Dr. Fuhrman coined the word, Nutritarian to describe his recommended diet which concentrates on eating the most micronutrient rich foods.
What is Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet?
Simply put, a Nutritarian diet is a way of eating which bases food choices on maximizing the micronutrients per calorie. A Nutritarian diet is designed with food that has powerful disease-protecting and therapeutic effects and delivers a broad array of micronutrients via a wide spectrum of food choices. It is not sufficient to merely avoid fats, consume foods with a low glycemic index, lower the intake of animal products, or eat a diet of mostly raw foods. A truly healthful Nutritarian diet must be micronutrient rich and the micronutrient richness must be adjusted to meet individual needs. The foods with the highest micronutrient per calorie scores are green vegetables, colorful vegetables, and fresh fruits. For optimal health and to combat disease, it is necessary to consume enough of these foods that deliver the highest concentration of nutrients.
A Nutritarian diet is guided by nutritional quality.
Dr. Fuhrman's Prescription for Improving and Maintaining Great Health
Dr. Fuhrman's food pyramid is based on his principles of the health equation Health = Nutrients / Calories (H=N/C).
At least 90% of the daily diet should be comprised of whole plant foods that naturally contain health-promoting phytochemicals.*
The pyramid promotes foods that are richest in micronutrients and benefit health and longevity.
*The other 10 percent may include minimally processed foods such as tortillas, coarsely-ground or sprouted whole grain breads or cereals, tofu, tempeh and a limited amount of animal products, preferably not more than 5 percent of total caloric intake. Though the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) is not the only thing that excellent nutrition needs to consider, attention should be given to consuming a variety of high ANDI scoring plant foods, to maximize immune function and lifespan. Dr. Fuhrman specifically recommends that people consume greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, seeds and tomatoes on a regular basis to maximize immune function and protection against cancer.
The quality of a diet can be based on three simple criteria:
- Levels of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals) per calorie
- Amounts of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein) to meet individual needs, without excessive calories that may lead to weight gain or health compromise
- Avoidance of potentially toxic substances (such as trans fats) and limited amounts of other potentially harmful substances (such as sodium)
Dr. Fuhrman created The Health Equation: H=N/C or Health = Nutrients/Calories (first published in 1999 in his work, The Health Equation and later described in more detail in his book, Eat To Live) to define how the quality of calories impacts health.
This equation means your future health can be predicted by the micronutrient per calorie density of your diet. Micronutrient per calorie density is important in devising and recommending menu plans and dietary suggestions that are the most effective for tackling weight loss and for preventing and reversing disease.
Assuring superior nutrition means meeting an individual's unique nutritional needs to profound therapeutic effects for preventing, treating and reversing disease. Dietary micronutrient quality must be increased accordingly to utilize dietary recommendations therapeutically for disease reversal or to protect high-risk individuals.
Though micronutrient density is critically important, it is not the only factor that determines health. For example Vitamin D levels, B12, and proper omega-3 intake are important for optimal long-term health as well as avoidance of sodium and other toxic excesses. These concerns are not addressed in the H = N/C equation. However, if the focus is consuming more micronutrient-rich natural foods then the other important nutritional benefits automatically will follow, such as lower sodium, reduced calories, high fiber and volume, a low glycemic index, and a high satiety and phytochemical index to name a few.
Eating low nutrient foods fuels overeating behavior and toxic hunger.
Last, but not least, Dr. Fuhrman's unique contribution to the science of nutritional care, disease reversal and weight loss is his explanation of the physiology behind hunger and food cravings.
It is important to recognize that low nutrient eating (and toxic eating) leads to increased cellular toxicity with undesirable levels of free radicals and advanced glycation end products (AGE's), lipofuscin, lipid A2E and other toxins that contribute to the development of chronic disease. His findings are that these toxic substances lead to addictive withdrawal symptoms (toxic hunger) which result in the desire to eat more frequently and overeat. Low nutrient eating, therefore, establishes a mechanism that leads to food addictions and food cravings that can't be ignored. This is the reason why calorie counting diets fail. Without addressing dietary quality, excess food cravings are almost impossible to ignore.
Fortunately the drive to over-consume calories is blunted by high micronutrient, high food antioxidant, consumption and the symptoms that people thought were hypoglycemia or even hunger, simply disappear after following his dietary recommendations. Not only do people lose the symptoms of fatigue, headaches, irritability and stomach cramping, but they get back in touch with true hunger felt in the throat, which simply makes eating more pleasurable and directs them to a more appropriate amount of calories for their body's biological needs.
In a portion controlled (calorie counting) diet it is likely that the body will not get adequate fiber or micronutrients. The body will have a compounded sensation of hunger and cravings which for most is simply overwhelming. It invariably results in people either being unable to lose weight or unable to keep the weight off and eventually gaining it back. The biochemistry and physiology behind food cravings are more thoroughly explained in Dr. Fuhrman's books and lectures, but without a thorough understanding of these principles weight loss attempts are typically doomed to fail.
Are you striving to adopt a Nutritarian diet to extend lifespan and reverse and prevent disease?
Here are 5 basic rules that may help you:
- Consume a large green salad every day, and put some raw onion and shredded cruciferous veggies on top.
- Eat at least a 1/2 cup of beans or lentils each day, in a soup, stew, or top of a salad or in another dish.
- Eat at least 3 fresh fruits a day, especially berries, pomegranate, cherries, plums, and oranges.
- Eat at least 1 ounce of raw seeds and nuts daily, utilizing some chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.
- Consume a double-sized serving of steamed greens daily, and utilize mushrooms and onions in your dishes.