Advanced Plan: Carbohydrates
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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Lesson 1: Recognize if you are addicted to sugar and modify your diet accordingly.
At this advanced level, you need not be obsessive about eliminating all sugar from your diet. If sugar is the fourth or fifth ingredient in your food, that's acceptable. Many people, however, will need to avoid sugar permanently for optimal health.
Refined sugar has been found to be far more addictive than cocaine-- one of the most addictive and harmful substances currently known. Similar to drug or alcohol addiction, if you are addicted to sugar then total abstinence is required.
One tool I find very useful to help curb sugar cravings is EFT. You can use EFT to successfully treat a wide variety of emotional stresses, including the food cravings and emotional responses related to sugar and grains.
Limiting sugar, and fructose in particular, is critical to your optimal health. Eating refined sugar weakens your immune system and promotes yeast overgrowth, both of which are contributing factors to the number one killer: cancer. A weak immune system, in and of itself, is guaranteed to impair your health and promote virtually every disease known to man.
High sugar consumption can also lead to adrenal exhaustion, common symptoms of which include feeling mentally and emotionally stressed, sugar and salt cravings, moodiness, and feeling weak and lethargic.
All non-diet (regular) soft drinks have 8 teaspoons of sugar in each can. Most packaged cereals have sugar as their major ingredient. When in doubt about the sugar content of a food, look at the list of ingredients and see how many grams of carbohydrates are listed. Unless the carbohydrates are from aboveground vegetables you should be concerned that they represent sugars that could alter your insulin levels.
Remember: Fructose Turns ON Your “Fat Switch”...
Dr. Richard Johnson has done remarkable research into what makes us fat. Contrary to popular belief, too many calories and too little exercise is NOT the reason why you’re overweight. In his book, The Fat Switch, Dr. Johnson explains how the following four truths overturn current concepts:
- If you have ever struggled losing weight and keeping it off, you already know what a challenge that can be. In his new book, The Fat Switch, reveals how fructose turns your body into a fat-storage machine—not by way of excess calories but by turning on your “fat switch”
- He addresses the myth that large portions of food and too little exercise are responsible for weight gain
- Hibernating animals regulate their body weight with distinct periods of gaining and losing fat and that has been an enormously useful adaption advantage. This appears to be regulated by a switch in the mitochondria that is turned on and off by a common food that no longer provides survival advantage to humans living in contemporary society
- Contrary to the traditional view, which says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the reality is that breakfast may be one of the LEAST important meals, because skipping it may allow you to enter into a more efficient fat burning phase
Through his earlier research, Dr. Johnson discovered the method that animals use to gain fat prior to times of food scarcity, which turned out to be a powerful adaptive benefit. His research showed that fructose activates a key enzyme, fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes cells to accumulate fat. When this enzyme is blocked, fat cannot be stored in the cell. Interestingly, this is the exact same “switch” animals use to fatten up in the fall and to burn fat during the winter.
Fructose is the dietary ingredient that turns on this “switch,” causing cells to accumulate fat, both in animals and in humans!
I recommend keeping your total sugar/fructose intake below 25 grams a day, or as little as 15 grams a day if you have any health problems related to insulin resistance, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. But you can further boost your fat loss efforts by incorporating the principles of intermittent fasting, and by exercising in a fasted state.
Intermittent fasting, when you stop eating for 14-18 hours, typically after dinner, has become increasingly popular in certain circles. It has been a strategy I have been personally using for the past several months to help me lower my waist size about two inches. In fact, at times I will fast for 20-22 hours.
The theory of intermittent fasting is based on the rationale that your body stores sugar as glycogen in your liver but only stores enough for 6-8 hours. So after this time, you have consumed your glycogen store, which forces your body to metabolize the fat stored in your body. It essentially replicates what our ancestors were exposed to in terms of food availability
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Lesson 2: If you really want sugar, stevia is the best substitute.
The safest sweetener to use would be a high quality stevia. It is a natural herb originating from South America that has been used for 1,500 years, and has been shown to be very safe. It is several hundred times sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need much. Lo Han or monk fruit is another natural no calorie sweetener that can also be used.
Lesson 3: Avoid these natural sweeteners:
All of the following natural sweeteners should be avoided, as they can wreak metabolic havoc in your body:
|Corn syrup and HFCS
|White grape juice
||Brown rice syrup
Lesson 4: Increase the beneficial bacteria in your diet using fermented vegetables.
Maintaining a healthy gut flora and following sound dietary principles are the best ways, I’ve found, to promote optimal health. While a probiotic supplement was recommended in the beginner’s phase, and was still acceptable in the intermediate phase, here, I recommend slowly switching over to fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, for all your probiotics needs if you have not done so already.
Please read the previous section which more carefully reviews this topic.