Various Diets Explained, Part 1

by Nancy Mehlert, MS and Mila McManus MD

This is the first installment of a series that explains various diets, whether on the path to better healthconfused about diet, or wanting to losing weight.

The Internet can be a good thing. More information is at our fingertips than we could have ever imagined. It can also be a harmful and frustrating experience since the quality and accuracy of the information can be questionable. Also, the amount of information, often conflicting, can be overwhelming. This is certainly true in regards to information about diets.

Most likely, if you have searched the internet for dietary information, you are looking for the answer to one of these questions: “What should I be eating?” or “How can I lose weight?”.  Foundationally, we need to start with real food, from nature, not a manufacturer. That means fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and animal foods – the way they occur in nature.  All the rest, the stuff that is bagged, packaged, prepared, and concocted, is “man-u-factured” food.  In most cases, it is generous to call it “food”, as it is more fake than real, and desperately lacking in true nutrition.

Does that mean there is only one diet for all people?  The answer is no.  Each person is a unique individual.  How each person’s body digests and absorbs nutrients will vary depending on age, stages or seasons of life (pregnancy, menopause, grief and loss) health or disease (leaky gut, autoimmunity, cancer, diabetes, for example), lifestyle, activity level, and to some degree, genetic makeup.   As a result, the content of each person’s diet will vary from person to person and season to season.  One of the best ways to determine that variance is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, as opposed to searching the internet or the latest book on the next popular diet.  By listening to your body, you will become aware of what foods you are capable of digesting well, which foods heal your body or help you to maintain a healthy weight, keep your mind clear and your energy level appropriate.

Eating a meal should not make you feel worse afterwards.  If you experience heart palpitations, increased heart rate, brain fog, or sleepiness after eating, the meal was not appropriate or well balanced for your physical and unique needs.  If you struggle to lose weight, or keep gaining weight, or are overcome with fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues or poor sleep, there is a very good chance your diet needs to be adjusted.  One way to learn how to listen to your body is to do an elimination diet.

An Elimination Diet is a diet where many foods with a known pattern of causing allergies, inflammation and immune hyper-reactivity are eliminated. During and following the diet, observations can be made as  symptoms disappear. In addition, measurable values such as blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and blood lipid panels can be followed for improvements. It also allows for reintroduction of foods one by one to determine if a specific food is the culprit for a symptom or set of symptoms.  There is some variance regarding what is eliminated, but virtually every elimination diet will start with the elimination of gluten, dairy and sugar.  Many will go further and eliminate all grains, all processed or packaged foods and specific food chemicals or ingredients such as vinegar, yeast, damaged oils, MSG,  and/or nitrates, for example.   It is also safe to say that many elimination diets, especially the two listed below, are safe eating plans for life.  Good and complete nutrition can absolutely be achieved without grains, dairy, gluten, sugar, food chemicals and even fruit.

TWIHW Health Reset Protocol (formerly called The Yeast Free Diet) is a 28 day elimination diet designed to reduce inflammation and congestion, balance blood sugar levels, heal the gut biome, remove toxins and stop hyper-reactivity of the immune system.  Its purpose is to stop the downward spiral into disease and support the body’s natural ability to heal and function properly. Following the initial 28 days, we continue to assess your health status, identify food sensitivities and allergies, and begin to make recommendations about ways you can edit and tweak your food choices and eating frequency to optimize your health.  In every case, we encourage you to work toward the goal of the cleanest, whole foods available but recognize everyone follows this progression differently based on illness, cooking skills, schedules, emotional experiences, financial resources and availability of the best food choices. Our recommendations today fall somewhere in a blend between the Whole30 and Ketogenic Diet. And, as mentioned earlier in the article, we believe that diet must be edited and adapted to you personally based on many variables.  The word “Paleo” is useful when doing an internet search for grain free and dairy free food options.  Unfortunately, that won’t assure you it is low carbohydrate diet or free of sugar, and it may encourage excess protein.

Main Features of a Yeast-Free diet include:

  • Low to Moderate Carbohydrates – Depending on you, we may recommend anywhere from 30-100 grams of carbohydrates per day with the majority of those coming from 5 or more servings of high fiber, low calorie vegetables.  We generally recommend one or two ½ cup servings of starchier vegetables per day which includes choices such as sweet potato, winter squash, legumes and root vegetables.  Except for quinoa, which is actually a seed, all other grains are excluded, as well as all cow dairy products.  Sugar is dramatically minimized by removing all added sugar, eliminating high sugar fruits and fruit juices, and utilizing, in moderation, all natural sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit. Gluten is not recommended for anyone. And further restriction of legumes, quinoa and nuts or seeds is recommended if necessary.
  • High Fat – The amount of fat a person needs will also vary and be determined by satiation, weight stabilization, and digestive health.  We believe and observe that most people do well with at least half of their calories coming from healthy, undamaged fats, some of which need to be carefully chosen saturated fats. We also recommend a slow, step-like process of increasing dietary fats to allow the body to adjust to digesting them. We include in our recommendations organic, pasture raised sources for ghee, duck, pork or beef fat, egg yolks, avocado, olives and olive oil, coconut and coconut oil as well as nuts and seeds.
  • Adequate Protein – Like you will see in a Ketogenic diet (to be discussed in a future installment), we have gradually become aware that it is important that protein be neither too low nor too high.  We do lean toward recommending at least some amount of animal protein for most people, most days, and also know that a reasonable amount of protein can be garnered from a well-balanced, wide variety plant based diet.  We need the right amount of protein and the right constituents of proteins (called amino acids) since the body needs many amino acids that must come from the diet (meaning the body cannot produce them). Note that it can be difficult to reduce the quantity of protein eaten when a person does not like or cannot eat a wide variety of vegetables. For this reason, adjusting protein quantities is often one of the last steps in adjusting the diet after vegetable variety and fat consumption has been increased.
  • Recommendations – For healing purposes during the initial 28 days, we recommend eating 3-5 times per day.  We always educate and lead our patients to pursue toxin reduction in every area of their lives including food.  As a result, we suggest avoidance or minimal consumption of genetically modified foods, processed fast and manufactured foods, and most food chemicals.  Additionally, we recommend 100% grass fed, pasture raised meat, poultry and eggs and avoidance of foods with antibiotics and hormones or glyphosates.  We encourage organic choices where possible and recommend avoidance of foods that promote inflammation and congestion, namely gluten, all grains, most dairy and sugar.

Whole 30 Diet – Started in 2009 by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, it has been a very popular elimination dietary plan in recent years.  As written, it is a 30-day challenge to simply eat, real, whole food. Their website says, “Think of it as a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”  The diet discourages anything processed or packaged. It also discourages sulfites, MSG and Carrageenan specifically. The diet does not call for any measuring or counting but does provide visual guidance for portions using the hand and encourages three meals a day.  It also encourages a protein, a vegetable and a heathy fat every time you eat.   It does call for strict adherence for at least 30 days. It appears to be a Moderate Carbohydrate, Moderate Fat, High Protein diet in our best estimation and could fluctuate based on how the user selects their food choices.

Main Features of the Whole 30 Diet include:

  • Carbohydrates- The diet allows “some fruit” with meals, and only occasionally. “A lot” of vegetables are encouraged including potatoes. The diet restricts all dairy, all grains (including pseudo grains such as quinoa or buckwheat), all sugar in any form, all alcohol, and all sweeteners whether natural or artificial. The diet also restricts legumes and beans including peanuts, beans, and soy, and allows string beans, sugar snap peas and peas.
  • Fats – “Plenty” is the word used to describe the quantity of fats to consume. A visual diagram using the hand is used to demonstrate the amounts of different kinds of fat and proper portions. Vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola) are strictly forbidden as is regular butter. Clarified butter, or ghee is allowed.
  • Protein – Included here are eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Portions the size of the palm are suggested at each meal.
  • No Recommendations regarding animal feeding/care, food chemicals, pesticide use, or packaging.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series in next month’s newsletter which will explain the Paleo and Ketogenic diets.






By |2018-01-17T14:30:11-06:00January 5th, 2018|Articles, General|

Fake Food: You Don’t Always Get What You Want (or think you bought)

fake beef

This month we’re focusing on BEEF.

Traditionally, cattle were grass fed from start to finish. As little as three generations ago, a steer was fed grass its entire life and was not slaughtered for market until the age of four or five years old.  Today, through misguided policies and government subsidies, our nation has figured out the route to cheaper and faster without considering the long term impact on humans, animals, and environmental health.  Now, the majority of cattle spends just the first few months of life on pasture land and then are “finished”, or fattened, in a feed lot (Confined Animal Feeding Operations, aka CAFO).  The goal is to take a cow from birthweight of about 80 pounds to 1200 pounds in just a little more than a year.  The only way to accomplish this unnatural feat is to feed the animal enormous quantities of corn, soy based protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including hormones.

This article could easily take many avenues, from animal cruelty, environmental issues or government policy, but our purpose today is to focus on what kind of beef can offer the greatest nutritional value.  Let me preface this by saying that most Americans consume far more meat than needed and are grossly insufficient consumers of vegetables and healthy, undamaged fats.  Meats, which can be part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet, are far healthier and superior when obtained from animals that have eaten their natural diet.

The Bad News about Feed Lot Beef

When we eat CAFO meat, our health is impacted negatively in the following ways:

  • Increasingly, research reveals that pesticides used on genetically modified food has significant long term health risks, most notably glyphosate. Glyphosate is classified by the World Health Organization as a Class 2A, “probable human carcinogen”. Cows are fed genetically altered, glyphosate-sprayed, corn, soy and other byproducts.
  • We are currently human lab rats in the experiment of genetic modification as we artificially transfer genes from one species to another where it would never occur under natural conditions. The process yields unexpected and unpredictable results, including transferring foreign genes from other species into humans¹.
  • In CAFO operations, antibiotics are used as a preventive measure so that animals can be kept in conditions and fed things that would otherwise make them sick. Antibiotics, along with growth hormones and steroids, are also used as a cheap method to help cattle gain weight. Growth hormones and steroids are banned in pig and poultry production. ²
  • There are also reports that cattle are also fed animal waste that includes chicken litter (which contains chicken feces, bedding, feathers and other unknown residues) as well as the flesh and bones of dead cattle.⁶
  • Corn fed beef is more inflammatory to humans because it adds to our intake of Omega 6 fatty acids which promote inflammation.
  • “Pink slime” in ground beef remains very real. Simply look for terms like “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB), “textured beef,” “finely textured beef” or “boneless lean beef trimmings” (BLBT). It is used to hold beef together and is made from meat trimmings heated at high temperatures to remove the fat, then treated with ammonia or citric acid to kill bacteria. It is used as a filler as well.⁴  Um, gross!
  • “Meat glue” is also still very prevalent. Many “premium” cuts of meat you are buying in restaurants are cheaper cuts assembled to look like filet mignon or ribeye.  The glue is an enzyme known as transglutaminase, reportedly created by cultivating bacteria or using blood plasma of pigs and cows. It is apparently toxic enough to warrant those working with the product to wear protective masks to avoid inhaling fumes from it. Another concern is that it harbors pathogens and since it will be located at the center of the meat, ordering on the rare side may not kill the pathogens. ⁵
  • An important consideration for everyone is the modern-day crisis we face, as the antibiotics we consume in our meat and dairy products create antibiotic resistance in our own bodies.

The Good News about Grass Fed Beef

Not surprising, when an animal eats its natural diet in a healthy living environment, the meat and eggs from that animal are healthier options for us to eat.

  • Grass fed beef is lower in fat and provides more of the healthy Omega-3 fats that are crucial for human health and are also found in walnuts, flaxseeds and fish. A grass fed steak typically has twice as many Omega-3’s as a grain fed steak. ³
  • Grass fed beef is also four times higher in vitamin E than feed lot cattle, and much higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Both of these nutrients are associated with reducing inflammation, providing antioxidant protection, and preventing cancer. ³
  • Truly 100% grass fed and organic beef will be free of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. The cows will be raised on grass and hay.  See the Nutrition Nugget in this newsletter for how to buy quality grass fed beef.


²Real Food Fake Food, by Larry Olmsted, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27515 Copyright 2016





By |2017-06-04T06:39:53-05:00June 4th, 2017|Articles, General|

You Don’t Always Get What You Want (or think you bought)

by Mila McManus MD and Nancy Mehlert MSfake fish

There is no question, that if you knew everything about your food and what the FDA considers “acceptable”, you would be shocked.  It may surprise you (or not) that the FDA doesn’t have the resources to pursue all the fraud in the marketplace. And like so much in government, the FDA can be heavily influenced. Additionally the food industry is powerful and busy in Washington fighting for itself, and not usually for what is best for you.  Unfortunately, that leaves us to figure out what really is safe to eat and sometimes that is seemingly impossible to do. Moreover, the food industry and marketing techniques today are laden with an over-abundance of hype and confusion. Today we are sharing a few food examples of “fake food”. The information about fish and olive oil is taken from Larry Olmstead’s 2016 book called Real Food/Fake Food.

Sushi and Other Fish Scams¹

It may be surprising to you that there are very serious and frequent scams in the fish world where less expensive and sometimes dangerous fish are sold as a premium species. According to Larry Olmstead in his 2016 book Real Food, Fake Food, “The seafood industry is rife with fraud, substitutions and adulteration.”  The non-profit marine conservation group, Oceana, launched a study in New York City and found fraud in 58 percent of the retail outlets.  In addition, 39 percent of restaurants were serving something other than what the menu claimed was being served.  In the same study, they found that every single sushi restaurant, 100% of them, served fake fish.  Upon further research, they discovered these trends existed as the rule for the entire country.  In sushi restaurants, the single most common substitute for tuna is escolar, one of the most dangerous sea food products you can buy, nicknamed “Ex-lax fish” because it contains a natural wax ester that causes gastric distress and diarrhea. It is never shown on a menu as escolar, yet it is one of the most widely served fish in this country.  Other frequent trade out scams include replacements for grouper and red snapper. Apparently, according to Larry Olmstead, almost all red snapper sold in the U.S. is fake and more likely to be tilefish, which is on the FDA’s do-not-eat list for children and pregnant women because of high mercury levels.  Tilefish is a common trade out for halibut on the menu too. In the shrimp world, it is extremely common for farm-raised to be labeled wild caught. Olmstead also says that shipping and country-of-origin information is routinely, and illegally, falsified to cover up poaching and to hide fish coming from dangerous farms that use unapproved chemicals and even slave labor. Did you know that wild Atlantic salmon is extinct, so always farm raised when you see it on a menu or package?  Alternatively, Alaskan and Pacific Salmon is wild, where fish farming is illegal (in Alaska).

Olive Oil²

There are many ways to adulterate olive oil.  To begin with, the legal definition says that olive oil is nothing but the juice extracted from high-quality, fresh, otherwise unprocessed olives.  It is a time sensitive issue from proper ripeness and speed to press from picking. The best oils are pressed within 12 hours from picking at perfect ripeness. The three main ways to adulterate it are to dilute it with less expensive oils, dilute it with lower grades of olive oil that have been heavily refined with chemicals, or failing to pick at peak ripeness and press immediately, resulting in an older, rancid oil. Most of our olive oil comes from Italy where Italian investigators have found plenty wrong with olive oil from hydrocarbon residues, pesticides and pomace oil laced with mineral oil, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are proven carcinogens and that can also damage DNA and the immune system.  According to Olmstead, virtually every investigation, whether by universities, journalists, law enforcement or government agencies, have found the olive oil industry rife with fraud. Our supermarket brands are almost all, without exception, included in these fake oils and routinely fail testing. In 2011, a large sample supermarket test was conducted of the top selling imported “extra-virgin” olive oil brands in the United States and 73% of the time they failed to meet the basic legal standard for olive oil. Colavita performed best but failed 50% of the time and Pompeian took last place and almost never passed. As recently as November 2015, the police in Turin, Italy investigated seven leading producers which included Bertolli and Carapelli and all seven brands failed despite being labeled “100% Extra Virgin” olive oil.   By law, “virgin” oil can only be extracted by physical processing such as crushing or centrifuges without the use of chemicals or heat. Sadly, you can see that enforcement is non-existent and everyone in the industry knows it.

¹ Real Food Fake Food by Larry Olmsted, Copyright 2016, Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapter 3, Fishy Fish

² Excerpts from Real Food Fake Food by Larry Olmsted, Copyright 2016, Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapter 4, Spoiled Oils: Olive and “Truffle”









By |2017-05-05T06:21:11-05:00May 3rd, 2017|Articles, General|
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