Parvati Magazine spoke with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD, a renowned expert on nutritional healing and founder of the Nutritarian Diet about food, disease reversal and his quest to increase nutrition awareness.
Parvati Magazine: What inspired your strong focus in diabetes and heart disease reversal?
Joel Fuhrman: Diabetes is an epidemic in our society. It’s not only a leading cause of death, but a leading cause of premature death. Many die from complications of these diseases; they don’t just drop dead suddenly, they suffer significantly with many medical issues years before they die. What makes this so tragic is that our population is not aware it is preventable through excellent nutrition. Even when you have been diagnosed with diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart disease, it is still possible to reverse these conditions. When you attempt to reverse these conditions through excellent nutrition, the degree of protection you get against a future heart attack or stroke is over 100 times the protection you get from medication designed to treat these conditions. My belief is that if people were more aware of how effective the Nutritarian Diet could be, many more people would choose an effective nutrition-based approach.
PMAG: What are the biggest barriers to this lack of information?
JF: Probably the biggest barrier is the addictive properties of processed foods, and human nature, where people want to continue imbibing in their pleasurable activities. That, combined with the economic and political power of food manufacturers and industries, leads to billions of dollars spent on publicity and scientific studies to confuse the population about nutritional science. This combination creates powerful barriers against information that would challenge the status quo. This is a complex problem entrenched in our society at multiple levels.
I think that nutrition is the most important factor affecting our economy, crime rate, human intelligence and health trajectory throughout life. Our standard way of eating in America today affects all aspects of our society: whether a child can be attentive in school, whether the diet you eat during pregnancy or prior to conception can affect your child’s intelligence and their propensity to develop an autoimmune disease or cancer, and diseases that put a tremendous burden on our economic system and medical care costs.
PMAG: What is your view of the ideal children’s diet?
JF: What we are feeding our children sets the stage for medical problems down the road. We have to teach good nutrition through the whole educational system, to both parents and children.
The Nutritarian diet emphasizes green vegetables, beans which are high quality protein and a more liberal use of healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, which makes the diet more rich and bioavailable in nutrients. I also recommend taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement if you are not consuming fish. I allow small amounts of animal products in this diet. This makes it an appropriate diet for growing children and the elderly. I would be stricter in a person with advanced heart disease, but more liberal in the diet of a child or an elderly person who may not be thriving on a complete vegan diet. Some individuals may do better with a small amount of animal product in their diet. When those cases arise, where it’s better to include small amounts to ensure proper growth and health, this would still be an excellent diet.
PMAG: Do you see other avenues for working to change people’s beliefs and habits, for example at a more systemic level?
JF: Absolutely. I have a new book coming out that will be about fixing the health of society, and how celebrities, athletes, politicians and teachers, etc. need to work together to change the present healthcare system. There is a political and societal message to help people in economic need — the lack of accessibility and awareness about the importance of eating healthfully affects all people. It’s about human rights — the right to liberty and happiness also includes the right to have the knowledge and access to healthy food so we can have a healthy brain and reach our human potential. I myself am not responsible for all these pieces, but there are many people who can work synergistically for this movement.
The main message I want to highlight is hope, because nutrition is so powerful at getting people well, and food is the most effective and safe medicine.
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 created the Nutritarian diet, an eating plan that incorporates the latest advances in nutritional science. Dr. Fuhrman is President of the Nutritional Research Foundation and has collaborated on a number of medical journal articles. He has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, and Good Morning America.