In an earlier post on the Glycemic Index and NutriSystem we published some notes from Dr. Laurie Rothman on the subject. And we mentioned that we wanted to get Dr. Joel Fuhrman's take on it as well. We got it, and here it is. It is a dissenting view, and we work to present a wide array of views and approaches. This is also an interesting perspective on the dominant approach to fight metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Joel is essentially arguing against what most MD's are telling their patients. He also takes a swipe at our "Diet Fusion" idea- arguing that this is just "watering down" the ideal diet. We agree and just point out that "Diet Fusion" is methodology, not a diet. And this methodology leads to a very high level of micronutrient intake over time.
In diabetes research the glycemic index (GI) of carbohydrates has long been recognized as a favorable aid for diabetics to control blood sugar. The same is now often the case in lipid research as it has been demonstrated that high glycemic diets, rich in white flour, refined sweets and processed foods are unfavorable to both glucose levels and lipid parameters.
Authors and writers who advocate a high protein (meat-based) diet, hang their hat on the low glycemic index of animal products to explain the advantages of a diet rich in animal products and lower in vegetation. This view oversimplifies the multi-factorial nuances of nutrition and results in a distorted understanding of nutritional science.
Ranking food on glycemic index alone ignores many other factors that may make that food favorable or unfavorable. Because a carrot has a higher glycemic index than a slice of bacon does not make the bacon a better food for a diabetic or heart patient. There are other more important nutritional considerations besides the glycemic index, including the toxicity, micronutient density and fiber in the food. .
A good example of such nutritional nonsense is when Barry Sears of the Zone diet, warns against the consumption of lima beans, papayas and carrots because of their glycemic index and Atkin’s excludes or limits those carbohydrate containing fruits and vegetables with proven powerful anti-cancer benefits.
The studies that have looked at the negative effects of a higher glycemic diet are always diets that are low in nutrients and fiber, with lots of processed grains and sweets. Obviously this diet-style is not unhealthy merely because the diet has a high glycemic response. Processed foods are also low in fiber, phytonutrients and anti-oxidants and rich in those toxic acrlyamides; they are disease-promoting foods and one of their features is that they have a high glycemic index.
When a diet is rich in high nutrient containing, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits the disease-protective qualities of these foods and the weight-loss benefits overwhelm any insignificant drawback from the high glycemic index of the carrot. Even though the entire diet taken as a whole happens to have a low glycemic index, eating lot of high micronutrient containing vegetables is the most effective way and the healthiest way to lose weight because it removes food cravings and the drive to overeat. The high phytochemical index is the main factor curtailing overeating, not the glycemic index of this diet.
Recently, a systematic review was performed of published human intervention studies comparing the effects of high- and low-GI foods or diets on appetite, food intake, energy expenditure and body weight. In a total of 31 short-term studies. The conclusion was that there is no evidence that low-GI foods are superior to high-GI foods in regard to long-term body weight control. More carefully performed research done recently compared the exact same caloric diets one with a lower and one with a higher glycemic index and demonstrated that lowering the glycemic load and glycemic index of weight reduction diets does not provide any added benefit to energy restriction in promoting weight loss in obese subjects.
The important point to remember is that a diet with a high micronutrient density already has a favorable glycemic index, but it also is low in saturated fat, high in fiber, rich in phytochemicals, and naturally alkaline. In other words, instead of focusing on one aspect alone consider all the positive features of what makes a diet-style disease protective. When you do this all popular diets look just second-rate and this fusion idea is just watering down the healthiest and most effective diet-style to be politically correct. Eat For Health results in people losing weight more effectively than gastric bypass and it is the most effective weight loss methodology ever recorded in the medical literature.
Joel Fuhrman is a board certified family physician specializing in nutrition and the author of Eat To Live and Eat for Health. Visit him at www.drfuhrman.com
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American Dietetic Association. Hyperlipidemia medical nutrition therapy protocol. Chicago: American Dietetic Association, 2001.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral counseling in primary care to promote a healthy diet: recommendations and rationale. Am J Prev Med 2003;24:93-100.
Sarter B, Campbell TC, Fuhrman J. Effect of a high nutrient density diet on long-term weight loss: a retrospective chart review. Alt Therapies in Health and Medicine 2008;14(3):51-53.
Glycemic Index is only one of the useful tools, it can not explain everything about a food or how good quality it is. There are other factors to consider such as fiber content, good fat content, low sugar and salt? low saturated and trans fats?
It is important to include a variety of healthy foods from different nutrient groups, and as Dr. Fuhrman pointed out, some high glycemic foods will be highly nutritious. Glycemic Load is certainly a better measure.
Posted by: Tim | February 28, 2010 at 06:12 AM
I have Dr. Fuhrman's Eat for Health series - and it does include a phased approach for eating more nutritiously. Admittedly, I'd dived right into Phase III (there are four phases, each more "strict" about not eating toxic food) but it is much more palatable (pun intended) for folks that aren't the deep dive/cold turkey types of changers. I'd done well on WW, but was getting tired of prepared foods & all the sodium. His food plan is much the way I used to eat years ago & is how I'd forgotten to be.
Posted by: Brenda | October 16, 2009 at 02:33 PM
I am following a "diet fusion", and I believe it is working out the best for me. I am extremely overweight. I've lost 26 pounds in 3 months and I'm very happy with that. I still need to lose 40 more pounds, which seems so daunting, but I'm up for the task following the best of different diet worlds. Basically, I follow the point system of Weight Watchers and I log all my food in a little notepad. I make my food choices based on what I've read about in other diets or online or news sources. I use PeerTrainer as a fundamental resource. I apply what seems to make the most sense for my health. And I make choices that will increase my success rate. Most of my choices seem to be in line with Dr. Furhman, but I have the flexibility to goof up, or have a "bad" snack now and then without giving up or feeling like I've failed. Mistakes are built into my plan. I do eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, and focus on high fiber and low fat items. And I do feel better overall because of these diet changes on top of the weight loss.
Posted by: Laima | September 02, 2009 at 05:59 PM
thank you for posting this. I appreciate that you are willing to publish opposing points of view. I know I am getting the best and most complete information I can here.
as far as the debate...I highly recommend reading, The Pleasure Trap By Lisle and Goldhammer. They really explain how and why doing this kind of diet change all at once, not only improves your chances of long term success (thats right, I said it) but also makes the transition EASIER. nobody believes me when I say this, but I believe with my whole heart that it's true.
I have been on Dr Fuhrmans ETL plan for under 4 months, have lost 40 pounds, am no longer diabetic or on ANY medications (I was taking 6 when I began). my health is great, I feel great and look great.
I know I wouldn't be where I am if I hadn't just bit the bullet and dealt with the detox and toxic hunger from my plethora of food & drink addictions all at once and been done with it.
Its easier. I swear! Its the fear of change that held me back from doing it sooner. But the great thing is, that I realized after a relatively short period of time that I preferred this way of eating. so no more fear, no more cravings, no more struggle! Its easy.
Posted by: Beth | July 25, 2009 at 06:50 PM
As much as I respect Dr. Fuhrman (and I do, I quote him a lot on my blog), I have to disagree with his take on Diet Fusion. When I read Eat to Live I told everyone about it...as I was talking to my sister, the moment I told her no salt is allowed she said 'what?' and immediatly stopped listening. While I understand not using salt will lead to the most superior health--I also believe if salt is the only thing between her and this major life change, let her use a little salt and apply the rest of the principles. Basically--if you can take the most important elements of two lifestyles or diets to make it work well for you and improve your health, it's better than doing nothing. While most want to be healthy, they also want to live and enjoy life so the trick is finding the balance--and sometimes that means a little fusion.
Posted by: Queen T | July 02, 2009 at 02:42 AM
I joined Weight Watchers last week, and I have several questions to bring up at this week's meeting. For instance, why call fat-free cheese a "filling food" and not give that same label to REAL cheese?
I do believe that the best way to lose weight is to transition my diet to completely healthy, natural foods. I don't want to overwhelm my system with fake food (sugar substitutes and "filling" fat-free cheese included!) but I am one of many who needs help with getting to that point. Taste buds need time to change or my body & I will stage a rebellion. I want this to be a lifelong change, so I can live a longer, healthier life.
I'm a subscriber to the slow boiling of a frog method rather than just dropping said frog into the boiling pot.
Laurie, CONGRATULATIONS on your successful weight loss.
Posted by: kcinnova | May 11, 2009 at 03:35 PM
Well, I certainly agree with Dr. Fuhrman's point-by-point rebuttal (and I've lost 85 lbs. in 8 months to prove it). High fiber, low animal protein and fat, nutrient-dense eating IS the way to go if you want rapid and effective weight loss/better health results. Sure, there may be a way to transition more slowly, but for me, I wanted to get on with it, and get the weight off. Why dink around with a watered-down program when you can adjust to this delicious new eating plan fairly swiftly if you'll just give it the old college try?
Posted by: Laurie McClain | April 20, 2009 at 11:48 AM