Food & Nutrition Resources

I want to share a recent study on time-restricted feeding because it reinforces our core teaching of balancing feeding and fasting. I get more commentary about my teachings on fasting than I do on virtually any other aspect of health. For many people, it seems like a completely foreign concept.

There’s been so much cultural pressure to eat frequently that people are uncomfortable with the idea of fasting.

They believe it’ll induce a starvation response in their body or that it’s bad for their health. They experience fatigue, mood changes, and hunger whenever they have to endure a short period of fasting.

“There’s been so much cultural pressure to eat frequently that people are uncomfortable with the idea of fasting.”

Fed and Fasting States

Our bodies are designed to enter the fed state, which is an energy absorbing state, and designed to be in a fasting state, which is an energy utilizing state. When you enter into a fed state, or an anabolic state, a repair-and-restorative state, you create a specific internal hormonal environment with specific genetic expressions designed to accomplish certain purposes.

It’s very important that your cells take up energy and store it properly. It’s very important that you build proteins and help your body recover from the damage that occurs in daily life. Stopping and eating is necessary for life.

photo by Kevin Xie

The fasting state is a distinct physiological state with its own internal hormonal signaling and its own genetic expression to accomplish specific purposes. This is generally a catabolic state, or a consumption of energy state. The reason individuals have such a hard time tolerating fasting is they’ve not trained their body to do it. Their ability to efficiently manage fasting states from a metabolic standpoint is compromised. That has big implications for their health.

“The reason individuals have such a hard time tolerating fasting is they’ve not trained their body to do it.”

By not ever going into the fasting, catabolic states, the body is missing an opportunity to perform very important functions, functions that are very important to experiencing our best health.

Timed Feeding Flexibility

Note that this study isn’t about extended fasts; this study is about timed feeding. Timed feeding means you limit your periods of feeding, during a 24-hour period, to a specific window of time. The most commonly used is a 16/8 schedule, meaning 8 hours of feeding window and 16 hours of fasting. There are variations of this. You can do 20 and 4. Or you can do 23 and 1, meaning you eat one meal a day over an hour and fast for 23 hours. You can vary the schedule day-to-day and week-to-week.

You have extended intervals of time where you’re not in a feeding state. As you can note from the study, in this population of pre-diabetic individuals, those who were in the group that used the timed feeding experienced a reduction in oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin, and they experienced an improvement in insulin sensitivity. I’d like to be clear that one of the main root causes of chronic obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions is excessive oxidative stress, high inflammation, high insulin, and insulin resistance. This is an abnormal, deranged state of the body that creates disease.

This study demonstrates that when individuals reduce the time of the day that they feed and extend the fasting portions, they begin to reverse the disease state. There are many other studies that also show how the fasting states will induce something called autophagy, where age cells actually self-destruct.

“This study demonstrates that when individuals reduce the time of the day that they feed and extend the fasting portions, they begin to reverse the disease state.”

It’s a time for clean up. Fasting is absolutely associated with living longer, healthier lifespans.

Healthy couple enjoying sunset in by Christopher Burns

Calorie Restricted versus Timed Feeding

The other arm of this study involved individuals using a daily calorie-restricted diet without timed feeding.

This is just a standard, put-you-on-a-diet approach that we’ve used for decades that we know doesn’t work.

What was demonstrated in the study was they did not get the results that the timed feeding group achieved. They did not have the lowering of insulin, the improvement of insulin sensitivity, or the reduction in oxidative stress, meaning the root causes of their weight gain were not being addressed by simply reducing their calories.

“…there has been good evidence that the earlier in the day you have your biggest meal, usually in the afternoon, the more metabolic benefit you’ll get.”

How Do I Start?

For now, regardless if you’re pre-diabetic or not, consider narrowing the time of feeding for yourself each day. Try to use a 16/8 or perhaps a 14/10.

Recognize this is not going on a diet.

During this period of feeding, you’ll eat adequate amounts of calories. You’ll just do it in a more constricted amount of time, and allow your body longer periods of fasting. You can do it from dinner until lunch the next day, from breakfast to breakfast, or from lunch to breakfast the next day.

In this specific study, they did have the individuals stop their feeding earlier in the day, and there has been good evidence that the earlier in the day you have your biggest meal, usually in the afternoon, the more metabolic benefit you’ll get. For those individuals that can stop in the middle of the day and actually eat a large meal and take time to digest it, then skipping dinner and waiting until breakfast to eat could be the best plan.

That doesn’t work for me because my family enjoys our dinners together, and it’s the best time for us to celebrate the ending of our day with food. Also, I work straight through the lunchtime period of my day, so it really wouldn’t work for me to try and stop to eat a big meal, and then digest it properly. But if you can set yourself up to experience your day in that way, then you should. Otherwise, you’ll get very similar results if you’re able to, after you finish your dinner, simply wait until lunch the next day to eat.

Bowl of healthy grains and by Prudence Earl


This is just one study, and I don’t want to overstate how much we conclude from it. However, there are so many studies that demonstrate the same point. Brief periods of fasting are good for your health. They’re necessary for your longest, healthiest life. Your body needs them. For more details, you can see our book, Authentic Health, and our 9-Week Nutrition Program. Fasting is good for you. Consider giving it a try. Join us at Health Shepherds.

We recently wrote about achieving and maintaining adequate hydration. In that blog, we highlighted the importance of drinking water and we discussed how your body thrives when it’s adequately hydrated. Without proper hydration, you may end up feeling unwell and not necessarily knowing why. This week, we’re going to emphasize how it’s not only how much water you consume, but the quality of the water you drink that’s crucial.

Water is Everywhere

We receive hydration from many sources. Any beverage we drink, whether it be coffee, tea, soda, or water will provide hydration. In addition, our food offers the body water.

“Produce grown in healthy soil and free of additives is rich in minerals, nutrients, and water.”

In previous posts, we’ve discussed that food sourcing, meaning that the foods you choose to eat, need to be from healthy sources. As much as possible, produce should be organic, and animal products should come from healthy, ethically-raised animals. Eating a lot of vegetables can improve your hydration, as there is a lot of water in fresh produce. However, if that produce was grown in depleted soil and coated with herbicides and pesticides, you actually may be creating more stress for your body when you consume it. Produce grown in healthy soil and free of additives is rich in minerals, nutrients, and water.

What is Pure Water?

When it comes to your beverages, some are better than others. I recommend people learn to enjoy drinking pure water. What do I mean? Pure water is filtered so that heavy metals, parasites, chlorine and fluoride, and other potentially unhealthy byproducts of water production are eliminated. This can be accomplished through a filtering system, or by purchasing well-sourced spring water.

“Pure water is filtered so that heavy metals, parasites, chlorine and fluoride, and other potentially unhealthy byproducts of water production are eliminated.”

However, if you filter your water, you also will have depleted it of key minerals. Pure water derived from the earth would normally be rich in minerals. These minerals are an important part of your overall hydration as they maintain a proper balance between water distributed to the blood and to the cells. So if you choose to filter, consider adding a pinch of Himalayan pink salt or trace minerals as a way of restoring important bodily resources.

Young woman headphones brunette drinking water from glass water bottle.

How You Store Your Water Matters

We also have to consider how water is stored. At this point, many of us know that plastic containers can have unhealthy chemicals associated with them. In many cases, these chemicals can leach into the liquid held in the container. When we consume that beverage, whatever it may be, we end up putting these chemicals into our bodies, which can create harmful responses. I like to reuse glass bottles for carrying filtered water wherever I go.

What About Coffee and Tea?

Quality coffees and teas are a good source of polyphenol compounds, which are nutrients important for health and fluids. You have to be careful about the caffeine content, and I recommend people consume unsweetened versions of these beverages, but nonetheless, this can be a healthy source of hydration. If someone has to have some sweetness to the flavor of the beverage, then I recommend an organic Stevia drop to provide that sweetness.

Glass of carbonated soda with mixed berries in glass.

Can I Splurge on Soda?

Excess consumption of soda, even diet drinks, is a contributor to obesity and metabolic diseases. I have a process I recommend for people who are trying to kick their cola habit. You can still enjoy the bubbly experience but eliminate the harmful aspects.

Step-down Process to Eliminate That Soda Fix

  1. Use sparkling mineral water and add some flavor. There are healthy, organic Stevia blends on the market. You also can use pure, unsweetened, organic concentrates from blueberry, pomegranate, or cranberry. These fruits are rich in nutrients and provide a refreshing flavor.
  2. Simply add lemon, lime, or squeezes of orange to your sparkling water.

It’s okay that there are days when you decide to drink the soda or the sweet tea or whatever else it is that you enjoy. We like to use the 80/20 rule. Drink h2o 80% of the time to get the vast majority of results. Over time, you’ll see the difference between how you feel when using clean sources of hydration versus unclean. You’ll naturally begin to spend more time exposing yourself to the sources of hydration that support your health and help you feel good.

“Excess consumption of soda, even diet drinks, is a contributor to obesity and metabolic diseases.”

Stay adequately hydrated, but make sure you also focus on quality hydration. Your body will thank you.

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Today we are going to focus on water and an important habit of health—hydration. Being adequately hydrated is foundational to good health. Our bodies are primarily made from water. Without enough of it, we experience dehydration and cannot thrive.

The symptoms of dehydration can be mild (such as dry mouth and lethargy), to serious (dizziness and confusion), to severe (a sharp drop in blood pressure that can result in seizures or shock).

“How can you tell if you’re getting enough water in a day? There’s a simple and useful calculation.”

Thankfully, proper hydration just takes a bit of mindfulness. Historically, access to adequate fluids and minerals was not always guaranteed. However, now that we generally have access to liquids, we sometimes forget to honor our fundamental need for hydration. How can you tell if you’re getting enough water in a day? There’s a simple and useful calculation.

What is the Formula for H2O Intake?

All you need to know is your weight in pounds. It’s reasonable that the amount of water a one-hundred-and-twenty-pound woman would require is different than the amount a man of two hundred and twenty pounds would require. Thankfully, the formula is simple.

Weight (in lbs) x .67 = ounces of water required to drink

For a 150 lb woman, she should drink 101 ounces of water in a day. For a 200 lb man, he should consume 134 ounces of H2O per day.

Adding Exercise into the Equation

Dehydrated and thirsty young men playing basketball on schoolyard.
photo by Reuben Mcfeeters

But what about when you sweat?

Sweat is water lost during exercise or heat exposure to help the body maintain a stable temperature. When focusing on adequate hydration, you need to account for water lost due to sweating. We also deplete our bodies of minerals when we sweat.

For every 30 minutes of exercise, add an additional 12 ounces of water to your total from the above equation. To add back important minerals, consider adding a small pinch of Himalayan Pink Salts or a few drops of a trace mineral supplement to the additional water you drink.

Example: 150 lbs x .67 = 101 ounces. 45 minutes of exercise requires the addition of 18 ounces of water. 101 + 18 = 119 total ounces of water to drink that day.

“When we’re craving an afternoon snack, sometimes that’s our body trying to say we need more water.”

That’s a Lot of Water

Drinking more than 100 ounces of anything can seem daunting. That’s a lot of water, and to be frank, water can be quite boring. But remember, water is in nearly everything we consume, in our food and in our beverages. Not all sources of water are created equal—soda is a less ideal option than iced tea or lemonade, which are less ideal than water itself. Here are some tips to keep you properly hydrated, and make your water a tastier option:

Reusable water bottle with measuring guide.

photo by Alan Carrillo

  1. Have a 16-ounce glass of water after you wake up. You can also drink an additional 8 ounces before bedtime, but if you have issues waking at night due to a full bladder, you can skip the evening portion. Beginning and ending your day with this habit adds an easy 16-24 ounces to your total without even having to think about it. Keep a glass or container at your bedside to make this step as easy as possible. Also, add a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salts to your morning water intake.
  2. Drink two 16 ounce glasses of water before you eat. The body sometimes confuses which signals are hunger and which are thirst. When we’re craving an afternoon snack, sometimes that’s our body trying to say we need more water. Drinking before a meal is a good way to ensure the thirst is out of the way so we can recognize true hunger before we begin to eat, and stop when we’ve reached satiety. Plus, that’s another 32 ounces in your water bank for the day.
  3. Use a reusable bottle with measurements on the side. It’s sometimes easier to remember to refill your bottle four times than it is to track how many ounces you’ve had.
  4. Give your H2O pizzazz with added flavor. Squeeze a lemon slice into your glass, or place a sprig of mint in it to refresh the flavor and fight the afternoon doldrums. There are some flavoring powders as well that can add some zing without added sugars or calories. Check the labels to ensure you know what you’re adding, but giving a little pep to a glass of water makes it that much easier to get your daily intake.

Dehydration can interfere with metabolism as well as weight loss, so it’s always best to be mindful of your hydration and get your daily allowance as regularly as you can. Your skin will be grateful, too.

Do you have questions about implementing other healthy habits into your life? Read about Key Habits of Authentic Health. You also can contact uslike us, and follow us

I saw Mrs. C. last week. She’s a long-standing patient in her 60s who has proactively approached her complicated health issues which include:

Mrs. C experienced a period of depression after her husband left her. During that time, she didn’t focus on her health. Since then, she’s been well disciplined about exercising, eating nutritious food, and getting her blood pressure and blood sugar under control.

To help regulate her blood sugar, we used medication. Through trial and error, we moved from a prescription that had a significant side effect to one that appropriately managed Mrs. C.’s condition.

Should Your Employer Health Plan Dictate Your Health?

The medication regimen that has been effective for her was going to be disrupted, and this could affect her ability to control her risk factors.

Mrs. C’s employer recently started using a chronic disease management clinic to monitor the use of expensive prescriptions. However, the employer also changed their formulary, and the medication that she has positively responded to was no longer covered. Understandably, Mrs. C was distraught. The medication regimen that has been effective for her was going to be disrupted, and this could affect her ability to control her risk factors.

In addition, Mrs. C’s blood sugar has been creeping up. She admits that she hasn’t been eating well. It’s possible that even with her prescription, she would continue to have elevated blood sugars. It’s also possible that her diabetes has progressed to where she has become partially insulin dependent. In this case, we may have to use insulin to control her blood sugars. However, we would prefer not to for several reasons:

  1. Insulin can cause weight gain and more than likely, Mrs. C has too much insulin in her system because of her insulin resistance. Given her stage of diabetes, once we place her on insulin, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to take her back off of it.
  2. She probably would not only need a once-a-day insulin pen but also likely need mealtime insulin as well. The cost of insulin pens is significant. Monthly it can range 400-$600, and if you have two different types you’re using, then you could be looking at nearly $1,000 a month.
  3. The effective medication she has been taking is nearly $300 a month. If she is forced to use insulin, we’ll be increasing her total medication costs, plus placing her on medication that may negatively impact her ability to continue to maintain her weight and follow the nutrition program that has worked for her.

We agreed that the best course of action was 1) keep her on her current medical regimen, and 2) resume a nutritious diet. If this approach is not useful, then we can reevaluate her regimen and make changes.  

healthy green salad in white bowl with shaved cheese and beets

Who Should Tell You What Medication Is Best For You?

Unfortunately, it appears that her employer-based health plan is going to be inflexible. Remember I mentioned a medication that caused a detrimental side effect? They would like her to switch to that same drug. When she explained that she had a side effect that required a treatment intervention, they asked for supporting medical documents.

It’s frustrating that the manager of the health plan doesn’t trust my patient and me enough to believe that this side effect occurred. In actuality, the way we managed her side effect saved her employer health plan a significant amount of money in the cost of visits.

Remember I mentioned a medication that caused a detrimental side effect? They would like her to switch to that same drug.

When I suggested to Mrs. C. that based on complicating factors, perhaps the chronic disease management clinic should help manage her diabetes for her, she indicated they wanted me to handle it. This is a frustrating dilemma. We have a clinic trying to control access to medications on behalf of the provider that’s unwilling to manage the conditions of the patient. In fact, they are making it difficult to provide the patient with the best care possible by creating boundaries for me as her physician.

healthy senior attractive woman portrait

Health Care Should Be Team Effort

Sometimes, those managing the health care dollars, step into the way of those entrusted to provide the health care. I understand the need to scrutinize the use of expensive medications, but our first priority is the patient. It’s an all too common example of the difficulties your primary care physician faces when trying to provide you with the best possible care.

We all should insist on a more integrated and transparent system: one where the payers, meaning the individuals and businesses who pay all the cost, have more influence on their individual treatment plans.

At Health Shepherds, we understand the importance of integrated healthcare. If you have questions about a more personalized approach to your wellbeing, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

I just saw a patient this past week, and it made me think about the concept of sending our brain the right message for weight loss that I think is really important for you to grasp. The book, Authentic Health, describes this in a little more detail in the chapter on what it takes to keep a body healthy. I would encourage you to read that, and really think about what I communicate there, because it is the truth.

A Case Study

The gentleman I saw was middle aged, and he’s a little overweight, and he doesn’t feel as good as he’d like to. Again, it’s a really common scenario I’ve come across. He was in for a general checkup and we both agreed that losing a little weight would help him feel better. I asked him what plan he thought he may consider for this, and he said, “Well, I’m joining a gym.”

photo by Victor Freitas

Now I get this a lot. People like to join a gym. Gyms love this because they get a lot of memberships and oftentimes people don’t end up following through. If a gym is the best place for you to pursue exercise, then go for it. I’m all for that. I’m not here to discuss the ins and outs of the gym industry. My main issue is a consistency of movement for you.

My point is this: his answer to losing weight was to go to the gym.

I want to make it clear that I like the idea of him getting exercise. I have an entire chapter about the importance of physical activity and movement in my book. Strength training is a great message for the body. It strengthens:

  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Upregulates hormones
  • Improves metabolism
  • Lowers insulin resistance

It really is a great treatment for feeling good. I also think that regular aerobic or interval training, and mobility exercises are all really good for the body. Those are powerful messages that produce responses in your body that give you back physical and mental health. You feel good when you use your body. I’m a big fan of that.

Primary Weight Loss Tool

But that is not the primary way to lose weight. When we’re talking about losing weight, we’re talking about a change in our body composition. We’re talking about reducing the amount of fat stored on our body. If your amount of fat stored is actually at your genetic baseline, your basic genetic profile for your body composition, then losing that fat is going to be very challenging. It’s going to take ongoing maintenance. Unless it is a very specific goal for you to get as lean as you possibly can, I don’t recommend that for people who are at their healthy genetic weight.

In this case, this gentleman is 30 lbs heavier than he ought to be, and we both know it, and his laboratory data shows it. I do agree with his plan to lose weight. I just didn’t agree with his primary mechanism of doing so, which is to go to the gym. I agree with going to the gym, but that’s not going to produce weight loss for him. Yes, he will burn calories, and yes, that’s good. Of course, if you burn more calories than you take in in a given day for a period of time, your body will shed body weight.

photo by Anna Pelzer

However, we stress in our teaching how your body weight and body composition is regulated hormonally, and this is determined by a set point in a region of your brain. Ultimately, the primary messengers about this body fat are hormones. Hormones are messengers that respond to stimuli.

  • How you eat
  • How you move
  • How stressed you are
  • The levels of nutrients in your system

These things evoke a hormonal response. It’s all about what message you send your body so that your internal messages—meaning your hormones, and in your brain, your neurotransmitters—will produce the response you’re looking for. In this case, this gentleman wants to get leaner.

I had to point him back to his approach to nutrition. If he wants to lean out, it’ll come through how he approaches nutrition. The movement is great, but it’s a tiny part of the overall equation.

Nutrition is the primary message for weight loss.

Of course, that’s not what he wanted to do because that’s more challenging for him, as he himself stated. He really enjoys food, he enjoys his current pattern of eating, and he doesn’t really want to change that. It’s uncomfortable. Whereas going to the gym is an actual long-standing, positive habit for him. He falls out of it occasionally, but when he returns to it, he feels good, and it’s very familiar to him. It’s something that’s easy for him to do. He has the circuitry in his brain grooved for going to the gym on a consistent basis for a certain amount of time each year. There’s not much resistance to it, so it’s easy for him. It’s his default mindset.

photo by LUM3N

But changing his eating is a much harder thing. He does not have consistent circuitry in his brain that is grooved to help him achieve that. In the past, he has typically not had success. He could perhaps do a 30-day program, feel a little better, but then he reverts back to his normal eating habits. There are many reasons for this, and we discuss them in our various documents.

Ultimately, the challenge for him is to permanently alter his approach to food if he wants to lean out. I was able to give him that news and keep it positive, and tell him how slow he can go. He doesn’t need to lose 30 lbs in three months like he’d like to. He can lose this 30 lbs over the next year, and it won’t be that hard to do, and he will improve his health and how he feels. But it’s going to involve not just a temporary change in his nutrition, but a consistent change.

Your approach to eating is the primary driver of how your body regulates its stored energy: namely your fat.

What Is Your Approach to Eating?

If you’re trying to get strong, or build muscle, do strength training. But if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to change your eating behaviors. We have a lot of materials with different ways of accomplishing that, which can help you build a strategic mindset to increase your chances of success. In this case, this gentleman agreed the easiest thing for him was to not think about it, so he agreed to an intermittent fasting protocol that I developed for him. I suspect by following that program, we’re going to see him losing that 30 lbs over about 6 months.

If you want to get stronger, strength train. If you want to lose weight, change your nutrition. Send the right message to your brain, and you’ll get the right response in return.

If you need help with an individualized program, please contact our office, or come to our Facebook page and see how others are doing, or read some of our other materials. The main issue is, you are getting back the version of yourself that you are messaging to your brain. If you need to change that, you need to get the messages right.

Over and over again, as I try and help people identify the sources for their negative symptoms and diseases, we come back to nutrition. Each time, I outline the evidence that their preferred foods are in fact disease-causing agents.

Their response is one of sadness.

They feel as though they’re going to have to give up the things they like. They feel that they ought to eat better, but they don’t really want to. They prefer the foods that are making them sick.

worth it

I don’t blame them for this. They’ve been exposed to these foods from the time they were little, and these foods were purposely designed to make us prefer them, to make us crave them. I’ve been through this myself, and I totally understand.

But think about this for a moment…

You visit the doctor. You feel sick. Perhaps you already have diagnosed diseases. And the doctor says, “We’ve found it. We’ve found what’s causing your problem, and if we eliminate it, you can become well.” Rather than rejoice, you feel as though you’re being punished. You’ve been seeking the answer, and here it is, but it turns out the answer is hard to face.

Most people would actually rather live with a problem they cannot solve than embrace a solution they do not want.

The bottom line is: what do you want?

  • Do you want to solve these problems you’re having?
  • Do you want to feel good?
  • Do you want to stop being sick?
  • Do you want to eliminate diseases from your body?

If your answer is yes, then certain actions must follow.

Don’t think of these actions as punishments.

These are right-living based on right-thinking.

If you’re a non-smoker, you probably consider cigarettes toxic, noxious, addictive, and bad for your health. That would be correct thinking about cigarettes. It’s doubtful you’d try smoking, because you know how much potential harm there is in cigarettes. You would avoid them, and you would urge others to do the same.

These foods are no different.

These nutritional stressors—processed foods, fast foods, junk foods, foods full of sugar and fake fats—are in fact the food version of cigarettes.

worth it

They are bad for you. They cause diseases. They were engineered to be addictive. You crave them and can’t control your responses to them. They have no actual value for you. Just like cigarettes, all they do is trigger your reward system, give you a brief hit of dopamine, and make you feel a little better, but barely, and only for a moment.

They’re stealing from you. You have to reframe this in your mind. You have to see them for what they are. Saying, “My preference is to eat artificially dyed, sugar-filled cereals, served in a bowl of milk produced by a sick animal,” is fundamentally no different than saying, “I like to smoke.” Either way, you’re letting your supposed preferences drive disease-causing, energy-stealing choices.

Most of us have been unknowingly conditioned into this state by savvy marketers. When that’s the case, we’re only guilty of having been tricked. However, once we know we have to make choices. We have to decide what do we want. We have to understand our highest desires. If we decide to not embrace the challenge of changing our preferences, then we are choosing to remain sick. Who does that from a conscious level? Who chooses to be sick?

If that’s the point you’re at, then it’s hard for anyone to truly help you.

If someone is determined to honor their own preferences—even if they’re preferences they’ve been tricked into—above their health, who is going to help them become well? Is it the pharmaceutical industry? We know that doesn’t work. They will palliate your symptoms and slow down the velocity of your sickness so you can live longer sicker. But you’ll be taking expensive therapeutics that have their own adverse effects over time.

worth it

However, that seems easier than changing your habits, especially if the medications are covered by your insurance. Think about it. Food scientists that work for food companies give us bad food and tell us that they’ve proven that it’s just perfectly fine for us. Then we have a whole host of new diseases emerging in our population, including our children. Now the chemical scientists give us pharmaceuticals that palliate the diseases we’re afflicted with by the foods we eat. Neither of these industries has any real reason to reverse this trend. It’s not a conspiracy. They exist to make money, and they found a way to do it: give you the foods that make you sick, and then sell you the medications to treat the sickness.

You can change this. It is up to you. What do you want, and are you worth it? Are you worth the effort to experience your best health? Are you worth the effort to change your habits? To change your health? Are you worth it?

worth it

I believe you are.

I believe you have enormous potential inside you, and enormous potential to do good things in this world, and to serve others.

But you can’t do it if you’re chronically sick.

You’re going to have to trust me on this one. I’m not going to get into the specific debate about how food has changed. There are many evidence-based works out there that will help you with this, and I cite them on our website. I’m not going into rabbit holes to twist our minds around strawman arguments provided by scientific wizards whose income and stock options flourish if you accept their arguments and buy their goods.

We’re going to focus on the basics of what you need to do to become well. It will take desire, commitment, effort, courage, and the ability to endure discomfort to reach your goals. You will only succeed if you actually want to be well. This has to be your heart’s desire. If, after you’ve reviewed this, you actually realize that you value your preferences over your health, then you’re choosing to be sick. If you’re choosing to be sick, then we cannot help you.

worth it
I hope you, and everyone, will succeed. I hope we all become a strong voice for the best health of our country and future generations. If this were to happen, my medical practice would be far less busy, and perhaps I’ll have to learn how to grow a garden. If you’re tired of being sick, tired of fatigue and chronic depression, tired of others manipulating your habits, and you truly desire health and energy and purpose, then let’s get started together.

It’s growing season, which means pollen is in the air, insects abound, and warmer temperatures to welcome us outdoors and shake off the cold of a long winter. Allergies are in full bloom as well, causing itchy, watery eyes, clogged sinuses, hay fever, skin rashes or redness, trouble breathing, and more. If you’re tired of relying on medications to relieve symptoms—some with side effects as uncomfortable as the allergies themselves—we have some tips to help you fight allergies the natural way.

Take Care of Your Immune System

Your immune system is key to fighting off allergies. It’s your number one weapon against the symptoms that make you miserable, so take care of it with an anti-inflammatory diet. Nutrient dense foods help boost your immune system so you can fight off allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, and insect bites. Garlic is a natural antibiotic that helps ward off infections, viruses, and even allergies. Lemons and limes are loaded with Vitamin C to strengthen your immune system and help your body detoxify and be rid of impurities.

fight allergies

Eat More Raw Honey

Honey also contains enzymes that support overall immune system function, so dropping a tablespoon in your tea can help desensitize you when pollen is at its highest. If you’re allergic to honey, please avoid it! But if you’re in the clear, here are tips: Look for local raw honey. The bees in your area hop from flower to flower, and in making honey, those pollen strains get included. By picking up a local honey, you’re giving your body the specific allergens in your area to fight, helping you build a tolerance to the pollens most relevant to you.

fight allergies

Learn to Love…Apple Cider Vinegar

Just a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your water can help fight off an allergy attack. Pair it with lemon, and it can help wake you up in the morning, too. A teaspoon in a neti-pot also adds a natural kick to flushing your sinuses.

Have You Used a Neti Pot?

Neti pots have been shown to improve the quality of life for those with respiratory ailments, and can reduce congestion and clear the sinuses. Just ensure the water you use is distilled and as sterile as possible. The chemicals treating our tap water are too harsh for sensitive sinus tissue, and can actually aggravate the problem.

Stinging Nettle Isn’t As Scary As it Sounds

Research on the stinging nettle leaf has proven this little plant naturally controls histamines, which are the main aggravators of seasonal allergies. There are a few ways in which stinging nettle can be used: as a tea, a tincture (dissolving in alcohol), or freeze-dried. But stinging nettles not only help relieve allergies, they have a lot of benefits packed into one plant. They’ve been used as diuretics dating back to medieval Europe to relieve urinary problems, joint pain, and fluid retention (edema).

fight allergies

Enjoy Eucalyptus and Frankincense Oils

Essential oils, such as eucalyptus or frankincense, are some of the most potent for killing highly allergic house mites. They work by reducing inflammation and detoxifying harmful bacteria, killing parasites and microorganisms that cause attacks, and neutralizing toxins. A few drops of eucalyptus can be put in a neti pot, inhaled via diffuser, or even used in your laundry as an antimicrobial agent. 25 drops in each laundry load should do the trick. Mix eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and rub on your chest or behind your ears while you sleep. Frankincense oil has very powerful effects in support of the immune system. Like eucalyptus oil, it can be rubbed on your chest and behind your ears, or diffused in your home or office to combat allergy triggers.

Take Care of Your Microbiome

Probiotic supplements can help boost your gut microbiome. We know from our look at the best diets for you, gut microbiomes are essential to overall health, and when yours is ticking along like clockwork, your immune system is at its strongest, not having to fight off infections with a compromised energy system. With the majority of your immune system being controlled and boosted by your GI tract, it’s no wonder a healthy microbiome is a powerful ally in the battle against allergies. Probiotics can be found in supplements, foods, and even local farmer’s markets.

fight allergies

You don’t have to turn to the Benadryl every time your eyes tear up and itch or your sinuses clog. Over time, medications become less effective as a means of treating our allergy symptoms, so these natural methods of allergy treatment can help relieve your suffering, saving the medicine for when nothing else will work. Your immune system will thank you, too!

Check out parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!

The best diet for you is personal and comes down to what you’re trying to accomplish.

With a multitude of healthy approaches to eating, it takes some mindfulness to find the appropriate diet. A plant-based wholefood diet has characteristics aligned with the Paleo diet, but the differences between them are key. If you’re trying to control your appetite or build muscle, Paleo is better. A ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet, but a low carb, high fat diet is not always ketogenic.

So let’s talk about what you want.

What are your goals?

Are you trying to lose or gain weight? Optimize endurance and athletic performance? Are you trying to find your optimal health, live a long life, and have the best quality of life? These things determine what kind of diet you should consider.

We’ve discussed genetics and gut microbiomes, but there’s more than one dietary approach that will adhere to the requirements of your DNA and digestive system. Depending on these goals, you may need more or less carbohydrates, more or less protein.

appropriate diet

Runners training for a marathon will need a lot of carbs because glycogen, the resulting fuel of carbs, burns faster than fats or amino acids. The body burns glycogen very efficiently and provides athletes with a good source of energy for those hours of intense exercise. For endurance training purposes, carbs are not the devil they can be for other dietary approaches.

Is hunger and appetite your Achilles’ heel? A high protein approach could be right for you. Protein takes longer for the body to process, delays gastric emptying, and promotes satiety. Chronically obese people benefit from a high protein diet for a period of time—not indefinitely—allowing their brain to reboot the set point for their body weight so they can lose the excess. However, high protein causes insulin responses, and the excess protein is converted to glucose in the bloodstream. So patients with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, protein intake needs to be monitored.

The best approach to individualizing your diet is to work with someone who can help you understand how your body responds to food, how to detect and assess those responses, and then make decisions. There are also great tools available to help with this. Food journaling is another tool in your arsenal to learning what diet matches your goals best.

Fundamental principals

There are, however, clear fundamental truths that apply to most healthy lifestyles:

  • Choose nutritious foods
  • Make sure to address nutrient deficiencies
  • Control stress
  • Get sleep
  • Maintain an active lifestyle
  • Don’t over-consume food

appropriate diet

Sure, good sleep and stress reduction don’t sound like they’d go hand in hand with a diet, but they do, just as exercise contributes to the overall picture of health. A sleep deprived or stressed out body can’t process food’s information properly when it’s consumed. That’s like a factory running with rusty conveyors and loose nuts and bolts. It’ll work. Just not well.

Eyes on the Prize

Remember, macronutrients—carbs, fat, protein—are not the only important nutrients. Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals found in whole foods are just as important and we’re only just beginning to understand their effect on the body. So map out your optimal health goals, think of what you need to accomplish those goals, and seek understanding for which dietary approach matches those needs. Keep in mind your ancestry and gut microbiome, and you’ll find the eating approach that’s right for you. Using a journal to catalog how you feel after eating will help determine if there are any foods that aren’t good for your individual digestion. You’re in this for the long haul. Getting a handle on your best approach to eating will take time and patience, practice, and some trial and error. But the result is well worth it: your optimal, most authentic health possible.


Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.

Check out parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Check back regularly for new installments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!

There is no one diet that fits all.

Any book or nutritional program that claims otherwise is not being honest with you.

Because of a multitude of factors—genetics, individual gut microbiomes, allergies, and personal preferences—everyone is different in terms of what we should be eating for our most optimal health. Deciding which diet, or combination of diets, is right for you is something only you can decide. Let’s take a look at a few.

healthy diets

Plant-based wholefood diet

A plant-based diet does not mean strictly vegetarian. Some plant-based diets actually include fish and lean meats, depending on the diet’s specifics. The premise is the majority of the diet derives from foods grown in the ground:

  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

Extra fiber and potassium help stave off heart diseases, and because the diet is naturally low carbohydrate, it improves one’s chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Plant based foods are also packed with phytonutrients, useful in lowering the risk of certain cancers. Micronutrients in colorful fruits and veggies lower blood pressure, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

There are risk factors to note. Plant-based wholefood diets are naturally low in protein, which forces the body to use valuable stores in the muscles. Muscle loss comes with a host of issues of strength and mobility, which are particularly detrimental to the elderly. There’s also a lower intake of vitamin B12. This vitamin is only available in animal foods, such as meat, dairy, and eggs. If your plant-based diet doesn’t include lean meats or fish, a B12 supplement is necessary to prevent anemia, fatigue, numbness in the extremities, balance problems, and poor memory. An iron supplement may also be necessary.

healthy diets

Paleo diet

This diet has become all the rage in recent years, focusing on how our ancestors ate by consisting of plant-based foods and oils, and lean meats. The major difference between this and the plant-based wholefood diet is the paleo diet cuts out grains—oats, wheat, barley, and rice—starchy vegetables, legumes or beans, dairy products, and high-fat meats like salami or rib meat.

A paleo diet naturally cuts out many of the chemicals and processed foods in a typical Western diet just by the nature of what is on the menu. The addition of red meat to this diet also means fewer concerns about low iron levels. A paleo diet also has anti-inflammatory effects, improving your overall feeling of energy. Protein is easier to come by on this diet, which leads to a full feeling between meals, because the body processes protein slower, so you feel satiated longer.

The downsides are that eating the paleo way can become expensive, where things like grains and beans can provide some bulk to meals but are excluded in paleo meals. It’s a very low carbohydrate diet, when the only carbs allowed are from fruits and vegetables. Getting the recommended amount of carbs a day can become a challenge. It’s also a strict diet, which means for the long term, it might not be as sustainable as some other diets.

Low carb, high fat diet

A low carb, high fat diet does not necessarily mean a ketogenic diet, but a ketogenic diet can be considered low carb, high fat. In fact, it can be considered a medical therapy to treat things like irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, or fatty liver disease and more. Beyond those issues, it can boost energy, and even prevent some diseases. Higher consumption of healthy fats reduces inflammation while simultaneously decreasing consumption of inflammation-inducing foods like processed carbs and sugars. Higher amounts of protein, once again, keep us feeling full longer, decreasing our overall appetite and penchant for overeating. With increased dietary fiber and reduced carbs, we also reduce digestive stress.

healthy diets

There are some drawbacks. The first 7-10 days of a reduction in carbs can lead to significant drops in energy as your body adjusts to finding other fuel sources—such as fat and amino acids. While this metabolic flexibility is beneficial in the long run, it can have a rocky beginning. Your body needs time to produce enzymes and other chemicals required to switch to fat as your primary fuel source. This can be headed off with a slower immersion into low carb, high fat eating, but if you’re jumping all in, be aware of possible headaches, fatigue, sleeping issues, brain fog, and even bad breath. Carbs also contain water, so reducing them can lead to intense thirst or dehydration while you balance out.

Ketogenic diet

As we said, ketogenic diets are low carb diets, but not all low carb diets are ketogenic. The purpose of a ketogenic diet is to put you in a state of ketosis—where your body burns ketones rather than glucose for energy. This is a function of metabolic flexibility, or your body using different fuels rather than being fixated on glucose, the fuel of carbs and sugars. Ketosis teaches your body to burn fat stores—where the ketones come from—and better regulates blood sugar. Among the benefits of ketogenic diets are weight loss, better mental focus, reduced appetite, increased energy, higher HDL cholesterol—the good cholesterol—lower blood pressure, and fighting type 2 diabetes.

Ketosis, like the others, isn’t without its risks. Like the paleo diet, it can be difficult to stick to. There’s also something called “keto-flu,” which are symptoms such as fatigue, headache, and dehydration, much like the low carb, high fat diet. This comes from dropping water weight quickly and losing the water in carbs. It can be mitigated by keeping hydrated and taking electrolyte tablets. Ketogenic dieters should also be aware that high fat doesn’t mean high unhealthy fats.

healthy diets

The diet for you

If any of these approaches to eating sound like a good fit for you, don’t be afraid to try them. Keep in mind, however, some diets you like might not like you. Someone who finds a plant-based wholefood diet appealing could learn they’re sensitive to plant lectins, which can actually make them feel sick and negatively impact their health. It’s not that the foods are unhealthy. It’s that the foods aren’t compatible with that person’s genetics or gut microbiome.

You have to pay attention to how these diets impact your energy, overall feeling, and your body weight. It can quickly become clear which foods you tolerate well, and which you do not. By being mindful—and keeping a food journal helps with this—you can determine the best diet for you as one of the above mentioned, or even a hybrid approach. In the end, you should strive for the broadest diet you can eat, which can lead you to the healthiest possible you.

Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.


Check out parts 1, 2, and 3 of the “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Check back regularly for new installments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!

In our last two posts in the Best Diet for You series, we discussed genetics and individual gut microbiomes, two things that are very much tied to our overall health. But not everyone can afford a deep dive look into their specific genetics and the state of their microbiome. Fear not. There are still things you can learn and practice which go a long way toward finding your optimal health.

Fundamentals of a healthy diet

A lot of us already know this. For years, we’ve been hearing about the detrimental effects of refined carbs, unhealthy fast foods, and high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars. But let’s consider it within our framework of food as instructions to our body for processing. We know for sure that you should eliminate:
• All fake foods
• Highly processed foods
• Processed carbohydrates
• Refined sugars
• Industrialized oils

These foods are missing essential instructions to our bodies for proper processing. Either that, or they’re bogged down with too many instructions—components our bodies simply can’t break down. Let’s take a look at two of them for some specifics.

coconut healthy diet fundamentals

An oily dilemma
Industrialized oils are in so many of our foods, we don’t notice anymore. Some say average Americans who eat what they eat without giving it too much thought get 60% of their calories from these oils and don’t even know it. These oils—vegetable, corn, safflower, canola, and soybean—are the brainchildren of food chemists and do not occur naturally in our environment. They have to be processed to be created.

To do this, legumes (not even vegetables!) are exposed to high heat and the oils are extracted with chemicals like acetone. Yes, the same solvent people use to remove nail polish. For a long time, we thought saturated fat was the enemy, and these oils are poly-unsaturated fats, so in many minds, this was a good thing. But chemically speaking, poly-unsaturated fats are unstable, and by virtue of what they are, they become heavily oxidized in the high heat and acetone exposure. They are then put in plastic bottles, where phthalates leech into them. After that, they’re exposed to more high heat, light, and different elements during transportation, and then placed on a grocery store shelf, where they deteriorate further because their sell-by date is long.

sunrise yoga healthy diet fundamentals

Then we again expose them to high heat by cooking with them, and by the time they’ve entered our bodies, they’ve become trans fats, which are no longer supposed to be in our foods. In our systems, with their incomplete and overloaded instructions to our bodies, they become mega trans-fats. They’re wrecking balls, creating inflammation, contributing to weight gain, chronic fatigue, and setting us up for future diseases.

But wait, cooking without oil? Who does that? There are some oils that, when used in moderation, do not turn into atom bombs in our systems. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and even good, old-fashioned butter (and we do mean old-fashioned; the cows supplying the milk should be pasture-raised, or at the very least, grass-fed) are all oils our bodies handle much better.

Sugar: what a rush!

Anyone born in the 80s or before grew up with Snicker’s old slogan: Snickers Satisfies. Of course it does—its caramel, nougat, peanut, and chocolate make-up is almost pure sugar, and that satisfaction we get from eating a Snicker’s bar is a sugar rush of epic proportions. Sugar fuels brain cells, which interpret that fuel as a reward. Eating more feels good, so our brain signals us that we’re happy, sated, and ready to tackle our afternoon. This rewards the sweet craving, and thus, we begin a cycle that’s difficult to break.

healthy diet fundamentals

The science behind a sugar rush is that simple sugars and carbs are immediately turned into glucose, which our bodies burn through quickly, giving what feels like a burst of energy. Simple sugars and carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy, but they’re paired with protein and fiber, which slow down the process, tempering the “sugar rush” and thus, the rewarding feeling. This is why it’s not as much fun to snack on carrot sticks as it is to pop some Hershey’s Kisses.

To use that quick energy, your body moves the glucose out of your bloodstream and into cells with the help of insulin, a hormone regulating blood sugar levels. This transfer can happen fast, leading to what we know as a sugar crash. It can leave you feeling shaky and weak, and in need of more sugar to maintain the rush.

Think that because that bagel or bag of chips isn’t sugary, it doesn’t count? Think again. The body breaks these complex carbs into simple sugars, setting us up for the same roller coaster as a candy bar. Some of the worst offenders are of the highly refined variety, like:

  • White bread
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Pasta

Artificially sweet, good or bad?

“Well, I put Stevia in my coffee, so I’m okay.” Actually, no you’re really not. If you were to slowly cut out sugars—reduce one sweet thing you eat a week, like declining dessert, or drinking one less sugary coffee—your taste buds will adapt. Partaking in something sweet after a break from it, chances are good, it’ll be too sweet. If you’ve ever switched between full-calorie soda to a diet variety, you’ll have experienced this. Your taste buds become accustomed to what they usually taste.

healthy diet fundamentals

By partaking in artificial sweeteners, you’re still getting all the sweet with none of the brain-cell-fueling sugar. The brain is fooled, expecting the sugar and when it doesn’t happen, the craving for sweets kicks up a notch. The brain sends signals to the body. “Something’s wrong. I’m not getting the reward I expected, so I need more sweet.” And a craving too intense to ignore is born. It’s not a matter of will power. It’s a matter of body chemistry.

According to the American Heart Association, most average Americans eat 19 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Recommended amounts? 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women, and no more than 9 (150 calories) for men. Check labels. If too much of the calories come from sugar, don’t eat what’s in the package.

healthy diet fundamentals

So what can I eat?

That is the question. A diet of whole foods like fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts, whole grains, protein, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates, and healthy oils is a far better blueprint for your body’s food processors to follow. If we’re honest with ourselves, there’s a lot of variety in that list. With a little mindfulness to how these foods make you feel—and food journaling is a great way to nail that down—cutting out unhealthy foods isn’t as hard as it sounds. Once your body processes good, whole foods and you consistently feel the optimization of your overall health, the idea of eating refined and processed foods will have your taste buds saying, “No thank you.” There is honestly no junk food that tastes as good as healthy feels.

Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.