Dr. Joel Fuhrman: We Can Reverse Most Diseases With the Right Diet
Based on our recent podcast: Dr. Fuhrman on The End of Heart Disease
We’re experiencing a healthcare crisis in the United States. Every year, 610,000 Americans die of heart disease, and diabetes and cancer rates are reaching epidemic proportions.
This time on Financial Sense Newshour, we spoke with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, New York Timesbest-selling author of Eat to Live and The End of Heart Disease, about the missteps of the medical profession in treating these conditions, and the fact that most of these diseases can be reversed with proper diet.
Heart Disease Is Not Inevitable
Many people think of heart disease as an inevitable part of aging, but it is something we can easily win the war against, Dr. Fuhrman stated.
“Nobody has to have a heart attack or stroke,” he said. “People don’t have to get dementia. These are diseases related to nutritional ignorance.”
People in the United States have among the highest risk of heart attack in the world. There are pockets around the world, such as in Papua New Guinea, where they have almost no heart disease. The difference is diet.
Fifty-five percent of the American diet consists of processed foods, Dr. Fuhrman noted. The amounts of plant materials in our diet are inadequate. These foods contain phytochemicals and antioxidants, which are necessary for the human immune system to function properly, and to prevent inflammation and atherosclerosis.
Processed foods, such as pasta, breads, salad oils, donuts and crackers contain no phytochemicals or antioxidants. They’re just calories with no nutrients, Fuhrman noted.
“The amount of color vegetation we’re eating is about 5 percent of total calories in the American diet,” Dr. Fuhrman said. “That’s the perfect formula to create an epidemic of cancer and heart disease. Heart disease is totally unnatural. Not only is it not the inevitable consequence of aging: you can get better and reverse it as you’re getting older if you follow the correct diet.”
Education Is the Key
The medical establishment isn’t doing enough to inform patients of the emerging reality of what constitutes a healthy diet. Dr. Fuhrman has had experiences with patients diagnosed with severe heart disease who followed his dietary guidelines and saw a complete reversion. These people are living into their 80s and 90s without blood pressure medication, cholesterol drugs, angioplasty or bypass surgery.
“It’s amazing how fast it goes away, how fast the blood pressure drops, and how fast the chest pains go away,” he said. “Day in and day out, the American diet stresses our body, ages us prematurely and damages our blood vessels and our heart. The minute you stop doing that, the damage stops.”
“Nobody has to have a heart attack or stroke,” says Dr. Fuhrman. “People don’t have to get dementia. These are diseases related to nutritional ignorance.”
For most doctors, training in nutritional science isn’t stressed enough, Fuhrman stated.
While it is a growing specialty in the medical profession, the truth is conventional medical education developed out of funding from drug companies.
“The medical profession, historically, has been a distribution arm for the pharmaceutical industry,” Dr. Fuhrman said. “It’s barbaric, to a degree, because people really think their answer to health problems is to go to doctors and get prescribed medications.”
Giving diabetic medications to someone causes them to gain more weight. It’s like treating an alcoholic with more alcohol, Dr. Fuhrman stated.
The big problem with these medications is that they have severe, detrimental side effects that doctors aren’t adequately discussing with patients.
“We have drug-centered medical care, which has really taken away the opportunity people have to reverse the disease,” Fuhrman said. “When you lower your blood pressure with … medications and your cholesterol with drugs, you’ve reduced the risk of having a heart attack by about 10 to 12 percent. But if you want to lower your risk 99.8 percent, almost 100 percent, you can change your diet, and you won’t have the increased risk of cancer.”
Eating the Right Way
Dr. Fuhrman focuses on nutrient density compared to caloric density, which he quantifies with ANDI Scores — ANDI stands for aggregate nutrient density index.
What’s been proven in one study after another to radically extend lifespan is caloric restriction, he noted. We’re talking about taking in fewer calories in an environment of micronutrient adequacy.
One research study published in 2012 by the Nutritional Research Foundation, of which Fuhrman is president, showed that when people increase the micronutrient load of their diet, it decreases their appetite naturally.
“One of the main reasons why people are overweight and why diets fail … is because they desire more calories,” Dr. Fuhrman said. “Their diets are micronutrient deficient. Once they eat foods with enough micronutrient content, they don’t want to overeat anymore.”
The ideal diet is something Dr. Fuhrman calls the “nutritarian” diet. It focuses on large green salads with seed- and nut-based dressings, bean soups, green vegetables, onions, and mushrooms. It contains little or no animal products, no dairy, no white flour, white rice, processed foods, cold cereals, and sweets.
Some of the more protective foods include walnuts, mushrooms, onions, berries, and seeds. A nutritarian diet can be strictly vegetarian, or it can include a small amount of animal products, especially as flavorings or in small portions.
“The moonshot to prevent cancer, where we’re going to spend billions of dollars and find this magic pill so people can smoke three packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years and not get lung cancer, it’s not going to happen,” Dr. Fuhrman said. “You have to stop smoking to prevent lung cancer, and you have to stop eating junk food and start eating healthy if we’re going to prevent cancer.”
Nutritional research is where we should be putting our resources, he noted.
“All of these diseases that plague Americans are mostly the result of nutritional ignorance,” Dr. Fuhrman said. Click here to buy this book today.