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Top 5 Ugly Truths the Meat Industry Hopes You Never Find Out

What we put in our bodies in the way of food makes a difference in every single level of our lives. It affects how we feel, how we look, how we reproduce, and even how we think. These things will then make a difference in how we relate to each other as a society, which then translates into how we will relate as a society to the entire world. Food is just as relevant and important to us and our survival as air and water.When we started changing where our food source came from is when the trouble seems to have started. We stopped getting our food from people (neighborhood farmers, friends, our own backyard gardens) and started getting it from corporations.  This was a huge mistake and it shows in every aspect of our lives.

Unfortunately, many of us live so far removed from farms and dairy production that we have little or no idea what is going on, what is in our food, or how the animals we are eating are being treated. You would never consider eating meat from a cow that was obviously sick when it was alive, but since you aren’t there when this cow is slaughtered; you could very well be eating meat from sick animals. We are what we eat, friends, so in this case, the sickness the animal had while it was alive can be transferred to you when you eat it.

This isn’t to say that we all need to be standing by, personally approving every animal that is killed before we eat it. That is completely unrealistic. But everyone should be aware of the facts behind factory farmed meats and why you should NOT be consuming those.

Take a look at the top 5 facts behind factory farmed animals and why the meat industry hopes you never find out.

1. Factory farmed means extreme density problems

Thirty eight states in the US admit to having extreme density levels at least at some their factory farms. California is perhaps the worst offender with more than 25 percent of their counties saying that they have extreme density levels. What does this mean exactly?

Corporate run farms edge out the average family farm by undercutting meat prices so that they cannot survive and end up selling their farms to these corporations. Corporate farms are able to make their money in numbers, raising huge amounts of animals in crowded, inhumane conditions and increasing the speed at which animals grow through growth hormone injections.

Pigs and chickens are often kept in completely enclosed buildings where these animals never see the sun. EVER.

Factory farms avoid disease by constantly injecting their animals with antibiotics or putting antibiotics in the feed. They need to do this because the animals themselves are kept in unbelievably crowded, unclean conditions. Animals are packed in so tightly that sometimes they cannot turn around. If they want to lie down, they must do so in their own waste.

Even with these antibiotics, which are being passed on to you via the meat, by the way,  think of how many salmonella and E.coli outbreaks there have been in the past 20 years.

The waste from these animals, which is often sold as fertilizer, puts all those growth hormones and antibiotics into the soil, which leeches into our food and water supply.


2.  Ammonia Reigns

If you have ever gotten a whiff of strong ammonia, you most likely pulled back quickly. Ammonia is a powerful chemical that is used to clean things such as windows and toilets.

Ammonia is used in processing plants as it sterilizes the meat and kills some pathogens, but apparently not salmonella and E.coli as these are still problems in the meat supply in America.

Ammonia actually changes the DNA cell structure and warps cells, which can fuel the development of cancer, especially in organs that try to remove ammonia from the body, such as your liver and pancreas.

Although you won’t see ammonia on the list of ingredients, but if you have ever seen the words “processing agents” on a package of hamburger, then you know they used ammonia to clean it.


3.  Hormone Heaven

In addition to the antibiotics that must be given due to overcrowded conditions, hormones are given to many animals, such as pigs and cows, to help make them grow bigger and gain weight faster so they can be butchered more quickly.

Unfortunately, those hormones don’t know if they are fattening up a cow or YOU.

In America, two out of every three cows are given hormones because it will make the corporation more money. That’s it. They don’t care if these hormones cause you problems such as prostate cancer or breast cancer. They don’t care if these hormones make you gain weight; they only care about making more money

Hormones such as zeranol, verall, and progesterone, interrupt the human body’s natural hormone balance. Fewer women in Europe have breast cancer because the European Union has banned these types of hormones in their meat. Read more about foods Americans eat that are banned in other countries.

4. Antibiotics and You

Ever wonder why so many people and bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics?

Part of the reason is because animals in the US are being fed huge overdoses of antibiotics and these stay in the meat, which you consume.


5.  Bleaching Your Meat

It’s well known that the meat industry also uses bleach rinses in order to clean meat. Now you might be asking, if they use bleach, why isn’t the meat white?

This is because the corporate meat industry uses nitrates to give meat that fresh, red color.

Everyone knows that the healthy flesh of recently killed meat is a flush of red. However, since many meats, especially processed meats such as bacon and hot dogs, were killed quite a while back, and then processed with bleach, they need to be made to look “fresh” again. Companies use nitrates and nitrites to make meat look red and fresh, and also to preserve its shelf life. If only nitrates could preserve us! Instead, nitrates are carcinogens that kill.

No one is suggesting that you need to give up meat entirely. Meat can be healthy for you when it is kept and killed correctly. Make a commitment today to only buy organic, grass fed meats. Cattle and chickens that walk freely about outside in the sun (which why you will sometimes see meat labels that say “Free Range”) and eat normal animal diets, such as seeds, grass, and insects, have healthy levels of many important vitamins and minerals. No one can say that about factory farmed meats.  Eat smart and always eat organic. It’s well worth the price.

What You Eat Affects Your Productivity

Think back to your most productive workday in the past week. Now ask yourself: On that afternoon, what did you have for lunch?

When we think about the factors that contribute to workplace performance, we rarely give much consideration to food. For those of us battling to stay on top of emails, meetings, and deadlines, food is simply fuel.

But as it turns out, this analogy is misleading. The foods we eat affect us more than we realize. With fuel, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank. Food is different. Imagine a world where filling up at Mobil meant avoiding all traffic and using BP meant driving no faster than 20 miles an hour. Would you then be so cavalier about where you purchased your gas?

Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon.

Here’s a brief rundown of why this happens. Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.

So far, so obvious. Now here’s the part we rarely consider: Not all foods are processed by our bodies at the same rate. Some foods, like pasta, bread, cereal and soda, release their glucose quickly, leading to a burst of energy followed by a slump. Others, like high fat meals (think cheeseburgers and BLTs) provide more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy.

Most of us know much of this intuitively, yet we don’t always make smart decisions about our diet. In part, it’s because we’re at our lowest point in both energy and self-control when deciding what to eat. French fries and mozzarella sticks are a lot more appetizing when you’re mentally drained.

Unhealthy lunch options also tend to be cheaper and faster than healthy alternatives, making them all the more alluring in the middle of a busy workday. They feel efficient. Which is where our lunchtime decisions lead us astray. We save 10 minutes now and pay for it with weaker performance the rest of the day.

So what are we to do? One thing we most certainly shouldn’t do is assume that better information will motivate us to change. Most of us are well aware that scarfing down a processed mixture of chicken bones and leftover carcasses is not a good life decision. But that doesn’t make chicken nuggets any less delicious.

No, it’s not awareness we need—it’s an action plan that makes healthy eating easier to accomplish. Here are some research-based strategies worth trying.

The first is to make your eating decisions before you get hungry. If you’re going out to lunch, choose where you’re eating in the morning, not at 12:30 PM. If you’re ordering in, decide what you’re having after a mid-morning snack. Studies show we’re a lot better at resisting salt, calories, and fat in the future than we are in the present.

Another tip: Instead of letting your glucose bottom out around lunch time, you’ll perform better by grazing throughout the day. Spikes and drops in blood sugar are both bad for productivity and bad for the brain. Smaller, more frequent meals maintain your glucose at a more consistent level than relying on a midday feast.
Finally, make healthy snacking easier to achieve than unhealthy snacking. Place a container of almonds and a selection of protein bars by your computer, near your line of vision. Use an automated subscription service, like Amazon, to restock supplies. Bring a bag of fruit to the office on Mondays so that you have them available throughout the week.

Is carrying produce to the office ambitious? For many of us, the honest answer is yes. Yet there’s reason to believe the weekly effort is justified.

Research indicates that eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day isn’t simply good for the body—it’s also beneficial for the mind. A fascinating paper in this July’s British Journal of Health Psychology highlights the extent to which food affects our day-to-day experience.

Within the study, participants reported their food consumption, mood, and behaviors over a period of 13 days. Afterwards, researchers examined the way people’s food choices influenced their daily experiences. Here was their conclusion: The more fruits and vegetables people consumed (up to 7 portions), the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be.

Why? The authors offer several theories. Among them is an insight we routinely overlook when deciding what to eat for lunch: Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. They also provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory, and enhance mood.

Which underscores an important point: If you’re serious about achieving top workplace performance, making intelligent decisions about food is essential.

The good news is that contrary to what many of us assume, the trick to eating right is not learning to resist temptation. It’s making healthy eating the easiest possible option.



Why Fitness Pros Are Obsessed With Apple Cider Vinegar

Check out this powerful tid bit of knowledge ! Now we all know they say  an apple a day may keep the proverbial doctor away, but a daily splash of apple cider vinegar may be just what your trainer ordered. Fitness pros are gung-ho on the ingredient’s better-body powers, and for good reason. Here’s why:

How It Helps: “Apple cider vinegar has a positive impact on gut health because it’s anti-microbial. It helps to break down bad bacteria and feed the good,” say New York City-based master trainer Josh Stolz.

“My digestion improved when I added it to my diet so I started recommending it to clients. One had chronic bad breath that may have been linked to an imbalanced digestive system, so I got her on a daily apple cider vinegar protocol and her breath, digestion, and skin improved within weeks.” Consistent ingestion of apple cider vinegar has been tied to moderate weight loss as well. “Some studies suggest the acetic acid in it can boost satiety between meals so you may eat less,” says Brian St. Pierre, R.D., a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition.

How To Try It: Stir a couple teaspoons into a glass of water and sip before meals. Another trick: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to seltzer water then add stevia to taste (optional). “It’s like drinking a non-alcoholic, non-caloric sparkling cider,” says Stolz, who advises keeping your daily ACV dose to 2 to 3 tablespoons max.

Some advocates favor the pungent tonic first thing in the morning, but pairing it with your starchy meals may be your best bet. “Research shows apple cider vinegar can help prevent blood sugar spikes because it interferes with starch and carbohydrate absorption,” says Stolz. Pros agree that reducing the glycemic response in the body is especially important if you’re diabetic or have insulin resistance, but anyone can benefit. Notes St. Pierre: Ingesting it with a higher carbohydrate meal can decrease post-meal blood glucose levels, which can also lower inflammation and protect blood vessel linings.

Yet another super-worthy stat: Apple cider vinegar enhances the nutrition of bone broth. “Add it to the bones, water, and seasonings—1/8 cup for 1 pound bones, ¼ for 2 pounds of bones, and so on—about a half an hour before boiling. This helps pull more minerals from the bones,” says Stolz.

Why fitness pros are obsessed with apple cider vinegar

Nutrition As Medicine

Most people truly do not understand the concept of nutritional medicine and fewer yet understand the concept of cellular nutrition.  This article will give you a better understanding of how I approach my patients as a specialist in Nutritional Medicine. Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of how and why you can better protect your health or even regain your health by applying these concepts to your own life.

Concept of Oxidative Stress

Even though oxygen is necessary for life itself, it is inherently dangerous for our existence.  In the process of utilizing oxygen within your cells to create energy, you also create a by-product referred to as free radicals.  Free radicals are charged oxygen molecules that are missing at least one electron and desire to get an electron from the surrounding area.  If it is not readily neutralized by an antioxidant, which has the ability to give this free radical the electron it desires, it can go on to create more volatile free radicals, damage the cell wall, vessel wall, proteins, fats, and even the DNA nucleus of the cell.  So the same process that turns a cut apple brown or rusts metal is causing you to rust inside.  In fact, the medical literature now shows us that over 70 chronic degenerative diseases are the result of this process.  Diseases like coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, arthritis, macular degeneration, MS, lupus, among others are the result of small oxidative changes that occur over a long period of time.

It is all about Balance

The number of free radicals you produce is not steady.  In other words, some days you produce more than others.  Because of our stressful lifestyles, polluted environment, and over-medicated society, this generation must deal with more free radicals than any previous generation that has ever walked the face of the earth.  If you want to prevent oxidative stress, you need to have more antioxidants available along with their supporting nutrients than the number of free radicals you produce.  You see, we are not defenseless against this process.  Antioxidants are the answer.  The question is whether or not we are able to get all the antioxidants we need from our food.  This was the question I had to answer for myself and the reason that I wrote my book What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know about Nutritional Medicine.   After spending over 2 years reviewing the medical literature, I concluded that the only way you have a chance of preventing oxidative stress is by taking high quality, complete and balanced nutritional supplements that provide, what I refer to as, cellular nutrition.  If you have not read my book or listened to any of my CD’s on this subject, I would certainly encourage you to do just that.  The medical references are detailed in my books and provide the medical evidence that demands a verdict—should you be taking nutritional supplements?

History of Nutritional Medicine

            Over the past half century, nutritional medicine has been practiced with the belief that you had to determine what nutrients in which you were deficient and then supplement that particular nutrient.  It became very obvious to me early on in my research that the underlying problem most of us are facing is not a nutritional deficiency, but instead, the result of oxidative stress.  It was also apparent to me that medication, which actually increases the production of free radicals, would never be the answer to preventing any of these diseases.  Also if this was the case, the goal had to be to provide the nutrients that were necessary to build up our body’s natural antioxidant defense system so that you did not develop oxidative stress.  It became so apparent to me that our bodies, not the drugs I could prescribe, were the best defense against developing any of these diseases.  The problem is NOT a nutritional deficiency.  The problem is oxidative stress.

Modern Nutritional Research

Today’s research is focused on trying to find the magic bullet in regards to a particular disease.  For example, there were many studies that showed that those smokers who had the highest antioxidant levels in their blood stream had a significantly lower risk of developing lung cancer than those smokers who had the lowest level of antioxidants.  Most of the researchers felt that it was primarily due to the high levels of beta carotene.  So they decided to do a study and supplement a large number of smokers with just beta carotene.  They were dismayed when they found that the group that received the beta carotene alone actually had a higher incidence of lung cancer than the control group.  This led researchers and the media to actually claim that beta carotene was dangerous and should not be taken in supplementation in smokers.  A review of the same data reported a couple of years later showed that those smokers who had the highest levels of total antioxidants in their blood stream had a significantly decreased risk of developing lung cancer compared to those who had the lowest levels of antioxidants.

Beta carotene is NOT a drug.  It is merely a nutrient that we get from our food; however, because of supplementation we are now able to get it at levels you cannot obtain from your food.  Beta carotene works in only certain parts of the body and against only certain kinds of free radicals.  Beta carotene needs the other antioxidants along with the antioxidant minerals and B cofactors in order to do its job effectively.  However, researchers are focused on trying to find the magic bullet instead of stepping back and understanding the basic principles and concepts of cellular nutrition.  The amazing thing is how so many of these studies that look at just one or possibly two nutrients actually show a health benefit.  What would the health benefit be if you would put all of these nutrients together at these optimal levels?  Enter in the concept of cellular nutrition.

Concept of Cellular Nutrition

There are over 180 epidemiologic studies (studies that involve a very large number of people) that all show the very same thing.  Those individuals who have the highest levels of total antioxidants in their body compared with those who have the lowest levels have a 2- to 3-fold decrease risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s dementia.  Obviously, those individuals who consume more of the fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain a large amount of these antioxidants, had the highest levels of antioxidants in their body.  This only makes logical sense when you understand the concept of oxidative stress as being the root cause of over 70 of these chronic degenerative diseases.  Therefore, a physician would conclude the best thing that they could advise their patients to do is to be consuming at least 8 to 12 servings of fresh whole fruits and vegetables each and every day.  The second best thing would be to recommend high quality, complete and balanced nutritional supplements that provided cellular nutrition.

Cellular nutrition would be defined as providing ALL of the micronutrients to the cell at these optimal or advanced levels that have been shown to provide a health benefit in our medical literature.  In other words, you would want your supplementation to be balanced and complete, much like a healthy diet is. The only difference is the fact that, unlike today’s food supply, supplementation can provide all of these nutrients at optimal levels.  We all need to be supplementing a healthy diet; however, because of our stressful lifestyles, polluted environment, and over-medicated society we do need to be supplementing.

Cellular nutrition has been shown in our medical literature to build up our body’s natural immune system, antioxidant system, and repair system.  You not only replenish any nutritional deficiency within 6 months of supplementation, but you also optimize all of the body’s micronutrients.  You are given the absolute best chance to reverse or prevent any oxidative stress and protect your health.  You see, nutritional supplementation is really about health—not disease.  Nutritional supplements are natural to the body and the nutrients the body requires to function at its optimal level.

Every man, woman, and child needs to be supplementing a healthy diet and be involved in a modest exercise program.  This is the key to protecting and maintaining your health.  However, what if you have already lost your health and have developed one of these chronic degenerative diseases?  Does supplementation provide any hope?  This is the question that I had to answer for myself and for my patients.  This has been the focus of my practice for the past 11 years and why I have developed my online practice located at

The Concept of Synergy

The medical literature had showed me over and over again that those patients who were already suffering from a chronic degenerative disease like rheumatoid arthritis, MS, or diabetes actually had significantly more oxidative stress than the normal, healthy patient.  Cellular nutrition is generally adequate to help someone who is in excellent health; however, it would not be enough supplementation to bring oxidative stress under control in someone who is already suffering from a major disease.

It became very apparent to me early on that if you were going to be able to have any effect on improving the health of someone who was already suffering from cancer, heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, macular degeneration, and the like that you would have to truly optimize every aspect of the body’s natural defense systems.  I quickly began to realize that by placing all of my patients on basic cellular nutrition, I was able to create a synergistic effect.  Vitamin E is a great antioxidant within the cell membrane.  Vitamin C is a great antioxidant within the plasma.  Glutathione is the best intracellular antioxidant.  However, all of these antioxidants needed the antioxidant minerals and B cofactors to do their job well.  Also, vitamin C was able to replenish vitamin E so it could be used over and over again.  Alpha lipoic acid, another great antioxidant, was able to regenerate both vitamin E and glutathione.  I found that 1 plus 1 was no longer 2, but instead, 8 or 10. This powerful approach allowed me a much better chance of bringing oxidative stress back under control.

Once my patients were consuming my recommendations of cellular nutrition, I simply began adding enhancers to their nutritional supplement regime.  I began looking for the most potent antioxidants that were available.  Grape seed extract was found to be 50 times more potent than vitamin E and 20 times more potent than vitamin C at handling oxidative stress.  CoQ10 was not only a very important antioxidant but has been found to significantly boost our natural immune system and help provide increased energy for the cell to function at its optimal level.  Other nutrients like glucosamine sulfate, saw palmetto, phytonutrients, additional vitamin E, calcium, magnesium in various illnesses produced amazing results.

Over the past 12 years, I have learned how to best support my patients’ natural defenses and allow them the best chance to take back control of their health.  Again, it is all about balance.  I want my patients who are already suffering from an illness to also bring oxidative stress back under control.  This is my entire goal.  Then and only then do they have a chance to see their health improve.  By combining cellular nutrition with specific enhancers, I give all my patients the best chance of bringing oxidative stress back under control.  The results that I have seen in my medical practice using these principles have been nothing short of amazing and something that I had never witnessed in my first 20 plus years of medical practice.

Now, I want to share a couple of precautions that I have learned along the way.  First, nutritional medicine is not like taking drugs.  It takes a minimum of 6 months to build up the body’s natural defenses and many of my patients did not even begin to see any improvements in their health until after 6 months.  Not everyone responds to my recommendations; however, I feel the majority of my patients have had significant health improvements when they followed these recommendations.  None of my patients were cured of their underlying illness.  Nutritional supplementation is not an alternative or substitute for traditional medical care.  You should never quit taking any medication prescribed by your doctor without his or her consent and direction.  Many of my patients have been able to decrease their dependence of medication and in some cases even discontinue some of their medication.  However, this is always because of a significant positive improvement in their health and under the direction of their personal physician.







Nutrition and Diet Trends

Overall diets have changed dramatically over the past century. Food selections, availability and science are constantly evolving, and new trends are emerging for foods that we consume. Some of the current and most prominent diet trends include flexitarian, organic, functional/value, and gluten-free diets. Knowing the facts about these nutrition trends can help you make more informed diet decisions.

The Good, the Bad and What You Need to Know

The Flexitarian Diet

Designed for those who aren’t ready to embrace a full vegetarian diet, the flexitarian diet balances a decreased consumption of meat with more produce. This diet is receiving positive feedback by the nutrition community as it encourages eating more healthful vegetarian foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and fresh produce while being flexible in the amount of meat eaten.

The diet plan has three levels:

• Beginner – 2 meatless days a week with 5-6 oz. of meat-based protein consumed on each of the other 5 days

• Advanced – 3 or 4 meatless days a week with 6 oz. of meat-based protein consumed on each of the other 3 days

• Expert – 5 meatless days a week with 9-10 oz. of meat-based protein consumed per week

One of the benefits of this diet is the ease of reducing the consumption of meat while enjoying more produce. It also provides a smooth transition for those who do not care for the taste of protein replacements but want to slowly wean themselves from meat.

Another positive: this diet encourages more complete whole grains as protein complements. New research suggests that people who consume several servings of whole grains per day, while limiting daily intake of refined grains, appear to have less fat tissue thought to trigger cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

One area of concern, however, is that the flexitarian diet may not contain enough complete proteins for growth and maturation or provide enough protein for athletes. If one is not fully committed to the responsibility of obtaining proteins; this diet can cause health complications.

Organic Diets

Influenced by the seasonality and the locality of foods, these diets focus on sustainable consumerism and choosing foods that are good for you as well as for the Earth. Among these foods are organic and raw foods. Often debated, organic foods are not exposed to pesticides and other chemicals thought to be harmful when consumed and bad for the environment. Organic livestock farmers do not use antibiotics or hormones, thought to cause different types of cancer, to prevent disease and spur growth in animals. Raw foods are not prepackaged or cooked, keeping them rich in flavor and nutrients.

Because organic foods can be 50 to 100 percent more expensive, experts encourage consumers to spend their food dollars wisely by carefully choosing between organic and conventional items. Produce and foods that a family eats most often are most important to spend extra on. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., recommends choosing organic at least for produce with the highest pesticide residues. These selections include produce with thin or no skin such as apples, pears, peaches, berries, all leafy greens, peppers, celery and potatoes. Raw food sales are on the move. Susan Baker, marketing leader at Whole Foods Market–Greenlife Grocery agrees and notes an emerging trend towards a completely raw foods diet and the nutritional benefits.

Experts all agree that a diet high in fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables, is good for one’s health. However, there is some concern for diets based entirely on raw foods. Andrea N. Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Los Angeles, says in the journalEatingWell, “There’s no doubt that plant-based diets have been linked with a lower risk of obesity and other chronic diseases, but because the raw-foods diet is so restrictive, its followers are at risk for deficiencies of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. And the diet isn’t based on science: cooking destroys some nutrients, but it makes others (like the lycopene in tomatoes) more absorbable.”

Functional/Value Diets

According to Cornell University, decreasing consumption volume and placing a focus on eating healthy foods is the cornerstone of the functional or value diet. The consumer is motivated to build a meal plan around foods that offer more than just taste and calories, thus getting more nutrient value from foods. The focus of this diet is on the function of the foods and benefits they provide.

A functional diet might include foods with added bioflavonoid and probiotics such as yogurt and dairy products to regulate intestinal health. This diet often includes exotic fruits (or “superfruits”) such as mangosteen, goji berries, and noni that have a high nutrient and antioxidant content. Research supports that adults can increase their chances of maintaining healthy brain activity by adding certain functional foods and beverages to their diets. For example, dark chocolate provides natural stimulants like caffeine to enhance concentration, and nuts and seeds provide good sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant associated with preventing cognitive decline. Coldwater fatty fish is an excellent functional food as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are linked to lower dementia and stroke risks; slower mental decline; and are thought to play a vital role in enhancing memory.

No one challenges the benefits of this type of diet other than to advise that foods are balanced across meals.

Gluten-Free Diet

The gluten-free craze is another diet trend that’s becoming hard to ignore. This diet has increased in popularity over the last few years partly as a result of greater awareness and improved diagnosis of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by exposure to gluten. Additionally, there has been a mass movement toward gluten-free products by those who have self-diagnosed gluten intolerance, believe a gluten-free diet is a healthier way of eating, or believe that it can help to help reduce weight. Since 2004, the gluten-free market has experienced an average annual growth rate of 28 percent. Today, less than one percent of the population has celiac disease; however, marketers believe that between 15 and 25 percent of consumers want gluten-free products.

The good news is that consumers who are following a gluten-free diet are usually eating less white and processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Another positive is that the trend has motivated manufacturers to provide more high-quality, gluten-free foods that the truly intolerant would normally not have access to. In the past, many gluten-free foods have been based on nutrient-poor ingredients, such as potato and corn starches, with xanthan and guar gum to improve texture.

The bad news is that people who have diagnosed themselves as gluten intolerant are missing an exact diagnosis from a doctor and could be incorrectly treating symptoms related to another health issue. Unless carefully managed, gluten-free diets can be deficient in vitamins and minerals. Gluten-free foods can also be very expensive and some can have high values of fat and sugar added by manufacturers to make them more appealing. Dieticians are increasingly advising true gluten intolerant sufferers to follow a naturally gluten-free diet.

Be Informed, Be Balanced

There is one thing on which experts agree: regardless of the diet you choose, eat plenty of produce and maintain a balanced diet. National guidelines recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to take advantage of their diverse nutritional benefits. A balanced diet is important, no matter what trend you may choose to follow.






The Truth Behind The Meat Industry


Our food system is in dire need of change in order to protect human health, but it’s a system that is difficult to change. It’s not impossible, but it will require more people to change their shopping habits in order to drive up demand, and hence the industry’s resolve to address the shortcomings.

Multi-Faceted Problems Stemming from Industrial Farming Practices

Industrial-scale farming has wide-ranging problems. Typically, the focus is on deteriorating food quality and safety. Certainly, the factory farm model directly contributes to Americans’ increasing reliance on processed junk foods the very same foods that are making us obese and riddled with chronic disease.Emerging diseases in livestock, wildlife, and humans are also traceable to industrial farming practices. This includes antibiotic-resistant diseases, mad cow disease in cows, and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk.

Infectious proteins causing mad cow and CWD have also been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease in humans—the only differentiating factor being the time it takes for symptoms and death to occur.According to one estimate, up to 13 percent of all Alzheimer’s victims may actually have mad cow infection , acquired from eating contaminated CAFO meat.The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also attribute nearly 133,000 illnesses each year to contaminated chicken parts. The agency has set a goal to reduce illness by 34 percent.

As for salmonellosis cases, the USDA estimates contaminated chicken and turkey cause about 200,000 illnesses a year. FSIS’ goal is to reduce that number by at least 25 percent by 2020. Factory farmed chicken is by far the greatest culprit when it comes to food poisoning.Beef is also frequently tainted, and a USDA rule requiring labeling of mechanically tenderized beef has been under consideration for six years already, for the fact that the procedure compresses pathogens from the surface down into the meat, where it can more easily thrive and survive cooking. Mechanically tenderized beef has been blamed for at least five E.Coli outbreaks between 2003 and 2009.

But like a multi-headed hydra, the adverse effects of industrial farming sprout in many other directions as well. For example, large-scale factory farming is also responsible for:

  • Loss of water quality through nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in rivers, streams, and ground water (which contributes to “dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones”)
  • Agricultural pesticides also contaminate streams, ground water, and wells, raising safety concerns to agricultural workers who use them
  • A decline in nutrient density of 43 garden crops (primarily vegetables), which suggests possible tradeoffs between yield and nutrient content
  • Large emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
  • Negative impact on soil quality through such factors as erosion, compaction, pesticide application, and excessive fertilization

Industrial Farming Is Destroying Food Quality

“How do you alert people to the problems of industrial-scale farming?” a recent article in National Geographic asks.

“The issues are urgent, but they are also difficult to confront: The indifference to animal welfare, the strip-mining of poor countries’ resources to feed the rich, the environmental damage and antibiotic overuse can be so hard to face that many people just turn away.”

Philip Lymbery, an animal-welfare activist and author of the book Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, notes that one of the techniques used to perpetuate factory farming is secrecy. For example, in Europe, eggs from caged hens are marked “battery eggs,” whereas in the US, those same eggs are labeled as “farm fresh” or “country fresh.”

If you don’t know there’s a problem, you won’t root for change, and that is exactly why the food industry is fighting tooth and nail to prevent labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the US, as well as legislation that would prevent them from fraudulently labeling GMOs as “Natural.”It is imperative for the food and chemical technology industries that currently monopolize agriculture to keep you in the dark about how your food is produced.

They’ve even lobbied for gag laws that make it a felony to video tape animal cruelty or other heinous activities occurring on factory farms, lest sympathy start upsetting the proverbial apple cart… When asked if he’s opposed to animal farming for food altogether, Lymbery replies:

“This is not, in any way, a call to vegetarianism. This is a call to put animals back on the farm. Pasture is one of the most ubiquitous habitats on the planet, covering 25 percent of the ice-free land surface.

This is about using that ubiquitous habitat to produce great food in a way which is environmentally friendly and kinder to animals, leaving much-scarcer arable to grow crops directly for people…Three times a day, through our meal choices, we have an opportunity to change our lives and thereby help change the world.

It’s as simple as buying free-range eggs, pasture-raised beef and chicken, and looking for milk that has come from cows that have been able to graze… We’ll start to support family farms, will help to support a better environment, and will help to feed the world in a more humane and efficient way.”

The US Meat Racket

Most all conventional meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) is raised in CAFO’S It’s a corporate-controlled system characterized by large-scale, centralized, low profit-margin production, processing, and distribution systems.This is the cheapest way to raise meat, for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there’s a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and ethical treatment of animals and plant workers alike.

A series of recent articles, listed on delve into the various aspects of the monopoly that is America’s meat market. In one, titled “The Meat Racket,” Christopher Leonard reveals how the US meat industry has been seized by a mere handful of companies, and how this tightly controlled monopoly drives small livestock farmers out of business.Other articles detail the drugs used in CAFO farming, and the risks this drug based farming poses to human health. One side effect is the creation of  antibiotic -resistant superbugs , which I’ve addressed on numerous occasions.

Martha Rosenberg also recently highlighted a USDA Inspector General Report,which revealed that beef sold to the public have been found to be contaminated with a staggering 211 different drug residues, as well as heavy metals.

Hazardous growth-promoting drugs like Zilmax and Ractopamine are also routinely used in American CAFOs, and as much as 20 percent of the drug administered may remain in the meat you buy. Their use is disturbing when you consider that side effects in cattle include brain lesions, lameness, heart failure, and sudden death. Salon Magazine also recently ran an article on the subject of factory farming, penned by Lindsay Abrams, in which she discusses journalist Ted Genoways’ new book,The Chain—an expose of the American pork industry. She writes in part:

“What journalist Christopher Leonard recently did for Tyson and the chicken industry, Genoways… does for pork, recounting the history of Hormel Foods… as it evolved from humble beginnings to an industrial giant with a nearly myopic focus on expansion and acceleration, regardless of the costs.

And boy, are there costs… a mysterious neurological disorder linked to a machine that has workers breathing in a fine mist of pork brains… abuse suffered by the animals on whom workers’ frustrations are instead taken out; and a decline in food safety that, unbelievably, is set to become the new industry standard.”

Genoways book reveals how societal issues “fan out in all directions,” as he puts it, from the way our pork is produced. Sure, there are many disturbing safety issues, but it doesn’t end there. According to Genoways, another hidden issue is that many of the health hazards that affect plant workers affect already exploited immigrant workers to a disproportionate degree.

Agricultural Subsidies Fleece American Taxpayers to Keep Meat Monopoly Going

As detailed in a previous article by Food Revolution, CAFOs and the products they produce are largely sustained by American taxpayers. In essence, we’re being shrewdly fleeced to keep this flawed and unhealthy system going. Taxpayer-subsidized grain prices, for example, save CAFOs billions of dollars each year. Grass-fed cattle operations, on the other hand, receive no benefit at all from such agricultural subsidies, and hence the price of grass-fed beef is markedly higher. But that’s not the end of that story either. As the article explains:

“Federal policies also give CAFOs billions of dollars to address their pollution problems, which arise because they confine so many animals, often tens of thousands, in a small area. Small farmers raising cattle on pasture do not have this problem in the first place.

If feedlots and other CAFOs were required to pay the price of handling the animal waste in an environmentally health manner, if they were made to pay to prevent or to clean up the pollution they create, they wouldn’t be dominating the US meat industry the way they are today. But instead we have had farm policies that require the taxpayers to foot the bill

Why Is Most Grass-Fed Beef Sold in the US Imported?

Did you know that most of the grass-fed beef sold in the US is actually imported from Australia and New Zealand? One estimate, which is based off of the USDA’s import/export data, suggests as much as 85 percent of grass-fed beef sold in the US may be imported, although it’s virtually impossible to ascertain a definite number. Some grass-fed beef is also sourced from countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Uruguay.

To many, that will probably come as a big surprise. According to National Journal, the restaurant franchise Chipotle is one of the latest companies to turn to Australian ranchers to meet demand for grass-fed beef, as American suppliers are falling short, and/or cannot compete with Australia’s lower prices. In a Huffington Post op-ed published earlier this summer, Chipotle founder Steve Ells said:

Over the years, we have had great success serving the premium beef we call Responsibly Raised… Nevertheless, sometimes the existing supply of the premium meats we serve is unable to meet our growing demand… Rather than serve conventionally raised steak, we recently began sourcing some steak from ranches in Southern Australia, which is among the very best places in the world for raising beef cattle entirely on grass.

The meat produced by these ranchers is ‘grass-fed’ in the truest sense of the term: The cattle spend their entire lives grazing on pastures or rangelands, eating only grass or forages… In the short-run, the grass-fed beef purchased from Australia will continue to supplement the premium Responsibly Raised beef we have long purchased from across the U.S. But over time, we hope that our demand for grass-fed beef will help pave the way for more American ranchers to adopt a grass-fed program, and in doing so turn grass-fed beef from a niche to a mainstream product.”

Some of the reasons driving the import of grass-fed beef include the fact that Australia and New Zealand have a climate that permits grazing year-round. You also need a lot of land to allow herds to graze, and grasslands are plentiful Down Under. In fact, 70 percent of all Australian cattle are pasture-raised and finished, and many of the grass-fed cattle operations are massive. Volume makes it cheaper, so Australians can sell their meat for less than American grass-fed cattle ranchers can.

The question is, is it really “impossible” for American ranchers to produce enough grass fed beef? Probably not. Neither climate nor lack of grasslands is a factor in certain states. However, there is one factor that severely hobbles American cattle ranchers, and that is slaughterhouse shortage…

USDA’s Stranglehold on American Cattle Ranchers

All farmers must use USDA-approved slaughterhouses, and laws place special restrictions on grass-fed slaughtering. If a grass-fed rancher doesn’t have access to a slaughterhouse, he cannot stay in business. This is yet another shrewd if not perverse strategy that effectively maintains the status quo of CAFOs. Large slaughterhouses can also refuse smaller jobs, as they—just like CAFOs—operate on economy of scale. As explained by The Carnivore’s Dilemma:

“At harvest time, small family farmers are forced to transport their animals to the nearest legal ‘processing plant’ that will accept their animals. These plants often do not conform to the high standards farmers have for their animals’ welfare, but the farmers have no choice. Humane certification requires humane slaughter, which only some slaughterhouses do. From an animal welfare standpoint, how animals die is as important as how they live. So unless the farmer is lucky enough to have access to an outstanding small slaughterhouse with transparent policies, they can’t get the certification, even if they did the right thing every day of the animals’ lives.”

Basically, there may be plenty of demand for grass-fed beef, and plenty of supply, but USDA rules and regulations prevent the American-bred supply from ever reaching the customer… Across the US, smaller slaughterhouses catering to grass-fed ranchers have been closing up shop, pushed out by larger processors, adding to the shortage of processing facilities to choose from. A recent article in the Nutrition Business Journal addresses the question of: why are there so few meat processors in the US?

The answer is complex. Part of the problem is that once refrigeration came into play in the 1950s, slaughterhouses started moving from the downtown areas of bigger cities to more rural areas, from where the meat was then distributed to consumers. Again, economy of scale made this the less expensive option, once meats could safely be chilled and boxed. And, since rural slaughterhouses were no longer constrained by limited amounts of space, they grew increasingly larger. Eventually, they began to consolidate into fewer companies.

Today, the market is consolidated in the extreme. Just FOUR companies, Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef Packaging Co, control more than 80 percent of all cattle slaughtered in the US. As noted in the cited article: “The Big Four’s grip on the market make everything—from slaughter to distribution to face-time with stretched-too-thin USDA inspectors—more problematic for small operations.”

Small processing facilities are more costly to run across the board, compared to large-scale slaughterhouses. They cut everything by hand, which takes longer, and requires workers with a high degree of specialized skill. The seasonality of grass-fed beef is another hurdle. Grass-fed beef is typically slaughtered in the fall, after a full summer of grazing, whereas CAFO beef doesn’t follow that same seasonal pattern. For a slaughterhouse to stay in business, it needs business year-round.

Small slaughterhouses also struggle to meet USDA’s strict, and costly, regulations—many of which are geared toward mechanized plants and not a small-scale hands-on butchery. Adding to the list of complications are restrictive zoning and eco-impact regulations. Again, change is needed on many fronts, but I am hopeful that change will be forced to occur once public demand becomes too overwhelming to ignore.

Greenwashing Meat Industry Standards

A Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef (GRSB) recently presented new “sustainability principles and criteria” for beef production. The proposal has been vehemently rejected by nearly two dozen consumer, animal welfare, worker, public health, and environmental groups. The initiative has the potential to shape the definition of sustainable beef production around the world. As reported by Common Dreams:

“In a  to the Roundtable’s Executive Committee, 23 groups…criticized the principles and criteria, stating: ‘We—and no doubt many other organizations like us—must overwhelmingly reject the Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef. Unless the GRSB addresses the fundamental flaws outlined in our letter, the document will represent nothing more than an industry-led attempt to greenwash conventional beef production at a time when real, measurable, and verifiable change is so desperately needed.'”

For starters, the GRSB fails to address the overuse of antibiotics in farming. Nor does it adequately address workers’ rights, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, waste management systems, or the establishment of a solid verification system. The latter leaves the door wide open for greenwashing beef products that are anything but sustainable. According to Andrew Gunther, Program Director at Animal Welfare Approved:

“We urgently need to change the way we farm and feed ourselves, yet the GRSB’s Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef promises nothing more than ‘business as usual’ beef. The collective failure of GRSB members to acknowledge—let alone address—some of the fundamental faults of modern intensive beef production reveals a staggering lack of accountability and foresight at the very heart of the beef industry, particularly when we know public trust in beef is already at an all-time low.”

Rethink Your Shopping Habits to Protect Your Family’s Health

Part of the problem is that the current model is focused on growth; not steady profit, and certainly not sustainability. I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic,  grass -fed and finished meat  that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. Many grocery chains are now responding to customer demand, and will provide at least a small assortment of grass-fed meats.

If your local grocer still doesn’t carry any, go ahead and ask the purchasing manager to consider adding it. Some stores, like Publix, will even stock specialty items requested by a single customer… The least expensive way to obtain authentic grass-fed beef though is to find a local rancher you can trust, and buy it directly from the farm. Alternatively, you can now purchase grass-fed beef from organic ranchers online, if you don’t have access to a local source. The following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:



How Much Meat versus Veggies?


Lets try to settle this debate. Meat or no Meat. With Ph.D   Sarah Ballantyne, . a.k.a. The Paleo Mom we’ll find out ….

In the first two parts of this series (here and here), I looked at the (hotly debated!) question of whether humans are innate herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores from a variety of scientific angles: evolutionary history, surveys of modern hunter-gatherers, clues from our primate relatives, comparative anatomy, and our unique genetic adaptations to starch and dairy.

Yes, Part 1 and Part 2 contained A LOT of information, but I promise the goal wasn’t to drown you in a geek-fest of facts and figures! I wanted to demonstrate that no matter which angle we approach it from, the answer is the same: humans are very clearly omnivores. Our need for (and adaptation to) both plants and animals is written all over our history, anatomy, and DNA. The rationale for claiming otherwise doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny, no matter what’s floating around on The Google and in Facebook memes!

But, that brings us to another important issue: we might be omnivores in a general sense, but what exactly does that mean? How much animal versus plant products should we be eating? How much meat do we really need in order to be healthy? How many vegetables does it take to cover our phytochemical bases? How far can we tilt in the direction of mostly plants or mostly animals before we start running into trouble? In other words, how do we do this omnivore thing the right way?

The short answer to all these questions is, “There’s no exact answer!” Your nutritional needs depend on a huge number of factors, ranging from your health status to your activity level to your age to your genetics (and that’s just scratching the surface of relevant variables). But, we can still estimate what to shoot for as an average based on the available evidence, both observational and clinical. And a good place to start is with hunter-gatherer populations, who’ve figured out how to feed generation after generation of healthy, chronic-disease-free humans. Let’s dive in!

More Clues from Hunter-Gatherers

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the exact menu of our early ancestors is impossible to piece together without a time machine. (And that’s totally okay! This isn’t an historical reenactment. Rather, understanding what our Paleolithic ancestors ate is a starting point for understanding what shaped our nutritional needs and how to best feed our bodies now.) We do, however, have plenty of evidence from more recent hunter-gatherer populations that showcase what kinds of plant and animal food combinations can deliver awesome health.

A widely cited paper by Loren Cordain, et al. analyzed data for 229 hunter-gatherer societies (as recorded in an ethnographic atlas), and found that the vast majority of tribes ate between 45 and 65% of their diet as animal foods (as a percent of total energy), with 35 to 55% of their diet coming from plants. (Tribes that fell outside those ranges were typically from polar regions (like the Inuit), where genetic mutations made it possible to thrive on an extremely high meat intake, or equatorial regions, where the greater bounty of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits skewed the ratio more towards plant foods.) Because many of those 229 tribes were from North America (where hunting dominated) and relatively fewer were from Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America (where starchy or fatty plant foods were a frequent staple), the average proportion of plant foods might be a bit higher in reality than Cordain’s analysis reflected. (For instance, the !Kung bushmen of southern Africa ate about 33% of their diet as meat and 67% of their diet as plant foods, because they made use of the energy-dense mongongo nut in lieu of a higher animal food intake.)

So, as a ballpark figure, we could say that hunter-gatherers average about half of their diet (calorie-wise) as animal foods and about half as plant foods—with lots of wiggle room thrown in on either side! What’s for certain is that whenever both meat and vegetation is abundant, humans tend to gravitate towards a truly omnivorous diet that’s about equal parts plants and animal, rather than anything nearly herbivorous or nearly carnivorous. That ensures a broad micronutrient intake and plenty of fiber, phytochemicals, high-quality protein, and essential fats. For those of us who can only hunt and gather in the supermarket, 50-50 is still a pretty safe ratio to aim for!

But wait! Keep in mind that 50% of your dietary calories from one type of food isn’t the same as 50% of your dietary volume from that food (that is, how much space it takes up on your dinner plate). Meat and other animal products tend to be much more energy-dense relative to most plant foods (for an extreme example, one cup of beef steak has 338 calories, whereas one cup of raw spinach has only 7 calories!). That means that a meal containing an assortment of vegetables, plus a smaller portion of meat, fish, or eggs could easily come out to be a 50/50 ratio of calories from plants versus animals—even though it looks like more plant foods to the naked eye. Tricky, eh?

So, what does that mean for how you should plan your diet? Although both plants and animals can vary in their energy density (bone marrow is more dense than chicken breast, and a sweet potato is more dense than broccoli), it’s typically safe to say that if you aim for a diet of approximately 50% plants and 50% animals, the plants will take up more visual space in each meal and the animal foods will take up less—typically on the order of plant foods taking up 2/3 to 3/4 of your plate.

But, the last thing I want you to do is haul around a calculator every time you eat in order get the 50-50 ratio exactly right. Keep in mind, indigenous populations have stayed healthy on a wide spectrum of plant-to-animal-food ratios (as well as macronutrient ratios, which I wrote about here!). It’s only at the extremes that things get sketchy. Even if your ratio ends up being closer to 25/75 or 75/25 or if it varies fairly wildly between those two day by day, you’ll probably be just fine as long as you’re choosing from high-quality, nutrient-rich foods. Which brings us to…

Nutrients: Getting The Best of Both Kingdoms (Plant and Animal!)

When it comes to our omnivorous diet, keep in mind that we get different nutritional needs met through animal foods versus plants. It’s not a competition between these two kingdoms, where one is “better” or “worse” than the other; both play a distinct but equally valuable role! In fact, there’s a huge spectrum of micronutrients and other beneficial compounds found mostly or exclusively in either plant foods or animal foods, such as:

Plant Foods

  • Vitamin C
  • Carotenoids (lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin)
  • Diallyl sulfide (from the allium class of vegetables)
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, procyanidins, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, flavonones)
  • Dithiolethiones
  • Lignans
  • Plant sterols and stanols
  • Isothiocyanates and indoles
  • Prebiotic fibers (soluble and insoluble)

Animal Foods

  • Vitamin B12
  • Heme iron
  • Zinc
  • Pre-formed vitamin A (retinol)
  • High-quality protein
  • Creatine
  • Taurine
  • Carnitine
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin D
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)

The fact is that there’s nutrients we can only get from plants and nutrients we can only get from animal foods: we need both to get the full complement of nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy. Instead of fighting about whether bacon rules and vegetables suck (or vice versa), we should be celebrating the fact that the plant and animal kingdoms are both totally awesome and necessary for health!

With that in mind, how can we choose a diet that gives us the best nutritional bang for the buck (and, y’know, helps protect us from chronic disease, maximizes our chances of having a long and healthy life, makes us feel awesome, and tastes delicious to boot)? We already know that the Western diet is abysmally low in micronutrients (especially compared to other primates and human populations eating wild foods instead of heavily processed storebought fare).

A good rule of thumb is to eat abundantly from the most micronutrient-rich foods of both plant and animal origin. While the idea of sticking with “whole foods” is a great guideline, there are definitely some standouts in the food world that can take an omnivorous diet to the next level:

  1. Shellfish and fish. Unless you have an allergy, seafood like oysters, mussels, salmon, mackerel, and fish eggs are amazing sources of minerals (especially oysters, which are the King of Zinc!), omega-3 fats in the form of DHA and EPA, selenium and iodine, and vitamin D. (Read more about why seafood rocks here, and what to make of the mercury issue here!)
  2. Organ meats. Have I mentioned lately how much I love organ meats?! While grass-fed muscle meats are totally delicious, organ meats are nutritional rockstars, serving as the most concentrated source of almost every nutrient (seriously). Liver, heart, kidney, and more are all great to try, and I promise they’re not as scary as they seem, even if they give you terrifying flashbacks to childhood. (If you want to read more about why I gush so hard on organ meats, click here!)
  3. Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, and arugula. And, they offer some of the most consistently proven health benefits of any plant food, showing up in study after study as powerfully cancer-protective due to their array of phytochemicals (especially isothiocyanates and indoles). Load up and read more about why they are a non-issue for thyroid health concerns here.
  4. Leafy greens. Leafy greens are packed with a huge spectrum of micronutrients and beneficial compounds (like beta-carotene, folate, lutein, and vitamin K), especially relative to their calorie content. Basically, adding some leafy greens to any meal will instantly boost its vitamin and mineral content while also delivering fiber and flavor. Let’s take a hint from the chimps here and chow down on some leaves!
  5. Fermented foods. Delicious and absolutely nutritious; what’s not to love? Fermented foods are an amazing source of healthy bacteria, and not to mention, the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients naturally present in the food. There’s a reason nearly every traditional culture includes some form of fermented food in their cuisine. (Read more here!)

Add these to a menu already rich in nutrient-dense whole foods (quality meats, other colorful vegetables, glycine-rich foods like bone broth, fruit, quality fats, starchy roots and tubers), and you’ll have an omnivorous diet that gets the best of both the plant and animal kingdoms, supporting your health in the process. As long as you don’t veer too far towards all-plants or all-animals, your micronutrient and macronutrient bases should be easily covered!

Remember, being an omnivore means being able to benefit from everything nature provides—whether it came from a plant or an animal (er, or insect!). It’s all about making wise choices within the giant spectrum of foods that the “omnivore” umbrella allows.

Take-Away Message

So, although the “are we herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?” issue is obviously a hot topic, it should be clear by now that we can truly put the question to rest. Every scientific avenue leads to the conclusion that we’re omnivores—whether we approach it from an evolutionary angle, an ethnographic one, or comparative anatomy and physiology.

Perhaps the better label is the word “nutrivore”, meaning that we choose foods based on their nutritive value, the quantity and quality of micronutrients they provide, and aiming for diversity of nutrients in order to get the full complement of nutrients that our bodies need to thrive. And guess what? The Paleo Diet—especially one that embraces seafood, organ meat, and large portions of veggies—is a nutrients-first approach consistent with all of this evidence!


SOURCE… Sent from my iPhone

Why One Diet Affects People Differently

Ever try the same diet with a friend or loved one and get two different results? In this article,  we’ll dive deeper into why the results may or may have not been what you were looking for as we will began to understand the physiological reasons why a diet does or does not work.

Q. My neighbor and I went on a low-fat diet together. She lost weight and I didn’t. Why?

A. Assuming you both ate the same amount of calories, differences in body composition (percent body fat versus muscle), frequency of past dieting attempts and amount of physical activity could influence your results. Differences could also be related to the amount of insulin your body secretes after meals.

Insulin is a hormone that converts blood sugar into energy for cells. A study published in the May 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a relationship between insulin levels and success with different diet plans; 73 obese young adults were assigned to either a low-glycemic load diet (40 percent carbohydrate, 35 percent fat) or to a low-fat diet (55 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent fat). The study lasted 18 months. Researchers wanted to learn why some people have success with low-fat diets and others don’t. Although will power can play a role, sometimes there’s more to the story.

Food and drinks that are high in processed carbohydrates such as sodas and white rice have a high glycemic load. This means, they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar after they are eaten. Low-glycemic-load foods are sometimes called “slow carbs” because they enter the blood gradually and have less effect on blood sugar. They include vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains and starchy beans.

In this study, participants who secrete insulin slowly lost equally on both diets. In contrast, those with high insulin levels lost more weight on the low-glycemic-load diet (12.8 pounds) compared with the low-fat diet (2.6 pounds).

In people who pump out a lot of insulin in an exaggerated response to sugary foods and processed starches, reducing the glycemic load of the diet may keep insulin levels steady.

Past studies on low-glycemic-load diets produced mixed results. Sometimes they showed weight loss, sometimes not. This may be because nobody compared insulin levels in the participants!

Just because you’re overweight does not mean your body produces excess insulin. The only way to know is by having your doctor do an oral glucose tolerance test.

When it comes to weight control, one size does not fit all. If you’ve had trouble losing weight on a low-fat diet, you may want to try decreasing the glycemic load in your diet.




The Rise Of The Agricultural Frankenstein

What if there was a monster dressed as a  harmless sheep,  that secretly   reeked havoc across the entire spectrum of humanity? Would you fight back ? Or would you accept your demise ?

News broke this week that Monsanto accepted a $66 billion takeover bid from Bayer. The new company would control more than 25 per cent of the global supply of commercial seeds and pesticides. Bayer’s crop chemicals business is the world’s second largest after Syngenta, and Monsanto is the leading commercial seeds business.

Monsanto held a 26 per cent market share of all seeds sold in 2011. Bayer (mainly a pharmaceuticals company) sells 17 per cent of the world’s total agrochemicals and also has a comparatively small seeds sector. If competition authorities pass the deal, the combined company would be the globe’s largest seller of both seeds and agrochemicals.

The deal marks a trend towards consolidation in the industry with Dow and DuPont having agreed to merge and Swiss seed/pesticide giant  Syngenta merging with ChemChina, a Chinese government concern.

The mergers would mean that three companies would dominate the commercial agricultural seeds and chemicals sector, down from six – Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont. Prior to the mergers, these six firms controlled 60 per cent of commercial seed and more than 75 per cent of agrochemical markets.

Alarm bells are ringing with the European Commission putting its approval of the Dow-DuPont deal temporarily on hold, and the US Senate Judiciary Committee is about to hold hearings on the deal due to concerns about consolidation in the industry, which has resulted in increased seed and pesticide prices.

In response to the Monsanto-Bayer merger, US National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:

“Consolidation of this magnitude cannot be the standard for agriculture, nor should we allow it to determine the landscape for our future. The merger between Bayer and Monsanto marks the fifth major deal in agriculture in the last year… For the last several days, our family farm and ranch members have been on Capitol Hill asking Members of Congress to conduct hearings to review the staggering amount of pending merger deals in agriculture today. We will continue to express concern that these megadeals are being made to benefit the corporate boardrooms at the expense of family farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural economies. We are pleased that next week the Senate Judiciary Committee will be reviewing the alarming trend of consolidation in agriculture that has led to less competition, stifled innovation, higher prices and job loss in rural America… all mergers, including this recent Bayer/Monsanto deal, [should] be put under the magnifying glass of the committee and the U.S. Department of Justice.”

For all the rhetoric that we often hear about ‘the market’ and large corporations offering choice to farmers and consumers, the evidence is restriction of choice and the squeezing out of competitors. Over the years, for instance, Monsanto has bought up dozens of competitors to become the largest supplier of genetically engineered seeds with seed prices having risen dramatically.

Consolidation and monopoly in any sector should be of concern to everyone. But the fact that the large agribusiness conglomerates specialise in a globalised, industrial-scale, chemical-intensive model of farming that is adversely affecting what we eat should have us very concerned. Do we want this system to be intensified even further just because their business models depend on it?

Farmers are increasingly reliant on patented corporate seeds, whether non-GM hybrid seeds or GM, and the chemical inputs designed to be used with them. Monsanto seed traits are now in 80 per cent of corn and more than 90 per cent of soybeans grown in the US. It comes as little surprise then that people in the US now consume a largely corn-based diet: a less diverse diet than in the past, which is high in calorific value, but low in health-promoting, nutrient dense food. This health-damaging ‘American obesity diet’ and the agricultural practices underpinning is now a global phenomenon.

By its very nature, the capitalist economic model that corporate agriculture is attached to demands expansion, market capture and profit growth. And, it must be accepted that it does bring certain benefits to those farmers who have remained in agriculture (if not for the 330 farmers who leave their land every week, according to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service).

But in the US, ‘success’ in agriculture depends on over $51 billion of taxpayer handouts to over a 10-year period to keep the gravy train on track for a particular system of agriculture designed to maintain corporate agribusiness profit margins. And such ‘success’ fails to factor in all of the external social, health and environmental costs that mean this type of model is ultimately unsustainable. It is easy to spin failure as success when the parameters are narrowly defined.

Moreover, the exporting of the Green Revolution paradigm throughout the globe has been a boon to transnational seed and agrochemical manufacturers, which have benefited from undermining a healthy, sustainable indigenous agriculture and transforming it into a profitable enterprise for global capital.

And not just profitable for global capital – but its company managers too. For example, a few months ago, according to Reuters, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant could receive more than $70 million if Monsanto were to be taken over by Bayer. At the time, Monsanto said it was open to engaging in further negotiations with Bayer after turning down its $62 billion bid. The report shows how Grant’s exposure to shares and options meant he had an incentive to hold out for the highest possible sale price, which would not only be in the interests of shareholders but also increase the value of his holdings. Other senior figures within Monsanto would also walk away with massive financial gains.

These corporate managers belong to a global agribusiness sector whose major companies rank among the Fortune 500 corporations. These companies are high-rollers in a geo-politicised, globalised system of food production whereby huge company profits are directly linked to the worldwide eradication of the small farm – the bedrock of global food production,  bad food and poor healthinequitable, rigged tradeenvironmental devastation, mono-cropping and diminished food and diet diversity, the destruction of rural communities, ecocidedegraded soilwater scarcity and droughtdestructive and inappropriate models of development and farmers who live a knife-edge existence and for whom debt has become a fact of life.

A handful of powerful and politically connected corporations are determining what is grown, how it is to be grown, what needs to be done to grow it, who grows it and what ends up on the plate. And despite PR platitudes about the GMO/chemical-intensive model just being part of a wider mix of farming practices designed to feed humanity, from India to Africaindigenous models of agriculture are being squeezed out (through false argument and deception) as corporate imperialism puts pay to notions of food sovereignty.

We should be highly concerned about a food system increasingly dominated by companies that have a history (seethis on Monsanto and this on Bayer) of releasing health-damaging, environmentally polluting products onto the market and engaging in bribery, cover-ups, monopolistic practices and what should be considered as crimes against humanity?

Despite the likes of Hugh Grant saying the Monsanto-Bayer merger will be good for farmers and “broader society”, most of all it will be good for shareholders and taxpayer-subsidised, state-assisted company profit. That’s the type of hegemonic rhetoric that’s been used down the ages to disguise the true nature of power and its beneficiaries.

It’s not so much the Monsanto-Bayer deal is a move in the wrong direction (which it is), but increasing consolidation is to be expected given the trend in many key sectors toward monopoly capitalism or just plain cartelism, whichever way you choose to look at it. It’s the system of industrialised, capital-intensive agriculture wedded to powerful players whose interests lie in perpetuating and extending their neoliberal economic model that is the real problem.

“We have justified the demise of family farms, decay of rural communities, pollution of the rural environment, and degradation of soil health as being necessary… The problems we are facing today are the consequence of too many people… pursuing their narrow self-interests without considering the consequence of their actions on the rest of society and the future of humanity.” Professor John Ikerd, ‘Healthy Soils, Healthy People.,

SOURCE…www.globalresearch .org





A Look Into Why What We Eat Affects Everything



Robynne Chutkan, MD,is an integrative gastroenterologist and founder of the Digestive Center for Women , just outside of Washington, D.C. She trained at Columbia University and is on faculty at Georgetown, but her approach to practicing medicine and understanding disease is more holistic than many specialists with academic backgrounds. She has also appeared on The Dr. Oz Show (of which I’ve been openly skeptical in the past, because of Oz’s tendency to divorce his recommendations from evidence ).Chutkan’s first book comes out today. You might pick out an Oz-ian air to the title: Gutbliss: A 10 Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins and Dump Your Digestive Baggaage.. Oz even endorses it on the back of the jacket: “Dr. Chutkan blasts away the bloat as she tastefully explains the guts of our problems.”


Dr. Chutkan helped me reconcile some of this—blast away a little bloat, if you will—on simplifying medicine, subspecialists embracing therapies aimed at overall wellness, why a gastroenterology clinic would be sex-specific, and how to think about the whole gluten-free idea; among other answers to questions I wouldn’t have thought to ask.

The title of your book is catchy and uses this evocative term “gutbliss.” Id not heard it before. Did you come up with it, and what does it mean?

I did come up with it. The earlier part of my career, my first eight years after my training I was at Georgetown full-time in an academic practice seeing patients in my area of expertise, which is Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. I was treating people who had serious medical problems, we were doing complex procedures, and prescribing complicated drugs with a lot of side effects. And then things sort of shifted for me. I began to feel like academic medicine didn’t pay enough attention to the contribution of diet and lifestyle and stress, to digestive health, which felt, to me, like an obvious connection.

So I decided to open an integrative practice where we focus on additional things besides the illness, like the things that created the illness. I switched from being at the top of the pyramid treating people at the end-stage of the disease, to the base of the pyramid counseling more people who were starting to have symptoms, but didn’t necessarily have bad diseases yet. So “gutbliss” for me evokes this idea of how you can create wellness in your digestive tract. And this blissful gastrointestinal tract has a lot to do with how you eat and how you live, since most diseases don’t just fall out of the sky into your lap.
I had started a nonprofit in ’09 called Gutrunners, which was sponsored by one of the large GI societies, and we put on races at our national GI meetings, and the idea was to focus on the contribution of nutrition and exercise in preventing digestive disorders. So, this whole “gut” thing for me was very natural.

People advised against calling the book Gutbliss and said, “Oh, it’s sort of in your face; it makes me think of stool and intestines.” But I think the intestines are beautiful and marvelous, so I wanted to include that. And I wanted to show how something that is, in many ways, closeted, mainly bowel movements and intestinal function, could actually be this wonderful, blissful thing. In fact, there’s a little bit of focus on this in the book. There’s a chapter on “Beauty and the Bloat,” on how what you put into your body, mainly your GI tract, profoundly affects how you look. So that was how I came up with the term “gut bliss.” Sort of combining the intestines, which people think of as not so lovely, with a blissful state of health.

You mentioned some things we could eat that might influence appearance. 

Skin disorders like rosacea, which a lot of people confuse with acne is a good example. A lot of people are using harsh things on their skin for this sort of redness on the cheeks and nose. Rosacea’s actually an autoimmune disease and, like most autoimmune diseases, we don’t actually know what causes it, but there’s a very strong association with something called dysbiosis, a bacterial imbalance and overgrowth of the wrong kinds of bacteria in the gut.

When I work with people on their diet, whether it’s cutting back on dairy, or switching them from a starchier, sugary processed diet, to a more plant-based way of eating, their skin often clears up. And I sort of joke with my friends because they’re like, “Aren’t you a butt doctor? Why are you so obsessed with the skin?” And I’m like, “Well, I’m more than a butt doctor.”

But, I find there’s such a fascinating skin-gut connection. One of the things I talk about in the book is the idea that the skin actually represents the outside of our GI tract, and the GI tract represents the inside of our skin.

You probably don’t know this because you probably don’t wear makeup, but when you put makeup on, like foundation and eye makeup and so on in the morning, by the end of the day it’s gone. Literally gone—it looks like you don’t have anything on. Where does it go? It gets absorbed into our body. And the opposite thing can happen when you eat certain foods; you can see the effect coming out on your skin. There’s this incredible connection between the two. And the same way we overuse antibiotics and expose our digestive tract to chemicals that alters this delicate balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria, we do the same thing to our skin. We use harsh soaps that contain chemicals that kill off a lot of the skin bacteria that are really important for healthy skin, and then our skin is dry and unhealthy and peeling. So there are a lot of parallels there. I think most of us have had that experience of seeing a person who has a real inner glow. Maybe if you’re 20 you just have good genes and you can have pizza and beer every day and still glow. But if you’re over 40, often there is a fair amount of kale involved. There could be some cookies and ice cream too, but usually the people who have that glow are doing something right, and it often involves getting sweaty on a regular basis and eating the right food.

The tagline of the book is “A ten-day plan to ban bloat, flush toxins, and dump your digestive baggage.” Can you give us a preview of what that is working towards, or some of the steps?
Sure. Full disclosure, I didn’t love that tagline. This really is not a diet book, and I wanted to be very clear on that. This is a book about how to achieve and maintain digestive wellness. Hippocrates said it first: All disease begins in the gut. The 10-day plan makes the information in the book more accessible to people. It’s very similar to the advice that I give patients in my practice. It’s not about eating a perfect diet every day. But ten days is actually enough time to make some changes and see some results. Maybe get rid of a lot of the sugary stuff, maybe get off the gluten, eat more plants, do some exercises using a light dumbbell on your tummy to get rid of gas. So it gives people some very simple but very effective things that they can do so that they can experience what it feels like to get rid of the bloat, to be regular, to not have digestive upset. And beyond not just having digestive upset, to experience a little of this gut bliss.

So once you do that, what about the rest of your life? It’s really about the 80 percent rule. Most of us are “toxing” 80 percent of the time and detoxing 20 percent of the time. And we should really think about flipping that—we should think about detoxing 80 percent of the time. And I’m not suggesting anything extreme. Today I did some work at home, I made a fruit and veggie smoothie for breakfast, went to spin class, I met some people for lunch, and I had a kale salad with roasted chicken and a big bottle of water. Nothing so profound, but all healthy stuff that made me feel good. And if you’re doing that 80 percent of the time, you can tolerate that 20 percent of debauchery in whatever form that might be, whether you’re drinking a bit too much, or not exercising, eating the wrong food, having too much ice cream. And then we don’t have this need to constantly be detoxing and cleansing all the time.

 Try to maintain these healthy habits about 80 percent of the time, and then 20 percent of the time you’ll have something that is not necessarily the best, but that you enjoy. It means you can go out to dinner and not be so rigid or careful about what you eat, but that most of the time you are paying attention. Because there’s this incredible disconnect I find in medicine today (and obviously there’s lots of commerce involved in this), that promotes the notion that disease just falls out of the sky and there’s no connection between how you live and what happens to you from a health point of view.

Of course there are diseases where we don’t know the cause, or they’re environmental, or it’s bad genes or bad luck, but certainly for a lot of the illnesses we see there is this connection. So this book tries to help people, and women, more specifically, make that connection that if you’re bloated—which can be such a large and confusing expression for women of things not being quite right in your GI tract—there are actually things that you can do to try and figure it out. You can be a bit of a medical detective, and you can look at these areas: is it the food you’re eating, is it something you’re drinking, is it lactose intolerance, is it gluten sensitivity, is it hormonal imbalance? Or, is it an anatomical problem? Do you have ovarian cancer, is it bad endometriosis, do you have a voluptuous female colon where your colon’s wrapped around your uterus?

Without giving specific medical advice, the book gives people ideas on what sort of places they can look. Because one of the things I see so often is women who come in and they’re given that pat on the head, and, “Oh, you have irritable bowel syndrome and here’s a Xanax. You’re just stressed out.” Sometimes there’s some truth to that, but when you dig a little deeper and slice up that irritable bowel syndrome pie, there often is something more tangible as well as a solution. There’s an undiagnosed parasite, there’s a food sensitivity, there’s undiscovered hypothyroidism. There’s estrogen dominance. There’s some reason, physiological, functional—or it’s because of something in the medicine cabinet. Some vitamin, prescription pill or supplement that’s not agreeing with you.

To just sort of say your bowel is irritable but we don’t know why, I feel like that’s not a real diagnosis. It’s like saying, “You’re tired,” and that’s your diagnosis: Well, you have tired disease and here’s a pill to take for the rest of your life to pep you up. So, again, why are you tired? And I think that’s what people, not just women, want. They want answers. And I think that’s why there’s so much investigation on the Internet that can lead to all kinds of problems down the road when you’re self-diagnosing pancreatic cancer and you really just have heartburn. The book provides sensible, practical information. It’s a bit of a roadmap and a guide for the woman who is bloated or has digestive problems, not instead of a doctor, but in addition to, to help her figure out where she should be looking.

Do you only see female patients in your practice?

Even though my clinic is called the Digestive Center for Women, I do see male patients. A lot of the patients I see have Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which affects men and women equally. About 10 percent of the patients I see are male.

What are some differences in the way you approach female patients as opposed to men? In my mind, at least, the digestive tract isnt something commonly thought of as a gendered part of the body.

I’m glad you asked that. There actually are some profound differences between the female and male digestive tracts. To start with, the female colon is longer than the male colon, on average, about 10 centimeters longer. We don’t know why, but we think part of that is to allow for more absorption of water or fluid during childbearing. Because you have to keep the amniotic fluid replete, and the circulation and blood volume increases during pregnancy.. And what that extra length in the colon does is create this redundancy, these sort of extra twists and turns, and that’s why women are so much more bloated and constipated than their male counterparts. So there’s that difference in length as well as redundancy. Think of the male colon as kind of a gentle horseshoe, and the female colon as being a tangled-up Slinky.

Not only is that due to the difference in length, but think of the pelvis. Women have this rounded, gynecoid pelvis so that when the uterus expands there’s room for a baby. Men have a narrow, android pelvis. What happens in women is that more of the colon drops down deep into the pelvis. In women, the colon is really right there mixed up with the uterus, and the ovaries, and the Fallopian tubes, and the bladder. In men, the only hardware you have is this little bitty prostate gland, and the bladder, and that’s it. So in men, most of the colon is up in the abdomen where there’s tons of room and not fighting for space with the reproductive organs, like in women. So that’s anatomical difference number two.
The third thing is that because of differences in hormonal levels with men having more testosterone on board, you guys have a well-developed abdominal wall. So even a man who’s overweight and has a big beer belly still has a tighter, more robust abdominal wall just because of the testosterone. Men will complain that they’re fat, but will rarely complain that they’re bloated because that tighter, more defined abdominal wall, the rectus abdominis sheath, which is, to some degree dependent on testosterone, that holds the bowel in place. It’s sort of a Spanx-type thing that muscular wall. In women, our abdominal wall is much less rigid and tight and doesn’t hold things in place as much, because of the difference in hormonal levels, so our bowels bulge out more, and we bloat more. And of course many women have had children, and their abdominal wall is stretched, and they may have something called a diastasis recti where there’s a split in the abdominal wall muscles because of the pressure from pregnancy. So the abdominal wall is the other big reason why men complain of being fat, and women complain of being bloated. Estrogen and progesterone can have really profound effects on the GI tract, whether you retain water or not, and how things move through your intestines. So, these are just some of the factors, not even getting into brain differences, but just from a hormonal and anatomical point-of-view.


Pelvic floor disorders in women are another big difference in the male and female GI tract. The pelvic floor is sort of like a hammock that all of the organs that are down in that area sit on—the bladder rests on it, the uterus rests on it, the bowels rest on it, and it often becomes stretched out after childbirth, or just with age, and things can start to descend. The uterus can change position and it can press on the bowels. So when you approach constipation in a woman, you always have to be aware of these pelvic floor issues. Because if you just do the basic things like give them a fiber supplement to help them get stuff out, and the problem is a pelvic floor issue, they’re actually going to feel worse; they’re going to be more bloated. You have to consider whether the sphincter may have been damaged during pregnancy or childbirth, or if the pelvic floor may have dropped. These are not considerations in men.

There are lots of different gender factors. Thyroid disease is much more common in women than in men,  so that’s one of the first things that I check in a constipated women. Perimenopause is another factor. And that isn’t just when you stop having your period. It’s really that decade before you stop menstruating, which for most women is going to be 40 to 50, sometimes 35 to 45 — and it can profoundly affect the gut and bowel habits. Men don’t go through that; that’s not a factor with men at all. So there are lots of different things that you have to think about when you’re approaching bowel issues in women.

You mentioned going gluten-free, and I wanted to get your take on that. It seems like a lot of people going in that direction dont have a diagnosis of celiac disease. What do you tell people who are interested in trying it? Is there evidence that people who tested negative for celiac disease still benefit?

First of all, I think it’s important to distinguish celiac disease from gluten sensitivity, because celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is associated with a lot of other problematic things, like osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, arthritis, diabetes, even cancer. And if you have celiac disease, whether or not you have symptoms, it’s important to come as close as you can to 100 percent avoidance of gluten, because the ongoing exposure to gluten can damage the small intestine and lead to some of these other associated problems. So that’s the first thing I tell patients, is that we have to figure out what’s going on. And some patients say, Well, can’t I just empirically avoid gluten? And I tell them, no, because if you have celiac disease, you have to be 100 percent regardless of whether you have symptoms. If you have gluten sensitivity (but don’t have celiac disease) and you want to eat an almond croissant, go for it. Part of the issue is that the wheat itself is not what it used to be. It’s been hybridized and had  different things done to it to increase the crop yield and shorten how long it takes for the wheat to bear. One can make all sorts of scientific and unscientific arguments about what we’re meant to eat, but I don’t think we’re meant to eat animal crackers, for example. I think it’s a stretch to call the refined, processed wheat products a food group, but I also don’t think everyone needs to empirically avoid them all the time.

Certainly if you’re having digestive problems, it’s worth trying. I usually tell people to do a six-week elimination trial; if you don’t notice a difference there’s no reason to avoid it. But my biggest caveat is to tell people there’s no point in doing this and then eating gluten-free bread, and gluten-free pancakes, and gluten-free cookies. It’s sort of like sugar-free. If you’re diabetic, I would say to you, you should think about having fruit for dessert. I would never recommend that someone have sugar-free ice cream or a sugar free drink, because that stuff’s worse than the sugar quite frankly. The same thing applies to gluten. If you think you’re gluten sensitive and you feel poorly when you eat gluten, you should avoid wheat. It just makes sense. If you’re lactose intolerant you should avoid dairy. This is your body giving you feedback saying no, I don’t like this thing. But if you decide once a month, I’m going to have a sandwich using regular bread and I may not feel so great, but I don’t have celiac disease, just a sensitivity, I think that’s okay and I think that is preferable to eating gluten-free garbage every day. Gluten-free processed products can be just as bad for you as the regular stuff that contains gluten. They’re not providing you any nutrients, they’re empty calories. So that’s a big challenge that I face with some of my patients. If you’re just gluten sensitive, have a pancake on the weekend if you really want it, but don’t eat gluten-free cookies every day of the week and think that somehow this is being healthy. Just like I would never eat low-fat or sugar free ice cream. If I’m going to have ice cream I’m going to have the real thing—I’m just not going to eat it every day.

In terms of a mechanism for gluten sensitivity, do you think were going to find antibodies that were going to be able to quantify for people in the future? Or is this akin to an allergy?

I think it’s not going to be something that we can pinpoint easily. Like if you have rheumatoid arthritis and your joints are destroyed and we can see that on a X-ray and you have antibodies that we can measure. I think it belongs in that very grey area of food intolerances, and I think we have to have common sense about it. If you eat something and you feel sick, I don’t think you need a doctor, an antibody test, or an allergist to tell you that maybe you shouldn’t eat that thing. I love the point Michael Pollan makes about nutritionism and trying to make everything so scientific. We’ve just lost our common sense a little bit. If you drink milk and then you have gas and diarrhea and bloating and you feel terrible, I don’t think you need a doctor to tell you [that] you shouldn’t drink milk, or you should drink less of it. So much of food science is driven by food manufacturers and this huge market for products. I cringe when I see the gluten-free section of the supermarket—which is getting bigger and bigger. And it’s mostly a whole bunch of junk. If the package says gluten-free, don’t buy it because guess what, a potato doesn’t say gluten-free. A pineapple doesn’t say gluten-free, and a piece of chicken doesn’t say gluten-free. So if it says gluten-free on it, be wary. There are incredible fortunes being made in the gluten-free world, and I’m not sure they’re doing consumers much of a favor.


I feel inundated by gluten-free product marketing. It’s on labels right next to “sugar-free” and “low fat,” as if it’s becoming understood to be universally a good thing. Knowing that there’s a discrete mechanism behind lactose intolerancewe make less lactase [the enzyme that breaks down lactose] as we get older, some people genetically make less than others; not breaking down lactose leads to gas. The condition is explainable. We still wonder what it is about the insensitivity toward glutenin people who don’t have celiac disease, if it really is gluten that’s making us have these symptoms like mental fogginess, or whatever constellation of things some people associate with it.

This is sort of a simple way to look at it, but I think the farther differentiated the food is from the original source, the more likely you are to have some of these issues. That’s a huge oversimplification, but a thought, nonetheless.