Health is a matter of balance, and the foods that we choose have a great impact on our health. When we consume a diet high in fat, processed foods, sugar, and protein—also known as the standard American diet (SAD) — our bodies become more acidic and less resilient. When we enjoy a diet rich in greens, plants, fruits, vegetables, minerals, and antioxidants, our cells become more alkaline, and more resistant to everyday stress. Just a slight shift in either direction can have a dramatic impact on our health—for better or worse.
Here are the first six of the Top Twelve Tips from DrJ that will help you add years to life and life to years:
1. Eat a wide variety of fresh, high quality whole foods
Your physiology is like a symphony. To keep all the instruments playing together in harmony, your body needs vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins which all occur naturally in different foods. In whole foods nature provides the complement of needed cofactors for a particular nutrient to be best absorbed and utilized in the body. Healthier people eat many different, nutrient-rich foods daily. Japan has one of the healthiest populations on Earth, and they follow the popular adage to eat at least 40 different foods in a day. Following the wisdom of cuisines that help people live well and long around the world—including the traditional Greek Mediterranean and traditional Japanese diets, my primary advice is to enjoy a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods that have been prepared in a wide variety of healthy ways.
2. Choose organic/biodynamic and GMO-free whenever possible
Glyphosate is a weed killer that is also sprayed on crops to dry them out before harvest. In soil, glyphosate remains persistent, with 50% still being present after 140 days, and measurable amounts still being detected (and taken up by plants) two years after application! Glyphosate is now one of the most ubiquitous chemicals on the planet—a 2016 research study detected it in 70 percent of a sampling of Southern California residents and those numbers continue to increase. The state of California has listed glyphosate as a cancer-causing agent but has not banned its use.
Glyphosate is used heavily on many conventional staple crops such as soy, wheat, corn, oats, and rice; in fact, some strains were genetically modified (GMO) to be “Roundup®-ready,” meaning they would not be killed by the application of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). Unfortunately glyphosate is just one of the big 5 pesticides being used in agriculture, with the others being Atrazine, Chlorpyrifos, Metolachlor, and Metam sodium. Incorporating toxic chemicals in the food supply raises many questions about their effects on long-term personal and environmental health. Prioritizing nature, nurture, and wholeness means going back to genetically unmanipulated food from heritage or heirloom sources that have been grown organically or biodynamically. Biodynamic farmers constantly enrich the soil, feed the crops with needed nutrients, and treat their farm as a complete ecosystem.
Organic should be the minimum standard you accept for the foods you consume. Biodynamic is much better. Even if your produce is organic or biodynamic, be sure to wash it well before consuming. Check out the EWG’s 2022 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ to help you reduce exposure to toxic pesticides.
DrJ recently sat down with Dr. Robert Lustig and EWG Board member Karen Malkin to discuss making informed food choices. Learn more about the speakers and watch the webinar here.
3. Choose 80% alkaline-forming foods to regain health; 60% to maintain it
Select predominately alkaline-forming foods when you prepare your meals. If you are already in good health, we recommend eating at least 60% alkaline-forming foods. If your immune system is compromised or reacting to something, or your health needs to be restored in any way, we suggest an 80% alkalinizing diet to help calm your immune system and support digestion.
Refer to the Acid/Alkaline Food chart to learn about acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods. Those foods that are alkalinizing and that you most enjoy will become the cornerstones of your shopping lists—the staples of your personal healthy eating plan.
4. Choose immune system-friendly foods
Avoid any foods to which your immune system reacts. We recommend LRA delayed allergy testing to determine whether your immune system is being burdened by any low-level allergies to foods or environmental chemicals.
Use your list of reactive foods and chemicals to limit future exposure. Most overweight people lose weight effortlessly (even if they eat more calories) and enhance metabolism when they substitute nonreactive foods for those that cause them reactions and eat using the principles of Nature’s pHarmacy®. Conversely, many underweight people gain healthy weight, because protein synthesis and repair are enhanced through a health-promoting diet.
5. Eat a healthy ratio of complex carbs to proteins to healthy fats
Eat 60-70% whole food (plant-based) complex carbohydrates; 15-20% protein; 15-20% healthy fat (including plenty of omega-3 fats). Unless your health care practitioner instructs you differently, your Nature’s pHarmacy® eating plan should be rich in complex carbohydrates from vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans, peas and lentils), as well as seasonings, spices, and herbs. These should comprise about 60-70% of your food intake.
Proteins should be approximately 15-20% of your total calorie intake. Approximately 50 to 60 grams of protein per day is a good amount for most people. Sources of protein may include organic eggs and dairy products, as well as deep cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines, tuna, herring, and salmon. Additional protein sources include nuts and seeds, sprouts, nutritional yeast, blue-green algae, miso, and mushrooms. Protein requirements may be higher if you are pregnant, recovering from chronic illness, exercise intensively, or have other specific needs. Be sure to work with your health care practitioner if you have special circumstances.
Fat should be 15-20% of your daily calories. Be sure to focus on healthy omega-3 essential fats, which enhance your body’s energy production, protein production, and tissue repair. Food-based sources of protective omega-3 essential fats are found in fresh nuts and seeds as well as cold-pressed organic oils such as avocados, olive oil, safflower, flaxseed, walnut, sesame, peanut, and pure deep-sea fish oils. Other sources include borage, black currant, grapeseed and evening primrose oils, and Udo’s oil™. Unless you eat line-caught, oily, deep-water fish more than three times per week, omega-3 supplements are recommended. When selecting omega 3 supplements ensure they are obtained from uncontaminated sources and are not contaminated or oxidized during processing.
6. Consume only quality salts, fats and sugars
For optimum health, be discerning about the salt, fat, and sugar that you buy and consume. Instead of traditional table salt, choose Celtic Sea Salt®, comprised of 13 percent trace minerals, including the essentials that are hard to get elsewhere; in comparison, other sea salts are only one or two percent trace minerals. The quality of your pepper matters, too. Piperine is the active part of black peppercorns, and it is only present in freshly ground pepper. Piperine increases the uptake of nutrients in food, particularly the curcumin released when turmeric is heated (think curry). The catch is that once a peppercorn is ground up, the piperine only lasts a short time, so you want to invest in a good quality pepper grinder for your organic peppercorns.
When it comes to fats, you want to get them from nuts, seeds, and sprouts, and forego edible oils. The oils that are pressed from vegetable seeds (including olive, canola, coconut, and sunflower) go rancid quickly. To hide that fact, oil manufacturers use chemicals to mask the sharp rancid taste. This means foregoing salad dressings and any foods that are fried, crisped, or chipped, as they are all cooked in oxygen-damaged edible oils. And the heating process degrades the oils while harming digestion even further! Instead of cooking with oil, use broth, wine, or juice. Or use a slow cooker, pressure cooker, Dutch oven, or tagine. Grilling is fine so long as you don’t go for a heavy char, as the blackened bits on food that is grilled are a source of carcinogenic monoamines. If you love crispy foods, using an air fryer is a healthier option.
Processed sugar provides empty calories that make you gain weight, crave more sugar, cultivate a bigger population of unhealthy gut bacteria, and sleep poorly. You are free to enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and berries that are in season (and grown organically or biodynamically), because the fiber in fruits slows sugar uptake into the body and improves digestion.
Stay tuned for Principles 7-12 in Part 2 of “Twelve Nature’s pHarmacy® Principles to Eat By” coming the week after Thanksgiving.