on June 16, 1999
In March of 1999 my 40 year old wife was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I had read Dr. Fuhrman's book a year before and remembered that this disease could be treated with fasting. I read the book again and then convinced my wife to read it. We were seeing a rheumatologist after the initial diagnosis who only offered up the conventional remedies such as prednisone. When I asked this doctor about a therapeutic fast she thought I had lost my mind. My wife tried drug therapy for about two weeks and then decided that we had nothing to lose but a few pounds! She weened herself from prednisone and the pain came roaring back. She made arrangements to fast at Dr. Furhman's clinic and did so for 12 days. The pain and symptoms are gone! This book has changed our lives. Life is about common sense and making the right choices! I'm just glad that I made the choice to read this book! God has blessed us.
on January 27, 1999
I was overweight, plagued with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high tryglicerides and diabetic. Treatments by some of the "best" physicians (with medication) in Israel and in California resulted in no significant improvement. Three years ago I started to do my own research and got across Dr. Fuhrman's book. Well written to be understood by layman and with scientific evidence. Since applying Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations, I lost 70 pounds in 5 months (the first 40 in 6 weeks). All indicators went back to better than normal after two weeks into the program. I later experienced 20 days fast. It was the best experience in my life. Since then, I bought more than 3 dozens of the book and gave it to everyone I care about. This book is my new bible. It is a great reading material for understanding and reinforcement. If practiced by everyone, physicians' rows will be cut by 90%. Not to be missed if you serious about your health, your well being and those around you.
on February 19, 2003
I am Dr. Steven Acocella and I have been in private practice for 15 years. In addition to my training as a doctor I completed post-graduate studies in Human Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport and a residency program in clinical nutrition directly under Dr. Fuhrman.
My knowledge and experience allows me to comment on his work with a depth of understanding shared by only a few. That said, I am writing this because I felt the strong need to comment having viewed some of the weird, self-serving posts and `reviews' in recent weeks.
Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live is the most comprehensive research-supported and scientifically credible diet book, offering significant health improvement, longevity and sustained weight control, simultaneously. Dr. Fuhrman has successfully treated thousands of over-weight patients (with a variety of related medical problems) many of which were referred to him by other physicians because of his impressive results. (see physicians comments on drfuhrman.com).
But, there are crazy people and those who feel threatened by Fuhrman's ideas who will work feverishly to attack and discredit him. His powerful message poses a resounding danger to the profits of the food, drug and weight loss industry; industries that have billions of dollars to spend on advertising. Dr. Fuhrman's rise in popularity will unquestionably cost these industries untold millions in lost sales. They will wisely make large investments to discourage the ever-increasing popularity of Eat to Live and plan appropriate counter-attacks against him.
One such group is called the "Center for Consumer Freedom" established with a grant from Philip Morris (its funding now largely derived from the liquor and fast-food industry). They have previously been hostile to Mothers Against Drunk Driving and have also stood in opposition to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, The Center for Disease Control, numerous animal protection groups and The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. In reality, the group seeks to impair consumer choice. They achieve this by disrupting the discussion and dissemination of information by anyone's message that details the dangers of certain (unhealthy) foods and substances. Their approach is simple: "If you can't argue with the message, shoot the messenger." Rather than intelligently discussing health issues, CCF attacks health advocates, like Fuhrman.
The attacks against Dr. Fuhrman are directly proportional to his book sales. They're both on the rise! But these phony, unsupported attacks are easy to spot. Be particularly skeptical of vicious attacks with a similar style with rotating names and city locations that instantaneously pop-up again as soon as Amazon decides an old posting was too unbelievable and inappropriate to leave on their system. These `objective reviewers' also typically claim they are a doctor. Or they claim to have spoken to a doctor who invariably indicts Dr. Fuhrman's book as dangerous. Physicians and the scientific community don't make critiques or advise in this method. Dr. Fuhrman always evaluates another author's diet book by looking at scientific research studies that point to its value or dangers. This is clear in his discussion of high protein diets or diets rich in trans-fats or refined foods.
I am very interested in watching what will happen as the opposition gets more creative and uses more of their big budgets to protect their profit and loss statements. I hope Dr. Fuhrman has a bullet proof vest. For me, having already seen many, many lighter, healthier and happier people successfully embrace Eat to Live I know which side I'm on! Read the book and decide for yourself.
Fuhrman's sourcebook on fasting is fascinating. Although over the years I read a few of Paul Bragg's books, Bragg's books, while clearly empowering, are a bit bombasting in style and read more like "amazing fasting adventures" rather than serious literature about fasting. As a result, I remained skeptical about fasting until several years ago I stumbled upon Fuhrman's writings.
Fuhrman, I feel is a new Paul Bragg, but better: a seeming paragon of health himself, he is, like Paul Bragg, leading by example, but, unlike Paul Bragg, he offers the educational reassurance of a board-certified physician, most evident in his lucent and clear presentation style. Perhaps, the best way to do his book justice is offer a prospective buyer a few brief excerpts that illustrate both the calm rationality of his positions and the accessibility of his writing style.
Fuhrman offers an enticing rationale for fasting:
Fasting, he writes, "is a state of relative physiological rest." "Health is the normal state. Most chronic disease is the inevitable consequence of living a life-style that places disease-causing stressors on the human organism. Fasting gives the body an interlude without those stressors so that it can speedily repair or accomplish healing that could not otherwise occur in the feeding state. Fasting stops the continual work of the digestive tract, whose activity can drain the body of energy and divert the healing processes." (pp. 7-8).
Fuhrman's writing on autolysis shines with a sense of awe for the homeostatic wisdom of the body:
"The innate wisdom of the body is such that, while fasting, it will consume for its sustenance superfluous tissues, carefully conserving vital tissues and organs. The body's wondrous ability to autolyze (ore self-digest) and destroy needless tissue such as fat, tumors, blood vessel plaque, and other nonessential and diseased tissues, while conserving essential tissues, gives the fast the ability to restore physiological youth to the system." (p. 16).
Fuhrman debunks the myths and misperceptions of fasting:
"The body will not starve or in general even be hungry while fasting because it is `eating'. It is consuming the substances the individual consumed last week, last month, last year that have been converted into body tissue. In fact, the symptoms of hunger generally disappear by the second day of the fast. This illustrates that the body has entered a fasting, and (lean) tissue-sparing metabolism" (p. 12).
"The average individual (not overweight) would have to fast for approximately 40 days or more to exhaust nutrient reserves" (p. 13).
He contrasts juice fasts (very low calorie diets, "supplemented fasting," or, essentially, pseudo-fasts) with water-only fasts and cautions against juice fasts:
"Normally, if we don't eat for a day or two, we start to utilize muscle tissue to make the glucose needed by the body, since glucose can be manufactured from amino acids stored in our muscles. If we continue to fast, however, the body senses what is occurring and attempt to conserve its lean muscle mass by a few different mechanisms. <...> A special adaptation occurs in the fasting state whereby the brain can fuel itself with ketones instead of glucose. By the third day of total fast, the liver starts generating a large quantity of ketones from the body's fat stores. <...> This significantly limits muscle wasting. <...> With severely restricted diets, like juice fasts, the body does lose weight, but the brain and other organs do not subsist mainly on ketones. Therefore, proportionately to weight lost, juice fasts and severely restrictive diets cause to lose more lean body tissue and less fatty tissue than do total fast" (pp. 11-12).
"Juice fasting also does not have the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of the pure water fast that are essential for recovery in autoimmune illnesses" (p. 9).
In describing the healing/detoxifying aspects of fasting, Fuhrman, once again, argues for total (water-only) fasts over juice pseudo-fasts:
"Only when there is total abstinence from all calories do we observe waste products being heavily excreted from the breath, the tongue, the urine, and the skin. <...> This kind of dramatic detoxification cannot occur with supplemented eating plans." (p. 10).
In terms of the organization of the book, Fuhrman offers problem-focused rationale, with a separate chapter on how fasting can be useful in recovery from diabetes, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular problems, and hypoglycemia and headaches. He offers a separate chapter on overeating and how to use fasting to normalizing eating style. For the professional or particularly curious reader, Fuhrman offers a chapter with additional "technical information" about what happens in the body during fasting. This is, perhaps, where Fuhrman's coverage of fasting differs the most from Paul Bragg's.
Fuhrman's book ends with a no-nonsense highly-detailed discussion of what to expect during the first fast. Having enticed the reader to try out a fast, he shares a step-by-step know-how of fasting. For example, on the issue of vitamin supplementation during fasting, he writes: "levels of vitamins and minerals are exceedingly stable during the fast and, if normal to begin with, remain normal throughout the period of fasting" and "Even in prolonged fasts (those lasting from 20 to 40 days) no deficiency develops, illustrating that the body has the innate ability to utilize its stored reserves in a highly exacting and balanced manner." (p. 9).
In conclusion of this review, I want to highlight Fuhrman's writings on the subject of hunger sensations (which he redefines as withdrawal symptoms rather than true hunger), as these have an important implication as to the "next step" in the process of preparation for a fast:
"True hunger is a mouth and throat sensation, felt in the same spot that one feels thirst. Gnawing in the stomach, stomach cramping, headaches, and generalized weakness from not eating or skipping a meal or two are experienced only by those who have been eating the standard American diet with all its shortcomings. <...> Those who have been consuming healthier, low-fat, low-protein, plant-based diet for months prior to the fast typically experience no such typical hunger pains when they fast. <...> Symptoms traditionally thought of as hunger symptoms, are not really symptoms of hunger. <...> These symptoms are signs of withdrawal that indicate healing is beginning when the body has the opportunity to rest from the continual intake of food." (p. 18).
While Fuhrman appears to have tried to pack two books into one - at least, on the level of the book cover ("Fasting and Eating for Health), - the current book is largely about fasting, and, in my opinion, does not do justice to his particular vision of "healthy eating." With this in mind, it would appear to make sense to first read Fuhrman's "Live to Eat" (which introduces the essentially Vegan, plant-based eating lifestyle that he refers to in the above cited paragraph), as a prelude to any fast.
Pavel Somov, Ph.D.
Author of "Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time" (New Harbinger, Nov. 2008).
on October 3, 2005
I read "Fasting and Eating for Health" a year ago after getting a cold. I have lived healthily my whole life (nutrition, exercise, sleep, lifestyle) and was frustrated that I would nevertheless get a cold a couple times a year. Determined to get to the bottom of this, I spent several hours on the internet researching potential solutions and discovered that none of the traditional medical and alternative health approaches do much more than treat symptoms--with one possible exception: fasting.
Having done a 4-day water-only fast years ago when I was seventeen, I decided to try fasting as a cure. Within 36 hours of starting my water-only fast, all my symptoms (runny nose, blocked sinuses, etc.) cleared completely. All that remained was a slight cough which also resolved within a couple days.
As you can imagine, that got my attention! So I spent more time researching fasting itself, and came across Dr Joel Fuhrman's books. I place a high premium on scientific evidence and reasoning. Other fasting books rely heavily on anecdotal evidence. Fuhrman's books, by contrast, are solidly based on peer-reviewed scientific studies. His writing style is similarly grounded and balanced. I have learned a tremendous amount about the science behind fasting and nutrition from his books and website.
After reading his book "Eat to Live", I adopted a "nutritarian" diet based on his recommendations, and am enjoying its many health benefits. A nutritarian diet means eating high nutrient density foods (nutrients / calories), which means a diet high in unprocessed, unrefined plant foods (vegetables, legumes, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds) and low in animal foods (less than 10% of total calories) and no processed, refined foods. I have not had a cold (or any other illness) since switching. I have to add that I did a 15-day water-only fast a few months after switching to this nutritional approach. I was supervised by a medical practitioner who took blood tests and a range of other tests at the beginning, during, and at the end of the fast. My blood pressure dropped twenty-five points from 130/85 to 105/60, and has stabilized at around 110/65 since the fast. That is just one example of the many health benefits I am experiencing. My sports performance (weight training, running, swimming) has also improved.
In short, science-based fasting and nutrition works!
Update 2009-09-19: I now do intermittent fasting (a one-day fast once a week) and a longer multi-day fast once every few years. The current research shows intermittent fasting is at least as effective as calorie restriction in improving health markers and longevity. Other important lifestyle factors include regular intense exercise, good sleep, and a balanced, healthy lifestyle (including nurturing relationships).
on June 5, 2005
I am an intern for a naturopathic doctor who is a firm believer in fasting. As a matter of fact, he actually did an internship with Dr. Fuhrman years ago and witnessed his patients recovering from "incurable" diseases as a result of long-term, water-only fasting. It is amazing what your body can do when you give it the opportunity. When you take out certain roadblocks, your body can travel easier down the road of healing and recovery.
The reason why I didn't give this book 5 stars was because I feel that Dr. Fuhrman could've given a little more instruction for the re-feeding period after the fasting period. I did a ten day, water-only fast, which I'm very proud of, and I'm glad I did it. Weight dropped off me very quickly, and I wanted to keep it off, but I had no idea how hungry I was going to get! I gained back about 10 lbs in a week. I feel guilty that all that time was wasted in the fast (although I know it wasn't), but I know next time that the refeeding period is actually harder than the actual fast. It takes SOOOO much willpower, because your tastebuds feel like they are experiencing the taste of food for the 1st time. It's important to keep your appetite and desire to eat under control.
on July 20, 2001
I am interested in learning more about fasting, and have read several non-medical books on the subject. By the time I got this book, I was looking for a book on fasting that could back up its claims as well as making them freely. I bought this book looking for a well researched overview of fasting with case studies, and I got what I paid for, in spades! Not only did Dr. Fuhrman present his conclusions in easy-to-read language, he footnoted every conclusion he presented with the study (many times, multiple studies) he used to form those conclusions. The studies are primarily current and from major medical publications (JAMA, NEJM, etc) with little reliance on anecdotal or dated information. I was highly impressed, and that's pretty hard to do. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, the one charge that *cannot* be reasonably levelled at this book is a lack of fact, citations, or research. The studies he cites are definitely out there and available for anyone who wants the raw data and is willing to do the further research.
I did find the book a little light on dietary recommendations; in other words, a healthy diet is stressed and some general guidelines are given, but he doesn't lay out specific do's and don'ts, perhaps thinking that is best left up to the reader. I would have liked to see more of that, but since that's not why I bought the book I didn't miss it much.
One thing I did like very much was that he consistently and squarely lays the responsibility for one's own health at one's own feet. After having personally dealt with too many doctors who are threatened by patients who think, this was incredibly refreshing. Dr. Fuhrman makes it clear that he is not the healer; the patients are. The patients do the work and the patients heal themselves -- he presents his role as that of a facilitator. In my opinion, that is the only healthy view of medicine there is, so he's definitely made a fan of me!
One last word: anyone who doubts the validity of fasting as a healing modality is likely someone who never fatsted. It's not just Dr. Fuhrman; this is centuries old and richly documented. Unless you've got a clear medical reason not to fast, it's definitely worth trying. I have, and my limited experience is that Dr. Fuhrman is right on the money with his recommendations and observations. Excellent book! Thank you, Doc!
on January 19, 2009
FASTING AND EATING FOR HEALTH is the field manual for the serious person fighting to obtain a healthy, nutritious, disease-fighting body.
I read EAT TO LIVE by Furhman and was intrigued by what he would say about fasting. I already knew of his controversial, yet powerful case that America's daily diet was killing her people. And I have fasted in the past, mostly for spiritual reasons.
Fuhrman contends that fasting is a natural and powerful practice which allows the body to heal itself. Poisoned by our diets, we give ourselves relief when we cease eating and, more importantly, a chance to recover and heal internal organs and systems. The liver, for example, actually releases some of the poisons and metals it has drawn from the blood during the fast. He maintains that many illnesses including arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary disease and others can be dramatically improved if not completely healed by fasting and proper eating.
Yesterday, I completed a seven-day fast using the guidelines of the book. I drank only water and ate no food. Using the instructions in the book, I was careful about entering and ending the fast - using vegetable juices, vegetables and fruits. I felt incredibly sharp during the seven days without food. I was strong, alert, and energetic. I entered ketosis within two days and lost 14 pounds in a week.
I appreciate his wisdom and have practiced his methods with good results, so far.
on October 30, 2001
The only sure-fire way to extend a person's life is by _underfeeding_. Why is this so ?? Could it be that foods are killing us ?? The answer is definitely YES, foods ARE killing us, in more than a dozen different ways, and the reasons are clearly and thoroughly explored in this book.
Dr. Fuhrman is a medical doctor, and a former olympic ice skater who overcame an injury that was almost fatal to his olympic career, via fasting. In this book, he explains some of the benefits you can gain from fasting, and he explains exactly why you should not engage in fasting for more than 3-4 days without going to a medical clinic.
This is not a book to help you plan a fast. This is a book that can help to motivate a fast and to motivate more healthy eating. This book has a few very critical pieces of information (e.g. never eat between zero and 1200 calories because above 1200 calories you have enough carbohydrates -> glocose for your brain, and at zero calories your brain converts to ketosis and has enough glucose, but between 0 and 1200 calories your brain and organs compete for cabohydrates and you can easily damage your internal organs.)
The book is so motivational that I think many people will try unsupervised fasting after reading this book. I think the doctor should admit that his book will be too successful, and he should give a few more tips about how to run a short unsupervised fast, or what entry criteria / monitoring could be used for a short and self-supervised fast. That's the only flaw in this book.
on October 16, 2002
It's premised on the idea that if you are going to fast for more than 3 days, you obtain a trained physician to assist you in your fast. Good luck finding one. Most MDs won't support the necessary regimen or have the training to perform it. Frequently, one finds that chiropractors or naturopaths are main the ones offering this service. But even then, there are only a handful certified by IAHP (Hygeniec Physicians). That leaves the reader in a quandry. Do you I go it alone and risk complications or resign myself to 3 days or less without many of the benefits a longer fast has. To me, the only flaw of Dr. Fuhrman's book is that it leads the reader to the hope of fasting for health without the necessary support work of physicians or health professionals to provide this service. Flying to New Jersey to spend a month with Dr. Furhman isn't realistic for me or many I would imagine. Perhaps it would be better to empower the patient and train individuals in what to look for regarding their own health. Order their own blood tests, etc. I'm frustrated that there is a wonderful treatment potentially so close and yet so far. BTW, otherwise, his book is wonderful (which is why I gave it 5 stars). It's an excellent buy whether you can find a doctor or not.