Dr. Fuhrman - Smart Nutrition. Superior Health.
1-800-474-WELL (9355)
Home About Lose Weight Reverse Disease Success Stories Events FAQ Library Shop Member Center Children Vitamin Advisor Blog
 Ask Dr. Fuhrman > Q & A Library > August 30, 2004
August 30, 2004
Is it dangerous to eat more fruits and vegetables because of the increased consumption of pesticides? Do I have to buy organic?

The effects of ingesting pesticides in the very small amounts present in vegetation are unknown. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California-Berkeley, who has devoted his career to examining this question, believes these minute amounts present pose no risk at all.

He and other scientists in this field support this view because humans and other animals are exposed to small amounts of naturally occurring toxins with every mouthful of organically grown, natural food. The body normally breaks down self-produced metabolic wastes and naturally occurring carcinogens in foods, as well as pesticides, and excretes these harmful substances every minute. Since 99.99 percent of the potential carcinogenic chemicals consumed are naturally present in all food, reducing our exposure to the 0.01 percent that are synthetic will not reduce cancer rates.

These scientists argue that humans ingest thousands of natural chemicals that typically have a greater toxicity and are present at higher doses, compared to the very minute amount of pesticide residue that remains on food. Furthermore, animal studies establishing carcinogenic potential in synthetic chemicals are done at doses a thousand-fold higher than what is ingested in food. Ames argues a high percentage of all chemicals, natural or not, are potentially toxic in high doses—“the dose makes the poison”--and that there is no evidence of possible cancer hazards from the tiny chemical residue remaining on produce.

Others believe a slight risk may be present, though it may be difficult to prove. There certainly is a justifiable concern that some chemicals used have increased toxicity and are potentially harmful at lower doses than used in rodent experiments. No scientist believes that this means we should reduce consumption of vegetation, but many, myself included, believe it is prudent to reduce our exposure to the multiple toxic residues present in our food supply. I certainly advocate avoiding the skins of foods that are reported to have the most pesticide residue. And, of course, all fruits and vegetables should be washed before eating.

If you are concerned about pesticides and chemicals, keep in mind animal products, such as dairy, fish and beef, contain the most toxic pesticide residues.

Rank Produce


1 Strawberries 189
T2 Green and red bell peppers 155
T2 Spinach 155
4 Cherries (USA) 154
5 Peaches 150
6 Cantaloupe (Mexico) 142
7 Celery 129
8 Apples 124
9 Apricots 123
10 Green Beans 122
11 Grapes (Chile) 118
12 Cucumbers 117

Because cows and steers eat large amounts of tainted feed, certain pesticides and dangerous chemicals are found in higher concentrations in animal foods. Dioxin, which is predominantly found in fatty meats and dairy fat, for example, is one of the most potent toxins linked to several cancers in humans, including lymphomas. By centering your diet on unrefined plant foods you will automatically reduce your exposure to the most dangerous chemicals.

Comparing the pesticide residue on produce, obtained from records of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov), the most contaminated foods, ranked from highest to lowest (200 is
most toxic)
are show in the chart to the right.

These twelve foods account for more than half of the total pesticide exposure. They are the key foods to make sure you purchase organic.

It makes common sense to peel fruits, if possible, and not to eat potato skins, unless you are able to purchase them pesticide free. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of lettuce and cabbage, if not organically grown, and other surfaces that cannot be peeled can be washed with soap and water, or a commercial vegetable wash. Washing with plain water removes 25-50 percent of the pesticide residue. I personally avoid strawberries completely, unless we purchase organic--my children often eat frozen organic strawberries from the health food store.

Keep in mind, every study done to date on the consumption of food and its relation to cancer has shown that the more fruits and vegetables people eat, the less cancer and heart disease they have. All these studies were done on people eating conventionally grown, not organic produce. So, clearly, the benefit of conventional produce outweighs any hypothetical risk.


August 23, 2004
How do you explain the healing of people with various illnesses after a period of urine therapy?

We can't smoke cigarettes with impunity, excessively consume alcohol without paying a price, or eat the American diet and not eventually develop atherosclerotic heart disease and cancer. Diseases have causes, when we avoid the cause of disease we protect our valuable health. Remedies don't protect us or make us healthy, avoiding the cause of disease does. Many substances both natural and substances designed in the lab have medicinal effects and can lessen the symptoms of disease. However, only noxious substances have such effects, not healthy stuff. Almost all medicinal agents work because they contain toxic compounds that interfere, block or stimulate natural body actions. These substances do not make us healthier and if consumed for a significant length of time can have significant negative effects on our long-term health.

We don't gain energy, detoxify more effectively, or strengthen our immunity by consuming medicinal substances. For example, if something gives you energy it is a stimulant and not beneficial to your long-term health. Only toxic substances can stimulate you and make you feel better or have drug-like effects. Healthy food will not give you a burst of energy, make you sleep less, or make you urinate more, for example. An herbal diuretic does not strengthen the kidney as is claimed, it merely poisons (interferes), or blocks renal tubular reabsorbtion and as a result we urinate more. In other words, the natural diuretic works much like the drug. There is no magic. If something has a medicinal effect it also has a drug (toxic) effect, we all learned that in the first pharmacology course in medical school.

When we consume healthful substances that supply a nutritive need to the body, we do not feel anything. If you consumed some parsley or broccoli it would not give you a burst of energy or allow you to get by with less sleep. Stimulation is not nutritive. The body often acts on the toxic substance to remove it with increased effort, raising blood flow and pulse creating a false sense of increased energy. The batteries in your flashlight last longer when you keep the flashlight turned off. Likewise the more you stimulate our bodies with coffee, sugar, rich foods and herbals stimulants and other remedies, the more our bodies will age.

In conclusion, many things may apparently work to do something to the body. Generally, they are harmful (toxic) in proportion to their power to act. You don't get something for nothing and you can't earn excellent health by consuming magical substances, medicinal substances or herbal remedies. I'm sure urine has some medicinal effects. Superior health is the result of nutritional excellence and healthy habits. This does not mean that a natural substance with medicinal properties or even a drug should never be used, it means that there is no magic, we pay a price (a noxious stress to the body) from the use of such substances and we are better off if we can live in a manner to avoid such things

August 16, 2004
My husband bought several of Atkins’ books and other high protein diets which discuss carbohydrate "addiction." These books convinced him that he is a “carb addict.” He says that after he eats a high carb meal, in a couple of hours he is hungry again; any validity to this idea?

It is important to keep in mind that a diet rich in animal products will always increase a person’s risk of a premature death. Contrary to the mis-information propagated by the lo-carb crowd who promote a diet where the majority of calories comes from animal products, humans will have higher incidence of chronic illness, (including kidney stones, gallstones, kidney malfunction, and diverticulitis) age rapidly, be much more likely to suffer from a decline in mental faculties and die prematurely when eating increasing amount of animal products.

It is true that unhealthy food is addicting, so there is some validity to the concept that eating refined carbohydrates results in addictive withdrawal symptoms. In other words, you get perverted withdrawal symptom from both overeating and from consuming disease-causing food. Almost all Americans are food addicts. They overeat and eat a diet largely of processed foods which lead to stomach cramping, headaches, weakness and fatigue a few hours after consuming such “fake” food. I call these symptoms “toxic hunger” to distinguish it from real hunger. Toxic hunger drives people to overeat and they are no longer in touch with the biological signals of true hunger (a throat and upper chest sensation) that directs us to the amount of calories needed to maintain lean body mass.

I discuss these toxic withdrawal symptoms in more depth in my book, “Eat To Live” because it is important to recognize that such withdrawal symptoms can be wrongly interpreted and treated with a heavy, high-protein meal which occupies our digestive apparatus for many hours. This can delays withdrawal symptoms for many hours, but is no more a cure than taking cup of coffee, other drugs, cocaine, or more junk food.

Instead of trying to drug away or suppress such withdrawal with toxic food or drugs, these sensations predictable resolve with a high nutrient diet, which is the cornerstone of Eat To Live. The diet I recommend is vegetable-based, (of course, it is not all vegetables) but it is not grain based, not meat based, not potato or rice based, and not fruit based. High nutrient eating will predictably lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, reverse diabetes and prevent perverted cravings. If your husband follows my general guidelines for nutritional excellence he will feel well, his addictive symptoms will stop and he will be eating a powerful anti-cancer, heart-protective, longevity promoting diet-style in the process. Unfortunately many best selling books promote diets that prey on people’s nutritional ignorance and many of these high protein devotees die prematurely as a result. Have your husband read my book before he commits suicide with a high-risk diet plan.

August 9, 2004
I have been reading the past posts in the Ask The Doctor forum and notice how often you stress that we should eat only when hungry. I don't think I know what hunger is. My whole life I have eaten according to how much sugar is in the food. If it had sugar I ate it. If not I would go without. (no wonder I got diabetes). So now I am beginning this diet and really liking it, I am eating on schedule, 8 oclock, 12.30 and 5.30. I figure my system needs some retraining before I will start to recognize true hunger. Do you have any input about this?

We live in a society of food excess, where people have trained to overeat since their childhood. It is so deeply ingrained that most people overeat routinely. That is pretty obvious; otherwise everybody would not be overweight.

A problem arises, worse for some people than others, who soon after changing over to a very healthy diet begin to experience increasing detoxification symptoms. Instead of recognizing these symptoms of headaches, stomach cramps, lightheadedness and weakness (which some call hypoglycemia) as a detoxification phenomena that easily resolves in a few weeks, many people just assume the diet is not right for them or they need to eat heavier foods, more animal products or they just need to eat more frequently.

Understanding that these symptoms lessen with time and eventually leave is important and helpful. It is especially critical that many people lose these addictive cravings and are put back in touch with more primitive sensations of hunger so they are not suffering with uncomfortable cravings, literally forcing them to overeat or eat incorrectly.

Being able to eat only when experiencing true hunger is also very helpful for those who are eating better but still not losing weight. It is still possible to overeat on healthy food, just much more difficult.

Because eating by the clock is so ingrained, many of you will routinely eat before true hunger is experienced. It is not so bad to eat before hunger appears. I don’t always eat when I am truly hungry either. Sometimes convenience, appetite and social eating come into play, but we should all recognize that the ideal amount of calories to meet our needs, without excess, is best dictated by true hunger, not by withdrawal symptoms from toxicosis or unhealthy eating and not from the social and fun aspects of eating. Read the hunger tutorial on the member site one more time and it this may help you put it into perspective.

August 2, 2004
I have been working out for quite some time now and I am doing lots of sit-ups. However, I am not taking any inches off my waist. Am I doing the sit-ups correctly?

Some people mistakenly think they can burn fat around their waists by doing exercises involving muscles in that area, such as sit-ups and side bends. Unfortunately, sit-ups will not reduce observable fat around the waist. Doing exercises for any single muscle group does not burn enough calories to noticeably reduce fat.

To get rid of undesirable fat through exercise, your body as a whole must burn excess calories by involving as many muscle groups as possible. This means doing exercises like walking on an incline, jogging, stair climbing, cycling, elipse machine, aerobic dance, jumping rope, or circuit training. Plus, you must do them consistently over a period of time. Fat then comes off from all over the body, not just from the areas being worked.

Abdominal exercises, done correctly, will strengthen your midsection and thus prevent and alleviate back problems. My advice regarding sit-ups is don't do them! Besides their inefficiency at strengthening your abdominal muscles, sit-ups place inordinate stress on your lower back, which over many years could result in disc degeneration.

The three exercises for abdominal strengthening described below are among the best and they will not place stress on your back. You should do them in the order listed so you work your lower abdominal muscles before the uppers. If you tire the upper abdomen first, the fatigue will limit the amount of lower abdominal work you can do.

1. Lying six-inch leg raises Lying on your back with your hands (palms down) tucked under your pelvis, raise your legs about 18 inches off the floor. Then lower to about 12 inches. Repeat until fatigued. Your hands function as a cradle to prevent your lower back from arching. Your lower back should remain flat against the floor throughout the exercise.

2. Cross-knee abdominal crunches Lying on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, clasp your hands behind your head, reach one elbow toward the opposite knee, lifting only that one shoulder blade off the floor. Alternate, and repeat until fatigued.

3. Abdominal crunch Lying on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on floor, cross your arms behind your head with your hands placed on the opposite shoulders or with arms folded across your chest, contract the abdominal muscles, lifting the upper body so just the shoulder blades come off the floor, while your lower back is pressed against the floor. Repeat until fatigued.

Remember, start slowly with any exercise program. Begin with modest goals. You must exercise consistently to expect results.

July 26, 2004
In the Summer issue of Health Science you stated that consuming liquids with meals will not dilute digestive juices sufficiently to prevent absorption of nutrients. You went on to say that only an unhealthy diet generates thirst at mealtime. What is the ideal time to wait after a meal to begin drinking water? How much water do you recommend an individual drink each day?

There is no specific amount of water that everyone should drink. Water needs vary with the water content and salt content of the diet and of course exercise and surrounding temperature.

The main point is that a healthy diet is one that has a low sodium and high water content. If I just had two grapefruits, two Minneola oranges and a box of strawberries for breakfast, I am running to the bathroom all morning, should I try to force myself to drink water on top of that? For lunch I had a large salad with an avocado and two big juice beefsteak tomatoes and a big bowl of vegetable bean soup and a mango. I will be running to the bathroom all afternoon, should I drink water on top of that?

Of course, if I ate the cancer-causing, heart-attack-causing American style of eating, with 3 - 8 grams of stroke-causing sodium per day, it would be wise to try to flush out all the dangerous excesses with more water. If you are dying to drink water after a meal and watching the clock, then you did not eat a healthy meal. Healthy meals are naturally rich in water and low in sodium, they do not generate thirst. However, if you have thirst, drink immediately and don’t wait a specific time after eating to do so. When you are thirsty it reflects a degree of dehydration that should be corrected with more water as quickly as possible. I repeat, do not artificially withhold liquid after eating, under the false assumption that is healthier to not dilute digestive juices. When you are thirsty, drink.

I drink about 16 – 24 oz of water with my daily exercise, and rarely drink water at other times because my diet has such a high water content. I have another 8 oz. glass of water in the mid-afternoon. In the summer, I drink even more, especially if I am outdoors, playing tennis in the heat. In summary, frequent thirst and constant drinking is a sign someone is not eating healthfully. The common advice to drink 8 glasses a water a day (64 ounces) may be wise for those eating a standard (disease-causing) diet, but for those of us striving for nutritional excellence that would be overkill.

July 19, 2004
Is it true that heredity accounts for 20% of one's possibility to get some disease such as heart disease? If so, how can one make that 20% lower?

We all have different genetic weaknesses. We all have various susceptibilities to various diseases. However, if the question is—is it possible to prevent disease among individuals who are highly susceptible? The answer is yes. Nutrition is such a powerful regulator of disease incidence that when an optimal diet is consumed through much of life, genetics will have little effect on contributing to the appearance of the common causes of death we see in our society today.

Forget that 20% figure; it is useless. Family history is almost meaningless when individuals utilize superior nutrition to avoid the nutritional causes of illness. What is not meaningless is risk factors and risk factor reduction. When we look at people living a lifetime on healthy, natural vegetable and fruit predominant diets, none of them get heart attacks, period. Family history only matters when you follow the same disease-causing diet-style that your family did. Luckily we have learned the way to avoid these illnesses.

July 12, 2004
I heard that all foods should be eaten raw as cooked foods have lost all their enzymes and cannot support health. I was taught cooked foods stick to the walls of your digestive treat crating hard, rubbery “gook” and mucous that can only be removed by colonics.

The enzymes needed for proper digestion is supplied by our body, not by the food eaten. Our body has the ability to analyze the food and secrete the precise proportion and amount of enzyme needed for that particular food. We have to rely on the body’s genius to get just the right amount, not too much and not too little. Enzymes in plants are put there for the plants needs, not ours, but some plant enzymes do have nutritive benefits, not functional benefits. Some nutrients, photochemical and enzymes which have photochemical benefits are lost or destroyed in high heat cooking but many are also made more absorbable by cooking. Water-based cooking as in soups, steaming, and cooking in a pressure cooker results in very little loss of nutrients and a significant increase in the absorption of phytochemicals. To fear eating a steamed vegetable, or vegetable/bean soup is entirely unfounded and without scientific support.

Plaques of mucous do not build up on the wall of our guts from cooked foods. Actually, thousand of people undergo colonoscopies each day, never do we see any build up on the wall of the gut. I have performed my own scoping for years and have never seen any build up in people, nor did I find it in cadavers in medical school or in the morgue. However, certain alternative medicine practices are potentially harmful such as ingesting bentonite clay which can be adherent and solidify in the colon. I agree with the message of the raw food community that raw food is essential for good health and I agree that certain type of cooking is potentially harmful, especially fried foods, browned and burnt foods and baked goods. The disagreement comes when you claim that steaming a vegetable will hurt you, your diet should be 100 percent raw and nothing should be eaten cooked. Then you are diminishing the nutritional quality of your diet and overly restricting yourself without merit or benefit.

About Dr. Fuhrman
Dr. Fuhrman's Medical Associates
Dr. Fuhrman's Motivational Outreach Program
Patient Testimonials
Medical Staff
Career Opportunities
Nutritional Education Institute