The “Nutritarian” Diet
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a vegan colleague of mine who recommended I read a few articles on whole food and predominately plant based diets. I was definitely skeptical since I’ve always been a huge meat/bread/cheese lover, but I decided to take her up on it when she mentioned that patients who followed this type of diet were able to reverse certain chronic diseases thought to be cured only by extensive surgeries.
Now anyone who knows me would probably be confused why something like this would even interest me. I’m not over weight; I eat fairly well, work out regularly, LOVE meat, and have been blessed with some pretty good genes. For that reason I want to address why this topic sparked my interest in the first place.
Three years ago my sister died from stage 4 cancer. The doctors believe it may have spread from her ovaries, but by the time she was diagnosed it also consumed most of her breasts, abdomen, and brain. My family never discussed what may have caused the cancer and I always believed it was linked to poor genetics since she was adopted. My sister definitely wasn’t what you would consider a fit or healthy individual, but I never considered her poor diet as a potential factor in her death.
After reading a few articles, I perused the internet for more information and stumbled upon a book called Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman. I researched a bit about the author and learned that Dr. Fuhrman isn’t just a regular MD; he emphasizes the importance of natural foods that prevent cancer and has cured many individuals of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other chronic diseases solely by altering their eating habits. For me, this was an eye opener. Not only was my sister clinically obese, she suffered from diabetes and ate fast food twice a day for a significant amount of her life. I realized that although many different factors may have contributed to her death, her poor diet and sedentary lifestyle were likely significant players. I hoped this book could provide additional insight as to why my sister wasn’t able to live a longer life…and I was absolutely right.
Very generally speaking, the book outlines Dr. Fuhrman’s approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle by consuming nutrient dense and all natural foods. The book includes scientific studies, data, and testimonies from Fuhrman’s patients, most of who were obese or had serious health conditions and were cured within weeks of following his vegetarian eating plan. He makes so many compelling arguments in the book that it’s impossible to describe in one post, but below are couple points I took from the book.
1) Nutritarian – person who consumes foods that have a high percentage of nutrients per calorie. The foods highest in nutrients rank in order from green vegetables, colored vegetables, and fresh fruits.
2) H=N/C (Health = Nutrients / Calories)
3) Eating foods that are low in nutrients increase toxicity in the body and results in addiction to toxic food, disease, and excess food cravings.
4) The current USDA food pyramid is not an accurate representation of what we should be eating.
5) Some diseases that often require surgery can be reversed solely by eating a proper diet.
6) You can sustain a diet high in protein without eating meat.
7) Dairy doesn’t offer as many benefits as many marketing and advertising campaigns claim. Casein protein in cow’s milk has been linked to cancer, “2%” milk doesn’t actually mean it only has 2% fat, and it’s not difficult to get a sufficient amount of calcium from an array of other foods.
The main idea is by cutting out foods that aren’t high in nutrients (meat, dairy, processed foods, fish) and significantly increasing your intake of high nutrient foods (especially vegetables and fruits), you will see positive changes in your health and quality of life.
I highly recommend reading this book if you are looking to make a positive change in your health or diet. I’m not at the point yet where I can follow this diet to a T, but I consume very little dairy and processed foods, and have limited my meat/fish intake to 2-3 times per week. I’ve also picked up two more books that research the connection between nutrition and certain diseases, so hopefully I’ll be able to provide more insight in the next couple weeks.
In the meantime, eat clean and green!