This section is a preview of my latest book entitled Disease–Proof Your Child:
We are molded by our childhood
"When our son Elliot was three, we already had a sickly child. He was suffering from his seventh ear infection and had severe eczema since his first year of life. We had been to numerous specialists for his raw itchy skin and tried many medical treatments to no avail. My search for a better solution led me to Dr. Fuhrman. In only two months after changing Elliot’s diet his skin condition had disappeared. To our surprise he never suffered another ear infection. It is not merely Elliot’s recovery that has moved us to write to you, it is our enthusiasm and gratitude for the knowledge we have gained from you that has given us an incredible sense of freedom and control over our own and our children’s health."
Julie and Stuart Rayburn
As parents, we want what is best for our children. We would never intentionally harm them. In fact, we make sure to get them the best care we know, read to them at bedtime and insist they wear their seatbelts, but when it comes to children and food, somehow we don’t know what the best thing to do is. Our children seem finicky and only eat cheese, pasta, chicken fingers or milk and cookies. At the same time, we notice that they are frequently ill. They suffer from recurring ear infections, runny noses, stomachaches and headaches. We note their symptoms and haul them in to the doctor, who prescribes yet another round of antibiotics. All this is normal for children — right?
This scenario may be "normal" for kids today, but it is not normal for humans or any other species of animal that eats nutrient–rich natural foods designed by nature for that particular species. Scientific research has demonstrated that humans have a powerful immune system, even stronger than other animals. Our bodies are self-repairing, self–defending organisms, which have the innate ability to defend themselves against microbes and prevent chronic illnesses. This can only happen if we give our bodies the correct raw materials. When we don’t supply the young body with its nutritional requirements, we see bizarre diseases occur. We even witness the increasing appearance of cancers that were unheard of in prior human history.
Despite our very best intentions, today there are dangers that well–meaning parents inflict on their children without even being aware of it. Certainly, people like you and me would never mean to do anything other than the best for our children, but every day in small ways, we may well be causing harm to their precious little bodies. How does this happen? Through the choices we make every day in what we decide to feed them.
There is an issue of vital importance that most well–meaning parents don’t know about. They don’t know because nobody has told them. The issue is this: the modern diet that most children are eating today creates a fertile cellular environment for cancer to emerge at a later age. Trying to prevent breast, prostate and other cancers as an adult may not be possible because most risk factors cannot be changed at this late stage. The bottom line is that in order to have a major impact; we must intervene much earlier, even as early as the first seven years of life. In other words, childhood diets create adult cancers. That’s right: when our children don’t eat fruits and vegetables and instead are fed junk food, the groundwork may be laid for cancer and other diseases down the road.
The science behind these surprising statements is addressed in my book, Disease Proof your Child. This website section will only touch the tip of the iceberg. However, worth noting is the following dismal fact: many children today are very often recurrently sick with ear infections, allergies, asthma and then, later in life, may develop autoimmune illnesses such as lupus, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is not because children just naturally pass around germs or have bad genes, but it is because their diets are inadequate. Antibiotics cannot prevent these problems. Only a diet of nutritional excellence can.
The most recent scientific evidence is both overwhelming and shocking. Apparently, what we feed or don’t feed our children during the growing years has a greater impact on the dietary contribution to cancers than does nutritional intake over the next 50 years. Today, it is known that both children of American descent and from developed countries consume less than 2% of their diet from natural plant foods such as fruits and vegetables. American children move into adulthood eating 90% of their calories from dairy products, white flour, sugar and oil. Amazingly, about 25% of toddlers between ages one and two eat no fruits and vegetables at all. By 15 months, French fries are the most common vegetable consumed in America! Have parents gone crazy?
This is shocking information, to be sure, but recent scientific evidence is just too powerful and compelling to ignore. Over the past two decades convincing evidence has emerged which links autoimmune illnesses, such as Crohn’s Disease, lupus and later–life cancers with precise dietary factors from the first ten years of life. This means that we now know what factors help to create an environment in our bodies which is favorable for cancers to surface later in life, and we understand the precise dietary factors that can prevent cancer in our child’s future. The worst part is that parents haven’t been informed that what their children eat in the first ten years of life has such a profound effect on their entire lives.
Autoimmune diseases, such as childhood onset diabetes, lupus, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease can develop as a result of feeding errors early in life and can cause more tragic health problems. Without the necessary knowledge, detailing the dietary style that can prevent later life cancers, many parents are unfortunately feeding their children dangerous, cancer-provoking diets.
My goal is to provide priceless information to parents, so they can give their children the greatest gift of all — the opportunity for a long and healthy life. We wouldn’t allow our children to sit around the table smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, because it is not socially acceptable; however, we don’t think twice about giving them cola, fries cooked in trans fat and cheeseburgers, regularly. Many children consume soft drinks, doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes and candy on a daily basis. It is difficult for parents to understand the insidious, slow destruction of their child’s genetic potential and the foundation for serious illness that is being built by the consumption of these foods. Most Americans don’t even contemplate that drinking soda, and eating chips, junk food and fast-food meals may be just as risky (or more so) than letting their children smoke cigarettes.
It would be unrealistic to feel optimistic about the health and well–being of the next generation when there is an unprecedented increase in the average weight of children in this country and record levels of childhood obesity. Most ominous were the results reported by the 1992 Bogalusa Heart Study, which studied autopsies performed on children killed in accidental deaths. The study confirmed the existence of fatty plaques and streaks (the beginning of atherosclerosis) in most children and teenagers!
For the majority of their lives, many American adults and children consume foods that are severely deficient in plant-derived nutrients. I have observed these nutrient levels in thousands of patients and have become shocked at the dismal levels in supposedly "healthy" people. Our bodies are not immune to immutable biological laws that govern cellular function. Given enough time, disease will develop. Even borderline deficiencies can result in various subtle defects in human health, leading to anxiety, autoimmune disorders, cancer and poor eyesight, just to name a few.
The Development of Breast Cancer – A Childhood Event
Carcinogenesis, the process that leads to cancer, is believed to occur in a series of steps. It is a multistage process that begins with pre-cancerous cellular damage that gradually proceeds to more malignant changes. The first step is the development of cellular abnormalities, which eventually leads to cancer. This usually occurs during adolescence or soon after puberty. Remember that unhealthful childhood nutritional practices cause excessive sex hormone production and early pathologic changes in the breast tissue that set the stage for cancer many years later.
Studies have shown that the arrival of puberty at an earlier age is a significant marker of increased risk. Furthermore, there is overwhelming evidence that ovarian hormones play a crucial role, in all stages, in the development of breast cancer. It is common knowledge among physicians that the earlier a woman matures, as measured by the age of her first menstrual period, the higher her risk for breast cancer. Both early menarche and greater body weight are markers of increased risk of breast cancer.
Ominously, the onset of menstruation has been occurring at a younger and younger age in Western societies during this century. For example, the average age in the United States is now about twelve years; however, according to the World Health Organization, the average age at which puberty began in 1840 was seventeen. In addition, during the same time period, there has been an increased consumption of fat, refined carbohydrates, cheese and meat, and there has been a huge decrease in the consumption of starchy plants, beans, fruit and nuts. A greater consumption of animal foods leads to a higher level of hormones related to early reproductive function and growth. These hormonal abnormalities persist into adulthood. Uterine fibroids (or tumors) also develop from a diet deficient in fruits and vegetables and heavy in cheese and meat. As the consumption of meat increases and vegetation decreases, one’s risk of fibroids increases proportionately.
Women are not the only sex affected. The same increased risk, as a result of early maturation, is seen with both prostate cancer and testicular cancer. If we grow and mature more rapidly; we increase our cancer risk and age faster. We see the same pattern in lab animals; if we feed them so they grow faster, they age rapidly, develop cancer and die younger.
In other words, the stage is set by our poor dietary habits early in life. Breast and prostate cancer are strongly affected by our dietary practices when we are young.
Fewer Animal Products, More Fruits and Vegetables
We have been indoctrinated since early childhood to believe that animal protein is a nutrient to be held in high esteem. We have been brought up with the idea that these foods are good for us if they help us grow bigger and faster. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The public, as well as the media, is confused about this issue. They continue to associate the term better nutrition with earlier maturity and larger stature resulting from our greater consumption of animal protein and animal fats. These unfavorable trends are repeatedly reported as positive events. For example, earlier writers and nutritionists have mistakenly equated rapid growth with health. Science has demonstrated that an increased rate of growth is not a good thing. The slower a child grows, the slower he or she ages. Slower growth, taking longer to reach maturity, is predictive of a longer life in animal studies. We are finding the same thing in humans: an unnaturally rapid growth and premature puberty are risk factors for cancers and other diseases later in life. Evidence continues to mount that these same factors leading to early maturity and excessive growth in childhood increase the occurrence of cancer in general, not just breast and prostate cancer. Excluding malnutrition or serious disease, the slower we grow and mature, the longer we live.
Humans, like other primates, are designed to consume a diet predominating in natural plant foods with their symphony of essential phytochemicals. Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, raw nuts and seeds should form the foundation of normal nutrition. Food preferences and tastes are formed early in life and children learn to eat the diets eaten by their parents.
When you have a child, you have the unique opportunity to mold a developing person. One of your greatest gifts to them can be a disease resistant body created from excellent food choices beginning at youth. Ear infections, strep throats, allergies, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADD or ADHD), and even autoimmune diseases can be prevented by sound nutritional practices early in life. Common childhood illnesses are not only avoidable, but they're more effectively managed by incorporating nutritional excellence into one’s diet. This is far superior to the dependence on drugs to which we are accustomed. No parent would disagree that our children deserve only the best.
If you are a parent, you may want to follow this course of action:
- Read my book, Disease-Proof Your Child, as a source of sound nutritional information.
- Submit your questions in the "Ask The Doctor" forum on the website
- Interact with other members in our online support system.
- Try our new line of children’s supplements
These steps are designed to assist parents in the challenges of raising a healthy child in our world of insane eating habits and toxic food choices.