There is a lot of discussion about the benefits of eating raw foods. So we asked Dr. Fuhrman the question "is raw food better than cooked food?"
Cooking can cook some enzymes, for example in green vegetables. Other vegetables are better off cooked, where cooking can enhance nutrient absorption.
If you want to dig into this a little more, this is an excerpt from an article Dr. Fuhrman wrote:
"Certainly, there are benefits to consuming plenty of raw fruits and
vegetables. These foods supply us with high nutrient levels and are
generally low in calories too. Eating lots of raw foods is a key
feature of an anti-cancer diet style and a long life. But are there
advantages to eating a diet of all raw foods and excluding all cooked
foods? The answer is a resounding “No”. In fact, eating an exclusively
raw-food diet is a disadvantage. Excluding all steamed vegetables and
vegetable soups from your diet narrows your nutrient diversity and has
a tendency to reduce the percentage of calories from vegetables in
favor of nuts and fruits which are lower in nutrients per calorie.
Raw vegetables are dramatically low in calories and we probably
only absorb about 50 calories a pound from raw vegetables. Our caloric
needs cannot be met on a raw food diet without consuming large amounts
of fruits, avocado, nuts and seeds. This may be an adequate diet for
some people, but in my 15 years of medical practice catering to the
community of natural food enthusiasts, raw foodists and natural
hygienists, I have seen many people who weakened their health on such
raw food, vegan diets. Frequent fungal skin and nail infections, poor
dentition, hair loss and muscular wasting are common on such
Unfortunately, sloppy science prevails in the raw-food movement. Raw
food advocates mistakenly conclude that since many cooked foods are not
healthy for us, then all cooked foods are bad. This is not true.
The idea that stirs the most enthusiasm for this diet is the contention
that cooking both destroys about fifty percent of the nutrients in
food, and destroys all or most of the life promoting enzymes. It is
true that when food is baked at high temperatures—and especially when
it is fried or barbecued—toxic compounds are formed and most important
nutrients are lost. Many vitamins are water-soluble, and a significant
percent can be lost with cooking, especially overcooking. Similarly,
many plant enzymes function as phytochemical nutrients in our body and
are useful to maximize health. They, too, can be destroyed by
overcooking. However, we cannot paint with this brush of negativity
over every form of cooking. Click here to continue reading the article:
Habib and I were at lunch with Dr. Fuhrman recently. Blake Kassel, who runs Bodylastics, was also there and he asked Dr. Fuhrman a question that he had been asked about folic acid and pregnancy. The answer stunned us, and gave us the idea to come back the next day with a video camera and get some of this information out there, because it is not in any of his books right now.
For those of you who are not in a place where you can watch this video, here are the key points that Dr. Fuhrman made about folic acid:
Nobody should be taking folic acid, they should instead focus on folate. Green vegetables in particular have a lot of folate in them.
Food does not have folic acid in it, it has folate
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a member of the family of B vitamins that is involved in regulating DNA synthesis and gene expression. Because of these crucial functions, folate plays an important role in fetal development - folate is essential during pregnancy, especially early on in pregnancy, for the prevention of neural tube defects. Folate is abundant in green vegetables like spinach, collards, bok choy, artichokes, and broccoli. Even black beans are high in folate.
Women who followed the typical recommendations to take folic acid during pregnancy and were followed by researchers for thirty years were twice as likely to die from breast cancer. Another study following women for ten years concluded that those who took multivitamins containing folic acid increased their breast cancer risk by 20-30%. Folic acid in supplement form may contribute to producing a cancer-promoting environment in the body – in addition to breast cancer, synthetic folic acid has been linked to dramatic increases in prostate and colorectal cancers, as well as overall cancer incidence. The studies that Dr. Fuhrman references are listed at the bottom of this blog post.
Folate has the opposite effect. High folate intake is associated with dramatic decrease in cancer.
Even if a supplement has the word "Folate" it is probabaly folic acid. You can watch the video to learn more:
As promised, here are a list of the studies that Dr. Fuhrman references to back up his assertion. Note that most of these are relatively recent, and it takes time for people like Dr. Fuhrman to connect the dots and then communicate the analysis. He has begun to do this only in the last year. His own supplements used to contain folic acid.
References: 1. Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ et al. Folate intake, alcohol use, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):895-904. 2. Kim YI. Does a high folate intake increase the risk of breast cancer? Nut Rev; 2006; 64(10PT1) 468-75. 3. Figueiredo JC et al. Folic acid and risk of prostate cancer: results from a randomized clinical trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Mar 18;101(6):432-5. Epub 2009 Mar 10. 4. Fife, J et al. Folic Acid Supplementation and Colorectal Cancer Risk; A Meta-analysis. Colorectal Dis. 2009 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print] 5. Whitrow MJ. Effect of Supplemental Folic Acid in Pregnancy on Childhood Asthma: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Oct 30. [Epub ahead of print] 6. Haberg SE, London SJ, Stigum H, Nafstad P, Nystad W. Folic acid supplements in pregnancy and early childhood respiratory health. Arch Dis Child. 2009 Mar;94(3):180-4. Epub 2008 Dec 3. 7. Ebbing M et al. Cancer Incidence and Mortality After Treatment With Folic Acid and Vitamin B12. JAMA. 2009;302(19):2119-2126. 8. Charles D et al. Taking folate in pregnancy and risk of maternal breast cancer. BMJ 2004;329:1375–6 9. Harvard School of Public Health; The Nutrition Source: Keep the Multi, Skip the Heavily Fortified Foods; www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/folicacid/ Date accessed: 8/29/08. 10. Hirsch S et al. Colon cancer in Chile before and after the start of the flour fortification program with folic acid. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Apr;21(4):436-9. 11. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/591111 12. Kwan ML et al. Maternal diet and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Public Health Rep. 2009 Jul-Aug;124(4):503-14. Tower RL et al. The epidemiology of childhood leukemia with a focus on birth weight and diet. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2007;44(3):203-42. Petridou E et al. Maternal diet and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in young children.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1935-9. Jensen CD et al. Maternal dietary risk factors in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (United States).Cancer Causes Control. 2004 Aug;15(6):559-70. 13. Huncharek M et al. A meta-analysis of maternal cured meat consumption during pregnancy and the risk of childhood brain tumors. Neuroepidemiology. 2004 Jan-Apr;23(1-2):78-84. Pogoda JM et al. An international case-control study of maternal diet during pregnancy and childhood brain tumor risk: a histology-specific analysis by food group. Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Mar;19(3):148-60. 14. Sellers TA et al. Dietary folate intake, alcohol, and risk of breast cancer in a prospective study of postmenopausal women. Epidemiology. 2001 Jul;12(4):420-8. 15. Kim YI. Folic acid fortification and supplementation--good for some but not so good for others. Nutr Rev. 2007 Nov;65(11):504-11. 16. http://www.nutritiondata.com/tools/nutrient-search 17. Bjelakovic G, Nikolava D, Gluud LL, et al. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patient with various diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;16(2):CD00776. 18. Mayne ST. Beta-carotene, carotenoids, and disease prevention in humans. FASEB. 1996;10(7):690-701. 19. Goodman GE. Prevention of lung cancer. Current Opinion in Oncology 1998;10(2):122-126. 20. Kolata G. Studies Find Beta Carotene, Taken by Millions, Can't Forestall Cancer or Heart Disease. New York Times, Jan 19, 1996.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that your body makes after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Vitamin D functions as a hormone because it sends a message to the intestines to increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. By promoting calcium absorption, vitamin D helps to form and maintain strong bones.
Because vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium in the gastrointestinal tract and stimulates osteoblastic (bone-building cells) activity, vitamin D has been generating lots of interest lately in the medical literature. Borderline low levels of vitamin D have been found to be very common in the United States and Canada.
It is estimated that over 25 million adults in the United States have, or are at risk of developing, osteoporosis. Adequate storage levels of vitamin D help keep bones strong and help prevent osteoporosis in older adults. Vitamin D deficiency results in diminished calcium absorption, and has been linked to a higher incidence of osteoporosis-related bone fractures seen in post menopausal women and older Americans.
It is extremely important for individuals with limited sun exposure to ingest supplemental vitamin D.
Vitamin D is more effective than calcium for protecting and building bone. Most people do not have adequate levels of vitamin D. Often a multi-vitamin containing the RDA for D is simply not sufficient to bring blood levels up to the ideal range, especially as we age.
Up to now, much of the public attention on vitamin D has been related to its protective effects on bone health, via increasing calcium absorption. But it is now known that vitamin D has several other critical functions.
Vitamin D insufficiency is thought to be a key contributor to many human diseases including several cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and autoimmune diseases.1,2
Scientists have found that Vitamin D has biological actions in almost every cell and tissue in the human body. What is troublesome is that vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic, affecting 30-50% of the population.2,3
Vitamin D regulates several genes and cellular processes related to cancer progression. Some of the most groundbreaking findings in nutrition science in recent years have been evidence of the powerful protection provided by vitamin D against common cancers:
* Breast cancer: About 75% of women with breast cancer are vitamin D deficient.4 A 2009 meta-analysis of 19 studies established a strong inverse relationship between circulating vitamin D levels and breast cancer – women in the highest vitamin D range reduced their risk of breast cancer by 45%.5 read more
* Colorectal cancer: A 2009 review of 25 studies found that sufficient vitamin D levels were consistently associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer.6 Even after diagnosis with colorectal cancer, higher vitamin D levels are associated with reduced mortality.7
* Cancers of the prostate, pancreas, lung, and endometrium are also associated with vitamin D insufficiency.2,8
For most people, the principal source of vitamin D is production by the skin in response to sunlight. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and achieving adequate vitamin D levels via sun exposure is difficult, considering that most of us work indoors, and cover our body with clothing, especially in the winter months. Plus, sun exposure to assure optimal Vitamin D status may damage and age the skin increasing wrinkling and the risk of skin cancer.
To maintain adequate blood levels of vitamin D, it is extremely important for individuals with limited sun exposure to ingest supplemental vitamin D.
1. Holick MF. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(suppl):1678S- 88S
2. American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2009 Update. Dallas; AHA:2009. Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation. 2008 Dec 15.
3. Lee JH et al. Vitamin D deficiency an important, common, and easily treatable cardiovascular risk factor? J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008 Dec 9;52(24):1949-56.
4. Hines SL et al. Breast cancer survivors and vitamin D: A review. Nutrition. [Epub ahead of print]
5. Chen P et al. Meta-analysis of vitamin D, calcium and the prevention of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Oct 23. [Epub ahead of print]
6. Zhou G et al. Optimizing vitamin D status to reduce colorectal cancer risk: an evidentiary review. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2009 Aug;13(4):E3-E17.
7. Ng K et al. Prospective study of predictors of vitamin D status and survival in patients with colorectal cancer. Br J Cancer. 2009 Sep 15;101(6):916-23. Epub 2009 Aug 18.
8. Peterlik M et al. Calcium, vitamin D and cancer. Anticancer Res. 2009 Sep;29(9):3687-98.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman explains that if you are considering taking a drug like Boniva, you need to understand that a proper diet rich in green vegetables combined with proper Vitamin D supplementation is a much more effective and less dangerous path to greater bone health:
Common Side Effects of Boniva
Boniva has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials, in which a group of people taking the drug have side effects documented and compared to another group not taking the medicine. This way, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine.
In these studies, the most common side effects of Boniva included:
* Back pain -- in up to 13.5 percent of people
* Indigestion or heartburn -- up to 11.9 percent
* Bronchitis -- up to 10 percent
* Arm or leg pain -- up to 7.8 percent
* Abdominal pain (stomach pain) -- up to 7.8 percent
* Diarrhea -- up to 6.8 percent
* Headache -- up to 6.5 percent.
Other common Boniva side effects (occurring in 2 to 6 percent of people) included:
* High cholesterol
* Muscle pain
* A spinning sensation (vertigo)
* Sore throat
* Bladder infection (urinary tract infection or UTI)