Where Do You Get Your Protein?

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 1:22pm

The role and need for protein is a much misunderstood topic in our society. In this article you will learn how to better understand the role of protein in your diet.

First, let me provide you with a rather technical definition of a protein. A protein is any one of a group of complex organic, nitrogenous compounds, which form the principal constituents of the cell protoplasm. In other words, proteins make up the "guts" of the cells that are the building blocks of our body.

Many of the structural and functional components of our cells are made up of various proteins.

In man, proteins function in many capacities. They act as organic catalysts in the form of enzymes, as messengers such as peptide hormones, as antibodies that protect us from the effect of microorganisms, and as carrier agents in our blood to transport oxygen and other gases, as well as forming structural components of the cell.

The exact human needs for dietary protein are not known. According to The New England Journal of Medicine: "As for human protein requirements, the pendulum is still swinging because our knowledge of precise human requirements and the inter-relationships among them is far more fragmentary and tentative than generally realized."

Amino Acids

All proteins are composed of amino acids. An amino acid is any one of a class of organic compounds containing a certain amino and carboxyl group. The amino acids are the chief building blocks of proteins; that is, proteins are made by putting various amino acids together into specific combinations.

Although there are dozens of naturally occurring amino acids, the proteins in our body are derived from just twenty. Of these twenty amino acids, our body is able to adequately synthesize twelve internally. The other eight amino acids must be derived externally; that is, we must get them in our diet. These eight amino acids that we must get in our diet are called essential amino acids.

Although our body can recycle the essential amino acids, it cannot produce them. Therefore, the diet must provide a supply of them so that the body has enough raw materials in the form of essential amino acids to replace the normal, everyday losses.

These obligatory losses involve the use of amino acids in the production of products that are not recycled, such as purine bases, creatine, and epinephrine. These are degraded to uric acid, creatinine, and epinephrine - and excreted.

Without an outside source of amino acids, the body's reserves of protein would become depleted, and this starvation process would eventually lead to death.

We get these essential amino acids by eating foods that contain them. But eating is not the only consideration. The proteins of plants and animals are useless to us unless our digestive system is able to break them down into their constituent amino acids and absorb them.

Our digestive systems are not designed to absorb the very large protein molecules, only the smaller amino acids and peptides. Once absorbed, these amino acids become the raw materials from which our body can synthesize the many proteins that serve so many vital functions.
Protein Metabolism

Let's look at the actual metabolism of protein. The digestion of dietary protein begins in the stomach with exposure to the enzyme pepsin, which is secreted in the digestive juices and is activated by hydrochloric acid. Contrary to popular opinion, hydrochloric acid does not digest protein, it merely creates an appropriate media in which pepsin can work.

This secretion of hydrochloric acid is followed by the production of other protein digestion factors or proteolytic enzymes by the pancreas and the mucosal cells of the small intestine.

Once the large dietary protein molecules are broken down to their constituent amino acid components, absorption can take place through the mucosal cells of the small intestine.

Amino acids from dietary digestion are not alone, because the ingestion of food-even non-nitrogenous food-stimulates the digestive tract to secrete endogenous protein, derived from the sloughing of intestinal cells and used up digestive enzymes. These recycled proteins are a rich source of essential amino acids.

Studies by Nasset show that regardless of the amino acid mix of the meal, the intestinal tract maintains a remarkably similar ratio of essential amino acids.

This mixing of endogenous and dietary protein is a key concept. Until this was discovered, it was generally believed that in order to absorb and utilize the essential amino acids in the diet, the diet must contain all the amino acids in certain proportions and presented all at the same time.

This mistaken belief dates back to 1914 when Osborn and Mendel studied the protein requirements of laboratory rats. They found that rats grew faster on animal sources of protein than on vegetable sources. This was followed up by studies by Elman in 1939 using purified and isolated amino acids in rats.

We have learned a lot since 1939. But even today many so-called nutrition experts continue to advance this ancient concept, and many of the protein combining and protein quality arguments are based on this misconception.

According to Nasset, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this mixing of endogenous protein is the body's way of regulating the relative concentrations of the amino acids available for absorption.

We now know that the body is quite capable of taking incomplete proteins and making them complete by utilizing this recycling mechanism. It is now clear that more than 200 grams of endogenous protein is added to the 30 to 100 grams of daily dietary protein.

I would like to point out that the earlier research, which is still so often used to support the mistaken idea that all the essential amino acids must be present at the same time at each meal for amino acids to be absorbed, did not even deal with amino acid absorption. It falsely stated that the essential amino acids must be present at the site of protein synthesis, within the cells of the liver, kidney or muscle. Since the recycling effect of the body's amino acids was not yet understood, the assumption was made that the only source of protein was from the diet.

Not only do we get the majority of our amino acids from recycling, but in 1961 Bender showed that an animal was able to maintain slow growth with proteins completely lacking one essential amino acid.

These concepts have been confirmed by Monroe and are reported in the 1983 edition of Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease by Goodheart and Shills.

The important fact here is that the majority of amino acids absorbed from the intestinal tract are derived from recycled body protein. We are in a sense all flesh eaters, a form of self-cannibalization.

Once absorbed, this combination of endogenous and dietary protein passes by way of the portal vein to the liver. The liver monitors the absorbed amino acids and adjusts the rate of their metabolism according to bodily needs.
How Much Protein Do We Need?

We must have a source of protein to replace the amino acids that are not recycled. The question is, "How much?"

This question has been a hotbed of scientific-and not so scientific-debate since 1830 when a Dutch scientist named Mulder coined the term protein.

In 1865 Playfair in England presented studies that led him to believe that the diet of the average healthy man should contain 119 grams of protein a day.

Later a man named Voit studied Munich brewery workers and found they consumed 190 grams of protein a day. Based on his studies of these brewery workers, Voit advocated 125 grams of protein per day. It was not until 1913 that Hindhede looked up the mortality rates of Voit's brewery workers and discovered that most of these individuals died very young.

In 1947 the University of Rochester laboratories had a project to establish the essential amino acid requirements of the adult male rat. In order to keep the intake of calories and nitrogen constant, the animals were fed a synthetic diet by means of a stomach tube. Attempts to relate extrapolations made from this type of study to humans are obviously questionable.

More recent studies of protein metabolism in man have been made using nitrogen balance data as a parameter. Nitrogen balance studies measure the total amount of nitrogen in the form of dietary protein that is consumed and compares that with the total amount of nitrogen excreted in the urine, feces, integumental losses, sweat, hair as well as semen, menstrual fluid and even the breath. The idea is that if the amount of protein eaten is as much as that given off, the body must be getting enough to maintain balance.

All natural foods-from lettuce to nuts-contain varying amounts of protein.

If a varied diet sufficient in calories is consumed, it is virtually impossible to get an inadequate protein intake. Even a diet devoid of concentrated sources of protein such as animal products, nuts and legumes will meet optimum protein needs.

Most conventional nutritional thinking ignores the tremendous contribution of plant foods to our protein needs. Most conventional diets contain only token amounts of these foods, relying instead on high fat, high protein animal products and a conglomeration of refined carbohydrates.
Are We Built to Eat Meat?

Even a brief look at comparative anatomy illustrates quite clearly that man is not designed to be a carnivore. And just because our bodies have a vital need for a substance does not mean that twice or three times our need is even better. In the case of protein, the concept that more is better is dead wrong.

It is interesting to note that most of our teeth are flat for grinding grains and vegetables-and that our hands are better designed for gathering than for tearing flesh apart. Our saliva contains alpha-amylase whose sole purpose is the digestion of carbohydrates. Alpha-amylase is not found in the saliva of carnivorous animals. Carnivores have the capacity to eliminate large amounts of cholesterol, whereas our livers can excrete only limited amounts. Like herbivores, we sweat to cool our bodies rather than pant like carnivores.

Of all animals that include meat in their diet, man is the only animal that is unable to break down uric acid to allantoin. This is due to the fact that man does not possess the necessary enzyme uricase. This leads to an increased possibility of an accumulation of uric acid in the body when animal products are eaten. (Uric acid is an intermediary product of metabolism that is associated with various pathological states, including gout.)

Problems with Meat

Compared to vegetarians, meat eaters have been shown to have massively increased levels of bile acids.

Animal products are a source of parasites and contamination. Uncooked or improperly cooked meat, fish, fowl and dairy products are the source of parasites such as Trichinosis found in pork and pork-contaminated beef, bacterial infection from Salmonellosis found in milk products and other contaminated animal products. There are multitudes of chemical agents such as carcinogenic nitrates, etc. that are added to animal products to slow down their decay, improve their color and alter their taste. Most animal products undergo significant heat treatment before consumption.

The use of heat presents serious problems. For example, a one-kilogram charbroiled steak contains as much of the cancer-causing benzopyrene as from 600 cigarettes. Methyl choanthrene is another example of a carcinogenic substance derived from heated meat. The heating of any fat, including the fats in animal products, can cause peroxidation and the formation of free radicals.

Free radicals are extremely reactive molecules that are capable of damaging almost any cell of the body. Free radicals have been shown to cause alterations to collagen and elastin tissue leading to premature aging of the skin and connective tissue. They contribute to the accumulation of intra-cellular debris such as lipofuscin and creoid and are thought to be an important component in the aging process.

In addition to parasites, bacterial infestation, toxic poisons, carcinogenic agents, and free radicals, animal products all suffer from the problem of biological concentration. Animals consume large quantities of grain, grass, etc., which are to a greater or lesser extent contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, and other agents. In addition, animals are often fed antibiotics and treated with other drugs and toxic agents. These poisons concentrate in the fat of the animal and are present in highly concentrated amount in an animal's milk and flesh. This biological concentration of poisons poses significant threats to the health of humans who consume these concentrated sources of poisons.

As if this weren't enough, animal products are completely devoid of fiber and are extremely high in protein and in spite of what millions of dollars of meat and dairy industry advertising would have you believe it is excess, not inadequate protein, that is the threat to health. Excess protein intake has been strongly implicated as a causal agent in many disease processes including kidney disease, various forms of cancer, osteoporosis and a host of autoimmune and hypersensitivity disease processes.

If animal products are included in the diet in significant quantities, it is virtually impossible to design a diet that is consistent with the overwhelming bulk of evidence in the scientific literature dealing with nutrition.

It is ironic that the chief argument used to promote the use of animal products-that is, the purported need for large quantities of protein-is the greatest reason for avoiding them.

A diet of sufficient caloric intake derived from fresh fruits and vegetables with the variable addition of nuts, whole grains and legumes will provide an optimum intake of protein and other nutrients, 30-70 grams per day, depending upon the particular foods eaten.

Physiological Adaptations of Fasting

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 1:03pm

Human beings, and other living things, often have been characterized as living "machines." In fact, the concept of human beings as being sophisticated machines dates back as far as the mid-eighteenth century, to the French physician-philosopher Julien La Mettrie.

Early physician-scholars such as La Mettrie could not help but be impressed by the intricacy of our many survival mechanisms that are obvious to the trained eye. Our eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and many other physical features are marvelous mechanical devices, meticulously designed by nature to aid in our survival and/or reproduction.

More impressive still is the fact that these mechanisms work together, in an orchestrated fashion. When we start to jog, our heart increases its pumping action, and our lungs work harder, in exquisite coordination with the heart. The parts work together for the "common good," which is our survival or reproductive potential. Biologists have a word for these parts, these components of our natural design. They are called adaptations.

Modern health professionals are astounded when they discover what the American Hygienic physician-philosopher Herbert Shelton described decades ago: that water-only fasting is an adaptation, and is one of the most powerful healing adaptations of the human design!
Examples of adaptations

A living creature, such as a human being, can be thought of as a large, intricate machine, comprised of many, mini-machines, each of which is themselves an adaptation. For example, our tongue is clearly an adaptation, in that it is an intricate machine, designed by nature, to assist our survival prospects.

Actually, the tongue is not a single entity, but is itself composed of many distinct parts, each of which is a component of the fabulous "tongue-machine." Each part, a taste bud, for example, is an important component of the overall design. Our ability to taste sweet things, for example, was part of nature's design in order to encourage our ancestors to eat ripe fruit and other sweet-tasting foods. Our ability to taste bitter things is part of nature's way of discouraging our consumption of substances that might be poisonous. Working together, the many "mini-machines" within our taste preference system (which includes the tongue and our sense of smell) assist in guiding our behavior toward survival-successful ends.

We are built of literally thousands of these mini-machines "adaptations" which are the mechanisms that aid our survival or reproduction. This idea is not new to health professionals, as they clearly recognize that our eyes, ears, heart, and lungs are part of the overall "survival machine," our body.

However, few health professionals recognize that in addition to observable parts, adaptations also come in an altogether different form. Adaptations do not have to be physical structures, such as eyes or ears. They also can be in the form of behavioral tendencies, coded into our nervous systems, as part of our natural design. Such behavioral adaptations are every bit as crucial to our survival as are our eyes, heart, and lungs.

Behavioral adaptations

Consider your behavioral inclination toward a pesky mosquito drilling into your skin. Probably, you slap at the pest. Slapping at mosquitoes is an example of a behavioral adaptation. It is an exquisitely coordinated movement of muscles and sensory feedback, made possible by our natural design. Nature punishes us with unpleasant feelings if we can't or won't slap at the mosquito, and rewards us with a small feeling of relief when we do. This is not a learned, or taught, tendency. It is a genetically-mediated feature of the circuitry in our brains. All children, the world over, slap at mosquitoes automatically, a telltale sign of a naturally designed behavioral tendency. In other words, slapping at mosquitoes is an "adaptation."

Many behavioral characteristics and bodily responses are components of our natural design. Coughing, sneezing, vomiting, fever, and inflammation, while they may not be pleasant, are adaptations. They are sophisticated responses of the body, designed into our nature, in order to assist our health and healing. The artificial suppression of such adaptive mechanisms, such as suppressing a cough or a fever with medication or other means, is almost always a step away from health.

It is now well known that fever, inflammation, coughing, and vomiting are health-promoting adaptations that require judicious management. Among better-educated health professionals, it is understood that artificial suppression of these adaptive responses may provide pain relief, but at the potential compromise of overall health. The wise professional will attempt to understand what is causing these adaptations to be activated, and to remove such causes, rather than merely attempting to suppress symptoms. But while fever, inflammation, and other symptoms are finally becoming recognized as adaptive processes, the importance of the loss of appetite, characteristic of many disease processes, is largely unappreciated.
A multi-faceted adaptation

As Herbert Shelton noted in his long out-of-print 1928 book Human Life: Its Philosophy and Laws, Fasting has its origins in the dim uncertainties of the long forgotten past when the first wounded animal found that it had no desire for food. In other words, fasting is an ancient adaptation. It is also a multi-faceted one, because it involves both physical and psychological adaptations.

Few health professionals are aware of the many, truly astonishing, physical adaptations that result from water-only fasting. Most believe that water-only fasting is simply "starving," and that little or no benefits result from such an experience.

In reality, water-only fasting is dynamic, complex, and involves many health-promoting processes. For example, studies have indicated that immune function is significantly enhanced during water-only fasting, an effect that few would suspect. There is also an enhanced mobilization and elimination of toxic products, including poisons such as PCP, dioxins, pesticide residues, and other pollutants. The evolutionary reasons for this benefit are uncertain. Probably, in the dim uncertainties of the long-forgotten past, life-threatening infections and exposure to naturally-occurring environmental toxins were serious threats to the survival of our ancestors. These threats may have resulted in the development of health-promoting adaptations, one of which was water-only fasting.

In addition to many documented physical adaptations associated with water-only fasting, there is also an obvious psychological one as well. Often when we are ill, we lose our appetite. Like many other animals, we don't feel much like eating when we get sick, and this is hardly an accident. It is clearly a component of our natural design, the psychological component of the fasting "machine." Like our tongues, the fasting process is multi-faceted, a "packet" of adaptations all working together. The natural adaptation of water-only fasting starts with a desire to refrain from eating, and results in many health-promoting automated processes. Few health professionals ever have considered that the lack of appetite that accompanies illness is actually a component of such a complex adaptive mechanism. As a result, honoring this adaptive tendency is rarely encouraged. In fact, it is often actively discouraged.

An understandable error

When an unwell animal fasts, it is quietly fighting for its life. The lack of appetite is a component of a finely coordinated strategy of the body to restore health as quickly as possible. Rest is an additional, and integral, component of this strategy. Not only do sick animals often fast, they also rest while doing so. Fasting and resting help to assist the healing process. However, once an animal begins to recover, two marked behavioral changes occur. First, the animal becomes more active. Second, the hunger drive returns, and the animal begins to seek food and eat. Activity and eating are the visible signs of a creature returning to health.

It is hardly surprising, then, that humans have confused the connection between eating and the regaining of health. Observing that increased appetite and health go hand-in-hand after illness, many people have mistakenly assumed that an increase in food intake causes the regaining of health. In reality, they have it backwards. It is the increase in health that results in the reappearance of hunger! Sadly, this connection has been missed by most health professionals. This is not surprising, as other adaptations also have been misconstrued and mismanaged throughout history, including fever, inflammation, and vomiting. The natural desire to refrain from eating when ill is simply another example of a misunderstood adaptation.

A voluntary adaptation        

If the natural desire for water-only fasting when ill were to become better respected, this would be a positive step. Instead of being force-fed chicken soup, people with a condition resulting in the need to fast would be managed quite differently. However, water-only fasting is an unusual adaptation in that it does not require the loss of appetite associated with acute illness. Fasting also can be undertaken voluntarily.

Unlike other health-promoting adaptations, such as fever or inflammation, a water-only fasting process can be started with merely a behavioral decision. As such, it is possible to invoke this multi-faceted healing process without the loss of desire for food. As you might imagine, few health professionals have ever considered this possibility, and they rarely have the slightest clue about the positive effects of such a strategy. Unless one suspected that fasting was a complex, multi-faceted healing adaptation, one would never choose to fast without a crisis involving a naturally-reduced hunger drive. However, this ancient mechanism, designed by nature to assist healing processes during crises, also works well when we are not in a crisis.
Overcoming excesses

It is now recognized that, in the industrialized world, most diseases are due to dietary excesses, especially of animal products and processed foods (such as oils and refined sugar). It turns out that voluntary, water-only fasting is often magnificent in its ability to assist the body in healing from the consequences of these excesses.

Fasting results in weight loss, elimination of excess cholesterol, triglycerides, and uric acid, as well as accumulated environmental toxins. Often, growths and tumors associated with dietary excesses, such as fibroids and cysts, are reabsorbed. Inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, colitis, asthma, and hepatitis, often are greatly improved or resolved. Many enzymatic functions of the liver and other organs, including the insulin-resistance characteristic of diabetes, can rapidly normalize. For most adult-onset diabetes patients, medications become unnecessary.   

Hypertension, the leading cause of doctor visits and of prescription medication use in America, is almost always rapidly resolved during supervised water-only fasting. In over 250 cases of hypertension seen at the TrueNorth  Health Center over the past 16 years, almost all were able to achieve a blood pressure level after fasting that eliminated the need for medication. Our ongoing research is beginning to provide explanations for these spectacular results.

Fasting also assists in an extremely important normalizing process, a process we call taste neuroadaptation. Many modern foods are not the normal foods of our species, they are foods that have been altered to create unnaturally intense taste responses. As a result, most of our modern foods are high in processed sugar, fat, and salt. Our taste buds adapt to these abnormal-but-appealing foodstuffs, making the consumption of whole natural foods less palatable by comparison. Water-only fasting helps to rapidly re-sensitize the palate, so that healthful foods can be fully enjoyed again. Of the many benefits of water-only fasting, this is, for many people, one of the most important.

Proper supervision vital

Supervision is an important component of a water-only fasting experience. During a fast, many powerful adaptive processes are put into motion, some with potentially unpleasant and/or disturbing characteristics. Clinical experience and laboratory data often are needed to distinguish between a positive healing process being generated by the body, and a possible physiological compromise. For this reason, it is recommended that fasting only be undertaken under the supervision of a physician with appropriate training.

Hygienic physicians certified in fasting supervision by the International Association of Hygienic Physicians must hold a valid license as a primary care physician (M.D., D.C., D.O., or N.D.) and complete a six-month residency in fasting supervision at an approved facility. With appropriate training, a supervising physician can help ensure a safe and effective fasting experience.

Fasting, as defined by Hygienic physicians, is the complete abstinence from all substances except pure water in an environment of complete rest. The "complete rest" component of fasting is important because even moderate activity can double caloric usage and reduce the effectiveness of the fast. Clinical research has indicated that the detoxification process, as well as other important healing processes made possible by fasting, may be significantly compromised by excess activity. Resting is a critical component in ensuring that a fast is both a safe and effective experience.

The lost adaptation

At the TrueNorth Health Center, we describe water-only fasting as "the lost adaptation." While creatures all over the Earth routinely make use of this powerful healing strategy, they often must do so because they are so ill that they cannot successfully obtain food. Modern humans, in contrast, are rarely faced with this situation. Today, no matter how sick we get, even if we are lying in a hospital bed, food is brought by others up to our very mouths. And it is usually highly-stimulating food. The idea of fasting, even if we are inclined to do so, is strongly resisted. Well-meaning (but misguided) friends, relatives, and health professionals urge us to eat, so we can "get better."

Similarly, when we are not acutely ill, the idea of water-only fasting seems absurd. It goes against our ancient, natural programming, which encourages us to make sure we get plenty to eat now, because in our natural, ancestral environment there might not have been any food available again soon. Most people fear that if they fast for a few days, dire things will occur, or they believe that the average person can fast only a few days, perhaps a week. The concept of fasting for a week or two, or longer, for health benefits seems ridiculous to them. It also seems ridiculous to the typical health professional, unless they understand that fasting is an adaptation. It is amazing that such a powerful and useful adaptation is virtually unknown, as amazing as if we collectively decided to refrain from slapping mosquitoes. An adaptation that facilitated the survival prospects of a great many of our ancestors has been very nearly "lost."

But times are changing. With the publication of Dr. Joel Fuhrman's recent book, Fasting and Eating for Health, a modern and thorough review of the benefits of fasting has been articulated. And at the TrueNorth Health Center in California, our nine staff doctors (with assistance from Cornell University scientists) have worked together to generate and publish scientifically credible research that documents the benefits of fasting.

It is our hope that our efforts will result in a greater awareness and appreciation of this remarkable process. The utility of fasting may then be widely found, both by health professionals and by the patients who will ultimately reap the benefits.

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 12:51pm

Learn how to live without this debilitating disease! People in non-western cultures who eat diets low in animal fat and protein have much lower incidences of all types of arthritis!

While most arthritis sufferers are being told that they will need to "learn to live with it," Drs. Goldhamer and Marano of the TrueNorth Health Center in Penngrove, Calif., are helping patients learn to live without it.

Arthritis is a general term which means inflammation of one of the joints in the body. We have all experienced inflammation at one time or another. The most common cause of inflammation is injury. Suppose you lose your footing and fall. During the fall you injure your ankle by twisting it. As a result, your ankle becomes inflamed. The injured area becomes red and hot, it swells up, and you experience pain. Fortunately, the symptoms associated with acute inflammation are part of the healing process. The increased blood flow to the area brings with it extra white blood cells, results in swelling and pain, and limits mobility, which prevents further damage. This process allows your body to heal itself quickly.

Because there are many different causes of inflammation, there are many different kinds of arthritis. The initial inflammation resulting from trauma or other injury, such as the one described above, is not the big problem. Continuous inflammation- the kind that goes on for years- is what leads to the very debilitating problems of arthritis, and it can result in permanently dysfunctional and deformed joints.


The most common form of arthritis is called Osteoarthritis. This is what most people mean when they say, "My arthritis is bothering me." The other name for Osteoarthritis is degenerative joint disease, which is a pretty good description of what happens-the joints degenerate.

Osteoarthritis is seen most frequently in the joints that are most used and abused. It is considered a disease of "aging," but certainly it is not caused by getting older. Whether you develop Osteoarthritis or not depends, to a large degree, on how you live your life. In fact, Osteoarthritis is not just for the aged. By age 30, 35% of people are beginning to show some signs of osteoarthritic changes in their knees, and by ages 70 to 79, at least 85% of people have diagnosable Osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis can take place in any joint. As you would expect, carpenters tend to develop Osteoarthritis in their wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Tailors tend to develop it in their hands and fingers. People who are obese tend to have inflammation in their ankles, knees, and hips.

Typically, Osteoarthritis affects a single joint or just a few joints. The early stages of the process are painless. But in time, the pain begins to develop into a deep ache. Many people with Osteoarthritis feel some stiffness after resting and upon waking in the morning. But this stiffness usually lessens after the person has had time to move around a little.
Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis belongs to a group of ailments that are called antigen/antibody diseases, or immune complex diseases. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system malfunctions and damages the joint tissues. Inflammation of the joints leads to cartilage destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis is found in between 1% and 4% of the population.

All of your joints are covered by a layer of smooth cartilage which allows your joints to move easily; this lets your body move and distribute its weight evenly. The rheumatoid arthritis process causes the degeneration and destruction of this cartilage. Once this happens, the bone itself begins to erode and the joint becomes deformed.

Rheumatoid arthritis is usually seen in the peripheral joints-especially the hands, elbows, knees, and even the feet sometimes-and because it is a systemic problem, the distribution is usually symmetrical. If you have it on your right side, you usually have it on the left side, too, in the same joints. You have probably seen someone who has swollen and misshapen joints that do not bend properly. These severe changes are often the result of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately three times more women than men, and most often appears between the ages of 35 and 50. Rest, which is helpful in Osteoarthritis, does not seem to alleviate the pain of rheumatoid arthritis; the pain persists. In addition, morning stiffness is much more severe than in Osteoarthritis; it lasts a longer time. As a result, many people resort to taking some kind of medication to get past the stiffness and pain just so that they can button their clothes or tie their shoes.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types of arthritis. But there are other less common types, such as gout, lupus erythematosus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc. There appears to be a genetic predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis, and the less common types of arthritis tend to have strong genetic predispositions associated with them as well.

Is there hope for relief?

People who suffer from arthritis usually seek some form of treatment to solve their problem. Unfortunately, arthritis of all types has a very poor prognosis under medical treatment. There is no cure for any of the types of arthritis, and medical treatment consists mainly of attempting to relieve pain.

Although medical treatment is not a viable solution, there is hope for those willing to develop a new awareness. New attitudes and behaviors toward arthritis can lead to the lessening, and sometimes the elimination, of pain.

Practical tips

Some of the steps you can take to alleviate the pain of Osteoarthritis are primarily mechanical and are relatively easy to implement.

Osteoarthritis can be caused or aggravated by poor body mechanics, so correction of poor posture and training in proper body use-such as the Alexander technique or similar techniques that teach proper body use-may be beneficial in relieving pain and stopping the progression of Osteoarthritis.

Do not overload or overtax your joints. Alternate your activities to use different parts of your body, and if possible take frequent rest periods during the day. You can apply heat packs or ice packs both before and after a session of use of an inflamed joint. This can be very helpful in reducing pain and stiffness. Ice and heat stimulate blood flow to the area, which brings in added oxygen and nutrients.

Beneficial exercise

Mild exercise that moves the joint, but does not aggravate it, can be very beneficial. Exercise prevents muscle atrophy around the affected joints. Muscles protect the joints, which is why it is so important to maintain the muscle strength around an arthritic joint. Exercise also helps circulate fluids in the joint capsule. There aren't any direct blood vessels that go right to the joint surfaces, so oxygen and nutrients cannot get directly to the cartilage coating around the joints. Nutrients have to diffuse from the nearest blood vessels into the fluid that is in each joint. Exercise assures that there is plenty of motion of the fluid around the joints, so that the nutrients and the oxygen can get delivered. This allows the joints to repair themselves and prevents further degeneration.

Exercise only to the point where pain is not made worse. Some people may need to change the type of exercise they do. Runners who start developing arthritic knees and hips may need to switch to swimming, which takes the weight off the joint but still allows full joint motion. Consultation with a chiropractor or exercise physiologist may be necessary to determine what type of exercise you can do to maintain muscle integrity and joint motion, while not making the degeneration worse.

Foot problems can cause the mechanics of the entire lower body to become faulty, which can put pressure in the wrong places and cause degeneration of the lower extremity joints. Wearing the proper shoes and possibly using orthotics (devices that hold your foot in a particular position) may help normalize the mechanics of the foot, resulting in reduced knee and hip pain.

Full range of motion

Chiropractic care and physical therapy can be of benefit. Chiropractic adjustments can help arthritic joints by restoring a complete range of motion. The breakdown and degeneration of a joint sometimes leads to the joint becoming tight and restricted in its movements. When it does not move through its full range, a number of problems can occur. The joint will not get the circulation it needs, and the joints above and below it have to move more to compensate. This puts extra stress on these other joints and eventually can cause problems. By restoring the full range of motion and the joint "play," chiropractic care may alleviate pain and restore normal joint function.

Every day, virtually everyone inflames their joints through normal daily activities. Fortunately, if you get sufficient rest and sleep, your body can heal during the night. If you do not get sufficient sleep, the inflammation can increase faster than your body can heal; this may lead to chronic problems.

Dietary factors

People in other cultures work just as hard as Americans do, and a certain percentage of those populations probably have genetic predispositions similar to those of Americans. But people in those cultures tend not to develop arthritis at anywhere near the same rate as in the United States. Why? It appears that diet is a major factor.

In cultures where people eat very small quantities of animal fat and animal protein, there is a much lower incidence of all kinds of arthritis. When these people relocate to a city or country where people eat the same type of diet that we do in the United States, their incidence of arthritis increases dramatically. That is a clear indication that the westernized diet is involved in the development of arthritis. The two biggest dietary culprits seem to be animal fat and animal protein.

At the TrueNorth Health Center, we see many people experience a decrease in their Osteoarthritis after changing their diets. The dietary changes do not reverse the joint deformities, which remain unchanged. But the pain still diminishes, because the improved diet helps reduce the inflammation in the joints.

Eating animal products

Rheumatoid arthritis is rare in societies where animal products are seldom eaten, such as in Africa, Japan, and China. And when rheumatoid arthritis does develop, it is usually much milder and is associated with much less disability than in the United States. There are several theories as to why diet influences these antibody/antigen complex diseases, and the culprits are again protein and fat.

Any foreign protein that comes into the body is called an antigen. Our immune system manufactures antibodies to fight these invading substances, and antibody/antigen complexes are formed.

The invaders can be viruses, bacteria, or food protein. (Most people do not think about food protein when they think of invading protein or other foreign proteins.) The antibodies fight antigens by attaching to them and clumping them together to form complexes (many antibodies and antigens clumped together). These complexes are usually eliminated from the body by the immune system. But in some people this does not happen. Instead, the complexes become lodged in various tissues around the body where they cause inflammation (much like a splinter causes when it lodges). When these complexes lodge in the joints, you get pain, swelling, and redness.

Diet can play an additional role in antigen/antibody problems if a person's intestines allow large food proteins to enter the body. When we eat, our digestive system breaks the food down into smaller and smaller particles. In most people the particles have to be very, very small-down to their basic components-before they can get from the digestive tract into the body proper. But in some people, proteins are able to get through at an earlier stage, when they are still quite large and complex. This process is called "gut leakage."

When these larger proteins get into the body, they are perceived as antigens. The body starts attacking them and trying to eliminate them. Eating a high-protein diet, especially one containing animal products, may make people who have a genetic tendency to allow larger particles into their bodies more susceptible to arthritis.

Diet change alleviates pain

One study that supports the contention that diet plays a role in the evolution of arthritis was undertaken at Wayne State University Medical School. The results were dramatic. Investigators took six rheumatoid arthritis patients and fed them a totally fat-free diet for seven weeks. During that time all six patients experienced a complete remission from the pain. The symptoms recurred within 72 hours when either vegetable oil or animal fat was introduced to their diets. If they ate chicken, beef, cheese, coconut oil, or safflower oil, they experienced severe arthritic pain within 72 hours.

Fasting in recovery

People's reactions to the various antigens can be very different. Dairy products, eggs, beef, wheat, and corn are the most common culprits, but there are many others, some of them quite obscure.

If a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis wants to find out what foods he or she is sensitive to, the best way to go about it is to undertake a period of fasting (ingesting only pure water), followed by a period of rotational feeding. Many arthritis patients have fasted at the TrueNorth Health Center. During the fasting period, it is common for joint pain and swelling to totally disappear.

This pain-free period provides welcome relief, but proper refeeding after the fast is crucial. In fact, there is no point in undertaking a fast if your intention is to go back to your previous way of eating because this behavior is part of the problem (possibly the major part).

Life after the fasting

During the refeeding period we can find out which foods are contributing to the joint pain. We introduce various foods slowly, one at a time, starting with those that are least likely to cause problems. Ideally, every patient would eat the diet we recommend at the Center-a plant-based diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, and the variable addition of nuts, grains, and legumes. This diet is low in fat, low in protein, high in fiber, and contains no animal products. But some people's systems are intolerant even to some of these plant-based foods.

Arthritis patients need to learn which foods they can eat without inducing symptoms, and how much they can eat of those acceptable foods. Some people find that they cannot tolerate very much fruit; others find that they can tolerate some vegetables but not others. Simply eliminating the worst offenders-meats, dairy products, eggs, and wheat-may not be adequate to relieve the pain in a particular individual.

Re-feeding is a learning process.  Each person is different, and each person must learn how he or she needs to eat (and live) in order to remain free from arthritis pain. As a result of their new awareness, many people come to consider their arthritis a kind of "blessing" because a reoccurrence of their arthritic pain reminds them of their need to adhere closely to a health-promoting lifestyle.

Experience of success

At the TrueNorth Health Center, we have found that the most effective approach to arthritis involves an appropriate period of supervised fasting, followed by a health-promoting diet, appropriate exercise, adequate rest and sleep, good body mechanics and posture, and, when appropriate, chiropractic manipulation and physical therapy.  Arthritis is something our patients are learning to live without.  

Conservative Management of Diabetes

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 10:46am

THERE IS GENUINE HOPE for those suffering from diabetes.  In a great many cases, unnecessary suffering and premature death can be prevented. This is especially important information because diabetes mellitus is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism.  In simple terms, the body cannot deal with sugar in the normal way due to a lack of insulin.  Insulin is a hormone, produced by the pancreas, which allow cells to absorb sugar.  If there is not enough insulin, or if the body fails to respond to its insulin, sugar builds up in the blood.  This is called hyperglycemia, and it can do great damage to many areas of the body, especially to blood vessels and nerves.  It leads to blindness, kidney failure, sexual dysfunction, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke, nerve damage (neuropathy), and many other problems.

The types of diabetes

Type I is commonly called "juvenile onset diabetes" or "insulin dependent diabetes" because it often begins when an individual is a child or young adult and insulin injections are required to control blood sugar levels.  In Type I diabetics, the pancreas cells that produce insulin are destroyed, and the body produces little or no insulin.  These people must receive insulin injections in order to live.  About eight percent of all diabetics are Type I.

Type II is called "adult onset diabetes" or "non-insulin dependent diabetes" because it most often affects people over forty years old.  These people do make insulin but their bodies do not use it properly.  Roughly 90 percent of all diabetics are Type II.

Early symptoms of diabetes and typical medical treatment

The earliest symptoms of diabetes are usually excessive thirst and frequent urination.  Weight loss, in spite of increased hunger, often follows, and can progress to nausea, vomiting, and anorexia (loss of appetite).  The onset of diabetes tends to be abrupt in children and much more gradual in older people. When diabetes is suspected, laboratory tests of urine and blood are used to confirm the diagnosis.

Medical treatment of diabetes is often directed by doctors called diabetologists; doctors who specialize in helping diabetics control their blood sugar.  Type I (juvenile onset / insulin with a combination of diet, exercise and insulin.  Type II (adult onset / non-insulin dependent) Diabetes can often be controlled with diet, exercise and lifestyle measures alone.  Unfortunately, in common practice many diabetics do not know how to (or simply won't) Control their diet, exercise and lifestyle adequately and medical doctors routinely prescribe oral medications or insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

There is controversy regarding dietary recommendations for diabetics.  The American Diabetes Association recommends a diet that allows up to 30 percent of calories to be derived from fat.  Experimental evidence, however, suggests that a low fat diet, less than 15 percent, is preferable.  For example, Dr. James Anderson of the University of Kentucky placed 16 insulin treated diabetic men on a special high plant fiber diet with only 11 percent of calories from fat.  After only 16 day, these patients were able to reduce insulin use by 58 percent.  They showed an increased number of insulin receptors, which means their bodies, became more sensitive to insulin.  This is just one of many studies that have been published supporting a low fat, natural foods approach in the management of diabetes.  Despite the scientific evidence, very few medical doctors are recommending this approach.

Correct diet crucial for diabetics

A major problem for diabetics and non-diabetics as well, is excess fat and oil in the diet.  Fat and oil decrease the body's sensitivity to insulin, allowing the blood sugar levels to rise dangerously.  In one study, Dr. S. Sweeney fed young, healthy medical students a very high fat diet for two days and then gave them a glucose tolerance test.  Virtually all of the students showed blood sugar levels high enough to classify them as diabetic. Some were quite severe.  All of the students, blood sugar levels returned to normal when placed on a low fat diet.

A diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, combined with a moderate aerobic exercise program can enable most Type II diabetics to maintain normal blood sugar levels without resorting to medications of any kind.  Type I diabetics will often be able to obtain much more stable blood sugar on significantly reduced levels of insulin.  Experimental evidence suggests that this combination of diet and exercise can slow down or even stop the degenerative changes associated with diabetes.

In our practice, we have had tremendous success with the use of dietary change with both type I and Type II diabetics.

Fasting can be beneficial

With Type II diabetics, we often utilize a period of fasting to stabilize blood sugar levels and eliminate the need for medication.  Fasting appears to facilitate the body's healing response.  Changes that can take weeks or months to occur with careful feeding occur much more rapidly when fasting is utilized.  Some diabetics with very resistant high blood sugar levels will not respond adequately without fasting.  Careful monitoring is absolutely essential in fasting Type II Diabetics to insure that adequate insulin is present to prevent any associated problems.

While most Type II diabetics produce enough insulin to process the natural ketone bodies produced by the body during fasting, Type I (insulin dependent) diabetics do not produce insulin.  Fasting is generally not used in the treatment of Type I diabetics.  However, diet, exercise and lifestyle modification are extremely beneficial.

Two case studies on diabetes

The following examples are typical of the results we see with diabetes patients at the TrueNorth Center.

Recently, a woman 64 years of age came to our facility. She had been having trouble with frequent urination and an acetone odor to her breath.  When she first saw her family physician sugar was noticed in her urine and blood tests revealed a blood sugar of over 500 mg/dl (five times normal).  Her doctor diagnosed her condition as Type II diabetes and put her on a diabetic diet and diabetes pills.

This approach did not work, and her blood sugar levels remained very high.  Additional medications were tried without success.  The week before her arrival at the Center her blood sugar levels were 258 mg/dl despite maximum dosage of oral medications.  The woman claimed to have been on a strict vegetarian diet and was not overweight.

After a review of her medical history and a comprehensive physical examination and laboratory testing, we placed this woman on a fast.  She remained at the center and was given only distilled water.  Her activities were restricted to resting, listening to educational tapes, participating in our group activities and quietly interacting with other patents and staff.

During her fast she was monitored carefully by daily examination, and by blood and urine testing as was appropriate. She fasted for a total of 9 days and followed that with 12 days of careful feeding on a diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods.  While fasting she developed several symptoms common to fasting including nausea, periods of weakness, a foul taste in the mouth, headaches and some joint pain. By the end of her stay her blood sugar level was within normal limits, her symptoms of fatigue had resolved, and she was free of all medication.

A follow-up visit one month later found this woman to have normal blood sugar levels without the use of medication.  She had excellent energy and vitality and a newfound positive outlook on life.  An interesting side note is that her blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels were markedly reduced and chronic depression was no longer present.

Some patients are able to overcome diabetes without fasting.  Mild problems with high blood sugar levels will often respond to a careful program of dietary and lifestyle modification.  A vegetable based diet and appropriate exercise will often allow the body to heal itself so that the need for medication and its inherent risks can be eliminated.  An example is a 78 year old man who came to us because of back pain.  He had been on diabetes pills for several years and still maintained excessively high blood sugar levels.  He was terrified at the idea of fasting but agreed to follow a diet and exercise program that I designed for him.  Within about three weeks we were able to help him eliminate the need for medication entirely.  It has been several years now and he is quite well.  He uses no medications and reports that he feels better now than when he was 60 years old.

Not all diabetics respond so easily.  At the Center we have seen many, especially Type I onset diabetics, cases that presented a great challenge.  Type I diabetics do not produce enough insulin.  Usually, they will continue to require some insulin indefinitely.  With careful attention to diet and lifestyle it is often possible to greatly reduce the amount of insulin needed and help to stabilize even the "brittle" diabetics, those who have difficulty controlling their sugar levels.

We find working with diabetic patients to be a very rewarding challenge.  They often respond remarkably well despite years of frustrating, unproductive care.  Because the consequences of the disease are so devastating, a real deal of satisfaction can be derived from helping the diabetics avoid the typical route of disease and degeneration.

Thinking Straight about Food

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 10:33am

Why making good food choices is sometimes difficult! There is a huge industry telling you that what you eat has no effect on your health!

Eating is one of our most basic and powerful drives. And while eating has been woven into many cultural and religious practices, essentially we eat to survive. There are many basic requirements of life that we can get only through our diet. We need a source of fuel or calories; we need protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.

There is a huge industry in this country that is trying to convince us that it doesn't matter what we eat. We are told that any combination of heated, treated, processed, chemicalized "foods" will meet our nutritional needs so long as we take plenty of vitamin pills, heartburn medicine, and headache remedies. There is another huge industry that is trying to convince us that what we eat has no effect on our health.

If these same forces were selling fuel for your car, they would try to convince you that your car would run just fine on any fluid so long as you could get it into the gas tank. Then, when you took your car back to the guy who said that it would run fine on coffee ice cream and you complained of pinging and a fouled up carburetion system, he would keep you waiting for two hours and then tell you that it was "probably all in your head," that you should "learn to live with it," ask "What do you expect at your car's age," then announce "there's nothing that can be done."

Food choices matter

At the turn of the century people died before they reached their genetic potential because of acute diseases. Tuberculosis, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal diseases were leading causes of death. Due to changes in public health measures, improved nutrition and medical treatment, acute illness is no longer a leading cause of death. Today, people die from chronic degenerative disease.

Atherosclerotic vascular disease is a buildup of fat in the blood vessels, and the associated heart attacks and strokes kill half of all the people who die each year. Cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, lung and other organs is associated with 25 percent of all the people who die each year. Diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and emphysema also kill many people prematurely.

What do all of these conditions have in common? They are caused or massively influenced by the food choices we make-what we put or don't put into our mouths.

What to avoid and why

Of all the things human beings put in their mouths, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, recreational and prescription drugs are perhaps the most harmful. The seemingly endless and varied attempts by people to modify their internal chemistry through powerful chemical agents is an ever widening tragedy. In my practice I treat more people who are suffering and dying from the consequences of using and abusing chemicals than I care to think about. We all need to remember that headaches are not caused by an aspirin deficiency and that there are more productive ways of modifying our moods than with pills, potions and elixirs.

Perhaps the second most destructive habit I see is the use of animal products. Meat, fish, fowl, eggs and dairy products all have much in common. In addition to the well-documented health reasons, there are economic, environmental, humanitarian-and, for many, spiritual reasons that support the adoption of a vegetarian diet.

Not designed for meat

Of all the animals that include meat in their diet, man is the only one that is unable to break down uric acid to allantoin. This is due to the fact that man does not possess the necessary enzyme, uricase. This inability to break down uric acid leads to an increased possibility of it accumulating in the body when animal products are eaten. Uric acid is an intermediary product of metabolism that is associated with various pathological conditions, including gout.

The human liver, unlike the livers of carnivores, can only process a limited amount of cholesterol. If significant amounts of animal products are consumed, cholesterol levels rise, along with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis. Clearly, either we were not designed to eat animal products or we somehow have the wrong kind of liver.

Animal products, such as uncooked or improperly cooked meat, fish, fowl and dairy products, are a source of parasites and contamination. Trichinae, found in pork and pork-contaminated beef, can cause trichinosis. Salmonellae, found in chicken, eggs and other contaminated animal products, can cause salmonellosis.

In addition to the above "naturally occurring" problems with animal products, a multitude of chemical agents-such as carcinogenic nitrates, etc., are added to animal products to slow down their decay, improve their color, and alter their taste.

Chemicals in meat

In addition to parasites, bacterial infestation, toxic poisons, carcinogenic agents, and free radicals, animal products all suffer from the problem of biological concentration. Animals consume large quantities of grain, grass, etc., that are, to a greater or lesser extent, contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, and other agents. In addition, animals often are fed antibiotics and treated with other drugs and toxic agents. These poisons concentrate in the fat of the animal and are present in an animal's milk and flesh. This biological concentration of poisons poses significant threats to the health of humans who consume animal products.

As if this weren't enough, animal products are completely devoid of fiber and are extremely high in protein-and in spite of what millions of dollars of meat and dairy industry advertising would have you believe, it is excess, not inadequate protein, that is the threat to health. Excess protein, especially the high sulphur containing amino acids found in animal products, has been strongly implicated as a causal agent in many disease processes, including kidney disease, various forms of cancer, a host of autoimmune and hypersensitivity disease processes and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition common to postmenopausal women. Bones become weak and fracture easily. Osteoporosis is not caused by a calcium deficiency, and calcium supplementation does not prevent it. In osteoporosis there is a loss of the bone matrix that holds calcium.

A diet high in animal protein can help cause osteoporosis by creating toxic nitrogenous wastes that must be neutralized by calcium drawn from the body's reserves, creating a negative calcium balance where more calcium is lost in the urine than is taken in. No matter how much calcium is given, if the individual is on a high animal protein diet, the calcium balance remains negative. To prevent osteoporosis, a low animal protein diet and regular weight-bearing exercise are essential.

It is ironic that the chief argument used to promote the use of animal products-the purported need for large quantities of protein-is one of the greatest reasons for avoiding them. If animal products are included in the diet in significant quantities, it is virtually impossible to design a healthful diet that is consistent with the overwhelming bulk of evidence in the scientific literature dealing with nutrition.

Fish, fowl and fat

Because animal products are so high in fat, segments of the "food" industry are advertising their products as "lower" in fat. Because of this advertising, some people want to believe that if they change the color of their meat from red to white or if they remove the skin of the animal before eating it, they can avoid the toxic fat.

There is very little difference in the amount of fat per calorie in fish versus fowl versus beef. If you want to see big changes in your health, you must make big changes in your life. Token changes don't work. Only dramatic reduction or elimination of all animal products merits your consideration.

Thinking straight about food

A women recently was referred to me for nutritional counseling by her gynecologist. I reviewed her history, performed a physical examination and was explaining the dietary recommendations I had prepared for her. She interrupted me and said, "Look, doctor, I knew I was coming here for nutritional advice, but I didn't know I would have to eat differently."

Many times patients ask me, "If I have to avoid drugs including alcohol, coffee, cola and chocolate; animal products including meat, fish, fowl, eggs and dairy products; and oil and refined carbohydrates-what's left?"

The answer is: a diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods-fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and the variable addition of nuts, seeds and legumes.

Old habits die hard

Why do we find it so difficult to eat what we should eat and avoid what we shouldn't?

Part of it is genetics-we are programmed to eat concentrated foods when they are available. That is an important survival trait. In a natural setting, there are no chocolate chip cookie trees, candy vines or burger bushes. But today, surrounded by unlimited access to concentrated foods, we must overcome our instincts with our intellect.

To eat well, we have to understand the factors that drive us to keep eating wrong. Very often we eat for the wrong reasons. We might eat because we are emotionally distraught. We might feel fatigued and eat for stimulation. But when we are tired, we should sleep.

Fear of being different is another factor that drives us to make poor food choices. "Friends" can create a lot of cognitive dissonance. "You're no fun anymore!" "It's not healthy to be a fanatic!" "You're so thin!" "Don't you think you're carrying this a little too far!" "I made it just for you!" and "A little won't hurt!"

Once at a lecture I gave, a woman in her 80s stood up and told the group that when she was in her 40s she was very ill. Because conventional treatments failed her, as a last resort she tried fasting and changing her diet. It worked! But some of her friends were so critical of her new lifestyle that she eventually stopped seeing them. I asked if she felt that it was a great loss, but she said, "Oh, no, dear. They all died years ago."

Enjoy your food. But remember, food is fuel. There is more to life than food. Don't live to eat. Eat to live.          

Do You Really Want To Be Fat for Life?

Submitted on May 30, 2010 - 10:29am

Important new information that will help you understand the roadblocks to health and develop a plan for optimal health and happiness!

If you are not already on it, we would like to introduce you to an exciting new diet program called "Fat for Life"!  Would you like to eat whatever you want whenever you want it? Would you like your exercise program to be as easy as pressing the remote control button on your channel-changer? The Fat for Life program allows you to do whatever comes easiest for you. No thought or effort is required! Millions of Americans swear by the Fat for Life program, and now you can too! In fact, it was recently announced that for the first time in history the majority of adults in the United States are obese. This just shows how quickly the Fat for Life program is catching on. "But, aren't there risks associated with being fat?" you ask. Well, while it is true that at least 75-80% of all deaths in the United States are attributable to unhealthful diet and lifestyle choices, government officials, doctors, and even health associations often insist that the standard American diet is "healthy"! So, think positive! You may be among the lucky one-in-five Americans who won't suffer unnecessary illness and premature death. And besides, what is so bad about cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis? Isn't that why you have health insurance?

Admittedly, not everyone is comfortable being fat and sick. But that is no reason to forsake the Fat for Life program. If you don't like carrying the extra weight, you can get your doctor to give you appetite-suppressing drugs, or to staple your stomach.

"But, you ask," doesn't research indicate that it may be more likely that my doctor can cure cancer than cure obesity?" Well, ask yourself this question: Why do you have to be so negative? Just think positive thoughts. Everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be. Go with the flow.

Diet no laughing matter

By now, you can tell that we have been writing tongue-in-cheek. But doesn't what we have written sound all too familiar? Most people, even most physicians, are really in the dark when it comes to diet and nutrition. Fortunately, there is an easy-to-understand approach to weight loss, and it doesn't involve any pills, powders, potions, or other gimmicks. It does involve learning how to eat and to exercise in ways that are consistent with our natural history. That means eating a diet consisting of whole natural foods. It also means engaging in frequent, moderate exercise.

Does our program work? At the TrueNorth Health Center, we have helped many people lose unneeded and unwanted fat, and keep it off, by following a few sensible guidelines. But before we describe our approach, let's look at why conventional diets don't work. One reason that diets don't work is that they contain foods that were never present in the natural environment! As a result, these foods - such as bread, cheese, crackers, "low-fat" chocolate shakes, margarine, and "light" beer - have the ability to fool the brain's natural appetite mechanisms.  When this happens, people tend to over-consume, and that over-consumption is stored as fat. It is just about as simple as that.

Fooling our nature

Our brains are built to sense the caloric value of foods we eat. When we've eaten enough, our hunger drive is designed to shut down naturally. Notice that you have never "accidentally" eaten 50 apples. Your body "keeps count" and shuts your hunger down at the appropriate time. The brain mechanism that organizes this feat is called the satiety mechanism. It was built into our psychology over countless generations, as part of our natural biological heritage. All creatures need to know both when they are "hungry" and when they are "full," so that they can live most effectively.

The satiety mechanism appears to depend upon two types of receptors in our mouths and stomachs. These are stretch receptors, which give our brain information about how "stretched out" our stomach is, and nutrient receptors, which tell us the caloric density of the food we have eaten. Notice that if you eat four pounds of raw salad, you may feel "full" in terms of being "stretched out," but the nutrient receptors in your stomach also will be saying, "Hey, that was 'OK,' but it wasn't nearly enough! Get me some calories, or I'm going to continue to complain!" You might feel "stretched out" but still hungry. To be satiated, or hunger-satisfied, we have to have our stomach both stretched out and filled with some "real" calories. In the environment of our ancestors, the foods had moderate caloric density; that is, those foods both stretched the stomach and also caused significant nutrient signaling to the brain. People couldn't easily overeat on foods of moderate density because the stretching of their stomachs would hurt. Our ancestors ate everything they could, until they felt full, and then stopped eating! They never worried about overeating and getting fat (which might have been dangerous in a natural setting). They didn't need to be concerned about this because on a natural diet, people rarely get fat.

Processed foods

Modern, processed foods tend to be more calorically dense than natural foods. They can fool our satiety mechanism! When people eat substantial quantities of processed foods, it is quite natural for them to overeat, because the stretch receptors in their stomachs are not getting much chance to signal "enough" - until too much has been eaten.

Let's look at the caloric density of some popular foods. Raw vegetables, such as salads, contain about 100 calories per pound. Cooked vegetables, such as carrots, contain about 200 calories per pound. Fresh fruits contain about 300 calories per pound, and starchy vegetables and grains contain about 500 calories per pound. (See chart on p.12.) But breads, pizza, ice cream, and other processed products are usually between 1000 and 1500 calories per pound!

Easy to overeat

A pound of bread, for example, has about 1200 calories! Because of processing, bread is a more concentrated product than grains or starchy vegetables. Therefore, when eating bread, there will be less stretch receptor activity in the stomach signaling for satiety than when eating grains, given the same caloric intake! Some examples might make this easier to understand. Which is easier to eat: a pint of ice cream, or five pounds of cooked carrots? Which is more likely to make you feel full: a pound of pizza, or eight pounds of cooked broccoli? Four ounces of chocolate, or three large baked potatoes? You can see that overeating is easy to do if concentrated, processed foods are prominent in the diet. Meats are also very concentrated - one of the few naturally concentrated sources of calories. Meat consumption was probably relatively unusual in the natural environment, and it packed a big punch at about 1200 calories per pound.

In today's world, the Fat for Life crowd is eating a diet that predominately consists of processed foods and meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products. This guarantees that the caloric density of the average American's diet is much, much greater than their appetite machinery is built to handle! Any creature given a diet that is more concentrated than is appropriate for its design will tend to overeat - and get fat. Birds eating processed foods, for example, may fatten to the point that they can no longer fly. Given this perspective, it is hardly a surprise that over 50% of U.S. adults are obese; and another significant percentage are well above their optimum weight.

Remarkable new approach to weight loss

A key strategy in any successful weight loss program is to treat your body in the way it was meant to be utilized. A top priority of this strategy is to eat a diet consisting of whole natural foods - fresh fruits and vegetables, and the variable addition of whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and legumes. In addition to the many other health benefits, this dietary strategy will provide sufficient stretch receptor activity, resulting in satiety. With this dietary strategy, significant overeating is much less likely to occur. At the Center, for lunch and dinner, we recommend that meals be eaten in a particular order. First, eat a large, raw vegetable salad. Steamed vegetables should be eaten next.

Finally, eat starchy vegetables and whole grains. There is a reason for this recommendation. We have observed that once a person gets a taste of higher-calorie foods (such as cooked grains), lower-calorie foods (such as raw salad) are suddenly less appealing. This can result in less salad and vegetable consumption, which, in turn, can cause an overall increase of the meal's caloric density. By starting with the least caloric foods - when we are the most hungry - more low-density food is consumed. This results in more stretching of the stomach, which helps us to feel full and thus less likely to overeat.

Using this strategy, there is little need to be concerned about portion size. There is truly no need to "go hungry." By consuming the majority of calories from moderately concentrated, unprocessed, whole, natural foods, most of the "fat battle" is easily won. Combined with a moderate exercise program, this strategy really works - just as nature intended. We have found that our overweight patients tend to lose about two pounds per week using this strategy. Most medical researchers would consider our patients' successes to be "miraculous." We don't, but we are very pleased to see our patients consistently rewarded for following this "uncommon sense" approach to weight loss.

We should add a few comments about exercise because some people place so much emphasis on it. We have seen people who exercise almost constantly, but still fail to lose weight. Exercise is a useful and important adjunct to healthful living and to weight control, but exercise alone is not enough. We recommend that our patients engage in moderate exercise 4-5 times per week. Actually, we think it is a good idea to exercise moderately almost every day, if you have the time. By "moderate" exercise, we mean an activity that causes you to have to work at it a bit. If you are an Olympic marathoner, it might mean a five-mile run. For most of our overweight patients, however, it probably means a brisk 20-30 minute walk. If our program seems "too good to be true," we're not surprised. While our diet and exercise strategies are very simple and easy to understand, they are sometimes difficult to implement.

Many factors can get in the way, but the most potent obstacle that you face in conquering the Fat for Life challenge is your built-in "energy conservation programming. "Programmed for convenience foods, all animals, including humans, have energy conservation programming built into their nervous systems. The nature of this programming differs from species to species, but it is always there, nonetheless. Migratory birds, for example, will fly in a characteristic "V" pattern, so that they can use each other's bodies to break the wind - and save calories.  Many fish swim in schools, saving calories riding in each other's wake. And predators, all over the world, are found to pick on the "weak," so that they get the greatest number of calories for the least amount of effort expended.

Humans, too, have this type of programming as part of human nature. We are programmed to want to get as many calories as we can, with the least possible effort! This is great programming for humans living in an environment of scarcity, which is where almost all humans lived until just the last few decades. Now, however, most of us in the modern Western world are no longer living in an environment of scarcity. But our natural programming is still with us - encouraging us to eat as much as we can with as little effort as possible! Is it any wonder that obesity is an epidemic within industrialized societies?  Your "natural" tendencies may be to eat the most concentrated foods available - and to exercise as little as possible. But you needn't be a slave to these tendencies. People are often able to over-ride them with some moderate effort. You can "use your head" to think ahead when it comes to your health and fitness. Plan ahead to have plenty of whole natural foods available at all times so that it is convenient, and schedule time to engage in regular, moderate exercise. No need for miracles you do not need a "miracle" to have a healthy, trim body. But you need to understand and respect how you were naturally designed to live.

You were designed to consume a diet of whole natural foods - and engage in moderate, regular exercise. Your energy conservation programming may make it seem "unnatural" to live this way, but that is only because of the modern environment. Progress has made unhealthful living all too easy. You do not need to follow the herd, which is headed toward fatness and failure. By implementing these simple strategies, you can join the fortunate few who are fit - not fat - for life.     

Vitamin B12 recommendations for Vegans

Submitted on May 26, 2010 - 3:37pm

Individuals seeking to support their health by following a vegan (total vegetarian) diet often face a multitude of advice-laden comments from friends, family, and even their physicians. Typically, these communications suggest that vital nutrients are commonly deficient in the vegan diet. The old standby, "But you can't get enough complete protein without meat," recently has been joined by, "But you need fish oil for essential fatty acids." Such advice is, of course, incorrect, being little more than the "deficiency paranoia" of the ill-informed. Knowledgeable people have few serious health concerns about the adoption of a vegan diet. Vitamin B12, however, is the rare exception.
Reason for concern

The concern over whether a vegan diet can ensure adequate vitamin B12 is a question that vegans must face squarely. For those who have been philosophically committed to the notion that a strict vegan diet can and will give you everything you need, we have a warning: Vitamin B12 is a material essential for your optimal health, and a strict vegan diet may not be providing this vitamin at adequate levels for you. There are legitimate scientific questions about how best to assure adequate B12 intake. In this article, we will examine carefully the "B12 Question," and offer suggestions that we believe may prove to be helpful.
Overview of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 was first isolated in 1948. It is derived exclusively from bacteria. Since that time, research has established that vitamin B12 is required for a number of important functions, including the synthesis of thymidylate, a substance necessary for DNA synthesis. In addition, vitamin B12 is necessary for chemical interactions that make possible the recycling of methyl folate. If a person is deficient in vitamin B12, this recycling process can be disrupted. The deficiency then can result in problems identical to those caused by a folate deficiency, such as the death of hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow. Vitamin B12 deficiency also can result in inadequate myelin synthesis. Myelin is the fatty substance that insulates some nerves, allowing for normal neurological communication. If myelin synthesis is impaired, neurological problems can result. Difficulties can include numbness in the hands and feet, unsteadiness, poor muscular coordination, and even cognitive deficits such as confusion, mental slowness, and memory problems.

Most people obtain the majority of their vitamin B12 intake from animal products. Although most people associate vitamin B12 deficiency with vegan diets, the majority of cases occur among people who regularly consume animal products. So, it should come as no surprise that vitamin B12 deficiency can occur in vegans.
Finding a good source

There is no dispute that we must be concerned about obtaining adequate vitamin B12. The question is, "Do vegans need to resort to eating animal products, and expose themselves to the well-documented health risks of these foods, in order to maintain adequate vitamin B12 reserves?"

Before attempting to answer the above question, we need to consider whether animal products are naturally necessary for humans to maintain vitamin B12 reserves. This raises two important questions: "Have animal products always been the sole purveyor of vitamin B12 in the human diet?" and, "Are they the best source of this nutrient?"

We believe that the answers to both of these questions are likely to be "no." Upon reflection, we should note that in a more primitive setting, human beings almost certainly would have obtained an abundance of vitamin B12 from the bacterial "contamination" of unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables, regardless of their intake of animal products. Human vitamin B12 deficiency is very unlikely to occur in such a setting. Only very small amounts of dietary vitamin B12 are needed because our bodies do a fabulous job of recycling this essential nutrient. A person living in the ancestral environment regularly would have consumed fresh fruits and vegetables that were not consistently, fastidiously cleaned, as we routinely do today. Our current unusual degree of hygiene is useful for combating many health threats, but may leave long-term, strict vegans vulnerable to the potential problem of vitamin B12 deficiency.
A little goes a long way

Even in the modern environment, with our fastidious food cleanliness, a person consuming a vegan diet may never experience the need for vitamin B12 supplementation. Even the small amounts of B12 commonly found in the nodules of organically-grown root vegetables, and the small amounts produced by the bacteria in our own mouths, may be enough to sustain many of us. A very little of this substance can go a long way. For those who switch to a vegan diet, for example, there are usually stores of B12 in the liver that can last for several years, or even decades. However, the doctors at the TrueNorth Health Center work with a large number of vegan patients every year, and we have documented dozens of cases of vitamin B12 deficiency, all of which corrected with supplementation. Although many of our patients are understandably resistant to the idea that they might need supplementation, we urge them to test periodically for this possible deficiency, and to take appropriate action when indicated. We also recommend that all pregnant and lactating women include a reliable source of vitamin B12 to ensure the nutritional adequacy of their milk supply.
Keeping it simple

Our advice is straightforward: If you adhere to a vegan diet, we recommend that you either (1) have yourself tested for vitamin B12 deficiency every two years, or (2) ensure a reliable source of vitamin B12. The most appropriate test for evaluating B12 status is the blood or urine test for methylmalonic acid (MMA). Elevated MMA is currently our best tool for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency, and is considered to be superior to testing for serum B12 directly. We recommend that if you choose to avoid all animal products, fortified foods, and supplements, periodic testing for elevated MMA is indicated. The laboratory utilized by the TrueNorth Health Center charges less than $100 for this test.  An alternative and less costly screening blood test is Homocysteine.

If you would like to avoid MMA testing, we then would recommend that you include a reliable source of vitamin B12 in your diet. For people without a deficiency, 1000 mcg. per day (vegan capsule or liquid) should be sufficient to maintain most individual's serum B12 levels and body reserves. For those with a known deficiency, a consultation with a Hygienic physician is indicated. However, in most cases, this problem can be readily addressed with oral supplements without resorting to the injection of vitamin B12.

 We believe that a diet that includes animal products, although adequate in vitamin B12, poses many health risks that are best avoided.

Playing it safe

Unlike many unfounded "deficiency problems" associated with the vegan diet, the issue of potential vitamin B12 deficiency is real. However, B12 deficiencies, when they occur at all, take years to develop, so don't take our cautioning like the blaring of a five-alarm fire. If you choose to consume a diet consisting exclusively of whole natural foods, as we recommend, it is possible that, partly as a result of our modern cleanliness, you may become B12 deficient.

We recommend that you test periodically to assure that this does not become a problem. If it does, consult with a doctor who can advise you on how to take a responsible course of action.

With a bit of prudence, you can have the best of both worlds: all of the benefits of a vegan diet and none of the problems with animal products.

Escape the Dietary Pleasure Trap

Submitted on May 26, 2010 - 3:34pm

When you climb into a hot tub, it pays to edge in slowly. The water can be so hot as to be unpleasant, until you get used to it. Then it will feel pleasant. When you step into a swimming pool, the water sometimes feels cold. But after a few minutes, you get used to it. The scent of pine trees or fragrant flowers is wonderful, at first. But then you get used to it, and soon you may hardly even notice it.

How is it that our internal experience can change so dramatically, even when our environment is staying the same? How is it that we so easily "get used to" things? It turns out that scientists have carefully studied this striking phenomenon, which they refer to as neuro-adaptation. This process is called "neuro-adaptation" because it involves nerves and adaptation.

Our sensory processes are dependent upon the activation of sensory nerves. It is through the activation of various sensory nerves that we are able to see, hear, smell, sense touch, and to taste. The activity of these various sensory nerves tells our brains what is going on, and to what degree of intensity. For example, when you are sitting in a dimly lit room, and you turn on more light, your visual nerves become more active. They help your brain to notice an increase in brightness. Similarly, if you increase the volume on your stereo, your auditory nerves become more active. They help your brain to notice the increase in sound intensity. This same principle works for all of the five senses.

Relative perception

We tend to think that our nerves provide us with a very accurate depiction of real-world stimulation, but surprisingly, this is not the case. Let's go back to the example of sitting in a dimly lit room. If you turn on all of the lights, it will seem very bright. However, if you later go outside into full sunshine, that will seem brighter still. When you go back inside, it will seem dim, even though all of the lights are still on. Clearly, your nerves are not providing you with an "accurate" depiction of reality in these instances. They are providing a relative depiction. Your senses are highly responsive to change. They tell you when a new stimulus is brighter or dimmer, louder or softer, hotter or colder, and so forth, but not precisely how bright, or loud, or hot. Perception is largely a gauge of relative change.

The reason our nerves provide us with relative, rather than absolute, information is partly because our nerves are designed to adapt to a steady level of stimulation. When there is a sudden increase in stimulation, your nerves increase their rate of "firing" (the basic mechanism that communicates sensory information to the brain). Any change in the intensity of a stimulus results in a change in the firing rate of the appropriate sensory nerves. For example, when you brighten the lights, your visual nerves will increase their firing rate. When you later dim the lights, the firing rate will be reduced.

Dangerous adaptations

In this article, we shall focus on an aspect of "getting used to" things that can lead to enormous, often deadly, problems.

After we brighten the lights in a room, our visual nerves increase their firing rate, but only for a little while! After a few minutes, the firing rate will slow down, or "adapt," to the new, higher rate of stimulation. Sometimes, the nerves may even slow down their response to the level that they were previously firing at the lower level of illumination. This is why even a brightly lit room will seem merely "normal" after your sensory nerves adjust to it.

All of our sensory nerves work in this manner. When we first enter an office, we might be distracted by a noisy air conditioner. But after a while we will likely cease to notice it. When a person first starts smoking cigarettes, he is acutely aware of the smell of the smoke. He smells it on his fingers, in his clothes, and in his car. But before long, he won't notice it at all. He will have "gotten used to it." He may never notice it again unless he quits smoking. Only then will his sense of smell re-calibrate to a more smoke-sensitive state. Then he will be able to smell the smoke, just like everyone else does.

Taste troubles

Like our other sensory nerves, our  taste buds also will "get used to" a given level of stimulation, and this can have horrific consequences. The taste buds of the vast majority of people in industrialized societies are currently neuro-adapted to artificially high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt animal and processed foods. These foods are ultimately no more enjoyable than more healthful fare, but few people will ever see that this is true, because they consistently consume highly stimulating foods, and have "gotten used to" them. If they were to eat a less stimulating, health-promoting diet, they soon would enjoy such fare every bit as much. Unfortunately, very few people will ever realize this critically important fact!
A gruesome tale

If a frog is placed in a pan of water, it often just sits there. If the pan is heated, ever so slowly, the frog may never notice that the water temperature is rising. He will "get used to" the increasing heat, and may be unaware that anything is amiss. Even with no barrier to his escape, he is as likely as not to sit in the pan, and boil to death. His sensory capabilities may fail to adequately warn him that action is required for his survival, and he may only survive if the heat is turned down.

For the past several decades, the modern American diet has been increasing in animal protein, animal and vegetable fats, refined carbohydrates, and added oil, salt, and sugar. In just the past two decades, our caloric intake has slowly escalated by 650 calories per person, per day. Not surprisingly, obesity and other diseases of dietary excess are at all-time highs. But just a few decades ago, our nation's dietary habits were remarkably different. Meat was an expensive commodity, for some, a "treat." The same was true for refined flour products, refined sugar, and oils. But times have changed. Today, almost everyone in America can have all they desire of these rich foods, and they do, virtually every day.

From the perspective of our natural history, a daily life with such dietary choices is extraordinary. For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancient ancestors scratched and scraped, struggling against the harsh forces of nature in order to get enough food to survive. Even today, in undeveloped countries, significant food shortages are still a great concern, with millions dying each year from starvation. Yet, in a mere blink of history's eye, in just a few decades, industrialized societies have arisen from environments of scarcity and have transformed themselves into societies of unprecedented abundance. The most striking feature of that abundance is a virtually unlimited supply of food.

Artificial appeal

An abundance of food, by itself, is not a cause of health problems. But modern technology has done more than to simply make food perpetually abundant. Food also has been made artificially tastier. Food is often more stimulating than ever before, as the particular chemicals in foods that cause pleasure reactions have been isolated, and artificially concentrated. These chemicals include fats (including oils), refined carbohydrates (such as refined sugar and flour), and salt. Meats were once consumed mostly in the form of wild game, typically about 15% fat. Today's meat is a much different product. Chemically and hormonally engineered, it can be as high as 50% fat or more. Ice cream is an extraordinary invention for intensifying taste pleasure, an artificial concoction of pure fat and refined sugar. Once an expensive delicacy, it is now a daily ritual for many people. French fries and potato chips, laden with artificially-concentrated fats, are currently the most commonly consumed "vegetable" in our society. These artificial products, and others like them, form the core of the American diet. Our teenage population, for example, consumes 25% of their calories in the form of soda pop!

Most of our citizenry can't imagine how it could be any other way. To remove (or dramatically reduce) such products from America's daily diet seems intolerable, even absurd. Most people believe that if they were to do so, they would enjoy their food, and their lives, much less. Indeed, most people believe that they literally would suffer if they consumed a health-promoting diet devoid of such indulgences. But, it is here that their perception is greatly in error. The reality is that humans are well designed to fully enjoy the subtler tastes of whole natural foods, but are poorly equipped to realize this fact. And like a frog sitting in dangerously hot water, most people are being slowly destroyed by the limitations of their awareness.
A pleasure trap

Figure 1 (above left) depicts a devastating dietary trap. People consuming a whole natural foods diet will experience a normal range of pleasure from eating low-fat, high-fiber, unprocessed foods, shown as Phase I. However, if concentrated, adulterated, processed foods are consistently allowed in the diet, they quickly will become preferred.

In Phase II, we see that these products are typically experienced as better, that is, more pleasurable, than natural foods. This is the result of the heightened pleasure-inducing characteristics of artificially-produced foods. However, within a short period of time (a few weeks), the taste nerves adapt to this higher level of stimulation, and reduce their firing rate. This reduces the pleasure experience of artificially-stimulating foods back down to normal levels (Phase III).

Phase III is the culmination of a process of extraordinary importance. It is within Phase III that most people live out their lives. And it is from within Phase III that most people will engineer their own health crises. Phase III occurs when we have become used to the extreme levels of stimulation present in artificial foods, yet ultimately experience no more pleasure than had we remained on a simpler, more healthful diet! Yet, we will rarely notice this process, just as we rarely notice the process of getting used to a brightly-lit room.

A challenging escape

Once in awhile, a person may actually become aware of important dietary knowledge. Despite the tremendous commercially motivated misinformation campaigns waged by the dairy, cattle, and processed food industries, sometimes a person actually comes to understand the truth about diet. At such times, determined individuals might attempt to change their diet toward whole natural foods, in spite of dire and unfounded warnings from their families, friends, and doctors.

But along the way, they are likely to be met with a formidable obstacles: their own taste neuro-adaptation to artificially intense foods. This challenge is depicted as Phases IV and V, wherein a change to less stimulating foods typically will result in a reduced pleasure experience. In the early stages, this process is dramatic because natural foods often are not nearly as stimulating.

Scientific evidence suggests that the re-sensitization of taste nerves takes between 30 and 90 days of consistent exposure to less stimulating foods. This means that for several weeks, most people attempting this change will experience a reduction in eating pleasure. This is why modern foods present such a devastating trap, as most of our citizens are, in effect, "addicted" to artificially high levels of food stimulation! The 30-to-90-day process of taste re-calibration requires more motivation, and more self-discipline, than most people are ever willing to muster.

Tragically, most people are totally unaware that they are only a few weeks of discipline away from being able to comfortably maintain healthful dietary habits, and to keep away from the products that can result in the destruction of their health. Instead, most people think that if they were to eat more healthfully, they would be condemned to a life of greatly reduced gustatory pleasure, thinking that the process of Phase IV will last forever. This is an extraordinarily deceptive and problematic situation that I describe as a "pleasure trap."
A fast way out

For many people, knowing how this trap works is a great ally to their self-discipline. But for others, this trap can seem just too difficult to manage. For them, the road may seem too long, and even minor indulgences often keep them in the trap. Fortunately, there is a second method for escape, one that greatly speeds up the process of taste re-calibration.

A properly-supervised period of water-only fasting is a safe and effective way to quickly re-sensitize taste nerves so that whole natural foods can be fully enjoyed. At the Center for Conservative Therapy, we have noted that for most people, one week of consuming nothing but water in an environment of complete rest is enough to substantially re-calibrate their taste buds. Patients find that after a fast, healthful fare tastes as good as the artificially-intense foods that they may have been eating previously. Sometimes natural foods taste even better.

Avoiding the trap

The modern American diet contains concentrations of chemicals that we were never meant to consume. As food manufacturers have sought to compete with each other, foods have become increasingly artificial, loaded with ever-higher concentrations of pleasure-inducing chemicals, such as sugar, salt, and fat. But curiously, though the concentrations of these chemicals have escalated, the actual pleasure from eating has always stayed about the same. We now understand why.

As our modern foods have become increasingly stimulating, our taste nerves are becoming desensitized, neuro-adapting to the modern diet's excessive stimulation. This sets the stage for a devastating trap, wherein a health-promoting diet is relatively unappealing.

Fortunately, you now understand what it takes to escape this deceptive dietary trap. With consistent discipline, or perhaps an occasional period of supervised, water-only fasting, you can always get yourself back on track. In doing so, you will discover, or perhaps re-discover, that the diet of our natural design can be very enjoyable.

The Four Major Factors of Health

Submitted on May 26, 2010 - 3:30pm
Develop an understanding of these basic principles and you will be well on your way to health

Health can best be described as an optimum state of physical, mental and social well-being, with the emphasis on optimum. Since health results from healthful living, the only way we can hope to achieve this optimum state of well-being - our personal health potential - is through ongoing conscious effort.

We must provide our bodies with all of the requirements of health. At the same time, we must avoid, or at least minimize, the things that can compromise health-environmental stressors and our own destructive behaviors.

Heredity plays an important role in determining a person's health potential. Unfortunately, we cannot change our inherited constitution, nor can we control any permanent effects of our former living habits.

There are, however, four major components of healthful living we can control. To help remember them we use the mnemonic DEAP (pronounced like deep) which comes from their initial letters. The components are Diet: what and how we eat;  Environment:  how we select and modify our surroundings;  Activity: how we exercise, rest and sleep; and Psychology: how we view ourselves and interact with others.

We must learn to identify the specific requirements of health, as well as the stressors, for each of the four categories. Only then can we formulate effective strategies that lead to optimum health. Since all of these categories are worthy subjects in and of themselves, we will limit ourselves to a description of a number of key points for each.


Diet is the sum total of all substances taken into the digestive tract. For most Americans, it is not difficult to get all the nutrients our bodies require, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water.

A diet made up of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes provides all the necessary nutrients in abundance. If our diets consist exclusively of these items in their whole, unrefined state, we will not only meet our requirements, but also avoid the numerous dietary stressors that can destroy health. Most importantly, we will avoid the excessively concentrated  rich diet that is the main threat to health today.

As a result of the aggressive marketing efforts of the meat and dairy industries we have been miseducated about the "necessity" of including animal products in our diet. This purported need for meat, fish, fowl, eggs and dairy products is in direct contradiction to mainstream scientific research that shows that these high protein, high fat, no fiber foods are detrimental to health. In fact, it is impossible to keep fat and protein intakes at optimum levels when animal products are eaten in significant quantities.

Excess protein is associated with osteoporosis (loss of bone density) and kidney disease. Excess fat, especially the fat found in animal products, is associated with cardiovascular disease (heart attacks) and cancer (especially breast and colon cancer). Low fiber is associated with constipation and colon cancer. Incredibly, in spite of the facts, people are still being encouraged to consume animal products three or more times a day.

Other dietary stressors include alcohol, tobacco, coffee, refined carbohydrates (including sugar and honey) and oils. Unfortunately these substances (with the possible exception of tobacco) are still socially acceptable, and it will take a little effort on our part to avoid them. But new, more accurate health education programs are beginning to draw attention to the health risks posed by these things and it is fast becoming more socially acceptable to abstain from them.


It is tempting to ignore the environmental factors of health because they often seem beyond our personal control. But there are environmental factors we can and must control if optimum health is to be obtained and maintained.

A health-promoting environment includes clean air, pure water, appropriate sunshine, and esthetics. It avoids environmental stressors including excess noise and toxic substances. We have quite a bit of control over each of these aspects.

Air pollution is pervasive, especially in large cities. Individually we have several options for dealing with air pollution. We can move. We can purchase an air purifier for our home and perhaps for our place of employment. We can avoid smoky places. We can avoid using toxic chemicals, commonly known as household cleaners, in our homes. We can use respirators when exposed to paint and other fumes, etc. By carefully analyzing our daily routine we can eliminate a sizeable percentage of our exposure to air pollution.

Similar strategies can be applied to other environmental concerns. To avoid the toxins associated with water, including heavy metal and pesticide contamination, toxic by-products from chlorination and fluoridation, etc., we can purchase or make purified or distilled water. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be mitigated with the use of proper clothing, including wide-brim hats and sunscreen. Earplugs offer protection from high noise levels. The first step to take is to identify areas of potential environmental stress, then develop appropriate strategies to minimize or eliminate these stressors.


The category "activity" includes exercise, rest and sleep. There is much confusion about the role that exercise and sleep play in health. Like diet, activity is an area where each person can take control.    

Vigorous physical activity puts demands on all body systems to work harder. The body responds to these demands by becoming stronger and more efficient. The health benefits of exercise include improved metabolism, increased muscle and bone strength, more efficient cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) function, larger lung capacity, tension reduction, and improved sleep.

The most efficient way to obtain these benefits is through regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise involves the large muscles of the body, particularly the legs. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, swimming and bike riding. Exercise is most enjoyable when it is incorporated into recreation and becomes a regular part of your normal daily activities.

The benefits of regular aerobic activity are becoming more widely understood and accepted; however, the benefits of sleep are often ignored. Sleep deprivation can suppress the body's immune system, and has been associated with depression. Healing activity is accentuated during sleep. Two aspects of sleep must be considered: quality and quantity.

Many people just don't allow enough time for sleep. They regard it as a waste of time and use drugs such as caffeine to stimulate their exhausted bodies into action. Some people allow plenty of time for sleep, but the quality of their sleep is poor. Regular exercise is often effective in helping people improve their ability to fall asleep. Physically fit people spend more of their sleeping time in deep sleep, and in REM (rapid eye movement), or dreaming sleep, the more restorative stages of sleep. People who are getting enough sleep wake spontaneously and feel refreshed.


Psychological health is characterized by high self-esteem and is dependent on two primary features: productive activity and effective interpersonal skills.

Productive activity is any life-enhancing activity that you feel is worthwhile and that is performed to the best of your ability. The positive feedback of successfully performing tasks increases feelings of well being and promotes self-esteem. This process begins in childhood with simple activities and builds in complexity as skills are mastered. The satisfaction and pleasure of successful performance is sometimes lost as people grow older and perceive themselves to be doing meaningless tasks that they attempt to accomplish with the least possible effort. Lack of meaning and effort are damaging to psychological health.

Effective interpersonal skills are the tools that enable people to get what they need and want from life. A baby cries to let others know its simple needs. Older children are much more skillful and subtle in their communication. Adults require a large, complex array of skills to effectively interact with fellow workers, friends and family. Each type of interaction requires different skills if the relationship is to be successful. These skills are learned to differing degrees in the process of growing up. They can be refined and improved by adults who are striving for a more satisfying lifestyle.

Misconceptions about Food

Submitted on May 26, 2010 - 3:14pm
Dietary facts can help simplify your life.
Many people have difficulty sticking with their diets because they are not getting enough to eat!

At the recent ANHS International Conference, many questions were asked about food.  Since many were prompted by common misconceptions about the Hygienic diet, we asked Dr. Alan Goldhamer to comment and describe a realistic starting point from which they can begin to design a diet that meets their individual needs. Dr. Goldhamer is president of the International Association of Hygienic Physicians (IAHP) and director of the TrueNorth  Health Center in California.

Newcomers to NHA conferences often ask about getting all the nutrients they need from a whole-food, plant-based diet. Many people have a specific concern about getting enough protein. Should they be concerned?

 A diet derived exclusively of whole, natural foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and the variable addition of whole grains, nuts, and legumes, provides us with the quantity and quality of nutrients needed for optimum health. These nutrients include protein (for its essential amino acid components), fat (for its essential fatty acid components), complex carbohydrates (as a clean-burning source of fuel), vitamins (for their role as catalysts and cofactors), minerals (that serve as structural components), fiber (as a necessary source of roughage), water (the universal solvent), and phytochemicals (for the possible role they play in supporting and protecting the body).  On the specific issue of protein - a healthful, calorie-sufficient, whole-food, plant-based diet will supply between 50 to 80 grams of high quality protein per day.

Many people say that they do not feel "full" or "satisfied" when they go for more than a few days or weeks on raw foods, and then they tend to go off their diet and binge.

There are numerous psychological and physiological factors that may contribute to why a person may binge on food. One reason may be that the person is not getting enough to eat and simply may crave more food! They might not be getting enough available energy from the foods they are eating.

Uncooked vegetables, ripe fruits, and nuts are healthful, extremely nutritious, and easy to prepare.

Some people argue that a raw-food diet is the natural and ideal diet of humans. This may be more of a romantic notion than a practical reality for most people.

If you decide to eat a diet made up of raw foods only (i.e., fruits, vegetables, and nuts), you will need to eat a very large volume of food in order to get sufficient calories to maintain your weight and energy levels. On average, raw vegetables contain 100 calories per pound; fruit contains approximately 300 calories per pound. Because most people need about 2,000 calories per day, you would need to eat at least 12 to 15 pounds of fruits and vegetables each day.

A diet of only fruit over a prolonged period of time can present serious problems for many individuals. Modern, hybridized fruit is high in sugar and relatively low in mineral concentration. Contrary to the unsubstantiated claims by some that we are natural "fruitarians," a diet of only fruit often leads to a compromise in health.

The inclusion of raw nuts increases the caloric and mineral density of the diet, but also increases the percentage of calories from fat, yielding a high-sugar, high-fat diet that is far from ideal for most individuals. The inclusion of large volumes of raw vegetables helps increase the mineral and fiber content, but salad only provides approximately 100 calories per pound, most of which is used in its digestion and elimination.

Starches such as potatoes, yams, hard squashes, etc., are a good source of calories, without the excess fat and protein. Grains and legumes are, too, but some people are intolerant of the gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, etc. Rice, quinoa, millet, lentils, and soybeans are preferable, but even these foods can present a problem for some people.

Is the raw food diet the "ideal diet"?

The argument that raw food is "natural" because most other animals obtain their food in the uncooked and unprocessed state is not a strong one, since those who champion this proposition do not recommend, at the same time, the other lifestyle necessities that accompany it-specifically, that animals do little else than eat, sleep, and mate during their relatively short lives.

Many people find it difficult to eat the quantity of raw food necessary to get sufficient calories. They may be much better off eating some steamed vegetables because lightly steaming vegetables does not substantially decrease the nutrients and makes it physically easier to eat and digest more food.

Can you recommend a starting point for people who want to design a healthful diet that meets their individual needs?

I recommend to most of my patients that they eat large volumes of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables (three to five pounds per day, yielding 600 to 1,100 calories) and get enough cooked, starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, yams, and hard squashes) and whole grains and legumes (such as brown rice, millet, quinoa, corn, lentils, and other beans) so that they can maintain good strength and energy levels and not get too skinny. If vegetable foods naturally high in fat and protein are used, I recommend limiting them to half of an avocado, or one to two ounces of raw nuts, or three to four ounces of soy products per day.

By volume, the diet is mostly raw; however, as a percentage of calories, cooked foods make up a significant part of the diet. The use of heat helps to break down some of the otherwise indigestible fiber, increasing the potential available energy from these cooked foods. Starchy root vegetables are an excellent source of calories, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, as well as an abundant source of phytochemicals.

When general advice is not enough to resolve your concerns, consult an IAHP doctor and allow him or her to review your history, perform a physical examination, order necessary laboratory testing, and design an individualized diet and lifestyle recommendations.