Eat to live — Summary

Create a healthy diet from the author’s research on 2000+ scientific papers

In this book physician and nutritional researcher, Joel Fuhrman created a guide, which cuts through the countless diets out there to create a nutrient dense, plant-based diet.

A huge amount of research has shown that serious chronic diseases are a direct effect of a diet high in animal products and refined food. [See also, the China Study]

Western diets are high in calories but low in nutrients

Calories come from carbohydrates, fat, and proteins. Nutrients come from vitamins, minerals, and water. We need both to survive. Calories give us the energy, and nutrients are essential to optimal health.

The problem with the American and many western diets is that they are very dense in calories, but poor in nutrients. The reason is not that nutrient dense foods aren’t available, it is because most people prefer junk foods like pizza, burgers over fruits and vegetables.

Statistics show that the average American gets 62% of calories from processed carbohydrates, 25.5% from fiberless animal products such as dairy, and just 5% from vegetables and fruits, potatoes excluded.

A plant based diet has more nutrient density

The dangers of a diet rich in animal products and refined food, it makes sense to opt for a plant-based diet. The Nutrient density formula is Health=Nutrients/Calories. This formula describes how high the nutrient ratio is per calories consumed.

Plants deliver much more nutrients than meat. 100 calories of broccoli provide 2.2 mg of iron, 118 mg of calcium, and 46 mg of magnesium. Steak in contrast, only provides 0.8 mg, 2 mg, and 6mg of these minerals, respectively.

Greens are considered superfoods because they have the highest nutrient density. Healthy fats such as omega-3 can be obtained from nuts and seeds. It should be easy to obtain enough calories from a plant based diet to satisfy a 2000 kcal adult energy requirement.

Foods such as kale, swiss chard, collard greens, romaine lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli have the highest nutrient score density.

The incomplete picture about the Mediterranean diet and other misconceptions

Many Americans hold the belief that the healthy Mediterranean diet owns it’s reputation to large amounts of olive oil, white bread, and pasta. But they forget that Cretans also performed physical activity every day and consumed large quantities of vegetables, fruits, fish and beans. After the 1950s, the Cretan population started to eat more meat, cheese, and fish while performing less physical work, which led them to be as overweight as Americans now.

Protein is not as healthy as the American Society believes

Many American believe that a lot of proteins are essential in the diet and that they are mainly to be obtained from meat and dairy. But results of the research have shown that meat and other animal products are the main culprits for illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases [ see The China Study ].

Moreover, studies have shown that faster growth during puberty — supposedly brought by a lot of protein consumption — increases the risk of cancer in adult life.

Governmental agencies, the media, and even scientists spread false information about food

Not only deeply rooted myths are to blame for the unhealthy American diet. It is in the interest of many institutions to preserve America’s current food culture.

One such example is the Department of Agriculture. $20 million are allocated for the investment in the meat and dairy industries, but none such investment is made to the production of fruits and vegetables for human consumption.

The media often greatly contributes to the misinformation. In one case the headline printed “High-fiber diet does not protect against colon cancer.” despite there being over 2000 research papers which demonstrate the opposite. Why? Because the study they based their claim on did not show that diets high in fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and raw nuts and seeds do not protect against colon cancer, they do. Hundreds of observational studies have shown that such a diet protects against multiple types of cancers, including colon cancer. What the study did was merely adding a fiber supplement to the diet.

Another dangerous example of misinformation is the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet is a ketogenic diet, meaning that it contains very little carbohydrates and a lot of animal products (high fat/protein). The problem with this diet is that it can shift electrolytes and lead to a dangerously irregular heartbeat. Many deaths have been linked to similar diets including one sixteen-year-old girl which was on the Atkins diet.

Plant-based diets can protect from and even reverse diseases

Not only can a plant-based diet lead to a sustained weight loss and cancer, more energy and stress resistance due to a better-nourished brain and immune system. Studies have also shown a healthy plant-based diet can even help people with migraines. The author has had a 90–95% success rate after the first three months with migraine and severe-headache patients.

More than 90% of his diabetes patients got off all insulin within the first month. Even many patients with autoimmune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, hyperthyroidism, and lupus can get off their medication and recover. The author points out that the results he got were so dramatic that he is often met with skepticism and even anger from other physicians.

When one of his patients went back to her previous rheumatologist to tell him that she was well and without medication, he replied: “It must just be that you are resting more.” When she then answered that she wasn’t resting more and that she even was more active because her pain was gone and that she stopped with all drugs, he responded: “It’s just a temporary remission, you’ll be back soon with another crisis.” She never went back.

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