A Quest for Health

I want to thank everyone who has come to my website. For nearly two years now, I have devoured information from every source possible – published medical literature, lectures, conferences, articles and books – searching for ways to achieve truly extraordinary health. There are clues everywhere in our past and present. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes are all modern diseases that were rare 100 years ago, even for those who were fortunate enough to live into old age. So much has changed – where do we begin? There is also multitude of misinformation and misinterpretation as the volume of research is enormous, leading to confusion and frustration. Why is it that one person thrives on a particular diet while another becomes ill?

Many things become clear even as the answers seem ever more complex. There is not one path for great health. There is no one prescription, no certain one food to avoid or include, no set plan – these things all depend on individual genetics, epigenetics (which is determined by the nutritional and hormonal condition of your parents, grandparents, and so on), and current health status and circumstance. It changes over time as our lives change and as we age.

That said, there are certain ingredients that promote excellent health – and they go far beyond the popular advice to “eat your fruits and veggies and exercise regularly.” Below, I will discuss some of the most important among them.

You must have a healthy metabolism – and by this I do not mean the ability to eat a lot of food and not gain weight (although that certainly is a sign of a healthy metabolism). What I mean by this is that every cell in the body is functioning at an optimum level such that cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, hormone levels, and neurotransmitters are all perfectly balanced. The appetite is matched to a healthy body fat, which is maintained effortlessly on a healthy diet. The body does not retain toxins, the immune systems fights cancer, viruses, and bacteria efficiently, and each organ in the body works optimally.

You must have an adequate supply of amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to fuel that metabolism and to provide the building blocks that all of those cells, organs, and hormones need to run properly. If any one of these is out of balance the body will struggle. Environmental toxins must be minimized or even a healthy metabolism can be overwhelmed.

You must also feed and replenish the 100 trillion organisms living in the intestines – as these bacteria work for our benefit to process and bile acids and cholesterol and produce products that support every aspect of the body including the immune system, brain and metabolism. This means the consumption of prebiotic foods of which there are many (including onions, sweet potatoes, resistant starches in baked and cooled potatoes and rice) and probiotics (sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir and probiotic supplements).

We must get adequate sunshine for the circadian rhythm, for mental heath, and for producing vitamin D, necessary for health. Of course, avoiding sunburn is important, but synthetic vitamin D3 alone will not provide the same benefits as moderate sunshine. We must get adequate restorative sleep, as this is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, pro-hormone actions that we can take and no amount of vitamin, mineral, or hormone replacement can come close to its restorative power. We must manage stress levels – stress is normal, and even healthy in appropriate amounts – but chronic, uncontrolled stress causes massive destruction to our bodies.

We must move our bodies and stimulate our muscles to grow and repair. This should be invigorating and enjoyable – less like work and more like child’s play. It should build up the body – not wear it down – and it should be sustainable throughout a lifetime.

There are also things that doctors rarely discuss. Things like maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends, faith, resiliency, and a zest for life. Numerous studies show that the longest living people in the world are more likely to have these, and it’s consistent across cultures and time.

So where do we start? How do we repair? What should we eat? How should we live? How do we repair the metabolism, restore body fat, cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure to normal levels? What do we do when the body attacks itself, as in autoimmune disease, or the hormones fail, or when cells become cancerous? These are complex questions with answers that vary for each individual. Finding these answers is my passion, and it is my hope that with these posts and through my restorative medicine clinic – due to open this summer – I can serve as a guide to gaining vibrant health.

I will go into greater detail on each of these topics in future posts.

Why sunscreen alone is not the answer

Ultraviolet light from the sun is essential to life. From it, the body can produce vitamin D, which is an essential component of the immune system, protecting against cancer, heart disease and even colds and other viruses. UV light controls the circadian rhythm, helps to stabilize mood, and can treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. So why is it that we are so afraid of the sun?

There is no question that ultraviolet light can induce damage to the skin, which can later lead to skin cancer. Although genetics and skin color certainly play a role, there are many other things that factor in to whether or not someone will develop skin cancer. The body is incredible in its ability to repair itself, and when provided with the proper antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals the immune system stays strong throughout life.

The body is designed to defend itself against ultraviolet light – we have been exposed to it for millennia. However, when the body does not have the materials that it needs to defend itself, things begin to go wrong. For most, it takes decades before the immune system is worn down and the natural defenses in the skin have dwindled such that skin cancers begin to appear. However, as our diets have become more and more processed, the incidence of skin cancer has risen dramatically and the age at which people get skin cancer continues to get younger. This is happening despite the fact that people are wearing more and more sunscreen. The rising incidence of skin cancer adds up to more than just an increase in UV exposure. It is most certainly our nutrient-poor, high toxin diets, stressful lifestyles, and lack of essential vitamins including vitamin D.

For decades now, we have been told to decrease our consumption of saturated fat and replace these with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, and margarine. Instead of butter we use fake butter spreads made with these oils and instead of coconut oil we use corn and canola oil. This was all promoted in the name of preventing heart disease. Unfortunately, not only does it not protect us from heart disease, it causes massive damage all over the body, increasing the risk of skin and internal cancers. These fats are highly processed, and once they are created, they become damaged even before we consume them. These damaged fats then travel throughout our bodies damaging organs and causing inflammation. It also causes the composition of fat in the skin cells membranes to become off balance, and these cells become less resistant to mutation and cancer.

There is hope. Replace these processed fats with healthy fat. Numerous studies show that there is no link between saturated fat and heart disease. Low cholesterol levels, however, have been associated with an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, especially in people over age 65. By nourishing the body with healthy fats instead of damaging ones, you will enjoy improved health not only in the skin, but all over the body.

Eat coconut oil (Spectrum makes an excellent flavorless organic oil), olive oil and grass-fed butter (Kerrygold or Organic Valley). Grass-fed butter is full of healthy vitamins and fats including CLA (fights cancer), vitamin K2 (builds bones – not the same as vitamin K), and beta carotene, to name a few. All of this – and these fats are delicious!

Other inflammatory foods have been associated with an increased cancer risk as well and include gluten and excessive fructose (particularly sodas, juices and foods containing corn syrup). The less inflammation you have in your body, the stronger your immune system will be and the more resistent you are to cancer and disease.

You can further improve your skin health by consuming more omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil pills have been a recent fad, but unfortunately, studies now suggest that these fragile oils may lead to more problems when consumed as a pill. Omega-3 fatty acids are best consumed from fresh fish, grass-fed beef and lamb, or high quality cod liver oil that has been refrigerated and handled with care. (for recommendations, visit the Weston A Price Foundation website at http://www.westonaprice.org/cod-liver-oil/cod-liver-oil-basics#brands). They should also be enjoyed with plenty of antioxidant-rich foods such as greens and berries, since they are fragile and easily damaged in the body.

Finally, several studies show that increasing the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in the diet leads to a reduction in skin cancer and photoaging (wrinkles and brown spots). I currently recommend supplementing with vitamins D and C (vitamin D 2000 iu per day and Vitamin C 1000 mg per day), and a high quality multivitamin (this one is pricey but good – http://www.caltonnutrition.com/nutreince.aspx) Try to get a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables daily – a recent Swedish study showed that those who eat vegetables with a generous dose of healthy fat will allow you to absorb far more nutrients that eating the vegetables alone. And no – fat won’t make you fat! Inflammatory carbohydrates will though (such as gluten and corn syrup – more on that later)

Overall, there is a lot that you can do to enhance your skin’s natural defenses – the ones that have kept you healthy all these years and that will continue to do so if you continue to support them.

Follow the skin deeper nutrition plan, exercise smart sun protection strategies such as wearing a hat, sun protective clothing, washing your summer clothes with Sunguard – a sunscreen detergent available at most drug stores, and staying in the shade when exposed to excessive sunlight. Know your own limitations and go inside when you have had enough. Wear chemical
sunscreens only for those times when you know you are at risk, and choose non-chemical and non-nanosized varieties for exposed skin during the summer months (I like Badger or go to the environmental working group website to see how your favorite sunscreen ranks in terms of safety at http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/). Get a little natural light every day – although everyone who does not work daily in the sun should supplement with vitamin D3 to help reduce your incidence of internal cancers and heart disease.

Next time we’ll talk a bit more about why you should be careful about which lotions and sunscreens you apply (they can alter your hormones including estrogen) and what you can use instead (I love Spectrum coconut oil as a moisturizer! Yes, the same one you cook with – it’s fantastic!)

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies!

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

This recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated‘s thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies. You can freeze the dough or the cookie after baked – either way it keeps beautifully!

  • 2 cups gluten free flour (see below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly (Kerrygold butter is best!)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)


1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.

4. Divide into 30 gram balls (I use a scale but you can also estimate – make them about 2 tablespoons)

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes

Gluten free flour

First, don’t get just any flour blend. You can either make your own, or buy Better Batter all purpose flour (betterbatter.org). Here is a recipe if you want to make your own. You can get these ingredients at the gluten-free section of most grocery stores.

1.5 C white rice flour

3/4 C tapioca starch

3/4 C corn starch or arrowroot powder (for those sensitive to corn like me)

1/8 C potato starch

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Mix well (whisking helps)

Quick start guide – one of the most important decisions of your life!

Congratulations! Taking the step to transform your health is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. The investments you make now to change your nutrition and lifestyle will pay you back a thousand times over. You will have more energy, be more productive, sleep better, take stressful events in stride, and generally feel better. You will shine from the inside out.

Yes, this is great for children! Your children will free wonderful, their blood sugar and therefore mood and concentration will be steady and stable throughout the day, and they will get fewer colds and flus. Give them fruit and a bit of protein in place of sugar cereals and breads for breakfast and watch them blossom (more ideas below).

First, let’s address some of the concerns you might have. When I embarked on the very same journey that you are about to begin, I looked extensively in the medical literature and consulted the experts to make sure that what I am doing and recommending is healthy. Here’s what I discovered:

1) Saturated fat from meat, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil protects your heart and body:
I worried that the saturated fat in the meats, butter, and coconut oil that I was about to eat would harm my heart or make me fat. They won’t. There is study after study debunking this myth (but it won’t seem to die!) These fats are nourishing for the body, and because they do not spike insulin or degrade into dangerous particles, they actually protect your body while providing nourishment. The rise in cholesterol that is sometimes seen is actually good cholesterol – good HDL cholesterol, and good “fluffy, large” LDL cholesterol (more on that later). Because they are satisfying and don’t spike insulin, they won’t make you gain weight.

2) Eggs – chickens don’t smoke
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about a recent study that reported that eating eggs is as unhealthy as smoking. Ha! Unfortunately, this came from the same type of study as the recent red meat study, and though it made a great media splash, experts in the field have invalidated the results. There are a few important points to take away from it, however. Not all eggs are created equally, and most of the eggs consumed today in the United States come from factory-farmed abused and stressed chickens eating unhealthy soy and corn. These eggs are lacking in nutrients and full of unhealthy fats. I would not recommend that anyone eat them.

Eggs from free roaming chickens are another story. These are a fantastic and nutritious food loaded with vitamins A, B12, choline, selenium, E, betacarotene and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain lutein and zeoxanthin – which protect the eyes and prevent macular degeneration. All of these nutrients have enhanced absorption when combined with the healthy fats in an egg yolk and no, there is not too much cholesterol in an egg. This is a myth, the body makes at least 85% of the cholesterol that you need independent of the foods you eat. These healthy eggs can be purchased at most grocery stores and though they are more expensive, they are not the same food as the 99 cent variety. Buy cage-free, preferably pasture raised eggs with confidence – your body will thank you.

3) Red meat = nutritious meat
Red meat has gotten a bad reputation lately and it’s completely unfounded. A recent study did not bother to separate out what the meat was eaten with (a hamburger and pizza were reported as red meat but the bun and crust are full of toxic gluten!), and this was only one of the many flaws in this useless study. However, red meat from grass-fed animals is full of nutrients, healthy fats including heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, B vitamins, cancer fighting CLA and more. Even conventionally raised meat is more nutritious than grains, soy and nutrient-poor vegetable and canola oil.

4) White meat – also good meat
White meat including chicken and pork are also good sources of healthy protein and fat (preferably naturally raised). These meats do contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids than red meat, but are still full of nutrients and a great choice.

5) Fish – be picky
Fish is a wonderful source of healthy protein and fats. However, please try to focus on 1) wild salmon. Wild salmon is worth the expense and farmed salmon is an inferior cousin loaded with unstable polyunsaturated fat (they eat corn!). Furthermore, they create incredible amounts of toxic waste – yuck. 2) Sardines and anchovies – great sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Be sure to get BPA-free cans (Crown Prince is BPA free) 3) Farmed tilapia and catfish are usually fine

6) Get local and or organic produce – don’t believe everything you hear
There’s a lot of buzz about organic versus non-organic produce lately. Unfortunately, the media missed the point completely. Although the nutrient content of organic produce is only 10-15% greater than organic, the pesticide content differs considerably. These chemical agents are poisons, some of which are taken up into the plant and cannot be removed. Buy what is in season from your local farmer’s market (it will save you money) and be sure to ask the person selling you the produce if it’s grown without chemicals.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, please don’t be. I’m going to simplify it.

Here’s your grocery list (available at most grocery stores – in Tallahassee – Publix, Fresh Market and New Leaf Market for more grass-fed / naturally raised items and specialty items like grass-fed cheese)

1) Kerrigold or Organic Valley butter (get a few pounds)
2) Organic Coconut oil (cooking oil section) – Nutiva for a coconut flavor, Spectrum for a neutral flavor
3) Free range / cage-free / pasture-raised (pasturized doesn’t count that’s just heated!) eggs (Country Hen is widely available – just look at the labels)
4) Meat of your choice – grass-fed and naturally-raised is preferred, but work with your budget (no processed meat except grass-fed hot dogs, naturally raised bacon, lunch meat or salami – Applegate farms is a popular brand
5) Fish – wild salmon (canned and smoked are good too), sardines, or any other fish of your choice
6) Seasonal fruit and veggies – the cheapest stuff is in season and healthiest – locally grown and/or organic is preferred but work within your budget
7) Organic sweet potato (oriental and jersey are sweetest) and organic potato – always peel both before eating / cooking
7) Nuts – eat in moderation – macademias, walnuts, pecans, pistachios
8) Gluten-free grains – white rice, rice crackers and just a few gluten-free products (made without soy or millet), rice cereal if you must (Chex and Rice Krispies are OK but NOT Special K – it has gluten!), and flours for gluten-free treats (my mix, below, contains white rice flour, brown rice flour (optional), arrowroot flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and xanthan gum – it substitutes beautifully for nearly any recipe requiring wheat flour)
9) Coconut milk if desired (homemade is tastiest but a bit time consuming)
10) A little high quality cheese if desired – I usually have a little organic cream cheese, mozzarella and cheddar

Breakfast: Breakfast is important for children, but not so much for adults. If you aren’t hungry in the morning or you are trying to lose weight, feel free to skip it. I’ll have a whole post on this soon, but I can assure you that skipping breakfast won’t hurt you. In fact, it allows your body to undergo “autophagy” or cell repair, which is a very good thing. However, if you want breakfast (or have kids like I do), here are some quick ideas.

– (boiled are easy – make a dozen and peel and eat on the go in the morning)
– scrambled, fried, poached or make an omelet with veggies, meat etc
Bacon (naturally raised is important here due to processing
– Applegate farms is a popular brand, Bradley’s is local to Tallahassee and delicious – get at New Leaf or at their store http://www.bradleyscountrystore.com/),
– Make a bunch on a couple of cookie sheets in the oven (bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until crisp). Slices can be reheated in the microwave and get crispy again!
– Combine with eggs or break into bites with avocado on top (our favorite)
Sausage (naturally raised is important)
– Fry and serve with fruit or eggs
– Whisk some eggs, put in crumbled cooked sausage and bake in the oven in a muffin pan or casserole dish for 10-15 minutes until set. You have a quick and delicious breakfast for days
Smoked salmon
– Smoked salmon with cream cheese on a rice cracker is a favorite breakfast in our house
Crepes and pancakes
– I love to make crepes from gluten free flour and coconut milk – they taste exactly the same as those with flour and you can make a bunch and please the family in the morning with a quick treat (recipe to follow). Combine with eggs or meat to get a good protein balance
Left overs
– Sometimes we eat leftovers from dinner for breakfast
– I always provide fruit with breakfast. You can eat it whole or sliced, or sometimes I do the following:
– Sugar and cinnamon apples – peeled and sliced apples cooked until soft with a sprinkle of cinnamon (the sugar comes from the apples)
– Sweet bananas – bananas fried in butter

– Lunch for me and the kids is usually left overs from dinner. I pack the lunch in a lunch box and it’s fine served at room temperature
– Grass-fed salami (I get mine at New Leaf Market), cheese and rice crackers with carrot sticks and some fruit
– Pre-made pulled pork (Nieman Ranch is great) and a half sweet potato (bake in the oven at 400 for one hour then let stay in the oven as long as overnight – peel and eat)
– Grass-fed beef bologna (I get mine from Deep Roots Meat at the Red Hills Online Market) with cheese on rice crackers, celery and a fruit

– Chicken: 1) roasted whole 2) baked thighs 3) pounded and pan-fried breast
– Beef steak: 1) Broiled 2) marinated in lime and served as fajitas with gluten free corn tortillas (preferably organic), peppers and onions 3) marinated asian style in rice wine, sugar and vinegar and gluten free soy sauce (preferably nonGMO – more on that later),
– Pork or Beef Ribs – slow cooked
– Tilapia marinated in lime x 30 minutes (makes ceviche which is “cold cooked”
– Baked salmon
– Ground Beef: 1) Burgers served with lettuce wraps 2) Meatballs with tomato sauce 3) Meatloaf 4) Taco beef served on corn chips with cheese nacho style
– Veggies with every dinner: 1) salad (various greens – lettuce, arugula, spinach), sauteed with butter and salted 2) greens (turnip, asian, beet, etc) blanched with rice vinegar and salt, 3) broccoli steamed with butter 4) asparagus brushed with olive oil and baked at 500 for ten minutes – delicious 5) collard greens slow cooked with ham hocks or bacon 6) Bok Choy – chopped, boiled for 10 minutes and then tossed with rice vinegar and salt) 7) zuccini sliced and fried in butter
– Starches: 1) potato (baked – easy – in aluminum x 1 hr at 400 then let rest, sliced and fried in butter, grated and baked in the oven with butter, etc) 2) sweet potato (baked – easy – just like the potato above), grated and cooked with butter, made into a pancake (recipe to follow) 3) Beets – baked for 1-2 hours, peeled, sliced, covered in olive oil and salt, 1/2 cup cooked rice 4) turnips sliced and fried in butter with salt

I will work on formatting this with recipes, shopping lists, and food sources, but this should get you started!

Gluten-free flour – you can use it like regular flour but without toxins! Mix a big batch and you’re good to go!
you need a food scale (I will figure out the measurements using measuring cups in another post)
* find ingredients at larger Publix and other supermarkets, healthfood stores, amazon

180 grams white rice flour (get superfine at any asian store which is cheap or order at amazon.com – more expensive, or get non-superfine which has a very subtle texture difference)
80 grams superfine brown rice flour (you can just use your white flour if you want – this is only necessary if making gluten-free bread)
145 grams arrowroot flour
85 grams tapioca starch/flour
20 grams potato starch
* xanthan gum – you will need 1/8 teaspoon per cup of flour for most recipes – I may change this for some of my recipes but it will be clearly stated

(adapted from http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/d-i-y-all-purpose-gluten-free-flour-mock-cup4cup/)

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 cup gluten free flour with 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Mix ingredients. Heat small skillet on medium heat, coat with generous amount of butter. Pour in 1/4 cup or enough to cover bottom of pan – you will need to swirl the batter to cover the bottom. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and let cook 2 minutes. Brush with butter, sprinkle with a little sugar if desired.
More to come:
1) Meals for my family along with photos, recipes, and where I got it 2) My favorite specialty items and where I got them, my favorite local farms, what I like, where to buy it and the approximate cost

Skin Deeper Nutrition Plan – Lose Fat, Feel Great, Look Younger – An ancestral approach to health

When the body is nourished with low toxin, nutrient rich foods and the heart, cardiovascular system, muscles and bones are stimulated with the type of exercise that makes them strong and healthy, the skin will respond by becoming vibrant and healthy. People often ask me which aging cream or lotion they can apply to look younger – but the answer is not in a bottle!
Skin Deeper Nutrition Plan – Replace toxins with nourishing (and delicious!) food – inspired by the ancestral way of eating
Everyone will lose unwanted fat, look younger, experience improved health and feel better! 
You should expect an improvement in your overall health – here are some of the conditions that can be dramatically improved (to name just a few):
* Inflammatory skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, folliculitis, seborrheic dermatitis
* Skin cancers and pre-skin cancers
* Autoimmune conditions including lupus, dermatomyositis, fibromyalgia, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, hypothryroidism
* High cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar
* Depression and anxiety

The first step to healing your skin and body is to remove as many toxins from your diet as possible, so that your skin and body can heal from the inside out. This is especially important for those with active skin rashes, skin cancers and pre-cancers, acne and autoimmune problems, but it will benefit those who want to improve their health overall and experience younger looking skin.

Let’s get started!

Section 1: a description of the plan

Section 2: a shopping list and sample plan

Section 3: more details, trouble shooting

Section 4: Science and research


Step 1: Aim to reduce inflammatory foods from your diet and replace them with foods that nourish and protect you from disease. Make a commitment to do this for 30 days. The more committed you are, the better your results will be.

* At the end of these guidelines you will find a complete and detailed list of foods to include in your diet, along with a sample meal plan. I will also include links to other websites where you can find recipes and advice.1. Fat: out with the bad, in with the good (it’s not what you think!)
Avoid: vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, margarine, all other “spreads” such as promise and other butter replacements
Eat instead:coconut oil (Spectrum is organic and has very little taste), olive oil, butter from grass-fed cows (Kerrigold is affordable and tasty)Hidden sources of inflammatory oils:all fried food from fast-food establishments and restaurants (make your own at home with the oils above), processed / packaged foodsWe have been told for numerous years now that butter and saturated fats are bad for us and that vegetable and seed oils are healthy when, unfortunately, the opposite is true. Study after study has proven that there is no association between saturated fat and heart disease or cancer, but, unfortunately the oils that we have been using instead are problematic. Vegetable and seed oils are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, which quickly become damaged both during processing, on the shelf and then in the body when consumed. These damaged fats are like shards of glass, wreaking havoc all over the body, including damage to the blood vessels, heart, other internal organs and yes, the skin. They can make acne, eczema, psoriasis and autoimmune diseases worse and suppress the bodies natural defense against skin cancer.

Healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil and olive oil are low in fragile omega-6 fatty acids and are instead high in healthy fats and vitamins. Coconut oil immune enhancing lauric acid, and butter contains Vitamin K2 (not to be confused with Vitamin K1 involved in clotting), which has been shown to improve and prevent degenerative bone disease. Although saturated fats have recently been demonized, they’ve been eaten in large quantities for centuries by people with little to no cancer, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. In fact, numerous papers have been published in the medical literature showing that there is no association between heart disease and saturated fat. Such fats are likely to be protective against disease. And, furthermore, adequate healthy fats in the diet helps to lead to a healthy hormone balance and help to combat dry skin and eczema.

Gray area: although nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts and pecans do have a high omega-6 fatty acid content, they do have other health promoting qualities when eaten in moderation. One handful is plenty. And remember, peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes that carry on them toxic mold (aflatoxin) that has been linked to cancer and they also contain anti-nutrients that bind to any nutrients that they contain, thus causing them to lose much of their potential nutrient value.

2. Fructose: it’s not just sugar – it’s often more like fat!

Avoid: soda, juice, candy, processed / packaged foods especially sweets, agave syrup
Eat instead: fruits and vegetables (in moderation)

Many people think of fructose as the sugar that is contained in fruits and vegetables, although in reality, fruit and vegetables actually a combination of fructose and glucose. Fructose is found in many foods including fruit, cane sugar, honey, agave, and, of course, corn where it is processed into “high fructose corn syrup”. Glucose, once absorbed, can be utilized directly by your body, but fructose, on the other hand, must first be processed by the liver. If you have not recently performed strenuous exercise (such as lifting weights or sprinting), your body will convert this fructose into triglycerides, a type of fat that circulates through the blood stream until it can be used. Unfortunately, high triglyceride levels are associated with heart disease and stroke – even more so than LDL or “bad cholesterol” (though LDL is not actually bad unless it is damaged by inflammation in the body – more on that later). These triglycerides increase inflammation and damage all over the body, including inflammatory skin conditions and skin cancer.

If you have recently performed strenuous exercise such as weight-lifting, sprinting or other high-intensity activity, the energy from the fructose will first fill up the stores of energy in your muscle and liver called glycogen. Any left over fructose that is turned into triglycerides will then be used during activity, so active people can tolerate more fructose than sedentary individuals. Still, it is best to limit your fructose consumption by avoiding processed foods, sodas and juices and instead enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables as these offer the body valuable vitamins, antioxidants and fiber that promote health.

Gray area: A small amount of sugar on occasion is fine, preferably from something that you have made yourself. Some people like a little sugar in their coffee, a little treat occasionally is fine. It’s really about moderation. Honey has the same amount of fructose as sugar, so it’s not a free pass, but honey also has some additional health benefits that make its consumption, in small quantities, potentially beneficial. Agave has a higher fructose content than sugar, so it is best avoided. Please avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame, splenda, and saccarine. These are toxic. Some people also avoid starches such as yams (also called sweet potatoes), potatoes, and beets. However, all of these vegetables, when grown in organic soil, have vital minerals and vitamins (yes – even potatoes!), so I include them in moderation.

3. Soy: a hidden toxin
Avoid: processed foods with “soy protein isolate”, tofu, soy milk, soybean oil, soy flour
Consume instead: unprocessed fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat (vegetarians, see special note below)

Hidden sources of soy:
Soy is used as a filler in many processed foods including packaged breads, cookies and sauces.
Although soy products have been consumed in Asia for several hundred years, they have traditionally been used as a condiment or a side dish in combination with nutrient rich broths, fish, and vegetables. The estrogen-like compounds in soy have can have a powerful effect on the body, altering the natural hormone balance and even leading to depressed thyroid function. In addition, soy contains a very high level of anti-nutrients, and can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies including calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc, B12 and vitamin D. Soy milk is a highly processed food that, unfortunately, can cause as many problems as the dairy that people are trying to replace. Try coconut milk instead.Gray area: Asians have traditionally consumed on average two teaspoons of soy a day in the form of fermented soy (soy sauce, tofu, natto, and tempeh.) Some people do fine with a small amount of soy – it’s best to eliminate it for 30 days then add in again to test your tolerance. Soy sauce can be replaced with “coconut aminos”, a delicious fermented salty sauce derived from coconuts. Look for it at your local health food store. In addition, “soy lecithin” is another ingredient you may encounter. It is a binder that is found usually only in trace amounts. I tend to allow this on occasion as it’s quantity is so minimal.
4. Gluten: not guten (translation – nasty stuff)
Avoid: wheat and all products containing wheat including most breads, cookies, crackers, cakes, many cereals etc; other gluten containing grains such as barley and rye; read labels – many sauces, processed foods, and cereals contain gluten
Eat instead: vegetables (corn is not a vegetable – it’s a grass), fruit, small amounts of rice and moderate amounts of gluten-free bread and crackers made with rice and starches (but NOT soy!)
Hidden Sources: Unfortunately, wheat and gluten is a hidden ingredient in “rice” cereals (such as Special K), sauces (including soy sauce), and many other prepared foods. Be sure to read labels (or better yet, don’t buy them).
Unfortunately, wheat and “whole grains” have been touted as a health food for many years now, when, in fact, the gluten and other inflammatory proteins in wheat has been a major contributor to our rapidly declining health. Numerous studies have linked gluten with autoimmune disease (where the body begins to attack itself), and gluten intolerance is now a well-known entity affecting at least 30% of people. The symptoms area many and include skin conditions including eczema and acne, and other problems including fatigue, joint pains, headache, depression, insomnia, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies including osteoporosis to name only a few. Gluten is inflammatory in the gut even for those without symptoms, and each time the immune system is occupied with cleaning up the mess that gluten has made, it is not occupied with important tasks such as repairing damaged cells that may cause skin or internal cancers or fighting off viruses and bacteria.Furthermore, even if you are not concerned about inflammation, wheat – even when whole grain – is able to induce insulin spikes that are above and beyond what is already expected of this high glycemic index food. This easily leads to weight gain, as it causes hunger and intense cravings for yet more sugary foods. This can cause worsening of diabetes as well. Finally, wheat contains very few nutrients, and even when fortified with synthetic vitamins, can lead to mineral imbalances and nutritional deficiencies, including osteoporosis.Gray area: There is really not a gray area in terms of gluten. If you are able to tolerate it without symptoms, you will have to weigh the potential health problems that it can cause with your desire to consume it. As a rare treat, it may be tolerated by some people. Grains in general do not contain many nutrients when compared to fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and fish. However, some grains do contain fewer toxins and can therefore be consumed in small quantities without causing inflammation. White rice is the safest (brown rice contains toxins and anti-nutrients which cancel out it’s potential benefits) and organic corn products if you are able to tolerate them (no signs of inflammation on the skin or body – rashes, pain, etc). I recommend eliminating other grains including oats, quinoa, and millet, etc.5. Milk: great for calves, not always great for people
Avoid: especially pasteurized non-fat and low-fat milk – all other milk for 30 days

Eat instead: coconut milk; also cream and butter from grass-fed cows is usually fine (although if you still have problems, you may need to eliminate it for a while.
Milk can be problematic for a number of reasons. First, milk causes a rise in insulin levels, which then leads to hunger, additional food consumption, and weight gain. Furthermore, even if you aren’t concerned about gaining weight, these insulin spikes can also lead to exacerbation of acne and other inflammatory skin conditions. Second, milk contains the protein casein, which can be inflammatory for a number of people, leading to heart burn, stomach cramps, and even lethargy. Lactose, which is primary sugar found in milk, can also lead to stomach cramping and diarrhea, though some people do carry the gene that allows them to digest lactose. Finally, most commercially available milk comes from cows that are constantly stressed. They are given hormones to increase milk production and antibiotics for frequent udder infections. Because milk is essentially filtered cow’s blood, the poor health of the cow is reflected in the contents of the milk, including unhealthy levels of estrogens and stress hormones are passed on to you in the milk.

Gray area: Some people who have difficulty with milk can consume yogurt, cheese and still others are able to digest milk just fine and do not notice any signs of inflammation (acne, eczema, joint pains, fatigue). However, the insulin spikes caused by milk can be problematic for anyone who is not at their ideal body weight, so keep this in mind. Still, ultimately, you may choose to add milk back into your diet. However, I would urge you to choose high quality milk, yogurt, and cheese from grass-fed cows, preferably full fat so that you can enjoy the many health benefits from the nutrients stored in those fats, including the fatty acid CLA, which is a potent anti-cancer fighter that can also help to control excess body fat.

6. Legumes (beans, lentils) – not as good as you think
Avoid: all beans, lentils, and peanuts
Eat instead: vegetables, meat, fish, eggs (if you are a vegetarian, see the special note below)

Hidden sources: Just remember – peanuts are legumes (not nuts), and the same rules apply. Except, peanuts are also known to carry toxic cancer causing molds – even more reason to limit or avoid exposure.

Beans and lentils have been touted for their health benefits, but in reality that are not particularly high in nutrients. This is because there are compounds (phytates) present in legumes that bind to most of the vitamins and minerals, making them inaccessible to the body. Furthermore, legumes can cause in inflammatory response in some people that can lead to a variety of problems. Even the fiber in legumes, which has been promoted as a healthy part of the plant, can put considerable stress on the digestive system. For this reason, legumes are best left out of the diet to leave room for more nutritious foods.

Gray area: Legumes, when properly soaked and prepared, can be consumed by many people without problems. If you are a vegetarian, you may want to keep these in your diet, though eggs from pasture-raised hens will provide a better source of complete protein. For non-vegetarians, remove these foods from the diet for 30 days then re-introduce properly prepared legumes if desired. However, keep in mind that when compared to vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, these have far fewer nutrients.

Conclusion: All of the foods above cause inflammation in the body and have the potential to suppress the immune system. This then causes skin conditions to worsen, including acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. It will also exacerbate any autoimmune conditions on the skin and elsewhere including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. To make matters worse, while the immune system is occupied inflammation, it is less likely to fight off things like HPV, which can lead to warts or worse yet, cancer. Furthermore, when it’s not doing it’s job repairing cells in the body, the resulting DNA damage then leads to cancer. I recommend avoiding as many of the toxins above for 30 days to let your body rest from the inflammation that it has been constantly combatting. Once the 30 days is up, you can add back things that you miss to see how they affect your body. Even if you do not notice a difference when you add the toxic foods back in (though most people do), I highly recommend making an anti-inflammatory diet part of your lifestyle, as you will be reducing your change of heart disease and cancer in the future. And remember, no one is perfect. Aim to eat healthy most of the time, and given yourself a break occasionally.
* A special note to vegetarians: Protein is essential to life, and getting adequate high quality complete protein on a vegetarian diet can be a challenge. Legumes may be helpful, but I still do not recommend soy. Eggs are very nutritious, but only buy high quality eggs from pasture-raised chickens. I will continue to post on this topic. 
List of approved foods
1. Good fats
 – Coconut oil
* Best: organic extra-virgin or expeller cold pressed coconut oil (look for Spectrum for neutral taste)
- Olive oil
* Best: Extra-virgin, best when used for salads or cooking on low to medium heat (though can damage your oil somewhat)
- Butter
* Best: Kerrigold or Organic Valley Pasture Butter (green label)
- Cream (if tolerated)
* Best: Organic Valley or other cream from grass-fed cows
Fruit / Vegetables
- Focus on what is in season
- Get organic or locally grown without pesticides when possible – pesticides contain many toxins and can be incorporated into the plant and cannot be washed off
- Cook vegetables with healthy fats to absorb fat soluble vitamins
- Fish
* Best: Eat wild salmon when possible – canned, fresh or frozen. Wild salmon contains many more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and far fewer harmful omeg-6 fatty acids. Other beneficial fish include mackerel  trout and sardines. Limit large fish like tune, swordfish, and shark due to mercury.
- Eggs
* Best: Be picky about your eggs. Eggs from sick chickens will may you sick. Get eggs preferably from chickens raised on pasture, free-range and/or fed organic feed. These are now available at most supermarkets. They are more expensive, but your body is worth it.
- Beef and lamb:
* Best: Though red meat has recently gotten a bad reputation, meat from animals that are grass-fed and kept free of hormones and antibiotics is one of the most nutritious food that you can consume – even more so than chicken or pork. 
- Pork and chicken
* Best: Get naturally raised and/or free range when possible
- Rice
* Best: Milled white rice is best. Although brown rice has been promoted as a health food, the bran binds the nutrients in the rice, making them unavailable to the body. Furthermore, it can be inflammatory to the gut, causing problems as mentioned above. Still, white rice in a nutrient poor food and should be eaten as an occasional treat with a nutritious meal. I do, on special occasions, use rice flour, combined with other starch flours, to make treats such as cookies and cakes (recipes to follow!)
- Corn
* Best: Corn is best avoided except on rare occasions and only if it does not cause problems for you personally (skin rashes, joint paints, fatigue, etc). When it is consumed, you should get organic, non-genetically modified (GMO) corn. A few times a month I make corn tortillas, popped corn, and eat corn chips – all nonGMO.
- Other non-gluten containing grains
* Best: I do not recommend consuming other gluten-free grains. They are nutrient-poor. Some, such as millet, suppress thryoid function, and others, such as oatmeal, can spike your blood sugar higher than expected for many hours. Still others can be inflammatory for some people. Use at your discretion.
- Wheat
* Best: It is best for most people to avoid for a long, healthy disease-free life.
Further reading:
I have received invaluable information and inspiration from the following books and websites. Please check them out!
* Coming Soon: Sample meal plans, recipes, books and links, research summaries and links, children and optimal nutrition, sun and sunscreen, washes and lotions, acne, eczema, psoriasis, optimal exercise for healthy skin and body, plastics, water safety