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Dr Joel Fuhrman's approach

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I've just read 'Superimmunity' by Dr Joel Fuhrman, a book suggested by Gordo.

It is a very interesting and advised reading. surprisingly, Dr Fuhrman ignores the epicatechins from cocoa and the polyphenols from EVOO. Otherwise, there is lots of useful advice on immmunity- boosting foods.


I have read that book too and i liked it, but the title isn't a little misleading? From a scientific point of view is not proprerly correct saying that some foods can improve immunity. The proof on human beings I think are still non conclusive.



Cloud, just now, as an offshoot on Burak's post on piperine, I've been reading this article which illustrates one mechanism of immunity boosting, in this case piperine potentiating the activity of peritoneal resident macrophages hence improving our resilience to infections from intestinal bacteria. Clearly, similar mechanisms may regulate the immunity-boosting properties of other phytocompounds.



 Oncotarget. 2015 Oct 20; 6(32): 32468–32483.

Published online 2015 Oct 2. doi:  10.18632/oncotarget.5957
PMCID: PMC4741706
Piperine metabolically regulates peritoneal resident macrophages to potentiate their functions against bacterial infection

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I'm surprised that in this extensive discussion of Joel Fuhrman's approach here that the strong high-level similarity between his underlying guiding principal and CRON did not come up. I'm a big Fuhrman fan, having found him long before I came to the CR community. From the beginning of his work he has boiled down his essential message into a simple equation H = N / C meaning Health is maximized by maximizing microNutrients per Calorie. This is more similar to Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition than any other separate nutrition community or popular diet advocate out there.


CRON is by definition an N/C approach, one where you specifically try to keep C (somewhat) minimized after achieving minimum required levels of N (which of course is a bit fuzzy). Fuhrman perhaps is less specific on prescribing specific restrictions on the total amount of N & C, but that is probably partially because, as this discussion so far points out, it is very hard to go hit highly unhealthy levels of C by eating the high N/C foods he recommends. In practice both the foods he recommends and the overall calorie consumption levels that end up being achieved in practice between his followers and CRONies are quite similar compared to most other alternative diet communities (and of course compared to Standard American Diet). Certainly any differences (such as positions on oil) are in the noise compared to the huge health benefits achieved vs. alternatives, along the lines of the "Will Serious CR Beat a Health, Obesity-Avoiding Diet..." thread from not that long ago.


The much bigger difference between the Fuhrman communities and the CRSociety community seems to me to be in things like the kind of people drawn to the communities, and their respective willingness to dig down into scientific studies, willingness to pay attention to studies on other species, and desire to hopefully affect maximal lifespan rather than just avoiding disease (which presumably can be rephrased as optimizing expected/average lifespan). Those things and the kinds of language used, eg diseases vs. aging.


We should be applauding Fuhrman for so widely and somewhat effectively promoting something that is so close to CR to so many people! Many more people it seems to me than this CR community manages to reach, including many who would probably shy away from an approach labeled with the name "calorie restriction". Not only do he and his on-line communities do a great job of spreading (their own different flavor of) the message, but they provide a huge number of people with a lot of practical help in the form of discussion forums, supportive community, practical tips, recipes, etc.


I would love to see the two communities building bridges and concentrating on similarities rather than trying to find differences and pooh-poohing each other. There is a lot of room for cross-community sharing of practical tips (eg on GI issues), delicious recipes (that community has an extensive collection in books, on-line, etc.), and for fertilizing each others discussions with the interesting scientific studies that the other doesn't typical bring up.


Some Fuhrman pointers:

  • Eat For Health is a 2-volume book that is more approachable than Eat To Live (his older classic), with a fairly practical approach to help lay-people with current SAD diets ease into something closer to Fuhrman/CR lifestyle. It includes recipes too. It's a goo starting point rec (or gift) for friends/relatives whose health you want to help improve.
  • drfuhrman.com is his main website. It has forums (though I think you need to pay a small nominal membership fee to get access to them). It has recipes. He also sells supplements and I find his supplements to be fairly good. Eg, his multis seem to have reasonable stuff in reasonable amounts and avoid things worth avoiding.
  • There is a Facebook group called "Eat to Live: Nutritarian Plant based Eating for optimal health".
  • He runs a multi-day event that tries to help people get into his diet & lifestyle---sorry running out of time to look up a links or exact search terms.
  • He has very approachable videos (eg, I saw one on PBS once).

A lot of this stuff smacks of trying to make a profit, but that shouldn't cause us to dismiss it outright since what he's selling isn't snake oil. Rather it's the closest thing to CR of any of the diet & lifestyle things anyone is trying to make a buck off of, and by doing so he's managing to scale up to bringing something CR-like to quite a lot of people's lives.



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Kpfleger, actually in a couple of posts above I rised the similarity issue to CR:



My bottomline, presently is this:


  • Adoption of a rigid Fuhrman diet is advised only as a drastic CR regimen or as a cure for some diseases or as a drastic preventive measure for some health hazard
  • Adoption of a flexible Fuhrman diet appears to be one of the best dietary optimization strategies as far as health and longevity is concerned.



Hence, Dr Fuhrman's diet might be viewed as a CR regimen, and beneficial in some diseases since when metabolism is not overloaded manteinance & repair prevail and the immune system is given priority.


Fuhrman's diet is formidable as a health-mantaining or recovering diet and as an optimal CR regime. In theory.


In practice, it displays some of the cited disadvantages. It's probably the absolute best to those who want to practice an healthy CRON and tend to be overweight. I wish I were one of those but I have the opposite problem that I tend to loose weight. Maybe I'm going to propose it to my wife, who has a very thrifty metabolism.


Another con of the Fuhrman's diet is that it is not too easy to follow, all the time washing and chopping vegetable or in alternative doing that once or twice a week but buying a huge fridge to keep them. Also using no-oil dressings which are not found everywhere. Last but not least, he offers a host of recipes, but that means to get enslaved to the cookstove.


I suggest the hellonutritarian site for those who wish to get organized and try the Fuhrman diet, and above I offered my interpretation for a slightly more flexible Fuhrman-like diet.



A 'flexible' Fuhrman diet in my definition includes the following elements (the numbers have an undefined interval of uncertainty):


  • 500 to 1000 grams cooked and raw vegetables, divided in two groups:
  • 1): 65 % of those with ANDI scores >400, which should be rotated-varied;
  • 2)35% of those with ANDI scores <=400, which should be varied
  • 150 to 750 grams fresh fruit
  • Inclusion of the three following groups of foods, according to individual requirements and with a minimum of 50 grams (2 ounces) of each (max one cup according to Fuhrman) :
  • a)legumes
  • b) seeds and nuts
  • c) cereals
  • Occasional to Less frequent inclusion of moderate quantities of animal proteins (dairy products, fish, meat) according to individual needs, idelly no more than 10% of total calories 
  • Inclusion of EVOO at least one tbsp a day
  • Moderate inclusion of addictional phytonutrients contained in foods not cited by fuhrman like cocoa, honey


Edited by mccoy

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