No. 1 — Intermittent fasting
Timing your meals correctly can go a long way toward improving your health. A number of different intermittent fasting regimes have sprung up — some of which are more extreme than others — but all are based on the premise that you need periods of fasting, for 16 to 22 hours a day.
Among the latest is the one-meal-a-day or OMAD diet, which as the name implies involves eating just once a day.1 As noted in the paper “A Time to Fast,” published in the November 2018 issue of Science:2
“Adjustment of meal size and frequency have emerged as powerful tools to ameliorate and postpone the onset of disease and delay aging, whereas periods of fasting, with or without energy intake, can have profound health benefits.
The underlying physiological processes involve periodic shifts of metabolic fuel sources, promotion of repair mechanisms, and the optimization of energy utilization for cellular and organismal health …
In general, both prolonged reduction in daily caloric intake and periodic fasting cycles have the power to delay the onset of disease and increase longevity.”
For a long list of benefits linked to intermittent fasting, see “The Science Behind Time-Restricted Feeding.” My KetoFast protocol takes intermittent fasting a step further, providing a plan for how to safely perform a 42-hour fast once or twice a week, without triggering excessive detoxification symptoms.
No. 2 — Blood flow restriction (BFR) training
Without a doubt, exercise is an indispensable health and longevity strategy, as it will allow you to leverage and optimize everything else that you’re doing. Contrary to popular belief, though, resistance training may actually be more important than aerobic exercise, especially for the elderly, as maintaining strong muscles plays an important role in quality of life and neurological health.3,4
Globally, sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass affects 10% of men and women over the age of 605 and up to 50% of those over 80.6 Building and maintaining muscle will also go a long way toward optimizing your metabolism and warding off insulin resistance,7 a primary driver of virtually all chronic and degenerative disease, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
I’ve previously discussed how superslow resistance training can boost results by turning your workout into a high-intensity exercise. Another profoundly effective technique is known as Kaatsu training, or blood flow restriction (BFR) training. It’s probably the most effective type of resistance training out there, and it’s particularly beneficial for the elderly and athletes recovering from an injury.
For more in-depth details about how to do BFR, you can review my recently added instructions in our Exercise Guide.
You can also review an interview with Jim Stray-Gundersen, a leading proponent and teacher of BFR training in the U.S. In brief, it involves performing strength training exercises while restricting venous blood flow return to the heart (but not arterial flow) to the extremity being worked. I will be focusing on this topic with many more interviews and articles this year.
In a nutshell, by forcing blood to remain inside your muscle while it is exercising with low weights, you stimulate magnificent metabolic changes in your muscle that results in great improvements in strength and size with virtually no risk of injury.
A significant benefit of BFR training is that you can do strength exercises using just 20% of the weight you could maximally lift, while still reaping maximum benefits.
As a result, you circumvent the dangers associated with heavy weights. Blood flow restriction training can stimulate muscle growth and strength in about half the time, using about one-fifth of the weight, compared to standard weight training which makes it widely available to seniors.
No. 3 — CBD oil and/or full spectrum whole seed hemp oil
The medical benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) are now increasingly recognized, and we now know the human body produces endogenous cannabinoids and that this endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in human health by regulating homeostasis between your bodily systems, such as your respiratory, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems.
CBD is nonpsychoactive, nonaddictive, does not produce a "high" and has few to no dangerous side effects. According to Project CBD, at least 50 conditions8 are believed to be improved by CBD, including pain, seizures, muscle spasms, nausea associated with chemotherapy, digestive disorders, degenerative neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD and high blood pressure.
One of your healthiest options may be to use whole hemp oil rather than isolated CBD (from either hemp or cannabis), as CBD is just one of more than 100 different phytocannabinoids found in whole hemp, and the synergistic action between them is likely to produce better results.
According to phytocannabinoid expert Carl Germano, CBD alone cannot fully support your ECS. You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes, which are very complementary to the phytocannabinoids, as well. To learn more, see my interview with him, featured in “The endocannabinoid system and the important role it plays in human health.”
While the raw unprocessed plant could be juiced, processing will convert the cannabinoids into more usable forms. Germano suggests blending leaves, flowers and buds in a blender and storing the mix in the refrigerator for a day or two. “Probably, an ounce or two of raw plant would do the trick as a healthy plant beverage,” he says.
No. 4 — High blood pressure
In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology, along with nine other health organizations, changed the cutoff used to diagnose high blood pressure from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg.9 Normal blood pressure is now below 120/80 mm Hg.
This slight shift increased the number of people diagnosed to include many who had previously been considered healthy. Usually, there are no warning signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. The only way to know for certain is to have your pressure measured.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke and raises your risk of heart of kidney and heart failure.10 High blood pressure increases the workload on your heart muscle, which may result in heart failure and damage the arteries supplying the muscle with oxygen, leading to a potential heart attack.
High blood pressure may also damage small arteries, reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to your organs such as your kidneys and eyes. Over time, this may result in kidney failure11 and vision loss.12 Strategies to normalize your blood pressure include:
Avoiding processed foods (due to them being high in sugar, fructose, grains, partially hydrogenated oils and processed omega-6 oils)
Getting regular exercise, especially ones that increase nitric oxide. My new favorite exercise to lower blood pressure is blood flow restricted training, which you will hear loads more about this year
Optimizing your potassium-to-sodium ratio
Eating foods known to reduce high blood pressure, such as arugula, flaxseeds, beets, celery, olive oil and cooked tomatoes
No. 5 — How Google and Facebook are hurting you
In recent years, the privacy hazards and dangers to democracy and freedom of thought and speech posed by Google and Facebook have become increasingly apparent and well-recognized. In the summer of 2019, Google showed its true colors by implementing a highly-biased search engine update13 that buried Mercola search results, evaporating 99% of our Google traffic virtually overnight.
Google also has significant influence over urban development,14 health care15,16 and childhood education. In fact, Google’s influence over young children has been a concern for years.17
When you consider Google’s primary business is tracking, compiling, storing and selling personal data, by capturing children at an early age, it will be able to build the most comprehensive personality profiles of the population ever conceived — and there’s no opt-out feature for this data gathering.18
Personal data mining is also Facebook’s primary business. And while the U.S. Federal Trade Commission slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine on July 24, 2019, to settle privacy breaches,19 this fine amounts to just one month’s worth of revenue,20 and Facebook’s stock actually rose immediately following the FTC’s announcement.21
What’s more, Facebook’s plan to integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp will make the company’s monopoly even more massive,22 giving Facebook truly unprecedented data mining capabilities. If you’re still in the dark about how much of yourself you’re giving away to these companies, and what the ramifications might be, see “What Kind of Information Does Google and Facebook Have on You?”
No. 6 — Vitamin C protocol for sepsis
One of the most important medical discoveries in recent years is Dr. Paul Marik’s vitamin C protocol for sepsis — a progressive disease process initiated by an aggressive, dysfunctional immune response to an infection in the bloodstream, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as blood poisoning.
Each year, an estimated 1 million Americans get sepsis23,24 and up to half of them die as a result.25,26,27Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia, discovered a simple and inexpensive way to treat sepsis using intravenous (IV) vitamin C and thiamine (vitamin B-1) in combination with the steroid hydrocortisone28,29 — a discovery that may save tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year.
His initial study30 showed giving septic patients this simple IV cocktail for two days reduced mortality nearly fivefold, from 40% to 8.5%. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where Marik works, has already made the protocol its standard of care for sepsis, and other hospitals are considering implementing it as well. Should you or someone you love get sepsis, knowing about this inexpensive treatment — and asking for it to be used — could be a lifesaver.
No. 7 — The cholesterol myth
After decades of research failed to demonstrate a correlation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans31,32 finally admitted that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
A scientific review33 published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology in 2018 dismissed many long-held myths about cholesterol and the benefit of lowering it.
The paper presents substantial evidence that total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are not an indication of heart disease risk, and that statin treatment is of “doubtful benefit” as a form of primary prevention for this reason.
As a general rule, cholesterol-lowering drugs are not required or prudent for the majority of people — especially if both high cholesterol and longevity run in your family.
For more information about cholesterol and what the different levels mean, take a look at the infographic below. You can also learn more about the benefits of cholesterol, why you don’t want your level to be too low and ways to optimize your cholesterol level in “Cholesterol Plays Key Role in Cell Signaling.”
No. 8 — Molecular hydrogen
Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a gas with very unique and selective antioxidant effects that specifically target the most harmful free radicals. It works primarily by improving and optimizing the redox status of the cell when needed.
As a result, you see improvements in superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione levels, for example. Not only does hydrogen selectively reduce the most toxic radicals, but it can help prevent an excess (which becomes toxic) of the free radicals from being produced in the first place. This is a very powerful prevention mechanism.
H2 also activates the Nrf2 pathway when needed. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that, when activated, goes into the cell’s nucleus and binds to the antioxidant response element in the DNA. It then induces the transcription of further cytoprotective enzymes such as glutathione and several others.
A landmark paper34 on molecular hydrogen came out in Nature Medicine in 2007, showing 2% hydrogen gas was effective at preventing brain damage from ischemia reperfusion and, as an antioxidant, has powerful therapeutic applications.
Hydrogen is the smallest molecule in the universe, and is neutral and nonpolar, which is why its bioavailability is so great. It does not dissociate into its electrons and protons when dissolved in water, so it will not alter the pH of water or your body and has nothing to do with the alkaline water concept.
To learn more about the details of how molecular hydrogen works, see “The Remarkable Benefits of Molecular Hydrogen,” in which I interview a world-class expert and researcher in this field, Tyler W. LeBaron.
According to LeBaron, more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications have collectively demonstrated that H2 has therapeutic potential in over 170 different human and animal disease models.
In fact, hydrogen is shown to benefit virtually every organ of the human body, and the reason for this is because hydrogen actually targets and mitigates the root causes of inflammation and oxidation.
No. 9 — Collagen considerations
Collagen is the most common and abundant of your body’s proteins, one of its primary purposes being to provide structural scaffolding for your various tissues to allow them to stretch while still maintaining tissue integrity.35
Collagen supplements allow for certain peptides to enter your bloodstream intact, before they’re broken down into their component parts in your digestive system, thereby benefiting connective tissues throughout your body.
Not all supplements are made alike, however. Laboratory testing36 has revealed many popular nonorganic poultry-based collagen and bone broth products contain contaminants, from antibiotics and prescription drug metabolites to parabens and insecticides — contaminants typically associated with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
The results suggest CAFO animal byproducts are routinely used to make nonorganic poultry-based collagen products so, to avoid contaminants, it would likely have to be 100% organic.
What’s more, when you see a product is made from cow hides, it is best to ask questions about how that collagen is removed from the hides. Many tanneries use sulfuric acid and chromium salts during processing, which would negate any organic claims. To learn more about the benefits and potential drawbacks of collagen supplements, see “Collagen Benefits Skin and Joints, Study Confirms.”
My personal preference is to use a less denatured (unhydrolyzed) organic collagen supplement, as it has a more balanced amino acid profile. An even better choice would be to make homemade bone broth using bones and connective tissue from grass fed, organically raised animals. It’s the most natural approach of all and is, in my view, the best way to get the full range of benefits without the potential drawbacks.
No. 10 — Enzymes for optimal health
Your body secretes enzymes to catalyze biological reactions, making them vital to good health and longevity. Each organ has its own set of enzymes, and each enzyme has a different function. Enzymes can be broadly divided into digestive enzymes, metabolic enzymes and food-based enzymes, and there are two primary ways of using an enzyme supplement: digestively or systemically.
Taken with food, it will help digest the food. Taken on an empty stomach, the enzymes will pass through your digestive system and enter your blood circulation, providing systemic benefits.
While your body continually produces enzymes, certain factors can limit this capacity, such as aging (which lowers production), genetics (which may inhibit your ability to produce certain enzymes) and lifestyle choices such as diet, the amount of food you eat and whether or not you fast or smoke.
The healthier your lifestyle, the better your enzymatic activity will be, even without assistance from a supplement. For example, eating plenty of fresh, raw and/or fermented foods will supply your body with healthy enzymes. Sprouts are a particularly excellent source of live enzymes.
Fasting has also been shown to conserve enzymes. If you do not eat, you will not produce digestive enzymes, allowing metabolic enzyme production and activity to proliferate instead. A supplement can still be valuable, however, to counteract genetics, aging and a less than ideal lifestyle. To learn more, see “Enzyme Fundamentals.”
No. 11 — Moringa
Moringa is a plant with many similar benefits as broccoli. It’s part of the brassica family and is considered a vegetable,37 despite growing like a tree. Virtually every part of the plant is edible and has medicinal qualities, and most parts can be consumed either raw or cooked.
Globally, the leaves, roots, pods and flowers are most typically consumed.38 You can also harvest the plant as a microgreen. As noted in the mini-review “Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera,” published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2014:39
“Moringa oleifera contains essential amino acids, carotenoids in leaves, and components with nutraceutical properties … An important factor that accounts for the medicinal uses of Moringa oleifera is its very wide range of vital antioxidants, antibiotics and nutrients including vitamins and minerals.”
Moringa is an excellent source of protein,40 fatty acids,41 beta-carotene, quercetin,42 flavonoids43 and an isothiocyanate called moringin,44 which like sulforaphane in broccoli has potent anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects.45
Like broccoli, Moringa has also been shown to have potent antibiotic activity against a wide variety of pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Candida and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).46
Moringa, however, comes out on top (compared to broccoli) in terms of economics. It’s far easier to grow, even under challenging conditions, making it an excellent option in areas plagued by drought and other environmental challenges. The fact that you can eat more or less the whole tree in a variety of different ways also makes it an attractive option.
No. 12 — How to recover from arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which your body destroys your joints, and can be terminal. The remission rate is exceptionally low, and RA patients are typically treated with toxic drugs that in some cases can do more harm than good. Remission is possible, however, as demonstrated by Sarah Allen, a former patient of mine whom I interviewed about the details of her recovery.
It’s a popular article, and for good reason. RA is a complex and crippling disease for which conventional medicine has few answers. Food, it turns out, is a primary treatment. In Allen’s case, her genetic background suggested she may have an intolerance to wheat and gluten, which she eliminated. She also eliminated processed foods and sugars, focusing on whole foods and high amounts of fresh vegetable juice.
Other strategies included eating raw organic pastured eggs and organic meats, raising her vitamin D level, lowering stress and incorporating the Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT, to address the emotional component of the disease. Astaxanthin is recommended for pain relief related to inflammation, as is animal-based omega-3 fats.
Fermented vegetables provide valuable fiber and beneficial bacteria that help heal and seal your gut, which is an important part of the treatment of autoimmune problems. Low-dose Naltrexone can also be very helpful. It’s inexpensive and nontoxic, and while it is a drug and not a natural therapy, it is far safer than the other drugs typically used.
Lectins can also be problematic,47,48 and those with autoimmune disorders will often improve on a lectin-free diet. Lectins bind to carbohydrates and attach to cells that allow them to do harm as part of the plant’s self-defense mechanism against pests. Unfortunately, some may also cause trouble in humans.
Many lectins are proinflammatory, immunotoxic, neurotoxic and cytotoxic. Certain lectins may also increase blood viscosity, interfere with gene expression and disrupt endocrine function. You can see a list of the foods that are high in lectins that need to be avoided at Dr. Steven Gundry’s site.49
No. 13 — Why 5G is a huge threat to your health
Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures, which include AC electric fields from house wiring and corded appliances, AC magnetic fields from power lines and wiring errors, radio frequencies from smart meters, cellphones and Wi-Fi, and dirty electricity (transient voltage spikes as a result of switching mode power supplies) all have an effect on your biology.
EMFs have been linked to a wide array of health effects,50 including the creation of excess oxidative stress, opening your blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins to enter your brain, and damaging DNA in your nucleus and mitochondria.
It also impairs proton flow and ATP production, altering cellular function due to excessive charge, altering your microbiome and raising your risk for cancer. Importantly, EMFs also have neurological effects,51 and contribute to anxiety, depression, autism and Alzheimer’s.
All of these hazards are likely to exponentially increase with the implementation of 5G. One of the main problems with 5G — setting it apart from previous generations, i.e., 2G, 3G and 4G — is that it relies primarily on the bandwidth of the millimeter wave (MMW),52 known to penetrate 1 to 2 millimeters of human skin tissue.53,54
Research indicates that sweat ducts in human skin act as antennae when they come in contact with MMWs,55 causing pain.56 MMW has also been linked to eye problems,57,58 impacted heart rate variability (an indicator of stress),59,60,61 heart rate changes (arrhythmias),62,63 suppressed immune function64 and increased antibiotic resistance.65 To learn more, see “The 5G War — Technology Versus Humanity.”
Even without 5G, EMF exposure is a significant health hazard that needs to be addressed — especially if you’re already struggling with chronic health issues, as your recovery will be severely hampered if your body is constantly assaulted by these unnatural fields.
For a list of remedial strategies, see my interview with electromagnetic radiation specialist Oram Miller. My next book, “EmF’d,” which is scheduled to come out in early 2020, will be loaded with many more practical strategies.
No. 14 — Nose-to-tail carnivore diet
In a recent interview, Dr. Paul Saladino66 offered up a surprising twist on what constitutes a healing diet. A carnivore diet, virtually devoid of plant foods, he claims, may be helpful for those struggling with autoimmune disease.
As mentioned above, plant lectins can be problematic for some people, and that’s part of it. In order to be truly beneficial, however, it’s important to eat “nose-to-tail,” meaning you need to eat all parts of the animal, including organ meats and connective tissue. As noted by Saladino:
“It’s not just about eating steak. You’re really getting this incredibly diverse array of nutrients in the whole animal … You can get every single thing that we need.
It’s really interesting to kind of break it down and say, ‘You’re getting calcium in the bones. You’re getting copper to balance the zinc in the liver. You’re getting this B vitamin in the liver. You’re getting this B vitamin in the muscle meat.’
But what we find is that we have to eat the whole animal. If we just eat the muscle meat, we’re really going to be missing out on nutrients … I would argue further that animal-based nutrients are much more bioavailable than plant-based nutrients. They’re in the right ratio, which are incredible if you look at zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium.”
If you missed it and want to learn more about this novel theory, see “Health Effects of the Carnivore Diet.”
No. 15 — Glycine
Glycine is an inexpensive and readily available supplement with significant health benefits. Collagen can also be used, as it too contains high amounts of glycine. By inhibiting the consumption of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate hydrogen (NADPH), glycine helps lower inflammation and oxidative damage.
Glycine will also help detoxify the herbicide glyphosate, which is now found in most conventionally grown and processed foods. Glyphosate is an analog of the amino acid glycine and attaches in places where you need glycine.
Importantly, glycine is used up in the detoxification process, hence many of us do not have enough glycine for efficient detoxification. To eliminate glyphosate, you need to saturate your body with glycine.
Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt recommends taking 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of glycine powder twice a day for a few weeks and then lower the dose to one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) twice a day. This forces the glyphosate out of your system, allowing it to be eliminated through your urine.
No. 16 — B vitamins
B vitamins have gotten quite a bit of attention lately, with studies highlighting their importance for brain health and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, migraines and psychiatric conditions.67
For example, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) has been shown to have potent neuroprotective potential, offering protection against both migraine and Parkinson’s disease by ameliorating oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, homocysteine neurotoxicity and glutamate excitotoxicity.68
Vitamins B6, B12 and B9 (folate, or folic acid in its synthetic form) have also been shown to reduce migraine disability.69 This same trio may also help prevent cognitive decline and protect against more serious dementia such as Alzheimer's disease.70 As with migraines, a primary mechanism of action here is the suppression of homocysteine,71 which tends to be elevated when you have brain degeneration.
Deficiencies in B1, B2, B6, B8 and/or B1272,73 have been linked to neuropsychiatric symptoms, and symptoms of schizophrenia have been shown to significantly improve on high doses of vitamins B6, B8 (inositol) and B12.74
Aside from regulating homocysteine (which takes a toll on your brain structure and function), another reason why B vitamins have such a powerful effect on a wide range of brain disorders and psychiatric conditions has to do with the fact that they:
· Have a direct impact on the methylation cycle
· Are required for the production and function of neurotransmitters
· Are required for the maintenance of myelin, the fatty sheath surrounding your nerve cells. Without this protective coating, nerve signals become slow and sporadic, which can lead to motor function problems, cognitive losses and changes in mood
B8 (inositol), specifically, aids cell communication, allowing your cells to properly interpret chemical messages and respond accordingly,75 while B6, folate and B12 (in combination with SAMe) regulate the synthesis and breakdown of brain chemicals involved in mood control, including serotonin, melatonin and dopamine.
This is why a deficiency in one or more of these B vitamins can trigger symptoms of depression. High doses of B6, B9 and B12 in combination may also offset damage caused by air pollution.
No. 17 — Choline
Choline deficiency has been identified as a major contributor to liver disease, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), as it’s required to move fat out of your liver.76 Chris Masterjohn, who has a Ph.D. in nutritional science, has suggested the rise in NAFLD is largely the result of shunning liver and egg yolks77 — two foods exceptionally high in choline.
According to a study78 published in the journal Nutrients, only 8% of U.S. adults are getting enough choline — including only 8.5% of pregnant women. Among egg consumers, however, more than 57% meet the adequate intake levels for choline.
Based on the outcomes, the study authors concluded that “it is extremely difficult to achieve the adequate intake for choline without consuming eggs or taking a dietary supplement.”79
Choline also helps keep your cell membranes functioning properly, plays a role in nerve communications and prevents the buildup of homocysteine in your blood, which is good because elevated levels are linked to heart disease.
It also helps reduce chronic inflammation and enables your body to make the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is involved in storing memories. In pregnant women, choline helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, while also playing a role in your baby’s brain development.
No. 18 — Beta-glucans
Beta-glucan is a polysaccharide — a type of fiber — found in yeast, algae, bacteria and fungi, known for its immune-boosting and cancer-fighting activities. One of the most common food sources is mushrooms. Shiitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms are all good sources.80
Importantly, beta-glucans enhance natural killer (NK) cell activity and function,81 and research82,83shows that if you have enough NK cells in your system, you will not contract influenza.
According to the authors, the results clearly showed those having 10% or more NK cells remained well, with no flu symptoms, while those whose NK cells were below 10% became ill. Several other studies have also shown beta-glucans offer powerful protection against cold and flu. To learn more, see “Best Nutrients for Cold and Flu Season.”
No. 19 — Quercetin
Another potent antiviral is quercetin. Influenza strains are not the only viruses that succumb to quercetin, though. Studies have confirmed its effectiveness against a wide variety of viruses, including:
· Herpes simplex virus type 1, polio-virus type 1, parainfluenza virus type 3 and respiratory syncytial virus84
· Dengue virus85
· Hepatitis B86 and C87
Its antiviral effects are attributed to three main mechanisms of action: Inhibiting the virus’ ability to infect cells, inhibiting replication of already infected cells and reducing infected cells’ resistance to treatment with antiviral medication.
Found naturally in apples, plums, red grapes, green tea, elder flower and onions,88 the quercetin in these foods may also ameliorate obesity, Type 2 diabetes,89 circulatory dysfunction, chronic inflammation, hay fever and mood disorders.90
No. 20 — Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogenic herb that helps your body manage and adapt to stress by balancing your immune system, metabolism and hormonal systems.
Its anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic and rejuvenating properties makes it one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Importantly, a number of studies have shown it can treat several diseases and disorders better than medications, without all the side effects.
For example, research suggests taking 300 milligrams (mg) of a highly concentrated full-spectrum ashwagandha extract twice a day for 60 days may result in significant reductions in stress.
Other studies have shown ashwagandha has antitumor and blood production (hemopoietic) capabilities, and benefits the cardiopulmonary, endocrine and central nervous systems, all "with little or no associated toxicity." For a long list of demonstrated health benefits, see this review on Ashwagandha.
No. 21 — Treating autoimmunity
By definition, autoimmunity refers to conditions in which your immune system malfunctions and starts attacking otherwise healthy or normal cells or nutrients. The presence of autoantibodies in blood tests is one diagnostic indication that you have an autoimmune disease.91
Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to treat through conventional means. However, many will find improvement through lifestyle changes, starting with diet. With some disorders, such as Hashimoto’s — a thyroid autoimmune disease — you will need to be on a gluten-free diet,92,93 as the gluten molecule looks like thyroid hormone, triggering an immune attack, thereby worsening the condition.
Optimizing your vitamin D is crucial for all autoimmune disorders, as vitamin D influences genes related to autoimmune diseases, including MS and Crohn’s diseases.94 Vitamin D also helps optimize your immune function in general.
Another dietary factor that can wreak havoc on those with autoimmune diseases is plant lectins, discussed above. To learn more about how lectins impact autoimmune diseases, see my interview with Dr. Steve Gundry in “Limit the Lectins.”
No. 22 — Indole 3 Carbinol (I3C)
Cruciferous veggies contain several plant compounds that are important for optimal health, including powerful chemoprotective compounds. In addition to sulforaphane, another important chemoprotective phytochemical is indole-3 carbinol (I3C),95 which in your gut is converted into diindolylmethane (DIM).
DIM in turn boosts immune function and, like sulforaphane, plays a role in the prevention and treatment of cancer.96,97 I3C also works by activating a protein called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), which communicates with immune and epithelial cells in your gut lining, thereby helping to reduce inflammation caused by pathogenic bacteria.
AhR also helps stem cells convert into mucus-producing cells in your gut lining. These cells also help