1 Digging Our Graves with Forks and Knives
THE EFFECTS OF THE AMERICAN DIET, PART I
Case Study: Robert lost over sixty pounds and saved his life!
I was generally thin until about thirty-two years of age. I gained about thirty pounds seemingly overnight. At thirty-four, I began having labored breathing and was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, which caused significant scarring over a large area of my lungs. I began the standard treatment of a biopsy and steroids.
At age thirty-seven, I was fifty pounds overweight. My life changed one afternoon at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The button on my last comfortable pair of pants snapped and the zipper broke. It was funny, embarrassing, and deadly serious all at the same time. That day, I decided I had to change and went to the bookstore to find some answers. I stumbled upon Dr. Fuhrman's book, and it made sense to me.
Six months later, I was sixty pounds lighter, but my wife brought to my attention a lump in my neck. The lump had been there for years, but without all my fat obscuring it, it was now readily visible. I had assumed that my gasping was a result of the sarcoidosis, but I had a massive thyroid cyst, which blocked my windpipe and cut off my air supply. The doctors decided that it needed to come out. A couple of days prior to surgery, I was given an MRI, which showed that I had no traces of the sarcoidosis. It had completely cleared up, just as Dr. Fuhrman had predicted.
During the surgery the cyst burst as soon as the surgeon attempted to cut it out with his scalpel, causing me to go into anaphylactic shock. Had the doctor not first drained the fluid with a needle, I might have died. Even more sobering is the fact that had I not adopted Dr. Fuhrman's advice, the cyst would have remained obscured and would have burst on its own. I would not have had the benefit of being on the operating table.
I am now forty-six years old, I run about twenty miles a week, and I have unbelievable stamina. My systolic blood pressure went from 140 to 108, and my current LDL cholesterol level is 40 (that is not a typo). I feel great. I look ten years younger than I did two years ago and take no medications. I have competed in several triathlons and am preparing for my first marathon.
Not long after my surgery, I sought out Dr. Fuhrman to thank him. You too can achieve your ideal weight, reverse disease, and, yes, even delay the aging process.
Americans have been among the first people worldwide to have the luxury of bombarding themselves with nutrient-deficient, high-calorie food, often called empty-calorie or junk food. By "empty-calorie," I mean food that is deficient in nutrients and fiber. More Americans than ever before are eating these high-calorie foods while remaining inactive — a dangerous combination.
The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2048 all adults in the United States will be overweight or obese. The National Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year. This is especially discouraging for dieters because after spending so much money attempting to lose weight, 95 percent of them gain all the weight back and then add on even more pounds within three years. This incredibly high failure rate holds true for the vast majority of weight-loss schemes, programs, and diets.
Obesity and its sequelae pose a serious challenge to physicians. Both primary-care physicians and obesity-treatment specialists fail to make an impact on the long-term health of most of their patients. Studies show that initial weight loss is followed by weight regain.
Those who genetically store fat more efficiently may have had a survival advantage thousands of years ago when food was scarce, or in a famine, but in today's modern food pantry they are the ones with the survival disadvantage. People whose parents are obese have a tenfold increased risk of being obese. On the other hand, obese families tend to have obese pets, which is obviously not genetic. So it is the combination of food choices, inactivity, and genetics that determines obesity. More important, one can't change one's genes, so blaming them doesn't solve the problem. Rather than taking an honest look at what causes obesity, Americans are still looking for a miraculous cure — a magic diet or some other effortless gimmick.
Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue — extra weight leads to an earlier death, as many studies confirm. Overweight individuals are more likely to die from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Two-thirds of those with weight problems also have hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or another obesity-related condition. It is a major cause of early mortality in the United States. Since dieting almost never works and the health risks of obesity are so life-threatening, more and more people are desperately turning to drugs and surgical procedures to lose weight.
From Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. Copyright 2011 by Joel Fuhrman. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown and Company.