Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

This is a chapter by chapter summary of the book Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. It is not a substitute for the book, which I encourage you to read. My summaries and commentary are not advice. Talk to your doctor before doing anything that could have an impact on your health.


Chapter 1: The Effects of the American Diet, Part 1

Obesity, the number one health problem in the United States, is caused by a combination of inactivity, genetics, and the foods we eat.

Low-nutrient, low-fiber, calorie dense foods cause people to be overweight. To reach and maintain a healthy weight, one must eat a diet of mostly unrefined whole foods that are high in nutrients and fiber. Food high in nutrients satisfy hunger biochemically, and fiber rich foods satisfy it mechanically. Fiber rich foods satisfy the desire to consume calories.

Because of refrigeration and rapid transportation, we now have access to a more nutrient and fiber rich diet than any society has ever had in the history of mankind.

Chapter 2: The Effects of the American Diet, Part 2

A healthy diet must be predominantly composed of high-fiber, natural whole foods.

Processing wheat removes the nutrients. Finely ground whole wheat is absorbed into the bloodstream rapidly, triggering a rapid rise in glucose, which in turn triggers fat storage hormones.

Refined sugars contain no nutrients. This includes table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), honey, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, corn sweeteners, and fruit juice concentrates.

Oil it is 100% fat and has little nutritional value. 100 calories of ingested oil and animal fat converts to 97 calories of body fat. Raw nuts, seeds, and avacavocadoslimited amounts provide all the fat the body needs.

Natural plant foods like fruits, vegetables, and beans contain large amounts of fiber, which slows down glucose absorption and controls the rate of digestion. No fiber supplement can provide the fiber you need. It must be ingested by eating high-fiber foods.

Chapter 3: Phytochemicals: Nature's "Magic" Pills

Americans consume about 87% of their calories from fiberless animal food, highly processed refined carbohydrates and extracted oils. Populations that get most of their calories from unrefined plant foods have less death from heart disease and cancer.

Natural foods are so complex that the exact structure of the majority of compounds they contain are not precisely known. For example, a tomato contains more than ten thousand different phytochemicals. The only way to get them is by eating a variety of plants products.

Phytochemicals are plant-derived compounds hypothesized to be responsible for much of the disease protection conferred from diets high in fruits, vegetables, beans, and plant-based beverages such as tea and wine.

The human body is designed to feel satisfied when it gets enough nutrients. Trying to lose weight by eating smaller portions of low-nutrient food leaves you feeling hungry. By contrast, you can eat a large portion of high-nutrient, low calorie, leafy greens, and other plant foods, which will not only satisfy your body's hunger for nutrients, but also your desire to feel "full".

Chapter 4: The Dark Side of Animal Protein

A massive study done by Cornell, Oxford, and the government of China in the 1980's shows that Animal protein, even at low levels, is associated with heart attacks and cancer. Animal protein raises cholesterol, plant protein lowers it. Overall health is improved by significantly limiting or eliminating all types of meat. Vegans have cholesterol levels so low they almost never get heart attacks.

This chapter talks at length about the connection between meat and various health problems. I'm more interested in weight, so I'm skipping most of that information here.

Chapter 5: Nutritional Wisdom Makes You Thin

Green vegetables are so low in calories and rich in fiber and nutrients that the more of them you eat, the more weight you will lose, without starving and without depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Meat, dairy, and oils are so calorie dense that it's nearly impossible for us to eat them without consuming excess calories. Foods high in fiber and nutrients satisfy us without having to eat excess calories.

All plant foods are a mixture of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Our muscles and brains are designed to run on carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods (when consumed in their natural state) are low in calories and high in fiber compared with fatty foods, processed foods, or animal products.

Green vegetables are about half protein, and a quarter each carbs and fat. Legumes and beans are about half carbs, and a a quarter each protein and fat. Even the plant foods that are high in carbcarbohydratestain sufficient fiber and nutrients and are low enough in calories to be considered nutritious.

It's impossible to get all the nutrients for optimum health if your diet doesn't contain lots of carbohydrate rich food. Any combination of natural foods will supply you with adequate protein.

Chapter 6: Breaking Free of Food Addiction

To the body, sugary, fatty, low-nutrient foods are addictive. When digestion ceases, and the digestive tract is empty, the body begins to use fat and glycogen stores, releasing and eliminating toxins. This can cause extreme discomfort, which drives the person to eat and drink a caloric load (to inhibit detoxification) for relief.

The body needs time between meals to finish digesting. When digestion is ended, the body can more effectively detoxify. To maximize health, it is not favorable to be constantly eating and digesting food.

The human body needs less food than most people realize. Once we get rid of perverted toxic hunger, our central nervous system can accurately measure and give us the right signals for maintaining our ideal weight on the right amount of calories.

After moving to a healthy diet, the body's self-repair mechanisms kick in and a person may experience withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, headaches, emotional instability and even low-grade fevers. This usually passes within the first four days.

Chapter 7: Eat To Live Takes On Disease

Eat like most Americans and you will eventually suffer from an assortment of ailments, like most Americans. You can't buy your health; you have to earn it through healthy living. 99% of your genes are programmed to keep you healthy. The problem is that we never let them do their job. Eating right is a preventative, and often a cure for, a variety of health problems. (The author goes through an extensive list in this chapter)