Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition

by Joel Fuhrman

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Hailed a "medical breakthrough" by Dr. Mehmet Oz, EAT TO LIVE offers a highly effective, scientifically proven way to lose weight quickly. The key to Dr. Joel Fuhrman's revolutionary six-week plan is simple: health = nutrients / calories. When the ratio of nutrients to calories in the food you eat is high, you lose weight. The more nutrient-dense food you eat, the less you crave fat, sweets, and high-caloric foods.

EAT TO LIVE has been revised to include inspiring success stories from people who have used the program to lose shockingly large amounts of weight and recover from life-threatening illnesses; Dr. Fuhrman's nutrient density index; up-to-date scientific research supporting the principles behind Dr. Fuhrman's plan; new recipes and meal ideas; and much more. This easy-to-follow, nutritionally sound diet can help anyone shed pounds quickly-and keep them off.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316120913
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 01/05/2011
Edition description: Revised and Updated
Pages: 380
Sales rank: 16,103
Product dimensions: 8.16(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

Joel Fuhrman, MD, is a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. His other books include Eat for Health and Disease-Proof Your Child. He lives and maintains a private practice in Flemington, New Jersey.

Read an Excerpt

Eat to Live

The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition
By Fuhrman, Joel

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2012 Fuhrman, Joel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316206648


Digging Our Graves with Forks and Knives


Case Study: Robert lost over sixty pounds and saved his life!

I was generally thin until about thirty-two years of age. I gained about thirty pounds seemingly overnight. At thirty-four, I began having labored breathing and was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, which caused significant scarring over a large area of my lungs. I began the standard treatment of a biopsy and steroids.

At age thirty-seven, I was fifty pounds overweight. My life changed one afternoon at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The button on my last comfortable pair of pants snapped and the zipper broke. It was funny, embarrassing, and deadly serious all at the same time. That day, I decided I had to change and went to the bookstore to find some answers. I stumbled upon Dr. Fuhrman’s book, and it made sense to me.

Six months later, I was sixty pounds lighter, but my wife brought to my attention a lump in my neck. The lump had been there for years, but without all my fat obscuring it, it was now readily visible. I had assumed that my gasping was a result of the sarcoidosis, but I had a massive thyroid cyst, which blocked my windpipe and cut off my air supply. The doctors decided that it needed to come out. A couple of days prior to surgery, I was given an MRI, which showed that I had no traces of the sarcoidosis. It had completely cleared up, just as Dr. Fuhrman had predicted.

During the surgery the cyst burst as soon as the surgeon attempted to cut it out with his scalpel, causing me to go into anaphylactic shock. Had the doctor not first drained the fluid with a needle, I might have died. Even more sobering is the fact that had I not adopted Dr. Fuhrman’s advice, the cyst would have remained obscured and would have burst on its own. I would not have had the benefit of being on the operating table.

I am now forty-six years old, I run about twenty miles a week, and I have unbelievable stamina. My systolic blood pressure went from 140 to 108, and my current LDL cholesterol level is 40 (that is not a typo). I feel great. I look ten years younger than I did two years ago and take no medications. I have competed in several triathlons and am preparing for my first marathon.

Not long after my surgery, I sought out Dr. Fuhrman to thank him. You too can achieve your ideal weight, reverse disease, and, yes, even delay the aging process.

Americans have been among the first people worldwide to have the luxury of bombarding themselves with nutrient-deficient, high-calorie food, often called empty-calorie or junk food. By “empty-calorie,” I mean food that is deficient in nutrients and fiber. More Americans than ever before are eating these high-calorie foods while remaining inactive—a dangerous combination.

The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2048 all adults in the United States will be overweight or obese. The National Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year. This is especially discouraging for dieters because after spending so much money attempting to lose weight, 95 percent of them gain all the weight back and then add on even more pounds within three years. This incredibly high failure rate holds true for the vast majority of weight-loss schemes, programs, and diets.

Obesity and its sequelae pose a serious challenge to physicians. Both primary-care physicians and obesity-treatment specialists fail to make an impact on the long-term health of most of their patients. Studies show that initial weight loss is followed by weight regain.

Those who genetically store fat more efficiently may have had a survival advantage thousands of years ago when food was scarce, or in a famine, but in today’s modern food pantry they are the ones with the survival disadvantage. People whose parents are obese have a tenfold increased risk of being obese. On the other hand, obese families tend to have obese pets, which is obviously not genetic. So it is the combination of food choices, inactivity, and genetics that determines obesity. More important, one can’t change one’s genes, so blaming them doesn’t solve the problem. Rather than taking an honest look at what causes obesity, Americans are still looking for a miraculous cure—a magic diet or some other effortless gimmick.

Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue—extra weight leads to an earlier death, as many studies confirm. Overweight individuals are more likely to die from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Two-thirds of those with weight problems also have hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or another obesity-related condition. It is a major cause of early mortality in the United States. Since dieting almost never works and the health risks of obesity are so life-threatening, more and more people are desperately turning to drugs and surgical procedures to lose weight.

Health Complications of Obesity

  • Increased overall premature mortality

  • Adult-onset diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Degenerative arthritis

  • Coronary artery disease

  • Cancer

  • Lipid disorders

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

  • Gallstones

  • Fatty infiltration of liver

  • Restrictive lung disease

  • Gastrointestinal diseases

The results so many of my patients have achieved utilizing the Eat to Live guidelines over the past twenty years rival what can be achieved with surgical weight-reduction techniques, without the associated morbidity and mortality.

Surgery for Weight Reduction and Its Risks

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), wound problems and complications from blood clots are common after-effects of gastric bypass and gastroplasty surgery. The NIH has also reported that those undergoing surgical treatment for obesity have had substantial nutritional and metabolic complications, gastritis, esophagitis, outlet stenosis, and abdominal hernias. More than 10 percent required another operation to fix problems resulting from the first surgery.


Vitamin B12 deficiency




39.9 percent


Readmit for various reasons




38.2 percent


Incisional hernia




23.9 percent






23.7 percent


Staple line failure




15.0 percent






13.2 percent






11.4 percent


Anastomotic problems




9.8 percent


Dehydration, malnutrition




5.8 percent


Dilated pouch




3.2 percent


Dangerous Dieting

In addition to undergoing extremely risky surgeries, Americans have been bombarded with a battery of gimmicky diets that promise to combat obesity. Almost all diets are ineffective. They don’t work, because no matter how much weight you lose when you are on a diet, you put it right back on when you go off. Measuring portions and trying to eat fewer calories, typically called “dieting,” almost never result in permanent weight loss and actually worsen the problem over time. Such “dieting” temporarily slows down your metabolic rate, so often more weight comes back than you lost. You wind up heavier than you were before you started dieting. This leads many to claim, “I’ve tried everything, and nothing works. It must be genetic. Who wouldn’t give up?”

You may already know that the conventional “solution” to being overweight—low-calorie dieting—doesn’t work. But you may not know why. It is for this simple yet much overlooked reason: for the vast majority of people, being overweight is not caused by how much they eat but by what they eat. The idea that people get heavy because they consume a high volume of food is a myth. Eating large amounts of the right food is your key to success and is what makes this plan workable for the rest of your life. What makes many people overweight is not that they eat so much more but that they get a higher percentage of their calories from fat and refined carbohydrates, or mostly low-nutrient foods. This low-nutrient diet establishes a favorable cellular environment for disease to flourish.

Regardless of your metabolism or genetics, you can achieve a normal weight once you start a high-nutrient diet style. Since the majority of all Americans are overweight, the problem is not primarily genetic. Though genes are an important ingredient, physical activity and food choices play a far more significant role. In studies on identical twins with the tendency to be overweight, scientists found that physical activity is the strongest environmental determinant of total body and central abdominal fat mass. Even those with a strong family history of obesity effectively lose weight with increased physical activity and appropriate dietary modifications.

Most of the time, the reason people are overweight is too little physical activity, in conjunction with a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet. Eating a diet with plenty of low-fiber, calorie-dense foods, such as oil and refined carbohydrates, is the main culprit.

As long as you are eating fatty foods and refined carbohydrates, it is impossible to lose weight healthfully. In fact, this vicious combination of a sedentary lifestyle and eating typical “American” food (high-fat, low-fiber) is the primary reason we have such an incredibly overweight population.

Killing the Next Generation

This book may not appeal to individuals who are in denial about the dangers of their eating habits and those of their children. Many will do anything to continue their love affair with disease-causing foods and will sacrifice their health in the process. Many people prefer not to know about the dangers of their unhealthy diet because they think it will interfere with their eating pleasure. They are wrong. Healthy eating can result in even more pleasure.

If you have to give up something you get pleasure from, your subconscious may prefer to ignore solid evidence or defend illogically held views. Many ferociously defend their unhealthy eating practices. Others just claim, “I already eat a healthy diet,” even though they do not.

There is a general resistance to change. It would be much easier if healthful eating practices and the scientific importance of nutritional excellence were instilled in us as children. Unfortunately, children are eating more poorly today than ever before.

Most Americans are not aware that the diet they feed their children guarantees a high cancer probability down the road. They don’t even contemplate that eating fast-food meals may be just as risky (or more so) as letting their children smoke cigarettes.

The 1992 Bogalusa Heart Study confirmed the existence of fatty plaques and streaks (the beginning of atherosclerosis) in most children and teenagers!

You wouldn’t let your children sit around the table smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, because it is not socially acceptable, but it is fine to let them consume cola, fries cooked in trans fat, and a cheeseburger regularly. Many children eat doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes, and candy on a daily basis. It is difficult for parents to understand the insidious, slow destruction of their children’s genetic potential and the foundation for serious illness that is being built by the consumption of these foods.

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! These researchers concluded: “These results emphasize the need for preventive cardiology in early life.” I guess “preventive cardiology” is a convoluted term that means eating healthfully.

Another autopsy study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than 85 percent of adults between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-nine already have atherosclerotic changes in their coronary arteries. Fatty streaks and fibrous plaques covered large areas of the coronary arteries. Everyone knows that juk foods are not healthy, but few understand their consequences—serious life-threatening illness. Clearly, the diets we consume as children have a powerful influence on our future health and eventual premature demise.

There is considerable data to suggest that childhood diet has a greater impact on the later incidence of certain cancers than does a poor diet later in life. It is estimated that as many as 25 percent of schoolchildren today are obese. Early obesity sets the stage for adult obesity. An overweight child develops heart disease earlier in life. Mortality data suggests that being overweight during early adult life is more dangerous than a similar degree of heaviness later in adult life.

Drugs Are Not the Solution

New drugs are continually introduced that attempt to lessen the effects of our nation’s self-destructive eating behavior. Most often, our society treats disease after the degenerative illness has appeared, an illness that is the result of thirty to sixty years of nutritional self-abuse.

Drug companies and researchers attempt to develop and market medications to stem the obesity epidemic. This approach will always be doomed to fail. The body will always pay a price for consuming medicines, which usually have toxic effects. The “side” effects are not the only toxic effect of medications. Doctors learn in their introductory pharmacology course in medical school that all medications are toxic to varying degrees, whether side effects are experienced or not. Pharmacology professors stress never to forget that. You cannot escape the immutable biological laws of cause and effect through ingesting medicinal substances.

If we don’t make significant changes in the foods we choose to consume, taking drugs prescribed by physicians will not improve our health or extend our lives. If we wish true health protection, we need to remove the cause. We must stop abusing ourselves with disease-causing foods.

Surprise! Lean People Live Longer

In the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers examined the association between body mass index and overall mortality and mortality from specific causes in more than 100,000 women. After limiting the analysis to nonsmokers, it was very clear that the longest-lived women were the leanest. The researchers concluded that the increasingly permissive U.S. weight guidelines are unjustified and potentially harmful.

Dr. I-Min Lee, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said her twenty-seven-year study of 19,297 men found there was no such thing as being too thin. (Obviously, it is possible to be too thin; however, it is uncommon and usually called anorexia, but that is not the subject of this book.) Among men who never smoked, the lowest mortality occurred in the lightest fifth. Those who were in the thinnest 20 percent in the early 1960s were two and a half times less likely to have died of cardiovascular disease by 1988 than those in the heaviest fifth. Overall, the thinnest were two-thirds more likely to be alive in 1988 than the heaviest. Lee stated, “We observed a direct relationship between body weight and mortality. By that I mean that the thinnest fifth of men experienced the lowest mortality, and mortality increased progressively with heavier and heavier weight.” The point is not to judge your ideal weight by traditional weight-loss tables, which are based on Americans’ overweight averages. After carefully examining the twenty-five major studies available on the subject, I have found that the evidence indicates that optimal weight, as determined by who lives the longest, occurs at weights at least 10 percent below the average body-weight tables. Most weight-guideline charts still place the public at risk by reinforcing an unhealthy overweight standard. By my calculations, it is not merely 70 percent of Americans who are overweight, it is more like 85 percent.

The Longer Your Waistline, the Shorter Your Lifeline

As a good rule of thumb: for optimal health and longevity, a man should not have more than one-half inch of skin that he can pinch near his umbilicus (belly button) and a woman should not have more than one inch. Almost any fat on the body over this minimum is a health risk. If you have gained even as little as ten pounds since the age of eighteen or twenty, then you could be at significant increased risk for health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The truth is that most people who think they are at the right weight still have too much fat on their body.

A commonly used formula for determining ideal body weight follows:

Women: Approximately ninety-five pounds for the first five feet of height and then four pounds for every inch thereafter.

5'4" 95 + 16 = 111

5'6" 95 + 24 = 119

Men: Approximately 105 pounds for the first five feet of height and then five pounds for every inch thereafter. Therefore, a 5’10” male should weigh approximately 155 pounds.

All formulas that approximate ideal weights are only rough guides, since we all have different body types and bone structure.

Body mass index (BMI) is used as a convenient indicator of overweight risk and is often used in medical investigations. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters (squared). Another way to calculate BMI is to use this formula:

A BMI over 24 is considered overweight and greater than 30, obese. However, it is just as easy for most of us merely to use waist circumference.

I prefer waist circumference and abdominal fat measurements because BMI can be inaccurately high if the person is athletic and very muscular. Ideally, your BMI should be below 23, unless you lift weights and have considerable muscle mass. As an example, I am of average height and build (5'10" and 150 pounds) and my BMI is 21.5. My waist circumference is 30.5 inches. Waist circumference should be measured at the navel.

The traditional view is that men who have a waist circumference over forty inches and women with one over thirty-five inches are significantly overweight with a high risk of health problems and heart attacks. Evidence suggests that abdominal fat measurement is a better predictor of risk than overall weight or size. Fat deposits around your waist are a greater health risk than extra fat in other places, such as the hips and thighs.

What if you feel you are too thin? If you have too much fat on your body but feel you are too thin, then you should exercise to build muscle to gain weight. I often have patients tell me they think they look too thin, or their friends or family members tell them they look too thin, even though they are still clearly overweight. Bear in mind that by their standards you may be too thin, or at least thinner than they are. The question to ask is, is their standard a healthy one? I doubt it. Either way: Do not try to force yourself to overeat to gain weight! Eat only as much food as your hunger drive demands, and no more. If you exercise, your appetite will increase in response. You should not try to put on weight merely by eating, because that will only add more fat to your frame, not muscle. Additional fat, regardless of whether you like the way you look when you are fatter or not, will shorten your life span.

Once you start eating healthfully, you may find you are getting thinner than expected. Most people lose weight until they reach their ideal weight and then they stop losing weight. Ideal weight is an individual thing, but it is harder to lose muscle than fat, so once the fat is off your body, your weight will stabilize. Stabilization at a thin, muscular weight occurs because your body gives you strong signals to eat, signals that I call “true hunger.” True hunger maintains your muscle reserve, not your fat.

The Only Way to Significantly Increase Life Span

The evidence for increasing one’s life span through dietary restriction is enormous and irrefutable. Reduced caloric intake is the only experimental technique to consistently extend maximum life span. This has been shown in all species tested, from insects and fish to rats and cats. There are so many hundreds of studies that only a small number are referenced below.

Scientists have long known that mice that eat fewer calories live longer. Research has demonstrated the same effect in primates (i.e., you). A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that restricting calories by 30 percent significantly increased life span in monkeys. The experimental diet, while still providing adequate nourishment, slowed monkeys’ metabolism and reduced their body temperatures, changes similar to those in the long-lived thin mice. Decreased levels of triglycerides and increased HDL (the good) cholesterol were also observed. Studies over the years, on many different species of animals, have confirmed that those animals that were fed less lived longest. In fact, allowing an animal to eat as much food as it desires can reduce its life span by as much as one-half.

High-nutrient, low-calorie eating results in dramatic increases in life span as well as prevention of chronic illnesses. From rodents to primates we see:

  • Resistance to experimentally induced cancers

  • Protection from spontaneous and genetically predisposed cancers

  • A delay in the onset of late-life diseases

  • Nonappearance of atherosclerosis and diabetes

  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides and increased HDL

  • Improved insulin sensitivity

  • Enhancement of the energy-conservation mechanism, including reduced body temperature

  • Reduction in oxidative stress

  • Reduction in parameters of cellular aging, including cellular congestion

  • Enhancement of cellular repair mechanisms, including DNA repair enzymes

  • Reduction in inflammatory response and immune cell proliferation

  • Improved defenses against environmental stresses

  • Suppression of the genetic alterations associated with aging

  • Protection of genes associated with removal of oxygen radicals

  • Inhibited production of metabolites that are potent cross-linking agents

  • Slowed metabolic rate

The link between thinness and longevity, and obesity and a shorter life span, is concrete. Another important consideration in other animal studies is that fat and protein restriction have an additional effect on lengthening life span. Apparently, higher fat and higher protein intake promotes hormone production, speeds up reproductive readiness and other indicators of aging, and promotes the growth of certain tumors. For example, excess protein intake has been shown to raise insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels, which are linked to higher rates of prostate and breast cancer.

In the wide field of longevity research there is only one finding that has held up over the years: eating less prolongs life, as long as nutrient intake is adequate. All other longevity ideas are merely conjectural and unproven. Such theories include taking hormones such as estrogen, DHEA, growth hormones, and melatonin, as well as nutritional supplements. So far, there is no solid evidence that supplying the body with any nutritional element over and above the level present in adequate amounts in a nutrient-dense diet will prolong life. This is in contrast to the overwhelming evidence regarding protein and caloric restriction.

This important and irrefutable finding is a crucial feature of the H = N/C equation. We all must recognize that if we are to reach the limit of the human life span, we must not overeat on high-calorie food. Eating empty-calorie food makes it impossible to achieve optimal health and maximize our genetic potential.

To Avoid Overeating on High-Calorie Foods, Fill Up on Nutrient-Rich Ones

An important corollary to the principle of limiting high-calorie food is that the only way for a human being to safely achieve the benefits of caloric restriction while ensuring that the diet is nutritionally adequate is to avoid as much as possible those foods that are nutrient-poor.

Indeed, this is the crucial consideration in deciding what to eat. We need to eat foods with adequate nutrients so we won’t need to consume excess “empty” calories to reach our nutritional requirements. Eating foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber, and low in calories, “fills us up,” so to speak, thus preventing us from overeating.

To grasp why this works, let us look at how the brain controls our dietary drive. A complicated system of chemoreceptors in the nerves lining the digestive tract carefully monitor the calorie and nutrient density of every mouthful and send such information to the hypothalamus in the brain, which controls dietary drive.

There are also stretch receptors in the stomach to signal satiety by detecting the volume of food eaten, not the weight of the food. If you are not filled up with nutrients and fiber, the brain will send out signals telling you to eat more food, or overeat.

In fact, if you consume sufficient nutrients and fiber, you will become biochemically filled (nutrients) and mechanically filled (fiber), and your desire to consume calories will be blunted or turned down. One key factor that determines whether you will be overweight is your failure to consume sufficient fiber and nutrients. This has been illustrated in scientific studies.

How does this work in practice? Let’s say we conduct a scientific experiment and observe a group of people by measuring the average number of calories they consumed at each dinner. Next, we give them a whole orange and a whole apple prior to dinner. The result would be that the participants would reduce their caloric intake, on the average, by the amount of calories in the fruit. Now, instead of giving them two fruits, give them the same amount of calories from fruit juice.

What will happen? They will eat the same amount of food as they did when they had nothing at the beginning of their meal. In other words, the juice did not reduce the calories consumed in the meal—instead, the juice became additional calories. This has been shown to occur with beer, soft drinks, and other sources of liquid calories.

Liquid calories, without the fiber present in the whole food, have little effect in blunting our caloric drive. Studies show that fruit juice and other sweet beverages lead to obesity in children as well.

If you are serious about losing weight, don’t drink your fruit—eat it. Too much fiber and too many nutrients are removed during juicing, and many of the remaining nutrients are lost through processing, heat, and storage time. If you are not overweight, drinking freshly prepared juice is acceptable as long as it does not serve as a substitute for eating those fresh fruits and vegetables. There is no substitute for natural whole foods.

There is a tendency for many of us to want to believe in magic. People want to believe that in spite of our indiscretions and excesses, we can still maintain optimal health by taking a pill, powder, or other potion. However, this is a false hope, a hope that has been silenced by too much scientific evidence. There is no magic. There is no miracle weight-loss pill. There is only the natural world of law and order, of cause and effect. If you want optimal health and longevity, you must engage the cause. And if you want to lose fat weight safely, you must eat a diet of predominantly unrefined foods that are nutrient-and fiber-rich.

What if I Have a Slow Metabolic Rate?

Your body weight may be affected slightly by genetics, but that effect is not strong. Furthermore, I am convinced that inheriting a slow metabolic rate with a tendency to gain weight is not a flaw or defect but rather a genetic gift that can be taken advantage of. How is this possible? A slower metabolism is associated with a longer life span in all species of animals. It can be speculated that if one lived sixty thousand or just a few hundred years ago, a slower metabolic rate might have increased our survival opportunity, since getting sufficient calories was difficult. For example, the majority of Pilgrims who arrived on our shores on the Mayflower died that first winter. They could not make or find enough food to eat, so only those with the genetic gift of a slow metabolic rate survived.

As you can see, it is not always bad to have a slow metabolic rate. It can be good. Sure, it is bad in today’s environment of relentless eating and when consuming a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet. Sure, it will increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease and cancer, given today’s food-consumption patterns. However, if correct food choices are made to maintain a normal weight, the individual with a slower metabolism may age more slowly.

Our body is like a machine. If we constantly run the machinery at high speed, it will wear out faster. Since animals with slower metabolic rates live longer, eating more calories, which drives up our metabolic rate, will cause us only to age faster. Contrary to what you may have heard and read in the past, our goal should be the opposite: to eat less, only as much as we need to maintain a slim and muscular weight, and no more, so as to keep our metabolic rate relatively slow.

So stop worrying about your slower metabolic rate. A slower metabolic rate from dieting is not the primary cause of your weight problem. Keep these three important points in mind:

  1. Resting metabolic rates do decline slightly during periods of lower caloric intake, but not enough to significantly inhibit weight loss.

  2. Resting metabolic rates return to normal soon after caloric intake is no longer restricted. The lowered metabolic rate does not stay low permanently and make future dieting more difficult.

  3. A sudden lowering of the metabolic rate from dieting does not explain the weight gain/loss cycles experienced by many overweight people. These fluctuations in weight are primarily from going on and getting off diets. It is especially difficult to stay with a reduced-calorie diet when it never truly satisfies the individual’s biochemical need for nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals.

Those with a genetic tendency to be overweight may actually have the genetic potential to outlive the rest of us. The key to their successful longevity lies in their choosing a nutrient-rich, fiber-rich, lower-calorie diet, as well as getting adequate physical activity. By adjusting the nutrient-per-calorie density of your diet to your metabolic rate, you can use your slow metabolism to your advantage. When you can maintain a normal weight in spite of a slow metabolism, you will be able to achieve significant longevity.

An Unprecedented Opportunity in Human History

Science and the development of modern refrigeration and transportation methods have given us access to high-quality, nutrient-dense food. In today’s modern society, we have available to us the largest variety of fresh and frozen natural foods in human history. Using the foods available to us today, we can devise diets and menus with better nutrient density and nutrient diversity than ever before possible.

This book gives you the information and the motivation you need to take advantage of this opportunity to improve your health and maximize your chances for a disease-free life.

You have a clear choice. You can live longer and healthier than ever before, or you can do what most modern populations do: eat to create disease and a premature death. Since you are reading this book, you have opted to live longer and healthier. “Eat to live” and you will achieve a happier and more pleasurable life.


Overfed, Yet Malnourished


Case Study: Charlotte lost 130 pounds and reversed her heart disease and diabetes!

I had been heavy since childhood. It would be easy to blame my problems on heredity, since there is a history of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes on both sides of my family.

Through the years I tried many diets with only minimal and never lasting success. I reached a top weight of 263 pounds on a five-foot four-inch frame and had resigned myself to forever being a plus-size woman.

I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes (along with hypertension and high cholesterol) after suffering a stroke at age fifty-six. To control all these ills, I was prescribed medications that I was expected to take for life. About a year after the stroke, I was diagnosed with a serious form of tachycardia that required immediate medical attention. I ended up with two heart stents because of a 95 percent blockage and more prescriptions.

I avoided seeing doctors, because although they lectured me about my weight, the only solution they offered was a calorie-restricted version of the standard American diet on which I was always hungry and miserable. My husband, Clarence, searched the Internet for ways to help me become healthier and found Dr. Fuhrman and his book Eat to Live, which claimed dramatic results through dietary changes.

I quickly shed pounds, and my lab test results improved. Although my diabetes was controlled to the satisfaction of my doctors, Dr. Fuhrman said the first priority was to get rid of it completely through nutritional excellence. No physician I had seen had ever mentioned this as a possibility.

Now, about a year and a half later, I am no longer diabetic and have had no further heart problems. My fasting blood sugar averages 79 without treatment. Since July 29, 2003, my total cholesterol has dropped from 219 to 130, my triglycerides are down from 174 to 73, and my LDL cholesterol has gone from 149 to 70.

My current weight is around 130, slightly less than half my maximum. As hard as it is to imagine, the last time I was this weight, I was under age twelve. Less measurable, but important, benefits are that I no longer snore, have more energy, and have increased resistance to colds and flus that previously wore me down. There are many things I can do more easily now versus before when I was so overweight.

I owe all these positive changes to Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live program. I still have a hearty appetite, but my relationship to food is far less addictive. People may think I have lost weight through willpower, but that’s not true. If I’d had any willpower, I would never have become so large in the first place. The Eat to Live program takes time and effort, but for me the results have been well worth it.

Now you know my formula for longevity (H = N/C) and that the key to this formula is the nutrient density of your diet. In other words, you must eat a diet rich in nutrients and fiber, with a very low percentage of foods that are not nutrient-and fiber-dense. It is the same formula that will enable your body to achieve slimness.

To help you learn how to apply this formula to your life, you first need to understand why you must follow it, exploring the relationships between diet, health, and disease. To do so, you need to take a look at the reality of how most people eat and what they gain or lose from such eating practices.

The Pros and Cons of Our “Natural Sweet Tooth”

Even though we have many unique human traits, we are genetically closely related to the great apes and other primates. Primates are the only animals on the face of the earth that can taste sweet and see color. We were designed by nature to see, grasp, eat, and enjoy the flavor of colorful, sweet fruits.

Fruit is an essential part of our diets. It is an indispensable requirement for us to maintain a high level of health. Fruit consumption has been shown in numerous studies to offer our strongest protection against certain cancers, especially oral and esophageal, lung, prostate, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer. Thankfully, our natural sweet tooth directs us to those foods ideally “designed” for our primate heritage—fruit. Fresh fruit offers us powerful health-giving benefits.

Researchers have discovered substances in fruit that have unique effects on preventing aging and deterioration of the brain. Some fruits, especially blueberries, are rich in anthocyanins and other compounds having anti-aging effects. Studies continue to provide evidence that more than any other food, fruit is associated with lowered mortality from all cancers combined. Eating fruit is vital to your health, well-being, and long life.

Regrettably, our human desire for sweets is typically satisfied by the consumption of products containing sugar, such as candy bars and ice cream—not fresh fruit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the typical American now consumes an unbelievable thirty teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s right, in one day.

As we shall see, we need to satisfy our sweet tooth with fresh, natural fruits and other plant substances that supply us not just with carbohydrates for energy but also with the full complement of indispensable substances that prevent illness.

Nutritional Lightweights: Pasta and White Bread

Unlike the fruits found in nature—which have a full ensemble of nutrients—processed carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, and cake) are deficient in fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, all of which have been lost in processing.

Compared with whole wheat, typical pasta and bread are missing:

  • 62 percent of the zinc

  • 72 percent of the magnesium

  • 95 percent of the vitamin E

  • 50 percent of the folic acid

  • 72 percent of the chromium

  • 78 percent of the vitamin B6

  • 78 percent of the fiber

In a six-year study of 65,000 women, those with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two and a half times the incidence of Type II diabetes, compared with those who ate high-fiber foods such as whole wheat bread and brown rice. These findings were replicated in a study of 43,000 men. Diabetes is no trivial problem; it is the seventh leading cause of death by disease in America, and its incidence is growing.

Walter Willett, M.D., chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of those two studies, finds the results so convincing that he’d like our government to change the Food Guide Pyramid, which recommends six to eleven servings of any kind of carbohydrate. He says, “They should move refined grains, like white bread, up to the sweets category because metabolically they’re basically the same.”

These starchy (white-flour) foods, removed from nature’s packaging, are no longer real food. The fiber and the majority of minerals have been removed, so such foods are absorbed too rapidly, resulting in a sharp glucose surge into the bloodstream. The pancreas is then forced to pump out insulin faster to keep up. Excess body fat also causes us to require more insulin from the pancreas. Over time, it is the excessive demand for insulin placed on the pancreas from both refined foods and increased body fat that leads to diabetes. Refined carbohydrates, white flour, sweets, and even fruit juices, because they enter the bloodstream so quickly, can also raise triglycerides, increasing the risk of heart attack in susceptible individuals.

Every time you eat such processed foods, you exclude from your diet not only the essential nutrients that we are aware of but hundreds of other undiscovered phytonutrients that are crucial for normal human function. When the nutrient-rich outer cover is removed from whole wheat to make it into white flour, the most nutritious part of the food is lost. The outer portion of the wheat kernel contains trace minerals, phytoestrogens, lignans, phytic acid, indoles, phenolic compounds, and other phytochemicals, as well as almost all the vitamin E in the food. True whole grain foods, which are associated with longer life, are vastly different from the processed foods that make up the bulk of calories in the modern American diet (MAD).

Medical investigations clearly show the dangers of consuming the quantity of processed foods that we do. And because these refined grains lack the fiber and nutrient density to satisfy our appetite, they also cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and significantly increased cancer risk.

One nine-year study involving 34,492 women between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-nine showed a two-thirds increase in the risk of death from heart disease in those eating refined grains. Summarizing fifteen epidemiological studies, researchers concluded that diets containing refined grains and refined sweets were consistently linked to stomach and colon cancer, and at least fifteen breast cancer studies connect low-fiber diets with increased risks. Eating a diet that contains a significant quantity of sugar and refined flour does not just cause weight gain, it also leads to an earlier death.

Refined Foods Are Linked To:

  • Oral cavity cancer

  • Stomach cancer

  • Colorectal cancer

  • Intestinal cancer

  • Breast cancer

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Respiratory tract cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Heart disease

If you want to lose weight, the most important foods to avoid are processed foods: condiments, candy, snacks, and baked goods; fat-free has nothing to do with it. Almost all weight-loss authorities agree on this—you must cut out the refined carbohydrates, including bagels, pasta, and bread. As far as the human body is concerned, low-fiber carbohydrates such as pasta are almost as damaging as white sugar. Pasta is not health food—it is hurt food.

Now I can imagine what many of you are thinking: “But, Dr. Fuhrman! I love pasta. Do I have to give it up?” I enjoy eating pasta, too. Pasta can sometimes be used in small quantities in a recipe that includes lots of green vegetables, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Whole grain pastas and bean pastas, found in health-food stores, are better choices than those made from white flour. The point to remember is that all refined grains must be placed in that limited category—foods that should constitute only a small percentage of our total caloric intake.

What about bagels? Is the “whole wheat” bagel you just bought at the bagel store really made from whole grain? No; in most cases, it is primarily white flour. It is hard to tell sometimes. Ninety-nine percent of pastas, breads, cookies, pretzels, and other grain products are made from white flour. Sometimes a little whole wheat or caramel color is added and the product is called whole wheat to make you think it is the real thing. It isn’t. Most brown bread is merely white bread with a fake tan. Wheat grown on American soil is not a nutrient-dense food to begin with, but then the food manufacturers remove the most valuable part of the food and add bleach, preservatives, salt, sugar, and food coloring to make breads, breakfast cereals, and other convenience foods. Yet many Americans consider such food healthy merely because it is low in fat.

Soil Depletion of Nutrients Is Not the Problem—Our Food Choices Are

Contrary to many of the horror stories you hear, our soil is not depleted of nutrients. California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Florida, and other states still have rich, fertile land that produces most of our fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. America provides some of the most nutrient-rich produce in the world.

Our government publishes nutritional analyses of foods. It takes food from a variety of supermarkets across the country, analyzes it, and publishes the results. Contrary to claims of many health-food and supplement enthusiasts, the produce grown in this country is nutrient-rich and high in trace minerals, especially beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. American-produced grains, however, do not have the mineral density of vegetables. Grains and animal-feed crops grown in the southeastern states are the most deficient, but even in those states only a small percentage of crops are shown to be deficient in minerals.

Thankfully, by eating a diet with a wide variety of natural plant foods, from a variety of soils, the threat of nutritional deficiency merely as a result of soil inadequacy is eliminated. Americans are not nutrient-deficient because of our depleted soil, as some nutritional-supplement proponents claim. Americans are nutrient-deficient because they do not eat a sufficient quantity of fresh produce. Over 90 percent of the calories consumed by Americans come from refined foods or animal products. With such a small percentage of our diet consisting of unrefined plant foods, how could we not become nutrient-deficient?

Since more than 40 percent of the calories in the American diet are derived from sugar or refined grains, both of which are nutrient-depleted, Americans are severely malnourished. Refined sugars cause us to be malnourished in direct proportion to how much we consume them. They are partially to blame for the high cancer and heart attack rates we see in America.

It is not merely dental cavities that should concern us about sugar. If we allow ourselves and our children to utilize sugar, white flour products, and oil to supply the majority of calories, as most American families do, we shall be condemning ourselves to a lifetime of sickness, medical problems, and a premature death.

Refined sugars include table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), honey, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, corn sweeteners, and fruit juice concentrates. Even the bottled and boxed fruit juices that many children drink are a poor food; with no significant nutrient density, they lead to obesity and disease. Processed apple juice, which is not far from sugar water in its nutrient score, accounts for almost 50 percent of all fruit servings consumed by preschoolers. For example, apple juice contains none of the vitamin C originally present in the whole apple. Oranges make the most nutritious juice, but even orange juice can’t compare with the original orange. In citrus fruits, most of the anti-cancer compounds are present in the membranes and pulp, which are removed in processing juice. Those cardboard containers of orange juice contain less than 10 percent of the vitamin C present in an orange and even less of the fiber and phytochemicals. Juice is not fruit, and prepackaged juices do not contain even one-tenth of the nutrients present in fresh fruit.

Processed carbohydrates, lacking in fiber, fail to slow sugar absorption, causing wide swings in glucose levels.

Empty calories are empty calories. Cookies, jams, and other processed foods (even those from the health-food store) sweetened with “fruit juice” sound healthier but are just as bad as white-sugar products. When fruit juice is concentrated and used as a sweetener, the healthy nutritional components are stripped away—what’s left is plain sugar. To your body, there is not much difference between refined sugar, fruit juice sweeteners, honey, fruit juice concentrate, and any other concentrated sweetener. Our sweet tooth has been put there by nature to have us enjoy and consume real fruit, not some imitation. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and other fresh fruit and vegetable juices are relatively healthy foods that contain the majority of the original vitamins and minerals. But sweet fruit juices and even carrot juice should still be used only moderately, as they still contain a high concentration of sugar calories and no fiber. They are not an ideal food for those desiring to lose weight. I often use these juices as part of salad dressings and other dishes rather than alone as a drink. Fresh fruits and even dried fruits do contain an assortment of protective nutrients and phytochemicals, so stick with the real thing.

Lester Traband’s Yearly Checkup

My patient Les Traband came in for his yearly checkup. He was not overweight and had been following a vegetarian diet for years. I did a dietary review of what he ate regularly. He was eating “healthy” flaxseed waffles for breakfast, lots of pasta, whole wheat bread, and vegan (no animal products) prepared frozen meals on a regular basis.

I spent about thirty minutes pointing out that he was certainly not following my dietary recommendations for excellent health and presented him with some menu suggestions and an outline of my nutritional prescription for superior health, which he agreed to follow.

Twelve weeks later, he had lost about eight pounds and I rechecked his lipid profile, because I didn’t like the results we received from the blood test taken the day of his checkup.

The results speak for themselves:

      2/1/2001      5/2/2001     

























Cholesterol/HDL ratio






Enrichment with Nutrients Is a House Made of Straw

White or “enriched” rice is just as bad as white bread and pasta. It is nutritionally bankrupt. You might as well just eat the Uncle Ben’s cardboard box it comes in. Refining the rice removes the same important factors: fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, and vitamin E. So, when you eat grains, eat whole grains.

Refining foods removes so much nutrition that our government requires that a few synthetic vitamins and minerals be added back. Such foods are labeled as enriched or fortified. Whenever you see those words on a package, it means important nutrients are missing. Refining foods lowers the amount of hundreds of known nutrients, yet usually only five to ten are added back by fortification.

As we change food through processing and refining, we rob the food of certain health-supporting substances and often create unhealthy compounds, thus making it a more unfit food for human consumption. As a general rule of thumb: the closer we eat foods to their natural state, the healthier the food.

Not All Whole Wheat Products Are Equal

“Whole grain” foods are not always nutrient-dense, healthy foods. Many whole grain cold cereals are so processed that they do not have a significant fiber per serving ratio and have lost most of their nutritional value.

Eating fragmented and unbalanced foods causes many problems, especially for those trying to lose weight.


Excerpted from Eat to Live by Fuhrman, Joel Copyright © 2012 by Fuhrman, Joel. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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