Your Transition to Healthful Eating

Submitted on June 29, 2010 - 1:54pm
What should you put on your plate when you eat?

Well-planned vegetarian diets can provide us with all of the protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and calories we need!

For more than 100 years, Hygienists have advocated the avoidance of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products, as well as added oil, salt and sugar, and most processed foods. We have encouraged people to eat a diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables with a minimum of spices and other stimulants.

By sharp contrast, the medical establishment has only recently, and reluctantly, begun to acknowledge the inseparable relationship between our diet and our health. Medicine has long recognized that deficiencies can cause disease, but only recently has dietary excess been acknowledged as a significant factor in the evolution of numerous degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.

The diet science supports

The bulk of the scientific literature overwhelmingly supports the contention that human beings function best on a diet derived from whole natural foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes-a diet that excludes animal products. Vegetarian diets provide us with the nutrients we need: protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and sufficient calories.

More and more people are becoming interested in adopting this health promoting diet, but simply understanding the scientific support for it is not always enough to overcome the emotional and social roadblocks to healthful eating.

The most frequently asked questions by people making a transition to healthful eating are these four. What should I eat to insure that I will meet my body's nutritional needs? What foods and other substances should I avoid? Will I enjoy my new diet and feel good physically and emotionally about it? And can I do it?

Good news

The answers to the first two questions have been briefly stated above-eat a plant-based diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods, and avoid meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products, as well as added oil, salt and sugar, and most processed foods. Of course, there is considerable variation in how different individuals approach the specifics of diet, but the guiding principles remain the same. The basic challenges we face are these. How do I get enough to eat to meet my individual needs? How do I avoid excess consumption? And how do I avoid the consumption of health compromising foods and other detrimental substances?

Individual needs

People come in all shapes and sizes. We have different metabolisms, different activity levels, different heights and weights, and different ages, each with individual capacities for digestion. And since each of these factors can change during our lifetime, we always need to fashion a diet that meets our individual needs.

With this in mind, I want to give two examples of daily menus, one for a healthy, active 25-50 year-old female, the other for a healthy, active 25-50 year-old male.

Sample menu for a woman

An example of a health-promoting diet pattern for a healthy, active 25-50 year-old female might be:

Breakfast: fresh raw fruit salad including a banana, apple, and strawberries along with celery and one ounce each of almonds and raw pumpkin seeds.

Lunch: large raw vegetable salad (lettuce, carrot, beets, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, peas, and cucumber) with avocado-tomato dressing and a huge plate of steamed vegetables and a baked potato.

Dinner: raw vegetable plate (carrot, jicama, celery, cucumber) with steamed vegetables and brown rice/lentil stew.

Sample menu for a man

An example of a health-promoting diet pattern for a healthy, active 25-50 year-old male might be:

Breakfast: orange juice smoothie (orange juice, banana, kiwi) and oatmeal with raisins.

Lunch: vegetable plate with avocado dip, steamed vegetables, and potato/vegetable soup.

Dinner: large raw vegetable salad (lettuce, carrot, beets, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, peas, cucumber) with avocado-tomato dressing and a huge plate of steamed vegetables and a bowl of split pea/yam soup over brown rice. If additional calories are required, fresh mixed vegetable juice or fresh fruit could be consumed in the afternoon.

Healthful eating strategies

The quantity and quality of needed nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, are clearly provided in abundance by a vegetarian diet. This type of diet also ensures that the percentage of calories derived from fat and protein can be kept within healthful ranges. Another plus is that this type of diet is less stimulating, which dramatically reduces the tendency to overeat. Some individuals find that following the Hygienic food combining suggestions helps them simplify their meals and helps them avoid the tendency to overeat.

Since raw fruits and vegetables are such nutrition powerhouses, one might wonder if the entire diet should be derived from raw foods only. In practice, the attempt to live exclusively on raw foods can present some challenges. Raw vegetables contain only about 100 calories per pound, and much of the available energy (calories) in the food is used up in the process of mastication and digestion, as well as eliminating the high fiber content of these foods. If one were to subsist on raw vegetables only, it would clearly be a full-time job. You would literally have to eat all day long (much like most other grazing animals do).

Problems with all-fruit diets

Fruit is more concentrated, providing about 300 calories per pound. Large quantities of fruit could provide adequate calories, but such a diet would be very high in sugar and low in minerals, which would eventually lead to health problems for many, if not most, people. The patients I have seen who have eaten predominantly raw fruit diets for any length of time often develop multiple health problems including difficulties with teeth, gums, skin, immune system, and nervous system. Increased emotional volatility, fatigue, recurrent fungal, yeast, bacterial, and viral infections are also common.

Introducing raw nuts to the raw fruit diet adds a rich source of nutrition. But the resulting high-fat, high-sugar diet does not appear to work as well as a diet that utilizes abundant quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables with the addition of significant quantities of cooked starches such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Cooked starches are rich sources of nutrients, including minerals. Conservative cooking such as steaming and baking causes minimal degradation of nutrients, and cooked starches contain significantly more available energy per volume than raw foods. The cooking process breaks down the starch and fiber, making the consumption of appropriate quantities of health-promoting food both feasible and practical.

Enjoying your diet

The question of whether or not you will enjoy your new diet is somewhat difficult to answer. When making a swift and dramatic dietary change-from a typical western diet to a Hygienic diet-people sometimes temporarily feel physically worse and emotionally deprived. For a very determined person this method can be an excellent choice, and almost everyone can make at least limited positive changes in this direction.

At the Center for Conservative Therapy, we often see people who want or need to make a change rapidly. For these people, a period of therapeutic water fasting followed by a carefully controlled refeeding period speeds the transition. Fasting affects the body in many profound ways. The taste buds are dramatically rejuvenated and the taste of simple food can be truly appreciated. A fast also can enable a person to more quickly get through the sometimes unpleasant physical symptoms associated with detoxification.

 Living in the real world

We all live in the real world, with its temptations and seductions. Unfortunately, many things that taste good do not promote health. They have been designed to appeal to our inborn preferences for sweet, salt, and fat. In a natural setting, these substances are scarce, but in our industrial society we have access to virtually unlimited rich, stimulating foods.

To be successful in dietary transition, you must create your own natural environment as much as possible. The most important place to start is your home. Don't bring fats, oils, salt, and sugar, processed foods or animal products into your home-not even "just for company." If you have these temptations around you, you will either succumb to them or spend so much energy trying to resist them that you will become exhausted.

It is important for each person to develop his or her own set of strategies to support a healthful lifestyle. It is also important to review these strategies as well as your reasons for wanting to live healthfully. Re-read the books, listen to the tapes, and watch the videos that helped you make your decision. Attend lectures or seminars periodically both to learn and reinforce your health promoting habits. Cultivate friends who value their health and happiness. Pursue activities and interests that give you a feeling of productivity and emotional nourishment rather than looking solely to food to make you feel good.

Remember, food is fuel. Eat to live; don't live to eat.     

Resolving Corruption

Submitted on March 25, 2013 - 8:48am

Resolving Corruption: How to “Reboot” Your Brain so that Healthy Eating is Preferred

By Alan Goldhamer, D.C. and Jennifer Marano, D.C.

Reprinted from Health Science magazine, Spring 2012

Adopting a health-promoting diet in the modern world is among the most difficult challenges facing humans living in industrialized societies. In the world of our ancient ancestors, the biological imperative of life was getting enough to eat while avoiding being eaten. Most early humans were unsuccessful and did not live long enough to reproduce. The few that survived (our ancestors) lived exclusively on whole, natural foods. They never ate refined carbohydrates or processed oils because these artificially concentrated food-like substances did not exist.

Drugs like alcohol and cocaine create intense pleasure feelings by fooling the brain into producing increased quantities of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals, including dopamine. Eventually, the body becomes dependent on this artificial dopamine stimulation and the person must continue to use increasing quantities of these substances to avoid the pain of withdrawal. They have become addicted.

When we include these processed “chemicals” in our diet, including sugar (C6H12O6) or oil (C17H35COOH) we enjoy the resulting feelings that the production of dopamine induces. We become habituated. If we stop adding these substances, we may experience whole, natural foods as tasteless and unappetizing in comparison. Withdrawal symptoms may be similar to drug withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, nausea, joint ache, pain, irritability, etc. We have been caught in the dietary pleasure trap. We are addicts.

Unlike our ancient ancestors that usually died from deprivation and predation, modern humans increasingly suffer and die from the results of excesses associated with being caught in the dietary pleasure trap. The resulting obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders make up the majority of the deaths and disability that plague humans today. 

Alcoholics must struggle to avoid the use of alcohol, even when they realize their lives are being devastated by the consequences of their addiction. Even with the support of a 30-day, in-patient program, regular attendance at a 12-step outpatient program and family support, well over 70 percent of alcoholics will fail to quit drinking and sustain sobriety.

When it comes to the dietary pleasure trap, the results are even more startling. Over 97 percent of attempts to loose substantial weight and keep it off will fail. We live in a world that is designed to give us what we want (pleasure) not what we need (a health-promoting diet and lifestyle).

The majority of conventional medical care is aimed at treating the symptoms of diseases, particularly our chronic diseases associated with dietary excess. If you have high blood pressure and you follow your doctor’s advice, you will be guaranteed to never recover. You will be on the drugs for the rest of your life (however long that may be), as these drugs will not correct the cause of your high blood pressure. This is also true for diabetes, arthritis, asthma, colitis, and many other chronic conditions.

If your goal is to lose weight and keep it off, conventional medical advice fails. Some doctors have become so frustrated with universal failure that they give up and tell people to just accept themselves as they are, because achieving optimum weight and health can’t be done. Or, they may resort to drastic (and very lucrative) surgeries with all of their attendant problems and risks.

For the past 30 years the doctors at the TrueNorth Health Center have worked with over 10,000 patients, many of whom struggle with the dietary pleasure trap. Some start off unaware of what a health-promoting diet is and have been deluded into thinking that their lean meat, low-fat dairy products, sugar-free sodas, dark chocolate, sugar substitutes, such as honey or agave, and their red wine ARE health promoting.

Others understand that health is the result of healthful living, and that means eating a plant-based diet that is also SOS-free (free of added sugar, oil and salt) but they have trouble sticking to the program, given the temptations that they face each day.

The result for both groups of patients, regardless of their knowledge is the same: obesity, diseases of dietary excess, and premature disability and death. Both groups find that the more the dietary pleasure trap has ensnared them, the less appealing are whole, natural foods. Our work at the TrueNorth Health Center is focused on helping people overcome this trap and adopt a diet and lifestyle that will control and even reverse this process instead of just treat symptoms. It is not easy or simple, but it can be done, as the following examples illustrate.

When the program at the TrueNorth Health Center gained acceptance as a fully covered benefit of a major labor union, we admitted a crane operator who was a very large and rather gruff man. Almost 100 pounds overweight with a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, digestive difficulties and impotence, he questioned me immediately about the need for him to stay at our facility and undergo a period of medically supervised, water-only fasting. I explained that the combination of obesity, hypertension and diabetes increased his chances of dying. 

He reminded me that “we all have to die sometime.” I reminded him that his deteriorating health had led to his use of eight prescription medications costing over $1,000 dollars a month. He countered that his union paid for his medications which cost him nothing. In desperation, I suggested that if the fasting and diet change were successful, there was a good chance we could get him off his medications and do something about his “little problem” he was having with “Captain Johnson.” When he looked up suddenly at the mention of his impotence problem, and I noticed that his neck was bigger than my thigh, I was worried I may have just poked an angry lion in the eye. He looked at me and said, “Well, why the hell didn’t you just say so.” He picked up his bag and checked into his room. 

We tried to feed him a very nice plant-based, SOS-free final meal before starting the fast, but he was clearly having difficulty eating the food. I thought he might have an esophageal stricture from the difficulty he was having swallowing. With each bite his face cringed as if he were swallowing the most bitter and disgusting fare you can imagine. I sat down next to him and said, “It looks like you’re having some trouble eating.” He said, “This stuff is AWFUL! If I have to eat tasteless swill like this in order to get healthy, I would rather DIE!” He suggested that rather than guiding him through a fast, he would prefer that I just go out to his truck, bring in his 12-gauge and SHOOT HIM IN THE HEAD!

After almost three weeks of fasting, the loss of almost 40 pounds and the elimination of all of his medications, the time came to begin refeeding. This time he was able to chew AND SWALLOW his health-promoting fare. When I commented on his improved ability to eat and enjoy whole, natural foods, he suggested that our chef was FINALLY getting the “hang of it.” I told him it was the same food he had tried before. He vehemently denied that and said that the food I had fed him three weeks ago was tasteless swill, but this stuff was “not bad.”

He returned to work as a crane operator. Six months later I ran into him while I was doing blood pressure screening at a union health event. I asked him how he was doing. He said he had stuck to the rabbit food diet, had lost an additional 60 pounds, had used NO medications and, as he made a fist and held his arm up in an “erect” fashion, he assured me that he was doing “JUST FINE.”

Without the benefits of a fast, it would have been very difficult to get compliance with diet change. Improving health enough so that good foods “taste good” is a very powerful benefit of fasting. We call this change "taste neuroadaptation." It lasts as long as people keep eating well. 

One sure sign that someone may need to consider fasting is when health-promoting foods lose their natural appeal. Patients caught in the dietary pleasure trap cannot fully enjoy (or in some cases even tolerate) the pleasure of eating whole, natural foods. For people who have the motivation and determination to stick to a vegan, SOS-free diet for long enough periods of time, many problems of dietary excess will begin to slowly improve. For those who are unable or unwilling to give up their addictions easily, or who do not respond quickly enough, a period of medically supervised water-only fasting can, in some cases, save their life.

Free phone consultation: If you would like to have a no-cost phone consultation with Dr. Alan Goldhamer to determine if a stay at TrueNorth Health Center might be helpful to you, go to the Center’s website at and click on the "registration forms" button. Answer the health history questions and click "submit" and then call (707) 586-5555 ext. 2022. Dr. Goldhamer will help you evaluate your options.

How does our program work?

  1. First we review your medical history and offer a free phone consultation to determine what program might be appropriate.
  2. You will receive a physical examination and appropriate testing by a TNH medical doctor.
  3. We’ll discuss our various programs: healthy eating, juice fasting or water fasting to eliminate the dependence on medications and dietary chemicals, etc.
  4. We’ll help establish a program for flexibility, strength and endurance as well as relaxation and healthy sleep.

Alan Goldhamer, D.C., is the founder of TrueNorth Health Center in California. He is a member of the NHA Board of Directors. Dr. Goldhamer is the author of the Health Promoting Cookbook and co-author of The Pleasure Trap. Jennifer Marano, D.C., is the co-founder of TrueNorth Health Center. Both are Life members of the National Health Association.


What to Eat!

Submitted on January 9, 2013 - 9:15am

By Alan Goldhamer, D.C. and Jennifer Marano, D.C.

Reprinted from Health Science magazine, Fall 2012

When readers of Health Science are asked, “What should I eat,” the first thing that probably springs to mind is to recommend a vegan, meaning plant-based, diet. But just recommending a vegan diet is not enough. The average American diet is not health-promoting, as we can tell by looking at the average American: most likely overweight or obese, and frequently suffering from such degenerative diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and arthritis.

So, to tell the average American to stop eating animal products is not a sufficient amount of information. If the average person just removes the animal products from his/her diet and ate more of the non-animal products they were currently eating, they might be in far more danger than before. There are many very bad vegan choices out there, and it is entirely possible to consume a totally vegan and terribly unhealthful diet.

Dietary choices will have a profound effect on the quantity and the quality of each person’s life. You and everyone around you are faced with thousands of decisions a year regarding what fuel you will feed your body, so it is imperative that everyone have a basic nutritional information framework to help guide them in making these choices.

In order to make wise choices we must think about the caloric density of foods. Our brains are wired to crave the most concentrated sources of food available. This ability to distinguish between calorically dense foods, such as bread and avocados, and foods less dense in calories, such as salad and vegetables, was a useful talent in times of scarcity. This talent seems so obvious to us today that we tend to ignore it. We don’t think about why we prefer bread or pasta to salad. We don’t think much about why gelato tastes “better” to us than non-fat ice cream. In the distant past we never had to think about what to eat — we just ate whatever we could get our hands on. Consequently we are not well prepared to live in an environment of abundance, not only of natural foods, but an environment of artificial food-like substances designed to seduce our brains and extract money from our wallets while making us sick. At TrueNorth Health Center we call this modern dilemma the “pleasure trap.”

Two main keys to making wise dietary choices are knowing the difference between caloric density and nutritional density, and understanding the role of food processing. That probably sounds a bit complicated, but it isn’t, as we shall see.

First, density: Fats and oils contain more calories per gram than any other nutrient, so any food that contains a lot of fat or oil is a high-calorie food. All natural foods contain some fat. Most vegetables and fruits have small amounts, while nuts, avocados, and olives, and, of course, meat and fish contain a lot more. Natural foods also contain carbohydrates and protein, and again, amounts vary. Grains and root vegetables are more concentrated and contain less water, and thus have more calories, while fruits and green vegetables are less calorie-dense. But natural foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, are very high in nutrients other than calories. These include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other compounds that are essential for our health. This is what is meant by nutritional density.

The second key is understanding food processing. Processing is anything you do to the food to alter its natural state. You can cut it into smaller pieces to make it easier to eat. You can cook it, which softens it and makes the nutrients more available. You can grind it up to avoid having to chew, as in blended salads. These are fairly minimal forms of processing, and thus do not change the nature of the food too much.

But humans have learned to do a lot more than simple processing. We can squeeze the juice from fruit and get rid of all the fiber, leaving a very sweet, concentrated liquid. We can remove the fibrous coating from grain and grind it up very finely to make flour and then turn that into bread, a highly concentrated food. We can extract the fat or oil from foods and bottle it to be sold separately or add it to other foods. We can extract the sugar from cane or beets or corn and then use the concentrated sugar to concoct foods that do not exist in nature. Essentially, we’ve learned to isolate the various components of foods that we find most desirable (mainly sugar, starch and fat) and combine them to form cookies, cakes, ding-dongs — you name it! And it is these artificially concentrated, food-like substances that lead us straight into the pleasure trap.

We have to think about the food we put in our mouths if we want to promote optimal health. There just isn’t any getting around it. We don’t live in an environment where we can rely on “instinct.” We need foods with high nutritional density and we need to be aware of, and probably limit, how much high calorically dense food we eat. We need to avoid foods that have been processed to the extent that the fiber has been removed and the sugar and fat content has been concentrated or artificially enhanced.

We know that smoking is addictive, that heroin and cocaine are addictive, and that alcohol can be addictive. But we don’t often think about how artificially concentrated foods packed with added sugar, oil and salt can act just like drugs by over-stimulating the reward centers in our brains. But large food processing companies understand how this works, and they put a lot of effort into designing products that activate this addiction-like reaction and keep us coming back for more.

As a result of this dietary pleasure trap, many people are suffering from the diseases of excess that were previously mentioned. Fortunately, adopting a health promoting diet is a cost effective and reliable way to achieve optimum weight and avoid, and even reverse, the diseases associated with dietary excess.

The most effective way to get the proper nutrients without overdoing the calories is to include large quantities of high nutritionally dense and low calorically dense vegetables in your diet. This includes salad greens (lettuces, spinach, mesclun, sprouts), root vegetables (carrots, beets, jicama, sweet potatoes, white potatoes), dark greens (kale, chard, collards, purslane), cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy), and green beans and squashes. Most of these can be eaten raw, juiced, blended, steamed or baked. If you are trying to lose weight, these vegetables should be eaten first, before any more concentrated foods are eaten.

In addition to vegetables you will want to include fresh fruit and whole non-glutinous grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet or corn. Also, beans, including lentils and peas, may be included. Limited quantities of high-fat vegetable foods such as nuts and avocado may be included, depending on your goals regarding weight.

A vegan diet lacks a significant source of vitamin B12. We recommend that all vegans consume 1000 mcg per day of vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin in order to insure that adequate vitamin B12, an essential nutrient, is present.

An excellent resource for preparing this type of diet is a cookbook called Bravo! written by our own chef here at TrueNorth Health Center.

Alan Goldhamer, D.C., is the founder of TrueNorth Health Center in California. He is a member of the NHA Board of Directors. Dr. Goldhamer is the author of the Health Promoting Cookbook and co-author of The Pleasure Trap. Jennifer Marano, D.C., is the co-founder of TrueNorth Health Center. Both are Life members of the National Health Association.

Please Help Us Learn About Fasting and Vegan Diet

Submitted on September 5, 2011 - 5:03pm

Bastyr University & TrueNorth Health


Fasting and Alternatives to Standard Therapeutics (FAST): Determining the Molecular and
Physiological Mechanisms Responsible for Adult Hypertension and Obesity


Please Help Us Learn About

Fasting and Vegan Diet


Is medically supervised water-only fasting an effective treatment for High Blood Pressure?

Vegan, Low Salt and Low Fat Diets, are shown to be an effective lifestyle therapy to reduce blood pressure and promote weight loss. Another potentially effective therapy to reduce blood pressure and promote weight loss is Short-Term, Medically Supervised, Water Only Fasting.  Safe and effective alternatives for the treatment of high blood pressure and obesity are increasingly needed.  This study aims to find out whether short-term fasting, combined with dietary modification, is more effective at reducing blood pressure and increasing weight loss than dietary modification alone.


If you have High Blood Pressure and are Obese and between the ages of 21 and 65, you may be eligible to participate in a research study about fasting and diet.

Study participants will be asked to get a baseline screening and get periodic blood work in addition to your normal health care.  Participants with a normal physical exam and blood work who also have greater than 140/90 mmHg and are Obese at the initial screening will be eligible to participate in the study.

If a screening visit and blood work results show you are eligible, you will be able to undergo the vegan diet and the fasting treatment as a part of this research study. At the end of the 6-week study, you will also be asked to attend one more study visit after 6 months to obtain additional blood work and physical measures.

Before participating, we will need to have your Personal Information and Medical History forms completed. Click here to apply for the study.

Call us at (707) 586-5555.

for more information

Call TrueNorth Health
Center (TNHC)
at 707-586-5555

Fasting is the Answer, What is the Question?

Submitted on July 17, 2011 - 9:22am

This article originally appeared in Health Science Magazine.

In the world of our ancient ancestors, fasting occurred primarily by force, not by choice.  Humans would fast when resources became scarce, such as when Spring came late. The ability of humans to fast was a biological necessity born from the disproportionate use of glucose by the brain. Were it not for the biological adaptation we call fasting, our species would never have survived. During fasting, the body preferentially utilizes fat for energy and breaks down other tissues in inverse order to their importance to the body.
Today, the environment of scarcity has largely been eliminated in the industrialized countries and has been replaced by an environment of excess. Surprisingly, the physiological process of fasting, which once kept us from dying of starvation, can now help us overcome the effects of dietary excess from the consumption of “pleasure trap” chemicals including oil, sugar, and salt as well as highly processed flour products and factory farmed animal foods that have resulted in an epidemic of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cancer.  We can use the natural process of fasting to counteract the effects of poor diet choices and to help make the transition to a health promoting diet.

Would fasting help?

In the past 30 years, I have witnessed the effect of medically supervised, water-only fasting in over 10,000 patients.  There is nothing that is more effective than fasting when it comes to treating the consequences of dietary excess.  Not every condition will respond to fasting. Genetic disorders and certain types of kidney disease, for example, may not respond. But many of the most common causes of premature death and disability respond, and often spectacularly.
Who benefits from fasting? The following are six of the most common conditions that respond well.
1. Obesity is primarily the result of addiction to the artificial stimulation of dopamine in the brain by the consumption of chemicals added to our foods, including oil, sugar, salt and dairy products. The answer to obesity is to adopt a health-promoting diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods including fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds and the variable addition of minimally processed, non-glutinous grains and beans. When fully implemented, in conjunction with adequate sleep and activity, predictable, consistent weight loss will occur that averages 1.5-2 pounds per week for women and 2-3 pounds per week for men.
If your goal is to lose excess fat and you have trouble adopting a health-promoting program, a period of fasting may be of benefit. The protected environment of a fasting center provides a focused opportunity for intense education and the social support needed to escape the addictive forces of the dietary pleasure trap. The fasting experience functions like rebooting a corrupted computer. After fasting, whole natural food is once again appealing, making adopting a health-promoting diet more achievable. 
If your goal is to lose weight and escape the pleasure trap of processed foods, a period of fasting from a few days to a few weeks may be beneficial.
2. The dietary pleasure trap is insidious, and the con-sequences of poor dietary choices go beyond obesity.  Overstimulation by artificially concentrated calories can confuse normal satiety signals resulting in persistent overeating. Over time, this results in the degenerative diseases of dietary excess including high blood pressure and the resulting cardiovascular disease.
For people who have fallen into the dietary pleasure trap and developed high blood pressure, medically supervised water-only fasting has been shown to be a safe and effective means of normalizing blood pressure and reversing cardiovascular disease. In a study conducted at the TrueNorth Health Center in conjunction with Cornell University Professor T.Colin Campbell, the use of fasting for 2-4 weeks in patients with stage 3 hypertension resulted in reductions of systolic blood pressure of over 60 mm/Hg. This is the largest effect size of any study published to date.  At the TrueNorth Health Center we routinely see patients normalize their blood pressure and eliminate the need for medications.
If your goal is to normalize elevated blood pressure and reverse cardiovascular disease, a period of medically supervised fasting may be beneficial.
3. Diabetes is a condition that is increasing in epidemic proportions. Largely the consequence of dietary excess,  the resulting alteration of physiological functions such as high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance results in a cascade of consequences including blindness from retinal damage, heart attacks and stroke, reduced healing capacity, nerve damage, impotence, gangrene, etc. Fasting, along with a health-promoting diet and exercise program, can dramatically increase insulin sensitivity and bring blood sugar levels under control.
If your goal is to normalize blood sugar levels and avoid or eliminate the need for medications and their consequences, a period of fasting may prove beneficial. Most patients with Type 2 diabetes are capable of achieving normal blood sugar levels without the need for medications.
4. Drug addiction has become the norm. Nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and a plethora of prescription and recreational drugs dominate the lives of the majority of people living in industrialized society.  The supportive environment of a fasting center can be helpful in getting safely through withdrawal symptoms and more effectively establishing healthy habits while eliminating the perceived need for addictive substances.
If your goal is to escape addiction and live a life free of dependence on health-compromising chemicals, a period of fasting may prove to be beneficial.
5. Autoimmune disorders including Arthritis, Lupus, Colitis, Cohn’s disease, Asthma, Eczema, Psoriasis, and environmental allergies are becoming more common and more debilitating. One possible contributing factor to the aggravation of autoimmune disease involves gut leakage. The absorption of antigenic substances into the blood stream as a result of increased gut permeability appears to be a factor in the aggravation of these conditions.  Fasting can help to normalize gut permeability and ease the transition to a health promoting, low inflammatory diet.  Many of our patients are able to effectively manage the symptoms of autoimmune disorders, thus eliminating the need for medication.
If your goal is to eliminate the problems associated with autoimmune disorders, a period of medically supervised fasting may be an important component in a comprehensive program designed to save the quality and quantity of your life.
6. Exhaustion, both physical and emotional, has become increasingly common in our fast-paced lives. Feelings of fatigue and depression can compromise the quality of your life. Reliance on artificial stimulants compounds the problem. The lack of adequate sleep and exercise and poor dietary and lifestyle choices work together to interfere with  the ability of many people to enjoy their life or fulfill their potential. Fasting can give your body and your mind a complete rest.
If your goal is to “recharge” your system, fasting may help you accomplish your goals.
When properly utilized, fasting can be a powerful tool in helping your body do what it does best…heal itself. It is the answer to a surprising number of questions.

Meat Linked to Diabetes Risk

Submitted on July 6, 2011 - 2:37pm

Type 2 Diabetes Associated with Increased Intake of Animal Foods.

The effects of diet and lifestyle on health are notoriously difficult to ascertain. In order to begin to tease out patterns, researchers measure many variables in order to account for confounding variables (ie, factors that also correlate to the thing being studied).

To further make research more difficult, huge numbers of people must be tracked in order to get enough data to make meaningful analyses.  The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study has followed 51,529 middle-aged (age 40–75 y at baseline) male health professionals. That’s more people than live in my hometown! Using data from the Health Professionals study, the researchers from Harvard University found a strong, positive association between a low carbohydrate diet high in animal protein and fat and incidence of type 2 diabetes.1

The study used data from 40,475 participants who were free of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at the time they entered the study. Every four years, the biannual questionnaire mailed to the participants included a section that assessed dietary habits. Based on the responses in the questionnaires over 20 years, the participant’s diets were scored on their carbohydrate, fat and protein content.  The study also measured differences in protein and fat sources - whether they were of vegetable or animal origin.

After accounting for variables such as smoking status, family history, and body mass index that might also be associated with incidence of type 2 diabetes, the scientists found an increased risk of type 2 diabetes with a low carbohydrate diet high in animal protein and fat. However, a low carbohydrate diet high in vegetable protein and fat was not associated with onset of type 2 diabetes.

1Am J Clin Nutr 2011 93: 4 844-850

Vegan Diets Linked to Reduced Cataract Risk

Submitted on June 25, 2011 - 6:29am

This week, I was planning to write about recent research that found a strong, positive correlation between a diet including animal proteins and type 2 diabetes.  The study "Low-carbohydrate diet scores and risk of type 2 diabetes in men" was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. As I was reading through the articles, though, I found a number of articles in the current volume of the journal that support (albeit indirectly) a whole-food, plant-based diet. Here''s a few of the articles I found:

  • A high-fat diet impairs cardiac high-energy phosphate metabolism and cognitive function in healthy human subjects. The American journal of clinical nutrition Vol: 93 Issue: 4 ISSN: 0002-9165 Date: 04/2011 Pages: 844 - 850.
    • This was a small study (n=16) of young males that compared a high fat diet (75 +/- 1% of calories) to a standard diet (23 +/- 1%). The researchers measured cardiac functions and cognitive functions. They found that the high fat diet decreased a major biomarker for cardiac function. They also found reduced cognitive abilities from the high fat diet. The real question to me is how did anyone manage to consume a diet with 75% of calories from fat...I can see why they had to use young males in the study.
  • High-protein, reduced-carbohydrate weight-loss diets promote metabolite profiles likely to be detrimental to colonic health: The American journal of clinical nutrition Vol: 93 Issue: 5 ISSN: 0002-9165 Date: 05/2011 Pages: 1062 - 1072
    • This study followed 17 obese men and put them on both a high protein, moderate carbohydrate diet and a high protein, low carbohydrate for 4 weeks at a time. The researchers concluded: "After 4 wk, weight-loss diets that were high in protein but reduced in total carbohydrates and fiber resulted in a significant decrease in fecal cancer-protective metabolites and increased concentrations of hazardous metabolites."
  • Diet, vegetarianism, and cataract risk: The American journal of clinical nutrition Vol: 93 Issue: 5 ISSN: 0002-9165 Date: 05/2011 Pages: 1128 - 1135
    • I found this study one of the more interesting because they had a large sample size (n=27,670). The results they published: "There was a strong relation between cataract risk and diet group, with a progressive decrease in risk of cataract in high meat eaters to low meat eaters, fish eaters (participants who ate fish but not meat), vegetarians, and vegans."

The last study in the list is just part of the growing body of large-scale evidence supporting the hypothesis that a whole-food, plant-based diet will lead to better health outcomes that a diet rich with animal foods and processed products. Hopefully I''ll get around to a more in-depth analysis of the type 2 diabetes study next week.

Vegetarian Diet May Reduce Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Submitted on June 7, 2011 - 12:28pm

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors associated with stroke, diabetes, coronary heart disease. One of the primary indicators of metabolic syndrome is extra weight around the waist. The indications of metabolic syndrome are any three of the following: blood presssure greater than 130/85 mmHG, fasting glucose greater than 100 mg/dL, large waist circumference (40+ in for men, 35+ in for women), HDL cholesterol under 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women, or triglyercides greater than 150 mg/dL. A diagnosis of MetS indicates that you are at much greater risk of stroke, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Researchers at Loma Linda University found that a vegetarian diet was associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.  The study, published in March issue of DiabetesCare, analyzed 773 subjects in the Adventist Health Study 2. Subjects self reported their dietary habits via a food questionnaire (vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, or non-vegetarian).  This data was used to determine association between diet and risk factors (HDL, triglyercides, glucose, blood pressure, and waist circumference).

When compared to the non-vegetarians, vegetarians had lower means of the risk factors, except for HDL, and they had lower risk of Metabolic Syndrome.