Monday, October 24, 2011

Super Immunity!

Though I've never read his best-seller, Eat to Live, I'm somewhat familiar with Dr. Joel Fuhrman's work. To be honest, I've always shied away from reading his nutritional tome because I figured it'd be filled with accurate information about healthy eating that I really didn't want to hear. I'm no health food vegan, as you probably know by now.

And though I tend to stick to whole wheat pastry flour for baking, unrefined sugar or agave for sweeteners, and I avoid high-fructose corn syrup (most of the time), I still don't like to be told how to eat. I eat food because it tastes good. And while it feels good to eat healthy, I don't want to feel guilty every time I pig out on Daiya-covered pizza or make a rare run to Taco Bell for a "5-Layer" vegan burrito.

But the publisher of Fuhrman's new book, Super Immunity, offered to send me a free copy for review. And I can't turn down a free vegan cookbook. Plus, I figured the healthy info might come in handy after the holidays when I always go on my yearly cleanse to undo the fat damage of Xmas.

Super Immunity is Fuhrman's new guide to boosting the body's defenses against sickness through healthy eating, and he includes testimonies from patients who have literally turned cancer around through following his rules of eating a diet heavy on the raw and cooked veggies (especially greens), fruits, beans, and legumes. Whole grains and potatoes play a smaller role, and he says folks should rarely, if ever, eat eggs, oil, fish, dairy, beef, sweets, cheese, and processed foods.

I figure, as a vegan, I'm already doing pretty good with this. I was surprised to see that I'm kind of already following Fuhrman's plan, which he claims can prevent colds, flus, and cancers. My only weak spots are not eating as many veggies (he says veggies should make up 30 to 60 % of one's daily calories), eating too many grains, and enjoying the occasional processed food and/or sugar-laden dessert a few times a week.

I've already got a leg up on a lot of Fuhrman's intended SAD diet-following audience though. I can definitely start working in more veggies and, though I won't give up fake meat, oil, or desserts, I can try to reduce those things a tad bit. I'm gonna have to cool it on sweets for a bit anyway if I want to knock off the three pounds I gained in Portland in August.

In the back of Super Immunity, Fuhrman includes some delicious-sounding healthy recipes. I chose to try this Thai Longevity Stew:

It's a silky peanut stew with a crap-ton of veggies, like mushrooms, leeks, carrots, cabbage, and snow peas. I subbed a habanero pepper from my garden for the jalepeno in the recipe. So creamy and delicious. And I didn't miss the oil at all since the peanut butter adds fat and tastiness.

On the side, I made his Apple Bok Choy Salad:

Now, Fuhrman is no fan of oil, and though I don't totally agree with him on that one (he says it's just empty calories, I say it makes food taste better and isn't all that bad for you), I appreciate an oil-free dressing from time to time. That just means I can eat more calories somewhere else in the day. This dressing is made from raw cashews blended with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and plant milk (I used coconut). The salad is chopped bok choy, shredded apples, carrots, and onions.

Will I eat the Joel Fuhrman way everyday? Probably not. Okay, definitely not. But I'll try to work some of his principles in (especially that part about more veggies) where I can. And I'm thinking I might do a whole Eat to Live cleanse in January, but only for 30 days. I can't live without Gardein for THAT long, after all. If I had cancer or some life-threatening disease or if I was overweight, I might consider adopting this diet for real-real. But I'm pretty healthy just the way I am now. But it's nice to know I won't have to make too many changes to adopt a healthier diet.


Amber Shea @Almost Vegan said...

Eat To Live is a CLASSIC! I <3 it, though it IS quite hard to live that way 100% of the time, with all the amazing vegan junk options out there :P I haven't read this Super Immunity book though; I better add it to my list!

PaganAngel said...

I wasn't all that impressed with Eat to Live. While I do agree with his general philosophy, and I try to avoid processed foods, he takes it to an extreme using Asian studies which -may- relate, but may not.

Anything to an extreme without solid evidence is probably unnecessary and maybe dangeroius from my point of view--and he's extreme.

But I do agree, that if I had a serious illness, I'd probably be more willing to give his plan a shot. So far, though, my plan is working for me, and it more closely follows the advice of most dieticians.

trish said...

"If I had cancer or some life-threatening disease or if I was overweight, I might consider adopting this diet for real-real."

Totally agree. I gave up sugar for a while, and I often thought how easier it would be if I had a negative consequence when I ate it. Unfortunately, it tastes delicious and I don't have a sugar crash (that I notice), so I'm not motivated to give it up!

Thanks for a great review!

Rachel Fesperman said...

Bianca, Have you seen "Forks over Knives"? It's a newish documentary dealing with a lot of the same issues. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in food as a source for healthful living or as a medicine. Just from looking at Fuhrman's book on Amazon, I gather that there is a lot of overlap between his text and the film. You should watch it if you haven't already!

JohnP said...

Yeah, I think the whole ETL/Fuhrman thing is over to top. I read part of ETL, and put it down asking myself, "Does he like food?" That said, some people have come up with interesting/tasty ETL-inspired recipes. Sometimes, restriction of ingredients can fuel creativity. I can learn from them (just like I can learn from, say, macrobiotic or gluten-free people) without adopting (IMHO) a questionable dietary philosophy. Just my two cents.

Leslie R. said...

Those both look great. Eat To Live really changed my life a couple of years ago. Though I'm not as strict as I was during the initial "diet" phase, it has totally created a fresh-veggie based habit in my life. Yay!

Erin said...

I don't generally agree with diets that leave oil out completely, cause I agree with you that they serve a purpose in cooking and taste, but I always love the idea of a whole foods diet with tons of veggies. My biggest caveat is, ahem, alcohol.

Allysia said...

LOL Erin, me too! And I'm with you on the oil and fat - it's amazing what a difference just a little bit makes in terms of flavor. And I will never shy away from avocados or tahini.

That said, the subject of nutrition is pretty fascinating and I love learning about it. I think, though, that attitude has a huge impact on health as well - that it's really important to love what you're eating, to eat veggies because they're delicious and what your body needs, not because someone forces you to. Hope that makes some kind of sense.

Gena said...

I recently met Joel Fuhrman, and was remarkably moved when he told me he'd gotten a post-bacc at 29, too. It gives me hope that I'll survive this process :)

That said, I do agree about oils. They're not all created equal, first of all (a tsp of organic flax or hemp oil is not the same as a cup of conventional peanut or canola oil) and beyond that he, like others, uses Asian health studies that aren't necessarily prescriptive for US. That said, I do appreciate the general ethos, and admire the work!

Tanya said...

Looks like a good book! I too eat way too many grains. Grrrr, just when I think I'm eating healthy......