This is a guest blog post from Joel Fuhrman explaining in detail his basic philosophy of nutrition. It is a bit of a read but well worth it. What I find interesting is his assertion that the best diets are "adjusted to meet individual needs." This is congruent with our whole "Diet Fusion" philosophy that we talk about in the PEERtrainer coaching programs and the Tip Of The Day newsletter.
Dr. Fuhrman coined the new word, “nutritarian” to represent his recommended diet-style
What IS a Nutritarian?
A nutritarian understands that food has powerful disease–protecting and therapeutic effects and seeks to consume a broad array of micronutrients via their food choices. It is not sufficient to merely avoid fats, consume foods with a low glycemic index and low in animal products, nor eat a diet of mostly raw foods. A truly healthy diet must be micronutrient rich and the micronutrient richness must be adjusted to meet individual needs. The foods with the highest micronutrient per calorie scores are green vegetables, colorful vegetables, and fresh fruits. For optimal health and to combat disease, it is necessary to consume enough of these foods.
A nutritarian is a person whose food choices are influenced by nutritional quality.
The Fuhrman Philosophy:
The quality of a diet can be based on three simple criteria:
1) Levels of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals) per calorie.
2) Amounts of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein) to meet individual needs, without excessive calories that may lead to weight gain or health compromise.
3) Avoidance of potentially toxic substances (such as trans fats) and limited amounts of other potentially harmful substances (such as sodium).
Dr. Fuhrman is the founder of the health equation, (first published in 1999 in his work, The Health Equation and later described in more detail in his book, Eat To Live (2003).
H = N/C
Health = Nutrients/Calories
The means your future health can be predicted by the micronutrient per calorie density of your diet. Micro-nutrient per calorie density is important in devising and recommending menu plans and dietary suggestions for the most effective approach for both weight loss and for preventing and reversing disease.
Dr. Fuhrman’s Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) and MANDI food scoring system are featured in his book(s) Eat For Health, so people can easily recognize foods, meals and menus sufficiently rich micronutrients to ideally meet individual needs.
Assuring nutritional excellence means meeting every person’s unique nutritional needs which has profound therapeutic effects to treat and reverse disease. Dietary micronutrient quality must be increased accordingly to utilize dietary recommendations therapeutically for disease reversal or to protect high-risk individuals.
Though micronutrient density is critically important, it is not the only factor that determines health. For example Vitamin D levels, B12, and proper omega-3 intake are important for optimal long-term health and avoidance of sodium and other toxic excesses are not addressed in the H = N/C equation. However, when the focus is consuming more micronutrient-rich natural foods, other important nutritional benefits, such as low in sodium and calories, high in fiber and volume, a high satiety and phytochemical index, low glycemic index, and other positive qualities are automatically realized.
Eating low nutrient foods fuels overeating behavior.
Last, but not least, Dr. Fuhrman’s unique contribution to the science of nutritional care, disease reversal and weight loss is his explanation of the physiology behind hunger and food cravings.
Recognizing that low nutrient eating (and toxic eating) leads to increasing cellular toxicity with undesirable levels of free radicals and advanced glycation end products (AGE’s), lipfusion, lipid A2E and other toxins that contribute to the development of chronic disease is important. His findings are that these toxic substances lead to addictive withdrawal symptoms (toxic hunger) which results in the desire to eat more frequent and overeat, establishing a mechanism via low nutrient eating leads to food additions and food cravings that can’t be ignored. This is the reason why calorie counting diets fail. Without addressing dietary quality, excess food cravings are almost impossible to ignore.
Fortunately the drive to over-consume calories is blunted by high micronutrient, high food antioxidant, consumption and the symptoms that people thought were hypoglycemia or even hunger, simply disappear after following his dietary recommendations. Not only do people lose the symptoms of fatigue, headaches, irritability and stomach cramping, but you get back in touch with true hunger felt in the throat, which simply makes eating more pleasurable and directs you to a more appropriate amount of calories for your body’s biological needs.
In a portion controlled (calorie counting) diet it is likely that the body will not get adequate fiber or micronutrients. The body will have a compounded sensation of hunger and cravings which for most is simply overwhelming. It invariably results in people either unable to lose weight or losing weight then gaining it back. The biochemistry and physiology behind food cravings are more thoroughly explained in Dr. Fuhrman’s books and lectures, but without a thorough understanding of these principles weight loss attempts are typically doomed to fail.
So, Are You a Nutritarian?