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Nutritarian Diet Review: Health Goldmine?

Posted Feb 02 2011 4:52am

As many of you are probably already aware of, I love everything having to do with nutrition. I love researching it and finding the healthiest alternatives possible to live a life that is free from disease.

I have not always been a healthy eater. I grew up eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) of lots of meat, chicken, potatoes, white bread, desserts, ice cream, milk, etc.

However, I did grow up in California so there was always fresh fruit around. I was never really into fast food so I always considered my diet healthy.

Over the years, I have learned more and more strategies and health tips that I have slowly adopted for a healthier life. It was during nursing school that I finally took on the mission to live the healthiest life possible by eating more nutritious food.

For a while now, I have been going through different ways of eating, trying to figure out what healthy food works best for my body. This has basically led me to feel like I am not doing something right since I cannot relate to vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists, etc. I felt I was in left field all alone.I desperately wanted a way of eating that was healthy and easy to follow or felt I would just resort back to the Standard American Diet I grew up with.

That is when I came across the nutritarian diet and everything just seemed to click! I have finally found something that matches all the nutritional research out there and is actually doable in real life! We can’t think of this diet as a “diet” such as in weight loss, but we need to start thinking of this as a way to live a healthy life.

It is not something that we do for a few months to lose weight or regain our health; it is something that we do for life so we can function better and improve our overall quality of life.

What is a Nutritarian Diet?

A nutritarian diet is where you eat more food that is high in nutrients and less food that is lower in nutrients. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, after many years of research, coined the term “nutritarian” when he came up with the equation H=N/C, or health equals nutrients divided by calories in food.

Healthier food options are high in nutrients and low in calories so you get a bigger nutritional punch with every calorie you put into your body. It makes the most out of every calorie you eat.

This diet is more about a complete lifestyle change to eat more nutritious overall. It focuses on eating more vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and beans. When you focus on more nutrient rich foods you decrease the amount of processed and packaged foods, sweets, white flour, fast foods, and animal products.

This diet does not say you must give up these foods, just that you eat more of the nutrient rich foods that allow your body to thrive!

Am I making this up?

Nope! I am definitely not making this diet up. It is little known to the general public but there are a few books on it available.

It is no surprise that our diets are horrible! That is why the Standard American Diet is sometimes referred to as the SAD diet. Following this diet, people have become more likely to develop chronic diseases.

Take a look around you and you will find the majority of people are overweight. Most of Americans die from chronic diseases which rarely contributed to deaths back in 1900. This is not due to people living longer because this is the first time in history that children’s life expectancy will be shorter than their parents. That’s just plain SAD!

These chronic diseases that are plaguing our society were rare back in 1900 and the only thing that has changed is our diet! We are now overfed and undernourished. We need a nutritional guide that will help us eat fewer calories that are more nutrient dense. We need more nutrients and fewer calories!

There are so many vital phytochemicals and antioxidants in plants and even more that have yet to be discovered. What is out there in nutritional research is just the tip of the iceberg. The Standard American Diet is missing so many of these vital nutrients that lead to ultimate health, leaving Americans overweight and plagued with chronic diseases.

Our bodies are not flourishing on our current way of eating. Our bodies have the ability to live on whatever we feed it.

For example, take a look back in history at those people who survived the concentration camps. They usually were fed about 400-600 calories per day of food that had virtually no nutrients, yet many of them were able to survive for many months. Just because you can eat something and survive does not mean it is what your body needs to be healthy and to thrive.

In other words: just because you can eat the Standard American Diet and live and function, does not mean it is truly beneficial for your body. It is very important to get a diet high in nutrients in order for your body to truly be healthy and free of disease.

What are the benefits of this diet?

There are so many benefits to the nutritarian diet it is hard to know where to start.

When your body gets the nutrients it needs to thrive, you will sleep better, have more energy, lose weight, and you will feel better overall. By getting these nutrient dense foods, you may also be able to prevent disease and even reverse chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Also with this diet, you may notice an overall anti-aging effect and your skin complexion improve.

The research has shown that cultures where there is a focus on nutrient rich foods from plant based sources have much lower incidences of chronic disease. A diet high in fat, sodium, sugar, and processed foods such as the Standard American Diet, has shown to exacerbate these chronic diseases.

Numerous research studies have shown how people from other cultures that focus on plant based diets start eating the standard American diet, they start developing the chronic diseases just like Americans. However, when they move back to their plant based diets, their diseases improve or resolve altogether.

What could possibly point more directly to nutrition as being a contributing factor to the development of chronic diseases?

I like to think of it like a light switch. We may have it in our genes to be more prone to a certain disease, but it is up to our eating habits and overall lifestyle habits to either turn that disease on or off.
Furthermore, this diet will give you all the nutrients you need for overall health.

With so many different phytochemicals and antioxidants that we know about, there are many more that scientists have yet to find. This means you can’t get these nutrients in the pill. There are too many to include or know how they work perfectly together as they do in nature. Health comes from a diet rich in plant based foods that are high in nutrients.

What can you eat?

This whole diet or way of eating is based on the ANDI scoring system. For more information about this system, visit http://www.eatrightamerica.com.

This system was created after many years of research and scientific studies on how to determine the nutrient quality of food. That is how Dr. Fuhrman and his team came up with the H=N/C equation that was discussed at the beginning of this report.

Basically with this diet, the focus is on eating more vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans and less processed foods and animal products. So, to adopt a healthy diet, you will want to increase these foods in your diet as you decrease food such as fish, eggs, non-fat dairy, meat, white bread, sweets, and processed foods.

This does not mean you have to give these other foods up entirely, it just means they are lower on the nutrient scale so you should eat fewer of them.

Did you know that broccoli has double the amount of protein as beef without all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and hormones, etc. that beef has? Plant based foods can give you all the nutrition that you need to thrive.

This diet is all about choosing healthier foods that are high in nutrients over food that is just high in calories with little nutrients to show for it.

What is the ANDI Scoring System?

This scoring system used by this diet was formed after years of research where the nutrient content of different foods was compared. They took the amount of different vitamins and minerals in the food such as calcium, vitamin C, folate, fiber, B vitamins, etc and converted it to the Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI) that are recommended by the government. This allowed them to come up with a numerical score of 0-1,000 that would give them a rating system on the nutrient density of the food.

For more information about this system, visit http://www.eatrightamerica.com.

What are my thoughts on the Nutritarian Diet?

First of all, I want to play tennis when I am 80. You may think I am crazy, but it is very possible when you follow the right lifestyle habits. There are many older adults who are still very active because they ate a highly nutritious diet and kept active.

Our bodies have a natural desire to keep us healthy and to repair itself. It does not want to get old or have to be stuck in a bed the rest of its days. In order to allow our bodies to keep us agile well into our 80s is to start treating it right. This begins with diet.

This is why I am so impressed with the nutritarian diet. It focuses on delivering to us the highest nutrient content available so our bodies can function the way they were designed to.

This diet is just makes sense: eat what is more nutritious and cut back on what is not as nutritious. It is backed by thousands of research studies and tens of thousands of research scientists who illustrate that plant based diets are the healthiest diets available.

Now, this diet may seem extreme to some people. Even in the medical community, they may look at me like I am crazy. In their view, it is too radical for the average person to follow which is why they come up with their food guides that are not teaching people how to be healthy.

If they did work, don’t you think the overweight percentage and disease percentage of our population would be decreasing, not increasing? And don’t you think that if people were told the total truth about what nutrition can do for their bodies, they would work towards doing what is healthiest?

I would like to believe that everyone wants to be healthy. I have yet to meet anyone who desires to be sick. This is why I think we should be educating the general public on the way to eat healthy. It is time we show the general public what all the nutritional research points to as the healthiest diet and not just what we think they want to hear.

No matter what, any diet that recommends consuming more whole foods and less processed foods is helping people move in the right direction.

After the many thousands of hours of nutritional study I have completed, this diet just makes sense. I kept trying to relate to vegetarians, vegans, or even raw foodists because they focused on more plant-based diets. However, I could never quite grasp their way of eating.

Vegetarians are not necessarily healthier for eating no animal meat. For the most part they are still consuming the processed food the rest of the American population is. Being vegetarian does not make you healthy.

Vegan is a step further away from animal products than vegetarians because it removes all meat, dairy, eggs, etc. from the diet. Vegans can have the same issues that vegetarians have with eating too many processed foods and not enough whole foods.

The raw food diet can be healthy when you get enough variety of the foods. It at least focuses on fresh, whole plant-based foods. However, they have some foods in there that were so foreign to me that I had no clue where to start! The biggest issue with the raw food diet is that a lot of the vitamins are more available for your body to absorb when cooked. For example, the lycopene in tomatoes is more available when cooked as it is in sauces.

So, I never felt compelled to take food to this extreme. I still want some of my comfort foods every now and then.

This is what brings me back to the nutritarian diet which focuses on the healthier foods in both raw and cooked forms and still allows you to have those foods you are used to. It is all about eating more of the healthy foods and less of the unhealthy foods. What diet gets easier than that?

I feel this is one of the healthiest diets out there and one that I can actually adhere to. I am ready to be considered a nutritarian; are you?

The only negatives I can find in this diet is that for some already thin people, there may be too much bulk and not enough calories. For thin people or those who are very active, the only change that is necessary is to increase the amount of nuts and seeds a little in your diet to meet caloric intakes.

One more negative I can think of is that of vitamin B12. This is the only vitamin that vegetarians, vegans, raw foodist, and now nutritarians find challenging to get. This is a vitamin that is made from bacteria. It used to be found in plant sources but now with farmers making their fields void of these bacteria, they are not found in plant sources. This bacterium is still found with meat, so meat eaters get enough vitamin B12. There is simply a supplement you can take to meet these needs.

These negatives are what bring my health benefit score under 100.

Final Score: 95.

Overall, I believe this to be one of the healthiest diets out there that you can start working towards and not to mention one of the easiest to transition into. This is much better than the tons of fake food most of us are eating and making our bodies exist on. Go with high nutrient food and let your body thrive!

Why am I sharing this with you?

I am very interested in this diet after it is backed up by all the nutritional research that I have been doing. With this review of the nutritarian diet, I wanted to give you the truth, not just an eating plan I think would be easy to implement or monetarily benefits those who created it.

I believe even if you just start eating more nutrient dense foods in your daily diet, your health will thank you. It is all about taking that one step closer to a healthy life.

You do not have to give up your favorite foods with this diet. Over time on this diet your body will crave more of the healthy foods. It is all about taking small steps each day to eat more of the healthy foods and less of the unhealthy foods. This is one plan that we all can live by.

How do you start a Nutritarian Diet?

The key to setting yourself up for success with the nutritarian diet is to start out with small steps and working yourself up to eating a diet that is very high in nutrients.

  1. Learn more about the nutritarian diet by visiting www.eatrightamerica.com or www.drfuhrman.com. By reading up on this diet you will understand the basic way to make sure you are getting the biggest nutritional bang for your buck without skipping any vital nutrients from other food groups. Dr. Fuhrman has some really great books on the market that will help walk you through the ins and outs of eating in this healthy way which may be very foreign to the majority of us.
  2. Make a list of whole, plant based foods that you currently enjoy. There are many more out there than you think there are! Take a look at what you’re currently eating and write down what qualifies as a vegetable, fruit, nut, seed, or bean. Then, write down 10 foods that you wouldn’t mind trying. If you need help with this, get your free healthy grocery shopping list from my blog at http://www.AmberKeinath.com/your-free-gift-2.
  3. Find some plant-based recipes. Dr. Fuhrman includes some great ones in his books. Otherwise search around the internet and come up with some recipes that include mainly vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, or beans. A lot of vegetarian recipes fit into this diet. You probably already have some great recipes you are currently using for meals at home that could be considered vegetarian or fit with nutritarian diet.
  4. Plan a week’s worth of meals and make a grocery shopping list. You can get a FREE healthy food guide and healthy grocery shopping guide on my blog at http://www.AmberKeinath.com/your-free-gift-2.
  5. Clean the unhealthy foods out of your refrigerator and pantry.
  6. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy foods.
  7. Take one step in the healthy eating direction at a time! You don’t have to go extreme with this diet all in one day. Take it in small steps.

How do you start eating healthier today?

  • Green Smoothies
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Fresh Juices
  • Fruit and Vegetables for snacks
  • Trail mix for snacks
  • Salads with cooked vegetables and some nuts or beans for lunch
  • Eat more salad or vegetables with your dinner
  • Fruit for dessert
  • Use meat as a topping for your meal, not as your main dish
  • Decrease processed and packaged foods in your diet (including soup mixes)

With all the research that I have done about nutrition, I truly believe this reflects the nutritional research out there. This is why I am sharing this with you-so you can improve your health as well! Are you going to be playing tennis with me at 80 years old? I hope so!

For more information on the nutritarian diet visit these websites:
www.DrFuhrman.com
www.eatrightamerica.com

Books on the Nutritarian Diet by Dr. Fuhrman:
Eat for Health
Eat to Live
Nutritarian Handbook

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