How did Cureality get its start?

In the Cureality program, we embrace information and strategies that empower you in health without drugs, without hospitals, without procedures. We convert your doctor from director of healthcare to your assistant in health. He or she is there when you need help, but you largely direct your own health future.

How did we gain the know-how, information, tools, even chutzpah to take on such an ambitious project?

It started around 10 years ago with the awkwardly named Track Your Plaque program. In fact, some of the current followers of the Cureality program are former Track Your Plaque members, having learned of the wonderful list of strategies that can be adopted to gain better control over, even reverse, coronary atherosclerotic plaque and risk for heart attack. They also learned that something special happens when you engage with other people with similar interests, all sharing ideas, insights, and resources to get the self-directed health job done. Over time, what started out as simply a source of better information for coronary health evolved into a self-directed coronary disease management program. We never set out to create something as wildly ambitious as a do-it-yourself-at-home coronary disease risk management program, but that is how it inadvertently turned out.

How we went from Information Provider to Health Empowerment Program

So we never intended to take on something so seemingly impossible as managing coronary risk on your own. But, because we armed people with such empowering, profound insights into better ways to manage their heart disease risk beyond “don’t smoke, cut saturated fat, be active, and take a statin drug”—the typical advice offered by doctors—they returned after an interaction with their doctors disappointed: doctors often declared such strategies unnecessary, or the doctor didn’t understand them—even when there were clear-cut clinical data already available to support their use. In other words, the patients—everyday people, not experts—knew more than their doctors. 

This flip-flop in the balance of knowledge made for some very interesting stories, like “Harold” (not his real name) who, having survived a heart attack and received a stent, was told by his doctor to cut his fat intake, eat more whole grains, exercise, take aspirin and a beta blocker drug, and reduce his cholesterol values with a statin drug. Upon learning all the additional information from the Track Your Plaque program, Harold returned to his doctor and asked “I’m not so ready to just go along with this idea of ‘reducing cholesterol’ to address heart disease risk. Because my goal is to gain as much control over coronary disease as possible, maybe even reverse it, I’d like to address some additional issues that I believe may be important. I’d like to have my advanced lipoproteins drawn to measure the proportion of small LDL particles I have, whether I have lipoprotein(a), an omega-3 fatty acid index and 25-hydroxy vitamin D level, and a thyroid assessment. Oh, and I believe I should also have an assessment of my inflammation status, perhaps a c-reactive protein and phospholipase A2, and my blood sugar status measured with a fasting glucose, insulin, and hemoglobin A1c.” Harold’s doctor was dumbfounded and speechless. Rather than reveal his ignorance, his doctor advised Harold that none of that was necessary, sending him on his way and telling him that he was fine.

But this left Harold with a sour taste in his mouth, having engaged in many online discussions with people who had followed conventional advice that resulted in more heart attack, more heart procedures—the conventional answers simply did not work. He also discussed his situation with people who had successfully obtained the additional information he sought, added it to their program and enjoyed dramatically improved health, including freedom from more heart attacks, heart symptoms, and heart procedures, as well as improved overall health. So Harold found an easy way to obtain the testing on his own. Within a couple of weeks, he returned to his online community and shared all his information. Within moments, he was provided useful discussion to help him understand the values, all leading to changes in nutrition, nutritional supplement choices, how and where to get the simple tools necessary, such as iodine and vitamin D supplements. He even entered his data, choosing which values he was willing to share with others, which remained private, allowing him to compare his own follow-up values several months later. Engaged in this process, self-directed but collaborative, he witnessed marked transformations in his health. Not only did he never again—over several years—ever re-develop heart symptoms nor require any more trips back to the cath lab, he lost weight, reversed a pre-diabetic sugar profile, improved his cholesterol values without drugs, got rid of the acid reflux symptoms he endured for many years, dropped his blood pressure to normal, enjoyed better mood, energy, and sleep. Slender, healthier, all accomplished without his doctor. 

Harold returned to his doctor for a routine follow-up. Slender, energetic, without complaints, on no drugs except the aspirin for his stent, the basic laboratory assessment his doctor ordered in front of him, his doctor admitted,” Well, I don’t know how you’re doing it, but these values look like a 20-year old substituted his blood for yours. They’re unbelievable. What drugs are you taking to do this?” “No drugs,” Harold replied, “I’m following a program to reverse heart disease, but it means doing some things that are different from conventional solutions.” His doctor closed their meeting with the signature response of doctors nationwide: “Well, I don’t understand what you are doing, but just keep doing it.”

Yes, Harold knew more about how to control heart disease than his doctor, more than his cardiologist. The cardiologist knew how to insert a stent or defibrillator. But deliver information that empowered Harold in all aspects of health from head to toe, while also dramatically reducing, perhaps eliminating, his coronary disease risk? As you now know, that is not what conventional healthcare does, nor is it interested in doing so, as it would relinquish control and threaten to cut off this hugely profitable revenue stream that drives “healthcare.”

Having managed to inadvertently create a self-directed coronary risk management program with such spectacular results and in probably one of the most difficult areas of all—heart disease—it became clear that a similar approach could be even more easily applied to many other areas of health, such as weight loss, bone health, cholesterol and blood pressure issues, diabetes and pre-diabetes, hormonal health, autoimmune conditions, and others. You can do it when empowered by safe, effective information, and supported by a community of sharing and collaboration. We don’t fire our doctors; they are there when we need them when, for instance, we get injured or catch pneumonia, or as an occasional resource. But doctors should no longer be able to get away with neglect, misinformation, or blindly directing you to the next revenue-generating procedure because you are empowered by the information and support you receive in Cureality.

As we get more effective in delivering this information and new tools to you, just imagine what we can accomplish in this new age of information and self-empowerment. The future for us is bright with ambitions for better interactive tools with Cureality expert staff, better ways to crowd source health answers, provide more engaging community conversation, all while the health insights that help accomplish our self-directed health goals get better and better. Each person that joins Cureality helps make this service more effective because your wisdom, insights, and experience are added to the collective knowledge. We are more powerful together than we are as individuals.

If you are already a Cureality Member, please add your comments and questions to the growing conversation. If you are not a Member, consider joining our discussions, as each new voice gets us closer and closer to better answers to take back control over health.

Sit Less and Move More.

We sit way too much. Many of us have desk jobs where we sit for 8 to 9 hours a day. After we leave the office, we sit in our car to run errands. We follow that by sitting down to eat dinner. Our day ends by sitting on the couch to unwind by watching some television.

Many of us will be sitting a good 12 to 15 hours each and every day. Unfortunately the research shows that long hours of sitting can lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even early death. Don’t be fooled that your workout is enough movement. You can still be active and sedentary.

How can you add more movement to your day? First, think about all the times you find yourself sitting during the day. Then come up with a creative way that you can get out of the seat and move your feet.

Here are a couple of examples:

Instead of driving everywhere, jump on your bike. The picture above is of the bike I use to go to work or run errands. Bike riding is great exercise, greener transportation and a great stress relief.

We spend a lot of time at work sitting in front of the computer or the phone. Prop your laptop on a bookshelf to create a standing workstation. You can also purchase a sit-stand workstation you can adjust throughout the day. Get a headset and stand during phone calls.

Walk during your lunch break. Walk to the coffee shop, the mailbox, and the dry cleaners. Get your errands done on foot or just enjoy a stroll outside.

Take a movement break every hour. Do some desk push-ups, squats or walk the stairs. Need to communicate with a coworker? Don't email, walk over and talk to them.

Human beings are meant to move, not sit in chairs all day. I want to challenge you to incorporate more movement into your day. I'd love to read your comments how you move more and sit less.

Have You Had Your Prebiotics Today?

Prebiotics and resistant starch may be the missing link to your digestive health. Indigestible fibers that allow healthy bowel flora to proliferate and thrive are often called prebiotics. They are also known as resistant starches, because they are resistant to human digestion. I recently had a client call the addition of resistance starch to her diet, “the missing link my body needed”.

A starch that resists digestion and reaches the large intestine becomes food for the healthy bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria can break down and “feed on” the resistant starch thus providing the friendly bacteria with the fuel they need to survive.

Imbalance of the quantity and type of bacteria species present in the gut contributes to gastrointestinal illness, blood sugar imbalance, obesity, mood disorders, and immune system challenges.

Green unripe bananas and plantains are one of best sources for prebiotic fiber content with 27 to 30 grams of fiber in one medium banana. Green bananas are essentially inedible. They are most easily incorporated into diet by blending into a smoothie.

One mistake frequently made incorporating prebiotic fibers from bananas is consuming bananas that are too ripe. Once the banana ripens the resistant starch is degraded and become a digestible starch. Thus, no longer a good prebiotic fiber source. In fact, the riper the banana becomes the higher the glycemic (blood sugar) response.

It can be difficult to find bananas that are very green. I made several trips to my local grocery store to find these bowel flora champions. I find it helpful to ask the produce clerk to take a look at the shipment that just arrived, noting the day the shipment arrives, for the best chance to gobble up these green beauties.

In an effort to keep green bananas green I tried a few strategies. One that sounded promising was wrapping the end of the banana to prevent the ethylene gas, which ripens the fruit, from dissipating. You can see from the image this clearly did not work. After a mere two days the green bananas were no longer green. What I found works best is placing the green bananas in the fridge. This halts the ripening process. The skin of the banana will turn brown, which is normal, but the fruit inside is still good. I’ve kept bananas in my fridge for up to 8 days and they hold up well other than the brownish black discoloring that develops on the skin. The banana will be firm and require a knife to cut the skin off the banana.

If you’d like to learn more about prebiotics and strategies to support resolution of common gastrointestinal complaints read the recently release Cureality Guide to Healthy Bowel Flora by Dr. Davis. This guide is one of the many valuable resources available exclusively to members.
---Lisa Grudzielanek, MS, RDN,CD,CDE
Cureality Nutrition Specialist

Something is Better Than Nothing

This past weekend I attended a fitness conference with an amazing lineup of presenters. Even after 11 years in the fitness industry, I love attending these events. I’m a lifetime student always learning more and honing my craft.

I went to a presentation by Al Vermeil about joint mobility, not knowing anything about him. To my surprise, Al was the strength and conditioning coach for the Chicago Bulls and the San Francisco 49ers the years these teams won championships in their respective sports. That’s a pretty impressive resume.

Al was a great presenter, full of fun and practical advice. During his presentation, Al said the following statement:

“Every time you miss a workout, the next one is easier to miss.”

This statement really hit home because I’ve seen this time and time again working in the fitness industry and in my own life. One workout is missed, then an entire week of workouts are missed, then it’s been an entire month of never setting foot back into the gym.

It’s easy to get thrown off your workout routine when life gets busy and days get long. So what do you do? Do you just trash your workout plan?

The all or nothing attitude is common when it comes to making health changes. Either you’re following your plan 100% or you not. I’m here to tell you that doing something is better than nothing. Doing part of your workout or a mini workout is better than missing an entire workout.

The other day I had the choice to do something or nothing. I had a full day of work meetings, video, and family commitments. Here is what happened. I did shorter variation of my joint mobility routine. I followed that with a quick kettlebell circuit of 25 kettlebell swings, 12 kettlebell overhead presses, and 12 kettlebell goblet squats. I did three rounds of this circuit. That’s it! The following day, I got back to my regular exercise routine.

Be consistent with movement and you’ll always see improvements. That’s the magic of exercise. You'll get better if you just do it.

What’s the Problem with My “Healthy” Bowl of Oatmeal?

Food manufacturers have clever ways to market foods to us. Unfortunately, many foods that have a reputation for being healthy are no more than junk food disguised as a healthy food choice. I commonly see people under the influence of a “health halo” effect. This is due to strategic marketing efforts. People overestimate the nutritional value of a food that is labeled “good for you” or they underestimate the negative impact of a food because it contains a healthful ingredient, like flaxseed or fiber. In fact, a recent study from the University of Houston found that terms on food labels such as antioxidants, all-natural, and gluten-free often are used to give an otherwise standard food a "healthy" halo, and influence consumption from the well- intended consumer.

Case in point-- oatmeal. We’ve all heard about the cholesterol lower benefits from soluble fiber contained in oatmeal. It’s blasted all over packages with a paid endorsement from The American Heart Association. However, that’s not the whole story. Most people enjoy a cup of oatmeal with one to two tablespoons of added sugar and fruit such as a ripe, yellow banana. In other words, let’s enjoy a bowl of “send my blood sugar through the roof” high glycemic oatmeal. The glycemic index of oatmeal is 55, and instant oatmeal is 83. Top that with more table sugar, glycemic index 58-65 and better yet top that with a high glycemic, ripe banana with a GI of 62.

Preparing one packet of regular instant oatmeal with one tablespoon of sugar and a medium ripe banana five days per week would result in the sugar equivalent of more than 5 1/2 cups of sugar per month!

Furthermore, the story many Americans are missing is all of that sugar intake, from their so-called “healthy” bowl of oatmeal, actually raises small-dense LDL cholesterol particles, increases blood sugar and contributes to insulin resistance, faulty gut flora, and belly fat.

How do we improve upon our bowl of oatmeal? Enjoy a bowl of hot coconut flaxseed cereal, eggs any variety of ways, or last night’s leftover salmon and vegetables.

The Cureality program provides tools, guidance, and support that does not follow the party line but rather offers nutrition solutions that address the underlying causes for proliferation of many chronic diseases.

Power in Numbers

In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, author James Surowiecki begins with the story of an ox judging competition in which 800 people—not ox experts nor breeders, just ordinary people attending a county fair—were asked to guess the weight of the ox. The competition was conducted by a scientist, Francis Galton, who held a low opinion of the intelligence of the average person, remarking that “the stupidity and wrong-headedness of many men and women being so great as to be scarcely credible.” He hoped to prove, by examining the various guesses, that the average person had no idea of how to judge the real answer. After all participants casted their written votes, Galton tallied up the total and averaged the result: 1,197 pounds—just one pound off from the real weight of 1,198 pounds. Few individuals actually guessed the correct weight themselves but, when the opinions of many were combined, the result was near-perfect.

Crowds can also be a source of irrational behavior, panic, and stampede. Witness any modern football or soccer game, for instance, in which fights break out over an issue as minor as a disputed call or a heckle. Or go back through history to the countless events when mass hysteria ruled, such as the Salem Witch Trials or Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast.

Let’s put aside examples of mass emotional chaos of the sort that causes crowds to stampede store doors on Black Friday. Let’s focus instead on conscious, considered, thoughtful opinions. We all accept that there are as many opinions on issues as there are people, not uncommonly with widely divergent views. But can we, as Galton’s famous experiment did, combine the opinions of many and come away with some fruitful insight—the correct answer? Just as the people participating in Galton’s experiment were not experts, so Cureality participants—a crowd-sourced collection of opinions—are not experts. If we were to poll everyone to identify their area of expertise or experience, it would likely include finance, the retail industry, raising children, or teaching—but not health. Yes, we have experts curating the direction of content, but we also crowd-source collective opinion.

Right now, Cureality is based on existing science, the philosophy of self-directed health, combined with guidance and community to help the participant along in the sometimes complex world of health questions. But as our processes and procedures improve, can we—like Galton’s ox weight guessers—come away with coalescent wisdom, answers to our health questions, near-perfect solutions to health conditions that have eluded the “experts” for centuries?

I think that we can. No, I know that we can. We enter a new age in information and harness the power of the crowd-sourcing of solutions, even when no single individual has the complete answer herself.

Use This Trick to Boost Exercise Motivation

Are you been struggling to get your workouts in? 

Do you belong to a gym and find that you're not going?

Do you have exercise equipment sitting in your basement collecting dust because you find that you just can’t get yourself down there?

If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions you are not alone. Many people struggle with finding the motivation to exercise.

The problem here is that you have head trash going on. Head trash is that voice inside your head coming up with a million excuses that inhibit you from carving out a bit of time to take care of yourself.

Head trash will tell you that you’re too tired, even though a workout would give you a boost of energy.

Head trash will tell you that you’re too busy, even though you just spent a half hour on Facebook.

Head trash is barking at you to take care of others, even thought you know your health is important for you well being.

Head trash is a real conflict that can get in the way of our health and fitness goals. We start an exercise program with the intentions of a long-term commitment. But after the initial excitement wears off, we find our workouts occurring less frequently. Head trash begins to take over and soon we find ourselves not exercising at all.

Here is my secret for winning the battle over the head trash that keeps getting in way of your workouts. Tell yourself that you are only going to exercise for 10 minutes and evaluate if you want to continue. If you're truly too tired you can stop after 10 minutes. If you're truly too busy you can stop and move onto a task that needs your attention.

Making this deal with your mind that you are only going to exercise for 10 minutes seems reasonable. The head trash will become quite because your mind is convinced it has an out within 10 minutes.

I've used this 10-minute trick myself. I grind through the first few minutes, but then the magic happens. Once you hit the 10-minute mark your body takes over. Exercise feels amazing and your body is energized and enjoying the movement. You have tricked your mind to get over the hurdle of starting and now you’re in the exercise groove.

Try the 10-minute trick next time your head trash is getting in the way of your workout. You'll be amazed how your workout consistency improves.

Are Your Cosmetics Safe?

If you are reading The Cureality blog chances are you care about your health. You care about what you eat. You want to remain healthy, free of disease, feel good and possibly even want to look and feel as vibrant as you were when you were 20. Many of us think of food all day long. Many of us love to eat. We plant gardens so we know our food is free of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Food can be a cause of disease and it can minimize our chances of disease. We try and take care of our insides but did you ever wonder what in the world you apply to your skin on a daily basis? What do these products contain and are they safe? Why are there more endocrine disorders popping up. Could it be that some of things we apply to our skin every single day may be harmful to our insides?

A portion of the skin health section of Cureality will take a look at skincare products and cosmetics. Are the products we apply to our skin gluten-free, paraben-free and free of other harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritations and possible other unwanted diseases. I came across Mirabella cosmetics and I wanted to learn more about this particular product line so I tracked down John Maly, founder and CEO of Mirabella Cosmetics. Mr. Maly was gracious enough to take time out and answer my questions.This is what Mr. Maly has to say about Mirabella:

DD: Tell us about some key features about Mirabella, gluten-free cosmetics. What made you get started in a gluten-free line?

JM: We didn't start as gluten-free. Over time we have continued to make our line more beautiful AND more healthy for women. First we began with a mineral foundation. Then as we introduced new products, we made sure they were as clean and healthy, while still being fashion forward. We saw the benefits to our clients to take out those ingredients that didn't help them look and feel their best such as glutens, parabens and talcs.

DD: Some cosmetic companies carry partially gluten-free cosmetics. Are all of Mirabella products gluten-free, paraben-free and talc-free?

JM: Everything is paraben-free and talc free. And our brand is all gluten-free except our Skin Tint Creme foundation. That is a product that women love and we just cannot make the formula without a wheat protein to perform as well...yet! We will continue to work on it!

DD: Are there other ingredients in cosmetics that women should be cautious of using if they have skin sensitivities or allergies?

JM: Some women are sensitive to fragrance as well.This is another thing that we avoid with our brand. The biggest ingredients that women find that helps with their skin health is mineral products. They are natural and very breathable on a woman's skin.

DD: I think your velvet lip pencils are by far the most extraordinary lip pencil on the market. What are some of your other standout products your customers love?

JM: Pure Press Mineral Foundation is still our #1product. But the fastest growing product is Magic Marker Eyeliner. It is easy to use, doesn't smudge and lasts all day.

DD: Anything new on the horizon for Mirabella that you can share with us?

JM: In August we launch CC crème. This product has all the good for you ingredients to help with Anti-Aging like avocado oil, argan oil and Acai (Assai) berry. Plus it is a mineral formula, gluten-free, and paraben-free. And it has an SPF of 20. One of the biggest issues that women have with aging is lips. That is why we put Litchi Chinesis Fruit Extract in our Colour Vinyl lipstick. Then in your favorite Velvet Lip Pencil, we put Pomegranate Extract, Vitamin C and E in to assist with in Anti-Aging.

DD: Is Mirabella only sold in the US or do you have international distribution as well.

JM: We are sold in Canada, Australia, Finland and Russia.

DD: Where can we purchase your cosmetics?

JM: Our products are available at and at over 1,500 of the finest salons and spas. Go to our salon locator to find a retailer near you.

Top 5 Tips to Get Ready for Tough Mudder

When it comes to mud runs, Tough Mudder is a big deal.  This event covers ten to twelve miles of muddy running interspersed with challenging obstacles.  Using the word “challenging” when describing the obstacles along the course is an understatement.  Obstacles include getting an electrical shock, running through ice-cold water, jumping over fire, climbing over walls, and things you’ve seen when watching American Ninja Warrior.  Plus these obstacles are all done on a rugged, muddy terrain.  So, maybe the word dirty-insane-challenging would be a better fit to describe the Tough Mudder.

Don’t let this description lead you to think that this is an impossible feat.   The Tough Mudder website states that 1.3 million people have completed this event since it’s inauguration.  If Tough Mudder is on your bucket list, know that if they can do it so can you.  Here are 5 tips to get you ready to tackle the Tough Mudder.

1) Train: This tip seems obvious, but it’s not.  Many people are standing at the start line hoping for the best.  This strategy puts you at high risk for injury and not completing the event.  You need to train anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks for the Tough Mudder.  Use this guideline if you have a regular workout routine established.  If you’re new to exercise or have been on a workout hiatus you may need 4 to 6 months to get ready.  Carve out time in your schedule to train 3 to 5 days a week to prepare for this event.  If you need some guidance, join a training program to provide a road map to Tough Mudder success.

2) Run:  Tough Mudder is like a half-marathon on steroids.  Running is critical component when you find that you’re traveling up to a mile between obstacles.  Incorporate running intervals, hills, and fartleks into your training program.  Start your training off with a new pair of running or minimalist shoes so that by the time your Tough Mudder comes around your shoes are ready to get trashed.

3) Simulate Obstacles:  To feel confident at the start line of Tough Mudder, you need to practice skills that can help you with the obstacles.  This will reduce your risk of obtaining any injuries during the event.  Utilizing stairs, fences, playgrounds, rock climbing walls, football fields, lakes, and beaches are great places to start when looking to simulate obstacles.  Check out the Tough Mudder website to see a list obstacles.  Use your imagination to find ways to incorporate obstacle training in your workouts.   

4) Simulate Terrain: Running covered in mud with wet shoes is much different from running on the treadmill.  Running in the grass, on the sand and through the water is much different from running on asphalt.  Get ready to be a little uncomfortable.  Your shoes will begin to slide around on your feet and your clothes will cling to your body.  Get ready to work a little harder.  Your stride will be affected by the changes in terrain.  Practice running on the grass, in the water, and in the sand.  Make sure you get wet and run with soaked shoes and clothes. You’ll realize what shoes and clothes to wear on race day to be the most comfortable and effective.

5) Team: Teamwork is what Tough Mudder is about.  Teamwork is what keeps drawing people back to the Tough Mudder venue.  From the start to the finish, it’s about getting everyone across the finish line.  If you’re struggling to get over a wall, a hand is there to help pull you up.  When fatigue is setting in, another person is there to bring up your spirits.  You’re not alone out there.  At other races you find you’re left in the dust.  At Tough Mudder you are overcoming challenges with your muddy buddies. Get together with friends or a training group to form a team bond that will keep you accountable with your training and support you to the finish line.

Want personalized training???  Schedule a virtual appointment with Amber.

Keeping Up with the Kids

On Saturday my husband and I took our niece Anna out her annual birthday date. That date started with a trip to the Humboldt park playground. As with most kids, Anna ran straight to the spider-web jungle gym which I have to admit it looked pretty cool. Just before she began to climb up, she turned to look at me and said “Auntie Amber, climb up too!”

I was not wearing my playground apparel on Saturday. I had a cute pair of pink loafers on, skinny jeans, tank and a jean jacket. But it did look like fun so I decided to climb. No problems yet. I was good to go climbing around on the ropey, spider web apparatus. But of course, just climbing around was not enough. Anna suggested that we should race. Not just to the top, but to the top of the jungle gym over the side, across the rope bridge and down the slide. This is when my skill was put to the test.

As you could have guessed, Anna smoked me during our race. Not only that, but the jean jacket was off and I was working up a sweat. Was I getting a workout from my 9-year-old niece? I think so. But we both were having so much fun. We continued to climb up and down the fake rock wall, monkey bars and run around the playground. It was a blast.

But as I looked around the playground, I was the only adult climbing around the playground and playing. The other adults were sitting on park benches watching. One parent near by had to decline the request of a child they were with to join them on the playground equipment. I felt really good that I could be there with my niece running around, climbing and swinging.

Keeping up with our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews is really important as we age. Otherwise we sit on the sidelines. How do you train for the playground? Get in the weight room. Lift heavy things, jump, pull yourself up, move side ways, and challenge your body to do movements beside sitting or standing. If it’s been awhile or you’re just not sure where to start then get a trainer and join some group workouts.

It’s time to get moving. Because it starts out at the playground now but soon it will be mud runs, Frisbee, triathlons and weekend football games. You need to keep up!
Bet you can't fast

Bet you can't fast

People who continue to consume the world's most destructive grain, i.e., wheat, can rarely endure fasting--not eating for an extended period--except by mustering up monumental willpower. That's because wheat is a powerful appetite stimulant through its 2-hour cycle of exaggerated glycemia followed by a glucose low, along with its addictive exorphin effect. Wheat elimination is therefore an important first step towards allowing you to consider fasting.

Why fast? I regard fasting as among the most underappreciated and underutilized strategies for health.

In its purest form, fasting means eating nothing while maintaining hydration with water alone. (Inadequate hydration is the most common reason for failing, often experienced as nausea or lightheadedness.) You can fast for as briefly as 15 hours or as long as several weeks (though I tell people that any more than 5 days and supervision is required, as electrolyte distortions like dangerously low magnesium levels can develop).

Among its many physiological benefits, fasting can:

  • Reduce blood pressure. The blood pressure reducing effect can be so substantial that I usually have people hold some blood pressure medications, especially ACE inhibitors and ARB agents, during the fast since blood pressure will drop to normal even without the drugs. (A fascinating phenomenon all by itself.)

  • Reduce visceral fat, i.e., the fat that releases inflammatory mediators and generates resistance to insulin.

  • Reduce inflammatory measures

  • Reduce liver output of VLDL that cascades into reduced small LDL, improved HDL "architecture," and improved insulin responsiveness. (The opposite of fasting is "grazing," the ridiculous strategy advocated by many dietitians to control weight. Grazing, or eating small meals every two hours, is incredibly destructive for the opposite reason: flagrant provocation of VLDL production.)

  • Accelerate weight loss. One pound per day is typical.

Beyond this, fasting also achieves unique subjective benefits, including reduced appetite upon resumption of eating. You will find that as single boiled egg or a few slices of cucumber, for example, rapidly generate a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Most people also experience greater appreciation of food--the sensory experience of eating is heightened and your sense of texture, flavors, sweetness, sourness, etc. are magnified.

After decades of the sense-deadening effects of processed foods--over-sugared, over-salted, reheated, dehydrated then just-add-water foods--fasting reawakens your appreciation for simple, real food. On breaking one of my fasts, I had a slice of green pepper. Despite its simplicity, it was a veritable feast of flavors and textures. Just a few more bites and I was full and satisfied.

Once you've fasted, I believe that you will see why it is often practiced as part of religious ritual. It has an almost spiritual effect.

More on fasting to come . . .

Comments (28) -

  • Soul

    5/26/2011 12:43:19 PM |

    Thought this interesting, talking about wheat, saw yesterday on the news that NBC is hosting "health week" this week.  It is sponsored by General Mills, if I remember correctly, with emphasis on the importance of eating whole wheat for good health.

  • Gene K

    5/26/2011 3:56:41 PM |

    1. Should I continue to take all my supplements and medications during fasting, e.g. Niacin, or does it depend?
    2. If upon fasting, satiety comes after eating a small amount of food, how do I make sure my nutrition is sufficient to maintain the muscle mass? How do you combine fasting and exercise?

  • Joe

    5/26/2011 4:52:26 PM |

    Gene, my guess is that you can't. Or shouldn't. But then you're probably not going to fast for more than a few days at most, so going without exercise for a few days is probably not going to cost you any muscle mass.

    I would also think it's probably okay to take your usual supplements, too.  Medicines may be a problem, depending on what they are.  People with serious health issues probably should avoid fasting altogether, unless under the close supervision of his or her doctor.

    I'm interested in hearing what Dr. Davis has to say regarding fasting.  Hurry up doc!


  • Kent

    5/26/2011 5:22:21 PM |

    Is it true that fasting can also improve LP(a)?

  • Steve Cooksey

    5/26/2011 8:27:45 PM |

    Agreed Dr. Davis.

    I am a big fan of intermittent fasting.... looking forward to more posts.

  • Rob O.

    5/26/2011 8:54:14 PM |

    I've had a similar experience to your post-fast feeling upon eating by doing a 2 or 3 day liquid-only diet that's heavy on water and includes a large protein shake each day.  It's as though you have to periodically remind the part of your brain that listens to the stomach what "full" means.

    Like the others, I'm very interested in what the doc has to say in the next article in this series!

  • Paul

    5/26/2011 9:28:09 PM |

    To what extent does a person with impaired adrenal and/or thyroid function need to be careful when fasting or low-carbing?

  • Mark. Gooley

    5/26/2011 10:24:13 PM |

    Type 1 diabetic for 40 years, and nowadays I eat about a thousand-calorie high-fat breakfast and a similar dinner.  I rarely eat lunch, and skipping breakfast (simply omit the pre-meal shot of insulin) as well is usually not a big deal any more: I do it occasionally.  Control of blood sugar is much easier now, and Hb A1c around 6 rather than over 10: still room for improvement.  When I was eating skimmed milk with Grape-Nuts or Uncle Sam (whole wheat flakes with whole flaxseed) for breakfast I would have blood sugars as high as 300 by mid-morning and a powerful hunger by lunchtime.  Whatever benefits fasting may have, I find it a lot easier now than it once was, and plan to try it more often, as I'm still overweight.

  • Gene K

    5/27/2011 3:07:21 AM |

    Is snacking on raw green vegetables between meals also considered grazing?

  • JLL

    5/27/2011 11:22:09 AM |

    I experimented with intermittent fasting (IF) for a little over a year. I first got interested in IF through calorie restriction (CR) -- there were a couple papers suggesting that you could extend lifespan through IF without the CR, which seemed like the perfect combination.

    These papers are still quoted on many blogs, but I doubt many have actually read them, since none of them actually show you can increase lifespan without restricting calories. See this post for a more detailed analysis:

    Anyhow, I still think there might be benefits for doing intermittent fasting -- though I've also seen some studies showing it might have negative effects as well -- and certainly it seems pretty good for weight loss. When I was on a high-fat, low-carb diet and fasting for 24 hours, then eating for 24 hours, I was the leanest I'd ever been. And that was without trying or counting calories:

    And one more shameless plug, some tips for those who have trouble going without food for 24 hours (or more):

    Personally, I never went for several days without food. I'm not sure it's needed for weight loss anyway, although it might have other health benefits.

    - JLL

  • Dr. William Davis

    5/27/2011 11:40:28 AM |

    Hi, Gene--

    Green vegetables have no discernible postprandial chylomicron/VLDL consequence and is the exception. I'd consider that safe "grazing."

    We usually hold niacin during a fast due to the fluid struggles, which can magnify the hot "flush." We usually continue the other supplements, however.

  • Dr. William Davis

    5/27/2011 11:41:49 AM |

    Hi, Paul--

    If not yet corrected, I don't think it would be a good time to fast, since you could feel pretty crumby during your fast.

    Fasting should be a positive experience, not something to endure. I'd wait until these issues are corrected.

  • Dr. William Davis

    5/27/2011 11:45:56 AM |

    Hi, JLL--

    Agreed. In fact, I believe that the greatest benefits of intermittent fasting are the subjective benefits of reawakened taste and appreciation of food, rather than the physiologic benefits. Nonetheless, it makes sense that, since atherosclerosis and arterial dysfunction are to a large degree postprandial phenomena, prolonged "no-prandial" periods might facilitate arterial health.

  • Carl N

    5/27/2011 1:26:16 PM |

    Is it possible that current wheat strains have been selected or genetically engineered to be addictive?

  • Steve O

    5/27/2011 4:36:54 PM |

    Today's Urban Dictionary Word of the Day: Carb Coma -- The sleepy feeling after eating a large meal comprised chiefly of carbohydrates, whether in the form of rice, noodles, bread or dough.  "Dude, I was totally dozing at the office after that giant serving of chow mein for lunch. Total carb coma."

  • Curtis

    5/27/2011 6:12:12 PM |

    I have been following Fast-5 for three years, and quickly got down to a healthy weight. I'm 58 years old and lost 25 lbs to get down to 160lb (5'-11''), and a reasonable BMI. I fast daily for 19 to 21 hours with absolutely no effort required - it is just the way I live now. During this whole time I have made no effort to restrict wheat in any way. I don't eat a lot of wheat and I don't eat it every day, but on the day after pigging out on pizza I have no trouble with my fasting. There's your black swan.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    5/28/2011 12:28:56 AM |

    Ketone metabolites from Beta oxidation of fatty acid, B-hydroxy-butyrate , increase when fasting;  these metabolites act on visceral fat receptor HM74A. The result is upregulation of the anti-inflammatory  molecule adiponectin;  it (adiponectin)  also keeps less glycerols  (think of tri-glyceride group).

    The increased adiponectin upshot is the white visceral adipose (not subcutaneous fat) does less lypo-lysis (fat cleaving) and there is a reduced level of free fatty acids going into circulation.  This relief, from excessive "freed" fatty acids ,  permits the response to insulin to improve (ie: sensitivity to insulin better) when go back to eating;  and the longer the fast went on for  the longer the boost of circulating adipinectins stays  around   than before.

    Low serum adiponectin levels are common in the obese, hyper-glycaemic,  diabetic;  individuals with  hyper-triglycerides, coronary artery disease (and often even the children of  hyper-tensives.  Metabolic syndrome tends to low adiponectin and concurrent high levesls of circulating triglycerides.

    The  actual anti-inflammatory action of adiponectin is a major  part of why the fast makes the body feel so much better;  the digestive  organ rest is given too much focus.   Many individuals report  " pain gone"  from diets  that favor more ketone derived energy
    production (like low carb,  calorie restriction &/or  ferments for gut bacteria) ;  because,  there too, the metabolite Beta hydroxy-butyrate is instigating more circulating adiponectin that  then stymies pro-inflammatory cytokines.

  • Dr. William Davis

    5/28/2011 3:08:20 PM |

    Hi, Might--

    You make a crucial point that, I believe, explains much of the benefits to fasting: via improvements in cytokine levels and tissue responsiveness, especially adiponectin.


  • Dr. William Davis

    5/28/2011 3:09:26 PM |

    Hi, Curtis--

    Exactly. There are going to be exceptions. However, I speak for the 80% or more people who do indeed have addictive and appetite-increasing relationships with wheat.

  • Shreela

    5/29/2011 6:08:03 AM |

    I wasn't able to fast when Dr. Davis started discussing it about 1-2 years ago. Most of my life, if I didn't "graze", I'd get hypoglycemic symptoms like my mother, and my paternal grandmother. My mother even got a note from my doctor that I had to have a sandwich before Jr high band practice, else I'd get headaches or light-headed - that's how long I've dealt with frequent hypoglycemia episodes.

    So I came up with my own personal mini-fast-challenge. I would only eat when an actual hypoglycemic symptom happened, ignoring the regular hunger pangs. Then when I ate, I avoided sugars, starch and wheat - I did have a bit of rice though. I'm guessing it was about 3-4 days before I could go 5-6 hours with no hypoglycemic symptoms, and about 10'ish days before I could go 12 waking hours with no calories (I draink tea with stevia).

    Looking back, both my parents' families ate lots of wheat: bread, biscuits, pasta, so that's probably what gave my paternal grandmother, mother, and then me our hypoglycemia. If I have a hypoglycemic symptom, I start my mini-fast-challenge again. I finally figured out my family's curse is wheat, so I avoid it except the occasional pasta dish.

  • Paul Lee

    5/30/2011 11:27:42 AM |

    I followed the "East Stop Eat" approach a while back, with good results. I agree with one poster that said best to skip the breakfast insulin surge. In fact I think the whole "three square meals" with grazing in between, needs to be challenged (perhaps one meal a day). My guess is that humans are designed to go days without food and have plenty of energy. Its an ability that needs to be regained. Also I gather fasting is good for HGH response, especially if combined with resistance training.

  • Matt Titus

    5/30/2011 4:34:48 PM |

    Dr. Davis, I have done intermittent fasting for a long long, I have lost count but I think that it has been 4 years. I do my version on a daily basis so it I am not as strict as someone who does this occasionally. Now that being said, my final meal of the day is the meal that I begin my fast so I keep it as nutritious and ketogenic as possible. So, I eat my final meal at around 7:00 P.M. I don't eat again until 3:00 P.M. the following day. Eating is such a treat and I eat very tasty low carb food when I break my fast. I will have my morning coffee with heavy whipping cream and MCT oil. Or I will have a glass of water with MCT oil. I take my vitamin D at this time of day because it wards off any allergy bugs lurking in the air. This summer I would like to lose 10 lbs so I will just kick up my fasting method in intensify my diet by keeping it balanced between protein and fats.

    I am not athletic in the least but I find that being active is not hindered during fasting. I strongly believe that we should not need to eat before exercise. Nor should we need to eat immediately after exercise.

  • Mary Titus

    5/30/2011 4:38:17 PM |

    Sorry, I just noticed that post came up under my husband's name. That post on fasting should come up under my name Mary...I am the one playing flute.

  • Mary Titus

    5/31/2011 4:27:54 AM |

    Yes, I do agree with you . I read about HGH becoming activated through a combination of fasting and resistance training.

  • bbtri

    6/6/2011 1:17:06 AM |

    18 hour fasts are easy, 24 hour fasts are hard, but once I break the 24 hour barrier, another 12-16 hours isn't bad.  My diet isn't wheat heavy, but I certainly don't avoid it.  What works for me is moderate physical activity, which gets me over the hump.  The hump may be the switchover from carb burning to fat burning, which moderate activity of a couple hours duration trains the body to do.

  • Whoosh

    6/9/2011 6:36:41 PM |

    I was quite sold on IF but keep finding conflicting findings, any comments on this ?

  • M R

    6/29/2011 9:22:19 PM |

    Dr. Davis,
    Please refer me to your source of  "wheat is destructive".  I have eaten Shredded Wheat breakfast cereal every day for 25 years.  It is the only breakfast cereal I am not allergic/sensitive to.  After eating it for breakfast, it fills me up and I do not eat again for 6 hours.  I understand about wheat products raising a person's glycemic index, but I have read that the fiber in Shredded Wheat takes so long to digest that it actually controls a person's blood sugar all day.
    I am a healthy, near ideal-weight 50 year-old female.  My experience finds this statement to be false: "wheat is a powerful appetite stimulant through its 2-hour cycle of exaggerated glycemia followed by a glucose low, along with its addictive exorphin effect".
    Thank you for your time.