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The 90% Rule · 15 February 2013

My new favorite book about nutrition is Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. He touts his 90% rule as a weight loss program, but I think it is the healthy way to eat.


The author uses numbers, statistics, and case studies to talk about the connection between nutrition and health. He juxtaposes longevity on the one hand and disease on the other as he talks about phytochemicals and micronutrients. His book is based on the conviction that we can all be our own best friends or worst enemies when it comes to our health just by the way we eat. And he simplifies health with one equation: Health = Nutrients / Calories (H=N/C).


The equation, its meaning, and its implementation are the main reasons I like the book. When we think of our own health, we can know how healthy we are simply by determining how much nutrients we eat divided by the calories we eat. Dr. Fuhrman calls it nutrient density. He goes on to explain much about macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients) and more science than many people really want to digest. However, he does boil it down to a simple way to eat. No matter how many calories we eat, we need to get 90% of those calories through food with the greatest nutrient density. The ones with the highest N/C ratio. Which of course, are whole plant foods.


I like the thought that when we eat with nutrition in mind we do not need to worry about calories. Our bodies will tell us when we have had enough when we eat properly. We can eat as much food as we want as long as that food has lots of nutrients. All fruits and vegetables (including legumes and beans) have the highest nutrient density. Whole grains are next. Animal products have the least, besides highly processed foods which have no nutritional value at all. Dr. Fuhrman suggests that if most (90%) of the food we eat is nutrient dense (fruits and vegetables), we can still occasionally eat some food that is not good for us. Even junk food.


Even though I did not know it, I have been trying to find this way of eating for quite some time on my life-long journey toward health. Now, more than ever, I realize that I can always learn more about nutrition. And as I learn, I am becoming more keenly aware that what I eat has much, if not everything, to do with my health.


I may not live at the 90% rule as Eat to Live suggests, but even so, it is now my new favorite book about nutrition.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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  1. First let me say that Dr. & Mrs. Fuhrman are not professional eaitrentners, so this dvd won’t appear like a show from the Food Network. But they demonstrate how they make some of their favorite healthy meals and they give tips on preparing larger quantities so you have food ready in the fridge when you get hungry (to keep from being tempted to munch on unhealthy snack foods because better choices are not at hand). My wife and I enjoyed the dvd and have already prepared the stir-fry (big hit), the hearty vegetable soup and the kale. While the recipes require a relatively large number of ingredients, the results are pretty impressive. It’s a wonderful help for enjoying the journey to better health!

    Debabrata · Mar 5, 08:14 PM ·

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