Recently by Joseph Mercola: How Exercise Influences Hunger and WeightLoss
Welcome to the condensed version of my nutrition plan that can have a powerful and dramatic influence on your ability to achieve optimal health.
My program comes from decades of experience in which I have researched extensively, conferred with my professional colleagues, and most importantly, successfully treated tens of thousands of patients.
Many are struggling with weight issues, facing some disease or condition, or fighting inexplicable fatigue or lethargy. If that applies to you, I am certain that if you adhere to the recommendations summarized below, and presented in full in my best-selling book, Take Control of Your Health, they will help you achieve the happy and healthy life you so richly deserve.
So what makes this nutrition program different from all the other diets you’ve tried?
It’s based on fact. There are no miracle cures here, just tools to help you understand your body and achieve optimum health.
It seems that many of the world’s leading dietary experts adopted one-size-fits-all dietary solutions that they believe can be universally applied. While there are indeed certain universal truths, such as the danger of sugar and toxins, my experience has taught me that a one-size-fits-all dietary approach simply doesn’t work very well.
Fact: One person’s food may be another person’s poison.
Just as it is obvious that we all differ tremendously with respect to our outward physical appearance, we also have a unique biochemistry and genetics. You and I process foods and utilize nutrients differently. Therefore, when you adopt a diet based on your specific "nutritional type," you will resolve most health disorders and achieve optimum health.
When you apply a symptom-oriented approach to your health problems you will often experience temporary relief. Unfortunately, your problems never really go away. They simply shift to other parts of your body, or shortly return.
In contrast, when you address your nutritional type – your unique biochemical needs, which are based on your specific genetics – your health problems are addressed at the foundational level, and you are far more likely to achieve a permanent solution for regaining your health.
Fact: You won’t be hungry.
You need not worry about being hungry on this plan. One of the signs and benefits of addressing your specific nutritional needs is that your hunger pains will rapidly resolve. When you finally balance your nutritional needs, your food cravings will simply disappear, and you will wake up each day with more than enough energy. If this isn’t happening, then this is your giant clue that you are not giving your body something it needs, and you need to modify your program.
What to Do if You Need a Health Coach
I think there’s cause to believe physician burnout is part of the puzzle why US health care is so dangerous…
Eight years ago, I posted the comprehensive, footnoted research article, Death by Medicine, on this website, which described in excruciating detail how the modern American medical system had bumbled its way into becoming the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.
From medical errors to adverse drug reactions to unnecessary procedures, the authors took statistics straight from the most respected medical and scientific journals and investigative reports by the Institutes of Medicine (IOM), and showed that on the whole American medicine caused more harm than good.
So what is the solution?
Well, from my perspective there isn’t any easy one, other than to simply minimize your interactions with the conventional system, because even if they have successfully navigated all the land mines above, they will likely still be advising strategies that in no way shape or form address the underlying cause of your disease.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing the information on this site about healthy eating, exercise, and stress management is because it can help keep you OUT of the doctor’s office, or even worse, the hospital, by helping you Take Control of Your Health and one of the most powerful steps you can take is to carefully review the entire nutrition plan as it compiles the best of my over 30 years of clinical practice.
There is no charge for this life saving information. It is my gift to you and your family to help offset the massive confusion, misinformation, pain and suffering that the conventional medical system has likely given you.
Achieve Independent Health With Your Optimized Nutrition Plan: Getting Started
I have simplified my nutrition plan down into three phases: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Success comes in steps, and this program is designed to allow you to make your journey to optimal health in a step-by-step manner.
Almost everyone should begin at the "Beginner" level. The exceptions are:
- Those who are already implementing the advice found there.
- Those with serious conditions who may want to take the more extensive measure of implementing the advice found in several, or all, of the stages to promote healing and health.
Ideally you will want to adopt all the recommendations within a phase. You can modify the program though, by placing your initial focus on the "Four Factors":
- Blood pressure
If some changes present more challenge than others, just keep working at them. Remember, health is the greatest commodity you can ever have, so every step you succeed at taking throughout these three phases, whether it feels large or small, is a great leap forward in this most important journey. If you get discouraged at any point, keep this in mind: This is your one and only body and mind, and, more than anything else, it is worth it.
Listen to Your Body!
Please remember that if I, or anyone else, recommend any food or supplement that makes you nauseous or sick in any way, please listen to your body and stop it immediately! You can trust your body to provide you with a better indication of what is good for you.
Most people notice a remarkable improvement in the way they feel in anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If you are not doing better, this may be your body’s clue that you will need a knowledgeable health care professional that understands insulin and fat biochemistry to help fine-tune your individual program.
The First Step to Health: Assess Your "Four Factors"
There are four time-tested, clinically proven gauges of health that you can use to determine your own level of health. They are:
These four factors are your signs on the highway to optimal wellness. You can use these proven health indicators to monitor your success on the beginner’s nutrition plan.
Additionally, you can use these indicators as a guide to figure out when to move to the intermediate level of this nutritional plan. You’ll feel comfortable, confident and psychologically ready to move on to the next level, and your indicators of health will be in their optimal ranges.
Insulin and leptin are absolutely essential to staying alive, but the sad fact is that most of you reading this have too much, and it is pushing you towards chronic degenerative illness and increasing the rate at which you age.
Most adults have about one gallon of blood in their bodies and are quite surprised to learn that in that gallon, there is only one teaspoon of sugar! You only need one teaspoon of sugar at all times – if that. If your blood sugar level were to rise to one tablespoon of sugar you would quickly go into a hyperglycemic coma and die.
Your body works very hard to prevent this by producing insulin to keep your blood sugar at the appropriate level. Any meal or snack high in grain and sugar carbohydrates typically generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To compensate for this your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream, which lowers your blood sugar to keep you from dying.
However, if you consume a diet consistently high in sugar and grains, over time your body becomes "sensitized" to insulin and requires more and more of it to get the job done. Eventually, you become insulin and leptin resistant, and then diabetic.
If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or are overweight, it is highly likely that you are eating too many grains – yes, even unrefined whole grains – as this is the most common culprit causing your insulin level to become abnormal.
Compounding the problem, when your insulin and leptin levels rise due to an excess of carbohydrates, they send your body a hormonal message telling it to store fat while holding on to the fat that is already there. So not only will excess carbohydrates make you overweight, they will effectively hamper your weight loss efforts too.
Your Fasting Blood Insulin Test
To find out your insulin and leptin levels, you need to get tested by your doctor. The test you need to ask for is a fasting blood insulin and leptin test, The tests are done by just about every commercial laboratory and the insulin test is relatively inexpensive.
Facts about Your Fasting Insulin Test:
- This test is profoundly useful. It’s one of the least expensive tests in traditional medicine, yet it is one of the most powerful. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you’ll want to be below 3.
- You can safely ignore the reference ranges from the lab as they are based on "normals" of a population that has highly-disturbed insulin levels.
- This is a great test to do BEFORE you start your program as you can use it to assess how well you are progressing in the program.
- If your level is above 5 you will want to consider significantly reducing most sugars and grains, even whole wheat grains, until you lower your level. Once you’ve normalized your insulin level you can reintroduce grains into your diet at a lower level to optimize your health.
- Exercise is of enormous benefit in improving the sensitivity of your insulin and leptin receptors, and to help normalize your insulin level far more quickly.
Unfortunately, two out of three people in the U.S. are overweight and one out of three is obese, and the rest of the world is not far behind. It has been my experience that many people are in denial about being overweight.
One effective and simple method to figure out if you have a weight problem is as follows: With a tape measure, comfortably measure the distance around the smallest area below the rib cage and above the umbilicus (belly button). Waist circumference, perhaps surprisingly, is the best and simplest anthropometric measure of total body fat.
It is better than BMI (body mass index), which fails to factor in how muscular you are, and is also the best indicator of intra-abdominal fat mass (the dangerous type of fat around your internal organs strongly linked with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
Waist size gives a good indication of the amount of fat you’re carrying, particularly around the stomach area. Abdominal fat is considered an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Your waist size is also a powerful indicator of insulin sensitivity, as studies clearly show that measuring your waist size is one of the most powerful ways to predict your risk for diabetes.
If you’re not sure if you have a healthy waist circumference, a general guide is:
- For men, between 37 (84 cm) and 40 inches is overweight and more than 40 inches is obese
- For women, 31.5 (81 cm) -34.6 inches is overweight and more than 34.6 inches is obese
The other tool, which many experts are now leaning toward as the most accurate measure of obesity, is body fat percentage. As it sounds, this is simply the percentage of fat your body contains, and it can be a powerful indicator of your health. Too much body fat is linked to chronic health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Too little body fat is also problematic and can cause your body to enter a catabolic state, where muscle protein is used as fuel. A general guideline from the American Council on Exercise is as follows:
Classification Women (% fat) Men (% fat) Essential Fat 10-13% 2-5% Athletes 14-20% 6-13% Fitness 21-24% 14-17% Acceptable 25-31% 18-24% Obese 32% and higher 25% and higher
Body fat calipers are one of the most trusted and most accurate ways to measure body fat. A body fat- or skinfold-caliper is a lightweight, hand-held device that quickly and easily measures the thickness of a fold of your skin with its underlying layer of fat. Taken at three very specific locations on your body, these readings can help you estimate the total percent of body fat within your entire body.
You can also use a digital scale that determines body fat, which is what I use personally. I use an Eat Smart Precision GetFit Body Fat Scale that I picked up from Amazon for around $50. Although many body fat measurements can be inaccurate, they are nearly all more accurate than BMI, and are particularly useful to determine whether you are gaining or losing fat. Although the absolute value may be off, the direction you are going (whether your body fat is going up or down) will be very accurate, and this is an incredibly useful measure of whether you’re nearing your health goals or not.
Remember that it is FAR better to monitor your body fat percentage than it is your total weight, as the body fat percentage is what dictates metabolic health or dysfunction – not your total weight.
Ideally your blood pressure should be about 120/80 without medication. If you are on medication, you will be delighted to know that this nutrition plan tends to normalize elevated blood pressures in the vast majority of people.
Although elevated insulin levels are one of the most potent contributors to elevated blood pressure, it’s also common for stress, tension or anxiety to contribute to this problem. After you begin my nutrition plan and follow it for several months, if you don’t see an improvement in your blood pressure you need to seek out a health care professional who is well-versed in using stress-relief methods, such as my personal favorite: EFT.
In my clinical experience, over 95 percent of patients with elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels respond to a reduced carbohydrate and insulin/leptin level correction approach. This is especially true for triglycerides. In over 25 years of practicing medicine, I have never seen an elevated triglyceride level fail to drop in response to a low carbohydrate program.
Most people are seriously confused about their cholesterol levels. This is because too much emphasis is placed on the importance of the total cholesterol. A far more important predictor of cardiovascular risk is actually the ratio of good cholesterol (HDL) to total cholesterol, along with the ratio of triglycerides to HDL.
A major clue that something is very off with the notion that high cholesterol causes heart disease can be found in this: even as cholesterol levels have become lower, rates of heart disease deaths have not followed suit! The truth is, your body NEEDS cholesterol – it is important in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function.
If your physician is urging you to check your total cholesterol, then you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher. The following two percentages are far more potent indicators for heart disease risk:
- HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent. Ideally, your level should be 30 or higher. It rarely gets above 50, but to the best of my knowledge, the higher the number the better. Levels below 10 percent are very dangerous and usually indicate an imminent cardiovascular problem. It is important to note that some clinicians actually obtain this ratio by dividing the total cholesterol by the HDL (Total Cholesterol/HDL). In this case, the numbers should be lower. The cut-off point for a poor ratio would be any number greater than 4, with greater than 10 having serious problems. This number rarely drops below 2.
- Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2. The higher this number is, the worse your insulin control may be.
There is a small subset of individuals born with a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (about one in 500 people), in which their cholesterols are typically around 350 or higher. While this program will help to moderate their cholesterol levels, they usually do not normalize with a low insulin program such as this.
If you’re using your HDL percentage to determine when to transition to the Intermediate nutrition plan, you must use caution and consult a trained natural health care clinician if your cholesterol is above 350.
There does not appear to be a similar genetic condition for triglycerides, so you could use the Triglyceride/HDL ratio below 2 as one indication that you are ready to move on to the adaptation phase.
To learn more about cholesterol and the ratios described above, download my free Special Report on Cholesterol.