Ahava Health

Hair Mineral Analysis

and Nutritional Balancing

Sheila Dobson

Nutrition Consultant

Healing Diet Guidelines

Diet Guide For Nutritional Balancing Plans

This is a longer article in three parts, covering most of the basics about how to devise an individualized healing diet.

Sheila Dobson, NC
December, 2023

  1. Introduction
  2. Foods To Avoid
  3. Foods We Emphasize and Why
  4. Foods To Limit Or Avoid Based On Individual Needs
  1. Food Quality And Portion Sizes
  1. Food Combining And Preparation
  2. Other Concepts


PART 1 – Introduction, Rationale, What To Avoid, What To Eat and Foods That Must Often Be Limited Or Avoided On a Healing Diet

1. Introduction

These are guidelines for a general healing diet that should be adapted to meet individual needs. Food, even though it nourishes us, can be a source of stress on the body. A healing diet reduces stress on the body and provides nutrients and health promoting resources to help us heal.

The diet should be modified based on individual needs and so no two individuals following this guide will have exactly the same diet.

To get the greatest benefit from a Nutritional Balancing supplement plan we need to be on a healing diet with excellent nutrient intake. The two most common problems encountered on Nutritional Balancing healing plans are that the body’s attempts to heal are thwarted by either inappropriate diet or inadequate rest and sleep.

These guidelines are based on my experience with clients over 11 years of work as a Nutritional Balancing practitioner. Incorporated are many principles taught by my mentor Dr. Larry Wilson MD, with whom I worked for over a decade. I also rely on experts such as Dr. Weston A. Price, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, Sally Fallon PhD, Dr. William Davis MD, Dr. David Perlmutter MD, Dr. Stephen Sinatra MD, and others.

This article is divided into three parts. In Part 1, I will cover the rationale behind these guidelines, answering questions like, why should most people eat mainly meat and vegetables and very little grains, fruit, nuts and seeds? In the second part, I’ll discuss the details of the diet – for example how does one choose high quality foods and avoid toxins, and what are appropriate portion sizes for the various foods. In Part 3, we will look at ancillary aspects of diet such as food combining and preparation and how food affects our bodies in ways we often don’t think about.


Certain aspects of this diet will be roughly the same for everyone – for example everyone is recommended to avoid wheat and unhealthy oils commonly used in both commercial and home cooking. Everyone needs adequate amounts of protein foods and needs to avoid certain unhealthy foods.

The differences in diet for different individuals will often be which food categories are included and which are avoided by a person. Some people will eat almost exclusively meat and vegetables – the two main food categories emphasized on this diet, while others will also include other foods like dairy, grains, nuts and seeds, and maybe even some fruit.

If the ideal diet for you is a long way from where you are starting, you can approach change in whichever way seems most do-able to you. Some people are better off making a rapid, complete change to a healthier diet – including getting all unhealthy foods out of the house. Other people need to go slowly. Dietary change is life-changing, and so if you are starting from a place of needing to make major changes it is usually best to go in stages.

More Serious Illness Requires A More Restrictive Diet, Usually

Beyond what foods are included in an individual’s diet, is the matter of how strict someone needs to be in adherence to their diet. When health problems are more serious, the degree of adherence to the healing diet should be as close to 100% as possible. “Cheating,” can be a real problem if you are facing serious health concerns because it may result in autoimmune tissue destruction, or it may promote growth of cancerous tissues, or it can just make you feel terrible.

Those with the most serious issues usually need a more restricted diet as well as more faithful adherence to the healing diet. Fortunately this often will be temporary because as healing takes place, more foods become tolerated or at least they cease to do such serious harm so that very occasional treats may be allowed. This tends to be most important for children, but even some adults on strict diets need to know that occasional treats are allowed.

Homeopathy provides a good guide for judging how serious a given person’s health concerns are. Homeopaths designate illnesses as being more or less “deeply rooted.” The superficial level of our bodies is the skin and the deepest level is the nervous system. Skin ailments therefore are considered superficial and thus less deeply rooted, than conditions affecting deeper layers of the body – for example a urinary tract infection.

Using the above example, if a urinary tract infection is not eliminated by the body it may progress to become a kidney infection. This is exactly how many illnesses go from superficial in early stages to more severe when the body doesn’t have the vitality to fully eliminate the infection or toxin that causes the illness.

As a rule, “suppressive” therapies such as prescription anti-inflammatory drugs for itching, or antibiotics for infections tend to drive illnesses deeper into the body. Thus, a child with eczema who is routinely administered a corticosteroid crème to control itching, will, over time, develop deeper rooted problems — perhaps leaky-gut and food allergies or maybe depression or attention deficit disorder.

An example of an illness that is more deeply rooted than a kidney infection would be tuberculosis. TB can be potentially quite serious. More serious or deep rooted than even TB would be illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus – this is due to the level of the body affected; in these autoimmune illnesses the immune system is not working correctly.

The most severe illnesses are those that affect the nervous system and brain – for example schizophrenia, suicidal depression or cancer of the brain or spinal cord. These are among the most deep rooted health problems a person can have (Vithoulkas, 1980).

Based on these ideas, might find it helpful to think of a person as falling somewhere on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of their degree of illness or health. Someone who is perfectly healthy would be assigned a health of “5.” And 0 would be a state of being deceased. Someone who has only mild problems that affect their skin would score a “4” whereaas those who have an illness that affects the brain and nervous system – like Alzheimer’s or a brain tumor would score a “1.” This is useful from the standpoint of grasping how careful a person needs to be with their diet in order to address their body’s need for a clean, healthy nourishing diet.

About Natural Healing

One significant concern to bear in mind is that sometimes a person might have a deeply rooted, severe illness, and not know it. As a general rule, faithfully following a Nutritional Balancing plan will gradually bring up latent conditions to the surface. We call this “retracing” – a process in which the deeply rooted concerns are brought up for healing because the body now has the energy and resources to address them. Mental and emotional ailments as well as physical ones are subject to this process called retracing.

The concept of retracing is related to that of the “healing crisis.” A healing crisis is a flare up of symptoms, often just like ones that had occurred in the past, which show up usually in a milder or perhaps in a somewhat altered way when the body is ready to eliminate them. A healing crisis is a sign that the body is healing, usually by eliminating infections or toxins or both.

Healing crises can be mild or more severe. Usually they are no big deal but it is important to be prepared for them to occur. My mentor, Dr. Larry Wilson taught that all true forms of healing as opposed to symptom suppression, involve healing crises and retracing. This is because symptoms are the body’s way of responding to illness or insult – they are evidence of the body’s powerful healing capacity. You might say that symptoms are healing in action.

We do want to use caution in placing individuals on healing plans that are powerful enough to cause retracing because of the fact that retracing can be unpredictable at times. It can also be somewhat demanding in the sense that a person may feel very unwell for a longer period of time if the health concerns are more serious.

Other factors to consider when devising a healing diet for an individual are: digestive and other symptoms, food intolerances, food likes and dislikes, how different types of diets and foods “feel” for the person, metabolic rate or type (fast or slow oxidizer) and others. Of course we also consider factors such as blood sugar instability, high cholesterol, obesity, cancer history, and much more.

Because of the effort involved in preparing real food, particularly vegetables, this diet can be somewhat demanding but it is well worth it for the health benefits. There are strategies that can be used to reduce the time it takes to prepare meals, so don’t despair – your whole life will not be spent in the kitchen!

If a healing diet is a new endeavor for you, or if thinking about dietary change is daunting – try to step back from any overwhelm and relax. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Wanting true healing rather than remedies aimed at symptoms means you are starting with an empowered perspective that will get you improvements. The key is to go at a pace that works for you, and to change tactics if the approach you try at first is not successful.

Now let’s look at a big picture overview of the healing diet.

Diet Overview

The diet emphasizes eating:
• Whole foods (as opposed to processed foods)
• The highest quality foods one can obtain
• Ample animal protein foods
• Most carbohydrates from vegetables (not grains)
• Ample amounts of healthy fats especially animal fats
• Only small amounts of starches and only if appropriate

The diet includes small amounts of the following foods if a person can tolerate them, and their health concerns are milder / more superficial:
• fruits
• nuts and seeds
• raw food
• grains

The diet excludes:
• processed foods
• wheat
• sweets and sugar

2. Foods To Avoid

Processed Foods

Processed foods are essentially the opposite of whole foods. Virtually all processed foods must be avoided if you truly wish to heal. A mountain of literature proves this, so I will not bother to cite sources. A great book on the topic is Metabolical by Robert Lustig (2021, Harper Collins).

Processed foods usually come in a box, can or bag and have been modified in any number of ways. Many processed foods have more than one or two ingredients, but they don’t have to. Most of them contain additives that preserve, color, add flavor or modify the food.

Most prepared and packaged foods such as soups, sauces, condiments, snacks and convenience foods are processed foods. Often even canned vegetables and meats, bakery items and frozen prepared foods must be considered processed. While there are better and worse processed foods, as a rule these foods are damaging to our bodies.

Unfortunately bread is a food that is damaging not only because it is almost always a processed food, but for other reasons that will be covered shortly. Examples are most hamburger and hotdog buns, bagels, dinner rolls, croissants, and the like. They masquerade as healthy foods so we think we are eating healthfully when we choose these foods. Unless you make it yourself of buy it from those few rare bakeries that make it in a traditional way most bread is extremely damaging and unhealthful because of how it is made and not just because wheat is a problematic food nowadays.

Even non-wheat breads such as rye and gluten-free bread are often problematic, though this does depend on the individual as well as the quality of the bread. Most gluten-free bread is basically junk food because these breads contain a great many additives including sugars, dough conditioners, gums, starches and the like. The Food For Life brand and one or two other brands do offer some acceptable gluten free bread products that are not extensively processed.

Some nutrition experts consider flour to be a processed food, not just when it has been refined but because it has gone through the milling process.

Food Additives

It is tempting to think that many of the additives in processed foods aren’t all that harmful because the names of these additives may not sound all that bad, but this is not true.

Let’s look at some common additives. Take hydrolyzed soy protein. Sounds like it should be okay since is it ‘merely’ a derivative of soy and soy is just a plant food like other plant foods, right? Unfortunately, no, it is an additive that can cause problems for many people since it contains MSG. It also contains compounds known as chloropropanols or 3-MCPD. These compounds are known to have carcinogenic, nephrotoxic and reproductive toxicity effects.

Other additives that may not sound too bad are, for example, modified corn starch and even just plain “corn starch,” since some methods of modification don’t have to be mentioned on the label. “Common reactions reported by adults who have ascertained that they do not tolerate modified food starch include allergies, headaches, diarrhea, bloating, other forms of digestive distress, fatigue and more.” (Stockton, C. 2012).

Many processed foods also contain other additives (besides artificial sweeteners) which are excitotoxins. If you see any of the following ingredients on a label, the product may contain some amount of MSG: hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, plant protein extract, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, textured protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed oat flour, malt extract, malt flavoring, bouillon, broth, stock, natural flavoring, natural beef or chicken flavoring, seasoning, spices.
These have just been a few examples of additives that are found in processed foods. The list of possible additives is long and while some truly are not that bad, many are, and it can be almost impossible to tell the difference due to how food labeling laws work.

Please also avoid preserved meats (like most “lunch meats” and salami and so forth). Consuming very much of the nitrate and nitrite preservatives has been shown in the past to result in an increased risk of cancer. While new evidence has recently come to light to show that these foods may not be as bad as had been thought (the relative risk is high for consuming these but the absolute risk really remains quite low overall), it is still far safer to eat fresh meats for the most part and avoid the nitrites and nitrates as well as the other additives.

More healthy varieties of many processed foods are available, found mainly in natural foods grocery stores or health food stores. Even so, it is not best to rely on processed “health foods” either. Ideally use as few prepared foods as possible because prepared-at-home foods are virtually always of higher quality than anything you can buy ready-made

Restaurant foods are highly variable, ranging from very good or excellent all the way to just as bad as the worst processed foods. While it used to be possible even, say 10 years ago, to get some reasonable quality restaurant foods, especially at ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Chinese, Taiwanese and others (where vegetables are included in good quantity in many dishes) nowadays the situation is worse than ever. This is largely due to the fact that most restaurants are not serving organic foods. Doing so would be more expensive for them. As the food supply becomes more and more contaminated (due to bad agricultural processes among other problems) it becomes more important to choose organic food and high nutrient density foods.

Besides the obviously processed foods, please also avoid fake foods like margarine which contains trans fats – a type of fat created through the process of hydrogenation. Also avoid fake cheeses including even the non-dairy “health food” variety, fake meat like impossible burgers and beyond burgers and anything containing artificial colors or sweeteners, preservatives and additives.

Once you make the adjustment to avoiding processed foods, you likely won’t miss them! What ends up happening is that you reach a point of having a new set of favored (and healthier) foods.

Sugar And Fake Sugars

Healing diets should avoid sugar even in its more natural forms such as raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave nectar and all the others. This is because sugars feed pathogens of all kinds and sugar depresses the immune system. We also need to avoid fake sugars, although if a person really needs a sugar substitute to help them get off sugar, stevia extracts and monkfruit are acceptable alternatives to use for a transition period.

Its true that healthy people can get away with eating small amounts of sugar if they are careful. However, once a person’s health has declined, it is necessary to remove sugar and sweets from the diet either wholly or with the exception of very occasional treats, in order for that person to heal.

If you think that you have a sugar addiction, this is a problem that needs to be handled with certain techniques, so that you can overcome it. If this applies to you please read my article, Sugar Addiction. Consider also checking out the online summit called “Quit Sugar” (quitsugarsummit.com).

Artificial sweeteners as a rule are damaging. These include acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, saccharin, steviol glycosides (extracts from the leaves of the stevia plant), and monkfruit. Stevia and monkfruit are often considered “natural” because they originally come from plants, but they’re highly processed.

Sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol are sugar alcohols. These are low caloric sweeteners. They are acceptable in very small amounts such as in toothpaste or herbal or neutraceutical preparations. Some people do not tolerate them well in larger amounts because they can contribute to leaky gut and other digestive problems.

Aspartame – also called NutraSweet, Equal or Spoonful is especially bad. This food additive is an “excitotoxin,” meaning, it causes cell damage and death by overexciting neurons. Many processed foods contain excitotoxins to enhance flavor – another you are likely familiar with is MSG.

People who routinely consume diet sodas or other foods with aspartame as an ingredient can become remarkably ill from this habit, and may not recognize their body’s messages as an indicator that their favorite beverage is poisoning them. The syndrome caused by this and other excitotoxins can mimic lupus or MS, or cause a long list of other symptoms, from severe pain and neurological dysfunction to headache, hives, depression, rapid heartbeat, and chest tightness. This is not a complete list of possible reactions. These additives are especially harmful to children.

Artificial sweeteners are beginning to show up in a wider array of processed foods today, for example they can be found even in high fiber oatmeal and English muffins — foods in which you would not expect to find artificial sweeteners — so always read labels if you do eat ANY processed foods!

Don’t Avoid Sea Salt And Healthy Fats

Two types of foods we do not exclude on a healing diet are foods high in healthy salt (sea salt only, not table salt) and foods high in good fats.

Salt has been maligned as if it were a bad food or responsible for hypertension generally, but this is simply not true. True sodium-sensitive high blood pressure is fairly rare.

Most hypertension cases can be improved greatly by doing simple dietary modifications and supplementation of much needed “sedative minerals” like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Stress reduction practices may be needed as well.

Sea salt is a healthy food and should be eaten “to taste” meaning, you should eat as much as you desire. Table salt is not the right type of salt however; it is refined so that all the trace minerals are stripped away and often aluminum is added. Sea salt is the desired type of salt. It will provide many much needed trace minerals that are hard to obtain in the modern diet. However it is not iodized, therefore it is important to eat a little kelp or other seaweed daily or take a supplement to obtain iodine.

High quality sea salts like most celtic salts are ideal. The pink Himalayan salt is okay as well if it is a high quality brand but some of the Himalayan salts contain excesses of toxins such as aluminum. Two brands of sea salt that I think are very good quality are Selina Naturally and Baja Gold. Eden and RealSalt are good brands too, and there are plenty of others.

If you tend to crave some salty foods, just take care to choose healthy options like olives preserved in brine, feta cheese, other cheeses such as muenster, salted nut butters if you can tolerate some nuts, many fermented foods, or good quality cottage cheese.

High fat foods are not off limits either. Fats are needed by our bodies and are not the real culprets behind heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and other epidemics of today. The true culpret behind these illnesses is actually excess sugars and carbohydrates in the diet, especially refined carbohydrates like white sugar and white flour products. Much more will be said about including healthy fats in the diet as we progress with this discussion.

Soy And Corn

Soy and corn should be avoided as much as possible. This is because 1) they are seeds which are very hard to digest unless processed in certain ways before eating (which is usually not done even in many of the healthier foods in which they are found), 2) they contain high doses of lectins which are harmful to our intestines, 3) they are often modified and added to processed foods, 4) many people have allergies to them often without knowing it, and 5) they are almost always genetically modified and contaminated with herbicides and pesticides unless organically grown. Even when they are organic there is some risk of contamination with GMO versions as well as agricultural chemicals. The best one can do without totally avoiding soy and corn, is to choose organic products with the “nonGMO project” label.

The only acceptable versions of corn or soy foods for those who can eat some legumes and grains are organic, non-GMO versions made with traditional methods. That means they are sprouted or made with nixtamalized corn in the case of corn, or long-fermented in the case of soy. This helps reduce lectins and other “antinutrients” which all seeds contain. These foods still should not be eaten in much quantity for anyone needing healing.

Various soybean pastes, miso, natto, tempeh and a few other products are the traditional long-fermented soy foods. Most tofu is not actually fermented although I have recently seen ‘sprouted’ tofu available – still I would not recommend this type of tofu or others. There is a version of tofu that is fermented called “stinky tofu” which is not widely available in this country (Joseph, M. Aug 8, 2023) and which may take some getting used to if the name is any indication.

Products like sprouted corn tortillas are an acceptable food for those people who don’t need a very strict healing diet because their problems are mild and/or superficial. There is only one manufacturer that I know of that offers a product like this and that is the Food For Life brand.

It is also possible to find nixtamalized corn tortillas and tortilla chips in some areas of the country. Nixtamalization is a process in which corn is cooked in an alkali (lime) solution. This process helps break down the hard cell wall of the corn and renders a final product that is easier to work with and it also increases the availability of nutrients in the corn; it even improves flavor and aroma. If you do eat any corn products I would recommend choosing only products that have been made in these ways.

The traditional fermented soy foods and properly processed corn based foods should not be mainstays of the diet for anyone needing a healing diet. They should be occasional foods only.

Please always avoid textured soy protein and corn maltodextrin as well as other forms of corn and soy derivatives, such as corn-syrup and hydrolyzed vegetable protein even if these are organic. These additives might not sound all that bad but they are highly variable as to what they actually are and what chemicals they may contain, and they are damaging. I realize I am repeating myself but I feel that this is an important point! Food additives are harmful!


The diet allows very small amounts of grains (like quinoa, rice, oats, amaranth and others) for those who tolerate them well and have only mild health concerns, but the diet excludes wheat for everyone.

Wheat has been hybridized extensively and for whatever reason, most foods that have been extensively manipulated by breeding and hybridization become unhealthy foods to consume. There are other reasons too, to avoid wheat, as we shall see.

Wheat, like corn and soy, is one of the mega-crops farmed in this and other countries and for this reason it is virtually always contaminated with agricultural chemicals. While organic products are better there is still cause for concern regarding agrichemicals, and as we’ll see shortly, even organic modern wheat is problematic for a whole host of other reasons. Finally, wheat, like corn and soy is also the seed of a plant and so has all the problems listed above for soy that are due to this fact – such as containing lectins and antinutrients, and requiring special processing that is rarely done in order to be most beneficial and least damaging. While it could be a healthy food under certain circumstances (such as in its ancient forms), like other seeds it tends not to be good for supporting health nowadays.

The most important thing to understand about wheat is that modern wheat is substantially different from that farmed even 50 years ago – it is now an inflammatory food that is not healthy even for those who do not notice significant immediate health effects from eating it. I will delve into this only briefly here, but know that a plethora of research and books and articles for the lay person are available on this topic.

Besides being highly inflammatory modern wheat has a very pronounced blood-sugar raising effect – experts are stating that research shows whole-wheat-based foods’ impact on blood sugar is more pronounced than that of sugar itself – in other words, it produces a dramatic spike in blood sugar. It also stimulates appetite and exposes us to “exorphins” – compounds that act like endorphins which our bodies produce naturally but which can cause problems chiefly due to their addictive nature. It promotes the process of glycation, a basic process underlying aging (you may have heard of “AGE’s” – advanced glycation end products – essentially glucose can react with proteins and other fragments and produce stuff that stiffens our arteries, clouds the lenses of our eyes producing cataracts, and accumulate in tissues and organs, essentially mucking up the machinery of our bodies).

Wheat can also activate disordered immune responses. A wide range of illnesses is connected to wheat consumption including the classic wheat-associated illness, celiac disease which can damage the intestines, brain and nervous system as well as cause skin rashes, other autoimmune syndromes and even schizophrenia (2023, Davis, W.).

This is a food that many people hugely overconsume not only because of the way it raises blood sugar and contains endorphin-like molecules, thereby acting as an addictive substance, but also because it is just so ubiquitous in the modern diet and in processed foods. Any food that is consumed in excess, even one without all these problems can become a trigger for illness – and often this starts with an allergy-sensitivity reaction.

Like with sugar, there are certainly healthy, or presumed healthy people who seem able to eat this food and appear not to be harmed significantly at least in the short term, however, anyone who needs a healing diet should avoid wheat.

For more about this topic please see the books by Dr. William Davis, MD such as Wheat Belly and Super Gut, or see the article The Dangers Of Modern Wheat on the website Food Matters. Another good online resource is grainstorm.com.

3. Foods We Emphasize and Why

Main Diet Components

The next several sections of this article cover what food categories are emphasized on this healing diet, and why. As with all diets the main food categories are proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Also discussed in this section are basic nutrition concepts connected to these food groups.

Most of what you eat at each meal will be
• fresh, cooked vegetables
• small to moderate amounts of animal foods
• some added fats such as butter, olive oil or cheese, or nut or seed butter

Let’s look in greater detail at each of the three major categories of foods and why each of these is included and why it is important.

Vegetables — Main Source of Carbohydrates And Various Nutrients

Vegetables are needed in order to obtain many minerals, phytonutrients and other beneficial compounds including fiber. These nutrients can only be obtained in the needed amounts by eating fairly large amounts of vegetables.

Now, it is true that some people have digestive problems that will prevent them from eating a high vegetable diet (or in extreme cases, any vegetables at all for that matter) – in which case these recommendations about eating vegetables will need to be modified. Some of these individuals will do better on a carnivore or ketogenic diet, or perhaps a “FODMAPS” diet that avoids certain types of vegetables but allows others. If you are one of these individuals, you may manage to very carefully devise your own healing diet by observing how your body responds to different vegetables, but it may be best to seek advice from a nutrition expert.

Minerals are difficult to obtain in adequate amounts any other way than by eating vegetables. Although technically speaking, the human body does not absolutely require vegetables, or even any carbohydrate for that matter; in order to most easily obtain the minerals and various other nutrients a body needs, eating vegetables in good quantity is the easiest, best way. Let’s look at some examples.

Magnesium and calcium are examples of minerals that are deficient in most diets today. To get adequate amounts we need greens and roots. It is helpful, though not essential to eat dairy products to obtain adequate amounts of calcium. A cup of cooked collard greens has approximately the same amount of calcium as one ounce of cheddar cheese. Magnesium is readily available in many greens such as spinach and kale and collard greens. Even so it is difficult to obtain enough magnesium on a modern diet.

When we eat greens like collards or kale we not only get good amounts of calcium and magnesium but also trace elements like manganese, copper and molybdenum. The minerals work in our bodies in synergy, so obtaining these from plant foods in this way is ideal.

Even with the high vegetable diet it is difficult to get enough of the mineral nutrients due to modern agricultural practices which have resulted in mineral depleted soils; this is why we always supplement minerals in Nutritional Balancing Plans. Trying to have a healthy body without the needed mineral nutrients would be like trying to build a car or a house without hinges and nails and nuts and bolts!

Phytonutrients are a different category of nutrient. These are compounds plants make to keep themselves healthy; for example, resveratrol, carotenoids, lycopene, lignans, quercetin, anthocyanidins, and so on. There are over 25,000 different phytonutrients found in foods and vegetables are the main source of these in our diets.

Phytonutrients assist our bodies with important functions such as modulating our metabolisms, making immune compounds, improving communication between cells, protecting our DNA, detoxifying hormones and environmental toxins and much more. They are important in particular for cancer prevention but also many other illnesses are staved off by consuming ample amounts of these important compounds.

Our bodies were designed to utilize the minerals, phytonutrients and other components of a high vegetable and animal product diet. We are also meant to eat real foods, not food fractions or dehydrated powders or protein powders and other modified foods. If it weren’t so, we could simply eat a well-devised, lab-made nutrient formula and dispense with all the trouble about eating properly!

Vegetables Should Mainly Be Eaten Cooked

Vegetables should be eaten cooked for the most part, though one serving of salad or raw vegetables per day is good for people with a relatively healthy digestive system. If a person can eat some of their vegetables raw, they get more enzymatic activity from such foods and higher intakes of some volatile (easily destroyed by cooking) vitamins like vitamin C.

As a rule, nutrients from vegetables are more absorbable when the vegetables are cooked because cooking breaks down tough vegetable fibers that make up the cell walls. This allows us to extract more of the nutrients in the vegetables.

There are some people who should not eat raw food. Anyone with a tendency toward a loose stool, undigested food in the stool or those who have severe intestinal pain and discomfort should avoid raw foods. Raw food can literally be abrasive to a damaged intestinal lining. Avoid all raw or lightly cooked vegetables if this applies to you, until a good amount of healing has occurred. This will usually take from 6 weeks up to 6 months on a properly devised diet.

Those with the most seriously compromised digestion such as individuals convalescing from long-term or serious illness should have only vegetables cooked in water. The vegetables should be thoroughly cooked by steaming, boiling, pressure cooking or cooking in a soup or stew. This means to avoid stir fried, baked and broiled vegetables and any that are only lightly cooked.

Raw diets were extremely popular about 20 years ago. Such diets can be appropriate and effective for specific, serious health problems such as an aggressive cancer or perhaps another fast moving, life-threatening illness. Usually, however, such diets are not necessary or helpful for more typical health health disorders. Raw diets, like other extreme diets are rarely needed and rarely appropriate.

Vegetarian And Mostly Vegetarian Diets are Inadequate

It might seem that if vegetables are so important then we should eat mainly plants and vegetables, after all a “plant based diet” is being vigorously promoted in the media nowadays. While I will concede that there might be some people who seem to achieve health on “plant based” diets, I believe that this is most likely an illusion and it won’t stand the test of time.

I don’t believe that adequate research studies have been done showing people can achieve a high degree of health on “plant based” diets. (Read the critique of The China Study – the famous book about vegetarianism that came out in 2013 — written by Dr. Larry Wilson, available on his website — https://drlwilson.com/Articles/CHINA%20STUDY%20BOOK%20REVIEW.htm).

Even if it is possible to be healthy on a vegetarian diet for some people, I think that this option is open only to a small number of people in industrialized societies nowadays. This is because for most of us, a diet high in carbohydrates and starch (or in some cases any amount of starch) is precluded by our particular health concerns; think – diabetes, obesity, heart disease, alzheimer’s disease, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease etc., etc.. All these conditions are connected to glucose regulation problems which are exacerbated by high carb diets, and they are also associated with a disordered microbiome (gut flora) and immune respons, leaky gut, and other problems that are always directly connected to what we eat and usually made worse by any excess of carbs and starches.

While advertisers and others push the current diet propaganda, there is a bedrock belief among many nutrition experts that “traditional” diets provide us the best guide for healthy eating. Such diets evolved to be what they are for good reason. These diets virtually always contain ample amounts of animal based foods. We will look at this in more depth shortly.

Early Research On Ancestral / Traditional Diets And Health

A now famous dentist named Weston A. Price traveled the globe in the 1930’s to discover the connection between diet and disease. He wrote the widely acclaimed book, Nutrition And Physical Degeneration, among other books on the topic of nutrition and disease. In his books he described what he learned by studying the diets of isolated peoples eating ancestral diets.

Dr. Price essentially discovered that it is diets made up of refined and adulterated foods that cause disease. In other words, he found that wherever processed foods were adopted into the diet of a population, health began to decline and disease rates markedly increased. He also found that diets that entirely exclude all animal products are not a natural occurrence on planet earth. Virtually every traditional diet includes animal foods and many of them are based heavily on animal-derived foods (Fallon,S., 2001).

One of Price’s main discoveries was that there appeared to be a factor in the animal-derived foods, particularly the high-fat animal foods, that made all the other nutrients function properly. If this factor, a fat-soluble vitamin which he named Activator-X – is plentiful in the diet, a whole host of illnesses is absent from a population.

Dr. Price already knew of the existence of vitamins A and D. However, another fat-soluble vitamin had yet to be discovered at the time he did his work. This vitamin is called vitamin K2 – it is not the same as the vitamin K found in green leafy vegetables; there are a few different forms of vitamin K and it is Vitamin K1 that is found in green vegetables, whereas K2 is found in high fat animal foods.

Some modern nutrition experts believe that Activator-X may be vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is found in high quality pasture raised animal products (not grain-fed animal products) such as butter and eggs. Vitamin K2 in ample amounts is important to help put calcium where it belongs in the body, such as in the bones, teeth and muscles and not in the arteries, joints and soft tissues. Vitamin K2 may be an activator that assists the other fat soluble vitamins to work properly.

A Vegetable-Based Diet With Ample Animal Foods Is Essential For Health

There is no substitute for a vegetable-rich diet nor is there a substitute for animal products in the diet. We need good quantities and a variety of both in order to get enough nutrients. Whenever someone has to restrict their diet to exclude or minimize either of these main categories of food, the goal should always be to return to a broader diet as soon as it is possible.

While it may be true that there have been some semi-vegetarian traditional diets that seemed to produce healthy people in some parts of the globe, at least in the past, I believe that this is less realistic in today’s world, especially industrialized societies where people are consuming the products of modern agricultural processes.

In times past food was more nutritious. It literally had higher amounts of vitamins and minerals – sometimes strikingly higher amounts, therefore a broader range of ways of eating could produce healthy people in the past. Over the period of roughly 50 years, from 1950 to 1999 research shows that nutrient levels in produce have declined anywhere from 20 to 40% (2011, Scientific American).

Protein Foods

Animal proteins allowed on this diet include virtually all fresh meats as well as fish, eggs, cheeses and cultured dairy.

Protein foods are important sources of amino acids which are the body’s building blocks for creating not only the physical substance of our bodies, like our cells and tissues and organs, but also neurotransmitters, hormones, immune compounds and much more.

Not getting enough protein is a serious problem and one that is much more common than you would think. Inadequate protein in the diet can lead to fatigue and low stamina, muscle weakness or loss, edema (swelling/water retention), hair and skin changes like hair loss and dry skin, getting sick more frequently, low bone density, decreased fertility, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, and anemia among other problems.

Animal protein foods are sources of important nutrients which are not plentiful in most plant based protein foods, for example EPA and DHA, choline, and carnitine. Others are: vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B2 or riboflavin. Some more examples are cholesterol, carnitine and taurine. This is quite a list of nutrients that one must work very hard to supplement or obtain from plant foods which are much poorer sources if not eating animal products!

Minerals found in animal protein foods in more readily-assimilable forms compared to the forms in plant based foods are zinc, iron, iodine, calcium and selenium among others. Selenium is a critical nutrient for defending against cancer and maintaining a healthy thyroid, not to mention helping important detoxification enzymes to function. Zinc is crucial for brain function and especially male sexual health – particularly prostate health.

Non-animal protein foods are mainly nuts, seeds and beans – these foods can provide some of the above nutrients in limited amounts, however, these foods have some problems associated with them. They contain “antinutrients” that make it difficult for the body to obtain those nutrients, and they tend to require much more robust digestive capacity. For this and other reasons, these foods are eaten either not at all or in fairly small amounts on this diet – and they are recommended only for those who are healthier and able to digest them adequately. These foods ideally should be specially processed to make them more healthful. More about this in the later sections of this article.


Fats are an extremely important energy food (they are the “other” energy food besides carbs), and they are also a structural food and a source of many important nutrients. This was touched on earlier. Remember Dr. Weston Price found that when the diet of a population contained enough of certain mostly animal derived fats, there was a marked positive effect on the health of that population.

For this and other reasons, fats emphasized on this diet are primarily those of animal origin such as butter and dairy fats, eggs, fats from meat and fish, and rendered fats like duck fat and tallow.

Fats from seeds and nuts like coconut, avocado and olive oil, sesame tahini, almonds or almond butter and other plant based oils are healthy fats that can be included on this diet also, but in smaller amounts. Nut and seed oils should ideally be fresh and cold-pressed – and in the case of delicate omega-3 oils like flax and hemp seed, they should always be refrigerated and in dark glass or plastic containers when you buy them – and you should never cook with fish, flax or hempseed oil. Flax and hemp seed oils and other omega-3 oils like fish oils oxidize when heated and exposed to air, and then the delicate fats they contain become damaging to consume.

Oils that are acceptable for cooking are coconut, sesame, avocado and peanut. Please avoid sunflower, safflower, canola and corn oil in general – whether for cooking or otherwise – more on this later. Some experts say it is okay to cook with olive oil if the heat is low. Whenever an oil begins to smoke, the oil is being damaged by the high heat and damaged oils are hazardous to consume.

To get the benefits of healthy fats we need to add them to our foods. A good practice is to add a tablespoon or two of butter, olive oil, heavy cream or cheese as a topping for vegetables and starch foods. This actually helps the body to extract the nutrients from these foods. Olive oil is a special oil which I encourage everyone to add to their diet. Adults should have from 2 to 4 tablespoons, daily added to foods (not cooked) – this is especially important for people fighting diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cancer and really a whole host of common problems. More about this shortly.

Its also important to eat the fats found on high quality meats, for example the skin on various meats including beef and lamb and poultry. It can be problematic to eat the skin of chicken or the fat from other animals that have been grain fed, whether organic or not, due to the high omega-6, proinflammatory fats that may be present in these fats. Duck fat is preferred over chicken fat by many of the diet experts who follow the teachings of Dr. Weston Price.

Pay attention to how your body responds to high-fat foods and avoid the ones that produce inflammation or other uncomfortable symptoms.

Dairy foods should be “full fat” and organic whenever possible since so many valuable nutrients are found in the fat.

Anti-Fat Propaganda

Fats have been maligned for nearly a hundred years by many so-called diet experts, advertisers and the media. This all started due to the “diet-heart hypothesis” which gained traction in the early part of the 20th century but has now been proven false. The diet-heart hypothesis stated that the cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease is excess fats, particularly saturated fats in the diet, and high blood cholesterol.

The real culprets in cardiovascular disease are diets high in sugar and the high serum triglyceride levels these diets cause; these factors correlate with cardiovascular deaths at least as highly as do serum cholesterol levels (Erasmus, 1993). Excess inflammation, poor blood sugar regulation and an unhealthy microbiome are factors as well. Also important for avoiding heart disease are adequate essential fatty acids in the diet – so good quality nuts and seeds, flax or hemp oil and fish oil or fatty fish are needed. To simplify heart disease as if it were just a disease of excess fat and high cholesterol is truly a disservice done by these “experts” — as the truth has been known for decades now.

Cholesterol, a unique molecule that is part fat and part protein, is absolutely essential in our bodies. It is the precursor molecule from which all our stress hormones, sex hormones and vitamin D are made. It is so important that your body makes it in the liver even though you can get some from foods.

Although there are a few individuals with high cholesterol who should be concerned about lowering cholesterol, for most people, lowering cholesterol with drugs has proven to be not very effective at preventing heart disease and there are many unwanted side effects such as muscle pain and weakness, neuropathy and other nerve problems, cognitive impairment, cancer and increased risk of serious neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. There are safer non-drug approaches to managing cholesterol levels. For more on this topic please see books and videos by Natasha Campbell-McBride and books and interviews online with Dr. Stephen Sinatra, MD. Some of these you will find linked on the Articles and Information page of my website.

Fats are not bad, and they do not make us fat. In fact one of the best ways to lose weight is to eat more fats and less carbohydrates particularly carbohydrates from grains.

Fat Soluble Vitamins Are Found In High Fat Foods

Fats are the major source of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K.

Low-fat diets are deficient in these vitamins and this will have an adverse effect on the function of other nutrients because fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins K2 and vitamin A help other nutrients to be absorbed into and function in the body as first discovered by Weston Price. In addition to this, there are many other interactions, for example, low vitamin A levels are detrimental to thyroid health, and inadequate zinc stores will impact the body’s ability to maintain a good vitamin A level. Thus there are many interconnections when it comes to nutrition.

Low fat diets are actually dangerous in the words of many highly acclaimed nutrition experts. Immune function and nervous system health in particular suffer on a low fat diet, but skin, eye, heart and emotional and mental health will suffer too (Fallon, 2001).

Saturated Fat

Examples of saturated fats are butter, dairy fats and fats on most meats such as the skin on chicken, beef fat, tallow, duck fat and so forth. Coconut oil and palm oil also contain saturated fats.

We’ve been taught that saturated fats are especially bad, yet they are fuel for our immune systems and for health-promoting microbes in our intestines.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who developed the GAPS diet and authored the books, Gut and Psychology Syndrome and Gut and Physiology Syndrome, as well as Put Your Heart In Your Mouth, explains the importance of saturated fats beautifully in her books. There are also videos on YouTube with Dr. McBride explaining the role of fats in the body and debunking the myths around fat in the diet and heart disease (see for example the video titled “Heart Attack From Evil Fats…” linked on my website on the Articles page).

We can get most of our good fats and fat soluble nutrients from foods high in fat such as sardines, meats with their fats included, dairy foods and eggs, but as mentioned earlier, we will benefit even more by actually adding healthy fats to our foods. Examples of this would be eating a cup of broth or bowl of vegetables with a few tablespoons of butter, tallow, duck fat, ghee or olive oil added or having a salad on which you drizzle some olive oil, and then add the dressing.

If you eat starchy foods like rice or potatoes you can add a fat or oil as a topping and this will help smooth the impact of the starchy foods on your blood sugar levels and help you absorb and utilize the nutrients in your food.

Unsaturated Fat

Unsaturated fats are a special class of fats that are important for health. They have many functions in our bodies including helping keep our cell-membranes fluid and functioning properly. This is important because so many cell processes take place on the cell membranes. Healthier cell membranes means better cell function, healthier tissues and organs and a healthier person.

There are a few types of unsaturated fatty acids. The two unsaturated fatty acids most often focused on are linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fat, and alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat. These are known as essential fatty acids, or EFA’s because they must be obtained from our diets — our bodies cannot make them – and they are essential for our health.

Omega-6 fatty acids come mainly from plant foods – they are the predominant type of fat in most nut and seed oils. They are also found in some animal foods like eggs and poultry.

Omega-3 fatty acids can come from animal foods such as certain cold-water fish and even land animals if the animals graze on grass. Omega-3 fats are also found in appreciable quantities in the oils of a few seeds, as mentioned – flax, chia and hemp mainly.

The omega-3 fats have remarkable characteristics that help our bodies. They attract oxygen, and they absorb sunlight. Due to the way they hold oxygen in the cell membrane, they can help our cells protect themselves from bacteria, fungi and other pathogens. They also increase oxidation (the burning of fuel in the body to make energy) and they increase the body’s metabolic rate – so they are important for anyone trying to lose weight.

Omega-3 fats also assist our bodies to detoxify because they disperse readily, helping toxins to be more easily extruded and carried to the surface of the skin, lungs, kidneys or intestinal tract to be eliminated. These fats help our nerve cells carry bio-electric currents which are important in nerve, heart, muscle and other membrane functions (Erasmus, 1993). For this reason they are important in all cases of heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and other heart and circulatory system related ailments. Not only that, these fats help with inflammatory illnesses like arthritis, many pain syndromes which are all inflammation based, and maintaining a healthy weight and normal body shape. Literally they help our bodies avoid the “spare tire” or “muffin top” look!

These important fats, the omega-3 fats, tend to be found in certain seed oils like flax, hemp and chia and a few fish, especially cold water fish. They are present in smaller amounts in animal foods like beef if the animals graze on grass but not if they are fed grains.

Most modern diets are deficient in alpha linolenic acid (ALA) – the main omega-3 fatty acid found in a few plants. Modern diets also tend to be deficient in the other omega-3’s chiefly found in fish; eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexanoic acid or EPA and DHA for short. These latter two omega-3 fats are particularly important for brain and nervous system health. They can be a godsend for people who suffer from depression and various other brain or mental health disorders.

This deficiency (in omega-3 fats) is partly due to the fact that the omega-6 fats tend to be prevalent in the diets of most Americans. In other words, we consume a lot of omega-6 fats and much less omega-3 fats in this and most of the industrialized world, and this creates a relative as well as absolute deficiency of the omega-3 fats. This is because seed oils like safflower, sunflower and corn oil tend to predominate in the standard American diet. These oils are used in processed foods and home cooking because people do follow the advice of the so-called experts who have told us for decades now to eat seed oils and minimize animal fats. Back before the “experts” “educated” us, many people used animal fats for frying. This is a much healthier practice than that of using seed oils for frying.

This dietary imbalance between the omega-3’s and omega-6’s is the reason most people should take a fish oil supplement (which contains the animal derived omega-3 fats known as EPA and DHA) or add a flax or hemp oil supplement to their diet. Doing this has a long list of benefits.

Please don’t follow the advice of the “diet dictocrats” (Sally Fallon’s terminology for the conventional nutrition professionals). Use coconut, avocado, sesame or peanut oil for frying. Or use animal fats such as tallow or ghee. Also, please minimize use of corn, safflower and sunflower oil – and in particular avoid canola oil which is not at all a healthy oil. If you do use these oils, use them only in the raw state.

Deficiency of linoleic acid and or linolenic acid and EPA and DHA can cause a vast array of symptoms. These range from fatigue and depression to dry skin, cracking nails, dry lifeless hair, immune weakness, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, eczema-like skin conditions, liver degeneration, kidney degeneration, poor wound healing, sterility in men and miscarriage in women, inflammation, edema, constipation and dry mucous membranes. This is far from a complete list! In his book, Encyclopedia Of Nutritional Supplements, Michael Murray, ND lists 58 health conditions that exhibit fatty acid deficiencies and/or improvement with EFA supplementation. Omega-3 fats are touted mainly in the nutrition and natural healing worlds. The conventional nutritional world and the medical profession lags far behind in this regard.

Every nutrition plan I create for clients contains a fish oil supplement or the recommendation to eat fatty fish about three times a week (for adults). In some cases I recommend flax or hemp seed oil also, as a topping for vegetables or other foods. I also recommend that everyone consume some olive oil every day.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a special dietary oil. It is a great source of oleic acid which is an omega-9 fatty acid. Our bodies need a balance of the omega-3, 6 and 9 fats. It has other characteristics that are health promoting as well. Research shows that diets such as the Mediterranean diet that include plentiful amounts of olive oil promote health and longevity.

Oleic acid is found in virtually all plant and animal foods. It is the most abundant fatty acid in nature – and it is a component of all of our cells. Like linoleic and linolenic acids, it helps us maintain healthy, fluid cell membranes. Oleic acid is also a major source of fuel for our cells and it appears to help protect us from oxidative stress.

Olive oil also contains polyphenols. These are chemical compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Highly colored foods like blueberries and plums and greens are also sources. These compounds help protect us from cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease and the effects of aging.

I suggest that adults try to consume between 2 and 4 tablespoons of olive oil per day. In addition to the above benefits, this also helps protect against high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and it aids in healthy fat-burning so it can also combat diabetes and obesity. Not only that, it promotes brain function and helps immune function.

If those weren’t enough benefits from such a simple food, in addition to all the above benefits, olive oil has been shown to promote the growth in our guts of a microbe called Akkermansia mucinophila. This microbe has a variety of beneficial effects on intestinal health including helping our intestinal cells to produce adequate amounts of mucus which helps to protect the delicate intestinal lining. This of course helps protect us from the super-common condition known as ‘leaky gut’ present in most cases of food allergy, eczema, various other allergies including asthma, as well as being suspected to be a major underlying factor in autoimmune illness.

Olive oil, like the other seed oils, should be eaten raw, not cooked. It is great in hummus and as an ingredient in salad dressing. It can be drizzled over a salad before you add the dressing. It can be used as a topping for cooked vegetables, added to soups and stews, or a cup of broth, made into homemade mayonnaise, or even just eaten “straight” from the bottle. Good brands I know of include Lucini, Madhava, La Tourangelle, Bionaturae and Bragg’s. There are many other good brands as well. In general we want to avoid brands that are from Italy (counterintuitive, I know). Please see the Healthy Fats article for information about choosing a good quality olive oil.

As mentioned, olives are not the only source of oleic acid; many nuts and their oils are also high in oleic acid, for example almond, hazelnut, pecan and macadamia. Apricot oil and avocado oil are good sources also. Cheese can be a good source too.

Seed oils found in the grocery store labelled “high oleic” are not the best choices to gain the benefits of this fatty acid, however. These oils are usually produced by breeding or hybridizing crops to produce a seed with higher oleic acid content than the plant would normally have. These oils are not really worth eating. (More about this below.) Also, if possible, when choosing safflower, sunflower or other seed oils, try to find unrefined oils in dark glass or opaque containers, ideally refrigerated. Oils packaged this way will have more beneficial nutrients and antioxidants than the refined versions sold in clear glass with long shelf lives.

In general, crops and animals that have been highly manipulated through breeding or hybridization become less healthful to consume – as we saw with wheat; wheat is not the only instance of this phenomenon. There are early biblical laws against mixing of breeds of animals and mixing of seed crops and other products of the land. Thus even since ancient times, and even if we are not sure why, there has been some awareness among agricultural peoples that such practices are unwise.

We have covered the rationale behind the inclusion of each of the three main foods emphasized on the healing diet; vegetables, animal protein foods and healthy fats. We will now discuss those foods that are okay for some people to include in smaller amounts in their diets, while others may need to totally avoid them, at least for a time.

4. Foods To Limit Or Avoid Based On Individual Needs

The foods in this section are grouped together because either the quality of the food or our ability to digest and absorb nutrients from it can pose difficulties. Because of this, we need to carefully consider whether each of these foods belongs in our diet at any given time. Therapeutic diets will often eliminate or restrict foods in this group in order to help heal the intestines and the body generally.

The foods in this group are starchy foods and grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes. Note that all of these except fruit are seed-foods; that is — grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are all the seeds of the plants from which they come.

Seeds all have certain features that make them special foods needing special preparation, ideally, so that we can extract the most nutrition from them and avoid overly taxing our digestive systems.

Starchy Foods and Grains

Starchy foods include some vegetables such as white and sweet potatoes, pumpkins, parsnips and rutabagas. Grains are also starch foods, for example, wheat, oats, quinoa, rice, amaranth and teff. Pseudograins such as buckwheat are starches also.

On this diet starchy foods are minimized for those who can have them and they are eliminated for those with problems like intestinal infections that thrive on these foods.

It is easy to confuse carbohydrates and starches. Starches are a particular type of carbohydrate that is a longer, more branching and complex chain of sugars, than are simpler carbohydrates.

Starchy carbohydrates are a great food source for opportunistic microbes; they tend to feed the organisms that cause dysbiosis.  Dysbiosis simply means a less than ideal mix of microbes in the intestines. Nearly everyone these days has some degree of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is the root causes of most illnesses today.  Hippocrates said, over two thousand years ago that all disease begins in the gut.


Another problem occurs with both the vegetable based starch foods and the grain based starch foods. That is the problem of lectins. Lectins are plant proteins that bind to carbohydrates. They are sometimes called sticky proteins. They can interfere with cell to cell communication in our bodies, increase inflammation, and impair the function of the immune system, helping viruses and bacteria to cause harm. Gluten from wheat and ricin, found in the castor oil plant, are examples of lectins. Squashes, like butternut, pumpkin, kabocha and others, are high in lectins. Cucumber and tomato are high lectin foods too.

People with more serious leaky-gut conditions may react especially badly to high lectin foods, though this is highly variable. The so-called blood-type diets can be a helpful guide for a lectin sensitive person to predict which foods may pose the greatest hazards due to lectins.

Some cooking and preparation techniques can reduce the lectin content of foods – for example, pressure cooking, soaking and discarding the soaking water, peeling and deseeding, and fermenting.

Another reason to avoid excess amounts of starchy foods is that when diets contain too much starchy food they are deficient in the critical phytonutrients and other nutrients found in vegetables, due partly just to the fact that the starchy foods take up so much space in the diet and  literally, in the stomach. 

Finally starch foods have a way of becoming addictive for many people. Often those who crave them the most are the very individuals who would benefit most from restricting or eliminating them; once these people get the starches out of their diet they no longer feel compelled to eat them, however making the transition to a low starch or starch free diet is sometimes not easy.

Some vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and squashes contain other problematic plant compounds as well. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds as well as eggplant (known as the solanacea plants) all contain a toxin called solanin or solanine. This toxin can be bothersome or damaging for some people, exacerbating problems like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux), arthritis, fibromyalgia, and all sorts of inflammatory conditions. For this reason some people are better off avoiding these foods and most of us should avoid eating large amounts of these foods. Another example is a class of plant toxins called oxalates. While some people detoxify these well (actually it is their gut bacteria that do it), others do not, and then the oxalates can build up in the body and cause problems.

So if you can eat some grains which ones should you eat? Well, if not very sensitive to lectins, you might choose quinoa or organic oats. If lectins bother you, or you know you have a leaky gut, you may want to choose millet (or fonio, a type of millet), teff or sorghum. Rice if it is white rice is an option too since the lectins occur in the hull. Discard the soaking water when you cook rice, and do not eat large amounts of it because all rice has problematic levels of arsenic, a toxic metal. I would suggest that if you are able to eat grains and you choose to eat rice, that you don’t eat more than about three half cup servings of it per week.  


Besides lectins, all grains, seeds, nuts and legumes contain certain other “antinutrients.” This means components that interfere with our ability to digest them and absorb their nutrients. The chief antinutrients in grains are phytates, enzyme inhibitors and lectins, these actually are the same antinutrients found in other seed-foods as well. We’ve already discussed lectins so let’s look at the other two.

Phytates (or phytic acids) are compounds plants use to store nutrients; they bind tightly to certain nutrients, especially minerals. These phytates are present in the seeds or other plant tissues and they continue to bind those minerals even when in our digestive tract, making it difficult for our small intestine to absorb the minerals. Some people have a good capacity for breaking down phytates whereas others do not.

All humans have a limited ability to break down phytates whereas animals that naturally eat grains have digestive systems specially designed for digesting such foods. For those of us humans who aren’t good at breaking down phytates, a high-grain diet, especially if the grains are not prepared in certain traditional ways, can be a disaster which leads to demineralization of the body.

Enzyme inhibitors are just what they sound like; factors in the seeds of plants that prevent enzymes from working; they are there to keep the plant from sprouting prematurely. These same inhibitors inhibit the enzymes in our intestines so that the food is not digested properly unless something is done to de-activate them. Soaking and sprouting help to remove these. Also, some individuals are better equipped digestively so to speak, than others to overcome this problem.

Lectins are produced by plants and incorporated into seeds in particular, but also other tissues in the plant, in order to help keep the plant from being eaten. They are a defense mechanism. Lectins cause a variety of phenomena in the ‘eater’; one being agglutination or clumping of cells or particles. Lectins play a role in some kinds of food intolerance and toxicity.

As mentioned, sensitivity to lectins can often be predicted based on blood type. The reason for this is that different groups of people evolving in different regions of the globe, had to become resistant to the lectins common in the plant foods present in their diets. Hence, natural selection processes resulted in cultural groups that are resistant to certain types of lectins. Dr. Peter D’Adamo and his son, also named Dr. D’Adamo, have written a number of books on this topic and have developed diets they recommend for each of the major blood type groups.

Special Preparation of Seed-Foods

There are ways to prepare nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that minimize the problems of phytates, enzyme inhibitors and lectins. Anyone needing a healing diet should first determine whether seed-foods belong in their diet at all, and then if they do choose to eat them, eat only seed-foods that have been properly prepared. This will ease stress on the digestive system.

These preparation techniques include the aforementioned pressure cooking as well as soaking, sprouting and fermenting, and they will be described more fully in the Food Combining And Preparation section – the next major section — of this article.

Our early ancestors lived on mainly meats, wild-growing vegetables and animal fats. Fruit would have been a minor component of such diets, and eaten only during a brief season each year. Antinutrients were not a problem for these people, but as agriculture developed about 10,000 years ago, grains became a dietary staple for many groups and people learned to prepare grains and other seed-foods in certain ways that increased their nutrient availability and digestibility.

Genetic changes happen relatively slowly, so even now, we are adapted more to the diet humans had in pre-agricultural societies than the diets since that time. Not only that, modern, chemical-based agriculture has had a dramatic effect on what types of diets are health-promoting.
Once a person’s digestive system has reached a state of poor function, it is usually best to remove the grain based foods or at least minimize them and avoid wheat. At the same time, any grain based foods that are eaten should be properly prepared.

There are other approaches that can be used to minimize the impact on the body of lectins. In particular there are some supplements that are used to “block” lectins, and there are substances called “glyconutrients” which can be used to help interfere with the binding of lectins in the body. I use a tea made of the powders of a variety of foods such as fenugreek and shiitake mushroom to provide these beneficial glyconutrients on a daily basis. This is a tea anyone can make at home. The recipe is posted on my website.

There are getting to be many food manufacturers that offer “sprouted” breads which is at least a step in the right direction. Among manufacturers offering these products, the only ones I found to offer good quality products were Silver Hills and the Food For Life brands; undoubtedly there are other good brands, I am just not sure what they are.

So by now you may be thinking, this sounds like so much trouble; no legumes, grains, nuts or seeds, or if you do eat them, they must be specially prepared. Lots of vegetables, of course, also prepared at home, not made convenient such as pouring them out of a bag or a box. Couldn’t it be simple, like, just eating other foods?

How About Just Eating Meat?

If grains, squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers and a number of other tasty vegetables are troublesome foods because of antinutrients and other factors, and animal foods are essential in the diet for our health, then why not just eat meat?

Increasingly, many modern people are finding that their health improves on so-called carnivore diets or high-fat ketogenic diets. These diets can be very healing for diabetes and blood sugar problems in particular. They also appear to be a very effective approach for mitochondrial disorders (which turns out to encompass a huge range of problems including most ‘diseases of aging’), as well as some mental health disorders, many if not all autoimmune illnesses, and of course, obesity.

While such diets may be beneficial in the short term, for most people the carnivore diet or keto diet is not a long-term sustainable diet because it is too restrictive. These diets will tend to be deficient in many nutrients as well, so careful supplementation will likely be needed if they are used long term.

A few individuals may truly require a meat-only or keto diet at least until there are more effective therapies to correct certain difficult to treat health problems. Such individuals probably should work with a qualified practitioner to monitor nutritional status on these diets.

A Balanced Diet

It is much easier to be healthy on a diet containing no starch or grain than it is to be healthy on a diet containing no vegetables – or for that matter, a diet containing no animal protein. All extremes as far as diet are to be avoided whenever possible.

Ideally, eat as much variety as your digestive system can tolerate, but concentrate on those foods that contain the highest nutrient density and that pose the least problems for your particular body. Everyone needing a healing diet has a weakened digestive system and will benefit from relieving stress on the digestive system.


Like vegetables, fruits contain beneficial phytonutrients and compounds, however fruit is far less essential in the diet compared to vegetables, and there are drawbacks to eating much fruit. In fact, it is not difficult to meet one’s nutritional needs while eating no fruit at all, and this is best for many people who need a healing diet. Let’s see why this is the case.

Problems With Fruit’s Effect On Our Bodies

The problems with fruit relate to its sugar content, the particular type of sugar it contains, and also the ways that fruit is grown commercially these days. Let’s take a look at these issues.

Any amount of sweet food is a problem when we are trying to heal, due to the fact that even natural sugars are food for opportunistic flora in the intestines. While fruit is better in many ways than, say, soda, most baked goods, and candy, it still is anywhere from moderately to very sweet. And yes, the fibers in the fruit do slow the absorbtion of sugars but even so, it still can be very detrimental to a weakened body to be exposed to more than tiny amounts of sugar, even natural sugar.

Looking at it from a slightly different angle, eliminating fruit helps control intestinal infections. Fungal infections particularly, whether intestinal or elsewhere in the body, are fed by the sugars in fruit. Think about how easily fruit grows mold or fungus, or how easily it ferments. Often it is fungal infections that cause the most damage to our intestines. Fungi can infiltrate the delicate lining of the intestines with their finger-like projections called hyphae, causing damage and contributing to leaky gut. Problems like autoimmune illnesses as well as all sorts of other systemic illness will be helped by avoiding fruit.

Sugars also stress the blood sugar regulation system. Simple sugars, such as those found in fruit, if consumed in any quantity, tend to hit the bloodstream fairly quickly; this causes the body to increase insulin levels. If certain metabolic problems are present, when this process is repeated over and over, it can lead to insulin resistance and hypoglycemia, and eventually, diabetes. It also leads to high triglycerides in the blood. When someone has these types of problems, eating sweets, even fruit which we are trained to think of as a healthy food, is a stressor. To help the system heal, we reduce stress on it while simultaneously replenishing needed minerals and helping the body rebuild.

Finally, fructose is a sugar that is problematic in other ways that may surprise you. First, what is fructose? It is one of the simple sugars. There are three of them: glucose, fructose and galactose. These are the basic unit from which carbohydrates are made. Disaccharides are composed of just two of these simple sugars hooked together.

Sucrose, also called table sugar, is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose. So, when you eat sugar or sucrose you’re getting two simple sugars – glucose and fructose. Your body breaks the sucrose into its two component sugars. So fruit or anything made with sugar gives your body a dose of fructose. The standard American diet is very rich in fructose because it contains a lot of sugar.

The problem with fructose is the way your body handles it. Virtually all your cells can utilize glucose just as it is. However, only liver cells can break down fructose – so that’s where it goes when you eat it. If the liver receives more fructose than it can use (ie, more than it can burn for immediate energy needs), it turns the excess into fat.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) can develop if the liver receives so much fructose that fat droplets start accumulating in the liver cells. This condition is becoming quite common in our country – around 30% of the US population has it, and as many as 70 to 90% of diabetics have it (Abundance of fructose not good for the heart, liver. 2011).

The breakdown of fructose in the liver can also cause high triglyceride levels, increase low density lipoprotein (LDL – the so-called “bad cholesterol”), accumulation of visceral fat (fat around internal organs), increase blood pressure and insulin resistance and of course, this can lead to diabetes. These processes can also lead to oxidative stress which can damage our DNA. Of course this is a risk for cancer. Other processes related to the development of diabetes are also risk factors for cancer.

The take home message here is that excessive amounts of sweet foods are a serious hazard to our health. The scientific literature shows that excess fructose in the diet is a risk factor promoting not just fatty liver and all the above but also cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome which itself is strongly correlated with cardiovascular disease. These health problems have been blamed on fats but the real culprit is excess sugar.

If you know you need to reduce or eliminate fruit but it seems difficult, then work into it slowly. Start with where you are currently, and try to reduce by half. Once you are accustomed to the change, make another reduction until you have minimized or eliminated it, depending on your goal. By minimize, I mean for an adult to consume about ¼ cup of berries a day or an equivalent amount of other fruit (see the next section), which equates to about ¼ of an average apple, or about 1/3 of a grapefruit. This amount of fruit has benefits and little risk of harm.

Problems With Modern Commercial Fruit

People who eat a lot of fruit, and then go on a nutritional balancing plan tend to eliminate a lot of excess potassium at some point in the healing process. Dr. Larry Wilson believes that this is because of the way fruit is farmed by modern farmers. The potassium that the fruit takes up from the N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) fertilizers that are applied in commercial agriculture is apparently in a form that is not easily used by the body, so the body eliminates it as soon as it is able to do so. Even people who eat only organic fruit seem to experience the same potassium elimination phenomenon. Since potassium is an important basic mineral required for cellular function, we really don’t want to be storing a toxic or unusable form of it in our bodies.

Another problem is that modern commercial fruit growers, even organic growers, maximize the appearance and portability of the produce rather than the nutrient value. We end up with oversized, sturdy, fleshy fruits that are quite sweet but often lacking in flavor and in mineral content. This is due to the fertilizers used and selective breeding that produces fruit that can travel long distances, be picked when immature, and look perfect in the market. This means that the body gets a powerful shot of sweets (sugar) while not receiving the minerals that help to process the food and balance blood sugar.

In order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, the body needs ample amounts of trace minerals like manganese, chromium, zinc, vanadium and others. These are among the minerals that are missing from the food supply generally. This deficit is more hazardous when we eat sweet foods. Nutrition plans that I create always supplement these minerals because they are difficult to obtain in adequate amounts in today’s food supply.

Preferred Fruits

For those who can have a little fruit, the best fruits to choose in order of preference are the berries, less-sweet types of fruits such as grapefruit and other citrus fruits and green apples.

There are many berries to choose from, but some of the best nutritionally are blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries as well as pomegranates, goji berries and cranberries. These last two are more likely to be found dried and it may be difficult to find cranberries unsweetened. Please avoid dried fruit because it is an even more concentrated dose of sweetness.

Other acceptable fruit choices are figs, plums, apricots and cherries, oranges, lemons. These are all high in antioxidants while being less sweet than many other fruits. Lemons of course are not really sweet, so they can be used fairly liberally by anyone who would like the benefits of fruit without the problem of too much sugar. They are a good source of vitamin C, providing 30-40 mg per lemon; they also provide potassium – about 80 mg. Avocados are a great fruit as well – they’re also a source of copper and beneficial fatty acids.

I suggest that on a day-in-day-out basis you mainly eat the high-antioxidant berries if you eat any fruit at all. Having good levels of antioxidants in your blood and cells has been shown repeatedly to help protect against strokes, keep our vision keen and reduce the likelihood of developing cancer and other serious illnesses.

There is worrisome pesticide problem with fruit. Strawberries rank very high – the highest of all produce – in terms of the degree of contamination with pesticides. Blueberries also have problematic levels of pesticides when not organic. Stick with organic varieties – buy them frozen if necessary to be able to get organically grown produce. You may still get some pesticide residues with organic fruit but the amounts will be much lower and the worst pesticides should not be found on organic fruits. Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before eating.

If you can find fruit at a farmer’s market this is often the best. Another option is to grow some of your own fruit. This way you may get fruit that is richer in minerals and less subject to the above problems.

Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds, for example almonds, walnuts, pecans, sesame and sunflower seeds belong in both the healthy fats and protein-foods categories. They contain good fats (though mainly omega-6 fats which many people get plenty of), and also appreciable amounts of protein.

Problems With Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds should be allowed only in the diets of those who do not have any serious digestive concerns, since they are difficult to digest, are high in lectins and contain enzyme-inhibitors. They also contain phytates, just like grains, which tend to bind with some minerals making them less available for absorbtion.

Another potential problem with nuts and seeds is that they can easily become rancid, since they are so high in fat, and they may be contaminated with mold. The same concerns actually apply to most grains though grains aren’t as prone to rancidity. When seed-foods are stored for longer periods of time or are stored incorrectly they can become rather hazardous for these reasons.

Rancid fats use up our body’s antioxidants and can cause increased inflammation and other problems. This is a similar problem to that caused by eating foods cooked in seed oils like sunflower, corn, safflower and other vegetable oils. This problem is easily avoided by cooking with heat stable oils or animal fats.

Mold in nut products is so common that a certain amount of mold in nuts is considered normal and is allowed. Food manufacturers are mandated to take precautions but even when they adhere to the rules we can still be exposed to milder levels of contamination which in a sensitive person, over time can be damaging, potentially leading to problems like cancer. I recall the story of a missionary from the US who lived in Africa in a region where peanuts were the main source of protein. This man succumbed to cancer after 20 years of working in Africa and the cause was chronic exposure to aflatoxin.

The US has some of the most lenient standards for mold toxins in foods compared to other countries in the world. Only if there are particularly high levels or particularly hazardous types of molds present is there considered to be a problem. Also, I am told that manufacturers will simply dilute their mold-contaminated crop with some “clean” crop in order to get the mycotoxin residues just below the allowable limit. So, buyer beware!

While a healthy person without leaky gut, compromised immunity, impaired detoxification abilities or other health concerns may tolerate some mold contamination, we want to minimize these insults to our bodies when trying to heal.

Peanuts, which are actually a legume, are best avoided by most people, due to frequent contamination with the fungal toxin aflatoxin. Corn, wheat, millet, sesame seeds and rice can sometimes be contaminated with aflatoxin as well. Aflatoxin is one of the most potent carcinogens known (Fallon, 2001). Corn is one of the most universally contaminated (with mycotoxins) foods available.

Nuts believed to be the most consistently contaminated with some variety of mold or another are peanuts, cashews and pistachios. Those that go rancid most easily are walnuts, pistachios and pine nuts.

Some experts advise that if you plan to store nuts for any length of time that you store them in their shells; this means that you need to remove the shells yourself, prior to eating or cooking with them. This may be more labor than you want to engage in, so the next best thing is to buy them from a very reputable seller, and keep them in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Some of the healthiest choices for nuts and seeds for those who can have them are almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. Ideally, soak or sprout before eating (this is described in the next section of this article).

For someone who does not have noticeable digestive weakness or illness, a couple of tablespoons of nuts, seeds or a high quality nut butter is an acceptable amount per day; some people on restricted diets and high fat, low carbohydrate diets may have more than this if they tolerate it. Of course nut or seed butters can also be an ingredient in other foods such as tahini in hummus. Nuts and seeds are an ideal and easily portable snack.

Legumes — Beans and Pulses

Legumes are a broad category that includes beans and pulses. Any legume that is dried and used for food is considered a pulse, so pinto beans, navy beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and lentils are all pulses, while soybeans, peanuts, green beans and peas are considered beans.

One benefit of these foods is that they have fibers in them that help to support certain beneficial microbes in the intestines. If a person lacks the right microbes to help digest the starches in legumes, however, the results can be mildly to seriously uncomfortable.

If including some legumes is appropriate for you try adding them to your diet in smaller amounts such as a few tablespoons of cooked legumes on a salad, or as an ingredient in another food such as hummus or a soup or stew.

Problems with Legumes

Legumes like the other seed-foods, contain antinutrients. For this reason legumes are usually best avoided when trying to heal any serious digestive problems. When the digestive system is stronger and they can be re-introduced, they should be properly prepared.

Phytates are one of these types of antinutrients which are especially a concern with legumes. Phytates bind some minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, copper and iron and make those minerals unavailable for absorbtion in the intestines. For this reason, a person with weak enzyme production who eats a diet based on legumes or grains, especially if they are not properly prepared, runs a great risk of mineral deficiency. In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon states that diets high in unfermented whole grains (and legumes) may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss.

Another concern with legumes is that they are high in starch. Legumes really belong in both the starch and protein categories. For those who have no real digestive trouble and only the mildest health concerns, a couple of servings a week of legumes is permissible; however since they are starch foods, for most people, the servings should be small such as up to 1/2 cup at a time.

Even people who do not have digestive trouble or serious health concerns should ideally eat only properly prepared (soaked and or sprouted and fermented) legumes.

Preparation Techniques for Legumes

Traditional methods of preparing these foods included some combination of soaking, sprouting and fermenting. Alkalization or acidification of the soaking or cooking water was often used also, for example the traditional way to prepare corn involved “nixtamalization” in which lime was added to the cooking water.

These techniques are rarely used by conventional food manufacturers. Fortunately, though, they are beginning to be employed by some innovative small companies at least for a few products such as bread, tortillas and tortilla chips. In the case of legumes, however, I do not know of companies offering properly prepared canned beans for example.

Most of us don’t use these processes at home either – but it is not difficult to do so. If you require a healing diet but are still healthy enough to eat some legumes, be sure to take the care to soak your legumes before cooking. Legumes need to be soaked in water that is either acidulated or alkalized, depending upon the type of bean.

Round or circular shaped beans such as lentils or peanuts need to be soaked in freshly-boiled, still hot water made slightly acidic with the addition of homemade whey. If you cannot tolerate whey possibly other means of acidification such as lemon juice or vinegar might be tried.

Kidney shaped beans such as lima beans and navy beans need to be soaked in freshly-boiled, still hot water made basic with the addition of a pinch of pure baking soda. These techniques are covered in detail in chapters 7 and 9 Monica Corrado’s The Complete Cooking Techniques For The GAPS Diet (2019).

Like nuts and seeds, legumes can be contaminated with mold, or may have been stored a long time such that the oils have become rancid. Take care to purchase them from a good retailer who guarantees they are fresh and were properly stored. Many experts recommend purchasing all of these types of foods in packages rather than from bulk bins because they believe that in this way the products are better protected from heat, moisture and light.

PART 2 – Details: Food Quality, Portion Sizes, Seafood Guidelines, Avoiding Toxins In Our Food

5. Food Quality And Portion Sizes


If possible the vegetables you eat should be from a local farmer that does not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Next best is to choose organic produce.

Even better than either of the above options would be to grow your own vegetables. I know many people will not feel this is possible for them, but I assure you that I could tell you how to do it and you’d be surprised to see that it is fairly do-able if you are willing to take on a new hobby. Growing your own food starts to look more reasonable as the food quality declines, and the prices rise!

Not everyone can afford organic food, I understand. If this is you, then choose your vegetables carefully (see below) and be sure to use a wash that helps to remove pesticides and herbicides. See the article Cleansing Vegetables of Pesticides.

Frozen or canned vegetables can be used but they are not ideal. Frozen is preferable to canned. Canned foods are more devitalized and are likely to contain PCB’s which leach from the can liner into the food.

The Problem of Agricultural Chemicals

The problem of synthetic or even naturally derived pesticides and herbicides on our foods is a serious one. In the US each year, 386 million kilograms of pesticides are applied to crops (Pesticide Usage By Country 2023, Nov, 2023). These range from harmless to serious threats to health. Many, such as glyphosate, have been shown to damage our intestines, our microbiomes (the flora inside our intestines), to cause cancer, birth defects, neurological disease, and to contribute to virtually every health condition there is. Children, because of their smaller size and lower detoxification capabilities are especially at risk of harm, as are pregnant women’s unborn babies. For more about this problem, please read the article titled Food Quality.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit agency dedicated to assisting consumers to avoid toxins in food, water and the environment generally, produces a list of the “clean fifteen” and the “dirty dozen” produce items that they update yearly based on extensive testing of 46 different fruits and vegetables.

The 2023 lists for each group (in order from cleanest to most contaminated) are as follows – clean fifteen: carrots, watermelon, sweet potatoes, mangoes, mushrooms, cabbage, kiwi, honeydew melon, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), papaya, onions, pineapple, sweet corn, avocados. The dirty dozen, in order from most to least contaminated, are as follows: strawberries, spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and hot peppers, cherries, blueberries and green beans.

Others that were tested but did not fall on either list (in order from most to least contaminated) were: tomatoes, winter squash, celery, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, tangerines, cucumbers, broccoli, summer squash, plums, eggplant, raspberries, grapefruit. You can get a pocket sized list of these from EWG by signing up for their updates on their website.

Grains can be very contaminated foods as well – perhaps even more so than fresh produce — if they are not organic. Among the most contaminated grain-foods are breakfast cereals with oatmeal and oat-based products standing out as the worst. Please always choose organic versions!

Choosing Vegetables

Virtually all vegetables are allowed on this diet. The more variety, the better. Variety is needed in order to get as wide a range of nutrients as possible.

In the beginning when transitioning to this diet, just try to make the switch to vegetables and don’t worry too much about variety. As you get more accustomed to the new way of eating, start to try to get a balance between root vegetables and greens – for instance make a combination of at least two vegetables such as collard greens with onions or spinach with carrots. Eventually try for 3 to 4 vegetables as a medly, and then if able see if you can combine 5-6 different vegetables at a time. This may be easiest to do in a soup or stew. Try to have some root vegetables along with leafy or above ground vegetables together for balance. Try to eat ‘brassicas’ or cabbage family vegetables every day.

The best vegetables to eat are the ones that are the most nutrient dense. The list below describes vegetables as belonging to various categories based on important characteristics.

            Various Groups Of Vegetables 
  • Nutrient Dense Vegetables All brassicas (aka ‘crucifer’ or ‘cruciferous’) vegetables – ie broccoli and related plants, such as kale and collard greens as well as brussels sprouts, cabbage of all sorts including napa cabbage, bok choy, savoy cabbage, red and green cabbage, and cauliflower. This category also includes turnips, broccoli raab, spigarello, mustard greens, arugula, kohlrabi and watercress. People with a very weak thyroid may be sensitive to these because they can interfere with iodine function and have other thyroid weakening effects. This is not an exhaustive list of this family of plants; for a more complete list see Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruciferous_vegetables
  • Root vegetables such as onions (there are many varieties and all are good), carrots, radishes – regular and daikon, beets and turnips, rutabagas, parsnips; raw daikon radishes are good for the liver and for cleansing generally – please note that some roots are considered starchy vegetables
  • Greens of all kinds such as spinach family vegetables like swiss chard and beets and of course also all the greens listed above. Some people need to be careful with the spinach family vegetables (which also includes beets, beet root, and swiss chard) because they tend to accumulate oxalates, a natural toxin found in these plants which can accumulate and lead to kidney stones or other problems. Our intestines should harbor a microbe which detoxifies these for us, but if this is missing from a person’s microbiome, they may accumulate oxalates.
  • Garlic, shallots and leeks – these are especially health promoting foods which contain a good form of easily absorbed selenium and also silica
  • Asparagus – a good source of prebiotic fiber
  • Artichokes – also a good source of prebiotic fiber

These are excellent plant foods/vegetables to add to the diet as well
Lettuce of all kinds (except iceberg which has almost no nutritional value), radicchio, arugula, etc. In the southwestern US, avoid lettuce in the winter months as it tends to be high in the toxin perchlorate which is found in higher amounts in the water from the Central Arizona Project at this time of year
Herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, mint, oregano, tarragon, chervil, and others are great to add to your food; parsley is an especially nutrient dense herb which has benefits for the kidneys, blood sugar regulation, and even mood
Mushrooms – not really vegetables but still considered in this category – all are fine; button, crimini and others; oyster, shiitake and wood ear mushrooms have some special medicinal and healing qualities and are great to include
Peas and green beans are included but they are high in lectins so may not be tolerated well by some people

Vegetable – Fruits (technically these are fruits — Some are also starches)
• Squashes — zucchini and yellow squash, pattypan, etc
• Winter squash such as butternut, acorn and kabocha
• Peppers – red, green, yellow, hot and sweet – all types of peppers
• Tomatoes – all types

Starchy Vegetables – these contain starch which needs to be avoided by some individuals – The early stages of the GAPS diet, the SCD diet, and so-called Paleo diets generally eliminate starchy vegetables
• Potatoes, both white and sweet
• Squashes – the hard exterior, winter squashes such as pumpkin and kabocha are starch containing vegetables, however some squashes have only simple sugars, such as butternut; all of them are relatively high in lectins
• Parsnips and Rutabagas

Starchy Vegetables

Starches are a type of carbohydrate that is more complex than simple carbohydrates like sugars. This makes them harder to digest and is one reason that such foods can become a great food source for microbes, both good and bad. Whatever you do not digest and absorb becomes food for the flora in the intestines, whether good or bad. Many people need to limit the amount of starch they consume.

Many people benefit from eliminating starches. Those who are known or suspected to have fungal infection usually benefit from this dietary change. A few such individuals, if their vitality is quite high but they still need a healing diet, may manage okay just by reducing starches.

On this diet, for those who do NOT need to restrict starchy foods and vegetables, it is fine to include a small amount of starchy vegetables with each serving of vegetables; for example you can include some white or sweet potato in your vegetable mixtures, or perhaps some parsnip or pumpkin. Most of the vegetables you eat should be the non-starchy variety, however.

Some people do best on a potato-free diet due to the natural toxins found in potatoes – white potatoes of all kinds, that is. Excluding these can help to reduce inflammation, particularly the kind causing joint and muscle aches and pains, such as arthritis, but also other types of inflammation too. This toxin is called solanin or solanine and it occurs in all the nightshade vegetables including tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Squashes such as pumpkin, butternut, acorn and also the summer squashes such as zucchini, all have fairly high amounts of lectins and are best avoided when someone really wants to heal a leaky gut.


Vegetables with seeds on the inside (which are really fruits), should be used in moderation. Many people should avoid them entirely. For those with less intestinal sensitivity, they can be considered companion or “accent” vegetables to the nutrient-dense vegetables – they can be used to liven up a dish but should not be the main content of it. I recommend everyone minimize these due to their high lectin content. When you do use them, its best to peel and de-seed them also, as this reduces the lectin content.

This rule makes it hard to have a traditional ratatouille or spaghetti sauce or certain other traditional foods. Let these be occasional treats for those who are not needing a super-strict healing diet. For those who really need a healing diet for more serious concerns, it is best to completely avoid these foods.

Lectins are a type of natural food toxin that plants produce in order to keep themselves from being gobbled up too readily. Some people can handle lectins more easily than others, and different types of lectins can be more or less problematic for us based on our unique characteristics. In general, the more digestive trouble someone has, the more they should take it easy with high lectin foods or even exclude high lectin foods as close to completely as possible. Dairy foods are high in lectins and most seeds and nuts tend to be high in lectins; beans and grains are high in these natural food toxins as well. For many people who have trouble losing weight, a low lectin diet can be very helpful.

As mentioned earlier, some people will feel better if they exclude tomatoes, peppers and eggplants which all come from the same family as potatoes – the solanacea family. These all contain the natural toxin solanin that can cause excess inflammation for some people.

Sulfury Vegetables – An Important Group

Sulfury vegetables are important to eat on a regular, daily basis unless you really cannot tolerate them. Sulfury foods help us detoxify because sulfur is a volatile element that can combine with many other elements and especially toxins. Sulfur compounds are also used by the liver to make detoxifying chemicals. Examples are glucosinolates and isothiocyanates which are anti-cancer compounds found in broccoli and radishes. These stimulate our bodies’ detoxification pathways. The isothiocyanates also help inhibit the growth of candida.

Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in our bodies, after calcium and magnesium. Some tissues in our bodies that are rich in sulfur (which tends to be a component of proteins), are bones, joints, keratin in hair, and connective tissues. Although there is no recommended daily amount of sulfur because it is prevalent in our food supply, many people still benefit from supplementing it and high sulfur foods and supplements can help support a more healthy gut microbiome.

It is important to eat these foods in plentiful amounts unless there is a really good reason why you cannot! A good rule of thumb is to include 1 or 2 vegetables that are high in sulfur with each serving of vegetables.

Vegetable Portion Sizes And Proportion of The Diet

Standard vegetable portion sizes are often only about ½ cup. On this diet you will eat at least double that amount at a meal.

On this diet, vegetable portion size is variable, and based on an individual’s age, size, activity level and tolerance for these foods. If there are no indications that vegetable foods are not well tolerated, then a good amount for most adults is one to three cups of cooked vegetables at least two, up to three times a day. The vegetables should be measured after cooking.

The size of a person’s body and their activity level are the main factors determining how much should be eaten. A 100 pound adult who is not very active is likely to need from 1 to 2 cups of vegetables at each meal, whereas a 200 pound or greater adult who gets moderate amounts of exercise daily would likely need 3 or even up to 3 ½ cups per meal of vegetables. Since you are recommended to eat cooked vegetables 2 or 3 times a day, this amounts to a total of about 2 to 9 cups per day. Most people who are not either very small or very large should aim to eat around 5 to 6 cups of vegetables per day.

Children need proportionately less than adults. A young child from age 3 to 6 is likely to need ¼ to 1 cup of vegetables at each meal. A child from age 7 through 12 should have from ½ to 1 ½ cups of vegetables at a meal. A child of age 12 or older will need closer to the adult portions.

One of the main difficulties in transitioning to a diet high in vegetables is that carbohydrate rich foods, dairy and fruits tend to be the ones both children and adults gravitate towards when they are available, so it may be necessary to totally avoid these foods for some or all of the day’s meals in order to get more into the habit of eating vegetables. For more about dietary transition for children please read Children And Dietary Change.

Please remember when transitioning either adults or children to this high-vegetable diet that fats are an important diet component. You will need increase healthy fats in the diet to compensate for eating fewer carbohydrate rich foods. Fats will help replace the calories you used to get from starchy foods.

Use healthy fats as toppings for your vegetables. Some good options are butter, ghee, heavy cream, olive oil, duck fat or tallow, cheese or sour cream; these are discussed later in this diet description. Eating more healthy fats will not tend to make you fat, in fact the reverse is true.

If You Don’t Like Vegetables

If you do not like vegetables or find you are uncomfortable eating them (for instance, digestive symptoms like gas and bloating flare up), you will want to figure out why. It is possible to have intestinal issues that would require you to avoid most vegetables for a time while some healing occurs. This is particularly the case when a person has a digestive condition called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). If this describes you please see the article Healing Diet Guidelines For Those With More Severe Digestive Difficulties.

Sometimes when people dislike eating vegetables it is due to detoxification that occurs with these foods. If a person is accustomed to a fairly high starch or protein and low vegetable diet, they can accumulate toxins which, when the person tries to switch to vegetables, will be liberated by some of the healthy components of those vegetables. Detox usually feels uncomfortable. The solution here is to go slowly.

Bear in mind also that our tastes can change simply through becoming more familiar. To help yourself gradually get used to the taste of vegetables, try using salad dressing or other toppings on vegetables, or adding a ground spice mixture or a sauce, or some grated cheese. This can help especially if you are used to more “flavored” foods – vegetables are more delicately flavored than many popular foods.

If you do choose to use a salad dressing to top vegetables, take care that the ingredients are of good quality; many salad dressings contain sugar, poor quality oils and lots of additives. The best option would be to make your own salad dressing.

Finding recipes that you like will help too. Nine Servings Of Vegetables by Josephine Zannetti is a cookbook specifically made for the Nutritional Balancing Diet developed by Dr. Larry Wilson.

Animal Protein Foods

Animal proteins allowed on this diet include virtually all fresh meats as well as fish, eggs, cheeses and cultured dairy foods like yogurt, kefir and cultured cream.

Protein foods such as beans, nuts and seeds are eaten sparingly and only by those with mild health concerns. They must be properly prepared as mentioned previously.

Meat quality is very important. Meat should be fresh rather than preserved, by which I mean uncured, not that it has never been frozen. Most cured meat, ie “lunch meat” is treated with nitrates or nitrites, or salt-cured. While traditional methods of curing meat are okay (for occasional use, not routine use) the nitrate and nitrite preserved meats should be avoided because these additives have been proven to predispose us to cancer.

Avoid Factory Farmed Meat

Factory farmed meats are the bulk of what you will find in most ordinary grocery stores. Factory farming produces meat that is inexpensive, but it is of much lower quality and has higher toxin levels compared to grass fed or pasture raised meats.

Bear in mind that as you move “up the food chain” (ie from plants to animals), toxins tend to accumulate or concentrate. Not only that, but the foods eaten by the animals we eat affect us in a variety of ways.

The best meats to choose are pasture raised, “grass fed and grass finished” and/or organic. More detailed guidelines about how to read labels are given in the coming section on quality factors for fats.

In factory farming, the animals are either fed grains entirely or in the case of cattle they are “finished” on grains. This often results in health problems for the animals whose normal diets would not consist of grains in such quantity and it creates an unnatural profile of fats in the animals’ milk and flesh making it less healthy for us to consume. Also, of course the grains, unless organic, are grown with glyphosate and other pesticides.

Grain feeding of animals also can result in meat that is high toxins produced by molds and fungi, as well as meat that is high in lectins since grains are high in lectins. For some people lectins can cause digestive discomfort, leaky gut and they can contribute to autoimmunity. This is an impressive list of negatives so far for conventionally raised meats, but we are not done yet!

Other well-known problems with conventionally raised meat are that it often contains the residues of either growth hormones or antibiotics and sometimes both.

Growth hormones may be used in beef and dairy cows, and sheep/lamb. Growth hormones are not legal for use in poultry or pigs.

Four growth hormones can be used in cattle raised for meat in the US. These can also be used in sheep or lamb, but not poultry or swine. These are IGF-1 which is an anabolic (growth promoting) peptide hormone which produces larger, faster-maturing animals. The other hormones are natural or synthetic versions of estrogen, testosterone or progesterone. The EU banned the use of steroid hormones in cattle production in the late 1980’s.

Let’s look at one of these hormones — IGF-1. This term stands for “insulin-like growth factor 1.” This is a hormone that is similar in structure to insulin. It is naturally made in both the human body and the bovine body and is identical in structure in both. It’s level in the blood of humans is associated with increased risk for all types of cancer, diabetes and obesity. According to the Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COC) it remains unproven that drinking milk from cows treated with this hormone increases a person’s IGF-1 levels (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1, Nov 2, 2023). Yet, at the same time, The American Cancer Society reports early studies showing that IGF-1 promotes tumor development in cases of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. More recent studies done in China indicate that IGF-1 has a role in non-small cell lung cancer (Group, E. 2015).

Dairy cows in the US may be administered bovine somatotropin or recombinant bovine growth hormone, (abbreviated rBST) to increase milk production. Canada, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and Argentina have banned the use of rBST, yet it remains in use in the USA in about 20% of dairy cows. rBST is a genetically modified hormone based on the natural hormone called bovine growth hormone. It was created (genetically engineered) by Monsanto to be more effective than the natural version. Milk from cows treated with rBGH contains higher levels of the hormone IGF-1 mentioned above which appears to increase cancer risk.

Antibiotics may be used in pigs, cattle, poultry, lamb or sheep. Even organic poultry can legally have antibiotics used in its production because the USDA allows all farmers to treat sick animals with antibiotics. They then are supposed to allow enough time for the antibiotics to exit the animals’ systems prior to slaughter, thereby supposedly rendering the meat free of antibiotics. Chicken can legally be labelled “antibiotic free” even though antibiotics may have been used at some point in the animal’s life.

Choosing Good Quality Animal Protein Foods

While some encouraging changes are happening in terms of labelling laws and organic standards in the US, it is still difficult to know what the labels really mean. The guidelines below will help you choose the best products available.

Choose organic meat, dairy and eggs if at all possible – preferably pasture raised (or 100% grass-fed) and organic. See the article titled Food Quality for more information.

If cost is a concern, consider buying less total meat – and, yes, eating less meat — in order to get higher quality meat (or at least avoid the most questionable sources). Consider ordering direct from small ranchers or farmers near you. You might also want to buy the less desirable cuts of beef which can cost half as much or less per pound than the more costly cuts; these simply need longer cooking times and often need to be cooked with water or broth.

Also consider getting meat that is not organic but is at least pasture raised; truly pasture raised animals will not require so many interventions to be healthy and grow well. For example, Trader Joe’s sells pasture raised heirloom chickens that appear to be higher quality than their organic chicken. Some natural foods stores offer a number of options for higher quality meat that are not organic but are pasture raised.

Lamb is one meat that does not usually need to be organic to be good quality. The best lamb generally comes from New Zealand, and the next best is Australian. Animal husbandry laws in Australia and New Zealand are among the best in the world. Because so much lamb is raised in these two countries, it is possible to find reasonably priced imported lamb that is similar in cost to or less expensive than organically produced, US raised beef. American lamb is acceptable but less certain quality-wise, as it may have had growth hormones or antibiotics administered.

For more about choosing better quality meat, dairy and eggs, please see the section in this article titled Fats – Quality Considerations, in which various certifiers, like the USDA and American Grassfed Association, and labels commonly applied to these foods (ie “Free Range” and “Cage Free”) are discussed.

How Much Protein?

Protein foods – mainly of animal origin – should be eaten at one or two meals a day for most people. Animal protein twice a day and vegetable protein at the third meal seems to work best for all but a few individuals.

Protein foods and especially animal protein foods are important sources of amino acids which are the body’s building blocks for creating not only the physical substance of our bodies, like our cells and tissues and organs, but also neurotransmitters, hormones, immune compounds and much more.

Animal protein foods may need to be eaten three times daily when there is poor blood sugar regulation, weak adrenals or a very restricted diet. On the other hand, if digestion is very, very weak it may be best to eat all of one’s protein food at one meal when the “digestive fire” is at its peak—this would mainly apply to a few individuals who are really struggling with digestive issues or those who are elderly or of lower vitality.

To calculate the minimum amount of protein you need per day, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36; this gives the number of grams of protein per day that is a minimum for someone your size. If you are overweight, multiply your ideal weight by 0.36 to obtain the recommended number of grams of protein. Using this guideline, a person who weighs 120 pounds needs about 43 grams of protein daily; a 150 pound person – 54 grams of protein per day, and a 200 pound person, about 72 grams per day.

Athletes, pregnant women and very active people or those who are recovering from surgery or serious illness often need more protein than this; in such cases the multiplier used should be from about 1 up to as high as 1.25. People with kidney problems may need to eat a lower protein diet.

The need for protein foods varies based on other factors as well. Generally, fast oxidizers tend to need and tolerate more protein than slow oxidizers. This probably has to do with the simple fact that they are more “metabolically active” than slow oxidizers. They also tend to have higher stomach acid levels and so are better equipped to handle more protein in the diet. Also, younger people and older people tend to need more protein for their size than those in middle age.

In order to use the information about how many grams of protein you need per day, you must consider the protein content of the meats and foods that you are eating; for instance, a 3 ounce serving of cooked ground beef has about 24 grams of protein, a large egg has a little more than 6 grams of protein; a can of sardines has from 15 to 18 grams of protein and two tablespoons of almond butter has about 7 grams of protein.

The differing needs for protein based on body size and other factors lead to a range of portion sizes for meats for most adults from 2.5 ounces to 5 ounces. In general teens and adults should eat a piece of meat or fish that is freshly cooked at one meal of the day, and the other meal containing high quality animal protein may be something like eggs, dairy or canned sardines. At the third meal a vegetarian protein food is ideal for those who are able to tolerate vegetarian protein foods like nut butters or beans.

People over about 50 to 60 years of age almost always require digestive help in order to digest and assimilate high protein foods adequately. A good digestive supplement for such individuals is hydrochloric acid or HCL with pepsin. In addition to this, a digestive aid containing ox-bile, pancreatin and some digestive herbs may be helpful. An example is the product GB3 by Endomet which I use in most nutrition programs.

It does not help to eat more protein foods than you can adequately digest at a meal. Feeling especially heavy after a meal or feeling that your stomach does not empty well after meals can be a sign that you have eaten more protein than your body can handle at one time. It is important to either reduce the amount or correct digestive weakness with supplementation if this is happening. With nutrition programs I recommend, most everyone is recommended some kind of digestive aid because virtually everyone needs this.

Protein Guidelines For Children

For children protein needs roughly are as follows:
age 1-2 – 10 to 12 grams or about 1 ½ – 2 ounces high protein food
age 3-6 – 12 to 20 grams or about 2 – 3.5 ounces high protein food
age 7-10 – 20 to 30 grams or about 3 – 4 ounces high protein food
age 11-13 – 32 to 43 grams or about 4 – 5.5 ounces high protein food
girls age 14 – 18 — 40 to 48 grams or about 5 – 6 ounces high protein food
boys age 14 – 18 – 44 to 56 grams or about 5.5 – 7 ounces high protein food

By high protein food I mean meat, eggs, seafood or cheese.

It is not wise to try to raise children on vegetarian diets. A vegetarian agenda is being pushed in the media even for children. We see this on the internet and through the advice of so-called experts at high ranking universities and elsewhere. While there may be some benefits for some groups of people when they eat less meat (which of course means they also eat less meat with traces of antibiotics and hormones since most people eat conventionally produced meats), becoming vegetarian is not wise! Our ancestors knew better! They knew that a diet without animal foods is a deficient diet that will result in many problems. This is why there are few to no examples of truly vegetarian traditional societies. Encourage children to eat adequate amounts of fats too! Babies and young children need a much higher fat diet than most people realize!

Inadequate protein consumption can result in problems like overeating and food cravings (protein foods are more satisfying than either fats or carbohydrates); hair loss, weakness/poor muscle strength; unhealthy hair, skin and nails; poor immune function; slow recovery from illness, fatigue and many other problems.

Eggs Are A Health Food

Eggs are similar to meats –for the best quality products choose organic, pasture raised eggs. Pasture raised eggs will have as much as four times the levels of various nutrients such as vitamin A and K2 in them compared to conventionally farmed eggs – therefore if you pay more for these products you must realize you also receive more nutrition from them.

Typical commercial (not pasture raised) eggs are produced by hens fed mainly corn and soy, just like cattle. Many experts believe this can result in eggs high in the lectins from these foods. If you can find omega-3 eggs, this is ideal, as these hens were fed flax seed and algae.

Where eggs are concerned there is an especially annoying problem with deceptive labeling; eggs can be labelled “cage free” and yet this does not necessarily mean that the hens are allowed any space to roam or that they are in a natural environment. They may be living entirely on concrete, in a warehouse, and yet the egg carton claims “cage free,” or “free range.”

Eggs may be eaten daily. It is fine to eat as many as 3 to 4 eggs per day for most adults (even up to 6 for a large adult); this does not pose a heart disease risk for most people. If you are still feeling uncertain about including eggs in plentiful amounts, or for that matter including other high cholesterol and high fat foods in your diet, please see the article All About Cholesterol. While some people do need to be concerned about very high cholesterol levels, it is important to realize that it is deceptive to claim that cholesterol levels are a good predictor of heart events and stroke; they are not. Please refer back to the first section of the Fats discussion in section three of this article titled “Anti-Fat Propaganda,” for more on this topic.

Eggs are so nutrition-packed that they qualify as a special food given the nutrients contained mostly in the yolk such as vitamin A, vitamin K2, choline, chromium and iron, not to mention lecithin. Lecithin helps us to keep healthy cell membranes, utilize fats well, and have good liver and brain function. Nutrients found in high quality eggs are so important for the brain, liver and nervous system health that Dr. Campbell-McBride, author of the GAPS diets and the books about recovery from various neurological conditions, recommends as many as 6 egg yolks per day for individuals with these conditions such as MS and autism.

Ideally have your egg yolks cooked so that they are still “runny” not solid. This preserves some delicate nutrients.

One of the best ways to eat egg yolks to get maximum health benefits is raw. Do not be afraid to eat high quality egg yolks in the raw state. Cautions about not eating eggs raw may be somewhat valid for low quality eggs, or for eating the egg whites raw, however if the eggs you consume are good quality, and you just eat the yolks raw, the chances of getting infected with salmonella are vanishingly rare. Naturally, if you have a compromised immune system, you may still not want to take this risk, but I have found that the risk appears to be exceedingly small based on my experience. My favorite way to eat raw yolks is to stir a raw egg yolk or two into a cup of meat or bone broth or glyconutrient tea. For a heartier snack, add a tablespoon or two of fat to this, such as ghee, tallow or duck fat. A little sea salt is a nice addition too.

Fish and Seafood

Fish consumption is allowed and encouraged on this diet with a few important limitations.

Fish is a great source of omega-3 fats. The goal with eating fish healthfully is to get good amounts of the omega-3’s without overdoing on mercury and other toxins. Getting these healthy fats helps lower a person’s risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

There are other important nutrients in seafood as well, such as certain minerals like manganese (mussels are a good source) and selenium (many varieties are a good source). Most fish are high in iodine as well.

The fish may be canned or fresh. The skin contains many of the nutrients such as selenium and omega-3 fats, but it also has higher toxin levels; the same goes for the bones. In general my sense is that it is better to eat the bones and skin to get the nutrients, unless a person is unusually impaired in their ability to handle toxins.

A good resource for up to date information is “EWG,” the Environmental Working Group. They have a calculator on their website that can be used to estimate the amount and which types of fish can be eaten safely by any sized person whether adult or child, of either sex. I suggest being a little more restrictive than the EWG allows, but my recommendations are not far off from theirs.

Some people need to be more careful with fish because their body’s ability to detoxify heavy metals is poor or they already have a high toxin burden. This includes people who show a high mercury or arsenic level, and those who show extremely poor toxin elimination on a hair test. Those who have very low zinc levels may be at risk as well. If this is your situation, err on the side of too little rather than too much fish and stick with the lowest toxin types. If recommended to do so, exclude it completely for a time.

The Lowest Toxin Fish – The “SMASH” Fish

General recommendations are: it is fine to eat a serving of 2-5 ounces of any of the very small fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovy, smelt and herring, up to about 3-4 times per week, for the average adult. Smaller adults (under 140 pounds) should simply eat smaller servings, for example up to 4.5 ounces, to keep toxins within acceptable limits. Larger adults (over 180 pounds) should be able to tolerate serving sizes up to 5 ounces.

A trick for remembering the names of these preferred species of fish is to remember the acronym “SMASH.” A good thing about the “SMASH” fish is that they are not only the lowest in toxins but are also more sustainable choices.

Other Fish Low In Toxins

Some sources say that wild salmon, mussels and trout are low mercury seafood choices as well as those described above. I believe these are acceptable options for occasional meals, but ideally we should eat mainly the SMASH fish and only one or two meals per month of wild salmon, mussels or trout. If you want to be sure that your wild salmon is truly low in toxins, I am told that Vital Choice is a good option, however it is expensive.

It is acceptable to eat some other fish besides those listed above but I would recommend not eating these very often. The varieties that are identified by EWG as being acceptable are: shrimp, oysters, Pollock, tilapia, catfish, scallops, clams and pangasius. I suggest to not eat these varieties more than two or three times a year, either for children or adults. It is a good idea also to keep an eye on the mercury level in your hair if you are doing this. If you are detoxifying well, it will go up, but it should not go very high. The key is for the body to eliminate it rather than store it; the more health concerns you have the more cautious you must be with this.

Fish to Always Avoid

Tuna is not a good choice due to generally higher mercury levels. Other fish to always avoid are: orange roughy, flatfish (sole, flounder, plaice), swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, Bluefin, tilefish.

The only acceptable tuna would be possibly the skipjack variety and those that are tested for mercury. There are currently a couple brands available which claim to test each tuna fish for mercury before including it in their products. Its unclear to me whether this is sufficient assurance that the products are low in toxins, but they may be.

Seafood Guidelines For Children

For children, if you stick to mostly the lowest toxin fish such as those mentioned above (the “SMASH” fish), the number of times fish can be eaten per week is still 3 – similar to that for an adult, but the portion size is child-sized. This is from 1 to 1.5 ounces for a very small child (a child of up to about 30 pounds), to 2 oz for a child of about 40 pounds and 4 oz for a child of 80 pounds or more. Larger children can eat very close to the adult sized portions.

If you choose fish that have slightly higher toxin levels (the wild salmon, mussels and trout), then I suggest you reduce the amount of fish that is eaten to not more than twice per week. If you choose any of the others (the shrimp, oysters, Pollock, etc.) then I suggest adding those types only a few times a year, just like for adults.

These recommendations for children may not be appropriate for all children. For those who have more serious health concerns, leaky gut, impaired detoxification, or other concerns, adjustments will need to be made to keep the child safe from excess heavy metals.

Dairy Foods

Dairy foods can be a healthy addition to the diet if a person does not have an allergy or intolerance to it, and they are able to digest it well. Dairy foods are a good source of calcium, phosphorous, and several of the fat soluble vitamins, as well as being a good source of saturated fats which our bodies do need. Most of the dairy foods eaten should be fermented.

Good dairy foods are kefir and yogurt (unsweetened – or if need be for a child perhaps or an adult who is not yet accustomed to unsweetened varieties, with some berries or cut-up fresh fruit). Other good options are cultured cream and cheeses.

Milk that has not been made into cheese or yogurt or kefir is too sweet to include in our diets in any substantial quantity, with the exception of young children, who still should only have limited amounts.

There are many people who have difficulty of one kind or another digesting or tolerating dairy foods. Much of this may be due to the fact that conventionally produced dairy is not a healthy food (more on this below). Problems tolerating dairy foods include allergy/ intolerance, lactose intolerance, increased inflammation, excess mucous production and increased tendency towards constipation.

People who do not tolerate regular cow’s milk products are often able to have dairy foods if they are from goats or sheep. For other it may make a big difference whether the milk has been pasteurized. Conventional dairy products (not organically produced, always homogenized and pasteurized) are among the most de-natured and, for lack of a better word, destroyed foods that we have in the modern food supply. Raw, organic and “alternative” milks such as goat milk or the “A2” milk described below, are more available these days than ever — you may be surprised to find that there are raw goat or sheep’s milk products available in stores near you.

So-called “A2” milk products are now available at some natural grocery stores. This nomenclature refers to the structure of the protein in the milk called casein. Casein is a lectin and many people are sensitive to it. Most commercial dairy cows produce “A1” protein in their milk. Although the “A1” protein and “A2” protein are quite similar, the “A1” tends to have a higher allergenic potential compared to the “A2” protein. This might have something to do with the fact that the first domesticated animals all produce the “A2” version. It makes sense for anyone with difficulty digesting or tolerating ordinary cow’s milk to try the “A2” variety which is produced by some cow breeds as well as by all sheep, goats and a few other mammals.

Dairy Foods Quality Considerations

The same quality factors for meats and eggs apply when choosing dairy products; organic and pasture raised dairy foods are more nutritious and better quality; small, local producers are usually even better.

Choose raw dairy if you have the option. When dairy foods are pasteurized, it de-natures the proteins making them less digestible. Pasteurization also destroys the natural vitamin A present in the milk. Pasteurization is particularly a problem if the dairy foods eaten are not then made into yogurt, kefir or cheese, because these processes improve digestibility by adding enzymes, consuming the sugar, and partially pre-digesting other components of the food.

It is best to choose full-fat dairy products rather than skim or lowfat versions because there are valuable nutrients found mainly in the fatty portion of the milk, such as vitamins A, D and K2. Remember that these fat-soluble nutrients help us to properly utilize many of the other nutrients found in dairy products, such as calcium.

Dairy Foods Portion Sizes And Types

Dairy foods tend to be very easy to overconsume not just for children but adults as well. While I believe there is a fairly wide range that could be considered acceptable and healthy when you are using high quality fermented dairy, I believe most adults should limit dairy foods to no more than ½ cup per day of yogurt, kefir or cultured cream – plus up to 4 ounces of cheese per day – especially if the dairy foods are not raw and preferably also organic. Some individuals may need to decrease this if they have a limited tolerance, while others might increase these amounts if they have a very restricted diet but do tolerate dairy foods well.

When milks are not fermented they are too rich in sugars. We want to minimize sugars in the diet for many reasons when on a healing diet. Furthermore, culturing milk or cream can turn an ordinary food into a nutritional superfood. The probiotic organisms in cultured dairy products produce beneficial metabolites which act as regenerators of our intestinal lining.

For children under the age of 6, unfermented milk should be limited to about 3-5 ounces per day and fermented milk should definitely be included in the diet. An additional ¼ to 1/3 cup per day of yogurt or kefir plus about 1 ounce of cheese is acceptable for young children. Older children should reduce or eliminate the milk and increase slightly the amount of fermented dairy and cheese.

If a child (or for that matter an adult) has never done an elimination and challenge with dairy foods, if there are any health issues at all – even ones seemingly unrelated to the intestines — the elimination and challenge really should be done. Sensitivity to dairy foods can cause all sorts of problems from eczema to acne to asthma, not to mention ear infections, excess mucous, tendency for frequent colds and flus, and behavioral problems. Many of these problems can be eliminated by switching to whole, raw organic milk from goats (and for some lucky folks who tolerate it, whole raw organic milk from cows especially if it is the “A2” variety).

So far we have covered quality and portion sizes for vegetables and animal protein foods. These comprise the major portion of this diet. The next most plentiful diet components for most people, will be starches or fats. The individual’s health concerns will determine which of these should be emphasized. The least essential components of the diet for most people are seeds, nuts and beans.


On this diet, most people will derive a substantial portion of the fat in their diet from foods in the animal protein, dairy or fish categories, therefore many of the quality concerns for fats will be the same as for animal foods.

The use of oils from plants such as olive oil is encouraged on this diet but there are important details about doing this correctly. Some of that information is covered here and some is covered in the Healthy Fats article (found on my website). Most other nut and seed oils such as the nearly ubiquitous (in the conventional food supply) safflower and sunflower oils, as well as nuts and seeds themselves are minimized for most people on this diet. Too much of the wrong types of fats is a major predisposing factor for heart health problems as well as brain or mental health problems and immune function problems.

Fats – Quality Considerations

As mentioned earlier, toxins tend to accumulate as one moves “up the food chain,” so not only are animal foods potentially a source of toxins, but especially fatty animal foods. Fat is where animals tend to store their toxins. This is, in my opinion one reason why diets that reduce or eliminate animal products can be helpful in combatting disease since most people are eating meat that is conventionally produced and therefore toxic with agricultural chemicals as well as antibiotics, hormones and natural toxins like lectins due to grain feeding of the animals. Toxins are a major cause of illness and disease.

Antibiotics and hormones used in agriculture are two of the most concerning sources of toxins in animal foods. Earlier we discussed the issue of hormones in conventional farming.

Let’s now look more closely at the case of antibiotic use in meat and dairy farming. While the agricultural oversight agencies in the US maintain that once an animal has been off antibiotics for a period of time, those antibiotics are out of the animal’s system and therefore no longer present in the meat or milk from the animal, this is not really true. It is possible to measure residues of antibiotics in not only meat and dairy products but also other foods including vegetables. How do antibiotics get into vegetables? They can be present in the manure from animals treated with antibiotics and then that manure may be used as fertilizer for farms, and there may be antibiotics in reclaimed water that is used to irrigate farms.

A study done in 2021, “Detecting trace amounts of multiple classes of antibiotics in foods,” showed that various foods in our grocery stores, such as wheat flour, eggs, milk, cabbage, bananas and mutton contain measurable amounts of antibiotics. The study found a total of 10 antibiotics represented in samples from the above mentioned foods gathered from grocery stores. One antibiotic, roxithromycin, was shown at trace amounts in all six of these food types. One has to wonder, if there were 10 different antibiotics detected, is it possible that while the amount of any single antibiotic might be small, the total of all antibiotics combined is significant? This may be an as yet unanswered question in the strict sense of “is there scientific proof?” — but I prefer to take precautions as if the antibiotic residues are in fact a concern, rather than assuming they are not and risking harm.

The abstract from another scientific article states “The abundant use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic residues in frequently consumed foods. Residual antibiotics in food may have adverse effects on humans by directly causing disease via low-dose exposure and indirect harm via antibiotic resistance. However…only a few data exist regarding the residual antibiotic condition in various types of foods.” (Antibiotic Residues in Food: Extraction, Analysis, and Human Health Concerns, 2019). Mounting evidence points to a need to take action at our individual and family levels to protect ourselves rather than wait for conclusive proof and regulatory action.

In case you are still having doubts about whether you want to choose different foods in order to avoid antibiotic exposure please read Dr. Larry Wilson’s article about antibiotics, called Beyond Antibiotics, available on his website (Wilson,L. 2019, Feb).

Meat and dairy tend to contain higher toxin levels also if they come from animals that are raised in unnatural environments on unnatural food. Unfortunately, this is the norm in the case of the modern conventional production of meat and dairy products. For example, cows are fed grains rather than grass, and chickens may be raised in warehouses in which they don’t receive natural light.

As mentioned earlier in section 1 of part C of this article, “Choosing Good Quality Animal Foods,” the USDA does not allow added hormones in poultry or hogs, so the claim “No added hormones” is only meaningful where beef, lamb and milk are concerned. Please refer back to that section for a discussion of the issue of hormone use in beef, lamb and dairy production.

The situation with hormone use in meats is similar to that for antibiotics — there is enough data to know that raising food animals using hormones is probably not a good idea for the health of the people who eat those animals. The only way to protect yourself is to become an educated shopper.

Reading Labels On Meat and Dairy Foods

There are a number of claims made by farms and manufacturers that are not what they seem. Let’s look at some of the adjectives we find on packages of meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products in the marketplace.  

“Natural” – this term can be applied to any minimally processed product without additives, even if the growers used antibiotics and growth hormones.

“Cage Free” – hens can be cage free and still not be allowed access to the outdoors or adequate space to move around, furthermore, poultry raised for meat are never kept in cages anyway.

“Free Range” – this term is applied to chickens and turkeys that have outdoor access and enough space to engage in their natural behaviors, however there are no inspections or minimum standards set by the USDA so it is hard to know what this truly means in any given case.

The Environmental Working Group has some helpful guidelines for choosing good quality animal based foods. They have identified seven organizations that are the most reliable certifiers of livestock, dairy and egg farmers. These are:

American Grassfed Association

Animal Welfare Approved

Certified Humane

USDA Organic

Food Alliance Certified Grassfed

Global Animal Partnership

Marine Stewardship Council

For more information – such as ratings in each of seven areas of animal care including factors like whether GMO feed or feedlots are allowed, whether the animals must have continuous access to outdoor pasture and whether slaughter facilities are audited  – please go to: https://www.ewg.org/research/labeldecoder/.

The take home message from this is, try to choose meats and dairy products that are pasture raised and organic. If you can find options that are certified by one or more of the above named certifiers, this is helpful but it depends on which certifying agency is used whether the animals may have been raised in more conventional fashion, such as on a feedlot with grain feeding.

If you are purchasing tallow, duck fat, pork fat or lard, it really should be organic since this is an “all fat” product which will likely contain considerable toxins if it is not organic.

Butter ideally should be organic and from pasture raised cows. If you can’t find products that are both of these, then at least one or the other is a step in the right direction. The same basic guidelines go for eggs.

Fats – Proportion Of The Diet

How much fat a person needs in their diet is highly variable from one person to another. Some people feel very weighed-down by a higher fat diet, while others absolutely require high fat foods and often even additional fat added to foods. With a hair mineral analysis it is possible to give some guidance, because whether a person is a fast or slow oxidizer tends to influence this a great deal.

Many sources express the recommended amount of dietary fat as a percentage of total calories. Let’s look at some common guidelines for fat proportion of one’s total diet, and see how this fits with my healing diet recommendations.

Official Dietary Guidelines for Americans given by the government recommend we consume no more than 35% of calories per day from fat. The average man is believed to need about 2500 calories per day and the average woman, 2000. Thus, 35% of those values is 875 calories from fat for men and 700 for women. This is the total per day from all foods.

To put this recommendation into perspective let’s look at how much fat is found in some foods. Note that there are 9 calories contained in each gram of fat. So a tablespoon of butter, which has 11 grams of fat yields 99 calories. A tablespoon of olive oil yields 121 calories from 13.5 grams of fat. Other examples are: a 3 oz ground beef patty has 15 grams of fat providing 135 calories, and a can of sardines contains about 10 grams of fat which yields 90 calories from fat.

Now let’s look at a day’s meals that would yield a fat intake close to 35% of total calories.

 Grams of FatCalories from Fat
a can of sardines10 g90
a cup of steamed kale.4 g3.6
1-2 T of butter11-22 g99-198
a salad0.5 g4.5
1-2 T. olive oil13.5-27 g121.5-243
1 T. salad dressing8 g72
½ cup of hummus with raw vegetables for dipping11 g99
½ cup rice pasta2 g18
1 ½ c.  mixed cooked vegetables0.27 g2.4
1- 2 ounces of grated cheddar cheese10-20 g90-180
chicken thigh with skin18 g162
Total84.4 – 118.9760-1070
Grams of fat and total fat for a hypothetical day’s meals.

If the lower amounts of added fat are used (ie one tablespoon of olive oil rather than two) this days’ fat intake totals about 85 grams of fat, yielding roughly 765 calories from fat. If the higher amounts of added fat are used it amounts to 119 grams of fat which is about 1070 calories from fat. These are not high amounts of fat, and yet it puts a person just slightly over the limit of 35% of daily calories, whether male or female. There are no snacks or beverages included here either, so its even more likely that the low limit of 35% of calories from fat would be exceeded by anyone eating enough to fuel their energy needs. My point here is that 35% is probably the absolute minimum amount of fat a person needs in their diet, and much too low to use as an upper limit.

I would suggest that most people can healthfully eat much more fat than 35% of total calories from fats – and doing so will be beneficial if it is healthy fats, not vegetable or seed oils that are consumed.

Probably closer to 50% of our calories coming from fats is about right for most people – and for some people even up to 70% is quite reasonable. I suggest that fast oxidizers and those in the four low pattern are the individuals who need the highest amounts – probably close to 70% of calories, as fats.

Sally Fallon states in her book Nourishing Traditions that, “Several Mediterranean societies have low rates of heart disease even though fat – including highly saturated fat from lamb, sausage and goat cheese – comprises up to 70 percent of their caloric intake.” (Fallon, 2001).

Children in particular must have ample fats in their diets for good health and proper development. Proportionately for their size, they need much more fat than adults because they are growing and their growing brains, bodies and organs need healthy fats to make new cells and tissues. Remember that the brain is mostly fat and growing nervous systems need a lot of fat therefore. Breastmilk is a high fat food containing over 50% of its calories as fat; most of this as saturated fat. Cream, butter, ghee, nuts and seeds, olive oil, fats on meats and in fish as well as fermented dairy foods are all good sources of fats for children (as well as adults, of course), as are cod liver oil and eggs.

PART 3 – Food Combining, Preparation and Related Concepts

The rationale for a vegetable and animal-foods based diet have been discussed. Quality factors for each food type have been covered. The quantities of each food to include in our diets has been covered.

Now let us take a look at other important factors that help improve our healing diet, such as food combining, food preparation and acid-alkaline balance.

6. Food Combining

Food Combining For Best Digestion

Different types of foods require different digestive processes. Fortunately our bodies adjust automatically, starting often as soon as we smell a food we are about to consume. The idea of “correct” food combining is basically to avoid eating foods at the same meal which require “opposite” digestive processes.

Food begins digestion in the mouth, then goes to the stomach, and then the small intestine. In the small intestine stomach acid is neutralized in order for pancreatic enzymes to work properly (pancreatic enzymes can’t function in a very acidic environment so the body alkalinizes the small intestine for them to work properly).

The enzymes that break down starches require a more alkaline environment in the small intestine whereas those that break down high protein foods require much less alkaline environment. This is why we say starches require an “opposite” intestinal environment compared to high protein foods. This leads to the main principle of food combining for improved digestion; eat your starch foods separately from your protein foods whenever possible. So for example, avoid eating a meal of rice and meat, or oatmeal and eggs.

Its fine to have vegetables with either starches or proteins because they are much easier to digest than starchy foods like grains and potatoes or “heavy” protein foods like eggs or meat. Just try to avoid having starches and “heavy” (animal) proteins at the same meal. You may not be able to do this all the time, but doing it at even one or two meals of the day is helpful.

Examples are good food combining are; for breakfast, eat eggs, sardines or another high protein food with some vegetables, maybe greens or cauliflower or a mixture of vegetables, skip the toast, oatmeal or pancakes. For lunch, if you plan to eat some starch, then do not include meat or eggs at this meal. Instead you could have some vegetables that are more carbohydrate-rich, perhaps potatoes or rutabaga or winter squash, and also some greens, or a salad, or maybe some hummous. If beans are appropriate for you, you could add them to your salad. A vegetable soup would be a fine choice also.

It’s a very simple rule, but of course it goes against some of our more cherished eating habits. Remember, this diet is for healing purposes. Once the digestive tract has healed well, it should be fine to have some meals which contain both high protein foods and starch foods. This is especially acceptable when the starch foods are prepared properly, which makes them so much easier to digest.

Fruit, if eaten at all, should ideally be consumed on its own. The only foods it can combine well with are green vegetables. (Some experts say nuts or seeds also, but some other experts disagree). Fruit can also be eaten with yogurt or cultured cream – especially for a treat or a substitute for an unhealthy dessert. It is not wise to consume fruit with animal protein, starches or legumes because fruit digests quickly and needs to be able to transit the GI tract quickly, otherwise it can start to ferment.

Vegetables that are really fruits (the ones with seeds on the inside) like cucumber, squashes, tomato and avocado, combine well with virtually all the other foods, fortunately. Remember though, that these foods may not be appropriate for everyone. Please refer back to the discussion of what I call “Vegetable-Fruits” in the first part of section V of this article for more about this.

Food Combining For Acid-Alkaline Balance

Food combining principles to help keep the balance of acidity and alkalinity in the body are similar to those just discussed for best digestion. Just as certain foods combine better because they require similar digestive processes, certain foods help to complement one another because some foods tend to be “acid-forming” within the body and others tend to have an “alkaline-effect” within the body. Acid-alkaline balance is an important overall factor in health.

We want to avoid an overly acidic environment in the body because this predisposes us to illnesses and infections –- in particular the “-itises” i.e. arthritis, neuritis, enteritis and colitis. Also various sort of burning pains can result from overly-acidic states, such as a burning sensation in the anus or the urethra, not to mention irritations of the skin as the body tries to eliminate the acids through the sweat.

When the body is overly acidic, it favors the growth of many pathogens because the tissues are irritated by the acids, causing lesions which allow pathogens access. Excess acidity also causes white blood cell function to suffer. These are just a few examples.

Let’s look at an example meal that is not balanced; a meal of a hamburger with cheese and a wheat-bread bun will tend to be a very acidifying meal. In order to neutralize the acids formed as you digest and assimilate the meal, the body will have to draw upon its alkaline reserve minerals (this is an important concept that is beyond the scope of this article). If you do this repeatedly, it can lead to demineralization of the body which then leads to inflammatory conditions and other problems too numerous to list. If you consumed a salad or cooked vegetables with the cheeseburger, it would help balance the acidifying foods with potassium-rich vegetables and other alkalizing minerals found in vegetables. If you consumed the meat in a stew instead of as a cheeseburger you would get the potassium that is naturally present in the meat but which cooks out of the meat when it is fried, plus you’d get the alkalizing minerals in the broth and vegetables in the stew.

The need to maintain this acid-alkaline balance was a key teaching of some of the great minds in nutritional healing from the past such as Dr. Bernard Jensen. It is also a reason why juicing vegetables can be a powerful technique for healing and detoxification since vegetable juices contain an abundance of alkalizing minerals not to mention enzymes which are also very helpful for health. In general it is the alkaline minerals that our bodies have trouble maintaining a good supply of, in the modern world. This is because our food is mineral-poor due to industrialized agriculture practices, we are subject to high levels of stress which tend to deplete these nutrients, and other reasons.

Other ways to help balance the acidifying effects of meals with meat, grains or dairy are to use some apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a dressing or topping or mixed with a little water as a beverage before or after the meal. In general, though, we want to avoid drinking very much water with meals in order to avoid diluting stomach acid.

Fortunately keeping a good acid-alkaline balance is pretty well already built into this diet since we emphasize including good quantities of vegetables with each meal.

The basic rule is that when you eat foods that tend to be acid-forming – which is mainly sugars, meats, grains and dairy foods (as well as most stimulants like coffee and tea and alcohol and all drugs) – it is important to include foods that have plenty of alkaline forming minerals in them — these are generally the vegetables and fruits, but also broths and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kim chi.

Nutritional Balancing help us re-mineralize the body, so we are also addressing acid-alkaline balance by following a Nutritional Balancing nutrition plan which of course emphasizes mineral nutrition. If we take care to have balanced meals as far as acid-alkaline characteristics, and also prepare foods properly, we also make a big impact on our mineral nutrition.

Yes, it is more trouble to eat this way, but it is worth it in the long run. Initially we have a learning curve but after that, good routines become our new lifestyle. These routines can save us from many unwanted health problems.

Food Preparation

Food preparation techniques and meal planning practices can add to the nutritional value of our food or detract from it.

Simple Is Best

In general, simple food is easier for the body to digest. While its okay to have a dish that is complex (think, lasagna) as an occasional treat (especially when you are not trying to heal serious health problems), on a day to day basis, the most nourishing foods and meals are relatively simple. Try to have food in simple combinations such as some animal protein with some vegetables or whole cooked grains with vegetables, or a simple soup or stew. Also avoid toppings and sauces made of many ingredients and especially processed ingredients. Read ALL labels!! You would be surprised at what is in many of the prepared foods on the market!

Fresh is Best

While fresh food is of course preferred, you are not expected to cook for every meal, or even necessarily, every day.
In order to make food preparation take less time, ideally, make food ahead and eat leftovers routinely. I would not be able to function in day to day life if I did not have frozen soups and stews, meat pattys and other “go-to” foods to use when time is short. You may also use frozen vegetables as a convenience food, since we all need convenience at times!

I suggest that it is acceptable to make a dish and then eat it within three days, or freeze portions within a day or two and use them within a few months. Food will have more vitality when consumed in a relatively short period of time from when it is prepared, but it can last for two to three days or so in the refrigerator and still be very health promoting, especially when compared to prepared or processed foods.

Cooking techniques for vegetables

The most preferred ways to cook vegetables are pressure cooking, steaming and cooking in a soup or stew. Cooking with water tends to break down vegetable fibers in a way that other cooking methods do not, and this makes the vegetables more digestible and also less potentially irritating to the digestive tract.

Steaming and pressure cooking are similar processes. Most people are familiar with steaming, which can be done with or without a steamer basket. This is perhaps the simplest way to properly cook vegetables. Most above ground vegetables (like broccoli or cauliflower) take from 7 to 12 minutes to steam and roots which are tougher, take from 10 to 20 minutes. Stir frying and baking are okay, especially to give you some variety of ways of preparing vegetables, but they are a little less preferred.

Pressure cooking vegetables makes vegetables more nutritious because it breaks down the plant cell walls more completely. It is the hard cellulose cell-membranes that plants have that make them hard for us to digest when they are uncooked (and even when cooked at times). The pressure from a pressure cooker literally forces water into the cells of the vegetables. Regular cooking techniques do this to a degree but pressure cooking adds a good deal more power to this process.

Working with pressure cookers is not difficult. When I was learning to use a pressure cooker, I found that after about four or five times using it, it was already pretty routine. I use a manually operated model, not the electrical type (such as the instant pots that are very popular). I believe that I get better results with this type, and I still own the same pressure cooker that I bought about a decade ago. In my experience most electrical appliances these days do not last very long. The brand of pressure cooker that I purchased was called Fagor which has now changed names to Zavor. There are a number of other good brands available as well.

When pressure cooking most vegetables you will find that it takes only about 3 minutes if the vegetables are chopped into about 1 inch square pieces. If you include harder to cook root vegetables in a medley, then you may need to chop the root pieces a little smaller, such as ½ inch by 1 inch or even ¼ by 1 inch. I find I really prefer greens (such as collards or kale) which have been pressure cooked compared to steamed greens because when cooked in the pressure cooker they are not tough and fibrous.

Like steaming, pressure cooking involves using water in the bottom of the pot. It is great if you can drink the water that you used for pressure cooking or steaming the vegetables or incorporate it into a soup or stew as this water is full of good minerals.

Pressure cooking works well for meats also, but I find that I prefer meats cooked in more conventional ways because it is easier to control the cooking. Overcooking meat is not a good thing to do; meat is a high vitality food and easy to ruin by overcooking. If you do pressure cook meats, beware — it does not take long; about ¼ or less of the time that is usually needed to cook the same meat by broiling, boiling or frying.

Soups and Stews Are Excellent

Soups and stews are probably among the most ancient of traditional foods the world over, and for good reason. They tend to be easy to prepare, flavorful, filling, satisfying and nutritious. They also help us to avoid waste, and they freeze well and travel well in a thermos.

Traditional techniques for cooking and meal making are in general an excellent guide for making healthy and easily digested food with the best nutrient availability. The authors Sally Fallon and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride take us on journeys into traditional foods from various cultures in their books; I suggest consulting these books for recipes and ideas.

The main idea of soup or stew is to start with a broth, and add anywhere from two or three ingredients (usually meat and vegetables as well as spices and herbs) up to a long list of ingredients. Once you have the general idea it is not too hard to devise your own recipe to use whatever foods you have on hand. This helps to cut down on time spent shopping, planning and preparing food.

Broth can be made in many different ways but two basic ways are from either vegetables or from meat and bones. Fish, fowl, beef, lamb, game and other meat and bones can be used. There are vegetarian broths too, including miso broth. A simple broth can be made by anyone, even someone with zero prior experience. Usually the process involves about 5 or 6 ingredients, placed in a pot of water and simmered for an hour up to about three hours.

A good broth will be mineral rich and also often, if made from meat and bones, rich in amino acids. These can be profoundly healing, especially for the digestive tract but also for most all tissues in our bodies, which of course are made from proteins.

Preparation Techniques For Seed-Foods

Soak or Sprout Nuts Before Eating

It is best if you can at least soak nuts before eating. Just place the nuts or seeds in a jar of spring or filtered water overnight and then the next day change the water and refrigerate them. The soaking rehydrates them, and starts the sprouting process, activating many enzymes and making them more digestible and more nutritious, as well as helping to remove some of the enzyme inhibitors and phytates.

Sprouting is just one step beyond soaking. To sprout nuts, leave them at room temperature after soaking but be sure to rinse them two to three times daily. Also, it helps to invert the jar that you have placed the nuts or seeds in, over a bowl, so that there is more air flow. This means you will need to place a piece of cheesecloth or a screen over the top of the jar to hold the contents in the jar.

If nuts have been irradiated or steam pasteurized this will make them incapable of sprouting. I suggest avoiding nuts that have been pasteurized or irradiated because these processes are damaging to the food.

You can find nuts that have already been soaked, sprouted and dehydrated in health food and natural food stores, but they can be expensive.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride endorses the cookbook The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet by Monica Corrado which goes into detail about how to properly prepare grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. In this book, the author covers the best techniques for sprouting each different type of nut and seed recommended on the GAPS diet. Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions covers techniques for proper preparation of many seed-based foods as well.

Soak, Sprout or Ferment Grains and Legumes

As mentioned, many people on a healing diet need to simply avoid these foods. If you eat more than tiny amounts of grains and do not have super strong digestion, then you really must prepare grains properly before consumption. Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions book contains chapters on sprouted grains, nuts and seeds, as well as bread and flour products. Another resource is Monica Corrado’s Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet cookbook, mentioned above. I will describe some basic techniques here as well.

Soaking grains can be as simple as placing a cup or two of rice in a bowl, rinsing the grains with water, and then covering with fresh, filtered or spring water and letting sit overnight or for at least an hour to a few hours. When ready to cook the grain, simply drain, rinse, add fresh water and start the cooking process. The grains will absorb a little less water than if cooked from the dry state, so you may need to reduce the water for cooking; also the time needed to cook the grains is usually a little shorter. Other grains (besides rice) can be soaked in the same fashion before cooking but may need a longer soak time than rice which only needs a short time of soaking. The soaking, if long enough, starts the sprouting process and begins to help eliminate some of the phytates, enzyme inhibitors and lectins.

To sprout grains, start by soaking for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight) and then rinse, place in a jar with a screen or cheesecloth for a lid and invert the jar over a bowl. Rinse at least 2 times a day. Some grains like buckwheat are rinsed even more often. The grains can be allowed to sprout for anywhere from a day to three days. They must be rinsed often enough however or else pathogenic (and good) bacteria, yeast and fungi can start to grow! They may be kept in the refrigerator after sufficient sprouting has occurred, and this will reduce the need for rinsing them. After sprouting, they can be cooked, or blended and made into baked good such as pancakes or muffins.

To ferment, take your soaked or sprouted grains, and to each 1 cup of grains that you start with (which will expand to about double that after soaking) add either 2-3 tablespoons of whey or 2 t. lemon juice and enough water to cover by about an inch, in a bowl. Let sit, covered with a tea towel or cheesecloth, at room temperature for 24 – 48 hours. Drain and then use in your recipe or simply cook as a whole grain, or blend and use as an ingredient in pancakes or other baked goods.

There are simple recipes that use sprouted buckwheat, millet or other grains to make pancakes that are about as easy as any other pancakes, they just require a little time to prepare the grains beforehand. There is also the east indian flatbread known as idli which is made from a rice and lentil batter. Each of these is fermented separately for at least a day, then they are combined, blended, a little salt is added, and then fermented a little longer, and the pancakes are made from this batter. You can easily find recipes for these foods online and in cookbooks.

To properly prepare beans, please see the brief discussion in the section about legumes in the second major section of this article, “Foods To Limit Or Avoid Based On Individual Needs.”

7. Other Concepts

The Vitality Of Our Food Affects The Vitality Of Our Bodies

Dr. Larry Wilson has helped many of us understand that the vitality of the foods we eat directly affects the vitality of our bodies. He has articles on his website discussing various aspects of this topic.

The basic idea is that when food is not very fresh, or has been damaged or manipulated with additives, irradiation, overcooking, and other processes, it loses vitality which is essentially life energy. Life energy is an important concept in grasping how healing works. If you wish to heal your body, then you really want to increase the amount of “life energy” in your body since your body uses this energy to heal itself.

Even though the concept of life energy is not embraced by conventional Western scientists and scholars, most scientific and spiritual traditions have had a belief in this substance called “ether” or “aether.” Aether is the ancient Greek word for this phenomenon. Other names which have been given to it may be familiar to you; for example: chi (Chinese), prana (Ayurveda), ki (Japanese) and mana (Melanesian). The Christian spiritual tradition would perhaps call this simply, “power” which is roughly how the greek word “dynamis” (found in the bible) translates into English.

Experts such as Dr. Larry Wilson teach that some foods have inherently more “etheric energy” or life energy than others. For example, Dr. Wilson says that most meats are higher etheric energy foods than foods like fruit, beans, seeds and nuts. This is yet another reason to not base one’s diet on the latter foods.

This concept of life energy being present in our foods is why, even if you could get all the nutrients needed to nourish your body without eating high-etheric energy foods such as meats, you would probably not want to do that. Our bodies were meant to be fed with the life energy of our foods, so we want to eat foods that are high in vitality to help raise our vitality.

This concept helps us understand why hotdogs that are made of good quality meat, which contain no preservatives or other “bad” ingredients are still not as nourishing as a plain meat patty of fresh ground beef. The hotdogs have multiple additives (even if they are not chemical additives), and the meat that makes them has been manipulated a good deal – it has been concocted from a combination of meats that have been ground up and pressed together and forced into a sausage shape, etc.. In similar fashion, a whole piece of beef or lamb has higher etheric energy compared to ground meat. For this reason I encourage clients not to eat mainly ground meats. Simply put; the more processed a food is, the more life energy will have been lost from it.

Let’s look at one more example. I know of one brand of sardines which unfortunately is not nearly as nutritious as it could be, due to overcooking. Apparently, the manufacturer had experienced a contamination problem with their sardines at some point, and had (over)-reacted by doubling down on the sterilization procedure prior to canning to prevent future recurrences. Unfortunately, overcooking destroys many foods, especially sardines and other sources of omega 3 fats such as cod liver oil. These sardines are best avoided due to this fact.

Dr. Wilson has identified a number of foods as being high in etheric energy. These are lamb, sardines, eggs, chicken, beef and turkey as well as most game meats. Vegetables are also on the list.

Foods low in etheric energy are fruit as well as most nuts, seeds and beans. Although grains can be high in etheric energy, most wheat is no longer a good choice due to other factors, as discussed earlier. A few other grains such as corn can be high etheric energy foods if not contaminated with fungus or stored improperly. However corn is a very high lectin food which some people will never tolerate well.

Based on the idea that the etheric energy of food enhances the energy of our bodies, we want to maximize our consumption of high etheric energy foods and minimize consumption of low etheric energy foods.

Restricting Starches Can be Very Beneficial

Starches are an important food category to minimize or eliminate when trying to address “dysbiosis” and the problems caused by it such as leaky gut, food allergies and various types of immune dysfunction. In such cases it can be beneficial to restrict starches to one serving a day. Sometimes it is better to eliminate them entirely for a time, though this may be difficult for some people. It may take a year or more to move a person slowly onto such a diet, and some people will never feel comfortable on a starch free diet. This is an individual matter.

This type of dietary restriction helps because when you stop providing food for “opportunistic” flora, the immune system can more easily control the intestinal environment. Opportunistic flora for the most part do not live on meats, proteins and fats – they thrive on carbs, starches and sugars. This simple fact is the basis for much of the efficacy of the low-carb diets and special diets like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, the GAPS diet, Carnivore Diet, Ketogenic Diet, and others.

It must be clear, however, that a permanently restricted diet is NOT the goal; temporary restriction in order to assist healing is desired, and then the restricted foods should be reintroduced as the body is able to handle them.

Oxidation Rate and Carbohydrates in the Diet

Dr. Wilson and Dr. Eck (the developers of Nutritional Balancing science) discovered that fast oxidizers and the fast oxidation “type” (which also predisposes towards the four lows pattern) tend to be harmed more than slow oxidizers by higher carbohydrate and sugar diets. This may have to do with how the different metabolic types tend toward differing deficiencies of minerals in the body. Minerals are needed for the enzymes involved in “burning” fuel. Our modern food supply is deficient in these minerals, thus most people have mineral deficiencies.

Slow oxidizers tend to accumulate copper, manganese and iron, whereas fast oxidizers tend to need to replenish copper constantly and are not so likely to accumulate excess iron. Both iron and copper are involved in the Krebs or Citric Acid energy making cycle in the body. Having higher amounts of these minerals available to run the energy-making cycle of the body may be an advantage that slow oxidizers have allowing them to do a better job of burning carbohydrates to make energy. Fast oxidizers on the other hand tend to have higher stomach acid levels and to also be more metabolically active generally, and this may give them an edge in digesting meats and fats which can overload a fast oxidizer if consumed in excess.

The take-home message here is that, you are more likely to need a high fat, high protein diet if you are a fast oxidizer or are in a four lows pattern, and you are more likely to need and tolerate some amount of starch in the diet if you are a slow oxidizer.

Dietary Change — Reducing Starch

When making changes to a lower starch diet, go slowly.

I often suggest that people start making the change to a lower starch diet by waiting until later in the day to eat starches; for example, try to have a starch-free breakfast. When you are accustomed to that change, you can then begin to have a lower starch or perhaps a starch-free lunch, and then when accustomed to that, you can make a shift with the dinner meal.

It is very important to replace what you are taking out of the diet with either more vegetables, more protein or more fat, or a combination of these. Of these options two choices that are probably most appropriate most of the time are adding more vegetables and adding more healthy fats.

Starches are comfort foods and they keep us satisfied longer than simpler carbs like vegetables and fruits. This is one reason a low starch diet might be very difficult initially for some people. However, many people can adapt and feel great after an adjustment period. During the adjustment period, most likely there will be some “die-off” of undesirable species from the intestines which can cause a flare up of symptoms.

Concluding Thoughts On Healing Diets

The topic of healing diets is huge and much more could be said. However, this is all you need to get started. In other articles you will find details about topics such as superfoods, avoiding pesticides in foods, and eating for specific concerns. I will also discuss topics such as fermented foods and how to make your own fermented foods.

When you begin dietary change, remember to go at a comfortable pace for you; no-one else can really tell you exactly how quickly to move with changes – you need to apply your own intuitive guidance and possibly get some ideas from your natural health practitioner when you feel stuck or uncertain.

For some of us, just removing sugar from the diet, a necessary change where deep healing is desired, can take up to half a year, or more. For some, eliminating starches or at least grains will be needed also, and this could easily take another half of a year. A change like this won’t be necessary for everyone, but many do need it. If you’re unsure about where you need to go with dietary changes, check with me and I’ll assist you to figure it out.

Bon appetite and best wishes for continually improving health for you and your family.

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