Advanced Plan: Beverages
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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
It's now time to eliminate all beverages except water (breast milk for infants). Water is definitely the only beverage you should have at this level. To achieve this, follow the lessons below.
Lesson 1: Juicing—Ideally drink fresh raw green juice several days a week, if not daily.
Cooking and processing food destroys important micronutrients by altering their shape and chemical composition. In this advanced nutritional level, you avoid all processed foods and eat only organic vegetables and fruits, high quality fats, and organic grass-fed meats and animal products, unless not otherwise possible.
Please read the previous section which more carefully reviews this topic
Lesson 2: Eliminate coffee, or At Minimum, Heed these Guidelines to Reap its Therapeutic Benefits.
As a general rule, I recommend eliminating coffee altogether, however there may be some exceptions to this rule. In terms of health effects, there’s research backing up both its harmful effects as well as its health benefits. After careful review, I believe high quality organic coffee can have certain therapeutic benefits IF the following guidelines are adhered to:
- Organic: Most coffee produced today is heavily contaminated with pesticides. It's actually one of the most heavily sprayed crops grown. So, any coffee you consume should be organic, pesticide-free coffee.
- Whole bean: You'll want to purchase coffee in whole bean form and then grind it yourself to prevent rancidity. Pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you drink it.
- Fresh: The coffee should smell and taste fresh, not stale. If your coffee does not have a pleasant aroma, it is likely rancid and poor quality.
- Dark roast: It's often the case that foods with the darkest pigments also offer the most robust benefits to health, and dark roast coffee, such as French Roast or that used to make espresso or Turkish coffee, may be no exception. Research in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that dark roast coffee restored blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione more effectively than light roast coffee. The dark roast also led to a significant body weight reduction in pre-obese volunteers, whereas the light roast did not.
- Black: Drink your coffee black, without sugar or cream. Add sugar and you'll certainly ruin any of the benefits discussed above by spiking your insulin levels and causing insulin resistance.
Further, if you use a "drip" coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones, which most people use, are chlorine bleached and some of this chlorine will be extracted from the filter during the brewing process. They are also full of dangerous disinfection byproducts like dioxin.
There’s actually reason to believe that coffee could help curb your sugar cravings, so if you are struggling with food changes, you can leave coffee at the bottom of the list. One of the reasons why you get addicted to a food is because your brain has opioid receptors. They're part of a primordial reward system that helps you detect, select and enjoy eating fresh foods over rancid ones. Today, however, we live in a world of plenty, surrounded by processed foods that are typically loaded with sugar, which has led our addictive opioid receptors to become addicted to the wrong foods.
Well, coffee is an opioid receptor antagonist, meaning caffeine can bind to your opioid receptors, occupy them and essentially prohibit you from being addicted to something else. This may attenuate the addictive impact of another substance, such as sugar. So, coffee could conceivably be a viable aid in ridding yourself of sugar addiction. In order for this to work, you must drink your coffee black. Drink it on an empty stomach and, gradually, your sugar cravings should dissipate.
Recent research has also shown that coffee, which can trigger glutamate reuptake inhibition, ALSO triggers a mechanism in your brain that releases a growth factor called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons. BDNF also expresses itself in your muscles. It does this by supporting the neuromotor, which is the most critical element in your muscle. Without the neuromotor, your muscle is like an engine without ignition… Neuro-motor degradation is part of the process that explains age-related muscle atrophy. So in this respect caffeine may also help keep your muscle tissue young.
In order to use coffee therapeutically for this purpose, have just one cup of coffee or one shot of espresso in the morning or before training, and that's it for the day. If you exercise in the morning, have your coffee prior to your workout, not after.
That said, I still believe quitting coffee should be one of your goals. Coffee should never be consumed if you are pregnant, or have high blood pressure, insomnia or anxiety.
Lesson 3: Eliminate all forms of alcohol, beer, and hard liquor.
While moderate wine consumption -- one to two glasses of red wine per day -- can have certain health benefits, all alcohol use impairs driving performance, and can pose significant health and safety risks. It is well established that alcohol is a neurotoxin, which means it can poison your brain. I don't normally recommend it for most people.
I believe alcohol should be reserved for people who are at no risk of alcohol addiction, and have already achieved optimal wellness and therefore have their carbohydrates (sugars and grains) under control, as alcohol -- even wine -- will increase your insulin levels.
Beer in particular should be eliminated entirely if you have high uric acid levels. The yeast and all that’s used to make beer work together to make beer a powerful uric acid trigger.
The classic “beer belly syndrome,” is quite similar to metabolic syndrome, and includes abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia (high triglycerides), high blood pressure, and even insulin resistance. So beer consumption is also something to definitely consider when you’re watching your weight and trying to improve your health. The ideal range for uric acid lies between 3 to 5.5 mg per dl. Above this range your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and kidney disease correlate quite well.
Lesson 4: Eliminate fruit juices, sports drinks and energy drinks.
Store-bought fruit juices are frequently contaminated with mold and should be avoided. They also contain a large amount of refined carbohydrates. Each 12-ounce glass of juice has about the same amount of sugar (8 teaspoons) as a 12-ounce soda, even if no sugar is added.
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, must also be avoided as one of their main ingredients is high-fructose corn syrup.
Energy drinks can also contain huge amounts of caffeine -- as much as 300 milligrams in a single serving. (For comparison, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits caffeine in food and beverages to 65 mg per serving. Energy drinks, however, are not regulated by the FDA.)