By Dr. Joel Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, nutritional researcher and board-certified family physician specializing in nutritional medicine. His newest book Super Immunity discusses how to naturally strengthen the immune system against everything from the common cold to cancer.
A high-nutrient eating style is the key to dramatic weight loss, optimal overall health, and longevity. When your diet is based on nutrient-dense foods – G-BOMBS – you will simultaneously flood your cells and tissues with protective substances and naturally guide your body to its ideal weight, with no hunger or feeling of deprivation. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants – and are low in calories.
The American diet is the perfect formula for obesity and disease, with 90% of calories derived from refined carbs and animal products – foods that are low in micronutrients, contain no beneficial phytochemicals, and have addictive properties. Only 10% of calories come from vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and nuts. Eating in this way creates a “toxic hunger” leading to increased desire for calories and makes it almost impossible to lose weight.
If we turned the American diet upside down so that 90% of calories come from produce, we would put an end to dieting, resolve our health-care crisis, win the war against breast cancer, and save millions of lives from heart disease and diabetes. See an example of my food pyramid, which starts with foods high in micro-nutrients as the base.
G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds) are the foods with the most powerful anti-cancer and anti-fat storage effects. Those dual effects cannot be separated because the foods that protect against fat storage also protect against the growth of any abnormal tissue, such as a tumor.
G - Greens
Leafy greens have the highest nutrient-density of all foods and are an excellent tool for weight loss. Since they contain only about 100 calories per pound, they can be consumed in virtually unlimited quantities. Green vegetables contain anti-cancer compounds (especially the cruciferous family) and substances that protect blood vessels; they also promote healthy vision and reduce diabetes risk. We should follow the example of our closest living relatives – chimpanzees and gorillas – who consume pounds of nutrient-dense green leaves every day.
B - Beans
Beans (plus lentils and other legumes) act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar, reducing hunger and caloric drive, and helps to prevent food cravings. Beans are unique foods because of their very high levels of fiber and resistant starch, carbohydrates that are not broken down by digestive enzymes. The fiber and resistant starch in beans reduce the total number of calories absorbed from beans (about a third of the carbohydrate calories contained in beans do not get absorbed). They reduce cholesterol levels, and are converted by healthy gut bacteria into substances that help to prevent colon cancer; eating beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50%. Plus, a recent analysis of 10 scientific studies has shown that the higher your fiber intake, the lower your risk of breast cancer.
O - Onions
Onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, chives, and scallions not only lend great flavor to meals, they have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. These vegetables are known for their characteristic (and eye-irritating) organosulfur compounds, which slow tumor growth and kill cancer cells – eating onions and garlic frequently is associated with reduced risk of digestive cancers. These vegetables also contain high concentrations of anti-inflammatory flavonoid antioxidants that contribute to their anti-cancer properties. They are low in calories, have a low glycemic load and also inhibit fat storage hormones.
M - Mushrooms
In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (which equates to about one button mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer! All types of mushrooms have anti-cancer properties; plus, mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors – compounds that can block the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors are thought to be largely responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer. Even the most commonly eaten mushrooms (white, cremini, and Portobello) have high anti-aromatase activity. Mushrooms contain powerful angiogenesis inhibitors, meaning they prevent new blood vessel growth, which is needed for tumor growth and fat tissue growth. So, in addition to being anti-cancer foods they prevent fat from being stored and promote weight loss.
B - Berries (and Pomegranate)
Blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are true superfoods, linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline. Berries’ plentiful antioxidant content helps to reduce blood pressure and inflammation, prevent DNA damage that leads to cancer, and stimulate the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berries are also an excellent food for the brain. Pomegranate has multiple cardiovascular health benefits and contains anti-cancer compounds. Berries are rich in protective polyphenols, do not raise insulin levels, and also have angiogenesis inhibitors, which protect against cancer and reduce body fat.
S - Seeds
Nuts and seeds are healthy fat sources that increase the absorption of nutrients in vegetables, in addition to supplying their own spectrum of micronutrients including plant sterols (which help to reduce cholesterol), minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts. Several seeds and nuts (flax, hemp, chia, walnuts) are rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart and brain health. Seeds and nuts act like a fat sponge in the digestive tract, preventing all their fat calories from being absorbed. Some seeds – sesame and flax in particular – are rich in lignans, plant estrogens that protect against breast cancer. In one fascinating study, women were given flaxseeds daily after being diagnosed with breast cancer; reduced growth and increased death of their tumor cells was found after just 4-5 weeks. Imagine the protection against breast cancer we could achieve if all women ate lignan-rich seeds – plus greens and mushrooms every day!
To learn about other nutrient-dense foods, use this chart next time you go food shopping. The higher the score, the more nutrient-dense and healthy the food.
To start eating the G-BOMB way, replace your usual lunches with this delicious, filling salad.