Dr. Fuhrman Answers the Top Questions He Is Asked Most


May 17, 2017 by Joel Fuhrman, MD

In this Q&A, Dr. Fuhrman talks about what he eats on the average day, and whether or not he indulges in between-meal snacks (answer: rarely). Find out about his exercise routine, and how he stays fit when traveling for his many TV, radio and lecture appearances. He also tackles questions about saturated fat, artificial sweeteners, so-called “energy” foods and why the Nutritarian diet is the most effective way to eat for excellent health.

What do you eat on a typical day?
A: My breakfast is usually quick, easy and simple. Most days, it’s steel-cut oats with berries, seeds and walnuts. I usually take my vegan DHA+EPA Purity supplement along with my other supplements then, too. Note that the fat from the nuts and seeds are important when taking the supplements to facilitate absorption. 

For lunch, I have a huge salad with tomatoes, raw onions and one of my dressings made from nuts and seeds. I either will top the salad with some beans or have a vegetable bean soup on the side. I will have fruit at lunch, too. For dinner, often I will start with raw veggies and a healthy dip, followed by a cooked vegetable-based main dish made with beans or tempeh, wok greens, onions and mushrooms served with a nut-based cream sauce. I also will have one fresh fruit or a fruit-based dessert, like a berry sorbet.

If I am on the road, I will plan in advance; I’ll either find the nearest Whole Foods Market and get a big salad with beans on top or look for another market with salad items, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables (such as frozen artichoke hearts).  I carry nuts and seeds with me in my carry bag, as well as a spoon and plastic knife to eat mangos on the road.  I’ll sometimes have some raw oat cereal such as unsweetened familia with me, and purchase some unsweetened almond or hemp on the road, and I add it to the cereal in cup in the room the night before, so it softens.  I rarely eat in restaurants as that is too time consuming, and I am generally too busy to waste 2 hours to eat a meal.

Do you ever snack?
A: Rarely. I don’t eat if not hungry.  If I am hungry I eat a whole meal, regardless of the time of day.  Spending more time in the non-fed state activates biological processes that help to prevent cancer and promote longevity. When the body is not digesting food it is most effectively detoxifying and healing. If we eat too often, we miss out on these beneficial processes. Snacking is typically recreational eating, and that means excess calories you did not need. 

I eat when I feel like eating, when I’m truly hungry, and that is not necessarily at the same times every day – if I do a tough workout one afternoon, I will probably get hungry earlier the next morning than if I didn’t exercise.  I also make an attempt to eat dinner early in the evening, and not eat late at night, so I get the longest possible overnight fast – more time in the catabolic phase.

What is your exercise program like? What’s the most effective way to exercise?
A: For early humans, exercise was a way of life. People were active most of the day.  I have been athletic all my life and I exercise and play sports a lot today.   One day I might jog or do cardio, the next day I might do weight lifting where I might focus on my arms or legs, and the following day I might play tennis. I try to mix it up, that way you don’t get bored and you are sure to focus on different sets of muscles on different days.

When I’m traveling, I even work out in the room using body weight for resistance if I don’t have access to a gym.  .Any amount of exercise you can do will be beneficial, but exercising more vigorously (for example, running rather than walking) will bring a benefit. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an efficient way to build fitness - a short burst (1 – 3 minutes) of increased intensity or near maximum effort then a recovery period, repeated several times – you can get a great workout even if you have little time.

In addition to building cardiorespiratory fitness, building and maintaining muscle mass is important as we age. Strong muscles help to keep bones strong and prevent falls. Exercise with impact (like running and jumping) also helps with bone strength.   

I’ve heard that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease, sugar does. So what’s wrong with butter?
A: The research does not indicate that saturated-fat is harmless.  Saturated fats from animal products are still linked to almost all causes of premature death. What the research actually suggests is that replacing butter, cheese and red meat with high-glycemic refined carbohydrates (such as white rice and white flour products) does not reduce heart disease risk, indicating that high-saturated-fat animal foods and refined carbohydrate foods are both detrimental to our health.

On the other hand, eating beans, nuts, and seeds (instead of butter and other high saturated-fat animal foods) is associated with a dramatic reduction in heart disease risk. Comparing fat sources, butter is not harmless and does not provide health benefits as nuts, seeds, and avocados do. I discuss the full details of the saturated fat controversy (with supportive studies) in my book The End of Heart Disease.  Remember also that dairy protein is most effective at raising  IGF-1, a hormone linked to increased cancer risk – an important reason dairy products should be minimized. That means that both low-fat diary and high fat dairy are implicated as causative factors in breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. 

Calorie-dense, full-fat dairy products contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol, and cancer risk (via IGF-1), while leaving less room for health-promoting foods such as beans, nuts, and seeds in one’s diet.  Butter is also one of the most highly contaminated foods with dangerous persistent organic pollutants like PCBs, which accumulate up the food chain in animal fat.

I understand that sugar is harmful. What about low-calorie sweeteners like stevia?
A: An important concern about non-caloric or low-calorie sweeteners is that their intense sweetness disrupts the body’s natural connection between taste and nourishment. There is evidence that regularly drinking artificially sweetened drinks is linked to enhanced appetite, weight gain, and diabetes. Excessively sweet foods keep your taste buds accustomed to that excessive sweetness, perpetuating the desire for more sweet foods, which also promotes weight gain.  [DF1]

The sweetness in fresh fruit and a limited about of dried fruits for some desserts is plenty of sweets for me.  When you consume overly sweetened foods regularly it makes real food such as fruits not taste as spectacular.  

Are there foods you eat for energy?
A: People who eat healthfully do not need special foods for energy. If you eat healthfully and get enough sleep, you have full energy available to you during your waking hours. In contrast, eating refined foods creates chronic toxicosis, which leads  to recurring fatigue and toxic hunger driving people to eat more food to halt the detoxification creating the fatigued sensations.  They have to chronically overeat just to feel like they have enough energy..

Food addicts and unhealthy eaters feel the detoxification symptoms (as fatique) after digestion is finished, so they look to eat again for energy (which halts the detoxification, so they feel better) even though they don’t need the calories. This inevitably leads to being overweight and unhealthy.

To sum it up, when you eat a Nutritarian diet you no longer need to overeat just to feel okay, and you don’t feel the need to eat something or drink caffeine for more energy. If you need to keep your energy up, you are most certainly not eating healthfully – or maybe not getting enough sleep. Follow a high-nutrient diet that contains G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds) to protect against chronic disease, including cancer and have energy that never quits. 

When you are healthy, your body gives you simple signals that are easy to interpret.  When you need more calories you get hungry, not fatigued.  When you need more sleep, you get sleepy and when you need more fluid, you get thirsty. I occasionally feel fatigue from over-exercising, and then I need more rest, not more food.   

Why is the Nutritarian Diet so effective?
A: A Nutritarian diet comprehensively considers every dietary and nutritional factor that could benefit health and promote longevity.   It is not just focused on the fiber, or the microbiome, or the glycemic index or the toxic load, or the alkalinity, but instead considers everything simultaneously.  The focus is on consuming micronutrient-rich foods and foods with proven anti-cancer benefits — these  are important factors.  Anything else is a passing fad, and will not stand up to the test of time. Most people who follow the latest fad diet end up gaining all their weight back. Portion control diets fail because they do not consider micronutrients and phytochemicals in foods — people still eat foods that are too low in micronutrients and are inherently addictive, so eating smaller amounts is unsustainable in the long term.

Lately, very high-fat diets are in vogue, then we have the extremely low-fat crowd of plant-based enthusiasts; though usually a step in the right direction, neither can be considered ideal, because they do not expose us to sufficient longevity-promoting, anti-cancer phytochemicals and the fat extremism limits the absorption of the protective phytonutrients, when they are consumed. A Nutritarian diet removes that deprivation factor. You don’t have to eat small portions – in fact, you probably will eat larger portions than before. People start losing weight, improving their blood glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol,  and feeling healthier right away, keeping them motivated to follow this eating style for life. 

Whole plant foods with scientifically-backed health benefits make up the vast majority of calories in the Nutritarian diet. This focus on micronutrient and phytochemical-rich foods is consistent with the vast preponderance of evidence in modern epidemiology, which shows that those who eat more whole plant foods and fewer animal products and processed foods have lower rates of chronic disease and longer lifespans.  There is no other diet-style with more lifespan enhancing evidence to support it as the Nutritarian diet. 

 

Comments (0):

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Slink

05/25/2017 01:15 PM

I'm having a terrible time with hair loss. The only thing I have changed was my diet to your program. What do I need to do?

dndicicco replies:

05/25/2017 01:49 PM

I've heard of this occasionally for people who switch to a vegan diet. For most, it will pass naturally, however, you might want to be sure you're getting enough healthy fats, such as those from nuts and avocados.

JodiF replies:

05/25/2017 02:46 PM

I had hair thinning in the beginning, but a few months later it stopped and is now healthier than ever (and I'm still losing weight). I have read that rapid weight loss can cause temporary hair thinning. It is not limited to vegans.

JudyPokras

05/25/2017 01:24 PM

Thanks for this Q & A. Dr. Fuhrman, how do you protect the nuts and seeds in your carry-on bag from the radiation scanner?

Also, it's not clear why you are opposed to stevia or monkfruit sweetener.

haiku replies:

05/25/2017 02:03 PM

He explains because it disrupts the connection between sweetness and nutrients. Fruit and other natural sources of sugar are calorie dense and comparatively rare in nature, so we have evolved to love and seek out sweet tastes. When you taste sweetness, your body expects calories. Since stevia is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, when you consume it your body expects calories. When you get none or very few, this connection is disrupted and goes haywire, which can result in sweetness cravings. In contrast, when you consume fruit you will be getting plenty of calories with it (the natural amount your body expects when you taste the sweetness level). As well, if you are regularily eating things that are hundreds of times sweeter than natural sources of sugar in fruit, you will not be satisfied with the sweetness of level of healthy fruit. Stevia is the concentrated sugar isolated from the stevia leaf, that is why it is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. If you ground up the whole leaf (assuming the stevia leaf isn't toxic in its whole form) and sweetened your food with that, that would be nutritarian. I know nothing about monkfruit sweetener so I can't speak on that but I would assume it is the same case.

Anyway, not sure if you actually wanted an answer or if you just wanted to let Dr F know he could make it clearer but there you go :P

Mark G. replies:

05/26/2017 08:04 AM

Hi Judy - You don't have to worry about the nuts being x-rayed.  The type of radiation from these machines does not persist.  In other words, there will be no radiation left over in the nuts.  I doubt that there is any noticable affect on the nuts.  

1939 Packard

05/25/2017 01:27 PM

Today is my 14th day on the rapid weight loss program, I have lost 21lbs, my blood pressure has dropped from 198/98 to 158/88, the food is great and I feel so much better.  If I wasn't living the results I wouldn't believe it. Thank you! 

 

Babci Anne

05/25/2017 01:27 PM

It's been four weeks that I have been following your program. I'm no longer getting chest tightest but am still very tired. Overall, I do have more energy but feel drained sometimes.

haiku replies:

05/25/2017 02:04 PM

As you keep up with the program your energy levels will go even higher! It takes awhile to heal yourself biochemically.

 

rachaelb13

05/25/2017 01:28 PM

Been a vegetarian for years, following your program now with no dairy/no gluten. Menopausal for a few years, but no weight loss. A ny suggestions?

MichaelE replies:

05/26/2017 08:35 PM

Rachel, Eliminate all processed foods including vegetable oils. Eat G-BOMBS daily. Be strict. 

 

 

1939 Packard

05/25/2017 01:29 PM

Dr. Fuhrman,

What treatment do you advise for enlarged prostate?

 

donnatheiguana

05/25/2017 03:00 PM

This is really fantastic! Thank you for posting. All of this echoes what I learned in the Immersion, but it's good to hear it again to refresh myself on the science. A key point to me is given near the end of this blog -- that it's not just about weight loss through controling fat but getting those micronutrients and phytochemicals for great health. The Nutritarian diet has such great variety of food! Poor S.A.D. diet eaters live on such a limited pallette.

 

ccrump

05/25/2017 03:18 PM

Dr. Fuhrman eats what appears to be a lot of nuts and seeds per day. Can you tell me about the quantity of nuts and what kind of nuts he consumes each day please? Thank you!

This comment was last edited on 05/25/2017 03:18 PM

dejohns

05/25/2017 03:37 PM

I understand the protein requirements of older people is greater than younger.  I'd like to know how much protein per day is needed after age 70 to help prevent sarcopenia.   Thanks.

This comment was last edited on 05/25/2017 03:38 PM

alohadawn replies:

05/28/2017 01:28 PM

This PubMed article sited 1.7g of protein / kg of body weight for "elderly" folks dealing with anemia.   Different issue, but the article does discuss changes in protein requirement as we age and you can search pubmed for sarcopenia related articles while you are there:

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2016 Feb;11:e1-e11. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2015.09.003. Epub 2015 Dec 9. Review.
PMID: 28531420

onefoot7

05/25/2017 03:58 PM

Excellent Doctor Fuhrman, thank you very much!

TRICKANN

05/25/2017 04:27 PM

Dr. Fuhrman I was told to eat either sprouted bread or sourdough bread . What do you think of sourdough bread.

 

Nancyj610

05/25/2017 06:09 PM

Thank you Dr. Fuhrman!  I love this information, super helpful!

jmlk

05/25/2017 06:53 PM

What about seeds and nuts--must they be organic?

How much nuts in a day?  1/2 cup ground or whole?

You don't stress organic.  If organic is not available, can I use the organic wash on fruits and veg.?

rdenis99

05/25/2017 08:26 PM

Every single statement made by Dr. Fuhrman is truth and if you are not fooling yourself, you will find the cure you are looking for without medication. I do believe Dr. Fuhrman is on a humanitarian mission, not someone after fame and money. I am a living proof of his high efficiency, but I am quirt. Please Dr. Fuhrman keep the good job and never get discourage. Your mission is big and it is here to stay. Good bless you!

LindaGuitar

05/25/2017 09:41 PM

I have never heard Dr. Fuhrman address the issue of how to eat healthy while being impoverished to the point of needing to get food from food banks. Food banks tend to give out all kinds of unhealthy stuff.

 

TerriLynn replies:

05/29/2017 02:23 PM

I know food banks are pretty limited. Try asking the food banks you visit if they have any fresh produce or know where you can get some. Tell them you are diabetic (even if you are not) and that you need to stick with fresh produce, whole grains and seeds and nuts. Choose beans - dried preferably but cans of beans work, brown rice and other whole grains if you can. Any nuts or seeds will work, again preferably raw, but roasted will still give you some healthy fats. If the food bank is very limited, grab cans of soups. You can use them as a base for your own soup and then add whatever vegies you can get your hands on. If you have any money, visit produce stands - vegetables and fruits in season will be pretty cheap there. If you don't have the money, then research what weeds are edible in your area - really! Many weeds (dandelion and purslane come to mind) are very nutritious and can be found in vacant lots, etc. Good Luck!

 

MargaMadhuri

05/25/2017 10:38 PM

THIS IS A GREAT POST!!! Thank you for letting us know what you do on a regular basis. Makes sense. We are thrilled that we found your work almost 5 years ago, and I look forward to the new book!!!! (And Dr. Fuhrman coming out to speak at our campus in October! So excited!)

 

DianaLM

05/26/2017 12:58 AM

I can't thank Dr. F. enough when over 4 years ago I heard him on PBS! I've been a Nutritarian ever since! The 2 things he said that "converted" me were this...I may have it not exact, but...he said that peoples' excuses were "I don't have time to make food like this." He said, "I don't have time for chemotherapy". When people say, "I can't afford eating this way." He said, 'I can't afford kidney dialysis.". Those words changed my life, as I have 7 friends on the "cancer" list right now & about 4 others have died. All in this 4 year time period! In March I did a 3 day water fast for the first time. It was AMAZING!! And I found out after my fast that Dr. F. wrote a book about fasting 10 years ago, or longer. I just got it at the library today!! Can't wait to see what else I will learn. Thank you Dr. F., many of you (Dr. Richard Sschulze, the Robbins', Ty Bollinger, Chris Wark, Kris Carr) have been instrumental in my change, but you were the first one I listened to!! Or shall I say "obeyed"!! :) You changed my life & gave me listening ears to hear what others have to say also. In my physical community, I'm alone on this journey (except for online like minded folks). I bought your dvd's for my friends with cancer..........I lend them out, but no one listens, or changes. It's VERY sad. So that's ok, I will keep going, even if alone. Thanks to the internet, I don't feel alone. I know lots are with me!! I don't want to be on the cancer list, so I will do my best to have a long & healthy life. I take full responsibility for my food choices! Thanks again!!

mbcort

05/26/2017 05:58 AM

Dr. Furhman 

I have been doing the Nutritarian diet and it has certainly changed my life. I do home health visiting patients and my challenges are eating while I am on the road. My go to is salad bars in a grocery store. I loved hearing your ideas of what to eat when you are on the road and it is a good point that it takes much too long to go into a restaurant. Thank you.

Mary Cortellini

This comment was last edited on 05/26/2017 05:59 AM

nanama

05/26/2017 08:05 AM

After I had  a baby my blood pressure went high so i followed Dr. F's nutritarian lifestyle and it normalized within about a week into the diet and after about 2 weeks I was able to get off my medications. My struggle is that I miss some salt and that made me sad when I was eating. Can you suggest anything to me or how I can overcome this?  I have a toddler (13 months),  what can I give him in place of cow's milk? And also any ideas on foods to feed him? Thank you.

 

 

AnnaB replies:

05/26/2017 05:09 PM

Dr Fuhrman wrote a book called "Disease Proof your Child" in is available in audio or regualr book formats.

Chani

05/26/2017 01:44 PM

Dr. Furman, Hi!

I am brand new to this program, while I am a well-informed lay-person on the subject of nutrition. As a person in your age group, I have had few illness and no major surgeries in my life, I am the mother of six grown children and grandmother of many more, Thank G-d.  My inquiry is concerning the use of the nightshade family of vegetables on a daily basis, as you advocate. While I enjoy this vegetable group apart and in combinations, I worry they may enhance an early stiffness and soreness I am experiencing only of late. How do you reconcile the use of these nightshade vegetables to arthritis sufferers? And can this exacerbate the symptoms? You propose that these vegetables enhance anti-inflammatory response in the body. Could you please explain, as I am confused on this point. Otherwise, the ideas and the program you propose is outstanding and long over-due. Thanks for educating us all!  Chani