Notes from Joel Fuhrman’s 1-Day Immersion in Austin, TX


Event was on September 7, 2013. Link to lecture advertisement. It was similar content to what is covered in the Immersion Excursion DVD Box Set so if you want to see slides, I can recommend those videos.

Use these notes at your own risk. I may have made errors in transcribing what I heard and read. Also note that the presence of a statement in these notes does not imply my agreement with that statement.

First lecture: Core Concepts

Why walk around with a live grenade in your pocket? 50% of people having heart attacks didn’t know they had heart disease.

Two Parameters of health:

  1. Micronutrient adequacy

  2. Not promoting hormones that promote aging

    • Fat on the body is pro-inflammatory

SAD — Standard American Diet: (pie chart)

  • 62% processed foods: oil, sweets, refined grains

  • 28% meat, egg, dairy, fish

  • 7.5% unrefined plant foods: fruit, veg, nuts, seeds

  • 2.5% whole grains

Mainstream wisdom considers normal weight to be below 25 BMI. According to this standard, 66% of americans are overweight. But studies show healthiest below 23 BMI. By this standard, 90% of americans are overweight.

Angiogenesis = promoting the growth of blood vessels. Insulin promotes this. Mushrooms contain angiogenesis inhibitors. Need angiogenesis to store excess calories as fat (new blood vessels to feed new fat tissue).

IGF-1 promotes the growth of cancers and tumors in adults. The most powerful breast cancer promoting substance. Best predictor of breast and prostate cancer: circulating IGF-1 levels > 200.

We found 5-8 years ago: Calorie restriction in humans didn’t lower IGF-1! Why? Still 30% of calories from animal products. Vegans < 150, animal products > 200. Couldn’t lower below 150 unless you dropped animal product consumption below 10% of calories, and in some people below 5% of calories.

Dairy products are even more IGF-1 stimulating than meat, because they are designed to promote the growth of baby animals!

US Per Capita Cheese Consumption: from 4 in 1915 to 30 in 2000 (not sure the units)

To promote illness ideally, mix a high protein IGF-1 promoting food with a high refined carb insulin-promoting food! (like a burger & fries, pizza, …​) “diet designed by the Taliban”

Commercially raised salmon has 10x the dioxin of beef from a burger joint

Why is a piece of chicken like a bagel?

  1. Neither one is a sufficient nutrient load per calorie

  2. They both promote hormones that increase the risk of cancer and growth of fat on the body

In recent years, supplements growing in popularity. Yet cancer rates skyrocketing in the latter 2/3 of the 20th century.

Effects can be long delayed. Cancer rates from radiation exposure didn’t peak until 50 years after the exposure.

The fallacy is that you can add supplements to nutritionally empty foods and make it okay to eat them.

  • Enrich cocoa puffs with vitamins and eat all you want!

  • But folic acid — actually a cancer risk. Can’t all be converted to usable form, circulates and does “nefarious work”.

Artificial sweetener causes the secretion of insulin, and deadens the taste buds to sugar

Getting a “complete” protein used to be the big push in nutrition. But highly biologically available (complete) protein is not desirable! Linebackers at 200-300 lbs have 6x prevalence of early death, 2x heart attack risk, and worst longevity profile of all americans.

Protein makes you grow, but this also shortens your life.

Modern medical science doesn’t know how to make people live longer, but now we can detect it earlier! So people can go around knowing they’re sick longer thinking they are living longer but really they die at the same time they would have anyway.

Refined and insulin-promoting carbs:

  • Cake diet! Cake with frosting is a cupcake, without it is a muffin. Fry the cake and put maple syrup on it! Put some red sauce and cheese on it and it’s pizza!

  • In Japanese women, high white rice intake increased diabetes risk by 65%. In Chinese women, 78%. Also found in US study: replacing white with brown or other whole grains decreased diabetes risk.

  • In a study of Korean women, white rice increased breast cancer risk (19% increase in risk per 100g/day). Wild brown/black rice decreased breast cancer risk (24% decrease per 100g/day)

  • These effects are magnified in overweight people who are more insulin resistant.

Glycemic Load

White potato: 29; white rice: 26, white pasta: 21; chocolate cake: 20; Corn: 18; steel-cut oats: 17, sweet potato: 14, rolled oats: 13; whole wheat: 11, mango: 11, lentils: 9, peas: 8, black beans: 6, watermelon: 6

Oil consumption increases the insulin effect from carb consumption, and increases the fat storage effect

A review of 206 epidemiological studies showed raw vegetables have the most consistent and powerful association with the reduction of cancers of all types.

The most protective of all are the cruciferous - ITCs Isothiocyanides

Paleo: somewhat better from avoiding refined carb, but you don’t buy a car by comparing it to a junkyard wreck! Want to design a diet that is optimal.

Second lecture: Resolving Food Addiction

3 kinds of starches: fast digesting, slow digesting, and resistant (as in beans)

Resistant starches are broken down by bacteria into short chain fatty acids (butyrate). But this mostly happens too far down in the digestive tract to be absorbed. Yet the butyrate does have some benefits: ease the passage of stools, anti-cancer, etc.

The longest lived populations all eat beans. The more beans people eat, the longer they live.

Beans reduce fat storage after the meal, and also reduce glycogen utilization (which promotes fat burn)

inositol pentakisphosphate (IP-5) → will not allow tumors to grow! Those who ate beans just twice a week reduced risk of colon cancer by 50 percent.

Beans produce gas if you aren’t used to eating them. If you eat them every day, the body produces the bacteria that are capable of digesting the resistant starch.

Have to favor fats over protein or carbs. The fats do not promote the problematic hormones.

Pressed oil: Gets absorbed very rapidly. Absorbed straight from the stomach and then the bloodstream doesn’t want the fat load so it gets stored right away. But nuts and seeds get digested over hours.

If you eat a phytochemical rich food without nuts & seeds, you will lose the half the benefits because you need the fats to absorb them.

In EPIC-PANACEA study (375k participants in 10 countries), meat and poultry intake related to largest amount of body fat after adjustment for calories.

Weight loss is not about caloric density! It’s about substances that promote fat deposition and fat growth, and those that suppress. It’s quality, not quantity.

If you eat fruit with a meal, you lose the glycemic negative effect because the sugar gets diluted. Don’t snack on fruit, nor on nuts because you need to take advantage of the fats to absorb micronutrients.

The more micronutrient-rich foods you consume, the fewer calories you’ll desire.

  • High volume/fiber triggers stretch receptors in stomach

  • Nutrient receptors in intestines turn off appetite

Two types of food addiction

  1. Overeating high-calorie foods for a dopamine surge

  2. Detoxification / Toxicosis

Obesity = 2S+O or SOS (sweeteners, salt, oil)

Toxicosis: Free Radicals, AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products), Cross Linking Agents, Lipofuscin

Toxic Hunger is an addictive withdrawal . Headache . Weakness . Stomach cramping . Lightheadedness . Esophageal spasm . Empty, growling stomach . Irritability, moodiness

The more vitality a person has, the stronger the body’s response to a toxic insult.

Feeling better isn’t getting better, feeling better is getting sicker.

Feeling better fast means stopping the detox so it prevents you from healing.

Medicines’ efficacy is proportional to their toxicity! So all drugs come with a cost.

When the body stops working on a meal, is when it can most effectively detoxify and heal. Catabolic phase of the digestive cycle.

Most americans don’t enter glycolysis. They eat as soon as they feel catabolism starting, before glycogen has even been cracked. This forces the additional calories taken in to be stored as fat.

You lose weight in the kitchen, but you gain weight in the gym. (Lose fat by changing diet, gain muscle by working out)

In a yo-yo diet scenario, every yo-yo increases the saturation of the fat in the body fat, and reduces the omega-3. People with a history of dieting have actually changed the composition of their fat so that it is more inflammatory, denser, harder to lose, more disease promoting.

Diets don’t work. Portion control diets result in weight loss that is maintained over five years for less than 3 out of 100.

Three Characteristics of True Hunger

  1. A Sensation in your Throat

  2. Increased salivation

  3. Dramatically heightened taste sensation

The “Changing Perception of Hunger” Study: 768 participaints. 90 percent of “90 percenters” report a changed perception of hunger.

Over 500 people reported a loss of the addictive drive to overeat.

It took 3-5 months for most people to feel true hunger.

It takes time for the nutrient levels in your body to ramp up and for the body to heal itself.


At least 1 oz nuts & seeds. Dr. F eats around 4 oz of nuts/seeds a day b/c he’s exercising vigorously.

“The salad is the main dish” — at least 1 meal where a large salad is the main dish.

Onions have organosulfides which are better raw.

At least 3 fresh fruits - maybe 5

Beans every day!

How much to eat? You shouldn’t eat so much that you feel/notice your stomach. Stop eating before full or when experiencing a hint of fullness.

As you overeat you mess up your taste receptors for the next meal.

Watch common trigger foods:

  • Nuts and dried fruit

  • Cereals and breads

  • Sweet liquids

Levels — Martial arts metaphor

White belt (1st week)

  • Feel ill after healthy eating

  • toxic hunger

  • comfort foods

Yellow belt (2nd, 3rd, 4th week)

  • snack only occasionally

  • rarely overeat

  • enjoy healthy eating

  • difficult to resist junk food

  • choose sweet deserts and flour-based foods when offered

Brown belt (3-5 months)

  • Frequently feel True Hunger

  • Rarely overeat

  • Still enjoy occasional unhealthy treats

Black belt (1 yr)

  • Mostly eat only when hungry

  • Mouth & throat hunger experienced daily

  • No emotional attachment to comfort foods

  • Dislike salt & heavy spikes

  • Feel ill after unhealthful eating

Third lecture: Reverse & Prevent Heart Disease & Diabetes

Heart attacks vs. unrefined plant foods: a reverse correlation

Healthy people don’t have a wide spread between systolic & diastolic (“pulse pressure” — normal difference is 40 or less). In the later stages of heart disease, diastolic starts to lower as vessels stiffen and can’t contract, which reduces nourishment to the heart via the coronary arteries, which precipitates adverse events. Diastolic below 60 had 3x the heart attack rate and dramatically increases the risk of irregular heart beat.

Within 12 days of a diet change, you have already decreased heart attack risk by 50%. Angioplasty or bypass reduces heart attack risk by zero percent!

A stent causes a nidus of inflammation at the joint with the vessel which never goes away.

Vulnerable plaque is invisible to conventional cardiac testing.

70-80% of all myocardial infarctions come from non-obstructing plaque that is not visible on screening.

Greens activate NRF2 which prevents plaque adhesion

Those with the highest levels of lutein (substance that makes green vegetables green) had the healthiest blood vessels with no atherosclerosis.

One tomato a day lowers blood pressure by 10%!

Nuts & seeds: Improvement in mortality from consuming these is one of the best established results in the literature.

Fatty Acid Oxidation (utilization of body fat) decreased with diets too low in fat.

2001 Seventh day adventist study: In order of longest lived

  1. Vegan eating nuts & seeds

  2. Flexitarian eating nuts & seeds

  3. Vegan low-fat (no nuts & seeds)

Notice!! The meat eaters did better than the vegans avoiding nuts & seeds.


Increases risk of hemorrhagic stroke and stomach cancer.

In fact, atherosclerosis protects against hemorrhagic stroke (by thickening vessel walls and making them harder to rupture), so salt is a bigger risk factor for those eating a healthy diet.

This advice is not just for “salt sensitive” people.

Don’t wait till you have high blood pressure in advanced age. If you do, when you finally cut out salt, the BP won’t go down.

Cancer is constantly coming and going. 30% of diagnosed breast cancer goes away again without any intervention or dietary change. Any 70 year old man is virtually guaranteed to have some cancer cells in his prostate.

Diabetes: Diabetic medications cause weight gain which increase diabetes!

Feb 6, 2008 NHLBI stopped the ACCORD study because they found that intensive treatment of diabetics led to increased risk of dying compared to patients treated less aggressively.

Medical treatment is the 3rd largest cause of disease in america.

Men consuming 7 or more eggs per week are 57% more likely to develop type-2 diabetes. Women 77%. Men w/ diabetes that ate any eggs at all were 2x as likely to die in the 20 year period. Rsearchers not sure which component of the egg is to blame; subjective evidence was present for increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Eating cholesterol does not raise blood cholesterol, but it does have a powerful negative effect on the body.

Potato - 1 serving/day increased risk of diabetes, rectal cancer, etc. Primary factor that drove the association was glycemic load, not added fats. Substituting 1 serving potatoes/day for whole grain increased diabetes risk by 30%.

Fourth lecture: Fighting Cancer & Maximizing Longevity

Lifetime risk of cancer is 30-40%


  • High use 25 prescriptions (17 years) → double risk of breast cancer

  • Low use: 2-25 prescriptions (17 years) → 1.5x the risk

1 glass of red wine a day increased breast cancer risk

Watch out for supplements:

  • Taking folic acid during pregnancy → 30% increased risk of breast cancer risk years later

  • Retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) increases risk of hip fracture

  • Isolated beta-carotene increases the risk of cancer

Breast cancer deaths in the 50-70 age range:

  • Gambia, rural China: 3 per 100k

  • US: 120 per 100k

Methylation of DNA → cancer risk

Green vegetables reduce methylation

In the Fiji islands, higher smoking and higher green veg intake than Hawaii, and lower (lung) cancer in Fiji than (all) cancer in Hawaii.

Antioxidant Response Element (ARE) exists in every cell, activated by ITCs (isothiocyanates) from green vegetables. Immune system dependent on ITCs from cruciferous vegetables!

50% reduction in breast cancer with consumption of chinese cabbage, bok choy, and turnips in women with the GSTP1 (breast cancer) gene.

Blend cruciferous greens first, then cook. Need to break cell walls of cruciferous vegetables to form the ITCs in a chemical reaction. Also true with onions and their organosulfides. Onions: alliinase (makes your eyes tear)

High consumers of onions in europe → 56% reduction of colon cancer, 88% reduction of esophageal cancer, etc. (They don’t eat a lot of green vegetables in europe)

Tomatoes: Lycopene. 50% reduction in prostate cancer for higher intake. Better absorbed cooked.

Don’t eat tomatoes out of cans because the acidic tomatoes leach out lots of BPA. Stick to boxes or glass.

600 carotenoids that work together synergistically! Eat with nuts or seeds to enhance absorption. Higher total carotenoids linked to longer life & protection against cancer and heart disease

Mushrooms reduce the risk of breast cancer. 1 mushroom a day (only 10g) decreased risk by 64%. Mushrooms inhibit aromatase.

  • Antigen-Binding Lectins (ABL)

  • Angiogenesis inhibitors

  • Aromatase inhibitors

Animal products: as IGF-1 increased, breast cancer risk increased accordingly

Bigness is a criterion for shorter lifespan

  • Maximizing growth and height in children increases the risk of cancer in later life. Particularly when male’s leg length exceeds father’s leg length, or female’s leg length exceeds mother’s leg length.

  • Only 10 out of 600 athletes on the 1964 east german olympic team are still alive today.

  • Half of foodball players die before age 50.

  • But Dr. F does advise many professional athletes on a nutritarian diet today.

Mouth bacteria converts nitrates into nitrites

Nitrates → Nitrites → Nitric oxide

So thorough chewing is beneficial.

Dietary lignans slow tumor growth

  • benefit of 1 flax-containing muffin a day (32-39 days): significant apoptosis and decreased tumor cell proliferation in flax group

  • 10 year breast cancer survival study. 0.3 mg lignans had 71% risk reduction in breast cancer mortality, 51% risk reduction in all cause mortality.

  • 1 tbsp of flaxseed contains 21.4 mg lignans

Berries are rich in Ellagic Acid (an antioxidant)

  • In patients with precancerious esophageal lesions, freeze-dried strawberries reduced …​

  • One serving/week of blueberries reducd risk of hypertension 10%

  • Pomegranate is awesome

Pine nuts: Mediterranean (torpedo shape) vs. conventional/chinese (triangular): conventional don’t taste as good, not as expensive, less protein

Isolated soy protein can raise IGF-1 as much as animal products!

For longevity:

Activate SIRT-1 gene

  • prevents abnormal genetic alterations

  • activated b resveratrol and polyphenols

  • berries, pomegranate, seeds

Deactivate mTOR signaling

  • avoid high glycemic foods

  • shoot to be hungry frequently - live in the catabolic phase

  • improvements in HbA1c promotes longevity

Fifth lecture: Cooking and Menu Planning

General guidelines:

  • Raw veg (1 lb)

  • Cooked veg (1 lb)

  • Fruit (1 lb)

  • Beans (1 cup)

  • Nuts & seeds (1 oz)

Need to get unfortified nut yeast because folic acid.

“Grill” onion by slicing it finely, cooking briefly on high heat in a pan — caramelizes

All oil is separated from the fibers it naturally comes with. Also losing the lignans, sterols, stannols, other benefits, etc. So it’s lots of calories that are absorbed too rapidly.

Can make a “butter”-like paste from garlic & cashews & maybe some nut yeast, kicking around in the fridge. Can add a spoonful to a dressing, soup, etc.

Roasted nuts have acrylamides, but unhulled sesame seeds that are lightly toasted have increased anti-cancer effects. Toasting almonds OK too.

When sweetening with dates, limit to 1 date per serving.

Low-calorie dressings and dips can use more beans and less nuts/seeds.

Blend your onions before adding to soup. Add the minimum liquid necessary for it to blend in order not to dilute the enzymes too much.

Nut yeast on popcorn. Spray with a tiny bit of oil (1/3 oil 2/3 water) to get the yeast to stick.

Soak dried fruits, use roasted peppers, use dried tomatoes (not sun dried), use fresh herbs

Chili - use extra firm tofu, freeze, defrost. Then crumble, and it will be firm with a texture like beef.

Some steamed green vegetable at every dinner.

13 minutes is the limit for steaming most vegetables. Exception: artichokes (18 min).

When to use whole nuts vs. nut butters? If making a large amount of sauce/dressing for the whole family, whole nuts/seeds. If just making one little serving of dressing, easier to use nut butter than to get the whole blender dirty.

Sorbet can be served straight out of the vitamix — combination of fresh fruit and frozen.

But ice cream, if saved in the freezer, requires more fat in it to not turn into a lump of ice in the freezer.

Question and Answer Period


  • Natural food has less than half the milligrams of sodium than calories. So 2000 calories of food should have < 1000 mg of sodium.

  • As a guideline, can have ONE added-salt-containing item per day. For example some tomato sauce or a sprouted ezekiel bagel with ~140 mg of sodium per serving.

Advisable supplements:

  • B12: Vegans and elderly people who often get worse at absorbing even if eating plenty of animal products.

  • Vit D: Even caucasian Hawaiian surfers! If you shower with soap after being outside it washes off the oils with the vit D in it.

  • Iodine: Needed if not consuming seaweed or iodized salt! Just a bit of kelp does it.

  • Zinc: Phytate makes it less absorbable, high in animal products, probably best to supplement a bit.

  • EPA/DHA: Body is not very efficient at making these from short-chain omega-3s — variable based on person. Found 60% of vegans were deficient (about 15% of severaly deficient) in one study. However high dose supplementation of EPA from fish oil could have immunosuppressive effects. Even 100 mg of DHA/day is plenty.

  • Don’t need to take CoQ10, glucosamine, etc. because the body makes enough from green vegetables.

Asthma and allergies usually don’t go away in the first year of nutritarianism. Usually those benefits come in the second year.

Kids’ nut allergies (and adults’!) can often be overcome through gradually increasing oral challenges, but, don’t try it until the second year.

Feeling ill is getting better.

Anything that makes you feel better rapidly is making you sicker.

Doesn’t recommend daily aspirin for a nutritarian. Unless they’ve had a stent placed — then, low-dose aspirin should probably continue. Daily aspirin doubles risk of macular degeneration, and increases risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Spinach and strawberries are very porous. They suck in pesticides/fungicides.

If you can’t afford fresh organic blueberries, choose frozen non-organic blueberries over fresh non-organic blueberries (less herbicide use for blueberries destined for freezing).

Things with this peels and skins can have them removed — don’t have to get organic avocado, papaya.

No advantage to juicing fruit. Increases the glycemic effect of the fruit. Should only juice vegetables with perhaps a tiny amount of fruit for flavor.

If you eat a ton of spicy-hot food, it increases the risk of stomach cancer. But some is okay.

On a nutritarian diet, WBC count will be low (2.5, 3.8) — but this promotes longer life, linked to lower rate of cancer. White blood cells not needed as much when low inflammation!