Trendy fad diets are big business in the U.S., with Americans spending billions every year on weight-loss schemes that promise miracle results yet don't deliver. But Joel Fuhrman, M.D. — a clinical nutritionist and family physician — has come up with a simple no-diet plan that is cheaper, safer, and more effective than following the latest food craze.
In his new book, "The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life," Dr. Fuhrman debunks the misleading junk science behind many fad diets. He also says the key to losing weight and boosting longevity is actually to eat more, not less — but be sure to load up on nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole non-processed foods.
"Eating thimble-sized portions of food [doesn't] work," Dr. Fuhrman tells Newsmax Health. "We have to eat lots of green vegetables, lots of beans, berries, seeds, nuts, different colorful foods."
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Instead of going on a diet, he advises developing eating habits that last a lifetime — not only to shed pounds, but also to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
"Your healthy life expectancy [and] the quality of your life in your later years is proportional to the micronutrient density of your diet," he says. "That means we have to seek out foods that contain nutrients and … eat lots of them."
Dr. Fuhrman notes that studies show most diets are doomed to fail — with fewer than 2 percent of dieters actually achieving long-term weight loss, while 98 percent of dieters end up regaining weight they may lose on restrictive diets.
"When you restrict calories … your nutrient levels go down and [you] get unrelenting cravings," he explains, likening dieting to addiction. "And also the common foods Americans are eating are mostly processed foods and animal products. The concentrated calories can be very addicting, especially sugar and oil, so people … can't maintain those stringent requirements and they wind up losing weight and gaining it back again."
"You have to fix the brain, and you can only fix the brain by attention to superior nutrition, which means eating more nutrient-rich foods — not less foods — to lose weight … But you have to pick the right foods. That's going to restore the normal brain pathways again," he says.
Dr. Fuhrman also believes many popular diets and nutrition books are designed to appeal to people who are looking for a quick fix or for a plan that doesn't require them to change their eating habits or give up their favorite foods.
Instead of designing a diet based on the latest nutritional science, he says many food plans "go about it the other way to see what can sell the most at the beginning, what's going to attract the most interest, what's the best back story for the diet, so it is … based on commercial interests and food preferences and addictions."
But there is an alternative, he says: Following a diet designed to increase the nutrient content of the foods you eat and treating meals like medicine — to boost your health and longevity.
Toward this end, he recommends filling up on vegetable bean soups, salads, whole grains, and making desserts with fruits and nuts. Doing so crowds out junk food cravings and lets you lose weight naturally, without eating tiny portions or counting calories.
"And as we consume more whole foods, whole plant foods, we flood our body with nutrients and our body then can recover from the ill health … and then you’re not going to have to be craving any more, then you’re not going to feel ill, and you're not going to need to overeat anymore," he says.
The bottom line?
"We are what we eat," Dr. Fuhrman says. "You know we put money in the bank for our future retirement and then we get there and we don't have our health and we’re in a nursing home or something, what good is that? We want to put money in our health bank account, that's the most important thing you can do."
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