Eat to Thrive


Eat to Thrive

Eat to Thrive


“When you take care of your physical health and your brain health with the right nourishments, the right nutrients and the right foods, then it gives you the ability to have more feelings and emotions for the outside world and things that are not you…. nature, people, animals.” -Dr. Joel Fuhrman

View Transcript

Ella Magers, MSW (02:33):

Welcome Dr. Fuhrman. So great to have you on the podcast.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (02:41):

Great to be here.

Ella Magers, MSW (02:42):

Yes. Such an honor to meet you. I feel like this has been a long time coming in my life and my career, so I really appreciate you taking the time and instead of diving straight in, I know we get doctors on the show and it’s like, oh, we just get right to the information. But I’d, I’d really love to do a little lightning round with a few questions that would help us just get to know you a little bit better, if that’s cool with you. Sure. Okay. You only get one for the rest of your life. Tofu or Tempe

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (03:14):


Ella Magers, MSW (03:16):

A quirk or a fun fact that most people might not know about you.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (03:26):

I fast. I water fasted a long time over a month when I was 20 years old.

Ella Magers, MSW (03:32):

Wow. Okay. I’m going to talk about that. What’s your morning routine?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (03:39):

I usually, on a nice day, usually wake up early and take my dog and we go garden and we go take care of the garden. Like digging holes in trees, putting fertilizing trees, working on a compost, the vegetable garden. I usually work like an hour and a half outdoors before the sun before it gets too sunny in the morning. Wow. With rain. This is rain right here, so you see. Can you see it? Oh, up, up, up. See?

Ella Magers, MSW (04:04):

Right. Oh my goodness. Girl, boy.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (04:07):

A girl,

Ella Magers, MSW (04:08):

She’s gorgeous.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (04:09):

She joins me in the morning, but she, she’s got a few, she injured her gorgeous face on a fire stick plant. Oh, she her nose, but it’s scard. Okay.

Ella Magers, MSW (04:20):

She’s beautiful.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (04:23):

Aran. She’s a boron

Ella Magers, MSW (04:25):


Dr. Joel Fuhrman (04:26):

B B E A U C E R O N. Boron.

Ella Magers, MSW (04:31):

Huh. Never heard of that.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (04:33):

I got to take, you got to go out, out barking.

Ella Magers, MSW (04:45):

I have a 16 year old rescue chihuahua, so a little smaller. What is maybe a pet peeve or something that you find kind of triggers you if anything? You got to have one

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (05:00):

Triggers me. I don’t really get triggered. You No, I know about. No, I can’t think of anything.

Ella Magers, MSW (05:17):

Okay, well I’ll share mine then because when I come out of yoga class and I think of triggers as teaching moments when you get triggered that says something about you. So I don’t know what this says about me, but coming out of yoga and going down the stairs and everybody whips out their phone and starts moving really, really slow because they’re already having to check their messages, not realizing there’s somebody behind them. So that’s my All right. What has you feeling especially inspired right now?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (05:53):

Especially inspired? Well, I’m going to say something quite ridiculous.

Ella Magers, MSW (06:01):

I love it,

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (06:02):

But I love to ski in powder. So the fact that we’ve had so many dumps of 600 inches of snowfall out west and I can go skiing every week and be flying down a mountain and soft fluffy snow that way has me, I love doing that.

Ella Magers, MSW (06:19):

That’s not ridiculous. That sounds awesome. I love it. All right, last one. What message would you put on a billboard for thousands of people to see every day

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (06:32):

Make salad the main dish.

Ella Magers, MSW (06:38):

I love that. All right, very cool. Well let’s get into it. You were 28 years old, if I’m correct, when you started medical school with the intention of specializing in nutrition. Is that right?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (06:50):

I think I might have been 29 or 30, maybe 29 I think when I started. Okay.

Ella Magers, MSW (06:56):

Can you share with our listeners kind of you, just your backstory as to how you became motivated to go that route?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (07:03):

I started back when my father was sickly and overweight and he started reading all of Dr. Herbert Shelton’s writings. He was like the founder of the American Natural Hygiene Society back in the 1950s. And I read, I thought he was crazy. My father was crazy at first, but I started reading all of Shelton’s works and getting involved with the American Natural Heightened Society, seeing the benefits people were getting to living that he very natural lifestyle. So that became the, and then when I finished my ice skating career, because I was in the world team in figure skating and then I left my left skating where I was teaching skating, but really working in my family business, which was my father had 10 shoe stores in the New York York area and I realized that my real passion was nutrition and the fact that nutritional excellence could enable people to reverse disease.


And I met my wife then when I was in my mid twenties and we started dating and she was going to medical school or she was applying to medical school and I said, oh, I would probably like to go to medical school, but it’s too late for me. I’m thinking about it, but it’s too late. Cause I always graduated from college as a business, an economics major. I don’t have the pre-med requirements. She’ll cease said, if you’re so passionate about that, why don’t you just drop your father’s business and go back to the postgraduate pre-med pro one of these postgraduate pre-med programs and get all your courses you need and go back to medical school. Why do you do what you’re going to be the most passion? Don’t give up. Cause you didn’t take the courses, just go take the courses and quit. Quit the shoe business. So we got engaged, I quit the shoe business and went back to the postgraduate pre-med program at Columbia and I then applied to medical school and went to Penn and as he said, it was 20. By that time I was already 29 years old.

Ella Magers, MSW (08:48):

So I didn’t know that, I didn’t that part of the story that it was your wife who kind of helped you make that shift and go that route. That’s really awesome.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (08:58):

I was thinking about it, but I thought it was too difficult that I couldn’t do it. It was too late already. It was too old. I didn’t take the right courses.

Ella Magers, MSW (09:05):

Yeah. Wow. That’s great. I love that. Okay, I’d actually, before we’d dive into the nutritarian diet and kind of get into some specifics around nutrition, I’d actually love to zoom out and look at the big picture in terms of the effects of nutrition on our society as a whole, as something that really interests me. I think it’s something that we don’t talk about enough and it’s something that you wrote a book on the fast food genocide and I’d love it if you could share about how nutrition affects people mentally and emotionally and how that may be a contributing factor to the hostile, I mean possibly the hostile political climate in this country today.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (09:50):

Absolutely. And what you just said, I support wholeheartedly with that viewpoint. What happens is that, you know what? My dog is being annoying. If you don’t mind, let me just put him Yeah,

Ella Magers, MSW (10:03):

Yeah, take your time.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (10:04):

She doesn’t doesn’t bother us. One second. Yeah,

Ella Magers, MSW (10:06):

No worries.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (10:46):

Sorry. Let’s start that again. Sometimes.

Ella Magers, MSW (10:49):

Oh good.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (10:50):

She gets an eating. I have to put her in out of the house.


Okay. So yes, I agree wholeheartedly, but the point you just made that we know that what you eat doesn’t just age and deteriorate your body, but it ages and affects your brain strongly. And that there’s a link between poor nutrition and A D H D, lack of concentration, reduced intellectual and economic achievement and depression and anxiety, and particularly the propensity to violence and anger as well. So let’s just review a couple of these things. Number one, there’s a dose-dependent relationship between depression and the consumption of fast food and commercial baked goods like donuts and cookies, white bread, white, even these empty calorie high sugar foods. And let’s understand the basis here that white flour is a sugar equivalent. There’s no biological difference than white bread in a sugar cube, when you’re eating white bread, you’re just eat eating take might as well be taking a spoonful of sugar in your mouth cause you’re getting glucose into the bloodstream with no significant micronutrient load.


They both have a very high glycemic load and therefore these, the sugar rush of the bloodstream affects an ages brain cells and cause destruction of brain cells. At the same time, the high level of sugar in the bloodstream stimulates the dopamine centers in the brain that the areas that are stimulated by narcotics are opiates and you get dopamine dependent and dopamine insensitive. In other words, you require more a larger rush of calories and your body becomes, you could say intolerant of low caloric eating, you start to only feel normal if you have high caloric eating. You have to keep the body flooded with extra calories that drives addict, an addictive personality who then becomes more agitated if they don’t reach a high caloric load. In other words, you have a meal and an apple for dessert wouldn’t satisfy you. It’s not concentrated calories enough. You need to have chocolate bars dates, you know, need to have something heavier like some candy or ice creamer.


You can’t bread or bagels or pizza or burgers or you need something with a bigger caloric ru rush. So we’re talking about the glycemic caloric rush, but there’s also a fat caloric rush you get from oils and fried foods as well because oil, because nuts and seeds are in or avocado or a natural fatty food that’s fatty, but those calories enter the bloodstream, those fat calories enter the bloodstream too slowly, like one or two calories a minute. You can’t get the hundreds of calories in the bloodstream in a few minutes unless you put oil on. The food of fried foods are some kind of fatty thing. So the combination of the flood of calories in the bloodstream, it makes people addicted to this high caloric rush and then they feel agitated or even withdrawal depression. If they don’t get that caloric rush in their brain, then that’s why the whole population is overweight because they don’t feel normal as they overeat calories because they’re so addicted to that.


But I’m saying that even two servings of commercial baked goods are fast food a week is linked to doubling your lifetime risk of depression. And most, and that’s dose dependent mean the more servings and the more episodes you have of unhealthy eating, the more higher your link, higher your risk. But it means that almost everybody are, most people in America, because their diet is so poor are chronically dysthymic. And the word disty means they’re not depressed where they can’t get out of bed and work, but they’re just not really passionate about living or enjoying their life. They’re kind of like living for their addiction. In other words, they live to make money so they can spend it and drink and eat and eat and iib in stimulating and self-destructive behaviors that keep their brain stimulated because they have a heightened need for stimulation. And this broad spread nutritional deficiency leads to increased anger and the inability of the brain to brain to lose its creativity and ability to think logically.


And so what I’m saying right now is that yes, when you are a food addict or an alcoholic or a drug addict, but the example would be like a heroin addict would be the biggest example. You could see the extreme and we could see to a lesser degree it happens in less lesser forms of addiction. But to the extreme, a drug addict can like cheat or steal or kill, do anything rob people do anything lie just to get their fixed because the only thing matters to them is they’re fixed and they’re narcissistically consumed with their own life and the brains need for illicit sub for this stimulating substances. But to a lesser degree, other addictions, including food addictions work the same way. And food addictions are the number one cause of death in the modern world is of food addiction and people overeating unhealthy calories.


So why would people self-destruct with food? Why would they impair their own health and take risks with their own one body they have in their life? And the reason they have to take that risk and is because they’re no longer in control of the bank, they lost the keys to the bank because the primitive brain’s desire to for its addictive needs overwhelm your rational brain. So why can a person smoke cigarettes when they know it’s bad for them? Because the primitive brain will rationalize well, the need for nicotine is so strong that the primitive brain will say, oh, I’ll quit. One might get pregnant, I’ll quit eventually. If you had the stress in your life that I have in my life, you’d be smoking too. You come up with all of these IR irrational reasons and the stresses, the addictions themselves are contributory to the cause of stress.


People think the addictive substances is relieving their stress. That’s the excuse that the primitive brain gives. But in reality, it takes people’s ability to control their own life, the addictions control the decision making and make them more distant from relating to people and more less caring, less feeling, less creative and less compassionate because you’re more concerned with meeting the primitive brain’s need for addictive stimulation. And we’ve got a whole population of people that are less caring, less feeling, less compassionate, less consideration of other, of the benefits of future of our children and grandchildren of take protecting the planet. And we just have, people want instant gratification. They want for their own selfish narcissistic needs. They want power and they want to continue their addictive behaviors that are impart, that are hurtful to other people, but also hurtful to themselves as well. And a good example I gave in my book Fast Food Genocide was after the Civil War when black Americans were set free, they had access to and started and knew about growing vegetables and they started to advance up the economic ladder and succeed.


And many white Caucasians that were still eating the 3M diet of molasses meats and pork and maze or corn products were niacin deficiency now had niacin deficiency. And that in those days they didn’t know it was niacin deficiency. They called the disease, it was still called pellagra. They thought it was a genetic disease and it made people prone to violence and anger and suicidal and homicidal behavior. And it was contributory to the lynching of blacks in the south where blacks were attacked. And it was for contributory to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan and their activity with attacking and violence. And instead of attacking, they formed groups to attack other people. Of course, people with different skin color. But the point I’m making is that it wasn’t till about 1915 when an American physician, so we’re talking about all those years, they thought this with genetic differences and it was a genetic disease. It wasn’t until about 1915 when an American physician discovered it was due to a nutritional due lack of vegetables in the diet. And we started growing and feeding green vegetables to people in prison. They found they became less violent, less angered, less chance of recidivism. They could set some of these people, a lot of these people free from prison because they weren’t violent criminals anymore when they were able to eat vegetables.


So we’re seeing a lot of this today. There’s broad sp bad, subtle and more aware. We’re more aware of broad spread nutritional deficiencies. We have food deserts and we have people of all backgrounds, colors and types who are eating poor nutritionally deficient diet and they’re not reaching their genetic potential or their human potential. It’s their human potential, their ability to have compassion, kindness, creativity and intellectual thinking with logic and weighing evidence has been lessened by their poor diets. And in the south of the United States where you have the highest rates of, you can say heart attack rates, stroke rates, cancer rates, obesity, diabetes, but also the worst economic achievement, lower happiness quotient, higher murder rate, and higher weight of depression as well. So we have more mental illness and lack of lowering and lower happiness quotient in areas that have worse food habits. And we have tremendous differences in cancer rates between, let’s say a woman living in Boulder, Colorado versus living in New Orleans. You have doubled the cancer rate down and because she has a different nutritionally environment there. So it’s complicated but it’s the same time. Everything in our political and social and world is complicated and there’s so many things, factors interwoven. It’s hard to get solved problems because obviously for a lot of these reasons and the social norm in this country, in the western world is to sell, abuse your body with processed foods and join the rest of the social norm in using food as a stimulant, as an addictive substance.

Ella Magers, MSW (20:55):

This is so fascinating and what’s interesting to me, and I’d just like to touch on this, is that in this day and age, there’s so much more awareness and there’s so much more access to information about nutrition and about the effects and all of this is out there now and yet we’re continuing to decline and I feel like we’re in this horrendous situation right now and it’s very much systemic. How do you feel about being hopeful about the future and where are we going with this? And if awareness is not going to do it and this all the money involved in animal agriculture and the subsidies and all of this that creates this perfect storm, what can we, listening to this podcast and influencers and people that are wanting to make changes above and beyond themselves, what do we do?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (21:53):

I don’t know the answer to that question. And what we’ve seen in recent times is the power of the masses to deny reality and to live in a dream world of negativity and nonsensical thought patterns, especially you know, have this promoted by Fox television and things we’re talking about the era of Trump and the insurrection and he lost the election and people who have 30% of the population still support that, those viewpoints. And so we’re saying it’s very difficult for us people to come together in the modern world with collective intellectual honesty and not look for personal gain power and promote things that are improper to people who have got damaged brain from eating, eating unhealthfully, got limited ability to and they’re able to and they’re too easily led into. So I don’t know what the future’s going to bring.

Ella Magers, MSW (22:55):

Where’s your crystal ball mis, where’s your crystal ball?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (22:59):

It’s kind of scary because we’re not all working together with our best minds and most compassionate and creative individuals to solve the problems of the modern world, which are many. And we still have people killing each other in Ukraine of hundreds of thousands of people on each side that are killed. And you think about hundred thousands of people killed, you also think about hundred thousand people that are maimed and physically and mentally destroyed and their whole families destroyed. So we still have so much crazy behavior in modern world we think would be gone by now. We’ve solved these issues, these easy to solve things by now. These are so simple to solve unless when you have irrational, narcissistic and damaged brains running the modern world, really, really unfortunate.

Ella Magers, MSW (23:52):

Well I think and what we’ll focus on for the majority of the rest of this interview is about how to eat and become aware enough to become the best versions of ourselves and to be able to move through the world and show our compassion and shine our lights on others and do our peace in that way by being as healthy holistically as possible is the best way I know how at this moment. Any thoughts on that?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (24:25):

Yes. Well I’m agreeing with what you’re saying as well now as well because these things are interwoven. Like we’re saying right now is when you take care of your physical health and your brain health with the right nourishments and the right nutrients and the right foods, then it gives you the ability to have more feelings and emotions for the outside world and things that are not you. And it gives you the ability to relate to people on a deeper level and feel for them in a way that has not kindness, but also you have more feelings for the clouds and nature and people and animals and you have more happiness in your life because you have more, you’re passionately connected to things outside of yourself and it’s not just all about you meeting your need to snort cocaine or to or to go to the bar or to eat bagels and french fries and burgers and pizza.


It’s not all about your addictive needs. Your life becomes more complex, more and more subtly intertwined with nature in a way that is good for the soul and makes you a happier more content individual. So I’m saying your health is wrapped up with your contentment and your emotional satisfaction in life. And it works the other way too because the more content you are at life, the more you can eat healthy. You’re not relying on food addiction is your only means of sustaining your pleasure in life, the more your life becomes less ability. So it’s all intertwined to a degree when people come to our retreat here in California to get to lose weight and get well from serious illnesses or food addiction, that’s what we’re teaching them. It’s not all about the food because some people learn about the right way to eat, but if they go home and they’re still thrust themselves in this sociological cesspool of trying to impress other people and go after power and self and getting gratification from other people’s approval of you, you’re looking, we’re socialized to try to impress other people, go after their approval, have the best, I don’t know, whatever you’re trying to give you are all through life.


You’re your student, you’ve got the best scores in school, get to the best college, look the best clothing, look the best, get the best in sports, have the best watch, have the most fancy whatever you’re trying to do. You’re trying to impress other people. And then when you try to change your diet to be healthy, you’re not going to impress other people because other people are going to be frustrated with you. You’re not going to and they’re going to be critical of you because you’re not going to be part of their group and you’re going to make them feel uncomfortable. So they’re going to give you some degree of subtle criticism and ostracize you from the your social connected network. And then people are going to fail on their healthy eating diet because they’re still busy looking for the approval of other people. Like you said before, you made this very impressive statement, you said something about having that glow to radiate sunshine or radiate a good feeling of goodwill to others and you’re saying yes, if they can leave with that new type of personal goal to get satisfaction, instead of trying to impress other people, you know, don’t care what they think of you, you just ask yourself, well how can I have creative goodwill for this person?


So instead of trying to look for their approval, you don’t have to go after their approval because you have enough approval of yourself when you’re just trying to do something good. Even if they don’t approval of you, you don’t need their approval. So the person says, oh, if I had to eat that way, I’d rather be dead. Who wants to live on carrots and celery the rest of your life? Just shoot me right now. I’d rather die


Then you’re not interested. You’re not saying it’s thinking, oh how I got to like this person’s really insulting me, I got to respond back with some retort to put them. You don’t get, you’re only interested. Okay, so how can I show this person some love that I care about them and that with the possibility of having some positive effect in their life and it doesn’t have to have a positive effect in their life, it just has to have a possibility of having a positive effect on your life for you to leave the situation without feeling okay with yourself. And that helps people dealing with the reality when they feel outside of the group or ostracized when they’re eating healthy and everybody else is imbibing in unhealthy substances and your self or you are practicing self-destructive behaviors, eating behaviors.

Ella Magers, MSW (28:39):

Well let’s keep going on that route. It was one of the questions I had for you is what do you say to people who claim I’d rather enjoy my life and get pleasure from food and die early than? So that was totally one of my questions, but I’d love to go down the route how you help people at the Eat to Live retreat center make that shift mean. We always hear you talking about the nutrition piece and yes, that is huge and we could talk about that. You’ve talked about that 5 million times over. I’m really interested to hear how you kind of bring that all together at your center to help people get to a place where they can go home and continue to eat in those ways and kind of shift the lens in how they see the world and how they move through the world.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (29:27):

Absolutely. Because all of us, we’re all striving to to sleep better and to you could say, have our bowels and our digestive tract work well, having our brain work well so and more be more physically active and be able to have more full lives. We’re pursuing pursuits that we’re passionate about and achieve more and continue our intellectual growth and our emotional growth. And we’re trying to do all those things simultaneously at the retreat here. As people are getting well from their physical ailments and their diabetes are going away, blood pressure is coming back to normal, they’re able to think more clearly. They always say the brain fog lifts and even people are forced to come here. Their family has made them come here because they’re sick and a 20 year old girl or who’s like parents are forcing her to be here because she’s was 380 pounds and she doesn’t want to be here and she wants to get out of here because there’s no way she’s going to live this way after being she was.


So after being here a month, she sees the transformation in not just her physical self but her emotional and mental self concentration, brain fog. You think clearly and you can really get through to these people. So when they’re here, by the way, this person I’m referring to lost 80 pounds when she was here. So she left under 300 pounds and she came at three 80, but the year she was home, she continued to lose another a hundred pounds because what she learned here, she was able to continue to live that way, which she never would’ve considered that if she didn’t spend those three months here. So we’re what we’re trying to do here, we have, we’re certainly teaching people exercises that will prevent them from tripping and falling as they age and breaking a hip because we’re looking about their future proprioception and balance exercises.


We’re having them, we’re, we’re trying to address things that will affect them positively, including how to maybe gardening too because gardening makes people live longer. That connection with and gardening in groups and now those things are really important and how you look at your life and look at yourself in a matter to get pleasure internally and get an emotional internal pleasure in how you deal with the outside world. Meaning a way of a mindful way of thinking. We’re mindfully appreciative of the beauty in natural foods and how we’re not thinking of our deprivation and how much we’re losing. We’re thinking of all the incredible way we can make natural foods taste great and the beauty and we are able to see inside the food and see what the beauty that’s in there and also of course use what we’re learning to appreciate the outside world, the world that’s not our own self and use that to appreciate the people around us too and more, be more interested in having a good effect on other people as a means of bettering our own interest in our life and our own passion for living and our own creativity also.


And when people feel it can be a better musician, a better artist, a better writer, a better architect, a better teacher, anything they can do there. They can be better at doing whatever they want to do and be a better person for people they communicate with. And being able to be a better role model and a better aid in what and to how they react to react to other people. And all these things contribute to this feeling of accomplishment they get when they leave here. And that’s, and all these things that we work on enable them to stay on a program when they leave. And that’s why I don’t have a retreat where people come for a week or two and you don’t feed them just sprouts or just fast them because they, number one, they can’t maintain that when they leave. And number 1, 2, 2, when you restrict calories that much to go after such a rapid response, then it leads to more obsessive behavior in the brain and people bounce back and go the other way to when the metabolic rate is so slow, they binge on food, they gain the weight back, they don’t stay on the program.


We’re trying to teach people yes, to get excellent results but not so restrictive in calories that they can’t, we’re not fasting them if they’re overweight in food addicts, we want them to learn the program. They can continue to repeat and learn how to do this. They can do it when they go home the same way and continue the two to three pounds of weight loss per week when they go home. So they can lose a hundred pounds in a year when they leave. If they lose for the first 50 here, they know how to do it and they just understand exactly what they have to do and how to live this way and then they can go home and replicate that. And that’s why all the cocaine rehab centers and all successful rehab centers recommend people stay two to three months, preferably a 90 day stay.


And we don’t allow people to come in for less than 30 days because the chance of recidivism is too high. 30 days is the minimum, but I like people rather people come for two or three months because that’s when we really can impact them long-term with the highest degree, with the highest amount of long-term results, highest probability of long-term successful results. And so it’s a lot of training people have to go through and as you probably know, the longer you’re away from your illicit love affair you have with these addictive self-destructive substances, the less they’re calling your name and then there’s less you need them and you taste buds and taste muscle cha change and your food preferences change. So all that ties into wanting people to wanting to change permanently for the rest of their life. And so that’s why I opened this place because there’s no place people could go where they can really, you can go for a week or two like this, but there’s no place people can go for this long length of time and really train theirselves and so they can succeed in the outside world.

Ella Magers, MSW (34:56):

That’s so beautiful. I love how you’re connecting all the dots and kind of putting those puzzle pieces together and the mindfulness piece is so important and takes so much practice when you’re used to just shoveling food in your mouth and not paying attention and just moving through the world without really noticing what’s happening and how that can lead to a sense of fulfillment and to pay attention and go home and be able to see life completely differently. It’s such a gift. Awesome. Alright, let’s talk about new church.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (35:28):

It’s a gift. It’s a gift for myself and my wife as well because we develop relationships with people that come here for longer periods of time and they are grateful for the work we’re doing and we’re grateful for the opportunity and their trust they placed in us and we developed these friends from all over the world, which is really neat.

Ella Magers, MSW (35:45):

And you live like your home is on the property, is that or close right next door. Right next door.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (35:50):

Yeah, I have, there’s a wall and a gate between us, but that’s about it.

Ella Magers, MSW (35:54):

And your light, your face lights up when you talk about that. I can just,

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (35:58):

And I have 140 exotic fruit trees too on the premises.

Ella Magers, MSW (36:02):

Tell us about the gardening and when you got into that and how that’s kind of grown, that it’s part of this whole center.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (36:12):

Yeah, it’s like a retirement project. One of my dreams because when I lived in New Jersey, I still had a greenhouse and a lot of plants and I had a vegetable garden, I had peach trees and I tried to go apricots. There’s not cherries, maybe not as successfully as I can do now, but I still grew stop. So I still enjoyed that most of my life. But now that I have all these acres and this incredible climate, I can grow mangoes and bananas and dragon yellow, dragon fruit and yellow passion fruit and atomos and shemos and papayas. And I just have and persimmons and I peaches and apricots. The apricots when you taste or figs, I have like 24 fruit tree fig trees alone and oh my god. Anyway, cots and I have different types of figs that in a different parts of the months and the years, but I also have a lot of fruit that comes in. And I have season, I have a lot of orange trees and qua trees, but I also, I don’t know if you know those red dragon fruit and yellow dragon fruit and the yellow dragon fruit is sweeter than the red, but still I

Ella Magers, MSW (37:14):

Didn’t know

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (37:15):

That the red is better than the white, but the right yellow’s better than the, anyway, so you’re even able to grow foods that you can’t get in stores. And the difference between a fig that ripens on a tree that a person could buy in a store that was picked unripe is not even, or an apricot or a peach that you actually allowed to, or a nectarine that was fully ripened on the tree. Just so I get such a kick out of this because it’s so much fun to be able to, so I’m doing composting and worm composting and I built make my own compost piles and I then dig donut rings around the trees and remove some of the clay pour soil and it’s good exercise digging these big holes and filling it with the compost I made and then mixing that with a little dirt with the dirt in some of the clay and putting it back in the hole again. So I, as the feeder roots grow out, they’re growing into better and better soil widening the nutrition that the trees can access. And I have vegetable gardens with asparagus and Bach cho and tomatoes and peas and other things that we enjoy. I grow whatever I enjoy to grow and I’m enjoy and I’m growing what I feel like I want. So it’s a fun hobby for me.

Ella Magers, MSW (38:22):

It sounds like a huge hobby though. That’s a lot. Do you have a whole team that takes care of this or, I mean that seems like so much. It’s mostly my mouth is watering too, because it sounds so delicious.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (38:33):

I have a gardener who comes two times a week, two full days a week to work on the grounds. But I’m the one taking care of the fruit trees and the vegetable garden. He’s just taking care of the whole grounds, making it look okay. But I’m usually the one myself and maybe some people help me, friends, guests help me somehow.

Ella Magers, MSW (38:54):

I was wondering if a guest would want to help you out. Yeah. Do you think that’s something that most people, like for example, I live in Miami Beach and I’m in a condo, so I’ve thought about getting maybe a vertical garden and do you know also about hydroponics? Is there the same nutritional value when you’re growing something with water than with soil? I’m curious about that. Do you know? No,

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (39:19):

It’s still good for you to have those foods, but it’s not the same thing as having food grown in regenerative organic soils that are made of organic matter, like compost with the worms and the fungi and the bacteria and the insects and all the accessory nutrients that bacteria products produce in the soil. Complete microbiome of the soil that enhances the penetration of various phytochemicals in the food. So I think we have evidence that the food is better quality and I’m, there’s very few people in the world that understand this concept of the better the soil, the better the food and the better the food, the better the health and people eating all kinds of junk food and garbage. But I’m talking about even having better quality vegetables than worse quality vegetables. And people better off just eat any quality, any quality vegetable, any vegetable at all is better than what they’re eating. And I’m taking it to such a higher degree where we’re trying, talking about the enjoyment of making really quality soil and having a vegetable be even better for you, better tasting and growing even better. And so there’s other people who were into this, but not a lot of physicians for sure. For sure.

Ella Magers, MSW (40:31):

Definitely not. Well, I’m curious on the same track. For a long time I was kind of antis supplement myself. I was, as long as I’m eating a variety of whole plant foods, given the state of our soil today and the depleted soils that produce is being grown in, how do you feel about our ability if we’re not growing ourselves and using compost and making sure that the soil is quality, do you think we’re still able to get what we need, even besides maybe b12, but what are your thoughts on an increased need to supplement in our diet based on just the quality, the lack of quality of soil?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (41:17):

I don’t see it. I don’t see it that way because we certainly extending human lifespan and with this opportunity we have to eat a wide variety of healthy plants. But the human body, but what we’re missing or the nutrients that we’re not getting optimally are the nutrients that are found and more readily absorbed from animal products. So as we move more plant-based, we get most of these phytochemicals and antioxidants that extend our lifespan slow aging. But the question is, what are we missing from the animal products, not from the soil. Because in the main two nutrients we’re missing, the main three are b12, zinc and D H A E P A. So zinc is more readily absorbed from animal products, not from better soils. And zinc, we absorb less zinc as we age. And zinc supplementation is linked to lower rates of pneumonia and cancer and more neurologic health and later life.


Same thing with b12. Well if you’re not washing the food well from, but still B12 are predominantly accessed to more animal products. So and then seafood and small animals like lizards and frogs and snakes, eating those lizards, frogs, snakes and snails and worms and seafood. We give us more D H A and E P a exposure. So instead then we’re concerned about that because I’m saying that the achilles heel of a plant-based or vegan diet is that people can develop neurologic deficits in later life, particularly Parkinson’s and dementia. And there’s a, there’s a huge amount of evidence that a low omega-3 index is linked to shorter lifespan and increased immunosenescence and neurologic senescence as well as well, which means a faster aging of the brain and faster aging of the immune system when your omega-3 index is low. And so we’re saying what’s better now?


Is it better to east eat more fish to get some extra D H a or is it better to take an algae of vegan D h A supplement? And we’re saying, well, with the even eating fish once a week or so is not as I personally think right now with the pollution and the exposure to the bloom of nitrogen runoff, the and the toxins that are ingested in seafood and the amount of cases of neurologic disease, we’re seeing around people who eat more fish that it’s better that we seem that it’s better to protect and enhance human longevity by being predominantly vegan and using animal products. None or more occasionally. So don’t become a sufficient source of D H A, zinc and b12 and then those things become what are important to supplement. And some people need to supplement iodine and vitamin D too, but it’s not the soil that gives us the lack.


The soil is lacking the phytochemicals that protect against cancer and slow aging, but it’s still not going to give us those nutrients that are better absorbed from animal products. Iron, heme, iron you get from meats and animal products is an oxidant and not favorable. It’s better to be low in I to be have normal rates and get most of our iron from plants. However, there are some individuals who do need more iron because they don’t absorb iron as well or their menstrual bleed isn’t met by the abortive capacity and that the need for iron is determined by a blood test called ferritin. The ferritin blood test, for example, your ferritin’s below 40, then you need to supplement with iron. And still then it would be better to supplement with iron to your individual need determined by the blood test rather than just add, eat red meat for iron.


Again, it’s better to supplement with the iron because you’re not using a heme iron, you’re not getting other negatives of eating red meat to get the iron. The same thing, which rather take a vegan d HHA supplement than you all get the negatives of trying to eat so much fish. Right. But I think this modern advancements in nutritional science that all these studies we have over the last five years have really pinpointed how we can maximize human lifespan, prevent disease at the same time protect our brain to where we have a full mental faculties till we’re a hundred years old. And I’m saying right now that lifespan should, the normal lifespan for humans should be between 97 and 107 years old where the average American of under the age of 80. So we’re talking about a major difference in lifespan and healthspan because even though people are dying around age 80, they have decreased intellectual and physical capacity in the years in the decades before they die. And now we can live 20 years longer without losing our physical or mental powers. So then we have 30 years of healthy lifespan we can protect ourselves towards and it’s really worth it, especially when we could be happier and enjoy living this way.

Ella Magers, MSW (46:01):

Got it. So just to kind of sum this up, in terms of supplementation, taking a D h A d H A E P, a algae-based supplement is recommended, a B12 and a zinc,

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (46:16):

Those are the minimum, but some people require Ivan and vitamin D. I have supplements where I give them what a vegan would normally require or what a healthy eater would require to make sure they’re getting everything. If they were eating more abundance of more animal products, what would be missing? And not to bring them up to levels that are too high, but just the optimal sweet spot in the middle. And the same thing to the, I want people to be clear about this, that it’s the omega-3 index above five that we’re striving for to eat to achieve optimal brain health. And some people on plant-based diets may achieve a level like that genetically. They may produce, they may convert a l a from flax seeds, walnut, and we vegetables into sufficient E P A and D H a. But that’s a minority of people. Got it.


The majority of individuals don’t convert it as well. Even if they eat more walnuts, even if they eat more flax seeds and take away the oils and you omega six fats and they try to adjust their diet to produce as much, most people still can’t get the level above five without supplementation. Got it. Got it. And we don’t want to make sure people make the mistake of thinking they’re okay based on some misinformation or philosophical religious, like fervent for their vegan diet. They should actually measure it with a blood test to make sure you’re not iron deficient, you’re not B12 deficient and you’re not D H A deficient. We want to make sure you’re perfect and not take chances with people’s lives.

Ella Magers, MSW (47:42):

Got it. Understood. All right. Just a couple more things that may be a little controversial because you just mentioned oil. I know your Stan on oil that no oil is the best way to go. There’s no point in taking the non-nutritive fat out of a olive and eating that when you could eat the whole olive. Is there any room for wiggle room when it comes to olive oil? Just this seems to be something still that’s a very sticking point. Dr. Kahn, for example, Joel Kahn, he is an advocate for olive oil. So I’m just curious,

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (48:18):

Is he, I didn’t know that

Ella Magers, MSW (48:20):

He is. I just interviewed him last week and he said, I know this is going to be controversial, but I mean he was talking about putting olive oil in coffee and that I just can’t understand. But yeah, he’s like, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. Everyone else is wrong.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (48:36):

Well, I

Ella Magers, MSW (48:37):

Had to bring it up.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (48:39):

I don’t think that that’s possible to believe that because the question is what’s Dr. Kahn’s body fat and what’s the person’s and what is this individual’s body fat who’s using the oil? We’re talking about adding the fattening food to your diet when you’re already overweight, which is going to prevent you from losing weight. So certainly if you, LeBron James or Djokovic, if you’re world class athlete and you want to have a little oil in your food cause you’re burning it up on the court or burning it, burning up so much exercise and you still have a body fat for a male below, below 13% then have a little bit of oil. But still it’s not going to be as healthy if you had most of your fat from nuts and seeds of course, but, but for most Americans don’t, they’re not LeBron James and Novik Djokovic who are playing, who are active physical athletes.


So they’re people who are overweight with high body fat percentages. And for those people with high body five percentages pouring fat on their food is shut, is going to stop people from losing weight. And I don’t know that there’s any nutritional scientists or legitimate longevity experts in the world who are suggesting it’s better to be fatter or have more fat on your body. It’s better to have lower body fat. We’re saying optimal longevity occurs with a female body fat below 25% and a male body fat below 15%. And this oil is not going to achieve that. And I don’t want to be too critical of Dr. Khan, cause he is a friend of mine. Yeah,

Ella Magers, MSW (49:59):

I love Dr. Khan.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (50:00):

I’m going to have to say.

Ella Magers, MSW (50:05):


Dr. Joel Fuhrman (50:06):

The point is, I’m

Ella Magers, MSW (50:06):

Poke the fire.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (50:08):

I’m 69 years old, I’m going to be 70 and I still have a six pack and my body fats around 10 or 11%. If I was eating olive oil, I wouldn’t be fatter. Yeah, yeah. I’m proud of the fact that I can still go as fast on the tennis court and ski down moguls and be as athletic as I was when I was younger and run up hills at high speeds. And I don’t think I can. So I’m enjoying the ability to be healthy and I don’t think you can achieve that when you’re using oil. And why not? If you can use olive oil, use other oils too on it. But the point is I’m making is obviously you can’t have a relatively sedentary life and put 500 calories of fat on your food and expect not to gain weight. Yeah, no, makes sense. So we’re talking about sense.


And then if you’re going to limit your calories and we’re talking about having a reasonable amount of calories, that means you have almost, you have to pick the best foods in your caloric pie in your portfolio. And we know that these nuts and seeds like walnuts and sesame seeds and pistachio nuts and flax seeds and chiia seeds, we know they have powerful longevity promoting anti-cancer effects. So the Americans get most of their fat and Western Europe from animal fats and oils. And the nutritarian gets our fats from whole foods like nuts and seeds. And the question is, which type of fat is more is linked to longer lifespan, lower rates of cancer, lower rates of heart disease and promotion of being a healthy centenarian. And we know the answer to those questions. It’s well studied that olive oil looks good compared to the other oils and to butter.


But when you compare olive oil to nuts and seeds, it doesn’t look half as good. And we’ve done those comparisons. The pre mid study done on in Italy took olive oil, showed a 15% reduction in cardiovascular death. When people were given extraversion olive oil, they reduced cardiovascular deaths. But when they took the oil away and told ’em to eat nuts, cardiovascular deaths went down by 60%, not 15%. So we’re talking about it’s all comparative oils better than other choices of fat, but it’s not better than using nuts and seeds. It’s not better than a walnut per se. And when we’re striving to eat 1500 calories or less, you can’t just put any amount of calories in your pie and on your plate and expect to have a diet, is that healthy? So I think that it’s kind of simplistic and distorted and not seeing the whole picture there.

Ella Magers, MSW (52:29):

Yeah, I got you. All right, last one, a selfish question because I just started eating a lot more kale, and this is a very specific question. I don’t know if you’re going to have the answer or not, but I also have a Hashimoto, so I’m wary of anything that has been shown to be destructive to the thyroid. And now I’m reading all this research on raw kale.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (52:54):

That’s a myth. It’s all myth, all complete myth. There’s no foods that are destructive to the thyroid. And you can’t take the goins from kale and broccoli and eat enough of them in one day unless that’s all you ate, juicing them in high amounts. No, you can’t. It’s just not a strong enough ergen. Only in rats can you give them enough of their diet. It doesn’t happen in humans. Hashimotos is caused by exposure to chemical and plastic compounds in plastic foods that are endocrine disruptors that are, this thyroid is sensitive to them and it’s almost not irreversible condition. You’re not going to worsen it or better it, but we can stop it. But it, it’s mostly cur caused by exposure to our modern toxic environment that women are very sensitive to, particularly when they’re growing up. And by the time they’re 25 years old, they’ve already exposed themselves to plastic compounds and endocrine disruptors that they make that then make them develop Hashimotos at age 40 because what they were exposed to 20 years prior that weakened the thyroid.


And it’s not affected by broccoli and kale and stuff like that. Now that said, I’m still an advocate of organic agriculture. I’m still an advocate of not being exposed to glyphosate and tech and pesticides and chemicals. And I still think chemicals play a role in certain diseases. But the brain sensitivity to chemicals is enhanced by nutritional deficiencies, particularly by deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids. So theo chemicals may be a primary cause of Parkinson’s disease, for example. What enhanced that sensitivity to chemical damage could be your vegan diet that made your D H a omega-3 index be too low. And that’s where this all comes together. Yes, we want to try to avoid things that are packaged in plastic and eating processed foods that are contaminated and eating, but we also want to have the right type of nutrition to reduce our sensitivity there. But there’s no, but, okay, I think I finished that question with regard to Goins and things that are suppressed. The thyroid, it’s only a theoretical issue to in lab animals, it doesn’t really affect humans because you can’t eat enough goins in a well-rounded diet to cause an suppression of a thyroid suppressive effect.

Ella Magers, MSW (55:11):

Well, you just made my day because I love my kale salad, and I was like, are you kidding me, Kim? Take away my kale. Oh, amazing. Dr. K, I could speak with you all day. You have been so generous with your time. Where can people find out more? And of course we’ll put these links in the show notes about you, about your books, about your retreat center. Yeah. Where can people go?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (55:36):

Dr furman.com is D R F U H or m a n.com. And I have a tab there that says retreat in the tab there that says other thing, other information members, all kinds of things. And including FLA products and things I have that are my Thai curry sauce or my mushroom alfredo sauce or a ketchup with no salt, sugar and oil. In other words, I have things to make the diet to make it easier for people to make it taste good without adding salt and sugar and oil to their diet. So it makes it easy for ’em to lose weight and staying healthfully. So I’ve done all that homework and have my staff make it so that people can, what do people need to make this easy for them so they don’t fail? That’s what it’s all about.

Ella Magers, MSW (56:21):

And I love that. And I just will reiterate that point of that your palate changes, so do this. And that’s not to say, yeah, everything that you have on there I’m sure is incredibly delicious. But I think what do you find when people come to your treat center? Is it the salt, the sugar? Is there anything in particular that they find the most challenging to get through that period of transition away from those things?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (56:48):

It’s usually the salt and the caffeine. Not having salt and caffeine, but it’s, that’s only the first week. And once we get rid of those addictions, but then they start conta the natural flavors and food better. And there was a recent study that showed that, well, the World Health Organization just put out a report last week about 70 million deaths due to people salting their food, but we’re talking.

Ella Magers, MSW (57:13):


Dr. Joel Fuhrman (57:14):

And there’s also studies on drinking coffee when you have obesity and high blood pressure, increasing heart attack rate tremendously. And we also have a lot of studies on even erythritol and artificial sweeteners, increasing risk of heart attack, death, as well as drugs. So we’re trying to have people be less dependent on chemical substances and less dependent on addictive substances, including the addictive to alcohol and caffeine as well.

Ella Magers, MSW (57:41):

Got it. Well, you are a wealth of information. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and your insights. It’s been really fun.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman (57:51):

My pleasure. Fun talking to you too.

Speaker 3 (57:55):

All right,

Ella Magers, MSW (57:56):

Let’s see if we have any questions. I know we’ve gone way over our hour, so if anybody has a question, either raise your hand or put it in the questions tab. I think we covered a lot of stuff.

Speaker 3 (58:12):


Ella Magers, MSW (58:14):

All right. I think we’re good.

Speaker 3 (58:17):



In this fascinating interview with the incredible Dr. Joel Fuhrman, I loved seeing his face light up, after so many years into his career, when he talked about the lives he has, and continues to, change through his written and spoken word, and thanks to his Eat for Life Retreat Center.

Our conversation goes way beyond the scope of nutrition for individual health. We zoom out and look at the big picture in terms of the effects of nutrition on our society as a whole… Something we don’t talk about enough… which was the topic of Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Fast Food Genocide. We dive deep into how nutrition affects people mentally and emotionally, and how that may be a contributing factor to the hostile political climate in this country today.

Dr. Fuhrman shares his backstory, what motivated him to take the path of medicine, specializing in nutrition, and how he almost talked himself out of going to medical school.

He paints an inspiring picture of the Eat for Life retreat center and his home next door, and how he’s created a holistic space that allows people to adopt a healthy, whole foods, plant-based way of life that is sustainable long after leaving the grounds.  

Dr. Fuhrman also sets the record straight when it comes to largely misunderstood topics from oil, to claims that raw kale could harm the thyroid (hint: good news, I can keep eating kale for breakfast even though I have Hashimoto’s disease!). 

Official Bio:

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times best-selling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing. He specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman is the President of the Nutritional Research Foundation and on the faculty of Northern Arizona University, Health Sciences division. He coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe a nutrient-dense eating style, designed to prevent cancer, slow aging, and extend lifespan. 

For over 30 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. 

Dr. Fuhrman operates the Eat To Live Retreat in San Diego. At this residential facility, people from all over the world come to stay for 4-12 weeks to recover from conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease to autoimmune disease, food addiction and more. They also gain the skills and knowledge to make these changes permanent when they leave the retreat. 

In his hundreds of radio and television appearances, including The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, Live with Kelly, and Good Morning America, Dr. Fuhrman has educated millions of people on the long-range benefits of healthy eating. His five hugely successful PBS specials, which have raised over $50 million for public television, bring essential nutritional knowledge to homes all across America. 

Dr. Fuhrman is the author of seven New York Times bestsellers, including his most recent book, Eat for Life (HarperOne, 2020). His other bestsellers include: Eat to Live (Little Brown, 2003); Super Immunity (HarperOne, 2012); The End of Diabetes (HarperOne, 2013); The Eat to Live Cookbook (HarperOne, 2013); The End of Dieting (HarperOne, 2014) and The End of Heart Disease (HarperOne, 2016). 

In addition to his New York Times best sellers, Dr. Fuhrman has written several other popular books on nutritional science which include: Fast Food Genocide (HarperOne, 2018); Eat to Live Quick & Easy Cookbook (HarperOne 2017); Dr. Fuhrman’s Transformation 20 Blood Pressure and Cholesterol (Gift of Health Press); Dr. Fuhrman’s Transformation 20 Diabetes (Gift of Health Press); 10 in 20: Dr. Fuhrman’s Lose 10 Pounds in 20 Days Detox Program (Gift of Health Press); Eat for Health (Gift of Health Press), Disease Proof Your Child (St. Martin’s Griffin), Fasting and Eating for Health (St. Martin’s Griffin) and the Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Handbook and ANDI Food Scoring Guide (Gift of Health Press). 



Instagram   |    Website


Instagram     |     Plant-Empowered Coaching Program     |     Empowered Vegan Life Facebook Group




If you’re ready to ditch dieting and build a plant-strong body for life, CLICK HERE to learn more and book a consultation.




99Thrive is the global community for those seeking wholeness. It is the community for health, fitness, wellness and healing professionals as well as those who are constantly curious. The ones seeking true impact, true growth, true connection.

Some of the leading voices in fitness, health, wellness, consciousness and healing have joined the #99Thrive revolution.

Inside the community, we link you with those who have studied, practiced, thrived themselves so you can discover your thriving truth.

99Thrive is a lifestyle. A way of being.

Join the online community for the curious as we open
you to the full human experience.

99Thrive is for the #thrivers. The #highvibers. The #servers.

Whether you are a leading expert in the health, wellness and consciousness space, a practising professional or a curious consumer – 99Thrive is your community. Welcome home.




Connection is EVERYTHING! Join me as I share the latest discoveries and updates as related to Sexy Fit Vegan, holistic health and fitness, veganism, and playfully navigating this adventure we call life, delivered to your inbox every Sunday.    – Ella