The Great Food Debate – Mark Hyman vs Joel Fuhrman

Joseph E. Scherger, MD, MPH


Doctors Mark Hyman (Eat Fat, Get Thin) and Joel Fuhrman (Eat To Live) are champions of healthy nutrition.  Both doctors achieve amazing results with patients becoming lean and fit, and reversing problems such high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and diabetes.  Both doctors advocate for eating the real foods of nature and avoiding foods with sugar and refined carbohydrates.  Both advocate for avoiding inflammatory foods such as in vegetable oils and some grains. Both advocate for limiting total protein to meet the body’s needs. So they must espouse the same nutrition.  Not quite, and their differences are striking.

Mark Hyman recommends a diet high in healthy fats such as from nuts, seeds, fatty vegetables such as avocado, eggs, grass fed meat and wild fed seafood.  Hyman recommends a very low carbohydrate diet to keep insulin levels low and a steady blood sugar.  His diet would result in people being in nutritional ketosis most of the time (see my Blog on that).

Joel Fuhrman is almost a Vegan promoting a 90% plant based diet (he prefers 100%).  He recommends against the consumption of much fat even from healthy sources such as olive oil, nuts and seeds. Fuhrman holds on to the notion that eating fat makes you fat and raises blood sugar.  As smart as he is, I am surprised that he holds to these ideas that have been disproven by the latest nutrition science. Like other Vegans, he is so passionate about eating plants that he uses arguments based on belief against foods from animal sources, even eggs.  Moreover Fuhrman promotes whole grains as healthy, not acknowledging the carbohydrate load and inflammatory proteins.

To Fuhrman’s credit, his diet carries very low cancer risk.  I love these statements in his book, “The American diet is designed for disease”, “The salad is the main dish”, “Cancer is a fruit and vegetable deficiency disease”.  Vegans and other vegetarians have the lowest cancer rates in America, and very low rates of heart disease and stroke.  Hyman argues that animal foods have key nutrients that complete healthy nutrition for humans, and agrees we should eat mostly plants.  Fuhrman leaves the door open for people to have 10% animal based food.  Not everyone is willing to eat a “greens and beans” diet every day.

So take your choice and follow your passion with food, as long as it is healthy.  Just eat the foods of nature, no label of ingredients needed, and you will be well along with healthy nutrition and being lean and fit.