Are You Eating for Optimal Health? (Part I)

diet,healthy eating, optimal health, nutrition, weight loss, gluten free

By Sandra Miller, L.W.M.C
Nutritional Therapist

Eating Styles: The Pro’s and Con’s

On the journey to optimal health I think it is important to note that there is no perfect diet strategy. In fact, there are many diets that work for the vast majority of people. There is not just one lone strategy that works and that all others are flawed. It is important to understand that every person has their unique physiology, and different diet strategies may work best for various people at different points in one’s life. Something that worked for a person in their twenties may not work when they reach their forties.

Most Americans eat a traditional American diet that includes all the food groups for most of their lives or until a health issue arises. I know for myself, I had to let go of a traditional eating strategy when digestive issues, brain fog, and food intolerances began to plague me in my early thirties.

CHECK OUT THE START HERE TAB and read my story

I had to look deeper into how certain foods were affecting my health. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular eating strategies and the pros and cons that go with them. Remember that what is good for one person may not work for another.


Mediterranean Diet

According to Dr. Dario Giuliano, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Metabolic Diseases at the Second University of Naples, Italy explains: “the Mediterranean-style diet consists of little protein, about 15% of the daily caloric intake. This percentage is similar to that sponsored by the American Heart Association in the Step 1 and Step 2 diets recommended for a healthy population.” The diet consists of dairy, fruits, vegetables, daily whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and olive oil with an emphasis on very little red meat. Mostly fish is encouraged. It is considered a low cholesterol diet. Red wine is encouraged for its antioxidant potential. It would be considered a high fiber diet including both soluble and insoluble fiber.


Fruits, veggies and grains are a staple in this diet so that usually adds up to a diet high in fiber which can help with bowel movements and also with weight loss. Since one is increasing fruits and veggies in the diet, they are also increasing nutrient consumption. Fish is encouraged over red meat, and olive oil is encouraged as opposed to industrialized seed oils like canola, corn, soybean and the like.


Fish was one of the healthiest foods on the planet but let’s face it; our waters are so polluted today that it is tough to find fish that is safe to eat anymore. Farmed fish now contains loads of dioxin and other toxins, and these fish are fed antibiotics because they are in such close quarters. Farmed fish should be avoided at all costs. Our waters just aren’t clean enough to consume the amount of fish this diet suggests. Wild caught fish is much better for many reasons. The problem is that it is harder to find and much more expensive and not everyone can afford it.  Whole grains are an important source of fiber but at what cost? We know that grains contain high levels of phytic acid, a substance that hinders our absorption of calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. They are for this reason called an “anti-nutrient” food.

Excess of even healthy fruits and eating grains combined does not guarantee weight loss success and since no limit is suggested can turn into a higher carbohydrate style of eating if you don’t moderate these.

Grains have other issues as well. We cannot ignore the whole gluten issue. Many people are sensitive to glutens and contrary to popular belief; even grains labeled “gluten free” have gluten. Every single grain has it’s own gluten.  Gluten is a protein that ALL grains have. The gluten in corn is called “zein”. The glutens in wheat are gliadin and glutenin. Some folks have sensitivity to the glutens in corn and rice as well and not just wheat, rye, and barley. Grains, nuts and seeds should be sprouted or fermented if eaten to reduce the phytic acid contents. I would personally not recommend anyone eat a diet that is very high in grain products with the exception of perhaps quinoa or white rice on occasion. GMO grain or foods of any kind are best avoided by everyone for optimal health. This is another instance where we can never be optimal if we continue to eat GMO foods.

If it does not state that it is non-GMO – then it is GMO.  Non-GMO certified does not mean pesticide free! GMO certification only contests to the fact that the grain has not been hybridized and genetically modified. Certification is not provided for these foods being free of pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. They will typically contain all three.



Vegan or vegetarian diets can be fantastic for one main reason. With a diet so high in fresh fruits and veggies, it assures that you are getting plenty of enzymes when most people are enzyme-deficient, men in particular. All colors of the rainbow should be eaten most every day. It is an eating style high in antioxidant content with many of the foods being eaten raw. Vegans and vegetarians are typically very concerned with food quality and usually insist upon organic. Strict vegans do not eat anything that has animal origins including raw honey. There are several types of vegetarians, and some do eat egg and dairy.


Not the type of diet to follow for the long term. Those with this type of eating strategy also find themselves in carb overload. This eating strategy does not necessarily omit processed foods. Of all the clients I have worked with over the years, this type of eater is the most difficult to help lose weight. Since no meat is eaten, there are minimal amounts of the active form of vitamin B-12. More importantly even if supplemented, often the synthetic form (cyanocobalamin) and not the active form called (methylcobalamin). These folks also miss out on vitamin D, riboflavin, zinc and iron. Supplementation will be a must if long term health is the goal. Unfortunately, there is no good substitute for getting these nutrient from food itself.

Vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs can probably get some of the missing nutrients. According to Dr. Josh Axe of “the subgroup that has the most issues are young women in their twenties. They become vegan then want to become pregnant, and then the fetus typically needs more fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamin B-12”.

Lastly, it is critical to note that too many carbohydrates regardless of origin, even fruit, produce Advanced Glycation End Products or AGE’s which is what is formed when sugar reacts with amino acids.  AGE’s contribute to premature aging of the body and to many diseases such as cardiovascular disease,diabetes and Alzheimer’s.  Alzheimer’s is now being called “type III diabetes.  AGE’s shorten the length of our telomeres. These are the tiny little caps on the end of our DNA. Short telomere = shortened life span. You can read more about how excess sugar effects them here:

Dr. Mercola

Anyone wanting some immediate help to kick their sugar habit and save their brain from “rusting” due to excess sugars can join JJ Virgins’ Sugar Detox program.  JJ makes it easy with great recipes to help you get this under control.  Sugar is a drug and we have an addicted country.

Learn more about her program here:   Sugar Impact Diet  I refer my clients to this program all the time because of the great recipes and resources JJ has.

Why not add a high does of healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado and MCT oil and turn this into a KETO-vegan diet.  You would easily do this by removing all grain and most fruits but ramping up the fats.  This is a fast growing strategy and I will have more on this to come.



This diet is go-to for the treatment of three main conditions. It is used to treat patients with epilepsy and seizures with great success and have been clinically shown to reduce seizure activity. Next is cancer. The ketogenic diet has been studied and used as part of cancer treatment cancer because it starves cancer cells of the sugar that they need to replicate and survive. We know that cancer cells can feed off of sugar and fermentation. Cancer cells cannot survive on ketones, but YOU can!

Typically the diet could consist of up to 70% fat, and it did well for the Eskimo’s who ate much whale blubber. Interestingly, they never got heart disease from eating this way. This diet is one of the fastest ways to reduce insulin surges and blood sugar and is my go-to strategy for those looking to reduce risk factors for diabetes or who want to lose weight without the typical hunger. If you have candida, guess what? Ketogenic again for a short period of time can head candida off at the pass.

It is also good for the brain and the nerves since both of these need fats to function in an optimal way. So do hormones. That brings me to the next condition that benefits from this style of eating. MCT oil and coconut oils are staples here, and no sugars are allowed. Fruit consumption is minimal to none  depending on the stage of the diet you are in. Every person has a different threshold for getting and staying in ketosis.  The determining factor is personal carb tolerance and the amount of fats consumed.

Meats, veggies, nuts and seeds are staples and LOTS OF FATS.  Scared, don’t be.  This diet promotes lots of veggies but little to no carbohydrates. This help to put the body into a state of dietary ketosis where to coin Mark Sisson’s phrase “the metabolic machinery” is built for one to become a fat burner rather than a sugar burner. Mark is one of the leading authorities today in the Paleo world. His tools were very helpful for me as well. Since healthy fats are encouraged liberally, the diet is high in fiber from lots of veggies, hunger is never an issue. Weight loss is effortless with the aid of the higher fat low carb matrix of this style of eating. We call it “keto adaptation.”


Ketogenic can only be a short term  strategy for some people and then enter a period where  a “re-feeding” of carbohydrates is introduced.   Reason being is that the adrenals do need a bit more glucose than what this diet provides for some people.  Men typically do very well on this and the diet can positively affect their levels of HGH and testosterone. Women’s hormones do not do as well so shorter periods of ketosis alternating with a few weeks of carbohydrate re-feeding may work best for women. I would caution anyone suffering from adrenal fatigue to use caution if undertaking this eating strategy to include carbs at the higher end of the spectrum, which is considered to be about 70-100 grams a day rather than the typical 25-50 grams. It’s ok to be at the low end for 30 to 60 days and like some, folks cycle on an off for. Good carbohydrates are required when healing the adrenals. Anyone with adrenal fatigue should not undertake an extremely low carb diet for very long.  A few healthy carbs can be added back in and the diet once healing takes place and then low carb -high fat then becomes more of a long term strategy. Every persons tolerance to carbohydrate varies so it must be individually tweaked using glucometers and ketone meters for best fit.

Personally, I have followed a cyclic low-carb, high fat , high fat diet to heal from my hashimotos, fibromyalgia, hypoglycemia and insulin resistance.  Not only is this style of eating backed in science, but my experiment of one was nothing short of amazing.  Follow my  Facebook page here. Ketophile Nation .  This is where low carb/high fat eating lovers unite.

Always check with your doctor when undertaking any new eating plan.

Go to part two here:


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