Why Eat to Live? The Basics

By Joel Fuhrman, M.D. www.drfuhrman.com

Your Diet Is The Principle Building Block Of Your Health .

Your body uses the foods that you eat to build and repair itself. When you compromise your diet; you undermine your future health. One of the purposes of this Web site is to educate you on how to take charge and maximize your health potential.

The body is composed of fat and lean tissue. Body composition is one of most important factors in controlling the aging process and restoring vitality. Studies have shown that excess fat in the waistline directly translates in a statistically significant reduction in lifespan.

Exercise is essential, but diet is the key for limiting excess fat tissue. The problem with telling people they need to exercise more is that in their present state of health they are not capable of sustaining or enjoying sufficient exercise. Many need to lose weight and get healthier so that they are able to enjoy activity and exercise. The ability to maintain the level of physical activity necessary for ideal health is dependent to a degree on overall sense of well being. The first step is to get healthy with superior nutrition and to incorporate more and more exercise later as your weight drops, and you are feeling better.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) 60% of Americans are overweight. This is the highest number in human history. Being overweight is not just a cosmetic issue. Extra weight leads to an earlier death, as many medical studies confirm. Overweight individuals are more likely to die from all diseases, especially heart disease and cancer. The main point is this – if you follow a diet that does not cause cancer and heart disease, you automatically become thin. The healthy weight is a by-product of eating such a healthy diet.  

Though many accept that disease is the result of genetics or luck, the reality for the vast majority is that we bear responsibility for our dietary choices. Nutrition, exercise and environment simply overwhelm genetics. For example, those living in rural China have less than 2% heart disease risk, but when they move to America their children have the same dismal statistics as other Americans. Over Fifty percent of Americans die of heart attacks and strokes.

You cannot escape from the biological law of cause and effect. Food choices are the largest cause of disease and premature death. Health results from healthy living.

Phytochemicals And Anti-Oxidant Nutrients Are Essential, Not Optional.

More than 12,000 recently identified phytochemical nutrients in natural (unprocessed) plant foods has generated excitement in the scientific community unparalleled since the first vitamin was discovered in the early 1900's. These compounds work synergistically to detoxify cancer-causing compounds, deactivate free radicals and enable DNA repair mechanisms. These 12,000 or so phytochemicals also play a major role in human immune system defenses.

When these phytochemicals are missing, the outcome is even more spectacular - a nation of diseased children and adults. From arthritis to depression, the lack of these phytonutrients, which are only found in fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and raw nuts, have an inevitable consequence—chronic disease. 


Effects of Typical American Diet
• Excessive Weight Gain
• Hardening of Arteries
• LDL Cholesterol Increase
• Toxicosis
• Malnutrition 

• Americans eat about 40 percent of calories from animal products and 50 percent of calories from processed foods such as oil, sugar and white flour products.
• Neither animal products nor processed foods contain antioxidants, bioflavonoids, caratenoids, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K or those thousands of phytochemicals that are essential for cellular normalcy.
• Most of the animal products consumed such as cheese and milk are exceptionally high in saturated fat. Saturated fat intake correlates with cancer incidence worldwide.
• Consumption of excess animal products raises cholesterol and causes heart disease. To add insult to injury, much of the processed foods eaten are rich in trans-fat, a man-made fat that is also linked to cancer and heart disease.

A Needless Tragedy

Americans eat a high saturated fat, high trans-fat diet, with a restricted intake of unrefined plant foods, guaranteeing photochemical deprivation. We could not have designed a better cancer causing, heart attack-causing environment more effectively if we scientifically planned it. The result of our nation’s food choices is a country with high levels or chronic illnesses, and whose health care costs have spiraled out of control, primarily as a result of inferior nutrition.

The vast majority of Americans have significant life, threatening risk factors related to excess body fat and malnutrition. Over 80% will ultimately die from one or more of these risk factors.

The Good News

Advances in nutritional and health sciences have given us an unprecedented opportunity to be healthier, to live longer than ever before, to disease-proof our body and to add many quality years to our lives. This is what Eat To Live is all about.

Eating large quantities of high-nutrient foods is the secret to optimal health, disease prevention and maintaining a healthy, slim waistline. This is the only way to lose weight permanently, in a healthful manner.

Anything else, like magic drinks, fat binding pills, energy boosters, herbal picker-upper and those cancer-causing high protein diets, is an insult to our intelligence. Instead of looking for magic, commit yourself to a new, healthy you.

Most diseases, which are often born from obesity, are effectively treated through nutritional means and, in many cases, are completely reversed through aggressive nutritional intervention.

If you desire to throw away your medication and recover from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, (all examples of common illnesses that are more effectively treated with nutritional intervention than drugs or surgery), while getting slim, then the Eat To Live lifestyle is the most effective approach. Uncovering the cause, when possible, rather than covering up symptoms with medications, always results in a more favorable outcome. Eat To Live maximizes nutrients and minimizes calories in order to make us disease resistant. Countless studies have shown the relationship between nutrition and calories and your longevity and health potential. The majority of Americans ultimately die from their nutritional extravagances.

This program is for those who will not be satisfied with mediocrity, for those who are looking to stay well and maintain their youthful vigor, free of the chronic diseases that plague Americans. To live longer and live well, Eat To Live. 



EAT TO LIVE  Restores Health, Reverses Disease and Delays Aging
• Normalizes weight.
• Gradually reduces calcified plaque (atherosclerosis) by 5 – 10% per year.
• Reduces LDL cholesterol.
• Permits detoxification.
• High in nutrients.

This science and logic behind Eat To Live is easy to understand. Those advocating special foods, special products, hidden knowledge, pills, potions, magic, or even ethical, religious or animal rights agendas often skew facts.

Eat To Live is not based on narrow or obscure scientific principles. Dr. Fuhrman applied the findings of thousands of scientific studies to develop this plan. The result is an opportunity, unprecedented in human history, to achieve superior health with a comprehensive program based on the nutrient density of foods.

Nutrient Density: The Real Fountain of Youth

Excess Calories and Nutrient Deficiency is the leading cause of disease

Your diet is the cornestone of your health. At the end of the day all that matters is the number of calories and the amount of nutrients that you have ingested. The combination of lowering calories and increasing nutrition is a combination punch that will prevent disease, dramatically slow the aging process and help us to live longer, more youthful lives! These concepts are distilled into Dr. Fuhrman's simple Health Equation. The Health Equation describes Nutrient Density. Forget Calories and start analyzing the nutrient density of the foods that you eat.

Macronutrients The Source Of All Calories

Macronutrients are the nutrients that contain calories, thereby supplying us with energy.

Micronutrients- The Basis For Superior Nutrition

Micronutrients are those nutrients that don't contain calories, but have other essential roles to play. Examples of some micronutrients are vitamins, minerals and fiber. There are thousands of them. 


My health equation simply states that in order to maintain superior health and a youthful vigor into later years we must maximize micronutrients as we minimize macronutrients. In other words eat as many micronutrients as you can for each calorie of macronutrient. To do this we must eat less fat, less protein and less carbohydrate as we increase our consumption of high nutrient foods.

The Foundation Of Nutritional Science Is This Simple Formula:

Health = Nutrients / Calories (H = N / C)

This concept describes the nutrient density of your diet. The key to both longevity and maintaining a healthy weight is to eat predominantly those foods that have a high proportion of nutrients (non-caloric food factors) compared to calories. 


We do not want to be deficient in any macronutrient. However, consuming more of any one of these three macronutrients than we need can have detrimental effects on our long term health. Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate are the only macronutrients that exist. All calories consist of one of these three macronutrients. If you are overweight, you have consumed more calories than you have utilized. Micromanaging the percent of fat, protein or carbohydrate isn't going to change the amount of calories much. You need to consume fewer calories. Therefore, almost all overweight individuals need to consume less protein, less fat and less carbohydrates; the source of calories. Don't worry about not consuming enough. Unless you are anorexic, it is very rare to find an American deficient in fat, protein or carbohydrates. Inhabitants of modern western societies generally consume more macronutrients than needed.

Are Micronutrients In Our Diet Really That Important?

Could we just take a vitamin pill and eat a low nutrient diet and do almost just as well? The answer that you will come to understand is that micronutrient intake is the most crucial factor that determines our health and that optimal micronutrient intake can only be achieved if we eat a relatively large quantity of non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables contain the most nutrients per calorie of any other food. They also contain large amounts of not yet named compounds (phytochemicals) essential for maximizing health and preventing disease. Keep in mind that micronutrients include many that have not yet been discovered. New nutrients are being discovered all of the time. The incredible nutrient density of non-starchy vegetables and their ability to promote health and reduce our caloric drive is one of the secrets to Eat To Live and a long, healthy life.

Calories - Less Is More

There are very few things in science that are proven. By "proven" I mean that every study performed on the subject, has always shown the same thing, and shown it convincingly. There is only one proven way to extend lifespan and retard aging.

Here It Is:

When you feed an animal (and that can be an animal of any species) less food in a high or at least adequate micronutrient environment it will live considerably longer. The thinnest animals always out live the ones that are heavier. This has also been confirmed with studies on humans, the thinnest of us, live the longest.

Scientists have known for over sixty (60) years that if you reduce caloric intake below a certain set point while maintaining adequate nutrition you can extend life. This experiment has been performed on numerous species, including primates (we are primates too). In each case, the average animal lifespan was increased 25 – 50 percent. Reducing calories not only extends life it delays the onset of old age. You literally live younger longer. In all clinical studies published to date, animals fed reduced calorie diets were also more disease resistant. Evidence for increased lifespan by caloric restriction is enormous and irrefutable. Calorically-restricted animals are not only more cancer resistant, but oxidative stress is inhibited and youthful features of young tissue are retained with aging.

What is clear is that health and longevity are inversely proportional to caloric intake. Calorie reduction is the closest thing that science has to a fountain of youth. Typical studies suggest that you would have to reduce calories by about 30% to achieve significant life-extending benefits. This means that someone who would normally require 2200 Calories would need to reduce intake to around 1600 calories in order to achieve life-extending benefits.

However, it must be noted that if one eats less food that is low or deficient in nutrients and as a result consumes less calories in a low nutrient environment, diseases will appear that will destroy the dramatic effects of caloric restriction.

The leading causes of death, heart disease and cancer, simply would not occur in a population eating a diet with a high nutrient density. In order to accomplish the powerful and proven health benefits we must eat foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories. One purpose of the book Eat To Live is to delineate those foods that are highest in nutrients per calorie so we can eat more of them. The only way to comfortably and enjoyably eat more nutrients and less calories simultaneously is to eat more of these filling, high nutrient foods that will inhibit our desire to overeat.

Excess calories are toxic to all animals, including us humans. They promote the parameters of aging and the development of disease. This is especially true of "unsupported calories." Unsupported calories, means empty calories. When we consume calories without an accompanying nutrient load, it puts a major stress on the body, and promotes cellular aging. The ability of each cell to maintain internal cleanliness and prevent degeneration or aging is dependent on fueling its functions with an assortment of nutrients, including anti-oxidants and phytochemicals.

 Is Calorie Reduction Practical?

You might be thinking: "Are you kidding me, you want me to go around hungry all the time?"

Until now, the problem with this generally accepted viewpoint is that it was thought to be too difficult to sufficiently control our intake of food in order to benefit from caloric reduction. The beauty of the Eat To Live approach is we can accomplish superior nutrition, and optimize the nutrient per calorie density of our diet without deprivation or denial. When we fill ourselves up with great tasting high nutrient food it shuts down our drive to overeat. A body deprived of vital micronutrients will continue to seek food. A body full of high nutrient food will be satisfied with fewer calories. It will happen naturally and you won't even be aware of it. The result of consuming large volume of great tasting dishes that are high in nutrients, fiber, volume, but naturally lower in calories will reduce your drive to overeat.

Many people consuming the typical American Diet can't get enough to eat with 3000 calories per day. The typical American meal is extremely low in fiber, nutrients and volume and extremely high in calories. With a low-nutrient diet you may fill up on calories but your body will continue to crave food in order to satisfy the need for nutrients. It is no wonder that the message of calorie reduction is discouraging to so many; especially those with a lifelong weight struggle.

For most, calorie reduction may seem impractical and out of reach. If that describes you, you will be excited by tutorial # 3 to follow. If you have failed with trying to cut back on portions and eat less in the past, you will find that this information will help you understand why that didn't work for you and how you can rid yourself of food craving and food addiction. You will enjoy eating lots of great tasting high-nutrient/low calorie food that will satisfy your urge to eat while you dramatically lower your caloric intake.

Phytochemicals & Antioxidants; Reverse Cellular Damage

One category of micronutrients is the powerful phytochemical (other micronutrients are vitamins and minerals). Phytochemicals are plant derived compounds with antioxidant potential. These compounds aid our cellular detoxification and self-repair mechanisms; they have been shown to have powerful healing properties. Powered by solar energy, plants draw nutrients from the earth and convert these to a set of compounds still not well understood by modern science. What is now clear is that these naturally produced phytochemicals are necessary to protect us from toxic damage. Without a sufficient quantity and diversity of them cancer can flourish.

Phytochemicals are nature's medicine chest. They have the remarkable ability to actually reverse cellular damage. The body is continuously subjected to stresses which age us and wear us down on a cellular level. Phytochemicals repair our bodies from the inside out. Without sufficient quantity and diversity of phytochemicals we age faster and are vulnerable to the common diseases of aging.

For Superior Health And Your Ideal Weight

A health promoting diet must be high in nutrients (more precisely micronutrients), high in volume (fiber) and low in calories. Green vegetables, non- starchy vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions) beans and fruit are all rich in phytochemicals and are low enough in calories to be granted the unlimited award. Their nutrient density is high enough (n/c ratio) and their bulk is high enough so that it becomes impossible to consume too many calories from them. Because green vegetables are so powerfully rich in micronutrients and low in calories, by eating large volumes of these we increase our micronutrient intake without increasing our calories.

For example, lettuce is exceptionally low in calories and contains over 90% water. Dark lettuce leaves are rich in phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, folate and contain a complete balance of carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopein as well as vitamin C, K, E, potassium. Leafy greens also contain omega-3 fatty acids, but it is so low in calories that the more of it you consume the more weight you will lose.

The ideal diet consists of lots of green vegetables and a variety of other whole foods, such as fruits, seeds and nuts. Foods like lettuces are extremely low in calories and contain significant micronutrients; they should be eaten in high quantity. These foods have been designated as unlimited in the menu plans simply because they are virtually impossible to overeat.

The most important measure of a food is not absolute calories or fat content. The most important measure of a food is nutrient density. Understanding and selecting foods based on nutrient density will allow you to take control of your own health. People seeking good health and longevity will make every calorie count choosing to design menus and meals with higher nutrient foods. Those indifferent about their health will squander calories on extravagant high-calorie/low nutrient fare. The following chart shows the relative nutrient densities of foods. Select foods from top down. 


Malnutrition Is The Primary Cause Of All Commonly Experienced Diseases.

Modern health care and the future of medicine involves utilizing science to understand disease causation and prevent illness before it occurs. Even infectious diseases are powerfully modulated by environmental and nutritional factors. For example, if tuberculosis was caused merely by infection the disease would have spread to all living and be highly prevalent. The facts are that an exposure is readily resisted by most people and disease is experienced in only a select few. Furthermore, an attack of infection is more likely to be severe and even fatal in a malnourished or otherwise immuno-compromised person. Then infectious disease almost always makes co-existing malnutrition even worse.

This relationship between diet and infection has been written about and studied extensively. In 1945 the high incidence of tuberculosis among cadets at a Navel Academy was halted in its tracks by fortifying the diet with fruits and vegetables. Of interest was that prior attempts at reducing the infection rate with separate housing and hygiene did nothing. Many studies have replicated this observation. Both viral and bacterial infections have shown this same pattern. Superior nutrition protects and even those infected are more mildly affected. Both deficiencies and excesses have been shown to lower resistance to all types of illnesses.

We now have an epidemic of the malnourished overweight in modern society; an unusual occurrence in the history of the human race that is overburdening our economic resources and creating a sicker less productive population with a diminished work capacity. Such human suffering is even more tragic as it is unnecessary and preventable.

There is increasing experimental evidence that excessive calories significantly lower resistance to disease. This was clearly observed in the early part of this century when the polio epidemic was at its peak as it was most prevalent and severe in the highly developed countries. We see the same thing with the incidence of autoimmune illnesses today; lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, ulcerative colitis, asthma, allergies and many more occur predominantly in countries consuming high calorie diets that are rich in animal products and refined foods and low in protective vegetation.

The nutritionally induced determinants of synergistic host defenses involve but are not limited to:
1. The reduced ability of the host to form specific antibodies
2. Decreased activity and effectiveness of macrophages and microphages
3. Lack of adequate production on non-specific protective biochemical substances
4. Alterations in tissue integrity and delivery of oxygen and functional nutrients to vulnerable tissues
5. Diminished organ function, reducing capacity to remove waste products, toxins
6. Abnormal inflammatory response, with both deficient and excessive production of inflammatory mediators
7. Alterations in host flora, involving presence of pathogenic organisms and inadequate symbiotic microbes.

From the high occurrence of ear infections in our children, to acne, autoimmune illnesses, allergies, digestive complaints and headaches in early adult life, we visit physicians and receive toxic medication which further impeding our delicate but protective immune defenses, placing ourselves more readily vulnerable to future illness. Another option exists. That option is superior nutrition to prevent disease.

Preoccupation of public health officials and physicians with treating and attempting to kill microbes and ignoring host resistance has kept medicine in what I consider a dark episode in the history of healthcare, where we have not lived up to our potential to utilize modern knowledge to prevent common medical tragedies that occur every day throughout America.

We are faced today with an epidemic of autoimmune illnesses, allergies, obesity, cancer and heart disease; these diseases are born of nutritional ignorance and are unnecessary. I insist we have an unprecedented opportunity in human history to take advantage of modern food transportation methods, modern plumbing and refrigeration and excellent emergency medical care to offer our population the chance to life a long healthy life, prolonging our youthful vigor, free of common illnesses that have created our overburdened health care crisis. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity. Your health is your greatest asset and is the foundation of your future happiness.

EAT TO LIVE is built around the concept of nutrient density. By joining our online support center you have taken the first step. You can begin investing in your present and future health with your very next bite. We will help you to apply this knowledge to take control of your health. By applying the principle of nutrient density and the other principles described on this site you will be able to choose to eat more nutrient dense foods and less low nutrient food that will help you achieve your precise goals.
When you eat sufficient amounts of high nutrient food your body will regain normal function. That normal function will have you feel well, sleep soundly, think clearly, and rejuvenate your taste to make you enjoy food more than ever before. Let's continue on about the concept of hunger, food addiction and appetite control in the next section. The beauty of eating so many nutrients per calorie is that it will not only help you achieve excellent health and freedom from disease, but you will NOT have to go hungry, you will enjoy eating substantial portions of great tasting food and will not have to count calories.

Three Simple Rules for Health Excellence

Rule Number One:

 Avoid concentrated calories, excess nutrients and refined foods. These include sugar, salt, white flour, oils, cheese and butter and margarines.

Rule Number Two:   

Eat whole foods, raw, steamed or made into soup. Eat as many vegetables as possible; they should form the cornerstone of your diet.

Rule Number Three:   

 Eat lot of fresh fruit, especially berries.

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