Scroll through questions presented to Dr. Heidrich
...and her answers.
I came across both your books for the first time on Steiner Books. The story described there intrigued me, especially since I was already familiar with Dr. McDougall.
What impressed me most about your books was the inspiration of your own example. Your story wasn't just one more clinical anecdote; instead, you actually lived through everything you wrote about! Of course, it didn't hurt that you were so attractive either!
I also liked your activism for your own health. The idea of doing so many home tests to monitor myself just the way my doctor does never even occurred to me!
Thanks for being such an inspiration and keep up the good work!
P.S. I just wanted to say, if ever there was someone who has turned cancer into something positive, it's you!"
~ ~ ~"Thank you" message from Tin (Chinese Malaysian) from Malaysia & the email dated July 31 2000 & July 26 2000.
Dear IronWoman Dr. Ruth, My Name is Tin, from Malaysia, (if you still remember me...7 years ago...)
I am writing to say "thank you"! It has been 7 years ago, a really long time ago. When I was still a young guy who worked in Singapore, I have got a lot of emails from you, Dr. Ruth. You have shared with me a lot of your wisdom of life as well as the running tips & Vegan diet tips.REALLY thank you very much sincerely.
I am writing to inform you a little bit about my life in Malaysia now. Because, if it is without your sincere advise & teachings in the 7 years ago, I wouldn't be what I am now. Thanks again sincerely.
Well, I took part in the Iron Man Langkawi 2003 Feb 23, & that was how I met my wife during this race (we met at the last 21 km of the race). & I have also completed my 5 years (TCM) Traditional Chinese Medicine course in Malaysia (by attending night class after work) & in my final year thesis I wrote about the Holographic Universe & the TCM practice.
My wife is Japanese & she is a much stronger Iron lady than me & she also took part in the Hawaii Iron Man in 97 & 2000. Anyway, I got married with my wife 2005 Dec 26 & soon my wife will deliver her first baby.
One day, hopefully me & my wife can go to Hawaii, & hopefully we can meet up with you.
Thank you so much & Wish you Healthy & Happy always :)
Tin & Atsuko
4.48pm 11 July 2007,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
P/S: I am now referring to the email letter that I have kept for 7 years, & I will copy part the words that you taught me in the email dated 2000 July 31
~ ~ ~Email dated July 31 2000 10:12AM
Yes, you can eat greens raw. In fact, I eat all my vegetables raw. This includes cabbage, broccoli, kale, parsley, spinach, basil, and romaine lettuce for greens.
There are two M.D.s, both good friends of mine, who state emphatically, that this is the best diet for pregnant women. Their books are : Pregnancy, Children, and the Vegan Diet by Micheal Klaper, MD and the McDougall Plan by John McDougall, MD.
The alcohol moledule is very toxic to every cell in the body (I have a whole section in my book on the negative effects of alcohol on the body.)
Email dated July 26 2000 9:32 AM
Ah, you ask some very hard questions now. No, they are not silly but come from one who examines life seriously. I am not a philosopher although I took some very good courses at UCLA from Abraham Kaplan, one of the best living philosophers. And I still don't have the answers. But I will tell you what I think in answer to your questions.
1) No, I have not found what I'm looking for in life although I do believe that I have found an excellent "mission" in trying to educate people in the area of health. It is mostly taking advantage of an opportunity that came about because if my own circumstances, i.e., contracting cancer, participating in research, and genuinely wanting to help people. The occasional reward is enough to keep me going. I came to believe that nobody had all the answers and that, more importantly, there AREN'T any answers. Life just IS! And there is no purpose other than the one we choose.
2) The most important things in life have to do with making the world a better place. I can see where the drive to make money, at ANY cost to society, is hurting the uneducated the most. If I can help them by telling them what I know about health, I am happy. I'm even happier when they are healthier and, of course, the reverse is true, when they are sick from eating wrong food and not exercising, they and I are very unhappy.
As I've gotten older (age 65 now), I think about when my life is over and I look back, I hope that I have lived the way I wanted to. I have made mistake but think I have learned from them. The "Golden Rule" (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is probably the best for society in the long run but I don't believe that it comes from any deities, only survival and common sense.
If you have any reaction to this, tell me.
~ ~ ~Dear Dr. Ruth,
Saw your website and was wondering why you switched to an all raw diet. This is ideal but I tend to crave sturdier food in the winter months.
Also, I was wondering what aspects of aging have you accepted. I am 44 and I run at least 5 days a week, though I don't come even close to the mileage you log. Lately, I've noticed a little stiffness and a little knee pain going DOWN stairs. No problem going up. Any insight?
Finally, how do you take care of your skin. Your skin is beautiful!
Thanks for your very nice email and the opportunity to answer your questions. I went raw because when I first heard about it, it sounded interesting, easy, and made a lot of sense. I decided to try it for 30 days and totally forgot when the 30 days passed. I was convinced -- and that was about 8 years ago. It's so simple and I discovered that I hate to cook! That said, it's not a religion with me, so if I'm out somewhere and there's cooked vegan food, I will indulge. But at home there's not even a working stove, so there aren't exceptions there.
It's a nice lifestyle I've developed. As far as accepting "aging," I was asked to write an article on that very subject by Living Nutrition Magazine and just submitted it yesterday. I'll pass on the unedited submission to you as an attachment. But to answer your question directly, gray hair, bifocals, some sagging of skin on thighs and
backs of arms, and hardest of all, a slowing down of my times and distances. Much of this may be due to accidents, however, as doctors have told me, the body never forgets injuries.
As for your knees, you might have injured the cartilage somehow, possibly not turned vegan soon enough (animal proteins are not good as I said in Senior Fitness), or you may have some biomechanical imbalance. You might consider consulting with a physical therapist to see if your quads and hamstrings are strong enough and more importantly, in balance. You even need to be sure the quads (which are really four muscles) are balanced. Have your running form analyzed to see if your gait could be causing problems for your knees.
As for skin care, I don't use cosmetics or any special procedures. I really believe that a raw vegan, low-fat diet and daily vigorous exercise supplies the skin with all the healthful nutrients it needs.
Again, thanks for asking!
~ ~ ~
Hi Dr. Ruth,
My wife and I read your book and were inspired to start a new Vegan lifestyle. We ordered one of Dr McDougalls books and have been enjoying the recipes. I am 55 and my wife is 52. I have lost 50 lbs and my wife has lost 15 lbs on our new diet and 6 day a week exercise program.
My dream is to eventually complete an Olympic triathlon. I swam in school so that is coming back easily and have biked over the years but my running skills are weak. Am currently able to run 45 minutes with 3 x 1 minute walk breaks. Is it better to continue the walk breaks or move towards more running and less walk breaks?
We live in Washington DC and would love to see you compete or speak to a group. Will you be within a couple of hundred miles of our area any time soon?
Thanks for the inspiration,
Alex and Hallie
Dear Alex,~ ~ ~
I'm so happy to hear all the good news! As far as your running is concerned, as you gain strength in your bones, muscles, tendons, etc., you can gradually drop the walk breaks. You'll know you're there when you feel your "engine revving up" while walking, maybe wanting to cut them shorter and then skip them altogether. I think you'll have an absolute ball when you start competing. Look for a sprint distance first, so you get the feel of competition and your transitions. By referring to "my book," I'm not sure which one you mean since I've written three. A Race For Life and Senior Fitness discuss fitness, but there is more about training in the first one.
Since my daughter and son-in-law just got transferred to the Pentagon, I'll be planning a visit to them sometime maybe this summer, so maybe a talk or race might be a possibility! Keep in touch!
Dear Dr. Ruth,~ ~ ~
Is it possible to be a healthy Vegan/Vegetarian without eating beans/legumes/soy? If yes, should I avoid grains if I don't eat beans and only eat nuts/oily seeds/vegetables/fruit? I'm an underweight male hgt 5'7" wgt 52 kg who would like to gain weight.
I currently eat :nuts (almonds,cashews,walnuts) seeds (sesame, sunflower,pumpkin,flax) whole sourdough spelt bread, Vegetables, and Fruit spirulina + seaweed. I've started eating a coddled egg twice weekly instead of a B12 supplement.
I also don't eat beans, legumes, or soy and I consider myself a very healthy vegan. Usually people eat those foods in the mistaken belief that you need them for protein. Actually, you get plenty of protein in fruits and vegetables. And I don't eat any grains, either. Your best nutrition is in raw fruits and vegetables. The only food from the nuts/seeds category that I eat is flax seed for the omega 3s. So I don't really think you need other nuts and seeds except for possibly getting more calories.
As far as being underweight, the real question is "what is your body fat percentage?" The scales don't give a clue as you could be all muscle and no fat or vice versa! A look in the mirror and your athletic strength should be your best clues as to your best weight. The weight you want to gain is muscle, not fat, and that comes from resistance training. So lift more weight to get more muscle.
And lastly, I do recommend some source of B-12 other than eggs which don't have that much B-12 but too much saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein which causes another set of problems. I get Red Star Nutritional Yeast with B-12 which I sprinkle on my morning meal.
Read some of my articles pertaining to this at www.RuthHeidrich.com or my book, A Race For Life.
Let me know if you have further questions.
~ ~ ~Hi Dr. Ruth,
I'm an endurance sport athlete and I've competed in marathons, cycling, duathlons and triathlons. However, I've been informed that my form of lifestyle is dangerous for my longevity. For example, it is recommended that a max of 3500 kcal expended per week for cardiovascular training. I can expend this in a single training session! Otherwise, it will actually increase death risk. Please note Dr. Lam's articles:
I would like your opinion regarding this subject matter.
Thank you so much for a very interesting and informative website.
I read through Chapter 5 and found that while I agree with much of what he says, there are specifics that I disagree with. I suppose the major point in that the research he cites was done on people eating the SAD (or at least a fairly meat-centered diet) and that makes all the difference in the world. Yes, it's true that extreme exercise creates more free radicals but if your diet is loaded with raw fruits and vegetables, you also have on board lots of antioxidants to gobble up the free radicals. I also disagree with his estimate of the max heart rate being 220 minus your age. Us really fit individuals make that rule totally useless. The last time I was at the Cooper Clinic (which he cites in his chapter), my max heart rate hit 192 and I was in my 60s. So, bottom line, if you're really fit, which it sounds like you are, and you're eating a vegan, low-fat diet, I think (but cannot prove, unfortunately) that you're going to live much, much longer than those who either aren't as fit or who do not eat a low-fat vegan diet.
Thanks for the question and the interesting information!
~ ~ ~Dear Dr. Ruth,
I'm 49 years old, and I've been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. Are there any nutritional treatments for this problem?
At age 49 you are way too young to have such a problem. Erectile Dysfunction (ED) can be caused by any number of factors, but the most common one is the clogging of the arteries which is caused by eating a diet of animal foods, processed refined foods, and too much fat.
The scary news is that if those arteries are clogged, you can bet the arteries leading to the heart, brain, and everywhere else are also clogged. I strongly recommend an immediate change to a diet consisting only of fruits and vegetables. If that's the cause of your ED (and it is in most cases), you should see a reversal of the clogging within a week although it might take a bit longer to see enough reversing to make a difference.
The link below will bring up some snapshots and articles. At the bottom of the list select Daily Vegan Meal Plan. This is a simple plan that will clean up your arteries. This will not only help your ED, but rid you of other symptoms as well.
Get back to me if you have more questions.
~ ~ ~Dear Dr. Ruth,
I just looked at your website. Awesome!! I'm having a very difficult time sticking to a vegan diet. I'm also very confused about nutrition. I've read so many articles, I even get Dr. McDougall's messages and read his articles. Why can't we eat cooked grains and be healthy? I know you recommend raw, but many doctors say we need cooked foods. It's very hard to stick to raw for a majority of people. Karen
Yes, it is very confusing and so often reminds me of the six blind philosophers describing an elephant. We don't yet know all there is to know about nutrition, and
I don't believe there is anything wrong with cooked grains. It's just that when you compare nutrient values per calorie, fruits and veggies far surpass grains. I do raw primarily because it's so darn easy and I know exactly what I am getting. I don't trust anything that comes in a box, can, or jar -- or even most restaurants! And you're
right, it's difficult for most people in this society because eating dead animals has become so much a part of the culture because of the heavy advertising and all the money to be made. But if you care about your health, you'll put only the very best
on your plate! (:>)
~ ~ ~Dear Dr. Ruth,
I'm a 54-year old male who has started running again I am training for the Vegas Marathon next month and pulled my iliotibial band in November. I am now only doing the half marathon, because I was set back.
I would like to push harder, but now I fear any injury. I now stretch after my runs; should I stretch before? How can I save my knees and any leg injury in the future?
Much respect, /s/ Rick
Congratulations on getting back to running! I believe that is one of the best things you can do for your knees! Did you know that runners have fewer knee injuries than non-runners and all other athletes? Did you also know that runners have thicker knee cartilage than non-runners? Running does NOT wear out the knees but, in fact, is an example of "use it or lose it." I would think that stretching once, after when the joints are warm, would be plenty. The ITB injury results from "too much too soon" so don't increase too fast. I'm also a believer in weight training, both upper, lower, and core.
Most knee injuries occur from twisting. Knee pain occurs most often from arthritis from a bad diet. By "bad diet" I mean eating any animal foods. Animal protein fragments can get into joint capsules and really raise an inflammatory response.
Good luck in your training,
Dear Dr. Ruth,
I want to try the natural progesterone cream, but my doctor says that blood tests show that the progesterone doesn't get absorbed. He also hasn't heard of saliva tests as being a more accurate measure of progesterone absorption. How does the progesterone get into the saliva? Thanks for your time, A.C.
Saliva tests are used reliably by researchers and academics and are not well known by physicians yet. So the whole issue is quite new.
When natural progesterone or any of the sex hormones are rubbed on the skin, within two hours it is seen in the saliva. It obviously gets there through the blood and here is where it gets complicated. Because of their fat solubility, the hormones are carried in the lipophillic (fat loving) red cell mass that can host the fatty
substance much better than the watery serum. Ordinary blood tests, however, only look in the watery portion of the blood and not the red cell mass and, therefore, do not register appreciable levels of the hormone. Then, too, the hormones that circulate in the blood are packaged in a protein wrap, and protein-bound hormones are biologically inactive whereas the hormone in saliva is biologically active because it's not protein bound.
Therefore, the saliva hormones reflect only the biologically available hormones. Tests have shown that you can track the hormone levels in saliva as they rise starting in two hours up to their peak at about 18 hours and then drop. You can actually do your own testing with saliva kits.
Dear Dr. Ruth,~ ~ ~
I read in your book that alcohol in any dose is bad for you. Is this true of wine, too? And the second thing... what about all the sports medicine studies that claim runners and other high endurance athletes need 15 to 20 % more protein than couch potatoes. I figure this would mean I would need about 80 grams of protein a day and I can't imagine getting that from a vegan diet, not to mention a raw diet. Thanks for your help. G.B.
Dear G.B.,~ ~ ~
Yes, alcohol in wine is alcohol -- period! It is toxic to every cell in the body as it is a universal solvent. It does tend to thin the blood which counteracts the sludging of the blood from animal foods, and it's the sludging of the blood which leads to heart attacks and strokes -- plus many other problems. So wine is not the answer -- not eating animal foods is.
Your second question: when athletes burn more calories, they eat more and this is how they automatically get more protein. You don't need to change the composition, just the quantity. If, for example, an athlete burns 5,000 calories a day over the average 2,000 calories per day, that will give him/her 3,000 extra calories with an average of 10% calories from protein. So that is 300 protein calories. Divide that by 4 (calories per gram of protein) and you get 75 grams -- right in the ballpark you mentioned. Don't forget that veggies have plenty of protein in them, just look it up in the charts. Hope this helps,
Dear Dr. Ruth,
My question: I listened to your program on the radio this past Sunday & you were talking about poisoning from fish which contributes to fibromyalgia (FMS). I was diagnosed with FMS in 1999. Could you tell me more about this? What kind of poisoning is it? How does one get tested for it? What is the treatment?
Dear Irene,~ ~ ~
Thank you for your question and it makes me happy to know that someone is
Your question brings up just one of the many reasons fish should not be known as a "health food." Although ciguatera poisoning was not directly linked to FMS, but to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), I suspect both are very much related and difficult to differentiate.
As far as specifics are concerned, this is cutting edge research so doctors won't know much about this yet. This was a fairly recent discovery by Dr. Hokama at the University of Hawaii and was published in a couple of psychiatric/neurologic journals.
The treatment is to stop ingesting the ciguatera toxin which, of course, means quit eating fish of all types. The toxin originates in the algae which is eaten by small reef fish which are then eaten by larger fish -- and larger fish, until you get to the tuna, or
whatever fish is being caught for consumption by humans. So it's impossible to say which fish have it or which don't because the testing is difficult and expensive. It can even be in fish oil capsules.
The diagnostic testing was actually done here at the University of Hawaii from blood samples from all over the country. They measured the levels of ciguatera toxin in the blood of patients with CFS, hepatitis, and controls (those with no symptoms) and found toxic levels in 97% of those with symptoms. The researchers are also suspecting links to Alzheimer's Disease.
Recovery, which, of course, can only start after the stopping of eating contaminated fish, may take a long time, in fact, years. Large doses of Vitamin B-12 may be helpful in regenerating nerves.
Go to www.holistichealthtopics.com and follow the links for ciguatera toxin
poisoning. You can also read the original UH paper by Dr. Hokama at
Hope this helps,
Vegetarianism: Myths and Realities
Question #1: Are there better health implications with a vegetarian diet versus a diet that consists of lean meats?
Dr. Ruth: Yes, there are a number of long-term, large-scale studies that show that a vegetarian diet is healthier as measured by the absence of heart disease, cancer, stroke, anemia, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and the more positive aspect, greater longevity. The Framingham Study, the China Diet Study, and Dr. Dean Ornish's proof of the reversal of heart disease by diet are all landmark studies that verify the observation that the lower a diet is in animal foods, the healthier people are.
Lean meat is not the healthy food that many believe it to be. For example, broiled steak is still 82% calories from fat. Fish is frequently touted as healthy and yet, sea bass is 55% fat and mackerel 60% fat. It is possible to find fish that is lower in fat and yet, this is not an advantage because the lower the fat, the higher the protein. Most Americans are already eating far too much protein. As adults, we only need about 2.5% calories from protein. Even if one removes the skin from chicken and broils it, there is still too much fat and protein. Excess protein leads to osteoporosis, kidney disease, and high cholesterol levels. Keep in mind that cholesterol is present in all animal tissue, an integral part of the cell membrane. A vegetarian diet without added oils provides a good balance of 80% carbohydrate, 10% protein, and 10% fat.
Question #2: What are the different practices/levels of vegetarianism?
Dr. Ruth: Strictly speaking, the strict vegetarian, or vegan (vee-gun) is the true vegetarian. Many who call themselves vegetarians eat dairy products and eggs and are known as "lacto-ovo vegetarians." The next level, humorously called "pesco-chicko-fisho" vegetarians, are people who have eliminated red meat from their diet. It's a start but as pointed out above, fish and chicken are still too high in fat and protein.
Question #3: Your recommendations on adapting the food pyramid to a vegetarian lifestyle.
Dr. Ruth: If one just cuts off the top two levels of the pyramid, we are left with vegetables, fruits, and grains. Bear in mind that this leaves a great deal of variety for menu planning. There are approximately 20 different types of grains, 90 vegetables, and 60 fruits to choose from as opposed to the much more limited variety of animals, i.e., cows, pigs, fowl, and fish. Variety is definitely in the plant kingdom.
Question #4: What about calcium?
Dr. Ruth: Calcium has developed into a major issue for two reasons. First, going back in history, there was a time when dairy farming was just being established. A marketing arm, the National Dairy Board, was created to help establish a demand for dairy products by selling the public on a supposed link between milk and healthy bones. Actually, there is calcium in all plant foods and the villi in the small intestines absorb all minerals in a balance as determined by the body's needs. An overwhelming quantity of any mineral will interfere with the absorption of the other minerals that bones need such as phosphorous, magnesium, boron, copper, and fluoride. There is also some evidence that too much calcium can cause problems such as kidney stones, calcium deposits in soft tissues, and interference in brain function.
The second reason that calcium has developed into a major issue is the epidemic of osteoporosis in this country. Because of the misleading connection established in the minds of the public, the increased consumption of dairy is actually leading to an increase in osteoporosis. In Dr. Harris' book, The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism he illustrates quite clearly that the countries that have the highest dairy consumption also have the highest fracture rates, and conversely, those countries who don't consume dairy (about 3/4 of the world's population), have the lowest fracture rates. Of course, calcium isn't the only issue relating to bone health. One gets all the minerals that bones need from leafy greens, and bones will only be as strong as they need to be, therefore, the need for effective, weight-bearing exercise.
Question #5: What about food contamination?
Dr. Ruth: A major item in the news these days has to do with many of the problems in processing, shipping, storing, and consuming animal products. Flesh, unfortunately, is the perfect breeding ground for salmonella, brucellosis, trichinosis, yersiniosis, etc. and that also extends to us humans since we are animals as well.~ ~ ~
And now, of course, there's Mad Cow Disease which has now been discovered here in this country. While we don't know a great deal about how it gets transmitted other than through cattle feed or with our food, there is a long incubation period before you see the symptoms. It is caused by prions, folded proteins, which are self-replicating and spread throughout the brain. This causes holes in the brain, leading eventually to extreme disability and then death. There is no treatment, therefore, no cure--every case invariably ends in death. Prions are seemingly indestructible as they survive temperatures over 1000 degrees Centigrade.
From Great Britain there are reports of people converting to vegetarianism in droves because of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease). In Canada a report of a cow with Mad Cow Disease has caused major losses to the large cattle industry there. An outbreak in Japan caused nearly 10,000 people to be sick from e.coli which was traced to beef. There are frequent recalls of hamburger, and even more frequent bouts of "stomach flu" which are probably not even recognized by lay people as food contamination. This also holds true when the chemical contaminant issue is examined. Animal foods have a much higher concentration of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and hormones in their bodies when compared to plant foods.
The safest diet is the one which consists of plant foods.
Ruth E. Heidrich, Ph.D.
Question:~ ~ ~
I was a US Navy Diver, EOD blow em up, jump out of planes etc. etc. etc. I had a friend who was a vegetarian and seemed to do ok. I tried many times to go meatless, I even learned to turn down barbeques and such with friends. However, it became plain to me that as I worked into a vegetarian diet slowly, (I started skipping meat meals, and then days to where I was only eating meat about 2 or 3 times a week), that when I would eat meat, I would obtain a powerful energy rush lasting overnight into the next day if it was a large steak.
I fell off the wagon and was told from a family member that there is something in the family genes that needs the red meat to process the red iron??? I do not know, but I can feel the difference.
Any ideas or helps??? I could really use something to help.
Dr. Ruth Answers:~ ~ ~
Congratulations first on your willingness to try to improve your diet. I can only tell you that from my own experience, that a pure vegan diet supports my doing Ironman Triathlons, (6 of them), 67 marathons, over 900 trophies in races ranging from 100 meter track, 5Ks, 10Ks, ultramarathons, etc. Energy comes primarily from carbohydrates and meat has no carbohydrates. Fat can be burned as energy but it is more difficult for the body to get into the fat-burning mode. It much prefers carbohydrates.
Iron is supplied in leafy greens. As far as I know and, as far as the scientific studies show, there is nothing in the genes that supports eating meat for humans. Those cultures that eat a great deal of meat live very short lives.
Hope this helps,
Ruth E. Heidrich, Ph.D.
Dear Dr. Ruth, Do you still maintain a vegan diet all the time and would you recommend switching totally to a vegan diet all at once or attempt a gradual change? Thank You.
Dr. Ruth Answers:
Thanks for your questions because they are the easiest ones I've had in a long time! My answer's an enthusiastic "YES" regarding my still being on a vegan diet all the time. It's been 21 years now and I wouldn't dream of fouling my body with animal products.
On your second question, I would recommend doing it all at once. There are several reasons. First, As Dr. Neal Barnard (http://www.pcrm.org) says Big Changes -- Big Results! And I totally agree. That's the way I did it back in 1982 and saw very positive results immediately. Another reason is that once you know the truth about the harm that animal products do to your body, it should be hard to keep adding harm, I would think. Then, too, if you're cutting back gradually, it's too easy to backslide as your tastes for foods that you thought were good, keep being maintained. It's like trying to quit smoking or drinking gradually -- it's just too hard for most people to succeed.
So, thanks for the easy questions and I hope it's easy for you to make the change. If you have more questions (easy or not), let me know.
Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D.