Childhood Nutrition

Is It Better To Eat Raw Vegetables or Cooked Vegetables? Dr. Joel Fuhrman Gives His Perspective

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 fruit-based diets.

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:


Why Is Vitamin D So Important?

By Dr. Joel Fuhrman

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.


Foods rich in Vitamin C:

Salmon, Sardines, Shrimp, Cows Milk, Cod and Egg


How To Get Kids To Eat Healthy: PEERtrainer Interviews Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Those of us who are parents are constantly struggling to feed our kids a healthy diet. We all know the pressures of a time packed lifestyle and the constant lack of control we have when the kids are at school, on a play date or or with another family. There is often a sense of guilt as we trade off health and convenience. It is late in the day, the kids are screaming and you see the golden arches up the road. Sound familiar?

At some point though we have to make the kids want to eat better on their own, so that they have some motivation and reason to eat better. We recently did an interview with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and the following clip is part of the discussion focusing on the issue of children and diet:

Click Here To Listen To Jackie Wicks, Joshua Wayne and Joel Fuhrman Discussion

Why Do Kids Need To Eat A Diet High In Fruits And Vegetables?

With the cells rapidly replicating and developing, children are very sensitive to the damaging effects of certain foods. Additionally children who overeat are at greater risk for adult cancer. Dr. Fuhrman cites the "Boyd Orr Study" which showed that children in the highest quartile of fruit intake had a 60% decreased risk of all adult cancers over the age of 50.

"Disease Proof Your Child": Summary

Most people know the book Eat To Live, which has become a very popular diet book. But Dr. Fuhrman has also written a book called "Disease-Proof Your Child" in which he explores in detail the link between childhood diet and health. There are profound short term and long term effects.

The most striking of the book are some of the statistics he presents, and these really hit me (and if you have watched the Disney Channel recently promote healthy eating during some of their valuable ad slots you will realize that they know these stats as well)

-The total caloric intake of natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, raw nuts is less than 5% in the average child in the US. As this percentage increases, occurrence and risk of disease decreases

-Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer and is the second most common cause of death in children. Low consumption of vegetables and fruits before and during pregnancy has been linked to this

-Taking supplements alone is not sufficient- we need the total package of "micronutrients" in foods to ward off disease.

-Allergies and autoimmune diseases are strongly linked to high consumption of refined and processed foods

-Sugar, butter and cheese contribute the most calories to children's diets in the US.

-Cheese consumption has tripled in America in the last 30 years

Most of us know that generally we need to "feed our kids better", but a book like this really helps to spell out in detail why we need to make this a priority. A lot of the work we do with our various coaching programs on PEERtrainer has to do with developing deep reasons to do something. If you have children, or plan to, you will want to take a look at this book to really develop the why and also get some great tips on how to actually implement a better diet.

Disease-Proof Your Child is available in paperback now. You can also get a hardcover version, and they have recently put in on a 5 CD audio set to listen to in your car. It cites study after study, and has 16 pages of footnotes citing various studies, in addition to many chapters on very practical questions and suggestions.