Thursday, November 11, 2010




By Monika Tarkowska-Carter CPT, LWMC, HLC                                                          

We often forget that clean water and healthy food are not only the foundation of health but have more power than medicines to keep us healthy. But the quality of what we put into our bodies is also of prime importance. If you build a healthy foundation with simple things like nutrition and exercise, your body will thrive.


 1. The most important yet cheapest thing you can do for your body every day is drink good quality pure water, ideally with a ph of at least 7.0.

2.  Drink a minimum of half of your body weight in ounces per day; more if you exercise or if you live in a hot climate.

3. Eat organic foods as much as possible – they have more nutrients, more antioxidants and more disease-fighting phytochemicals and are free of dangerous pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

4. Eat 4-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily; choose produce in different colors to get the biggest variety of vitamins and minerals possible.

5. Try to eat more raw vegetables than cooked – they have more much needed enzymes.

6. If you do eat meat, buy only organic meat from grass-fed animals – it is not only free of antibiotics and hormones but is a lot leaner and has a different nutritional profile than commercially raised meat. It is high in anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids and lower in pro-inflammatory Omega 6. It also contains a higher amount of healthy CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). CLA is an antioxidant with strong anti-cancer properties and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help fight inflammation. It also reduces body fat and increases lean muscle mass. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals can contain 300%-500% more CLA than those from cattle fed the usual diet of grain and hay.

7. Try other healthy lean meats like buffalo and ostrich.

8.  Eat only organic free-range poultry and eggs.

9.  If you do eat dairy make sure it is organic and ideally raw – that means not pasteurized or homogenized. It is devoid of antibiotics and hRGH (recombinant human growth hormone), has more vitamins and the enzymes have not been destroyed by the above processes. It is also well tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant. In California you can get organic raw milk, cream, kefir, immune-building colostrum, butter and cheddar cheese from Organic Pastures (

10. Include organic nuts and seeds in your diet. Try to eat them raw as roasting at high temperatures oxidizes them, makes them rancid and destroys precious antioxidants. Nuts are a rich source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, iron, zinc and antioxidants selenium and Vitamin E.

11. Make a variety of beans a staple in your diet – they are high in fiber, protein and antioxidants.

12. Eat only whole grains, not ground, processed, bleached, fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals, etc. Whenever foods have been fortified you know all their original nutritional value has been stripped off in the refining process.

13. Don’t rely entirely on wheat as your main grain source. Wheat has the highest glycemic index of all grains and many people are intolerant to it. Try other grains like buckwheat, oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, rye, spelt, teff, amaranth, triticale and millet.

14. Limit your caffeine intake. It causes exhaustion of the adrenal glands so your body has a harder and harder time producing enough cortisol necessary to wake you up in the morning and keep you awake when you need to feel alert. It disturbs your normal cortisol cycle.

15. If you must drink coffee for its flavor and aroma, switch to coffee decaffeinated by the Swiss Water Process – the only process that leaves 0.01% of caffeine left.

16. Drink only organic coffee. Non-organic coffee is the heaviest chemically treated food product in the world.

17. Avoid trans fats at any cost. (This includes fried foods produced commercially or in restaurants). They decrease HDL (high density lipoprotein – the good guy) and increase LDL (low density lipoprotein – the bad guy) and have been shown to contribute to heart disease.

18.  Choose only good fats: cold-pressed olive oil, nut oils, seed oils, high-oleic canola oil, avocado oil, organic coconut oil.  (Coconut oil has been greatly misrepresented as a bad fat and although it is saturated it does not contain cholesterol since it is not of animal origin. It has very strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties because of its high content of lauric acid. The only other rich source of it is breast milk. Organic virgin coconut oil is now slowly being recognized by the medical community as a powerful tool against immune diseases and is often used for its medicinal purposes by many hospitals. Two excellent books on the subject were written by one of the top lipid researchers in the world, Dr. Mary Enig: Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol” (Bethesda Press, May 2000) and Eat Fat Lose Fat” (Hudson Street Press, January 2005). If you use saturated fat like butter use only organic butter from grass-fed cows – it is NOT as unhealthy as once thought. 

19. If you cook with fats at high temperatures use only fats that are stable and do not cause formation of free radicals. Saturated fats are actually best for high temperature cooking as they are very stable. Vegetable oils are NOT a healthy option for this purpose. The best fats for cooking at high temperatures are butter, ghee, duck fat, coconut oil, palm oil and avocado oil.

20.  Minimize intake of sugar in your diet. That includes anything with sugar added to it (sodas, fruit yogurt, crackers, cereals, commercially prepared tomato sauces, ketchup, etc.). 1 teaspoon of sugar has been shown to suppress your immune system for up to 4 hours!

21.  Eat more alkaline foods (fruits and vegetables) to balance out the acidity in your diet especially if you eat a SAD diet (Standard American Diet) that is highly processed and full of acidifying foods like meat, dairy and grains.

22.  Avoid any soda drinks and carbonated beverages as they are all acidic.

23.  Limit alcohol as much as possible – it is not only very high in calories but it also interferes with your body’s ability to burn fat as the liver has to process it and detoxify it first. Alcohol is also one of the strongest causes of inflammation in the gut.

24.  Try to eat 1-2 servings of fish high in Omega 3 per week BUT be extremely careful in choosing fish since most of it these days is high in mercury. The safest fish that is highest in Omega 3 is wild Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies. For low-mercury tuna go to  Farmed fish does not have much Omega 3 and is usually high in PCB and other toxins. (You can find out about the amounts of mercury in seafood by going to

25.  Eat all foods as they appear in nature – WHOLE FOODS or at least minimally processed. They are much more nutritious.

26.   Plant foods should make a big part of your diet. They contain not only much needed nutrients but most of them are full of fiber. Aim for at least 25-30 grams of fiber a day.

27. Use only high quality unprocessed sea salt like Celtic Sea Salt (in reasonable amounts). It is high in important minerals and vital to your diet.  

28.  Avoid artificial sweeteners at all cost – they are neurotoxins that can damage the brain and the nervous system. Your brain does not register them as calories and will send you a message to keep eating. Good alternative is a natural sweetener like Stevia.

29.  Avoid microwaved foods (even water) at any cost. Microwaves damage the cell wall of foods and change their molecular structure into something your gut receptors are not likely to recognize as food. Many people who use microwave ovens suffer from various digestive problems.

30.  Avoid genetically modified foods – they are not the same.

31.  Eat well at least 80% of the time. If you do, your body may be able to withstand the 20% of abuse you put it through.

32.  Cheat a little – no super healthy diet is healthy if it offers no enjoyment.

33.  And please……………………..don’t forget the WATER!!!

Always remember:  YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT


  1. I have heard from a reputable MD that artificial sweeteners cause inflammation which increases pain associated with arthritis and is a precursor of most diseases. Besides eliminating these, what do you think is the fastest and best way to reduce inflammation?
    Also, how do you know the PH balance of your water?
    Thank you

  2. Thank you for your comment JoAnne. I will answer the easiest question first. 1. How do you know the ph balance of your water? If you buy bottled water, a lot of companies put the ph on the label e.g. Evian (7.18), Fiji (7.5), etc. The website: is an excellent source of information on different bottled waters from 41 countries. If you drink tap water at home (which I hope you don’t) you can check its ph balance with a simple test strip available at some doctors’ offices or at aquarium stores. One of the best ways to guarantee that your water will be clean and have an optimal ph is to install a good water filter/ionizer in your house. (This could be the subject of a whole other article as there are many different ones on the market and much debate about different degrees of alkaline water and its impact on health.) Generally you will find opinions that drinking water should have the ph of somewhere between 6.5 and 8.5. (Please, contact me directly if you’d like more information as it is a broad subject and beyond the scope of this article.) 2. Do artificial sweeteners cause inflammation? Yes, you are right that inflammation increases the pain associated with arthritis and has been shown to be the precursor to many diseases. However, I have not been able to find studies on the direct effect of artificial sweeteners on inflammation but there may be an indirect effect. Foods containing artificial sweeteners are often not recognized by your brain as calories and the brain’s response is to tell you to keep eating. It is not a problem if you occasionally use a small amount unless you have a very high sensitivity to certain chemicals. (Though you should avoid them for other reasons mentioned in my article.) However, most people who use them do it to be able to ingest a bigger amount of food or drink in question and then it becomes a real problem not only because certain ingredients in artificial sweeteners have been shown to stimulate the release of fat-storing hormones but also because most people will end up eating a lot more than they would have in the first place had their brain received the right message. This, of course, will often lead to overweight and obesity which in itself (especially if concentrated in the abdominal area) may be a direct cause of inflammation. One recent study also showed a decline in kidney function in people who had high intake of artificial sweeteners. (The rest of my answer is posted as a separate comment due to blog space restrictions.)

  3. 3. What is the fastest and best way to reduce inflammation? The answer is not as simple as it might seem because it really depends on the causes of inflammation. There are many direct and indirect causes. Here are just a few: an inflammatory process in your body due to disease or viral, bacterial or fungal infection (could even be a tooth infection), pro-inflammatory diet (due to high consumption of trans fats, rancid fats, fried foods, foods cooked at high temperatures, sugar, sodas, caffeine, alcohol, excessive amounts of starches, etc.), overweight and obesity, especially if your waist is over 35” (if you are a woman) and 40” (if you are a man), sleep deprivation, environmental toxicity, low levels of vitamin D and high stress. A quick note here on stress. Sources of stress may be psychological, emotional or physical. Oftentimes, the result is the sympathetic system dominance (your “fight or flight” response) which causes the body to release excessive stress hormones (especially cortisol). This, in turn, will cause inflammation or make an existing one worse. There are many surprising reasons why one might be in a state of sympathetic dominance – stressful life, overstimulation of the nervous system by various sources, improper breathing patterns (caused by either stress, emotional or structural issues), type A personality and. Our bodies were only designed to deal with an occasional stress (like imminent danger) when the rise in cortisol is necessary for survival, but not on a constant basis. Therefore, when looking at the fastest and best ways to decrease inflammation, it is imperative to look at its real sources first and then take an appropriate course of action. Here are a few simple ways to decrease inflammation:
    - A diet rich in high-antioxidant vegetables and fruits (especially pineapple, papaya, tart cherries, blueberries, cruciferous vegetables). Ideally, many of them should be eaten raw as cooking destroys not only enzymes but many temperature-sensitive vitamins.
    - Omega 3 fatty acids – either as fish or krill oil supplements or in their natural form. The best sources that are still low in mercury are wild Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies and other small fish (which contain smaller amounts),
    - flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed – though not the best as it is slightly different than Omega 3 FA of animal origin and your body can only convert a very small amount of it into the needed form,
    - Organic, grass-fed (!) beef and other animal foods – they are surprisingly high in healthy Omega 3 FA, compared to grain-fed ones, which most people don’t realize,
    - Omega 3-fortified eggs,
    - Olive oil,
    -Healthy Omega 6 fatty acids like Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA): hemp seed oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil and black currant seed,
    - Green tea (because of high EGCG content),
    - Certain spices like curcumin (in turmeric), rosemary and ginger,
    - Resveratrol (in grape skins,)
    -EXERCISE- it fights visceral fat (fat around your organs) which is a huge contributor to inflammation,
    - Not smoking,
    - Stress reduction (meditation, yoga, massage, etc.),
    - Adequate levels of Vitamin D – for its immunomodulating effects. (tbc)

  4. (cont.)One other thing worth looking into, though a subject of much debate and controversy, is eating according to your metabolic type. The premise behind it is that there is enormous amount of biochemical and physiological diversity among individuals therefore we all need diets that are more compatible with our own biochemistry. There is a lot of truth to the old proverb that “One man’s food is another’s poison”. There is no such thing as a diet that’s good for everyone. Your response to particular types and ratios of foods is strongly dependent on your ancestry, your genetic make-up, the climate you were born in, your current lifestyle, stress levels, climate you currently live in, your age, your current health status and any hormonal imbalances as well as many other factors. I really believe that the main stream nutrition that the general public is exposed to in the media has done a tremendous amount of disservice to people, categorizing them all as the same. There is much research being done in this area and hopefully we will have more answers soon. I have found this more personalized approach extremely helpful in my practice, for both my clients and myself. A tremendous amount of research on the subject was done by Dr. William Wolcott. His excellent book “The Metabolic Typing Diet” (published by Broadway Books, 2000) is a fascinating read and I would highly recommend it if you’d like to know more about this approach.
    I hope I answered all your questions. Stay well and thank you for visiting my blog.