Dr. Nisha Chellam is a Board certified Internist who is also board certified in Integrative and Holistic medicine. She believes that diminished health and vitality can be reclaimed by just about any proactive person at any age. Dr. Chellam practices functional medicine in Novi, Michigan where she incorporates Nutrition, Fitness, hormone balance, and permanent weight control. Every week, Dr. Nisha gives you tips on how to take control of your health because YOU are your best doctor.
Monday Jun 21, 2021
Monday Jun 21, 2021
Monday Jun 21, 2021
What is the Nutritarian Diet? Can it Prevent and Reverse Chronic Diseases?
When faced with disease, many of us don't prefer taking medicines. Medicines are an option but they aren't a long-term solution. So, could you shift the health of your cells by changing your nutrition?
In this blog, you will discover just how big of a role nutrition plays in the prevention and reversal of illness. This comprehensive blog with answers to all of your nutrition and diet-related questions:
- The Connection between Nutrition & Chronic Illness
- The Issue with Most Types of Diets
- About the Nutritarian Diet
- What are the G-BOMBS?
- The Importance of Including Nuts & Seeds in the Diet
- Oils vs. Seeds
- Veganism & Deficiencies
- Is there a natural source of Omega 3 to replace supplements?
- Macronutrients—too much or too little?
Ready to dig in? Let’s go!
But before that, here’s what you need to know about the creator of the Nutritarian diet, Dr. Joel Fuhrman:
Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a long-term Board-certified family physician and seven times New York Times bestseller author who has a retreat center in San Diego called the “Eat to Live” retreat.
His specialty is preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Furhman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss, reverse heart disease, diabetes & many other chronic illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, he keeps delivering this life-saving message to people around the globe.
Now, let’s dive right in!
The Connection between Nutrition & Chronic Illness
Modern nutritional science gives us the power to treat chronic diseases to a large degree. Access to processed & high-calorie nutrient-deficient foods more readily available at low prices has given rise to obesity and poor health conditions that follow. Things have gotten worse, not better.
The idea, proposed by Herbert Shelton in the 1950s, that the body is a miraculous self-healing machine and disease is unnatural is imperative. Dr. Fuhrman believes that it's not normal to live with diseases. One has to earn all diseases by living an unhealthy lifestyle. A species can be protected from disease if you feed it properly, taking care of all essential nutrients. This underlying premise will never change.
Studies reveal that wholesome organic plant-based diets can prevent chronic fatal diseases. So making healthy shifts in diet can provide longevity and help in reversing heart diseases, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, reducing daily migraines, getting rid of arthritis, and whatnot.
As such, Nutritional excellence can be utilized as a therapeutic modality. It can not only prevent disease but also reverse disease.
So, while we’re living in a world of information with all the research readily available around us,
Why is there still so much confusion about nutrition?
The fast-food and the restaurant industry with billions of dollars to spend on promotion whereas the organic food producing industry doesn't put out information at that scale. Nobody is promoting those industries.
With such a massive level of promotion of processed food and meats; it’s easier to make people buy a full meal quicker for money, rather than try to eat whole foods.
The different types of diets out there and the media also have a role to play here. The vegan diet, the paleo, or the ketogenic diet, etc. For instance, seeing people lose weight with the keto diet can be tempting to anyone who wants to lose weight.
The Issue with Most Types of Diets
As we know, most types of diets are targeted towards either weight loss or reducing cholesterol levels etc. Yet, short-term change doesn't mean that a certain diet is sustainable. Dr. Fuhrman believes that short-term benefits shouldn’t be utilized as a measurement of the success of any diet. Like medications, while they might be a good short-term solution, diets too might have some long-term consequences (such as the shortened lifespan of a person).
Likewise, for various diets, you could give credence & generate a hypothesis for short-term changes. However, you shouldn’t draw conclusions based on short-term changes; instead, you should see the observations drawn from credible researches conducted over decades of people doing these interventions.
For example, when people are given a proton pump inhibitor for reflux esophagitis: in the short run, they feel better in the long run, we know that it increases the risk of heart attack or cancer; it’s dangerous as a long-term solution.
The same thing goes for various weight-loss diets, we must conduct studies before concluding.
What are the criteria for validating the effectiveness of a diet?
There are three criteria for giving high credence to a study on diet for long term use:
- The study should be conducted on thousands of people; not just 50 or 100 people.
- Hard endpoints should be given more importance over soft endpoints. Soft endpoints are lost weight, lower cholesterol, etc. Most doctors make soft endpoints as the parameters to measure a diet’s effectiveness. Hard endpoints are the increased risk of a heart attack or cancers etc. For Instance, some drugs that might help lower cholesterol in the short run might increase the risk of developing cancers in the long run. So, it’s important to consider a diet’s response to the impact on these hard endpoints.
- The study should go on for decades not years. Short-term studies should be corroborated with long-term studies.
Some studies support that as people’s dietary intake of animal products goes up, their hard endpoint death rates go up, and as they increase plant protein their longevity increases.
There are also studies showing that both high-protein paleo diets & keto diets are extremely dangerous too in the long run; they shorten people’s life span. Including a lot of animal products and restricting various phytochemicals can be harmful.
About the Nutritarian Diet
The nutritarian diet is a very nutrient-dense, sustainable diet with a moderate caloric restriction and micronutrient surplus for optimal health.
It’s different from a whole-food, plant-based diet. The nutritarian diet tries to cultivate nutritional excellence by including a wide variety of food that covers the full spectrum of human needs for nutrients; the G-BOMBS.
What does the Nutritarian diet include?
The diet includes all the foods that are proven to have anti-cancer & longevity benefits—beans, mushrooms, nuts & seeds, fruits & vegetables, etc—including the most effective foods that enable people to push the envelope of human longevity, get to be in great health & live a hundred years long.
For instance, if you have a 1500 calorie limitation per day, what are the most nutritious foods that you can fit into the caloric pie for the day.
What are the G-BOMBS?
G-BOMBS are the six foods that have the most scientific support for extending the human lifespan & protecting against chronic illnesses. In the Nutritarian diet, it is recommended to include all of these foods on a daily basis.
“The G-BOMBS are the foods with the highest nutrient-to-calorie ratio and the most scientific evidence to prevent cancer. Eat them almost every day.”
—Dr. Joel Fuhrman
The Importance of Including Nuts & Seeds in the Diet
Studies show that the inclusion of nuts & seeds in the diet decreases the risk of cardiovascular death by 40%. It’s amazingly consistent across various studies—with every study having different cohorts with different ages, genders, ethnicities, high & low animal product intake, vegans or non-vegans, etc.
With every cohort looked at, the consistency was that the exclusion of nuts and seeds increased risks of cardiac diseases by 40%, and their inclusion of about an ounce a day reduced heart attack rates by 40%. Therefore, reducing mortality.
Here, conclusions are drawn based on consistency from one study corroborating another.
Oils vs. Seeds
Oil is a fat-promoting food. Dr. Fuhrman explains that there’s a huge difference between an oil concentrated from a seed and the seed itself. Walnuts are healthier than walnut oil, sesame seeds are healthier than sesame oil.
It’s much healthier to include the whole nut or seed, rather than the oil from that nut or seed because the components of seeds are fine for people in small amounts when eaten a handful of seeds, but when people consume highly processed oils made from seeds, they end up consuming those components—such as phytic acid, omega-6 fatty acids, lectin proteins, etc.—in much larger amounts than what’s healthy for them.
In the nutritarian diet, recipes are created with whole nuts and seeds being utilized to prepare the creamy or fattiness of the food dressing, instead of just the oils.
Percentage of Animal Products in the Diet
It’s important to establish what percentage of the diet should be animal products. For a diet to be optimal, the animal product percentage should be between 0-5%, even 10% of calories from animal products on a consistent basis is enough to prevent you from maintaining optimal health.
A diet that has a 0-5% of animal products has a sub-optimal range of zinc, B12, K2 & DHA. Nutritarian diet includes the judicious use of supplements to ensure that an individual is not missing out on those nutrients.
Veganism & Deficiencies
It has been noted that people who have a vegan diet for all of their lives tend to develop dementia or Parkinson’s disease in old age over those who have a plant-based diet rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants. The reason is the deficiencies caused by the vegan diet that exacerbates the problems faced in old age.
There are studies to prove that as your Omega 3 index drops, the chances of cognitive impairment and brain shrinkage with aging go up. The nutritarian diet covers a beneficial B12 level and is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to ensure that one’s Omega 3 index remains above 5.
Is there a natural plant-based source of Omega 3 to replace supplements?
While the body can convert about 5% of Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) found in foods like hemp seeds, walnuts & green vegetables into Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and about 2% of that into Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It depends on an individual’s ability to convert which is subjective.
Macronutrients—too much or too little?
There are three types of macronutrients—protein, fat, or carbohydrates. All of these act as our main sources of calories. The problem today is that people are consuming way too many calories than needed for their body's normal functioning. The most important thing is to maintain a balance in calorie intake as well as its source.
For instance, while a vegan diet that is too low in protein might be an issue, a diet with too much animal protein is also not safe.
Too much animal protein accelerates the aging process. On the other hand, as we remove animal protein from the diet, people should make sure that they include an adequate amount of plant-based protein in their diet to meet their protein needs.
A way to look at this would be that there are two types of proteins:
- Protein that comes from Fat
- Protein that comes from Fiber
You want to increase your intake of the protein that comes from fiber. Don’t equate the word protein with animal products. Beans, greens & seeds are examples of plant-based protein-rich foods.
The Bottom line
While a very nutrient-dense, sustainable diet with moderate caloric restriction is important for optimal health, finding the right balance differs from person to person—the basis being the inclusion of the G-BOMBS in the diet.
Strive to learn about nutrition to eat healthily, rather than to lose a few pounds. Even though disease might be common today, let’s learn to not normalize being ill or contracting a medical condition just because of age.
This blog covered just the highlights from our latest podcast by Dr. Nisha Chellam, Board Certified Internist and Founder of Holistic ICON, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. and Founder of Eat to Live Retreat. To know more about the Nutritarian Diet, listen to the full podcast on our YouTube channel by clicking this link:This LINK
In case you have any questions related to nutrition and diet, please drop us an email with your question and a brief about yourself at email@example.com and we will get back to you shortly.
Hoping that this blog provided clarity and answered your questions.