Study Suggests Routine Fasting May Affect Heart Health

Submitted on May 31, 2011 - 6:45pm

Research by doctors and scientists at the Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, UT revealed metabolic changes during fasting that could be linked to better health. The most recent study confirmed their finding from an earlier study that was published in the October 2008 Journal of Cardiology. The original study found a correlation between the fasting behavior of members of the Latter Day Saints church and reduced risk of Coronary Artery Disease.  The study says,

"[The fact that LDS do not smoke and exercise regularly] allows for the possibility that fasting may simply be the best surrogate for a cluster of low-risk behaviors, including unmeasured factors. However, fasting behavior was reported by some with religious preferences other than LDS, and in these subjects, an association of large effect size was found (77% lower risk of CAD). This suggested that the observed benefit arose from fasting and not from a cluster of religion-associated behaviors. In addition, it was unlikely that the other behaviors (at least the measured ones) accounted for the fasting benefit because they were all eliminated when statistical modeling included them with fasting."

The most recent study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal (at least that I have found), but several news sources picked up the press release from the Intermountain Medical Center. According to the press release:

"Unlike the earlier research by the team, this new research recorded reactions in the body's biological mechanisms during the fasting period. The participants' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, the 'bad' cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, the 'good' cholesterol) both increased (by 14 percent and 6 percent, respectively) raising their total cholesterol and catching the researchers by surprise. ... This recent study also confirmed earlier findings about the effects of fasting on human growth hormone (HGH), a metabolic protein. HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance, a response triggered and accelerated by fasting. During the 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men."

The results of these studies is no surprise. At TrueNorth we've fasted thousands of people over the past many years, and heart disease is one condition that consistently responds to a fasting protocol. For more information about the research on fasting that we've done, click here.


Strategic Planning: A 10-Step Program to Sustaining Health-Promoting Habits

Submitted on January 5, 2011 - 4:45pm

Adopting a health-promoting diet and lifestyle is one of the most difficult tasks facing modern human beings. Even people who are health conscious have a difficult time implementing a health-promoting diet, designing and sticking to a regular exercise program, and getting proper rest and sleep. This article outlines a strategy that can help you achieve your health goals.

Step 1: Determine your goals

It is important that you identify what your goals are. Eliminating pain, restoring function, improving capacity, losing excess fat or delaying death are examples of achievable goals. Most of us can rattle off a few goals without having to stop and think much. They can be vague or precise but, whatever they are, start by writing them down. Then arrange your goals in the order of importance to you.

Step 2: Objectify your problems

Establish an objective baseline so you will be able to determine progress or deterioration. For example, if your goal is to lose weight it is helpful to know what your weight is and what a realistic goal weight is. In addition, determining your percentage of body fat and specific measurements such as waist circumference may prove useful in determining if your strategies are being effective. If your goal is to reduce your risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease, knowing your blood pressure, functional blood vessel health, blood measurements such as cholesterol, triglycerides, hemoglobin A1c, C-reactive protein, etc., will give you an objective basis to evaluate the progress of your health-promoting strategy.  Working with a doctor who focuses on health promotion may prove extremely helpful. The doctor may be able to provide you information on the underlying cause(s) of your problems.

Step 3: Establish realistic goals and timelines

It is important to set realistic goals so that you do not violate your expectations and become discouraged.  For example, the average overweight individual can lose two pounds per week by adopting a health- promoting diet and lifestyle. That translates into a negative calorie balance of 1,000 calories per day and in my experience is the maximum sustainable weight loss for the average person. If your goal is to resolve hypertension with fasting, you need to understand how long a fast will be needed to achieve the desired results.  The higher your self-efficacy of resolution, the higher the probability for definitive, sustained action.  In order to regain and maintain health in the face of adversity and challenges, you must have confidence that the actions you are taking are likely to succeed.

Step 4: Identify the roadblocks to achieving your goals

It is important to have an understanding of the nature of the obstacles you face in achieving your goals. Roadblocks can include genetic and epigenetic factors, diet (deficiencies and excesses), environmental conditions (air, water, sun, chemicals, etc.), activity (rest and sleep, strength and flexibility, and proper body usage) and psychology (how well you deal with the stressors of family, friends, and social contacts.) 

An accurate diagnosis can be critical in planning a strategy. Mistaken beliefs, no matter how commonly held can sabotage a well-intentioned plan. For example, if one of your goals is to resolve joint pain and you believe the official position of the national arthritis foundation that "no specific diet will make your arthritis better," you are likely to fail.

If your goal is to lose weight, it is important to evaluate your dietary strategy as well as sleep, exercise and possible metabolic dysfunction including hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, musculoskeletal problems that might limit activity and psychological issues including addiction.  The reason weight loss is such a persistent problem is that deficiencies in a number of different arenas can contribute to the problem.  It is often useful to consult with health professionals experienced in diagnosing the factors that might be preventing you from achieving your goals.

Step 5: Give up on magic

Money is made telling people what they want to hear, NOT what they need to know.  What you want to hear is you can achieve your goal without escaping the pleasure trap of the standard American diet and lifestyle. What you need to know is how to escape the pleasure trap so you can achieve your goal. HEALTH IS THE RESULT OF HEALTHFUL LIVING.  You want to avoid getting caught in the trap of the cure mentality.

Step 6: Set priorities

All actions are not equal in effect. Focus on the actions likely to yield the most substantial results. Time is the primary limiting factor in life. Rich and poor alike are strictly limited to 168 hours per week. Evaluating practicality and learning to manage your efforts effectively and efficiently are a priority.  Securing enough sleep, exercise and a health-promoting diet need to become a priority if success is to be achieved. In some cases, major life management skills need to be developed and obtaining time management coaching can be very helpful.

Step 7: Establish accountability

Some of my patients will send me detailed diet diaries of any dietary variations or alterations from their health- promotion regimes and the reasons that these variations occurred.  In reviewing these email messages I can advise them as to adaptive strategies.  The fact they are reporting variations tends to reduce the frequency of variations and make them more aware of the consequences. 

Step 8: Initiate action plan

Up to this point, all of our efforts have involved identifying the challenge, understanding the difficulties and planning a strategy.  Now it is time to take action.  Attitude determines action but ACTION determines outcome. You have to work the plan in order for the plan to work.

Step 9: Assess progress

Periodically reassessing the objectives such as weight, blood test results and measurements from Step 2 will provide objective evidence of progress which tends to improve persistence.  It will also allow you to fine tune your plan if you are failing to make adequate progress.

Step 10: Maintain success

The people who are successful in the long-term under-stand the importance of ongoing education and inspiration in maintaining their persistence. Education is available from organizations such as the National Health Association and their books, videos, seminars and by spending time at the TrueNorth Health Center and similar facilities where the focus is on strategic health planning and implementation.

Breaking Free of the Dietary Pleasure Trap

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 2:42pm

If you are holding a copy of Health Science magazine, and know what it is all about, then you are one of the lucky ones. Of the 300 million people who live in our country, most will spend their whole lives confused about what is good for them, and what isn’t. If you are one of the fortunate few who has a good feel for the truth about health, then you are more than halfway there.

The problem is, knowing is only about half of the battle. The other half of the journey is pretty tough. Just knowing doesn’t quite get it done all by itself. For some reason, even after we know just what to do, there is a tendency to go ahead and do self-destructive things anyway. If we listen to a pop-psychology show, we might hear all sorts of dark and complex speculation about why people are often self-destructive. But to doubt any of it is right. We think there are reasons for "self-destructive" behavior that make perfect sense.

To read the entire article, click here.


10 Most Important Actions to Improve Your Health

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 2:35pm

Optimum health cannot be bought, it must be earned and it comes with a price. The price of health is healthful living. There are many actions that one can choose to take in an attempt to achieve optimum health. This is a brief summary of the actions, that in our experience, really matter.

1. Avoid the use of drugs and exposure to environmental toxins. (Including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, other recreational drugs, over-the-counter and prescriptions drugs whenever possible, and environmental toxins including radiation, pesticides, herbicides, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, etc.)

2. Adopt a health promoting vegan diet. (avoid meat, fish, fowl, eggs and DAIRY products.)

3. Avoid the use of highly refined foods. (including added oil, salt, sugar and refined flour products)

4. Engage in regular aerobic exercise (20-60 minutes of moderate aerobic activity most every day)

5. Insure plentiful high quality sleep (7-9 hours of high quality sleep sufficient to allow you to wake spontaneously, feeling refreshed)

6. Obtain appropriate exposure to sunshine and fresh air (20-40 minutes of generous skin exposure while avoiding burning)

7. Create a supportive social network (amongst the people you meet, like and love) 

8. Insure adequate vitamin B12 (test for MMA or supplement)

9. Fast when appropriate (seek guidance from an IAHP certified doctor)

10. Educate and inspire yourself using the best quality materials available. (see reading list below)

1. The use and abuse of "recreational" drugs, including nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc. results in the artificial release of the pleasure chemicals in the brain, including dopamine. This can result in a habitual "pleasure trap" (abuse and addiction) that can undermine the health and happiness. In addition, the use and abuse of over-the-counter and prescription medications and environmental toxins and radiation all contribute to a state of toxicity that must be minimized if optimum health is to be achieved.1,22

2. Adopting a health promoting Vegan diet (free of all animal foods including meat, fish, fowl, eggs and dairy products) is one of the most important actions someone can take to promote optimum health and avoid the "diseases of kings." These diseases include cancer (including breast, colon, prostate and lung), heart disease (including heart attack and stroke), diabetes and autoimmune disorders. 1,2,3,5-8,16-24

3. Highly processed foods, including oil, flour, sugar and added salt artificially stimulate the pleasure chemicals of the brain, including dopamine, resulting in an addictive-like pleasure trap analogous to drug addiction. One result is the overconsumption of calories that is a major contributing cause of the epidemic of obesity in industrialized countries. 1,2,3,5-8,16-24

4. In the world of scarcity in which our ancient ancestors survived, vigorous activity was a requirement for survival. In order to get enough to eat, and avoid being eaten, regular "exercise" was unavoidable. In our modern, industrialized world of abundance, the need for vigorous activity has been minimized. We must overcome our innate energy conserving mechanisms and obtain 30-60 minutes, most every day, of aerobic activity, including, walking, hiking, biking, dancing, swimming or similar activity. It is wise to combine this aerobic activity with stretching and strengthening and the use of sound ergonomics in order to maximize fitness and functional capacities so critical to optimum health. 1,22,10,11

5. One of our frequently overlooked health promoting actions is a good night's sleep. Much of the body building and repairing associated with healing are powerfully stimulated during the deepest phases of sleep. Most people sleep best in a cool, dark, and quiet place. How much sleep is enough? In general, it is desirable to get enough sleep (7-9 hours for most adults) such that you wake spontaneously, feeling refreshed. 1,22,21

6. Essential nutrients, including vitamin D are formed when the skin is exposed to sunlight. This is necessary to insure optimum calcium absorption and bone health as well as optimum immune function. By avoiding excess exposure to the sun, particularly at mid-day, we can avoid the damaging effects of sunburn. If adequate sun exposure is not possible, vitamin D supplementation may need to be considered. 1,22,21,13,20

7. Human beings are social creatures who need to effectively deal with 3 kinds of relationships; with the people we meet, the people we like and the people we love. Cultivating emotionally supportive interpersonal relationships can minimize the consequences of social isolation that is common when people step outside the social norms, especially as they relate to dietary and lifestyle issues. 1,22,15

8. Our modern day hygienic practices help to protect us from parasites, toxins and consequent disease. These hygienic practices also minimize our exposure to bacteria, which are the sole source of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin). Although our need for this essential nutrient is small and it stores well in the human body, whole body depletion can occur in long-term vegans, leading to elevations in homocysteine and increased risk of heart disease. B12 deficiency can also be associated with neurological disorders (neuropathy) and megablastic anemia (pernicious). Periodic testing for methymalonic acid (MMA) and supplementation if indicated will prevent one's health from being compromised by vitamin B12 deficiency. 1,22,20

9. Fasting involves the complete abstinence of all substances except pure water in an environment of complete rest. Fasting gives the body an opportunity to rapidly do what it does best: cleanse and heal itself. Fasting should be undertaken with the guidance of a doctor trained and experienced in fasting supervision (certified members of the International Association of Hygienic Physicians should be your first choice). 1,22,20,4,14

10. Most of the resources listed below are available from the National Health Association at or from TrueNorth Health at

1. The Pleasure Trap, mastering the hidden force that undermines health and happiness, by Doug Lisle Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer, D.C.
2. The Health Promoting Cookbook, by Alan Goldhamer, D.C.
3. The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.
4. Fasting Can Save Your Life, the video, documentary filmed at TrueNorth Health Center
5. The Pleasure Trap Lectures on DVD, by Doug Lisle, Ph.D.
6. The McDougall Program by John McDougall, M.D.
7. Diet For A New America by John Robbins
8. No More Bull by Howard Lyman
9. The Ultimate Fit or Fat by Covert Bailey
10. Walking by Mark Fenton
11. Stretching by Bob Anderson
12. The Mcdougall Program For Optimum Weight Loss by John McDougall
13. Light by John Ott
14. Fasting and Eating For Health by Joel Fuhrman
15. Feeling Good by David Burns
16. Diet For A New America video by John Robbins
17. Diet For All Reasons DVD by Michael Klapper
18. Health Food versus Healthy Food by Jeff Novick
19. Eating DVD
20. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease by Shils and Young
21. Power Sleep by Dr. James Maas
22. Various Articles:
23. Disease Proof Your Children by Joel Fuhrman
24. Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman