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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
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Carbohydrates: Determining Your Ideal Carb Intake

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Limiting net carbs will be a very important part of the plan.  Net carbs are defined as total carbs minus fiber. This is NOT a low TOTAL carb diet, but a low NET carb diet.  You require large amounts of fiber carbs in your diet for two primary reasons.

The fiber is used as a prebiotic for your beneficial bacteria, and most of the fiber is converted to short chain fats that can be used as fuel for your cells in place of sugar.

Most people are burning carbs as their primary fuel. The problem with this is that carbs do not burn as cleanly as fat and produce 30 to 40 percent more free radicals than fat. These free radicals damage important cellular structures, such as your mitochondrial DNA, cell membranes, and proteins like the mitochondrial electron transport chain.

The goal of this program is to eventually radically limit your intake of net carbs to under 40 to 50 grams per day and replace them with healthy fats, as this will transition your body into primarily burning fat for fuel and radically reduce your risk for most chronic diseases.

Let Your Insulin Levels Determine Your Carb Intake

To know where you stand on your fitness journey, check your insulin levels via a fasting blood insulin test — this is a blood test that your doctor can order for you. The standard normal range for fasting insulin levels is below 5, but my personal recommendation is a level lower than 3.

The main role of insulin is to regulate your body’s blood sugar levels. It’s “activated” when you eat foods high in net carbs. High fasting insulin levels, combined with eating a diet high in processed food and excessive protein, often lead to insulin resistance.

If your insulin level test result is below 3, then your carbohydrate consumption may be ideal for you. However, if your levels are higher, then you must scale back or completely eliminate grain carbohydrates and sugars from your diet. The higher your insulin levels are, the fewer carbohydrates you should eat.

Unless your fasting insulin is below 5, avoid carbs like beans, legumes, and grains such as rice, quinoa, and oats in this phase. Highly-processed grain products like bread, pasta, cereal, chips, bagels, and fries, are also a big no-no. These foods can not only drive your insulin levels up, but increase your chances of becoming leptin resistant, which interferes with your ability to lose weight.

Apart from carbohydrates, limit your fructose consumption to less than 25 grams a day. If you’re already insulin or leptin resistant, lower this to 15 grams per day.

Eat the Best Vegetables

After radically reducing your carbohydrate consumption, switch the bulk of your diet to fresh, organic raw vegetables. These are good carbohydrate sources that can improve your health, as they can shield you from various diseases and provide your cells and tissues with bioavailable vitamins, nutrients, and minerals.

However, not all vegetables are nutritionally equal, and variety is key to keeping your nutrient intake balanced. To help you make the best choices in vegetables and, check out my list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables.

Most people don’t realize that how you prepare your food matters, especially for vegetables. Cooking or exposing vegetables to extreme temperatures can strip them of nutrients, so I urge you to consume your vegetables mostly in their whole raw form.

Why I Recommend Fermented Foods

Aside from eating your vegetables as fresh as possible, fermenting them can yield significant benefits as well. Fermented foods are potent chelators or detoxifiers that work wonders on your gut flora. They are also very rich sources of probiotics – or good bacteria. This can be better for you than a supplement.

Preparing fermented vegetables isn’t difficult, as long as you have the basic equipment, such as:

Food processor with a shredding disc Canning jars (wide-mouthed, 32-ounce Mason jars will do)
Juicer Krautpounder (a solid wood tool that resembles a small baseball bat to pack the vegetables into the jar)
Sharp knives

Large cutting board and bowl

Incorporate a starter culture into the mix to add nutrients and speed up the fermentation process. You’ll get more consistent results this way, too. This video demonstrates how to make fermented vegetables using my Kinetic Culture.

Note: If, for some reason, you cannot tolerate or obtain fermented vegetables, you can take a probiotic supplement instead to improve your gut microbiome. I’ll be discussing this more later.

The Joys of Juicing

Another way to consume more vegetables is by juicing them. This works for people who find it challenging to eat raw vegetables in their whole form. Vegetable juice in itself is a “living broth” with various vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, so it’s easily digested.

Juicing also retains the live nutrients in vegetables, and is known to provide better nutrient absorption, enhance the immune system, promote brain health, increase energy levels, and help deliver structured water (I’ll be discussing structured water in the beverage section of this plan).

Remember, though, that unless you consume or include the pulp, you will be eliminating the fiber from the vegetables, so vegetable juicing may not be an ideal sole replacement for non-fiber foods, and you may still need to add an arsenal of vegetables to your meals.

Store your vegetable juice in a Mason jar and fill it all the way to the brim to minimize air space, or use a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to seal the jar. Keep the juice refrigerated and drink it promptly to avoid the risk of botulism. Fresh juice will also better retain the taste and the nutrients of the vegetables.

Storing the juice for a long time can lead to methanol build-up. Although fresh veggies have methanol in them, they’re attached to a soluble fiber, pectin, which carries methanol out of your system.

For top-notch vegetable juice, use a juice extractor or juicer, not a blender. There are three good options: centrifugal juicers, masticating juicers, and grind-and-press. I prefer auger or masticating juicers, which work by “chewing” the vegetables and pushing them through a strainer.

Masticating juicers give you more juice (20 to 25 percent), but with less heat and noise. These juicers are also easier to clean and assemble. They’re slightly more expensive, but they are one of the best investments you can make for your health.

The Health Benefits of Sprouts

Sprouts prove that great things come in small packages. 

Sprouts are plants that have just sprung from their seeds. Compared to their mature versions, they have 20 times more vitamins and 100 times more enzymes, yielding higher vitamin and enzyme content. Sprouts also have essential fatty acids, fiber, protein, and minerals like calcium and magnesium.

While there are many types of sprouts, my personal favorites are sunflower seed and pea sprouts. These two are 30 times more nutrient dense than organic vegetables, and have high amounts of protein. You can add them to your next batch of vegetable juice or use them as a salad garnish.

Sprouts are easy to grow at home, even with limited space. They grow quickly — in just a week you can harvest your first crop! All you need are seeds, a flat tray with drainage (10x10-inch will do), and good-quality soil (one with compost is very ideal). To learn how to grow sprouts, check out the step-by-step methods from Raw Foods-LivingFoods.com or Organic Authority.

Gardening Is Great

For a steady supply of fresh vegetables, minus pesticides and herbicides, I recommend that you start your own garden. In the long run, growing your own produce will benefit both your health and your wallet.

During World War 2, Americans had Victory Gardens where they grew fresh produce at home. Many foods were rationed by the government, and with labor and transportation shortages, there was a call for Americans to grow their own food.

A bountiful vegetable garden isn’t defined by the amount of space you have. In fact, even if you live in an apartment or small space, you can easily grow at least some of your own produce. As I mentioned, sprouts are one of the easiest, but you can also grow these vegetables:

Spinach Carrots Edible flowers like nasturtium
Loose-leaf lettuce Cherry tomatoes Herbs like basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, thyme, and dill
Kale Cucumbers  
Rainbow chard Peas  

Subtract Sweeteners From Your Diet

I have previously warned that sugar and fructose can wreak havoc on your health, but the good news is there are safe sweeteners you can turn to. In this phase, you can opt for safe sweeteners like raw honey, rice syrup, beet sugar, maple syrup, molasses, or even Stevia, and consume them in moderation. Sucanat and dextrose (pure glucose) are other valid choices, but should be eaten only occasionally.

Meanwhile, avoid ALL artificial sweeteners — none of them are safe for you and they cannot help with weight loss. Artificial sweeteners activate the hormones dopamine (which activates the brain’s reward center) and leptin, which sends signals to your body that you’re “full.”

Artificial sweeteners, and most sugar alcohols with the exception of moderate amounts of xylitol, don’t have calories, so they trick your body into thinking that it’ll receive sugar (calories), but because the sugar doesn’t arrive, the body ends up sending more signals, resulting in more carbohydrate cravings.

Worsened insulin sensitivity and brain function, and increased risks for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease are some of the severe effects of artificial sweeteners. Steer clear of products that contain aspartame in particular, as it’s known to be the worst of all artificial sweeteners today.

Apart from artificial sweeteners, avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG), an excitotoxin added to processed food products, chips, and meats. Despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s claims that there are no side effects linked to MSG, studies have found that this this additive may lead to obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue, depression, and rapid heartbeat.  Be careful as MSG is included in many processed foods like hydrolyzed vegetable protein.Subtract Sweeteners

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