Wellness Foundation

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Past Press Clips

July 2011

Bad Food? Tax It and Subsidize Vegetables
A July 23 New York Times article about how taxing junk food and making healthy food more affordable would save millions of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs.

East Hampton Day Care Sprouts Farm Day
A July 14 East Hampton Patch video clip on Wellness Foundation's class for 3 and 4 year olds about whole foods and farming at the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center.

May 2011

East End Wellness Challenge
A May 15th News 12 Long Island video clip on the Wellness Challenge. Please click the link, and scroll down to: East End Wellness Challenge.

April 2011

Tots Learn to be Food Sleuths (.pdf)
An article about our Pre-K nutrition classes at the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center from The East Hampton Press, April 6, 2011

February 2011

Creating A Healthier School District from the Top Down
An article our Winter Wellness Challenge from the Sag Harbor Express, February 2, 2011

Inspired by Dr. Fuhrman's nutrition message: Food for Life Teaches Children and Families How to Enjoy Healthy Foods
An article about Wellness Foundations in-school "Food for Life" program, from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's "Disease Proof" Blog.

Summer 2010

Wellness Foundation will offer more for less this fall
An article on Wellness Foundation's fall programs from the East Hampton Press, September 24, 2010

Summer 2010

The Patron of Plants
An article from Edible East End's "Low Summer" 2010 issue

December 2009

Living La Vida Vegan
An article about reporter Jennifer Landes' Engine 2 Diet Challenge experience from the East Hampton Star, December 12, 2009

December 2009

East Hamptons Take on Vegan Challenge
An article about the Engine 2 Diet Challenge from the East Hampton Star, December 3, 2009

September 2009

Best-Selling Diet Book Author Comes to East Hampton
An article on the Engine 2 Diet seminar from the East Hampton Press, September 29, 2009

September 2009

Wellness Foundation Sponsors Seven-Week Challenge
An article on the "Engine 2 Diet Challenge" from the East Hampton Press, September 29, 2009

June 2009

Sharing the Good Life
An article on Wellness Foundation from the East Hampton Press, June 24, 2009

June 2009

Montauk Moorings
An article on Wellness Foundation and the Montauk Wellness Circle from the East Hampton Press, June 2, 2009

February 2007

Wellness Booster Takes Aim At Staying Fit
An article on Nutrition for Wellness Foundation from the East Hampton Star, February 1, 2007

January 2007

Unhappy Meals (.pdf)
by Michael Pollan
The New York Times Magazine, January 28, 2007

February 2006

Ten Reasons to Keep Eating Healthy Foods Despite Today's Headlines
by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD

Today's newspapers are blaring with crazy headlines. The New York Times, for instance, says that a "Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds."

I draws no such conclusions. "This study compared to groups that both ate unhealthy diets," he says. "Look closely and you will see that the researchers compared a typical, disease-causing American diet, with one that was just marginally better, but still terribly unhealthy."

According to the study's authors, the "low fat diet" they told the women in the study to eat is as follows:

...postmenopausal women in the intervention group were advised to reduce total fat intake to 20% of energy and to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 6 servings of grains daily; women in the control group continued their usual eating pattern. As it turned out, the women in the low fat group actually ate just about one more serving of fruit or vegetable per day, fell far short of the even the modest 20%-of-energy-from-fat goal, and consumed the same number of calories as the women who did not modify their diets. As Gina Kolata reports in The New York Times: In the first year, the women on the low-fat diets reduced the percentage of fat in their diet to 24 percent of daily calories, and by the end of the study their diets had 29 percent of their calories as fat. In the first year, the women in the control group were eating 35 percent of their calories as fat, and by the end of the study their dietary fat content was 37 percent. The two groups consumed about the same number of calories.

Preventing tough diseases like heart disease and cancer with diet requires an approach that is aggressive, multi-faceted, and nuanced. Dr. Fuhrman says research has already shown that simple interventions like those studied here are not effective: The studies published this week in JAMA are nothing new. Those who conducted those studies should already be aware of hundreds of others studies that demonstrate "low fat" is not the key factor in disease causation. High phytochemical intake, including critical antioxidants in (high-fat) nuts, seeds and avocados contain heart disease and cancer fighting compounds. Eating more low-fat foods such as egg whites, chicken, and pasta does not expose us to the disease-fighting compounds in berries, seeds, nuts, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes and carrots.

Here are ten reasons why it still makes sense to eat a diet rich in vegetables , fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds:

1. Fruits and vegetables are the right things to eat, and among the best things they could have studied. But an increase of roughly one serving of vegetables and fruits per day — which is what was found in the study — does little to ward off cancer or heart disease. As described on DiseaseProof yesterday, I advocate a diet in which vegetables are 30-70% of calories, and fruit is 20-50% of calories.

2. A fixation on fat content is misleading. I do advocate little to no animal fats or oils (including olive oil). The fat from nuts and avocados is healthy and necessary, and for most of my patients I do not restrict it.

3. In this study, participants were encouraged to eat more grains, when in my diet — largely to achieve the potent anti-cancer and anti-heart disease benefits — I advocate replacing grains with vegetables as the basis of the diet.

4. Children were not included in this study. As we have discussed in greater detail previously, the best way to see the effects of diet on cancer is to examine the diets of children.

5. Even with this non-optimal diet, this study did find a correlation between diet and breast cancer. As The New York Times reports: "The women on low-fat diets had a 9 percent lower rate of breast cancer; the incidence was 42 per thousand per year in women in the low-fat diet group, compared with 45 per thousand per year in women consuming their regular diet."

6. The most important factor in preventing heart disease is LDL cholesterol. In this study, minor dietary changes were studied and were found to make minor reductions in this all-important statistic. Imagine if they had studied serious dietary improvements.

7. Eating a diet heavy in bread, pasta, white meat, and processed foods can be low in fat, but is a very poor source of the micronutrition, especially phytonutrients, that contribute mightily to overall health. Many of the most important dietary interventions that we recommend were simply not studied.

8. The study was of post-menopausal women. The later in life they are started, the smaller effects dietary interventions can have.

9. Every time very healthy diets have been studied, they yield tremendous results. Consider these references, as well as this evidence about diet and cancer, and diet and heart disease . In addition, the anecdotal evidence of my 15-year medical practice shows that not one of my active patients has had a heart attack.

10. For you hardened skeptics: there is no downside whatsoever to eating healthy food like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Try it for six weeks. (The details are in Eat to Live) You'll feel great.

February 2006

Fat Does Matter
by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD

A study published earlier this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association — and widely heralded on the airwaves and in the headlines — purported to show that, as the New York Times put it, a "Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks."

The study, part of the Women's Health Initiative of the National Institutes of Health, followed nearly 49,000 women over eight years, and found that those prescribed a "low-fat" diet turned out to have the same rates of heart attacks, strokes and cancers of the breast and colon as those who ate whatever they wanted.

This is hardly the first time that thoroughly misleading conclusions have been drawn from research and proclaimed as gospel by our guardians of public health. It is no wonder that the American public is perpetually confused about dietary guidelines.

Almost buried in the reports about this latest, largest, most expensive study ever was this incredibly important fact: The women who were supposedly consuming a low-fat diet were actually getting 29 percent of their daily calories from fat.

For those on the front lines of nutritional research, that is not "low-fat" at all. It is somewhat lower in fat than the toxic diet consumed by the majority of Americans. But it is three times the level — around 10 percent of daily caloric intake — that Dr. Dean Ornish and other researchers strongly recommend to protect against heart disease and other maladies caused by nutritional extravagance.

The Women's Health Initiative study and the conclusions being drawn from it bring to mind an analogy. Suppose researchers were studying the following question: Does reducing vehicular speed save lives? They find that when a car strikes a stone wall at 90 miles an hour, all its occupants perish. The same result occurs when the car hits the wall at 80 mph, and at 70. Conclusion: Reducing speed doesn't save lives. (Meanwhile, everyone ignores a small study showing that in a crash at 10 miles per hour, everyone survives.)

So it is with heart disease. I have spent the past 20 years studying the effects of diet on health, and I believe without a shadow of a doubt that fat consumption does matter — that it is quite literally an issue of life and death. The importance of dietary fat is obvious if only we look at history — and beyond our own shores. Twenty years ago, the global distribution of heart disease was almost entirely limited to cultures consuming a western diet. The main difference between that diet and those of cultures where heart disease was unknown was the amount of fat it contained.

Cornell University Professor Emeritus Colin Campbell, an expert in biochemistry and nutrition, was the director of a twenty-year project that involved Cornell, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine — one of the most comprehensive studies of nutrition ever. In his 2005 book "The China Study," Campbell detailed his findings, which underscored what epidemiologists had found elsewhere. Residents of rural China, where heart disease is almost unknown, consume diets that are extremely low in animal protein and fat, and maintain cholesterol levels between 90 and 150 milligrams per deciliter — far lower than the American average of 200 mg/dL.

It was such findings that inspired my own research, beginning in 1985. With the help of the Cardiology Department at the Cleveland Clinic, I assembled a group of patients who were severely ill with triple-vessel coronary artery disease. Several of them were not expected to live another year.

I asked these patients to follow a plant-based diet, which holds their consumption of fat to about 10 percent of daily calories. Today, more than 20 years later, with only two exceptions, they are thriving. Their angina disappeared. Other symptoms — including impotence — abated. Angiograms confirmed that the progression of their heart disease had been arrested, even dramatically reversed. Arteries, once clogged, opened on their own. Heart muscle, once starving for lack of adequate blood flow, was re-infused with nutrients and oxygen. Over the years, I have seen these results repeated, time and time again.

The Women's Health Initiative researchers are quoted by The Times as saying that their results "do not justify recommending low-fat diets to the public to reduce their heart disease and cancer risk." True, they certainly do not justify recommending diets containing 29 percent fat, the level currently endorsed in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. But those of us who have been studying the matter already knew that. The Women's Health Initiative study simply confirms that the Guidelines are wrong: We should be recommending diets far lower in fat than those featured in this research. Heart disease need not exist, and if it does exist, it need never progress. It is time to get serious about abolishing it once and for all.

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Preventive Cardiology Consultant at the Cleveland Clinic, is at work on a book about heart disease that will be published in early 2007 by Avery Books.

February 2006

A Clear Case Against Moderation
John McDougall, MD

In the early 1990s, the founders of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study were guests on my syndicated radio show. During these interviews, and on many other occasions, I challenged Ernst Wynder, MD (now deceased) and Rowan Chlebowski, MD to teach the women in their study a meaningful diet — specifically, a very low-fat, plant-food-based, McDougall-type diet — so that when the day comes that the results are published the real benefits of healthy eating will be shown. Both insisted that the "moderate diet" they were using would be adequate. Twelve years and $415 million later, on Wednesday, February 8, 2006, news headlines about their research findings showed them wrong. Please understand that I take no joy in being right; rather I am saddened because now we all must live with the incorrect conclusions that diet cannot prevent cancer or heart disease.

The truth is, this study of nearly 50,000 older women, ages 50 to 79 years, has only reinforced the well-known fact that "skinning your chicken" and "drinking low-fat milk" is inconsequential. The Women's Health Initiative was not the first, nor is it likely to be the last, study to prove that what most people consider to be a "reasonable, moderate or prudent diet" is at best a trivial improvement over the disease-causing, standard American diet.

Proof that the low-fat diet intervention used in this study was ineffective is the report of an average of one pound (0.4 Kg) of weight loss after 8 years of dieting (compared to those not dieting). Furthermore, the women's blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and blood pressures hardly changed after all that effort. Their dietary histories revealed that even though the low-fat diet group received "an intensive behavior modification program that consisted of 18 group sessions in the first year and quarterly maintenance sessions thereafter," they continued to eat nearly the same amount of fiber, protein, red meat, chicken, fish, and grains. The addition of one more serving of fruits and vegetables daily may have accounted for the 9% reduction in breast cancer observed for the low-fat group.

People worldwide have been, and are still being, betrayed by investigators who spend taxpayer's dollars on useless dietary research — and they should not be forgiven because they have always known better. Since the 1950s studies have shown that the more plant-foods, and less processed and animal foods, populations consume, the less breast and colon cancer and heart disease they will develop. Furthermore, there is no "safe threshold" — in other words, the lower the fat intake, the less the cancer and heart disease. In fact, long before the Women's Health Initiative study was conceived, Dr. Ernst Wynder had published extensively on the benefits of the very-low fat (10%), almost vegetarian, Japanese diet for prevention and treatment of breast cancer. So why was a "moderate" diet, instead of the best one, tested?

My nearly 40 years of experience, working with hundreds of influential doctors and scientists, leads me to believe they have a very low opinion of patients and the public in general. They believe we are too stupid and too disinterested in our own welfare to make meaningful changes in our diet — specifically, to follow a plant-food based diet. When I suggest such powerful dietary changes, they respond with, "That's unreasonable; no one will follow a vegetarian diet." Even if they were correct, you and I still deserve to know the truth, so that this option for preventing illnesses and premature death is available to us.

The Women's Heath Initiative should be remembered as the study that inspired honesty in the scientific community and put an end to ineffective research using a "sensible diet." No longer should the excuse that people won't follow a truly healthy diet be accepted — we who do so know better. My sentiments about the "the failure of the low-fat diet" are succinctly summed up by this recent e-mail to me: "Please come out against this foolish study. I have become a low-fat vegan, and I have lost 30 lb. or so."

John McDougall, MD
McDougall Wellness Center
P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

February 2006

The Facts About Fat
by Dean Ornish, MD

In his debut column for Newsweek, nutrition expert Dr. Ornish explains why all low-fat diets are not the same: