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Can proper nutrition put an end to heart disease? Interview with Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

Can proper nutrition put an end to heart disease? Interview with Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

I had the opportunity of interviewing Dr. Joel Fuhrman recently. In case you don't know, Dr. Fuhrman is an internationally known doctor who specializes in nutrition. He's been featured on Dr. Oz numerous times, he's written 10 books, most of which have been on the New York Times best sellers lists. He's also had a few PBS specials, including one set to air on June 4th.

Dr. Fuhrman is the founder of the Nutritarian "diet" (more like a "lifestyle change") that thousands of people have followed, including myself. As Nutritarians, many people have successfully reversed the effects of heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Of course, most of them have lost a significant amount of weight too. His latest book is called The End of Heart Disease and I think it's his best book yet.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman - End of Heart DiseaseI learned a lot from this interview. Read the complete interview transcript below!

Dr. Joel Fuhrman: Hello?

Rich Hubbard: Hi is this Dr. Fuhrman? 

JF: Yes it is!

RH: Hi, how are you?

JF: Good, how are you?

RH: Yeah, I’m excited about the interview, I’ve admired your work for years.

JF: Oh terrific! I’m excited to talk to you because I know, I’ve seen your picture and your story and it looks really like your motivataional. Congratulations on your success! 

RH: Oh thank you! I kept the weight off for about three and a half years now. Basically, I’ve been following your plan. It’s worked great for me. I don’t know if you want to mention the special at all in the interview. I don’t even know if you announced it yet. It’s set for June or July?

JF: It begins June 4th, yeah. I don’t think we’ve announced it yet. It doesn’t matter, there’s no secret, I mean you could announce it. If you wanted to mention it, you can. The new book, “The End of Heart Disease”, that’s what the new show is promoting anyways, “The End of Heart Disease”.

RH: Should I begin with the first question?

JF: Sure, but before you start, how do we know that the people will already understand, before I start answering, what a nutritarian diet is, and what type of general advice I give people about diet and nutrition and what my mission is? They kind of have an idea already?

RH: I think they do, but that might be a good idea. So the first question, if you want to do an overview on what nutritarian is, I have been talking about it on my blog but there might be a few people that don’t read the previous articles.

JF: Right. OK, let’s get started.

I designed a nutrtarian diet with a specific purpose of what would be the ideal for humans to eat, the ideal diet style for humans to eat to maximimally expand human life span, to maximally reverse and prevent disease. In other words, not based on any philosophy, any personal eating preference, any personal agenda but simply, what would be the way to eat to maximally extend human life with the healthiest diet in the world.

We can radically extend the human life span and give people better help than they ever thought possible with nutritional excellence.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman
The word Nutritarian, you know I coined that word; it means rich in nutrients, nutrient rich, nutritarian, and especially those nutrients that have those antioxidants and phytochemicals that turn on the body’s immune system and fight off cancer.  I’m working under the premise that the science overwhelmingly shows that we don’t have to have heart attacks, we don't have to have strokes, we don't have to get dementia when we get older, and we can also win the war on cancer. That means the vast majority of cancers don’t have to ever occur in people. We can radically extend the human life span and give people better help than they ever thought possible with nutritional excellence. So that’s what the nutritarian is all about, it’s based on some basic principles of nutritional science, having to do with eating food for maximum nutrient density, in other word, having a diet that’s dense in whole natural foods, those natural foods are naturally rich in these photo chemicals and antioxidants and include undiscovered nutrients that we haven’t even identified yet. Whole natural foods that are nutrient rich. Those that naturally have nutrients have other nutrients that nature put there, that humans haven’t even discovered yet. Of course, we want to avoid processed foods, especially high calorie, low nutrient foods. The more we eat high calorie, low nutrient foods, the more we accelerate our demise and create chronic disease. And then we want a diet style that’s hormonally favorable, not to be too overly glycemic, which could drive insulin to dangerously high levels and we don’t want to have diets that have excess of animal protein because high biological protein, especially excess, can drive hormones, or growth hormones, like IGF-1 which promotes cellular mutation, tumors and cancers in adulthood.

We also want it to be nutritionally complete. We can be eating a lot of kale and strawberries that are rich in nutrients, but we have to make sure we’re not missing anything that would otherwise derail our excellent health, such as vitamin D deficiency or B12 deficiency or iodine deficiency or DHA deficiency. We want to make sure we’re not leaving any particular peg unfilled that humans would need.

And lastly, we want to make sure we’re not consuming toxins, carcinogens, microbes that could be pathogenic, we want to have our food choices be free of toxicity and contamination. So we’re looking at every area of excellence and then once we do that, we can adjust the flavor, the taste and use our intelligence,creativity to make the healthiest diets in the world taste great!

RH: Absolutely!   In your first book, was that, I believe, about 5 or 6 years ago? I’m just wondering when you first started the journey.

JF: Well, I’ve been a physician more than 25 years. My first book was called “Fasting and Eating For Health”. I think that came out in 1994 or 1995. And then “Eat to Live” came out in 2004.

RH: Yeah, that’s the one I read.

JF: But I’ve actually written about 10 books already, so I’ve written a lot of books. So you read “Eat to Live” and you also read my most recent book “The End of Heart Disease” too, right?

RH: Which is my favorite! It’s very, very informative. I think people will learn a lot from it.

JF: Yeah, I know it’s a pretty big book, I hope the 440 pages won’t scare people to avoid it. You know, I find the more people know, the more likelihood, they’re gonna enjoy this and be able to do this for the rest of their life because you know dieting doesn’t work, you gotta just make the changes, It has to be forever, number one.

RH: Exactly.

JF: And number two, if people really knew the dangers of medications and how ineffective they really are at preventing these heart attacks and strokes, and how these drugs, to lower blood pressure, can cause cancer and so could the statins. If they knew the risks and futility of medical care, I believe many more millions of people would be interested in and would be open to making more aggressive changes in their diet to protect their health.

RH: Oh, of course! And I know first hand that diets don’t work because I tried a number of years trying to lose weight, they’re only temporary and they don’t address the issues long term like this does. It’s a lifestyle change.

JF: Right, right, and congratulations on your success in changing your health around, becoming a nutritarian and enjoying it! It’s the most enjoyable way to live, it takes away your fear of the medical issues. 

RH: That’s the important thing people need to understand, you’re not depriving yourself, you’re enjoying food again which I think a lot of people are afraid of.

JF: Yeah, they don’t realize you’re enjoying food more, not less, because you make it taste great and it’s good for you too and there’s no guilt involved.

RH: Exactly. I’m trying to build muscle as a way to tighten my skin. I’ve come a long way since I lost the weight but I still have loose skin in the abdominal area. As I try to become a body builder, I know the protein requirements might be different from your average person. Does it take longer to build muscle with only plant-based foods? Is there any advice you have for someone who wants to build muscle as a vegan?

JF: Well, let me just say this, two things. Number one, a nutritarian diet can be followed on a vegan diet or one with just a little bit of animal products. In other words, it doesn’t have to, by definition, be vegan. Number two, the problem with more conventionally designed vegan diets, especially in the elderly, as we get older, our protein digestion and needs, our protein assimilation goes down and our protein needs increase and a vegan diet may not be favorable for people living over 80-85. They require more protein in their percentage of calories.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman - End of Heart DiseaseNow a nutritarian diet on the other hand, even the vegan version of nutritarian diet is higher in protein than more traditionally designed vegan, vegetarian diets because of it’s use of beans and nuts and seeds and green vegetables which are so high in protein in the plant kingdom. It is particularly is focused on the higher protein plant foods as opposed to more grains, rice, bread or potato based vegan diet which a lot of other people eat. You know, it meets the needs for growing children better, it meets the needs of athletes in the mid-part of life better and it meets the needs of the elderly better because of it’s richer, natural plant proteins. The plant proteins have different biological effects than animal proteins because the higher biological value of animal protein means they’re able to be rushed into the blood stream quicker, and that’s unfavorable for an adult, the speed in which they rush in. Because it makes for an excessive hormonal response. Now, consuming plant protein is great for athletes though, who get the steady protein fed into their body, might be over hours all day, instead of rushed in all at once. So it’s actually an advantage to an athlete, especially a person who needs long term stamina, tennis players, you know, skiers, basketball players, but even power lifters and strength athletes are getting remarkable results from a nutritarian diet.

For example, there’s a a policeman from St. Louis, whose name is Nate Jordan, who was about 80 pounds overweight, I think it was 80 pounds overweight and he dropped weight and he became a power lifter and now he’s become one of the strongest men in the world on a nutritarian diet for his bodyweight. So he weighed 170 pounds but he could deadlift 500 pounds or benchpress over 300 pounds. The point is he’s winning these competitions and competing in the power lifting arenas competing with these guys that are living on these high meat diets, beating them and doing better because his body fat is so low. His musculature is so defined and his strength per body weight is so high. Now, that doesn’t mean that a person on a nutriarian diet will be able to get to be a 300 pound or 350 pound line backer on a football team. You can be very strong and lean, and very strong for your body weight, which means you can do a lot of chin-ups and you can lift a lot of weight for your size, but it’s not going to allow you to be overly big, which is not favorable anyway because those overly big guys who eat to be that huge, die young. It’s well known.

Another example in our study, the guys who were linebackers on football teams have six times increased risk of early life death compared to let’s say the receivers and the tight ends. The receivers are the thinner more lean football players that aren’t quite as huge. The point is a lot of the power lifters and some of the young athletes going for the huge size are sacrificing their future health, they die young and show of high rates of prostate cancer. The goal is to be strong and fit for your size, not just to be huge with fat potbellies. They look like they’re very strong but not very lean. So, we’re talking about maximizing athletic performance and I have many professional and Olympic athletes who follow the nutritarian diet and the reason they do so… for example, Eric Schlopy who was in four Olympic games of downhill skiing. It prolonged his career by eating so healthy. He went through four Olympics of competing at that high level of world wide skiing for 16 years, and a lot of tennis players are nutritarians today, because they recognize it’s not all about eating for immediate performance. It’s eating for long term good health and sustaining your health through the long years ahead. As you get older, you want to hang onto your athletic powers. In other words, number one, they don’t get sick as much, they keep training. They don’t overtrain. Cause one week being on your back with a virus infection and it could ruin your whole years of aptitude, you know, when you talk about a 10th of a second is the difference of winning or losing here. You know, by being out of an event or training for a week with a virus infection. It's adding what I call super immunity, through these nutrient rich foods that are helpful to athletes, to keep training and to not get eidetic overtrained and of course we’re talking about getting less of phytochemical and nutrients which do fuel endurance and better athletic response to training. And you’d be amazed at how, when you eat right to build muscle tissue, it stays there. So when you don’t train, you don’t lose it as fast. The same thing applies when we’re adults, eating the right foods, that our bodies become better at digesting the proteins and then we maintain our muscle mass better as we age. And if you don’t exercise because you got hurt, you have an injury you where can’t exercise, you still maintain that fitness and that strength better than let's say a person eating a diet richer in animal products that is overly in excess protein. So we’re talking here about a diet adequate in protein, and a nutritarian diet has plenty of protein. And some of these athletes, we have hemp seeds, Mediterranean Pine Nuts, sunflower seeds, lots of beans, lots of green vegetables, they’re diet is already relatively high in protein and as they’re calorie count goes up, they’re protein goes up. They get plenty of protein with this diet. Let’s take a person eating 4000 calories a day. You get on a nutritarian diet about 150 grams of proteins, we’re talking about a lot. You have to eat more calories when you’re an athlete too. You take in more calories, you get the protein you need.

RH: What do you think  about those protein powders? I asked on Facebook, and I think you responded or somebody responded on your team that if I feel like I must have a protein powder that I must use a plant based one, which I have been using, careful about the ingredients. Do you think that protein powders are necessary at all?

JF: No, they’re not, I don’t think they’re necessary at all. I think you could just as easily use some plain hemp seeds to blend in your smoothies at lunch.  Why buy a protein powder with the excess ingredients you don’t need and they more expensive. The other issue is that you don’t want those added supplements, vitamins added to it which can cause cancer. You don’t want to take folic acid, vitamin A, beta carotene, things that are harmful and they may be adding these supplements to those protein powders. And number one, you don’t need the extra protein, you can get it from hemp seeds, pignolias and sunflower seeds. And number two, you don’t need those extra additives they throw in there.

RH: I do make a smoothie before I workout but I add protein powder which probably isn’t necessary to add to it.

JF: Right, but there's also, Mediterranean Pine Nuts. Mediterranean Pine Nuts, are expensive but they’re super high in protein, 35% of the calories are from protein.Throw some Mediterranean Pine Nuts, in there!

RH: That’s one thing I haven’t tried yet! I’ll definitely give that a try. 

JF: Oh you haven’t? They’re great! They’re kind of expensive but they’re really great.

RH: My next question is about vitamin B12, which I worry about. Is there any way that vitamin B12 can be accessible though a vegan diet or would somebody have to resort to a supplement? I know you cover this in your book. I’m just wondering if somebody would have to take a supplement, more than likely, if they decided to become vegan? 

JF: Yes, even if you are near vegan or in other words, on a vegan diet for sure... but even near vegans should take B12. B12 is something we need to have regularly our body and if we don’t have it regularly supplied, we have to take a sufficient, high enough dose so our body can store it. I’ve been in practice for 25 years and seeing numerous vegans develop mental disorders, nerve problems, tremors, memory loss, and all kinds of dangerous outcomes due to lack of sufficient B12. So it’ not something anybody should fool around with or even consider not taking. And you can’t get it from plants obviously, you have to only get it from animal products. Not eating animal products all the time, or even a little animal products doesn’t give a person enough B12 to guarantee a person has enough B12. That’s the problem that these people think they can have enough B12 stored and it still can lead to problems. Let me explain, is that the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of B12 is only 4 to 5 micrograms, let’s say 5 micrograms a day, that’s the RDI. But that’s because people absorb a small amount at a time, like 1.5 or 2 micrograms with each meal of animal products. And they have animal products multiple times of day so they might be reaching the RDI, but if you are on a vegan diet, flexitarian diet or a nutritarian diet, you only eat animal products once, twice or three times a week where you’re only going to still  be absorbing that small amount from that animal products that you consumed. you’re not going to consume enough, you’re not gonna get enough of the animal product B12 into you in one sitting to enable the body to build up storage because you’re body is only absorbing a little at one time. So you’re not going to have huge storage in the body, so you’re just basically meeting your needs. And if you’re not eating more animal products more regularly, you can develop deficiencies. So a vegan then has to take 100mcg to 500mcg a day and then absorb not just the 1.5 or 2 micrograms via intrinsic factors, that being the carrier vehicle, but also can absorb for direct diffusion, so a small percentage for the diffusion by taking such a high dose, they can get 5 percent in that way as a total dose so that way they can have adequate B12. So what Im saying is B12 needs are higher in vegans. Number two, you’re not going to store enough eating. Your past diet when you ate animal products, or animal products a few times a week is not going to give you enough storage to make you safe.

RH: I see. What are they made out of? They are not obviously made out of animal products for vegan purposes. Whats the active ingredients in B12 if you know much about that?

JF: Well, the active ingredient is B12 itself, the methylcobalamin. in other words, it’s made from a bacteria that they grow in a laboratory. I have multivitamins that are high in B12 and the reason I make the multi is because I don’t want people taking folic acid, vitamin A, beta carotene and copper. I don’t want them taking things that could harm them. So I make a supplement with the extra B12 designed for nutritarians, with high B12, a little bit of zinc, a little bit of the RDI of iodine and a high enough dose of vitamin D to make sure all these levels are normal. And without getting the excess things or things we shouldn’t be taking in more conventional multis.

RH: If someone were to purchase just vitamin B12, is there, of course there’s always ingredients to look out for. You know, they should just be mindful of the ingredients. Any advice?

JF: No, there’s no special ingredients, just B12. Just to get, even, I don’t have so much. I like the methylcobalamin, I think it’s a little better than the cyanocobalamin, but I don’t think it really make a big difference. I mean they just take the regular B12 by 200mcg or 500mcg a day. You don’t have to buy anything special B12. But I think that because a person on a vegan diet or a nutritarian diet is most likely also deficient in vitamin D, unless their doing things outside in the sun. Unless their outdoors they’re usually deficient in vitamin D. The extra iodine is helpful because we’re not eating seaweed and seafood and also we’re not eating iodinated salts so then the extra iodine is helpful and the extra vitamin D, B12, a little extra zinc is helpful, especially as we age, on a diet cause the fine taste of plant foods increases the requirements of zinc. so getting these other elements that we could be potentially low in is also a conservative safety factor.

RH: Number three, I have, I feel bad for people with nut allergies. I'm just wondering, well first of all, are there foods with similar nutrients that they can eat and is there ever a way that maybe they can grow out of it or first of all I don’t even know what causes nut allergies. I don’t know if science is there yet, if they know what causes it. What are your thoughts on nut allergies, and similar foods?

JF: I think, well, first of all, if people are allergic to some nuts, they’re not allergic to all seeds. They can eat sunflower seeds or sesame seeds or you know, or chia seeds or flax seeds and hemp seeds. In other words, they should eat seeds. Seeds are rich in nutrients anyway and are super healthy, you don’t have to eat nuts. On the other hand, I’ve gotten many people to grow out of nut allergies over time, through a nutritarian diet, it helps normalize their immune system, they have better immune system function, they stop having it become so overly reactive, and over time, we do oral challenge where we start out with almost a homeopathic dose. We don’t pick the things they are most allergic to, we pick the nut that they’re mildly allergic to. Give them like one kernel or something the size of half of a sunflower seed, or  for comparison like a whole quart of water, give them one just drop of that water, give them a very, very tiny amount and after a period of months, we increase the dose very, very slowly, so over a year’s time they can tolerate higher amounts without reacting. But we don’t start with the oral challenge to their allergies until they’re eating a nutritarian diet at least one year because we want to really improve their health and make sure they have nutrients, comprehensive micronutrients adeque and better immune system function before we start challenging them to see if we could get rid of allergies. But I’ve had many patients over the years improve their foods that they were allergic to and be less allergic as time went on. 

RH: I just can’t imagine myself having a nut allergy because I enjoy eating all those foods. I was thinking they might be allergic to seeds to, some of them. It’s good to know usually that’s not the case.

JF: Well it’s a shame with our present food, that all these problems develop, childhood cancers, allergies, all these things develop due to bad health practices. Especially, taking folic acid during pregnancy instead of eating green vegetables, not breast feeding your children, avoiding nuts, you know, when the mother’s eating nuts and seeds and she’s also breast feeding a child, we have normal reactivity. When the mother is giving the child, formula, not breast feeding, not eating nuts and seeds, increasing the risk of allergies, and of course taking folic acid, and not eating sufficient nutrients. All these diseases develop due to nutritional ignorance and the modern way of doing things which is very contrary to the way the body’s been designed to develop and function. 

RH: In your latest book, “The End of Heart Disease”, you mention a study. I found the answer in the book too, but I thought it was important for other people to read about. The study about Peggy, Maria, Eugene, Keith and Peter. I noted to you that the HDL levels didn’t change and some of them lowered. I know you mentioned at the end of the book, I loved your analogy about, you know, you don’t need a shovel if you live in Florida to get rid of the snow and that’s the way you described it. 

JF: Right, you don’t need snow shovels or snowblowers in Florida. Well, the body doesn’t produce the carrier molecules to remove oxidized LDL if you don’t have any oxidized LDL to remove. So, you don’t want HDL to go up because that would be a sign of disease. In other words, populations around the world have almost no risk of heart disease because of the healthier diets, are populations that generally have low HDL’s. They have very low LDL’s, but they have low HDL’s too. And when your LDL goes in a favorable range, especially with a nutritarian diet, the oxidized LDL is almost nonexistent, so why would your body be making a high HDL to remove anything if there’s nothing there to remove? Your body doesn’t just make something that there’s no need for. So the answer to your question is, the high HDL is a benefit if you are on an unfavorable diet when your LDL is very high. When your LDL is low, there’s no benefit to having it when you don’t have atherosclerosis and you’re not producing a new vulnerable plaque and it has essentially been eradicated and there’s no oxidized LDL circulating, there’s no reason, the body’s going to produce a high levels of HDL. In fact, trying to medicate people into higher HDL's has not been shown to help people, it hurts people. As people understand this more and more, but of course as a nutritarian, I’ve been observing this for 25 years, that heart disease, people with high blood pressure, their blood pressure normalizes, their oxidized LDL goes very low, their blockages and obstructions in the blood flow open up and that’s the most important parameter is when they once were causing the reversal of the heart disease, with the blood vessels opening up and as this person is restoring back to normalcy and that’s what we see happening, in spite of the HDL not going higher, it may even go a little lower.

RH: The reason I brought up the HDL is on my lab slip, there’s like a red flag that the HDL might be too low, higher risk of heart disease. I think the language they need to update on some of these lab results for people eating a healthy diet.

JF: Well, it’s not that, it’s your LDL/HDL ratio. If the LDL is going favorable, and the HDL is also going low, there’s no risk. As a matter of fact it’s better. You have lower risk from your LDL going lower than your HDL going high. So even if your HDL/LDL ratio is even a little worse, if your LDL went lower, that’s still more of a protection than if your HDL going higher. So the blood test are giving you somewhat of an inaccurate viewpoint by criticizing the low HDL.

RH: I think they need to work on the language.

JF: Well, they don't know, they are just reporting a conventional, simplistic way that’s conventionally viewed.

RH: Next question, did you ever eat the Standard American Diet growing up, and if you did, what made you change? What made you realize that there are healthier foods out there.

JF: Well, when I was very young, I guess till about 10 years old, I ate more conventionally. After the age of 10, I take my father, who was sickly and overweight, started reading more about health and changed his diet and subsequently, we ate healthier as the whole family was trying to eat healthier as he changed his diet and got healthier. So, I think I remember bringing more fruit in my lunches. Then in my teens, I started to eat more carefully as a world class athlete, I was on the United States World Figure Skating Team and I just ate to not miss training, to keep well and to maximize stamina. I would eat pretty healthy as a teenager and I would read a lot of health books, and read all the stuff he brought into the house and became like a hobby of learning more about health so I decided and eventually pursued it as a career.

RH: Next question, is there a way to change the culture of meat eaters in this country? For example, ever since the World Health Organization released a statement that processed meats causing cancer I haven’t seen much change in people’s attitudes and you know, people are still getting pepperoni pizzas or eating bacon and all that. How do you think as America, we can have some kind of change of culture more toward vegetarian?

Just because a person’s not eating animal products, doesn’t mean that your diet is healthy.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman
JF: Well, don’t forget, I don’t advocate and consider most vegetarians to be in a healthy diet, I just want to make that clear again. Just because a person’s not eating animal products, doesn’t  mean that your diet is healthy. So many people in the vegan or vegetarian community are eating high processed, and high glycemic carbohydrates that damage their health.  I advocate that people eat more of the high nutrient, anti-cancer super foods. People don’t eat enough green vegetables, beans, mushrooms, onions, berries and seeds. We gotta start eating healthy foods in this country. And there’s a lot of reasons and factors in individuals who cultivated a more aware and knowledgable population where many millions of people across this country are eating healthier and we’re seeing healthier restaurants available, and healthier food markets. I mean, it’s a slow process and change happens very slowly, and Im not suggesting that I’m going to change the massive majority of the people. However, there’s a growing element in our society today worldwide, that are attempting and trying to eat healthier and healthier and more attention is placed on dietary improvements even though there’s tremendous confusion and people bickering and arguing over what’s right and what’s wrong. Overall, there’s still an inherent acceptance that more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are beneficial and we have to eat more of these natural plant foods. I think that we’ve moved a long way already, society’s very resistant and change is difficult, but I think that we all do the best we can. My mission is so people are properly informed so that whether they want to eat healthy or not, they can do whatever they want, but at least they should know that they didn’t have to have that heart attack, at least they should know they could make a choice not to have a stroke, at least they should know they don’t have to get beast cancer if they don’t want to, but right now, they don’t even have that information. Nobody’s been discussing this information. Once the people are aware, let them do whatever they want. But I think there has to be proper and informed consent and not confusion, similar to the idea where some people think that smoking cigarettes is good for them. Now they think the same way in what they are eating. So it’s important that this information gets out there, but then ultimately, each individual has the right to do what they see fit for their own life.

RH: Do you think that doctors need to study up more on nutrition so that they could better educate their patients?

JF: Yes, I mean you know doctors don’t know more about nutrition more than the average person does. The average lawyer, electrician, the average school teacher, knows not as much about nutrition as the average doctor does, generally speaking, because none of these people are truly trained much in nutrition, they just read what they read in their general readings. And it doesn’t matter what they learned in medical school because things changed over the last 20, 30 years. But in any case, there should be a bigger emphasis on ongoing nutritional information, ongoing nutritional education and continuing education among physicians to update them on nutritional well being and being nutritionally aware. But you know, that’s not even what I think is where we have to go in society, may not be the only place we have to go. Because in my opinion is that the whole society learns together! We teach everybody, we teach the schools, we teach the parents, we teach the kids, we teach the doctors, we teach the lawyers, as everybody learns about nutrition, we all should be learning these things, in every college, in every high school and elementary school, we all should be learning about nutrition. It’s the basic foundation of information that determines whether we die prematurely or live to maintain our memory, or perform well in school and have our full mental and physical faculties later in life, I mean based on all these things, it’s one of the most important knowledge people can have. So, I don’t think it’s something that just doctors should learn about. I think it’s something that everybody should have the equal right to learn about, and have the equal responsibility and importance where everybody learns about it, not just doctors. 

RH: I’d like to see them teach this in grammar school. I never had that advantage growing up.

JF: You know, if people learned about it properly, we wouldn’t need the doctors to be the ones that teach it. Those aren’t the right types of people to teach nutrition anyway.

RH: Yeah, that’s a good point. 

The other question I had was in regards to MSM, or sulfur. To give you a little background, I was watching a YouTube video. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Philip McCluskey? He’s a vegan, he turned vegan, he lost a lot of weight. This was in my research as I was trying to tighten my abdominal area.

JF: No, I don’t know who he is.

RH: OK, he was talking about the the benefits of MSM, or sulfur, and the reason why we need it is because it is depleted in the soil.

JF: That’s ridiculous! There’s plenty of sulfur, where do you think the broccoli and the cruciferous vegetables and onions, they’re all sulfur containing compounds. We need a healthy diet the body produces all those compounds it needs. There’s no deficiency in the soil. It’s made by light hits green plants, there”s plenty of sulfur compounds, we don’t need to take MSM. There’s no data to suggest that is true and we get tons of those elements in those raw materials already in the healthy nutritarian diet. So you’re already getting tons of sulfur compounds in the green vegetables and the healthy foods you’re eating if you eat healthy, And if you don’t eat healthy, you’re not only missing out on MSM, you’re missing a lot of other stuff too. Then you gotta take a thousand different supplements, so why just take that one? That doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s more and more hype. More marketing hype. You want to buy all kinds pills instead of eating healthy and you don’t get the same benefits. Eating healthy foods seems to be the best form. When you can get healthy food, sometimes you can’t get the healthy foods.

RH: Yeah, of course. There’s just one other question, if you don’t mind. I know you’ve seen a lot of the extreme weight loss with a nutritarian diet, as people lead healthier lives. I don’t know if other people have issues with loose skin. One thing I’m against is tummy tucks. I’ve gone through consultations and have no interest in doing such an invasive surgery. Have you had any experience with clients that maybe have tightened their skin with strength training or I know it takes time too, from what I hear.

JF: No, I don’t think that that’s. I think that your, how should I say, I think that your expectations maybe are overly optimistic. The loose skin is going to recede based on how young you are when you lose the weight and how much you actually stretched your stomach out or how heavy you became and how long it was stretched out for. A woman who’s pregnant is gonna have less stretch marks if she”s pregnant when she’s younger. But if she has six pregnancies, where it stretches out over and over again, it’s not gonna come back all the way. So it depends. If you’re older and you maintain your weight, you gain it, you lose it, you’re stretching it out, so basically how far it was stretched. So I’m not claiming that all those stretch marks and all that loose skin can go back to normal again. No matter what you eat, no matter how you exercise. Exercise isn’t gonna exercise the skin. It’s not gonna pull it back, you can get your health, get rid of your fat and be as lean as possible, but you’re gonna have some floppy, loose skin if you allow yourself to get that big.

RH: I mean, it’s tightened some and I certainly can live with it. It’s just a little bulge. I just wondered your thoughts about that. I agree. 

JF: There’s a limited ability of the body to bring it back and the ability could be if you’re younger and you didn’t push it out so far to bring it all the way back. But obviously, the chance to have it to come back to normal again diminishes with time and age.

RH: Yeah, somebody who was heavy like myself, over 10 years, then that’s a long way to go. 

JF: Right, don’t look for magic here.

RH: Yeah, I have no regrets with the strength training anyway.. It’s got me stronger. I’ll just keep eating clean, you know? I’m not really worried about that. Yeah, that’s all the questions I had prepared. Any last thoughts or anything you want to add?

JF: Well no, just thank you Richard. I’m proud of you and what you've accomplished with your personal health success and wishing you and of course all your readers much happiness and great health always.

RH: I appreciate you taking the time. I’ve admired your work for years now.and was looking forward to this conversation.

JF: Terrific Richard, OK, best to you.

RH: OK, thank you!


It was so exciting to talk with someone who's work I've been following for about three and a half years now. He has transformed so many people (including myself), countless numbers of people have lost weight, reversed heart disease, reversed diabetes, the list goes on and on. I highly recommend his book as you will learn so much. It will help educate you to form smart food choices, even if you don't follow everything to the full degree.

About Our Guest

JOEL FUHRMAN, M.D.Family Physician, Best-Selling Author, Nutritional Expert
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times best-selling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his eating style, which is built around a diet of nutrient-dense, plant-rich foods.

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