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healthy diets

  • We live in a world where food is accessible all the time, in all settings, and on-demand. Unfortunately, despite all that we know about how to prevent many lifestyle diseases, their numbers remain high. Heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s remain among the top 10 causes of death in the United States. Fad diets offer quick-fix solutions for weight loss that are often not sustainable. What about long-term health outcomes?

    In 1962, James Neel developed the concept of “thrifty genes” to explain how humans have the ability to survive through calorie extremes like feast and famine; that our bodies are highly effective at storing extra fuel as fat. One could make the argument that fasting has been part of lives throughout history. Fasting is still an integral part of five major religions across the world.

    It’s only recently that the popularity of fasting has resurfaced among the health-conscious as a way to drop weight or kickstart some healthy new lifestyle habits. With the majority of Americans trying different forms of fasting, from intermittent fasting to time-restricted eating, and prolonged fasting diets, confusion can lead to questions that eventually end up in a doctor’s office.

    Fasting is the abstention of calories from food and beverages. From a biological standpoint, fasting entails not eating foods that trigger the nutrient “sensing” pathways. Since that can be active for 24 hours after the last meal, biological fasting really begins 24 hours after the last meal. Some people think a juice fast is a fast because you are not chewing your calories, but the calories—not the state of matter—are what count.

    Why fast? Some people do it for healing or spiritual purposes. Research shows that fasting can support overall metabolic health, supports cellular cleanup (autophagy) that leads to cellular regeneration, and increases in circulating stem cells.1 Also, fasting impacts markers and risk factors for aging. There are three main types of fasting: intermittent, time-restricted eating/feeding, and prolonged fasting.

    During intermittent fasting, a person will refrain from consuming calories during a full day. It can be done anywhere from one to three, non-consecutive days per week. There have even been several articles and books published around the 5:2 plan. Time restricted eating is a daily pattern of calorie consumption between a window of 8–12 hours each day.

    Prolonged fasting is usually done for five consecutive days. This has traditionally been done using water only. Water-only prolonged fasting demonstrates those positive biochemical markers; however, it has a high dropout rate among participants and it can be dangerous because it deprives the body of macronutrients, leads to muscle wasting and increases the risk of gallstones.

    Prolonged water fasting is also challenging to do. It was this hurdle that led Dr. Valter Longo to develop a “fasting with food” concept now known as the Fasting Mimicking Diet, which he details in his book, “The Longevity Diet.” The Fasting Mimicking Diet gives you the same health benefits of prolonged water fasting, but it’s more sustainable to do over the recommended five days because the stomach sees food, while the cells see fasting. You will likely drop weight with this diet, but the other health and longevity benefits are so profound that TIME magazine named Longo as one of the 50 most influential people who are transforming health care. Benefits of prolong fasting include protection of lean body mass, maintaining healthy levels of metabolic markers and increased circulation of stem cells.2 Currently, the only Fasting Mimicking Diet available is called ProLon which has been clinically shown to result in an average of 5–8 pounds of fat loss without losing lean body mass in the process.

    Here what happens on each day on the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet:

    Day 1: Fasting State: the body is being primed to transition into the fasting state for cellular optimization;

    Day 2: Fat Burning: the body, depleted of glycogen, switches to fat burning mode; cellular recycling and clean up begin;

    Day 3: Cellular Cleaning: cellular clean up continues and most people reach full ketosis;

    Day 4: Cellular Regeneration: cellular clean up continues and enhanced stem cell production begins; and

    Day 5: Regeneration Continues: promotes self-repair through the increased circulation of stem cells.

    The results have been fascinating: Reductions in circumferential body fat from 5–8 pounds in five days, preservation of lean mass (muscle mass and bone density), and decreases in the IGF-1 hormone, which has been implicated in aging and disease. In those subjects who returned to normal eating yet did the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet for three consecutive months (for five days per month), they were able to realize the following health benefits: weight loss, decreased waist circumference, maintained lean muscle mass and improved metabolic measures.

    So now you must be wondering, what exactly are the foods that are consumed using ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet? First of all, the entire program must be purchased online at: because the meal plan is specific and provides scientifically researched micro- and macro-nutrients in precise quantities and combinations that nourish you, but are not recognized as food by your body and therefore mimics a fasting state. This way there is no guessing or question of incorrect portions because all the food needed for the five days comes in assigned boxes for each day. It is a plant-based eating plan that consists of bars, soups, crackers, olives, and herbal teas. Just add water and you are good to go.

    Technically, individuals can return to their usual "diet" in the weeks between doing the Fasting Mimicking Diet. As a clinician who attended the first global fasting summit at the University of Southern California, and has been doing some consulting work with L-Nutra, the company behind the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet, I can tell you I plan on using this in my practice, and for myself. I would encourage people to take a good look at their calorie intake—both in foods and beverages. I am an advocate of eating flexitarian, which is predominantly plant-based with small amounts of animal-sourced protein. I would pair all of this with time-restricted eating as a means of regular eating behavior. Be mindful of how many hours you eat each day, and what your calories consist of.

    Right now, high protein diets are popular because they encourage weight loss and satiety, but in looking at long-term health outcomes, the research has shown that lower protein consumption is actually better for longevity. We know the benefits of eating more plants are that they promote a healthy gut microbiome and that the phytonutrients in plants have many chemoprotective qualities.

    I'm looking forward to the continued research in the fasting space, and where it will take us in the future of healthcare. We are truly at an impasse when it comes to obesity and disease in this country. As health care professionals, we have to get to the root cause of obesity, which is essentially what we are eating or not eating.


    1. Wei et al., Sci. Transl. Med. 9, 15 February 2017
    2. Ibid

  • The obvious answer to this question is yes; it probably could be killing you. It primarily depends on what you are eating. If you are eating according to the Mediterranean Diet your food is actually helping you to live a longer and a healthier life. However, if you are eating almost any other diet you could be at risk if you have not done your homework about the various diets that are being featured in articles, books and on the Internet. Here is a brief explanation about how these diets rank according to a recent report comparing them.

    There are many diets available as people consider how to lose weight and keep it off. A panel of nutritional experts was asked by U.S. News and World Reports to evaluate each of the following diets to determine which ones offered the most scientific and sustainable weight management options.

    1. THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET—This diet was the panel’s top choice, and the foods in this diet include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils (Olive Oil), fish and poultry. The science behind this diet includes the Framingham Heart Study and several peer-reviewed scientific studies. Approximately 150,000 people have been evaluated for over 30 years and those on the Mediterranean Diet lived longer and had less chronic illness than all other dietary programs used by other participants.

    2. The DASH DIET—DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Foods in this diet are very similar to the Mediterranean Diet with some changes, such as the use of low-fat dairy products. Red meat, fats, and sweets are allowed in small amounts. Studies have verified that people on this diet were able to reduce their blood pressure and often reduce their need for prescription medications.

    3. VEGETARIAN/VEGAN DIET—Vegans eat no animal products while vegetarians are less strict on this. Some vegetarians allow dairy and eggs in their diet. This is a very heart-healthy approach featured in books by Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard. However, there are some challenges to the vegan diet including possible deficiencies in amino acids, vitamin D, iron, zinc and B vitamins, especially vitamin B12. This can lead to brain-related issues, osteoporosis, higher risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses. Usually, these issues can be addressed with quality nutritional supplements.

    4. FLEXITARIAN DIET—This is basically a vegetarian diet, which allows the occasional piece of meat or fish. The key word here is "occasional." For people who are used to eating meat every day, occasional could mean switching to eating meat every other day. Eating Omega 3 rich fish a few times a week and one helping of grass-fed beef per month is probably a healthier option for flexitarians. Certain red meats like pork or processed bacon should be avoided at all times.

    5. WEIGHT WATCHERS—This popular diet program has changed over the years to reflect the needs of their customer base with more emphasis on healthier foods. Portion and calorie control are the main benefits; however nutritional quality is not very high. Their typical consumer still eats foods that are processed, cooked and mostly non-organic, which means enzyme and nutrient levels are low. There are no incentives to eat the healthiest vegetables or fruits, and they allow two helpings of dairy per day. People are often eating better than they previously were, but not nearly as well as they could be. This is why this diet is on the lower end of the list of the best diets with the most science behind them.

    6. KETO DIET—In last place is the keto diet. It is designed to force the body into ketosis through the consumption of high levels of protein and fat, as well as low levels of carbohydrates and fiber. Our bodies, especially our brains, are designed to burn carbohydrate so this is not a good diet for most people. Even people in the Paleo period would not eat this diet if they could have found more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Some cultures like the Eskimos have adapted to this diet over hundreds of years, but only out of necessity. The keto diet cannot provide a sufficient level of nutrients necessary to meet the needs of our bodies. People on the keto diet often experience the following health challenges: loss of muscle mass, kidney problems due to high levels of uric acid, dehydration, digestive disorders due to low fiber levels, liver disease due to high protein intake, hormone imbalance and chronic illness due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

    When a diet does not include some or many key nutrients, this begins a process of cellular deterioration, which eventually leads to a chronic illness. Poor nutrition is one of the main reasons why chronic disease happens and now over 60 percent of the adult population in the United States has a chronic disease. This is not surprising because in one study by the National Cancer Institute of 16,000 people they could not find one person with a truly healthy diet. The CDC agrees and reports that over 95 percent of our population has one or more nutritional deficiencies.

    Many people try to compensate for their poor nutritional behavior and the lack of nutrients in today's food by taking nutritional supplements. That can be very helpful in spite of a recent study by Tufts University that indicated that supplements do not extend the life of people who take them. Such a study lacks any credibility since it was an observational study with no evaluation of specific factors such as the beginning health of the participants or the number or quality of the supplements taken. There are over 40,000 scientific studies that clearly show that quality supplements help people to live longer and healthier by preventing, as well as reversing chronic illness.

    However, even if you eat the healthiest diet, and take quality nutritional supplements, there are still potential health risks due to the interaction between certain foods and certain biochemicals that are consumed by many people. Here are some of the most significant examples of these interactions that everyone should be aware of.


    • Synthetic iron destroys vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene.
    • Brominating agents (fumigated fruit and bleached flour) destroys vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, potassium and selenium.
    • Sulfites oxidize vitamin C, molybdenum, riboflavin and folic acid.
    • Food dyes inactivate vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin C.
    • The food additive, ethylene glycol, destroys vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium (it is used to make antifreeze).
    • Preservatives BHT and BHA destroys vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E.
    • EDTA (used in chelation) prevents the absorption of minerals zinc, calcium and magnesium.
    • Pesticides inactivate vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, digestive enzymes and selenium.
    • Chlorine inactivates thiamine and destroys vitamins A, C and E.
    • Fluoride destroys vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and disrupts the function of virtually all human enzymes.
    • Antibiotics create vitamin B deficiencies and destroy good bacteria in the intestines.
    • Aspirin destroys vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid. It also can cause internal bleeding, as well as lead to heart disease, stomach ulcers, intestinal cancer and Reye's syndrome.
    • Statin drugs deplete Co-enzyme Q10, which is critical for the heart, and can eventually cause a heart attack.
    • Most prescription medications deplete or destroy one or more important nutrients

    organic blueberries

    Food grown on non-organic farms have been shown to have 40 - 80 percent fewer nutrients than food grown on organic farms. The following chemicals contribute to this reduced nutritional value:

    • Lime—Binds zinc and manganese and impedes copper intake.
    • Nitrogenous fertilizers—Impairs copper absorption into plants.
    • Phosphates—Create excess absorption of molybdenum and impairs calcium uptake.
    • Potash (potassium)—Causes boron deficiency in plants.
    • Pesticides/herbicides—Impair the absorption of all essential minerals.

    These potentially dangerous interactions do not influence everyone’s health, but they are very prevalent when you consider how many people consume tap water for drinking, preservatives in food processing, non-organic fruits, and vegetables or commonly used prescription medications.

    This is not information that you will find on food labels or will be shared with your doctor or your grocery store manager. This is your personal responsibility and you are responsible for finding this information and using it to protect the health of you, your family members and anyone else that you care about. Hippocrates is supposed to have said, “let your food be your medicine,” but I’m very certain he did not imagine we would have so many challenges finding truly healthy food considering all of the dangerous chemicals that we must contend with every day. Consider the following important facts when you take the previously mentioned information into consideration as you go forward with your plan to eat a truly healthy diet.

    • Reports from the Centers for Disease Control, and others, indicate that 95 – 99 percent of the population has one or more nutritional deficiencies.
    • Nutritional deficiencies have been shown to be the number one cause of chronic disease.
    • Only five percent of doctors have received adequate training in nutrition.
    • About 70 – 80 percent of all disease is preventable, and nutrition is the number one scientifically-proven method of preventing, and even reversing, most disease.
    • Poor nutrition is the number one cause of the high cost of health care.
  • The official start of summer is just around the corner. Many people might find themselves entrenched in diet and detox programs to shed those extra pounds for tank top confidence. My tried-and-true Fat Flush Plan offers daily detox, healing foods, metabolism-revving spices, calming rituals, and more that has helped thousands around the world find lasting success. When you're at home, sticking to your healthy eating plan is easy, with the right weekly preparation. But, what about when you're traveling or enjoying a dinner out? I have found that times like these can be the most challenging for folks and are a venerable time to "fall off the wagon." In this preview from my book, The NEW Fat Flush Plan—a full update of The New York Times Best Seller—I share my tips to make three popular genres Fat Flush-friendly while dining out.


    This is the cuisine where, at least in the type of Americanized Italian food in the United States, you have to watch to not overdo carbs such as pasta, beans, and that delicious garlic bread. Thus you might want to have the server take the bread basket away as soon as you sit down. If you are really hungry, then order an appetizer right away. Grilled Portobello mushrooms or an artichoke (hold the breading) is a tasty starter. You may want to indulge in a Caesar salad, which is perfectly Fat Flush legal. Just ask for it without croutons and get the dressing on the side. And if you have a taste for anchovies in the Caesar dressing, go for it! They are high in the omega-3s, although a bit on the salty side. The best news at an Italian restaurant is that you usually can get a wide variety of delicious, colorful veggies that are not as easily available elsewhere, such as zucchini, peppers, cauliflower, eggplant, and spaghetti squash. In addition, you can typically get a leafy green, such as spinach or escarole, here as well. Sautéed with onions, fresh garlic, and a little lemon in olive oil or chicken broth, these vegetables are out of this world and very Fat Flush friendly.

    And oh yes, there's that cheese—the mozzarella, ricotta, and provolone. For those of you on the Lifestyle Fat Flush eating plan, keep them to a tasty minimum and use them as a condiment, please. You can even have your pesto (that sensational combination of olive oil, garlic, basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese) and eat it too. Ask for it on the side so that you can enjoy a couple of tablespoons slowly and deliberately. Do not overlook the veal dishes (the Marsala, piccata, or scaloppini), which are usually quite outstanding in the finer Italian restaurants. Watch to make sure you are adhering to high-quality oils like olive oil, and learn to lemonize by ordering several lemon wedges that can help emulsify excess oil.


    Things are really simple when you go to Chinese restaurants. Just find out which dishes can be made to order and request no MSG, sugar, salt, or soy sauce. If you must, you can always add your own soy sauce at the table. If the oil is anything other than sesame or peanut oil (and there's no allergy to peanuts), then order your food steamed. I always request a stir-fry that uses chicken broth and is made from such combinations as beef, chicken, seafood, or tofu with snow peas, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, broccoli, scallions, bamboo shoots, and bok choy (Chinese cabbage).

    If you are in the Lifestyle phase and want a good vegetarian meal, try Buddha's Delight, a mix of vegetables and rice cellophane noodles that can be stir-sautéed in vegetable broth. Buddha's Delight can be modified for any Fat Flush phase by omitting the noodles. You can have tofu added to the dish with a side of steamed veggies topped off with scallions, garlic, and a bit of Chinese fivespice powder, a delightful mixture of unique spices related to cinnamon. Most of the soups offered in a Chinese restaurant are made with lots of cornstarch—including egg drop soup—so it is best to skip the soup course. On the Lifestyle Fat Flush, lo mein dishes—cellophane or mung bean noodles with some chicken, beef, shrimp, or other kinds of seafood—also might be appealing. Just remember that those oyster and black bean sauces are loaded with salt, which can result in boggy, watery tissues. Try a bit of the hot mustard, minced garlic, scallions, and even some Chinese five-spice powder instead. As for the fortune cookie—by all means have fun and open it. Read your fortune, and then leave the cookie behind. Also, try eating with chopsticks. It may help to slow you down and enhance your digestion as a result.


    You may want to select such entrées as chicken, shrimp, or beef and eat them without the tortilla unless you are on the Lifestyle Fat Flush. Look for main dishes with fish, chicken, or beef that can be prepared with onions, tomatoes, and peppers (such as Veracruz snapper), or look for dishes that can be sautéed in olive oil with a touch of garlic. If you are on the Lifestyle Fat Flush, a tasty Mexican soup (such as black bean soup) would be a great way to start your meal. If not, then how about some guacamole (loaded with the healthy monounsaturated fats) with lots of fresh lemon or lime juice? Salsa is probably your best all-over topping. Use the sour cream and cheese as condiments, with just a dollop or a few sprinkles here and there for flavor. If you are fortunate enough to locate an authentic Mexican restaurant, such foods as squash blossoms, jícama, and chayote cactus are treats for the palate. If you happen upon a restaurant on the other end of the American-Mexican food spectrum, like Tex-Mex, you can order a beef, chicken, or seafood fajita with extra vegetables, and if you are not yet in the Lifestyle Phase, eat your fajita without the corn tortilla. Be sure, as always, to watch the kind of oil that the restaurant uses to cook the fajita meat and veggies, and ask them to use as little oil as possible.

    To take back your health and reach your goals, at home or away, pick up your copy of The New Fat Flush Plan.