to school for medicine. 

At my sister’s college graduation party, I was talking to a friend of hers named Lisa (who is now my wife) about my interest in nutrition and health, and my desire to be a nutritionally-oriented physician to offer a different option from conventional drug-based medicine. She said, “You can’t turn your back on your dreams.” Soon we started dating. I thought I might be too old already, and was also concerned about not having taken any pre-med requisites in college. Lisa encouraged me not to just talk about it, but to just do whatever it takes if I was so passionate about it. I took the plunge. My father sold the family business and retired, and I registered in the post-graduate, pre-med program at Columbia University. Then I attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. I chose my residency in family practice because I wanted the freedom to be able to care for people of all ages with the broadest umbrella of practice.


When did you start writing books and developing an on-line presence?

I was working about 80 hours a week seeing patients, and worked late into the night to write my first book, Fasting and Eating for Health, in 1995. Then I was able to reduce my patient load somewhat to write Eat to Live, published in 2003; followed by launching my web site,, in 2004. I saw both writing books and the web site as an opportunity to extend my medical practice and get my message out so that many could have the opportunity to recover their health. Unlike television, radio and magazines, the internet is unhindered by advertisers’ interests controlling the information stream. Because of this freedom, pharmaceutical funding, food manufacturers, political agendas, and the status quo can’t silence the message. I can inform the public with up-to-date research and information that’s not predetermined by these biased agendas. Of course, lots of crazy, worthless and harmful information is on the net as well, but certainly more information is out there today.


Tell us about the member center of 

After Eat to Live came out, I began receiving hundreds of e-mailed questions a day. People wanted more help and information. There arose a tremendous need for ongoing support, and to get specific questions answered by me. There was just no way I could maintain a busy medical practice plus answer emails and correspondence that I was being deluged with. The member center and the “Ask the Doctor” forum enabled me to answer people in an open forum for all to learn from and touch more lives in a personal way; again, extending my unique perspective on health and healing to a wider number of people.


What is the biggest frustration that you’ve encountered with proponents of the standard American diet and the dieting industry in general?

Due to all the contrary and biased messages circulating out there, the public gets sub-optimal results and become confused and disillusioned with conventional dieting. The conflicting information makes it difficult for those who truly want to be healthy and achieve dramatic enhancement of healthy life expectancy. So many lose faith and trust, become discouraged, and eventually give up altogether.  


What’s been the most rewarding part of your career as a nutritional researcher, physician and author?

I get to see what mainstream doctors don’t get to see. I get to witness lives turned around and people get well without the debilitating side effects of surgeries and drugs. I get to see people who were suffering terribly under traditional drug-centered medical care get their health and their lives back and the thrill of that victory for them.


From your vantage point of working closely with literally thousands of patients, what is the common denominator that enables someone to successfully overcome food addiction and get health back?

Those who are most successful have a dedication to learn the information thoroughly. In other words, they study and work to really understand the science and the logic behind my recommendations.  


In a nutshell, if there is one statement that you would like to share with the Disease Proof reader, what would it be?

Nutritional science can be such a blessing in our lives. It enables us to have a better quality of life; we can win the war against cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. And, it gives us more pleasure from eating and from life. The body of science, my discoveries, and my years of experience applying this science to medical conditions gives remarkable results. I work hard to present comprehensive information with no predetermined biases or agendas. My research and information is based on science; untainted by political, economic, ethical or social acceptability, or prior pre-determined opinion. Not that some of those issues are unimportant, but it's also important for people to be able to trust that their source of nutritional information is untainted and accurate.   


Thank you, Dr. Fuhrman for diligently working to discover and make applicable your findings and the latest research in nutritional science.  

                   Dr. Fuhrman and family



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Comments (14) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Elisa Rodriguez - April 16, 2010 7:37 AM

What a fascinating story about hard work and perseverance. I love when a strong woman supports and inspires a wise man to accomplish amazing feats in life!!

Sue Hull - April 16, 2010 9:55 AM

Very interesting account.

Thank you Lisa! :-)

LaurieInOklahoma - April 16, 2010 10:46 AM

My husband (and sister and BIL) and I are 4 examples of people whose lives have been gloriously transformed by the work of Dr. Fuhrman.
We are profoundly grateful.

I had never fully realized the extent to which we have Lisa to thank, for encouraging the young Joel to follow his dreams. Thank you, Lisa and Joel!!!

And thank you, Emily, for providing this excellent, fascinating interview.


Essie - April 16, 2010 11:04 AM

Wonderful interview, Emily. And Dr. Fuhrman, thank goodness for you. I feel better than ever now, and I know I will just keep getting better as I continue to practice. You've made my husband and I nutritarians for life. :)

Ginger Conrad - April 16, 2010 11:16 AM

I read your book Eat to Live as part of my course at The School of Natural Healing and have been on your program all the way for three months. I started with green smoothies from Green for Life last August, but after reading Eat to Live moved the rest of the bad things out of my diet. I feel fantastic. I'm a 46-year old mother of 7 and grandmother of 8, who suffered from all sorts if isms that have disappeared thanks to your advice. This lifestyle or really living has made me healthy and looking forward to the second half of my life with excitement and joy. Tell Lisa I said thanks for encouraging you to live your dream. That dream is now my dream, too.

Laura (lauralee) - April 16, 2010 12:06 PM

Awesome interview Emily. I am so grateful Dr. Fuhrman followed his dream. Now we can all much more easily follow our own. When you're not sick but feeling vibrant and full of life, it's possible to be your true self and do what your heart wants.

Dorothy - April 16, 2010 2:41 PM

Thank you. I enjoyed reading about Dr.F's story. I could not help feeling sad for them that an injury stopped that dream but maybe we would not have had a doctor doing what he does if things went a different route.
I'm happy for his career choice!


Horsecrazy - April 16, 2010 7:52 PM

Emily - excellent interview as always.

Lisa - thanks so much for encouraging Joel to follow his dream.

Dr. Fuhrman - thanks so much for all you do! I know the rest of my life will be a healthy one!

CJ - April 17, 2010 1:45 AM

Thank you Emily. Thank you Dr. Fuhrman for taking the path you did. I would be in a miserable state by now had I not had your wisdom and insight to follow.

Bless you and your beautiful family.


Diane - April 17, 2010 10:31 AM

What a great story! Thank you for sharing with us - Straight from my heart, Dr Furhman, you have had such an impact on my life and health that I am forever grateful!

aunt cia - April 17, 2010 6:47 PM

I am yet another one who has had eyes opened and life changed because someone gave of himself for others. Thank you, Furhman family.

Kim Kokich - April 21, 2010 10:14 AM

It is inspiring to read Dr. Furhman's story -- I love common sense. As a former ballet dancer (and skater, my father was a skating coach!) I am only now learning how to eat healthily and am working to make my own dream of becoming a nutritionist at the ripe old age of 53. It is great to see Dr. Furhman's success and picture of his beautiful family.

Asha Gala - April 21, 2010 1:04 PM

Great interview Emily. Thanks to The Fuhrmans for making a great life changing impact for my family to an healthy and peaceful life.

Claudia - April 23, 2010 11:47 AM

From World Class Skater to World Class Doctor! Thanks for another great story!

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