An Interview with
Master of Fasting
Fasting holds fascination—and fear—for many people.
But it also provides some interesting potential opportunities for
plaque control and reversal. In particular, fasting may present a
chance for accelerated control, such as that at the very beginning
of your program.
So we went to an expert in fasting, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, to get his
take on just how fasting could benefit those of use with an interest
in plaque control and reversal. Dr. Fuhrman is author of the Bible
of fasting, Fasting and Eating for Health.
Dr. Fuhrman reports extraordinary results with fasting in those with
symptoms of heart disease. In Fasting and Eating for Health, he
“I find most patients who choose to get well via aggressive
nutritional approaches are angry that their other physicians did not
give them this option before they were told they must have bypass or
angioplasty. Patients must be given this choice of a very low-fat
vegetarian diet and fasting because it is safer, cheaper, less
invasive, and more effective at extending the patient’s life . . .
“Besides effectively lowering blood pressure, fasting removes and
softens the cholesterol plaque that lines the blood vessels. . .
Surgery, atherectomy, and angioplasty, the invasive approaches to
coronary artery disease, will always remain ineffective at
significantly extending life. This is because these procedures
address only the localized blockage. This small area of diseased
blood vessel, though it may be the source of chest pain, will not
necessarily be the area that causes death should a person suffer a
fatal heart attack. Concentrating on a localized area of coronary
artery narrowing in a body full of vessels with diffuse
atherosclerotic plaque is like trying to save a patient with
advanced metastatic cancer by removing one surgically accessible
“Fasting thins the blood and prevents blood clots, or thrombi.
Platelets do not clot as easily during fasting, and the ability of
the red blood cells to clump together is diminished. Therefore, the
fast quickly lowers an individual’s risk of a heart attack.
“The potential of a total fast (water only) to induce biochemical
changes within the body that prevent formation of a thrombus has
been well documented. (Muliar LA, Mishchenko VP, Loban GA,
Goncharenko LL, Bobyrev VN. Effect of complete fasting on the
coagulative and antioxidative properties of blood. Voprosy Pitaniya
1984;4:20–23.) In one such study a fast was undertaken by 22 normal
volunteers. The ability of their blood to clot and form a thrombus
under fasting conditions was extensively analyzed. Fasting was
discovered to lead to the reduction of blood plasma and red cell
coagulation, deterioration of platelet aggregation, a rise of the
oxidized hemoglobin content, and an increase in red cell resistance
to peroxide hemolysis. In short, fasting lowers the risk of
intravascular coagulation and thrombus formation.
“ Other studies have shown that after 36 hours of fasting there is a
significant increase in the fibrinolytic activity of the blood.
Fibrinolysis is the breakdown of clots. This activity continues for
24 hours after the fast is terminated (Miettinen M. Effect of
fasting on fibrinolysis and blood coagulation. Amer J Cardiol
1962;10:532–534. Menon IS. Fasting and non-fasting fibrinolytic
activity. Lab Prac 1967;16:469–470.”
Along with fasting, Dr. Fuhrman advocates a vegetarian approach to
diet, a nutrition program based on minimal to no processed foods (he
calls the nutrition advice of the USDA “a food pyramid that will
turn you into a dummy”) and high nutrient density. He defines
nutrient density as the concentration of phytochemicals,
antioxidants, and total vitamin and mineral content per calorie.
(The concept of nutrient density is detailed in Eat to Live, page
120, and is further developed in his new book, Eat for Health.)
Foods that are preferable in this approach include raw green leafy
vegetables like romaine lettuce, kale, spinach; solid green
vegetables like asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cucumbers, zucchini, and
peppers; non-green, non-starchy vegetables like eggplant, mushrooms,
onions, and tomatoes; beans and legumes. It also includes the lower
nutrient-dense whole grains barley, buckwheat, oats, brown and wild
rice, and quinoa, as well as raw nuts and seeds. Absent from his
program are meats (except small quantities of fish), dairy foods
including cheese, and added oils.
Dr. Fuhrman points to the life extending properties of such eating
habits as documented in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s China Study
(Campbell TC, Parpia B, Chen J. Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of
coronary artery disease: the Cornell China Study. Am J Cardiol
82(10B):18–21T) and the largely vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists
(Kahn HA, Phillips RI, Snowdon DA, Choi W. Association between
reported diet and all cause mortality: twenty-one year follow up on
27,530 adult Seventh-Day Adventists. 1984; Am J Epidemiol
119:775–787), as well as his own considerable experience.
Here, we pose a few questions to Dr. Fuhrman about fasting.
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Copyright 2008, Track Your Plaque.