An Interview with Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Written by Mark Huberman
Wednesday, 28 August 2002 12:40
Tell us about the new book you have coming out.
It is called Eat To Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss and the publisher is Little, Brown & Co. It will be in every bookstore in America in January, 2003.
That sounds about as big as it can get in the publishing business.
Little, Brown a subsidy of Time Warner/AOL are supporting the book with significant advertising resources and I expect good media exposure with magazines, television and radio shows. I should have a tremendous opportunity to influence the way society views diet, longevity, and the obesity epidemic we now have.
The book is both a “diet and weight loss book” as well as “health and longevity book.” It gives people an opportunity to lose a lot of weight in a healthy manner as opposed to a little bit of weight in an unhealthy manner, like most of the other diet books out there.
Eighty percent of our population is overweight and 33% of the population is obese, and it is a growing epidemic in our society. People are bombarded with all types of false claims and scams, but they are really left confused with a million different messages about diet and nutrition. Hopefully, this will be the final word on all diet books and be the gold standard on which healthcare professionals and interested parties could receive a complete understanding of the controversies in human nutrition with complete scientific documentation. The book is informative and fun. The publishing house is extremely excited about it. The documentation I provide in this book is impeccable and extremely comprehensive. Any educated person who reads this book will have to change the way they think about food.
What will separate your new book from the works that have been published by John McDougall, Neal Barnard, and Dean Ornish?
That is a good question. There are two answers. One is that those diets are not as nutrient-dense as the diets and recipes in my book. My diets are primarily vegetable based, and their diets are grain based. Their diets have a much higher percentage of cooked carbohydrates; my diet has a much higher percentage of raw fruits, vegetables and cooked greens. Green foods are higher in protein than carbohydrates. Most greens are 50% protein and about 20% fat. We are talking about comparing a starch-based diet, and a cooked starch-based diet at that, with the diets I recommend which have minimal cooked starch and more non-starchy vegetables. Also, the diets in those books are designed for the average person to lose some weight, and for that purpose they are very good books. The problem is a lot of overweight people have a slow metabolic rate, and a lot of these overweight individuals re-quire a more effective plan. In other words, the diets in those books are not aggressive enough to afford people with slow metabolic rates or weight loss difficulties the opportunity to lose lots of weight in a time frame that is reasonable without them getting turned off. If you are on a diet that is working, but you are losing a couple of pounds a month, and you are 150 pounds overweight, it is kind of depressing to take 75 months to get there. You might be dead first. The diet plans in my book give people the opportunity to lose 15 to 25 pounds per month, with all the menus and recipes to make it taste great and feel satiated. No other book really gives people this wonderful opportunity to reverse their health condition so quickly.
Why Dr. Fuhrman? Why their interest in you?
I think that I put together a really great book. Little, Brown didn’t want one of those gimmicky books, such as the “Eat For Your Body Type” diet book. They wanted something that would be respected by the medical and scientific community, with legitimacy based on science. They weren’t looking for a fly-by-night gimmick, and they hadn’t gotten into diet books for that reason for so many years until mine came along.
Will publication be limited to the United States?
Right now my agent is negotiating deals with foreign publishers. Piakus is publishing the book in Great Britain in paperback simultaneously with the hardcover version in the U.S. It will be called the Eat To Live Diet in England.
People “live to eat”, and you are calling the book Eat To Live. Why the title Eat To Live? Is it similar to your video, The Greatest Diet On Earth, available from the National Health Association?
Eating has become a social pastime in America. We have a whole population committing suicide with food. Where smoking and drug use have become socially unacceptable, killing yourself with dangerous food is socially acceptable and practiced by most Americans. I think that eating to live is a sensible concept. Little, Brown really liked that title and we were all surprised that there was not another book with that title yet. It fits the book very well. It contains all of the information that is in my successful video The Greatest Diet on Earth and much more. My new video and my newsletter, Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times with contributing editor Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D., L.D./N., have been reaching a new breed of individuals never before turned on to eating so healthfully. These informative products are already having an impact and have attracted a huge following of Dr. Fuhrman devotees committed to nutritional excellence all over the web, even before the book appears.
Where can our readers find out more about your newsletter?
From my website, www.drfuhrman.com or by calling my office. People are just hungry for this knowledge, and it gives me the opportunity to answer questions not just about health, longevity and weight loss, but about all the things they are confused about – taking aspirin for heart disease, is alcohol really heart healthy? How much salt is dangerous, the real concern over West Nile Virus, what are the best foods and the worst foods, detox drinks, just to name a few items addressed in this month’s issue. We are being bombarded with so much nonsense in the healthcare arena, and people are so confused that they need somebody to make sense of all this confusion.
Do you think that the interest of a huge company like Little, Brown is showing in your health philosophy is a reflection of a true and sweeping enlightenment that is taking over about the essential causes of health? Do you think that the public is becoming more aware or taking more interest in their health than ever before?
No, I think the opposite is true. I think that most Americans take no interest in their health. They have given up on taking care of their health; they think it is hopeless. They see themselves gaining weight no matter what they do. They have pretty much thrown in the towel and have said, “I will just eat whatever I want; I’m getting fat anyway.”
In your opinion, is that what separates your philosophy, which is reflective of the National Health Association’s philosophy, from all the other vegetarian groups and movements that are out there?
The National Health Association may recommend a plant-based diet, but the hallmark of the term, National Health Association is that we stand for what science reveals to us to be the healthiest. If we found out it was important to our health to eat snails every day, we should recommend it and not reject the option simply because it is non-vegetarian. Some of those other organizations may present information that only supports vegetarianism.
We use science to devise dietary recommendations that give humans the best opportunity to live a long, healthy life. That foundation of science leads us to a diet that is plant-based or predominantly vegetarian. If our founding purpose was to avoid eating animals our recommendations may turn out differently. Just look at all the overcooked and overly processed carbohydrates that most people eat. Being a vegetarian does not guarantee you superior health or health protection; it is the nutritional quality of the entire diet that counts. I teach people how to make their diet truly superior. You may be aware that some quite famous vegetarians and hygienists died at a young age.
Do you think that members of NHA will find anything in conflict with your book and what the organization has represented for many years?
I think that they will understand why the recommendations for all these years have worked in a way that is much more consistent with the science that we have available. We have done most of the right stuff, but we haven’t always had the science to explain it in the correct way. I think this book will offer a more clear understanding of the most valuable parts of Natural Hygiene and perhaps how members can fine tune their diet using more recent science to make it even better.
What kind of reception are you finding from your medical colleagues?
Doctors are just like everyone else. In other words, some physicians find this information very fascinating and very exciting. It moves them. They will write me letters because they are so enthusiastic and excited by it. I think you get the same proportion of doctors, though, who are into eating hamburgers and are overweight and don’t really want to care about their health. I think that doctors are just like the average lawyer, engineer, truck driver, or teacher. There is a whole gamut of responses you get based on their individual differences. I don’t think there is any one view that doctors have. There are those who are very supportive and excited, and those who aren’t.
Your book is going to be published by the foremost media publishers in the nation. With all those tools at their disposal, is there anything NHA members can do to help spread the word?
Definitely. Starting when the media blitz begins in January 2003, I would appreciate all the help I can get. Interested parties can forward the names and contact people on their local radio talk shows, cable television shows and local news or talk shows. My office will contact those individuals, follow up on any leads and send them a media package to attempt to get me an interview. The other strategy we have is for me to travel the country lecturing at hospitals to other healthcare professionals. Contacts are needed at the local hospitals of those individuals in charge of setting up guest speakers to arrange presentations to the staff. Hopefully I can travel to your neck of the woods, speak at a local hospital, lecture to a religious congregation and appear on radio and television, all in the same visit.
With all of this writing that you are doing, and all the lecturing that you intend to do, is there still time for Dr. Fuhrman to take care of patients, and if so, how do they get in contact with Dr. Fuhrman?
I will continue to have my office practice, my guesthouse, and my phone consultation practice. I also have an 800 number so people can call me from all over the country (800-474-WELL). Once my book comes out, I will probably have to reduce my hours of seeing patients to spend more time publicizing the book.