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Behind the scenes of figure skating - June 19

Dr. Joel Fuhrman launches Eat Right America™

Dr. Joel Fuhrman turned from skating to nutrition after his career on the ice.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman turned from skating to nutrition after his career on the ice. (courtesy of Eat Right America™)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(06/19/2008) - In the early 1970s, Joel Fuhrman's life was all about figure skating. Second in the U.S. in senior pairs with sister Gale at the 1973 U.S. Championships, he had his sights set on the Winter Olympics. But an injury sidelined those plans, and eventually, he focused his life in a new direction.

"When I was a skater, I was always reading about nutrition, even as a teenager," says Fuhrman. Although he attended college and earned good grades, figure skating was his primary focus. When it became clear his skating career was over, he started to think about the next phase of his life. He'd graduated from college with an economics and business major and started coaching skating and working in his father's shoe business. Then he decided he wanted to go to medical school, so he took the pre-med program at Columbia.

"It was a gradual thing through my teenage years and early 20s. I had that passion for nutrition," Fuhrman says. "I felt the only way I could really express it and have an effect on society and use nutrition as medical therapy would be to get a medical degree. So I went to medical school with the idea in mind I was going to be a doctor specializing in nutrition."

Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Health Association and serves on the Advisory Panel of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He is a certified family physician with a nutritional specialty. He is considered a leading expert on nutrition and natural healing. His 2003 best-selling book, Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Plan for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, has gone through 17 printings.

He recently teamed up with a technology company to launch Eat Right America™ (www.eatrightamerica.com), a Web site that will give people easy access to the information he provides in his practice. It will be a Web-based community where members can get information, support and products to help change their eating habits and, hopefully, their lives.

In his practice, people come to him with problems ranging from lupus to diabetes to heart disease to asthma, all of which he addresses with diet. "Nutritional excellence is the most powerful therapeutic invention in the medical arsenal," Fuhrman says. "You have to eat foods that are naturally nutrient rich to meet the needs of the human immune system.

"I've devised a rating system, where you can look at every food on the American dietary landscape and rate it to understand what its nutrient density is per calorie," he adds. "You can devise a diet style that has a very high micro-nutrient quotient per calorie. In doing so, diets become very therapeutic."

Among Fuhrman's individual patients are elite athletes from various sports. Proper nutrition is definitely an advantage in building stamina, as well as avoiding nasty flus and viruses that can compromise an athlete at important competitions.

Although he occasionally checks out skating on TV, he doesn't skate any more. "I can't enjoy just skating around a rink," he says. "I want to be able to do flying camels and Axels. It's probably too risky in my mid-50s to be flying through the air now."

There are no skaters among his four children, but they are all athletically inclined. His 21-year-old daughter was a competitive tennis player, and his 13-year-old competes in athletic cheering.

Eat Right America™ allows members to get nutritional advice and support at a low cost. A user would fill out a comprehensive questionnaire, which will then be evaluated and customized nutritional recommendations will be devised. He says overweight individuals will learn how to overcome food addictions and cravings. Fuhrman says medical literature documents the benefits of high-nutrient density diets.

"At Eat Right America™, we're trying to take my specialty and what I've developed such a reputation for over these years and make it so it can be applicable to large numbers of people at very low costs," Fuhrman says.