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

Essential Facts about Fats

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 1:28pm

Separating fact from fantasy about this important subject!

Excess consumption of fat is one of the major causes of disease and premature death in modern societies. It is intimately associated with the current epidemic levels of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer of the breast, colon, and prostate. Though over-consumption of fats clearly presents us with serious health risks, certain types of fat are actually essential for maintaining optimum health. A health-promoting diet must contain an adequate quantity and quality of essential fatty acids, while still avoiding excess intake of fat.

Essential fatty acids

Fatty acids are one of the components that make up fat. Humans require some of these fatty acids, which are appropriately called essential fatty acids. They are considered "essential" because, unlike the other fatty acids which we can synthesize or "manufacture" in our bodies, the essential fatty acids must be obtained through our diet. There are two types of essential fatty acids, called the Omega-3 fatty acids and the Omega-6 fatty acids. The most common of the Omega-3 fatty acids consumed by humans is alpha linolenic acid. The most common of the Omega-6 fatty acids we consume is linoleic acid.

Essential fatty acids serve at least three important functions. They assist in the formation of cell membranes, in the transport and oxidation of cholesterol, and in specialized hormone production. According to some studies, at least 2-4% of total calories should come from dietary intake of Omega-6 fatty acids such as linoleic acid.

Whole natural foods

The best way to get your needed essential fatty acids is by eating a health-promoting diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods. The type of diet recommended by the National Health Association contains well over 5% of calories from linoleic acid (see chart). Essential fatty acids are found abundantly in green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, soybeans, and nuts and seeds. Eating a health-promoting diet will provide adequate amounts of the essential fatty acids, without the problems associated with animal products, processed oils, and supplements, which are often promoted as sources for these essential nutrients. Walnuts, flax seeds and green vegetables including purslane are a rich source of the desirable Omega-3 fatty acids.

Conventional diet a problem

People eating the standard American diet, with its high concentration of processed foods, including oils, can actually develop essential fatty acid deficiency. There are several ways this can happen.

First, a diet containing large amounts of animal products, hydrogenated vegetable oils (the synthetic fats found in margarine), and other foods low in essential fatty acids can result in an overall dietary intake that is very low in essential fatty acids.

Second, the essential fatty acids in vegetable oils can be inactivated by common processing procedures, such as hydrogenation, which can interfere with the body's ability to use them.

Finally, if you eat products containing these inactivated essential fatty acids, the chemistry of these products can disrupt your use of any active essential fatty acids. Therefore, if you eat processed products with inactivated essential fatty acids, you may actually develop an essential fatty acid deficiency, even if the remainder of your diet contains unprocessed, fully active essential fatty acids!

No alternative solutions

The fact that we need essential fatty acids does not mean that we need animal foods, oils, or expensive supplements. As John McDougall, M.D., author of The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart, is fond of saying, "People love to hear good news about their bad habits." So, it is not surprising that there is a seemingly endless introduction of fad diets and supplements into the marketplace, promising fantastic benefits to the purchaser wishing to avoid the bother of making meaningful dietary changes. Unfortunately, these products are no substitute for healthful eating.

There are significant health risks associated with deviating from a health-promoting diet. While animal products, including fish, contain essential fatty acids in their tissues, they also contain a biological concentration of mercury and other toxic metals in their flesh. The problems associated with this are well documented.

Likewise, scientific studies of expensive supplementation products containing essential fatty acids have consistently failed to substantiate the spectacular claims made for them by their producers. In addition, taking large amounts of essential fatty acids in supplement form can suppress the immune system, including the suppression of natural killer cells and the production of immune substances called cytokines. These immune functions are important for defending ourselves against viruses, bacteria, parasites, and cancer cells.

As for the health benefits attributed to diets high in olive oil, such as the Mediterranean diet, these benefits are likely due to the fact that this diet is nearly vegetarian. The positive epidemiological observations more likely occur in spite of the olive oil content, rather than because of it. In addition, the heating of all oil, including olive oil, can produce cancer-causing byproducts.

Healthful diet the key

It would be very convenient if health could be bought in a bottle. But health results from healthful living. The best way to get the essential fatty acids you need is by eating a health-promoting diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods.

General dietary analysis of a one-week menu of health promoting recipes

Based on menus from The Health Promoting Cookbook, by Dr. Alan Goldhamer

This chart lists the average daily nutrient content of the recommended daily allowance for an average female 20 to 50 years old. Any specific individual may require more or less total food intake, depending on factors such as height, weight, age, and energy expenditure. This diet is derived exclusively from whole natural foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and the variable addition of raw nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes. It excludes all meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products, as well as added oil, salt, and sugar, and dietary drugs such as tea, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco.

Average daily nutrients from 2100-calorie menu

Nutrient Name




Nutrient Name




Calories 1,2

2113       Kc






0            mg


Vitamin A

7867      RE



37          gm



7073      pg


Linoleic Fat

13.9       gm


Thiamin B1

3            mg


Mono Fat

11.5       gm


Riboflavin B2

1.9           mg


Poly Fat

15.7       gm


Niacin B3

23            mg


Saturated Fat

5.4         gm


Pyridoxine B6

4.2           mg



68          gm


Pant. Acid

9              mg



845        mg


Cobalamin B12

0              pg


Glutamic Acid

229        mg



934          pg



48          mg


Vitamin C

605          mg



1394        mg


Vitamin E

25            mg



2494        mg


Vitamin K

1000        pg



4259        mg






2914        mg



7906        mg



950          mg



.125         mg



2620        mg



531          mg



84          mg



12.8         mg



51            mg



856          mg



2133        mg



0.22         mg



707          mg



3.8           mg



1804        mg



28            mg



3084        mg



852          mg



411          gm



11            mg



36            gm



167          pg



0              gm



1905        mg



27            gm


Dietary Fiber

69            gm



31            gm


Soluble Fiber

4.4           gm



0              gm


Insoluble Fiber

16            gm



1. Percentage of calories: protein 12%, fat 15%, carbohydrates 73%

2. Approximate weight of food consumed each day throughout the week is 3339gm.

3. N/A = not applicable or no standard established

4. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is produced only by bacteria. A strictly vegan diet (no animal foods) contains only trace amounts of vitamin B12 from bacterial contamination. Some vitamin B12 is produced by the bacteria in our mouth and intestinal tract, but it has not yet been proven that this is adequate for all people. To ensure that internal production and recycling of vitamin B12 is adequate, I recommend that vegetarians have a simple blood or urine test every one to three years for methylmalonic acid. This is the most sensitive indicator of vitamin B12 status. If the test for methylmalonic acid is positive, inclusion of vitamin B12 fortified foods or oral supplements can be undertaken. Pregnant and lactating mothers should ensure themselves of a reliable, vegetarian source of vitamin B12 in their diet, such as vitamin B12 fortified foods or oral supplementation.