Nuts and seeds…Too much of a good thing?

Nuts and seeds…Too much of a good thing?

For years, nuts and seeds were a BIG part of my diet.  Nuts, seeds, nut and seed bars, and nut butters were staples when it came to my everyday food plan.   I ate almond butter in my oatmeal in the morning, a bag of nuts for a snack, a few nuts on my salad for lunch and a scoop of peanut butter in my protein shake later on in the day.  Nuts and seeds, seeds and nuts…how could you lose with such a tasty nutritious snack?

The only problem, were some digestive issues: stomach bloating and seeing the undigested nuts and seeds in my stool (I know…too much information).  Quite honestly, I didn’t think much about any of these things because I knew how healthy they were for me. I thought of nuts and seeds as a good source of protein, filled with anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals…plus they were convenient and tasted great… right?

These days, almost every-health conscious person loves their nuts and seeds.   Almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts… these crunchy, tasty snacks go great with any salad, casserole or just eaten by themselves as a snack.  Eating nuts and seeds has become a staple for individuals who want a healthy snack, that’s easy and taste great.

BUT — (you knew there was going to be a BUT)—have any of you, like me, ever had digestive upset, bloating or undigested nuts and seeds in your stool?  I’ll guess most of you will say “yes,” and for those of you that said “no”, you may want to take a second look. Have you ever wondered why the nuts and seeds are in your stool?  No?  Well, the good news is I did…and this is why I am now asking:

“Are nuts and seeds as healthy for us as we all have been lead to believe? Could we actually be damaging our metabolism eating them everyday of our lives?  Are we over-nutting and over-seeding and causing digestive distress?”

Keep reading and you will find out…

First, lets look at the positive qualities of nuts and seeds.

* Nuts and seeds contain a moderate level of protein (anywhere from 5%-30% of their total calories)

* Nuts and seeds contain the so-called “healthy” fats

* Nuts and seeds contain anti-oxidants and other mineral and vitamins including:  selenium, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, folic acid and vitamin E.

* Nuts and seeds contain fiber

* Nuts and seeds are easy and convenient to eat when you are on the go

* Nuts and seeds taste great and go well with many dishes

So far, this all looks pretty good…right?  So, what possibly could be wrong with consuming nuts and seeds on a daily basis?

Here are 6 reasons you may want to re-think your nut and seed intake

  1. High levels of the wrong fats

So many people believe nuts and seeds are a great source of protein, which in truth, they are anywhere from only 5% to 30% protein.  Most nuts and seeds are somewhere in between.  The rest of the nuts and seeds calories come from fat.  Now, if you have been reading my blogs you will know I am not against eating fat.   BUT, I am against the anti-metabolic polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s).  PUFA’s are commonly found in soy, corn, legumes, AND nuts and seeds.  The PUFA’s in nuts and seeds are actually used as protection toward hungry animals and from the cold winter weather.  However, what is protective to the seed has been shown to be toxic to the human.

According to Dr. Ray Peat

“Polyunsaturated oils defend the seeds from the animals that would eat them, the oils block the digestive enzymes in the animals’ stomachs. In addition, seeds and nuts are designed to germinate in early spring, so their energy stores must be accessible when the temperatures are cool, and they normally don’t have to remain viable through the hot summer months. Unsaturated oils are liquid when they are cold, and this is necessary for any organism that lives at low temperatures. These oils easily get rancid (spontaneously oxidizing) when they are warm and exposed to oxygen. When the oils are stored in our tissues, they are much warmer, and more directly exposed to oxygen, than they would be in the seeds, and so their tendency to oxidize is very great. These oxidative processes can damage enzymes and other parts of cells, and especially their ability to produce energy (cellular respiration).”

Like Dr. Peat states PUFA’s are highly oxidative, especially under heat and in the presence of oxygen.   This can cause decreased cellular function, leading to disease, aging and a slower metabolism.  If you want to understand the dangers of PUFA’s more refer to my blog, PUFA’s essential or toxic?

  1. Phytates or phytic acid

If you read my article on soy, you would already have some understanding of the negative effects of phytates.  Phytates are anti-nutrients that can block the absorption of important minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.  Phytates are usually located in the hard outer shell of the seed and nut referred to as the hull.  Phytates have a strong affinity for minerals, and any mineral it binds to will become insoluble. This is how phytates leaches nutrients from the body.

Phytates are not only found in nuts and seeds but also in grains, soy, beans and legumes.  I think it is important to understand that phytate rich foods may not only inhibit the nutrients within the food itself but also in the foods eaten with the phytate containing food.   Meaning the phytates in your nuts and fruit snack or your salad and nut meal will not only block the nutrients contained in the nuts but also the nutrients in the fruit and salad.

  1. Trypsin Inhibitors

Nuts and seeds, like soy, contain trypsin inhibitors.  Trypsin inhibitors, like phytates, are anti-nutrients.  Their function is to protect the seeds of plants from insects by blocking enzyme function. Just another protective mechanism mother nature has given seeds and nuts. These trypsin inhibitors prevent protease enzymes from digesting protein in the human digestive tract.  Therefore, the little bit of protein you may think you are getting from your nuts and seeds may not even be digested.

  1. Cooked nuts and seeds

Now, there is good news and bad news to cooking your nuts and seeds.  The good news is cooking your nuts and seeds can decrease the effects of phytates and trypsin inhibitors.  Cooking the nut and seed allows the fibers to break down and allows for easier digestibility.  The bad news comes in how the nut and seek are cooked.  Most nuts and seeds are “roasted”.  This usually means they were fried and cooked in more vegetable oil, adding insult to injury in the amount of PUFA you are about to ingest.  Some nuts and seeds are dry-roasted, which is better, but unfortunately still damaging to the nut or seed.  In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, nuts and seeds that were roasted had a higher degree of fat oxidation and increased levels of trans-fats.  Research also shows that roasting nuts and seeds at high temperatures denatures the protein.  The denatured protein loses it structure and can become harder to digest.

  1. Raw nuts and seeds.

Many health conscious people think they are winning the battle over nuts and seeds by eating them raw.  Quite honestly, I use to be one of those people.  However, with further investigation I now believe eating raw nuts may be worse than eating the dry-roasted ones.  Why?  Well, mostly for the reasons I have already explained. Raw nuts are filled with phytates and trypsin inhibitors.  Raw nuts are almost indigestible by the human body.  They can cause irritation in the gut and small intestine by getting “stuck” in the intestinal micro-filli; this can cause inflammation, bacterial over growth, bloating, and gas.  I cannot even tell you how many health conscious people I meet complaining of digestive upset.   Nut ands seeds may be the sole culprit, or there could be a number of contributing factors– grains, fibrous vegetables and fruits, cheap dairy, carrageenan, processed foods, additives, grain-fed meats, PUFAs, endotoxins, and bacterial overgrowth all seem to play a role in digestive upset.

  1. Non-organic nuts and seeds.

If you are a nut and seed-eater, you know they are not a cheap food.  Nuts and seeds can be costly and if you go organic they can cost you upwards of $25.00/lb.  Most clients I work with are eating the raw or roasted non-organic varieties.  The problem is they may also be consuming pesticides and herbicides that are concentrated in the oils (fats) of the nuts and seeds.  The fats in seeds and nuts have a high affinity to attracting toxic pesticides.  Organic nuts and seeds are usually, but not always, free of toxic pesticides.

Ok, so what have we learned?  Maybe the handful of raw nuts and seeds you have been gobbling down everyday is not as healthful as you thought.  Maybe, just maybe, you might need to rethink your nut and seed consumption.

Personally, I am no longer a nut and seed-eater.  Or should I say a daily nut and seedeater.  My consumption has gone from a few handfuls a day to maybe a few handfuls a month.  If I do consume nuts and seeds I try and follow some simple guidelines.

  1. Soaked and/or sprouted are best.  


  1. Go Organic.  
  1. Some nuts are better than others.
  1. Eat in moderation.

Have I managed to make your head hurt yet?  Although it is never my intention to make people confused about what they are eating, I know it may sometimes occur.  Yet, I do believe we learn and grow as soon as we become confused.  So if I have confused you–then good—you are learning something.

Honestly, my only true intention is to share with you what I am learning and how it is working/not working for my clients and me.  It’s certainly not up to me to tell you what to do.  I am only here to help educate you and help you THINK before you grab that next bag of nuts.

I think it is important to remember that there are no clear-cut routes when it comes to nutrition and how it can affect YOUR health.  I think we should all be open to learning the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to eating certain foods.  We are all different, at different phases of life, and have different health issues and needs.  The more you learn, the more you understand the more you can improve yourself and your diet.

Your Optimal Health Coach,


“Disclaimer:  I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor.  I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles.  I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them.  I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body.  If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”


  1. Rita Yaacoub, Rachad Saliba, Bilal Nsouli, Gaby Khalaf and Inès Birlouez-Aragon.  Formation of Lipid Oxidation and Isomerization Products during Processing of Nuts and Sesame Seeds.  J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (16), pp 7082–7090
  2. Thomas Richardson, John W. Finley.  Chemical Changes in Food During Processing.  Pg 206-209
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  4. EUFIC REVIEW 11/2010   “The Why, How and Consequences of cooking our food”
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  6. Mahgoub SEO, Elhag SA. “Effect of milling, soaking, malting, heat-treatment and fermentation on phytate level of four Sudanese sorghum cultivars.” Food Chemistry. 1998. 61(1-2):77-80.
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  8. Fanbin Kong1 and R. Paul Singh.  Food Biophys. Digestion of Raw and Roasted Almonds in Simulated Gastric Environment.  2009 December; 4(4): 365–377.
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  10. Ricardo Bessin, Gerald R. Brown, John R. Hartman, and James R. Martin  FOOD SAFETY:  PESTICIDE RESIDUES IN GRAINS, VEGETABLES, FRUITS AND NUTS.   ISSUED: 7-90
  11. Allard JP, Kurian R, Aghdassi E, Muggli R, Royall D.  Lipid peroxidation during n-3 fatty acid and vitamin E supplementation in humans.  Lipids. 1997 May;32(5):535-41.
  12. Meydani M, Natiello F, Goldin B, Free N, Woods M, Schaefer E, Blumberg JB, Gorbach SL.  Effect of long-term fish oil supplementation on vitamin E status and lipid peroxidation in women.  J Nutr. 1991 Apr;121(4):484-91.
  13. Gonzalez MJ, Gray JI, Schemmel RA, Dugan L Jr, Welsch CW.  Lipid peroxidation products are elevated in fish oil diets even in the presence of added antioxidants.  J Nutr. 1992 Nov;122(11):2190-5.
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  15. Dr. Decuypere’s Nutrient Charts™
~~ Nuts, Grains & Seeds Chart .

  1. Dr. Ray Peat.  ”Unsaturated Vegetable Oils: Toxic”

Leafy Greens or Toxic Food? The Other Side of Eating Vegetables

Leafy greens or toxic food? The other side of eating vegetables

Here I go again…are you ready? I am about to question one of the most widely promoted health recommendations in the U.S. What is it?

I’m challenging the recommendation to “eat more vegetables”.

This is an interesting topic since most of us have been told all our lives that we need to eat more vegetables. Right?

For most of my life, I have been a huge advocate of eating tons of vegetables including kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Personally, I would eat at least 8 to 9 servings of vegetables a day — mostly raw. We have all been told vegetables are good for us because they contain loads of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidant properties. And this is true — vegetables are filled with all these health-promoting properties. However, does this mean that all vegetables are good for us? Or is there another side of the story we’re missing?

As many of you know, about three years ago, I went through a massive transformation in my beliefs about health and nutrition. At the time my diet consisted of organic vegetables, gluten free grains, lots of organic chicken and meats, protein shakes, some fruits, and tons of water. My diet included no dairy, little fat, and no fruit juice. Sounds pretty healthy, right? The problem was, my body started to break down, I started to feel like crap, and I had no idea what was going on quite honestly, because I thought I was eating the perfect diet. Over the next year, through trial-and-error and lots of research, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could be wrong. (Gosh, I hate to admit I am ever wrong).

The USDA and most health professionals recommend increasing whole grains, nuts, and legumes. They recommend increasing consumption of “unsaturated” fats (which often ends up being high in PUFAs), while decreasing saturated fats. They recommend less juice, more fruit, and more vegetables — especially the green leafy veggies.

In the meantime, what am I doing? I added into my diet more saturated fats, removed most polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), removed ALL grains (including whole wheat and gluten free grains), started drinking more fruit juices, and eating more of the right fruits and sugars. I also greatly reduced my fiber intake — specifically green leafy vegetables, beans/lentils, nuts, and uncooked fruits. Yes, I know this is 180 degrees different from what we have all been told to do and the USDA recommendations for the last 50 years.

So, I am sure your next question is, why on earth would I do something so against the grain?

I believe the widely-promoted recommendations may not be totally on track. Are you ready to have your head spin?

Here are 3 main reasons why you may want to rethink your vegetable intake:

  1. Fiber.

Fiber is a major component of vegetables, coming in the form of cellulose. Cellulose is a polysaccharide (long carbohydrate molecule that the body cannot take apart) and is the structural component of the primary cell wall in green plants. Cellulose is also known as indigestible fiber — they used to call it roughage back in the day. No, humans cannot digest cellulose. We are told this roughage is good for us because it helps with the bulk of our stool. We are told this roughage helps clean out our intestines and helps prevent colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. But, is this actually true?

In Konstantin Monastyrsky’s book Fiber Menace, he discusses how increased fiber intake might do quite the opposite — causing more damage and increased inflammation and irritation to our already damaged guts. You see, whenever external factors (poor diet, stress, chemicals, processed foods) compromise bowel movements, the normal bacteria inside the colon are the first to suffer. Because these bacteria make up the bulk of normal stools (up to 75%), once they’re gone, stools harden up because the bacteria are no longer there to retain water, soften the stools, and provide stool bulk. After the bacteria are gone, and we become constipated, we start eating more fiber to replace their function. For a while, the increased fiber will appear to be working. Fiber makes stools voluminous and not as hard. Unfortunately, this is merely the calm before the storm. Regularity from fiber is not happening by restoring the body’s natural bacteria and bulk, but from replacing it with an outside bulking agent — fiber. For a while, the problems are hidden because you don’t feel them…yet.

Monastyrsky’s explains how most people will start to get inflammation of the intestines due to damage of this increased bowel size (caused by fiber and increase water consumption). The intestinal wall now becomes thinner due to physically being stretched by the bulk and increased inflammation, making it harder to expel your stool. Contributing to more problems like hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and colon cancer.

To some it up, our processed, fast food, and convenient American diet is killing the bacteria in our gut that makes up a large part of our stool. We try and replace this bacteria-bulk, by eating more fiber. The increased fiber leads to more water intake and retention in the gut, which leads to increased stool size which briefly makes us think everything is working great. Soon, however, we start having more intestinal inflammation, decreasing the size of the intestines even more, causing constipation once again, and repeating the cycle. And how do we treat this? Of course, eating even more fiber and drinking more water, which is just making the problem worse! Sound like anyone you know?

Everyday, I meet with people who have digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, or all three. In fact, I have not met a person yet who does not have some sort of digestive issues. Most of these people are eating plenty of fiber in the form of high fiber cereals, oats, bran, and tons of salads — and they’re drinking plenty of water, yet they are still having issues. I’ll be honest, it’s not until we remove most of these high fiber foods and allow the intestines to heal that things start moving better. Personally, I had the same experience. When I use to eat tons of salad and high fiber foods, I used to feel bloated and distended all the time. After completely changing my diet, how do I feel? No bloating, no digestive disturbance, no problems.

  1. Goitrogens.

Goitrogens are substances that suppress the function of the thyroid by inhibiting the formation of the thyroid hormone. Goitrogens are found in all cruciferous vegetables, including but not limited to soybeans, broccoli, cauliflower, green leafy, bok choy, cabbage, cress, and brussel sprouts. Eating a lot of raw cruciferous veggies can suppress your thyroid, leading to a slower metabolism and increased metabolic hormone disturbance. Wow, that sounds inviting.

Now, if you’re dead set on eating a vegetable stir-fry or any other cooked vegetables, it is important to know that cooking cruciferous vegetables for about 30 minutes can lower the goitrogenic effects. Yes, I know cooking vegetables too long may significantly reduce the levels of some nutrients. But it also increases the bioavailability of other nutrients. Also keep in mind that there is more to a food than just nutrients. We must get past the thought that the more nutrients a food contains, the better the food is for us. Nutrients are very important, but how the food reacts to our hormones and metabolism, how the food is digested, and how it supports the other systems of our body are just as important.

  1. Chemical toxins in vegetables.

Particular leafy or “above-ground” vegetables will have a variety of defensive naturally-produced chemicals, all with specific functions to deter animals from consuming them. The leaves, stems, and seeds are susceptible to attack by insects, birds, and grazing animals. To protect themselves, these plants contain mild toxins. These plants toxins include phenols, tannins, lectins/agglutinins, and trypsin-inhibitors. In addition, above-ground vegetables (including the leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables) contain unsaturated fats, which, as I talked about in my polyunsaturated fat blog, can be extremely anti-metabolic. Unsaturated fats themselves are important plant defenses — they inhibit trypsin and other proteolytic enzymes, preventing the assimilation of the proteins that are present in seeds and leafy green vegetables. Unsaturated fats also disrupt all biological processes that depend on protein breakdown, such as the formation of thyroid hormone. Once again, there is more to a food than just nutrients.

How are you feeling now? Ready for a big salad? I know all this information may sound a little crazy to most of you. And well, I am ok with that. You must judge for yourself if anything I am saying makes sense to you and fits into your belief system. It took time for me to adjust to my new learnings. But when I did, my health improved — and so will yours.

I can hear you now. “What should I eat if I choose to avoid leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, but still want to eat fruits and vegetables that are high in nutrients but low in toxic anti-metabolic substances?”

Here are my top 5 veggies to include in your diet:

  • Root vegetables. Potatoes, turnips, carrots, and beets. Since the root vegetables grow underground, they have a lower toxity level, no PUFA, and no cellulose. They don’t need the protective chemicals to protect themselves from insects, birds, and grazing animals. These vegetables still have a high starch content, so they should be cooked thoroughly (except the carrot), and eaten with a saturated fat, such as butter or coconut oil. This will enable easier digestion and a slower release into the blood system. It will also increase your body’s absorption of the fat-soluble nutrients in the veggies.
  • Fruit-vegetables. Squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and pumpkin. These are actually all considered fruits, as the seeds are inside. They have no cellulose, little starch, and a low PUFA content. Once again, these should be well cooked and eaten with a saturated fat.
  • Tropical fruits. These are lower in fiber and a good source of fruit sugar, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Cooked fruits. Apples, pears, peaches, and cherries are all high in fiber. However, if you cook these fruits, your body will have an easier time to digest the foods.
  • Fruit juices. Pulp-free juices are your best sources of nutrients without the fibrous pulp. Orange, grape, cherry, and pineapple juices are all acceptable.

*Please remember, none of these foods should ever be eaten alone, you should always eat all vegetables and fruits with a protein and fat to slow the blood sugar response. All vegetables and fruits eaten individually will throw your blood sugar out of whack.

To summarize, eating tons of high-fiber vegetables may not be as great as we have all been lead to believe. Of course, a diet with no vegetables or fiber, but tons of processed crap, is not a good argument for the benefits of a lower vegetable/fiber diet. Only a diet with the right metabolic foods will convince you that a lower vegetable/fiber diet is really a healthy option. Does this mean you should never eat a salad or side of raw vegetables? Of course not. I still eat salads. I just eat them 2-3x a month vs. 2-3x day. I eat far smaller quantities of these types of vegetables, but I do not avoid them all together. They do have some beneficial properties if eaten in smaller quantities and eaten the correct way.

Before I changed to my current diet, I was desperate to feel better. What I was doing was not working. Now, I feel 10 times better than I did a year ago. Will it work for you?  That is for you decide…

Remember I am only here to give you another side of what mainstream media, Dr. Oz, and what most nutritional magazines are telling you. I am not here to tell you what to do. I am just here so that you can question your own health, create awareness, and help you understand that there are two sides to every story — even in the health and fitness world.

Your Optimal Health Coach,

Kate Deering

“Disclaimer:  I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor.  I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles.  I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them.  I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body.  If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”


1. Konstantin Monastyrsky; The Fiber Menace

2. Dr Ray Peat; Vegetables etc. Who defines Food?, Unsaturated Vegetable oil: Toxic., Mind and Tissue, Generative Energy

3. Josh Rubin

4. Wikipedia; Cellulose, Goitrogens, Cruciferous vegetables

Polyunsaturated fats: Essential or toxic?

Polyunsaturated fats: Essential or toxic?

Yes, I’m back—back with even more mind-twisting information that will make you question, once again, the foods you are feeding your body.

Today’s topic — Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids — also known as PUFAs. Now, before you stop reading because you have no idea what the heck PUFAs are, and you are not interested in all this science jargon — I beg you to continue.

Why? Because you are probably consuming PUFAs everyday! The problem is, you are most likely thinking you are doing something healthful for yourself. When in fact, you may be causing your body to age faster, slowing your metabolic rate, which is making you fatter, and increasing your chances of disease. Do I have your attention now?

Good! Let’s continue.

First, what are polyunsaturated fats?

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are fatty acids with many double bonds. All polyunsaturated fatty acids lack several hydrogen atoms. This makes them far less stable than a fully saturated fatty acid. This instability produces a molecule that is more susceptible to being attacked and damaged by free radicals. Free radical damage can cause accelerated aging, hormone imbalance, cancer, and immune disorders. Yikes!

So what oils contain polyunsaturated fats?

Well, to be honest ALL oils contain some amount of PUFAs.

Here is a list of oils that have the highest concentration and can be the most harmful:

Soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, sesame seed, nut oils (peanut, walnut, almond, etc), flaxseed, fish oil, cod liver oil, evening primrose, borage oils, and yes, this even includes Omega-3 and Omega-6 (also known as the “essential fatty acids”).

What!! I know you are thinking. “I thought these oils were good for me? I thought these oils were “heart healthy” according to the USDA, my doctor, and my registered dietitian? How could they possibly be bad for me?” Yes, I know it is a little mind boggling, especially considering the massive marketing push on fish oils, flax, and cod liver oils. Trust me — it took me months and months of research to wrap my brain around it, especially since I used to be an avid fish oil user. So let’s go back about 80 years ago so you can understand what has happened.

Back in 1929 George and Mildred Burrs published a paper claiming that polyunsaturated fats are essential for the prevention of several diseases and essential for health. Burrs study concluded that rats that ingested unsaturated fats were far healthier than the rats that were on a fat free diet. Which, in fact, was true.

However, over 10 years later The Clayton Foundation Biochemical Institute found that “Burr’s disease” was actually a vitamin B6 deficiency. Back in 1929 the B vitamins were not yet discovered. The new research explained that the PUFAs had actually slowed down the metabolism of the PUFA-fed rats, causing a decreased need for nutrients. Thus, this allowed them to not be as nutrient deficient as the fat-free diet rats. The non-PUFA-fed rats had a higher metabolic rate, and with that comes an increase in nutrient demand, especially the B vitamins. And since the demand was not met, the rats became sick. Basically, all Burrs showed was that PUFAs slow your metabolic rate down, allowing you to survive on less nutrients. Thus the PUFAs prevented a deficiency on a deficient diet. Interesting, huh?

Think of your body like an engine. A high powered engine (high metabolic rate) needs premium gasoline and oils (the right carbs, fats, and proteins) to run optimally. If you give your high powered engine cheap gas and oil (PUFAs) it will slow down, causing damage, and eventually early engine death. Now, this is not to say a slower, smaller, lower powered engine (lower metabolic rate) could not survive on the cheap gas and oils — but it would NEVER run at the speed, strength, or longevity. Making sense? Basically, do you want to run like a Ferrari or a Ford Fiesta?

This may explain why people who eat a diet primarily of nuts, seeds, and vegetables can live a long life. Their metabolism is actually slower, so they have less nutritional requirements, which allows their body to live on very little food. The problem is these people usually have less energy, drive, motivation, and vitality. Ever seen a “healthy” looking vegan? I sure haven’t. In fact, most complain of low sex drive, low energy, muscle loss, low motivation, and sleep problems.

Here are some other things to think about.

Back in the 1940’s, farmers attempted to use coconut oil (a saturated fat) to fatten their animals. But then they found it only made them lean, active, and hungry. You see, coconut oil is a food that makes the body highly metabolic. It actually increases your bodies ability to burn fat. Farmers soon found that corn and soy oils, both almost entirely PUFAs, could be used to fatten their livestock. Why? Because corn and soy oils are fattening agents. Remember, PUFAs slow down your metabolism. This lower metabolic rate allows these animals to gain weight faster, which allows farmers to spend less money to get their animals fat faster. We must remember farmers don’t care about having the oldest, healthiest living animals — they just care about producing the fattest animals the fastest way possible.

Another interesting fact is this:

Bears and squirrels hibernate in the winter. They do this by eating a high level of nuts, seeds, and berries before hibernation. These nuts and seeds with their high PUFA levels allow the metabolic rate of these animals to slow, allowing them to sleep through the cold months of the year. Researchers have found that bears and squirrels given coconut oil (saturated fat) and the right carbohydrates were unable to hibernate since the animals had an increased metabolic rate and energy level.

And finally…

By 1950 it was established that PUFAs suppress the metabolic rate, and apparently cause hypothyroidism. Researchers found that PUFAs damage the mitochondria of cells, suppressing respiratory enzymes, and promote excessive oxidative damage in the body. The more PUFAs one eats, the higher the suppression of tissue response to thyroid hormone, the lower the metabolic rate, and the more weight gain. This is one reason hospitals feed soy oil emulsions to cancer patients — to prevent weight loss!

But Kate… I thought these oils, especially the Omega 3’s and 6’s (EFA), caused a decrease in cholesterol and were heart healthy!

Yes, there is a cholesterol-lowering effect with the essential oils. It’s true. The question is, how are they doing this, and is this actually good for us long-term? In the book Generative Energy by Dr Ray Peat, he discusses how these “essential fatty acids” (EFAs) actually suppress the immune system by suppressing the cells that cause inflammation. Remember that cholesterol is part of our immune system, it is elevated by the liver when our bodies are in a state of inflammation to help protect our cells. However, just like statin drugs, all the EFAs are doing is suppressing a symptom. They are not correcting the actual problem. Long-term, these EFAs cause immune suppression, kill white blood cells, and inhibit proteolytic enzymes that are needed for proper metabolic function.

Does your brain hurt yet?

Ok, so if PUFAs in vegetable oils and nuts are so bad for us, what should we eat?

There are others, but here are my top 10.

  1. Eat saturated fats. Coconut oil, butter, ghee, coconut milk.
  2. Eat root vegetables. Sweet potatoes, beets, carrots (all root vegetables have very little PUFAs).
  3. Eat fruits and fruit-like vegetables. Papayas, apples, pears, peaches, squash, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.
  4. Eat grass-fed meats. Corn- and soy-fed meats have a higher PUFA content. Beef, bison, lamb.
  5. Consume organic, grass-fed dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt.
  6. Consume tropical nuts. Macadamia, hazelnut, and cashew (in limited quantities).
  7. Eat free-range, pastured, organic eggs. Corn- and soy-fed chickens produce higher PUFA content eggs.
  8. Consume gelatin and beef broth. Both are non-inflammatory proteins and easily digested.
  9. Eat wild white fish and shellfish. Halibut, cod, sole, shrimp, oysters, and crab.
  10. Once a week eat grass-fed organ meats. Organ meats in limited quantities are full of vitamin and minerals.

*Please understand these are basic recommendations. Everyone is different, so different things work for different people. However, one of the biggest recommendations I would say works across the board is getting rid of as many PUFAs out of your diet as you can…unless of course you want to get fatter, sicker, and look older.

To be honest, I am certainly not asking any of you to take the things I am saying as the absolutely truth. I am just asking you to consider another side of things, so you can ask yourself if what you are doing is truly working. My goal in these blogs is not to tell you what to do. My goal is to only educate you. It is up to you to find out what works for you and what does not. It is up to you ask for help, if you are lost and confused. It is up to you to take an active role in your health and life.

For me and many of my clients, applying this science-based philosophy has been life changing. It does work, but it takes time and commitment and a willingness to change not only your body but your mindset. Real change takes work. There are no easy solutions, yet if you are ready, there is help. Call me to set up a 30 minute FREE consultation. It’s time you start feeling better!

Your Optimal Health Coach,


“Disclaimer:  I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor.  I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles.  I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them.  I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body.  If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”


Josh Rubin

Dr Lita Lee “Unsaturated Fats”

Dr Ray Peat “Unsaturated fatty acids: Nutritionally essential, or toxic?”, “Unsaturated Vegetable Oils: Toxic”, “Coconut Oil”

Dr Ray Peat Mind and Tissues

Dr Ray Peat Generative Energy

Dr Ray Peat Nutrition for Women


What is up with Vitamin D?

What is Up With Vitamin D?

The other day I was consulting with a new client (I’ll refer to her as Julie) about her recent lab work. One thing Julie had a concern about was her Vitamin D level…which was considerably low. Julie wondered how these levels could be so low since she played hours of tennis outside every day. She explained how she was out in the sun daily with only SPF 15 sunscreen. She thought she was getting enough sun…yet was she?

It seems in today’s world that everyone is deficient in Vitamin D. I live in the sunniest place on earth, San Diego, and everyone I speak with has some level of Vitamin D deficiency. Knowing we can synthesis our own Vitamin D from the sun, why are we all so deficient? Who or what is to blame about this? Is it too much sunscreen? Poor diet? Liver problems? Kidney issues? Some combination of all four factors? Let’s go deeper so we can see…What is up with Vitamin D?

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient obtained from food or sunlight. Vitamin D can be attained by plant sources as ergocaliciferol (D2) and animal sources as cholecalciferol (D3). Its main function is to regulate calcium and phosphorous in the bloodstream and to promote healthy bone formation. With adequate amounts of sunlight, the body can synthesize Vitamin D. By definition vitamins must be obtained by the diet since they cannot be synthesized in sufficient amounts by the organism. This makes Vitamin D unique, since it can be obtained from a source outside of food and can be synthesized by the body itself.

Vitamin D’s Function

Once Vitamin D enters the body either through food or sunlight it is transported by the blood system to the liver. The liver is where Vitamin D is converted to the prohormone (a precursor to a hormone) calcidiol. Calcidiol is then transported to the kidneys and monocyte-macrophages of the immune system where it is converted to calcitriol, the active form of Vitamin D. Calcitriol then binds with Vitamin D–binding protein (VDBP) and is transported to certain target organs.
Once at the target cells calcitriol binds to Vitamin D Receptors (VDR). This binding allows the calcitriol-VDR connection to control the flow of calcium absorption in the intestine. This is why Vitamin D is so essential for calcium absorption and healthy bone development. Low Vitamin D levels will decrease calcium absorption, which can create low blood calcium levels, which can lead to bone break down.

Who knew so many organs, proteins, enzymes and receptors where involved for the body to properly utilize Vitamin D? I bet you thought you just needed more sun…which you do. However, you also need a healthy liver, kidneys and a good diet to ensure proper Vitamin D absorption and utilization.

Why is there an epidemic of low Vitamin D levels?
To be honest, nobody knows for sure, but I can think of a few culprits that may be having an effect…

1. Liver Dysfunction. The liver plays a vital role in the conversion of Vitamin D to the prohormone Calcidiol. If the liver is overburdened with toxins (PUFA’s, drugs, alcohol, estrogen, additives, preservatives, environmental toxins, processed foods, etc.) it cannot perform optimally. Your over burdened liver spends too much time and energy trying to detox your body, thus the Vitamin D to calcidiol conversion suffers.

2. Kidney Dysfunction. The active form of Vitamin D, calcitriol is produced in the kidneys from calcidiol. Low functioning kidneys caused by renal failure or chronic kidney disease (CKD) will lead to low levels of active Vitamin D. Things that can lead to kidney dysfunction are: accidents; injuries; complications from surgeries; drug overdoses; overloads on antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen; chemotherapy; diabetes; and high blood pressure.

3. Sunscreen. We all know over exposure to the sun can cause skin damage and lead to skin cancer. Therefore sunscreen seems like the right answer when it comes to protecting your skin from the harmful sun’s rays. The problem is we need the sun to synthesis Vitamin D. When I was in my teens, I think the highest SPF (sun protection factor) was around 10 or 15 SPF, now it’s closer to 75 or even 100 SPF. An SPF, as low as 8, can decrease vitamin D’s absorption capacity by 95 percent. With these increased SPF sunscreens, our skin may be receiving less harmful (UVB) rays. However, these are the same rays that provide Vitamin D to our skin.
Yet the million-dollar question is…why did skin cancer incidents double from 1994 to 2006 while sunscreen sales with higher SPFs increased? Physiologist and Chemist Dr. Ray Peat’s theory is the increased level of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in the diet. Stored PUFAs oxidize with heat and oxygen exposure, which can lead to skin damage, aging and cancer.

4. Diet. Although the sun is the best way to get adequate levels of vitamin D, your diet can be a contributing factor. A diet lacking in Vitamin D can lower serum D levels in the body. The best sources of Vitamin D are those found in animal products since they contain cholecalciferol (D3). Tuna, mackerel, salmon, beef liver, egg yolks and goat’s milk are good sources. D2 can also be used to increase levels of Vitamin D in the body but most research says D3 is more effective in humans. Good sources of Vitamin D2 are portabella and shiitake mushrooms and alfalfa.

Deficiency of Vitamin D
Outside of poor calcium absorption and poor bone health a deficiency in Vitamin D is linked to many other health concerns.
* Cardiovascular risks
* High blood pressure
* Multiple sclerosis
* Weight gain
* Cancer
* Fatigue
* Mental health issues
* Inflammation
* Asthma
* Poor hair health
* Diabetes

What can you do to increase your Vitamin D Levels?

1. Get more sun. Try and get at least 10-30 minutes of sun exposure between the hours of 10AM and 3PM each day. This means full body exposure, or at least show as much skin as you can. If you are sensitive to the sun or burn easily start with 5 minutes and work yourself up.

2. Avoid oils and foods high in PUFAs. Polyunsaturated fats are very unstable and oxidize quickly with heat (sun exposure) and oxygen. PUFA’s are stored in your fat tissue and when they are broken down and used as energy, they oxidize in your body causing aging, skin pigmentation, and eventually cancers. For more information on polyunsaturated fats refer to my blog, Polyunsaturated fats…Essential or toxic?

3. Eat more foods with Vitamin D3. Tuna, salmon sardines, egg yolks, goat’s milk and beef liver are good options.

4. Remove toxic and inflammatory substances. Removing or at least limiting alcohol, drugs (recreational, prescribed or over-the-counter), processed foods, fast foods, hard to digest foods, additives, carrageenan, PUFAs, estrogenic foods like soy, most grains, HFCS, and non-organic foods will help increase liver, gut and kidney function. This will encourage better Vitamin D synthesis.

5. Supplement. If all else fails take a liquid or topical Vitamin D3 supplement. The liquid or topical will absorb into your system better than a pill. I believe most pills are never a good option since they contain binders and fillers. Depending on the person, where they live, how much sun they get, time of year, and their diet, anywhere from 400IU to 10,000IU can be beneficial. Vitamin D supplements have been to shown to be incredible safe, yet Vitamin D can be toxic if levels that are too high for the individual. Most research states these are levels higher than 40,000IU.

At the end of the day we need to make sure we get adequate levels of Vitamin D into our body. Whether you choose the sun, food or supplementation…just get it in.
If you are unsure of what your Vitamin D levels should be, ask your doctor for a simple blood test. A person’s whose level is under 32 ng/ml is in need of more sun, more Vitamin D foods, or a supplement. Optimal levels are 40-50 ng/ml.

Your Optimal Health Coach,

“Disclaimer: I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles. I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them. I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body. If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”


J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 March; 103(3-5): 487–490.Published online 2007 January 2. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2006.11.009
2. Anderson JL, Vanwoerkom RC, Horne BD, Bair TL, May HT, Lappé DL, Muhlestein JB. Parathyroid hormone, vitamin D, renal dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease: dependent or independent risk factors? Am Heart J. 2011 Aug;162(2):331-339.e2.
3. D L Andress. Vitamin D in chronic kidney disease: A systemic role for selective vitamin D receptor activation. Kidney International (2006) 69, 33–43. doi:10.1038/
4. Malham M, Jørgensen SP, Ott P, Agnholt J, Vilstrup H, Borre M, Dahlerup JF. Vitamin D deficiency in cirrhosis relates to liver dysfunction rather than aetiology. Department of Medicine V (Hepatology and Gastroenterology), Aarhus University Hospital, DK-8000, Aarhus C, Denmark.
5. Vitamin D Deficiency Common In Patients With IBD, Chronic Liver Disease. ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2008)
6. Data show incidence of skin cancer rising at alarming rate. American Academy of Dermatology NEW ORLEANS (Feb. 4, 2011)
7. Laura A. G. Armas, Bruce W. Hollis and Robert P. Heaney. Vitamin D2 Is Much Less Effective than Vitamin D3 in Humans. Armas et al. 89 (11): 5387 ENDOCRINE CARE
9. Vieth R. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May;69(5):842-56
10. Josh Rubin.
11. Dr Ray Peat.

Is Your Metabolism Broken?

Is Your Metabolism Broken?

Is your metabolism working at an optimal level? Do you know?

Lately, It has come to my attention that most people’s metabolisms are operating at a below optimal level of function. They’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, while their body’s internal system for weight loss is… well… broken.

Trying to lose weight with a low metabolism or broken system is like trying to run a race with a broken leg. You could do — but it will be much harder, and in the end you will most likely do more harm than good. Therefore, wouldn’t it make more sense to heal the leg first, and THEN run the race? I think so. The problem is most people don’t go through this healing process when trying to lose weight. They try running the race (try losing weight) with the broken leg (low functioning metabolism). And yes, with a lot of persistence, willpower, and food deprivation, some end up losing a little weight — only to find in time that they cannot live with this deprived lifestyle for long. So they put all the original weight back on — and then some.

I think Diane Schwarzbein, MD (author of The Schwarzbein Principle) said it best:

“You have to get healthy to lose weight — not lose weight to get healthy.”

Health is not defined by weight loss, how lean you are, or how fast you can run. True heath is defined as being free of illness, injury, pain, a warm body, good sleep, happiness, good digestion, and an ability to stay lean without countless hours of exercise.

If you have a damaged metabolism, then you are not healthy. If your metabolism is damaged, you need to focus on healing if first — then try to lose weight.

So, how do you know if your metabolism is running at a sub-optimal level?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Here is the abbreviated list:

  1. Weight. You have a hard time losing weight, and/or you gain weight easily. If you’re eating a low-calorie diet (1200- 1500 calories), you should lose weight easily if your metabolism is running at a high, optimal level. Unfortunately, most people who have been on a low-calorie diet are already metabolically damaged. So when they continue to diet further, they only lower the metabolic rate more. As to why highly calorie-restrictive diets never work long-term.
  2. Body temp. You have a chronically low body temperature. In the book, Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness, the author (Broda Barnes, MD) explains how measuring body temperature is a fairly accurate way to judge optimal metabolic function.

Try this simple test:

Get a body thermometer. Digital is best — mercury is fine. First thing in the morning before you get out of bed, check your body temperature. Your morning body temperature should be between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees. Then check it again about 20 minutes after lunch — at this time your temperature should be around 98.6 degrees or higher. I will bet most of you will be below these temperatures. Before I started to heal my body, I was 96.5 to 97.0 in the morning and never above 97.5 mid day. It took me months and months of decreased activity and the proper diet to heal my metabolism. Honestly, healing and staying health are a  never-ending process.  In time, my body temperatures rose to a healthy 98.6 degrees…I still have my ups and downs…but Im far more UP, then years ago.

  1. Pulse. You have a low pulse. Broda Barnes, MD and Dr. Ray Peat both state that an optimal pulse is between 75 to 85 beats per minute (BPM). “Huh? I thought a low pulse was better? Don’t most athletes have a pulse rate below 60 BPM? I think super-fit Lance Armstrong has a pulse of like 45 BPM.” Yes, Lance is “super fit”, and yes he had a very low pulse rate. Yet, let’s remember, he had testicular cancer at the ripe age of 25. We must remember — “fit” does not equal “healthy”. A healthy metabolism induces a higher pulse rate and body temperature — two things you will frequently NOT see in endurance athletes.

Other symptoms that may occur with a sub-optimal metabolism are:

  1. Cold hands and feet
  2.  Anemia
  3.  Depression
  4.  Arthritis
  5.  Skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, and acne)
  6.  PMS
  7.  High cholesterol
  8.  High blood pressure
  9.  Low sex drive
  10.  Low energy
  11.  Edema (swelling/water weight)
  12.  Constipation or diarrhea
  13.  Diabetes
  14.  Muscle pain
  15.  Joint pain
  16.  Pale skin
  17. Brittle nails
  18.  Poor liver function
  19.  Digestive issues
  20.  Allergies
  21.  Food intolerances or sensitivities
  22.  Heart disease
  23.  Cancer
  24. …the list goes on and on

Whew! As you see, a lot can happen when you are running at a subpar metabolic level. I am sure many of you would admit that you have many of the above issues — right? I did. In fact, before my healing process, I had the following: Low body temperature, low pulse, cold hands and feet, anemia, high cholesterol, low energy, digestive issues, muscle pain, joint pain, allergies, and the “blahs” — good times. And yes, at the time, I considered myself VERY healthy. I had no idea the damage I had done (overtraining and under-nourishing), until all the things I was doing just were not working anymore.

I know many of you are identifying with what I’m saying. I know so many of you are depressed, getting sick, feeling like crap, and can’t seem to lose weight. And, I know how you feel when everything you are trying so hard to do (all the “right” things) and nothing seems to be working — right?

The good news is you can heal your broken metabolism. There are many things you can do now for healing your metabolism and getting back on track. And as always — don’t expect it to be instant. It’s a process and it takes some time.

Here is a basic list of how you can heal your metabolism:

  1.  Saturated fat. Eat more saturated fat (organic butter, coconut oil, ghee, cream).
  2.  The right proteins. Eat the right amount and right kind of protein for you. At least 80 grams, but could be upwards of 200 grams depending on your lifestyle, exercise, size, stress, and goals. This includes shellfish, white fish, eggs, dairy, grass-fed meats, gelatin, and broth.
  3.  Avoid PUFA. Remove polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) from your diet. This includes (but is not limited to) soybean oil, sesame oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, nut oils, and margarine. All PUFAs are anti-thyroid.
  4.  Root veggies. Eat more vegetables that are grown below the ground. Mainly root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc).
  5.  Avoid additives, processed foods, and grains. Remove all toxic food additives, hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, food chemicals, processed foods, fast foods, alcohol, soy, and grains and grain-based foods.
  6.  Organic Dairy. Drink organic whole milk or lower fat diary. Raw if it is available
  7.  Sugar-fat-protein balance. Consume the right sugars with the right combination of fat and protein to help heal the pancreas and liver. This includes ripe and in-season, non-starch fruits, honey, organic dairy products, and orange juice.
  8.  Eat organic often. Eat quality organic food in small frequent meals.
  9.  You-tailored exercise. Do the right kind of exercise that’s tailored to your body to help it heal. For some, this may mean weight training, short intense interval training, yoga, or walking. For others this may mean doing nothing at all. Since exercise is stress, if your system is overburdened, then even the smallest amount of exercise can be too much. Remember, exercise is a prescription.
  10.  Smart supplementation. Take the right supplements, if any. Food is always best, but in some cases supplementation can be beneficial until your body can heal.

Now, I understand I am going to get some flak for some of my suggestions for healing the metabolism. Eat sugar? Drink juice? Consume whole-fat dairy? Don’t avoid saturated fat? Eat potatoes? What?! I can hear what you’re thinking, “This is the opposite of everything I have been told!”

Yes, I am very aware that many of these recommendations go against what is being taught today in terms of weight loss and health advice.  However, when you really start to understand the physiology of how the body works, my recommendations make perfect sense.  (I will fully explain this in each of my programs).  In addition, let’s remember — in today’s world we have the highest rate of obesity, metabolic issues, depression, pain, inflammatory disorders, and so on. Thus, is what we are doing really working?

I am certainly not here to convince you to go against what you believe in — especially if it is working for you. I am only here to share with you what I have been learning, what I have found that is working for me, and what I am using to help many of my clients. Only you can decide if you are ready for change and ready to try a new approach.

Sometimes to get better, we must unlearn so much of what has been hammered into our minds and become part of our belief systems. We must actually take a few steps back before we can move forward. Remember, obtaining optimal health is a journey — there is no clear path and it’s not instant. Yet it can be obtained if you are open to learning, growing, and being patient. A little confused? Good — this means your thoughts and beliefs are being challenged. And only then can you actually be open to learning something new.

Please understand the recommendations I have given here are VERY general. Every plan I develop is far more comprehensive, educational, and person-specific (customized to you and your body and lifestyle). If you are interested in learning more on how to heal your metabolism and get on the right track to optimal health, order my book, “How to Heal Your Metabolism”.

Your Optimal Health Coach,


“Disclaimer:  I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor.  I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles.  I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them.  I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body.  If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”



Hypo-thyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. Broda Barnes, MD

Hypothyroidism Type 2. Mark Starr, MD Dr Ray Peat

Eat Move and Be Healthy. Paul Chek Josh Rubin

The Schwarzbein Principle. Diane Schwarzbein, MD