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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Introduction
Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Level 1
Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Level 2

Carbohydrates: What Are the Best Healthy Carb Choices?

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In the first part of this nutrition plan, I said that you should limit your net carbs to 40 to 50 grams per day, primarily from whole foods. Net carbs are the total grams of carbs minus the grams of fiber while also loading up on healthy fats.

If you have been limiting your net carbs to this level – or lower – for some time, and your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels have normalized, you can increase your carb consumption slowly as long as you do so with healthy whole foods.

Only Eat High-Quality Vegetables

Again, high-quality vegetables should make up the bulk of your carbohydrates intake. At this level, you should ideally strive to eat only locally grown, organic vegetables.

By choosing organic varieties, you can ensure that you’re getting more nutrients. It’s been scientifically proven that organic vegetables have two to five times more essential nutrients than non-organic varieties. Additionally, you will have less exposure to dangerous herbicides and pesticides. Another benefit of eating fresh organic vegetables: they taste much better!

Out With the Grains: Opt for Organic Psyllium Instead

You should also drastically cut back on your grain intake. While many people rely on grains for fiber, remember that even whole grains can raise your insulin and leptin levels, a driving factor in most chronic diseases. Grains have been linked to a host of health conditions, such as gluten sensitivity, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and autism. Grains may also worsen symptoms such as brain fog, skin rashes, fatigue, joint pain, and allergies.

Digestive ailments (bloating, gas, and abdominal cramps) have been linked to grain consumption, as the gliadin and lectins found in grains and legumes may increase intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome. If you are harboring pathogenic microbes, the fiber in grains can serve as “food” for them, worsening your ailments. 

Instead of relying on grains as your source of fiber, opt for increasing low net carb vegetables. You can also use organic psyllium which has no net carbs and only fiber. Psyllium can give you as much as 18 grams of dietary fiber (if taken three times a day) and bring you closer to my recommended 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. Psyllium also works as prebiotics that nourish your good bacteria and help ensure the absorption and proper digestion of your food.

However, make sure you choose high-quality organic psyllium, as many psyllium brands today are loaded with contaminated pesticides, use synthetic or semi-synthetic active ingredients that do not contain psyllium, and may be even loaded with hidden sugars, artificial sweeteners, and other additives.

An additional caution with psyllium is that it can bind with nutrients or medications and can create a crisis if there is any chance of impaction or obstruction. So be careful using it if these are challenges for you.

Retrain Your Body’s Desire for Sweets

Table sugar is sucrose which is actually glucose and fructose.  Metabolically fructose is particularly pernicious and should be avoided.  This includes sugars such as turbinado and coconut sugar. Another name for fructose is fruit sugar, and as long as you keep your total fructose intake below 25 grams per day from fruit, you should be fine. Some sweeteners, such as agave nectar, are perceived as healthy but actually much higher in fructose than table sugar and worse for your health.

Cut Your Ties to Processed Foods

The sad reality is that 90 percent of the calories most Americans consumed are from processed foods. Even worse, studies in 2016 showed that 60 percent of calories consumed are from ULTRA processed foods. This means that nearly two-thirds of the food Americans eat can be purchased at your local gas station.

So, in addition to removing grain carbohydrates, which are metabolized into glucose in your body, it’s time to remove all processed foods from your diet as well. Processed foods are loaded with refined sugar, which your body will keep on burning as fuel, preventing you from making the switch to using fat as fuel instead.  They also frequently contain trans fats—the most pernicious and deadly form of fat—and high levels of net carbs and are devoid of important accessory nutrients.

Increase Your Intake of Fermented Vegetables

In Level 1, I recommended that you consume a small portion of fermented foods, as little as one teaspoon of fermented vegetables, with every meal. It may seem like a small amount, but it will have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health.

Now, at this level, you should increase this amount gradually, aiming for one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables with every meal. Do not be tempted to start off with a large amount, though, as too large a portion may provoke a healing crisis. This occurs when the good bacteria kill off pathogens in your gut, which then release potent toxins. Adjust your portions gradually and listen to your body.

Fermented vegetables offer a host of benefits, but remember that variety is important, in order to inoculate your gut with a mix of different species of microorganisms. So aside from cultured vegetables, try these other fermented foods:

  • Chutneys
  • Fish, such as mackerel and Swedish gravlax
  • Natto
  • Tempeh

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