Organ meat recipe: Liver

8 Organ Meat Recipes to Try Next

Most of us have grown up seeing and eating only muscle meats, which means the idea of nose-to-tail eating can feel downright strange. That’s why when it comes to these organ meat recipes, your mindset is key. 

Did you know that thoughts are things?  The way you think about organ meats will go a long way in determining how you experience them. We encourage you to view the process of cooking with organ meats as a return to how humans have evolved to eat

If you’re going to get started with organ meats, see if you can find a curiosity and desire to try new things for the sake of your health and longevity. 

Let’s take a look at 8 traditional organ meat recipes designed to help you get comfortable with the most nutritious foods on earth.


Liver recipe: Liver and onion meatballs

“Liver has ranked above all other offal as one of the most prized culinary delights,” proclaims a 1974 book called Innards and Other Variety Meats. “Its heritage is illustrious — whether savored by young warriors after a kill or mixed with truffles and cognac for fine patés de foie gras.” 

In addition to being one of the most treasured organ meats, liver is also one of the easiest organs to get started with. As long as you cook it right! The below organ meat recipe should help with that.

Liver and onion meatballs

This entry-level organ dish is simple and satisfying. 

The ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 lb beef liver (finely chopped/minced)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The process:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Combine ground beef and beef liver by hand in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in garlic powder, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. 
  4. Form the meat into meatballs (approximately 1-2 ounces each).
  5. Place meatballs in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Let cool slightly, then enjoy! 

Extra tip: 

If you’ve tried this recipe and still find liver’s taste a little too bitter, soaking it in raw milk for roughly 8 hours beforehand should fix things.   

Tongue recipe: beef tongue taco salad

Tongue is actually more of a muscle than an organ. Compared to other organ meats, beef tongue takes some extra preparation. But we think you’ll find its rich and fatty flavor more than worth it. 

Thankfully for all of us, the Mexican culture got beef tongue prep down long ago. This organ meat recipe is a keto-friendly take on traditional tacos, which — believe it or not — are made with tongue.  

Beef tongue taco meat

Classic tacos with a keto twist. 

The ingredients:

  • Beef tongue (1 tongue)
  • Salt and garlic to taste
  • Bay leaf

The process: 

  1. Place the beef tongue in a slow cooker and cover it full with water. 
  2. Add your garlic, bay leaf, and salt. 
  3. Cover and cook on “low” for 8 hours (try doing this overnight).
  4. Remove the tongue and shred it into strands with a fork. 
  5. Season with extra salt.
  6. Bonus step: fry your portion of tongue in some grass-fed suet. 
  7. Enjoy! 

Heart recipe: beef heart steak

Heart, like tongue, is both an organ meat and muscle meat. The heart was a favorite organ of many native American cultures. 

Heart is also ideal for those new to organ meats. It looks and tastes less organ-y than many other options — especially when prepared as follows. 

Beef heart steak

Quick, simple, and practically guaranteed to keep steak-lovers happy. 

The ingredients:

  • 1 beef heart (~4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • butter oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The process: 

  1. Slice your beef heart into pieces from top to bottom. Remove any veins. 
  2. Don’t remove the fatty covering — it’ll prevent your steaks from getting too dry later. 
  3. Place slices into apple cider vinegar and marinate for at least 8 hours.
  4. Remove heart slices from the vinegar and pat them dry.
  5. Heat a skillet with ghee for roughly one minute, or until you hear sizzling.
  6. Place heart slices onto the skillet. They should really sizzle! 
  7. Cook slices for 5 minutes, then flip. 
  8. Remove from heat when slices are golden brown on the outside but still rare in the middle. 
  9. Drizzle with butter oil.

Kidneys recipe: Kidneys in butter-mustard sauce

The official role of an animal’s kidneys may be to filter blood, but when it comes to delicious cuisine, the kidneys serve a different role entirely. 

For this recipe, we’ll be taking some inspiration from a culture that has arguably the richest culinary history of them all: the French.  

Kidney in butter-mustard sauce

This Julia-Child-inspired recipe provides a look at French cuisine’s best. 

  • 1 beef kidney
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The process:

  1. Place 2 tablespoons of softened butter and the mustard in a ramekin and mix well.
  2. Prepare the kidney by trimming off excess fat and connective tissues.
  3. Heat your other 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. 
  4. After the butter has stopped foaming, add the whole kidney to the pan. 
  5. Cook for ~10 minutes, and be sure to turn the kidney over several times. 
  6. Leaving the heat on, remove the kidney from the pan and set aside. 
  7. Add wine and lemon juice to the pan and bring it to a boil.
  8. Once roughly half the liquid has boiled off, remove the pan from the heat. 
  9. Add the mustard butter into the pan and stir well.. 
  10. (When in doubt, just add more butter!)
  11. Add your kidney back to the pan, which is now home to a rich sauce. 
  12. Remove everything from heat and enjoy.

Brain recipe: Brains and eggs

Composed of roughly 60% fat, the brain is the fattiest organ in the entire body. 

And all that fat means it’s easy to cook with. Brain is considered a delicacy in many cultures. This recipe capitalizes on the brain’s supple texture and flavor by pairing it with soft-cooked eggs. 

Brains and eggs

An Eastern Kentucky throwback, brains, and eggs are nutritious and deeply satisfying.

The ingredients:

  • I set brains
  • 6 eggs (free-range if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste

The process:

  1. Wash the brain and remove all of its outer membranes.
  2. Soak the brain for 1 hour in a pot of salted, cold water.
  3. Pour the water out, but keep the brain in the pot.
  4. Add fresh cold water and bring the brain to a boil. 
  5. Boil for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Drain the pot, then plunge the brain into cold water to cool. 
  7. Remove the brain from water and slice it into thin pieces.
  8. Place cooked brain into a mixing bowl with eggs. 
  9. Place butter onto a heated skillet. 
  10. Pour the brains and eggs into the skillet, stirring often.
  11. Cook until eggs are just barely “set up.”
  12. Enjoy! 

Sweetbreads recipe: Crispy sweetbreads

Sweetbreads probably aren’t what you think they are. They’re not especially sweet nor bready. The term sweetbread actually refers to an animal’s thymus and pancreas! Don’t let that scare you, though —this organ meat recipe makes sweetbreads quite palatable. 

Crispy sweetbreads

The organ meat equivalent to friend chicken. 

The ingredients:

  • Sweetbreads
  • 4 tablespoons suet or duck fat
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar 
  • Salt to taste

The process: 

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. 
  2. Turn the heat down slightly, then stir in salt and red wine vinegar.
  3. Immediately add your sweetbreads, then cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the sweetbreads and run them under cold water until cooled.
  5. Dry the sweetbreads off with a paper towel, then transfer them to a clean plate. 
  6. Place another plate on top of the sweetbreads, weighing it down with cans, packages of frozen beef, or anything else with some heftiness to it! 
  7. Once flattened, cut your sweetbreads into half-inch slices. 
  8. Place slices into a bowl and coat with coconut flour.
  9. Heat 4 tablespoons of duck fat over medium-high heat in a large skillet. 
  10. Add half the sweetbreads and fry for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Flip sweetbreads over and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on the other side.
  12. Transfer the sweetbreads to a plate, add the second batch of sweetbreads to the skillet, and repeat the process. 
  13. Enjoy!

Tripe recipe: Haggis

Tripe is the lining of an animal’s stomach — most frequently a cow’s. Tripe and other innards were prized among Native American tribes, and they continue to be prized in many international cuisines today.  

This recipe is Scotland’s most famous dish: haggis. Haggis is a type of savory pudding made out of lamb or sheep’s offal, spices, onions, and suet. This tasty blend is then cooked inside an animal’s stomach. 


Our plant-toxin-free version of haggis might be almost as good as the original. 

The ingredients:

  • 1 sheep stomach
  • 1 sheep liver
  • 1 sheep heart
  • 1 sheep tongue
  • 1/2 pound suet, minced
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

The process: 

  1. Rinse the stomach and soak in cold, salted water overnight.
  2. Rinse the other organs: liver, heart, and tongue.
  3. Cook all organs (except the stomach!) in a large pot over medium heat for 2 hours. 
  4. Remove organs, then mince them. 
  5. Combine all minced organs in a large bowl.  Stir in salt and spices.
  6. Remove the stomach from its water bath and fill it 2/3rds of the way with this mixture. Sew or tie the stomach closed. 
  7. Use a fork to put a few small holes in the stomach. (This will keep the haggis from bursting later.)
  8. Gently place the filled stomach in a large pot of boiling water and cook it over high heat for 3 hours.
  9. Tada! You’ve got haggis. Let it cool slightly, then enjoy. 

Bone marrow recipe: Roasted bone marrow

“The Victorians were right,” Jennifer McLagan said in her 2005 cookbook, Bones. “[Bone marrow] is a health food and definitely way too good for the dog.”

It’ true: bone marrow is basically a fat-bomb of nutritional goodness.  It’s easy to prepare, easy to cook, and easy to enjoy. Just make sure you have a special marrow spoon to partake of it with. 

Roasted bone marrow

The ingredients:

  • 4 marrow bones 
  • Salt to taste

The process: 

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold, salted water. 
  2. Add the marrow bones and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. 
  3. Drain the bones and pat them dry. (Be sure to roast the now-soaked marrow bones within 24 hours.)
  4. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  5. Place the marrow bones on a roasting pan and roast for 15-25 minutes. Look for the marrow to start puffing slightly.
  6. Test to see if the marrow bones are done by sticking a metal skewer into the center of the bone. Remove the skewer and quickly touch it — it should be very hot.   
  7. Serve the roasted bone marrow right away, and have fun using your fancy marrow spoon! 

Beef Bone Marrow

Bonus recipe: Organ meat stew

If you’ve gone through the above organ meat recipes and are still feeling adventurous, dip into this bonus recipe.

It’s actually more of a set of guidelines because virtually any organ meats can be tossed into organ meat stew. Feel free to get creative depending on what you have on hand. 

Organ meat stew

This simple-but-satisfying stew is a perfect pick-me-up for those cold, cloudy days. 

The ingredients:

  • Any organ meats you want
  • Soup bones (recommended)
  • Oxtail (recommended)
  • Apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The process:

  1. Begin by preparing the organs. If you’re including heart, then trim off its connective tissues and vessels. 
  2. Cut organs into 1 inch cubes and add everything to a large pot.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of apple cider vinegar.
  4. Fill the pot with water or bone broth. 
  5. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat down to a simmer. 
  6. Simmer for 2-3 hours. Your stew will be done once the heart gets very tender. 

The Bottom Line on Organ Meat Recipes

There’s far more to an animal-based diet than steak and eggs. Organ meats are highly nutritious, packed with hard-to-get bioavailable nutrients, and highly tasty. There’s really no better way to nourish your body than by incorporating these natural superfoods. 

Neglecting organ meats is only neglecting yourself. Try one or all of the above organ meat recipes and you’ll see how easy it is to incorporate organ meats into your lifestyle! Though the idea of organs might seem strange at first, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Trying something new, in this case, can have profound effects on your health. 


Yoga for Beginners

Yoga for Beginners: Take This Quiz to Find Your Style

Finding the right yoga can be tricky. This quiz swaps trial and error for a more  “scientific” approach to matching beginners with the right type of yoga. 

Discovering your perfect yoga match

There are many types of yoga for beginners. To discover your yoga match let’s first explore the type of person you are. Each year two million people take a personality test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  We thought it would be great if there was a version of the Myers-Briggs test that harmonized your personality style with your perfect yoga match. So we made one for you. 

As you take the quiz, be sure to keep track of the number of times you chose either A,B,C,or D, as an answer.

Yoga For Beginners: The Quiz

1. What is your approach to planning a vacation?

A – I like to make sure I know exactly where I’m staying and have a daily itinerary mapped out.

B – I plan logistics like hotel and transportation well beforehand. Then I begin daydreaming about the vision of my trip.

C – Before I go, I research and take notes. I want to know the best restaurants, beaches, trails, and hotels, and bring a list with me. Otherwise, I don’t mind spontaneity.

D – I pack a bag and go. I prefer to leave my options open and keeps things exciting.

2. My favorite kind of menu experience looks like…

A – An intricate five-course menu chosen and planned by the chef.

B – A well-considered menu in a single genre that I’m craving. Pictures are helpful.

C – An interesting, new dining experience with clear descriptions of what’s in each dish.

D – A build-your-own situation with lots of delicious options.

3. How do you select music when you exercise?

A – The same playlist in the same order, every time. It helps me keep track of my pacing.

B – I create playlists with general themes, and I choose one based on the vibe I want.

C – All of my favorite songs, on shuffle.

D – I like the freedom to keep it fluid and switch it up in the middle of a walk.

4. You’re writing a memoir. Where do you begin?

A – By creating an organized outline of significant memories, and getting the facts right.

B – By reading a book on memoir writing, then I’d consider the themes of my life, and maybe create a vision board.

C – By surrounding myself with important objects and symbols from my life. Then I would journal, paying attention to the little moments of significance. 

D – I would consider the patterns throughout my life, and where they meet, created the quilt of where I am today.

5. What is your favorite post-workout feeling?

A – Accomplished and successful.

B – Balanced and appreciative.

C – Inspired and uplifted.

D – Blissed out and nourished.

6. When it comes to self-care…

A – I wake up at the same time every day. Without my routine, my day feels off.

B – I am all about intention setting, and I love a good self-help book. 

C – I care a lot about my space. I like to light a candle, put essential oils in the bath. The small things fill me up.

D – I go with the flow. Any kind of routine feels like the opposite of self-care.

7. The first time I baked a souffle, my process was…

A – I had the recipe open on the counter. I measured everything precisely before beginning.

B – I found the recipe with the nicest picture. I love inspirational foodie blogs.

C – I bought all the highest quality ingredients. I missed a few steps in the recipe but I made it work.

D – I watched a cooking show, used the ingredients that I had on hand, and went for it. It didn’t turn out perfectly, but it satisfied my craving for something sweet!

8. Choose the sentence that describes you best.

A – I am conscientious, responsible, and organized.

B – I am insightful, attuned, and see the big picture.

C – I am flexible, sensitive, and notice small details.

D – I am an adaptable idealist and see possibilities.

What’s my perfect yoga match?

Mostly A’s

You’re organized and detailed, You crave order and thrive in environments that are conscientious, traditional, and systematic. Types of yoga that are systematic, alignment-focused, and traditional may work in harmony with your personality.

For a lower to medium intensity yoga for beginners, try: Iyengar

Iyengar yoga is systematic, traditional, and precise. Iyengar classes focus on alignment between all levels of a person: physical, intellectual, and spiritual.  Props are used generously to support every kind of body and its abilities. In a traditional Iyengar class, you will not find any music, but your body will be well-aligned and challenged through precision.

For a higher intensity class, try: Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga for beginners follows a systematic sequence that’s the same each class. Ashtanga yoga is a more advanced traditional vinyasa style class. And it’s guaranteed to make you sweat. You’ll be introduced to sanskrit names of poses and feel challenged on many levels.

Mostly B’s

You seek meaning and deeper understanding. You easily pick up on patterns and themes. You may prefer long-term planning and goal-setting over logistical details. Types of yoga in harmony for your personality are infused with philosophy and give you a structured container that supports a bigger life vision. 

For a lower to medium intensity class, try: Hatha

Hatha classes can vary, but adhere to traditional postures and yogic philosophy. This makes hatha a great yoga for beginners. Hatha classes are accessible to almost all body types and strength and energy levels. Hatha is a sanskrit word, linking ‘sun’ and ‘moon’– a great metaphor for the goal of balancing steady and easeful energy in the body. Though the postures might change from class to class, the emphasis on maintaining balance is constant.

For a medium to high intensity class, try: Kundalini

Kundalini is a unique style that is quite different from your run-of-the-mill yoga for beginners class. In a Kundalini class, you will hold interesting postures for longer periods of time, do breathwork, and chant. In terms of intensity, these classes can be quite challenging mentally and often physically, but you will likely leave with a feeling of inner vibrancy and gratitude.

Mostly C’s

You may be quite flexible and adaptable. You could also be sensitive and pick up on nuances and small details with ease. You may enjoy meeting new people, exploring new environments, and trying new things. Types of yoga that are philosophically interesting, detailed in alignment, but that vary in structure from class to class may work well with your curious yet adaptable personality.

For a lower to medium intensity class, try: Yin

Yin yoga for beginners is based in Chinese Taoist philosophy and seeks to balance the yang, or more active, qualities of life with yin, or more receptive, energy. With a detailed and intricate philosophical foundation, yin cares for the body’s joints, fascia, and sore muscles with longer holds, focused breath, and stillness. Yin is quiet, slow, but not lacking in intensity, especially if you tend to be busy. The qualities make yin a great yoga for beginners option. 

For a medium to higher intensity class, try: Anusara

Anusara yoga is rooted in spiritual oneness and intrinsic goodness. Class themes are woven throughout alignment-specific postures. In an anusara class, your body is the expression of spiritual principles. Anusara classes are strong, filled with many heart openers, as well as inspiring messages that will leave you satisfied and glowing.

Mostly D’s

You are deep, imaginative, and spontaneous. You thrive in new and exciting environments where you can adapt quickly and stimulate your enthusiastic self. Types of yoga that are innovative, spacious, and that offer many options will support your craving to keep things fresh and open.

For a low-intensity class, try: Restorative

Restorative yoga is all about relaxation. In a restorative class, postures are low to the ground, held for up to ten minutes, and generously supported by props to promote total rejuvenation of the body, mind, and spirit. Restorative classes target restoration of the nervous system, which will leave you feeling calm, rested, and ready to go with the flow of your life.

For a medium to higher intensity class, try: Vinyasa

Vinyasa classes vary tremendously but share a commonality: linking breath with movement to support a moving meditation. Vinyasa classes can be fun, exciting, challenging, and can even feel like a flowy, choreographed dance set to a fun soundtrack. In a typical vinyasa class, there are many options to support your level or interest on any given day. You will leave having had a good workout and recharged with vitality.

Yoga for Beginners: The Outlook

There are numerous yoga styles for beginners that fit pretty much any personality.  If you’re new to yoga or looking to pick it up again after a break, knowing your personality type can be the key to finding the right type of yoga for you.




sun streaming through hand in meditation mudra

How to Meditate: A Guide to Mindfulness for Beginners

Have you been wanting to start a mindfulness meditation practice but don’t know where to start? Or have you tried and failed? You might be relieved to hear that there is no one-size-fits-all version of mindfulness meditation. What you hear on an app, a social media post, or from a family member, may not be an approach that works for you. And that’s okay! This doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. It just means you need to know all your options and a little how-to. 

This guide will help you find a way to connect with the practice that works for you. 

What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is the intentional awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance of your moment-to-moment experience.

It begins at the most obvious levels of experience by noticing sounds in the room, your breath, or the sensations in your body. 

As you get better at noticing these experiences—not through perfect focus, but by being willing to start over, again and again—you begin to notice subtler aspects of experience. 

You begin to change how your nervous system responds to things that would normally feed anxiety, depression, and addictive behaviors. It allows you to see people—including yourself— more clearly, without thick layers of judgment and bias. 

Mindfulness meditation allows us to examine how and why we see the world the way we do; “I am flawed.” “I am unlovable.” “No one can be trusted.” The presence of these thought patterns is like looking at life through grubby sunglasses that we don’t even know we’re wearing. Once we notice them, we can remove them. So in the long run, the goal of mindfulness is liberation from these false and limiting ways of looking at life. 

Proven Benefits of Meditation

Some of the life-changing ways meditation has been proven to benefit your mind and body include:

  • Reduced stress.
  • Reduced anxiety levels.
  • Reduced depression.
  • Greater awareness of your thought habits, and ability to create constructive habits.
  • Enhanced attention and memory.
  • Improvements in age-related memory loss.
  • Increased attention, memory, and mental quickness in older people.
  • More creative problem-solving skills.
  • Increase in compassion toward yourself and others.
  • Control over food cravings.
  • Control over alcohol cravings, and alcohol use.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Helps control pain.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Reduces the severity of many disorders and diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.

Benefits of meditation

What is an “anchor”? 

When meditating, the anchor is the experience that you focus your awareness on, and it won’t be the same for everyone. This is why finding the right anchor can make all the difference.

The anchor helps us train our attention. Trying to deeply notice the distorting lenses through which you experience life (those grubby glasses) without first training your attention is like trying to look through a microscope in an earthquake. 

To keep your attention, your anchor should be something that is interesting and stabilizing enough that you don’t throw your hands up in frustration. But it also needs to be something subtle enough that you have to keep making the choice to pay attention (who, for instance, has emerged from an hours-long Netflix vortex with the thought, “That really improved my focus”?).

For many people, choosing the wrong anchor can sink a mindfulness practice before it ever gets going.  This is why choosing the right anchor is so important. So let’s dive in and find yours! 

How to Meditate on your Breath

We offer the breath as an initial anchor for good reason.  The breath is always with you. It’s constantly changing in subtle ways.  And it lets you know when you’re trying too hard, because it becomes strained or uncomfortable. 

If you stick with the breath, trying to keep things natural, it can teach you how to bring the right effort into a meditation practice. Too little effort and you lose focus. Too much effort and your breath starts to feel straight-jacketed. If you choose your breath as your anchor, there are a number of things to consider:

Where do you place your focus? 

First, where will you focus on your breath? After all, breath is a whole-body event. It appears as a light drag of air against the upper lip and a whisper-touch in the nose. It may trickle across the throat and then swell in the chest. You may notice the belly softly expand or the ribcage gently flex.

If you’re especially tuned in, you might even notice how a breath raises the shoulders and then lowers them back down. You can feel its movement not just in the front of the torso, but the back as well. Maybe it’s more like a delicate thread against the left inner nostril, or an indescribable buoyancy above the diaphragm.

For others, this sort of narrow lens can feel too sleepy and closed down. You might prefer to notice the breath as a whole-body event, feeling the whole field of bodily sensations expand on a breath in, and release on a breath out. 

How do you stay focused? 

The intention, here, isn’t to drift into a nap while staying vaguely aware of your breath. The point is to become more and more aware of what is happening in the present moment. Fortunately, there are some clever ways you can frame your breath to stay interested in it. 

Counting the Breath

One of the simplest and most direct ways to stay interested is to count your breath. 

Helpful techniques include:

  • Counting from 1 to 10, and then back to 1. 
  • Count by even numbers to 20 and then odd numbers back down to 1. 
  • As you count, you could say the number once every time you breathe in,
  • You could repeat the number throughout your breath, silently repeating 1, 1, 1, 1 in your mind as you breathe in and out, and then moving on to 2, 2, 2, 2.

How to Meditate on a Focusing Phrase

Maybe you aren’t a numbers person, and all of this talk of counting makes you bored from the gates. In that case, you could identify some other phrase to repeat as you breathe. Try “Just this,” (“Just” on the inhale, and “this” on the exhale) as a way of continually reminding yourself to stick with “Just this breath.” 

The great meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, offers this refrain:  “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile,” 

Shorter versions include: 

  • “Breathing in calm. Breathing out a smile.”
  • Or simply “Calm.” “Smile.”
  • Others like to use meaningful words like “Peace”, “Love”, or “Serenity Now!” 

Note that if you count or if you use a phrase, it’s important to keep the sensations of your breath at the forefront. We’re using the phrase to point to the breath, not to replace it. 

A Word on Mantras

Sometimes people use a word or a mantra for their anchor (there are entire traditions of meditation that work this way), but this will not ultimately support mindfulness. Words and mantras alone may quiet the mind, but they also keep the mind focused on itself, rather than on the changing sensory world. If we want to get out of our heads and become more present to our experience, we need to allow some of that experience into a mindfulness practice. 

How to deepen your interest in the breath

Beyond using a number or a word to frame the breath, you can also become more interested in the actual lifespan of the breath itself. 

To do this, challenge yourself to notice: 

  • The entire length of an in-breath and the entire length of an out-breath. 
  • See if you can be interested in the gaps between in and out. 
  • Notice the details of the breath itself–the way an inhale feels cool against the nose, while an exhale feels warm by comparison. 
  • Notice the energetic effects of a breath. An exhale feels a bit more settling and relaxing, while an inhale carries subtle wakefulness. 
  • Find the most pleasant or enjoyable part of the breath and track that. 

Or, in the spirit of allowing each breath to be really new, let yourself find each successive breath in a new place in the body—now the chest, now the abdomen, now pressure in the right hip. 

The point, here, is that as we pay attention to the breath, we can make it more interesting by finding ways to become more interested. 

Looking elsewhere

With all of this said, the breath still might not be the ideal anchor for you. Maybe you have allergies or asthma that make focusing on the breath a constant chore. Maybe you have past trauma around the breath, or the breath seems to bring up trauma. Maybe for some unnamable reason, it feels awful when you focus on the breath, or like a constant strain, or simply too dull. 

Some people can have a hard time letting the breath be natural when they give it their attention, and the struggle can feel like a war of attrition. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed as a meditator, or that you’re not as good as someone who can easily focus on the breath. It simply means you need to choose a different anchor.

How to Meditate on the Body

The body can be a great alternative for an anchor if the breath isn’t working for you. Just like the breath can be approached in various ways, so can the body.

It’s a good idea to locate someplace in the body that feels relatively stable and supported. For many people, this is the: 

  • Feet,
  • Hands 
  • Seat— the points of contact between your butt and whatever you’re sitting on. 
  • Spine
  • Back 
  • “Centerline,” that sense of uprightness that hovers just in front of the spine. 


The whole body

You could also use the body as a whole, without narrowing down on any one place in particular. For people who hope to eventually transition back into using the breath, using the whole body as an anchor for a time can allow them to eventually feel the whole body breathing with a bit more ease.

It’s a good idea to spend some time searching for a place in your body that feels settling, but also interesting enough that you want to keep coming back there. Unless you’re meditating in the back of an old bus, the body will be a bit more static than the breath, but this can be an asset for people who need a greater sense of stability and support in their mindfulness practice. 


If you would like to incorporate more liveliness into using the body as an anchor, you can also cycle between a few different places in the body. Sometimes this is referred to as using “touchpoints.” 

The most classic touchpoints are the seat, the feet, and the hands. So you’d simply attend to the sensations at your seat for a given amount of time—maybe a few seconds, maybe a minute or two—before shifting to your feet. Then, after the same general amount of time, you’d shift to your hands, and continue. 

How to Meditate on Sound

Some people need to spend some time with an anchor that is entirely outside of their body. Maybe discomfort or a sense of tension and effort are too overwhelming to work with at the outset. Or maybe the body just keeps putting them to sleep. Whatever the reason, sound can provide another great option for anchoring your attention. 

When you use sound as a mindfulness anchor, you’ll begin to notice a number of unique effects it has on your mind. 

Sound can be effortless

Sound arises effortlessly, and listening to sound can be similarly effortless. If other anchors have you feeling like you’re squeezing or tensing to stay aware, sound can help you open and release. 

Spending time with sound can make a mind feel more spacious, clear, and bright—and this is especially true if you’re outside, or in nature. 

Just as with the other anchors, you can approach sound by narrowing your lens down or broadening it completely. You could pick a particular sound, such as the sound of rainfall, birdsong, or an argument happening in the other room. Or simply open up and allow yourself to receive whatever sounds arise and pass in the moment. 

If you take this latter approach, try not to play favorites with sounds. There may be sounds you don’t like, but we give these their moment, too. The training is just to steer your attention back to sound—whatever it is. 

How to Meditate on Sights

Using visual objects as mindfulness anchors is less common, but if you’re having trouble settling into another anchor, you might give it a shot. 

Candle flames

In particular, candle flames have a robust tradition as a tool for focusing the mind. To try it, simply place a lit candle (or an electric imposter) about 3-6 feet from your face. Gaze at it. After a time, you might try closing your eyes and focusing on the red dot the candle flame leaves behind. 

Just as with the other anchors, you’ll want to work to stay interested in the subtle changes of the flame, and awake to any details. This is why a candle flame is a better visual object than, say, a rock or a picture of a rock. The subtle changes and movements allow you to stay fresh and interested. 

How to Meditate on Connection and Kindness

For some people, using one of the above sensory anchors feels too emotionally dry to stick with at the outset. Maybe the effort to attend to sounds or the breath feels too solitary or insular–there’s just not enough social juice there. 

If this sounds like you, you could have a very different experience simply by using the qualities of connection and kindness as your anchor. 

Lovingkindness meditation

When learning how to meditate, the easiest way to approach this sort of anchor is through “lovingkindness” meditation, but it’s certainly not the only way. 

In general, when you use connection and kindness as an anchor, you begin by holding the image or the feeling of another person in the mind. This image or feeling is the first part of the anchor. 

Next, you begin to offer some positive wish or intention to the person you’ve called to mind. This could take the form including:

  • Saying to yourself the phrase, “May you be safe, happy, and healthy.” 
  • A visualization, such as a beam of warm light extending from your body to theirs. 
  • The sustained observation and beholding of this other person with a feeling of appreciation, compassion, or generosity. 

These relational practices aren’t technically mindfulness meditation because they’re more about generating certain images and emotional qualities than noticing and receiving what’s present.

But they’re often used to support mindfulness practice. And they can be an excellent way to build focus and attention if other anchors aren’t working. 

If you’re interested in this approach, you might look into guided practices or books by people like Sharon Salzberg (Lovingkindness), John Makransky (Awakening through Love), or Pema Chodron (Tonglen). 

There are also scientific studies that show how lovingkindness meditations can make you less critical towards yourself, while increasing self-compassion in people suffering from PTSD, while decreasing PTSD symptoms.

What’s the Best Meditation for You? 

When learning how to meditate, the best anchor is the one that helps you build mental stability, focus, and clarity and that soothes your nervous system the more you pay attention to it. 

Just like there is no magic weight-training machine that can build muscles without fatiguing them, every anchor will involve some difficulty. The point isn’t to choose an anchor that you never stray from, or that only gives you cheery thoughts. It’s to choose one that you like to return to. 

If staying with a meditation anchor feels like a struggle, or involves a lot of tension or pain, you may want to lighten up a bit or choose a different anchor. 

Meditating on Pain: A word of caution

Some people find their mind tending toward chronic pain, and can find pain so absorbing that they end up using it as their anchor. While it can be focusing in the short term, it can soon cause the mind to feel fatigued and resistant to meditating. 

This isn’t to say that we should avoid noticing pain sensations at all. It’s just a good idea to balance our awareness of pain with neutral and pleasant sensations as well.

Stick with one anchor

Finally, once you find an anchor that works for you, you’ll want to avoid the temptation to jump around a lot from anchor to anchor. When learning how to meditate, choose one anchor, stick with it for a while, and decide whether it’s a good approach after you’ve gotten familiar with it.

The Outlook

Our attention is such a precious resource. It’s the doorway that leads us into a fuller, freer, and healthier experience of life. This life, right now, is composed of moments that only happen for us if we have the attention to notice them. 

When learning how to meditate, finding the right anchor can be a simple but transformative step. It can teach you what it feels like to be present to the people around you. It can also teach you how to let go of the loops of habit and addiction that keep you estranged from the natural clarity and joy of your own mind. 

And along the way, mindfulness meditation can build resilience by teaching you how to continually start over, to make the choice to show up again and again for yourself. 

Organ meat: Brain

Organ Meats: Beginners’ Guide to Ancient Superfoods

In case you haven’t noticed, superfoods come and go–acai berries, CBD, you name it. But there’s another class of superfoods that you should know about.  One that transcends fads and that’s been treasured since ancient times. We’re talking about organ meats! 


Organ Meats: A Lost Tradition 

The breakneck pace of modern culture means it’s all too easy to discount the wisdom of how we did things in the past. 

For many people, just hearing the term “organ meats” may conjure up thoughts about bygone eras and outdated practices we no longer need or want to live by. Why read books when we have podcasts and an endless amount of choices on Netflix? Why eat organ meats when we have cutting-edge nutraceuticals?

When it comes to optimal nutrition, however, this type of thinking is fundamentally flawed. 

For all our technological advancements,’ our bodies haven’t evolved beyond the types of foods that got us here in the first place. We’re hardwired to eat an animal-based diet…whether we like it or not. 

You only need to look at how our ancient ancestors ate to see the proof. Far from being rooted in superstition, the nutritional habits of ancient cultures were perfected by eons of evolution–an intimate call and response between our bodies and the natural world. 

When we peer into our anthropological record we see that people all over the world prized organ meats above anything else. In times of scarcity, organs were preferentially given to tribal chieftains, elders, and pregnant women; in times of plenty, they were enjoyed by all.  

Why eat organ meats?

Organ meats are nature’s most concentrated source of virtually every important vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and fat. These nutrients make organ meats the ideal addition to modern diets of more conventional animal products. 

Replaces Depleted Dietary Nutrients

Adding another layer to their historical importance, organ meats may be more crucial than ever today. That’s because the fruits and vegetables many people rely on for their micronutrients have been getting progressively nutrient depleted. 

A study by The University of Texas found that the amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C in fruits and vegetables have declined significantly over the last 50 years. The levels of other micronutrients are likely lower, too.

Reduces Plant Toxins

Organ meats can supplement these depleted nutrients, and they offer an even greater health benefit when they replace many fruits and vegetables altogether. This is because fruits and veggies are loaded with plant toxins and antinutrients. Plants developed these chemicals to defend themselves against predators. And guess what? Humans are predators. 

This chart from the Texas study shows just how depleted fruits and vegetables have become. 

Turning to multivitamins isn’t the solution, either. Studies haven’t yet managed to show that multivitamins actually work! As Dr. Eliseo Guallar, from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, explained to Harvard Health, the likelihood that multivitamins have tangible health benefits is “very small — and also we have no clear proof yet of such benefit.”

Science is finally beginning to confirm what traditional cultures have known for centuries: that organ meats are one of the most important parts of the human diet. Keep reading to dive a little deeper into the world of organ meats and their wellness-boosting benefits. 

What are organ meats?

Organ meats sometimes referred to as “offal,” are the organs of animals that we prepare and consume as food.

Organ meats all-stars:

  • Liver: A true superfood, and the most nutrient-dense superfood, loaded with bioavailable vitamins that combat numerous diseases including heart disease and Alzheimer’s. 
  • Tongue: A tender muscle, high in healthy fats as well as zinc, iron, choline, and vitamin B12.
  • Heart: a great source of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant that treats and prevents numerous diseases. 
  • Kidneys: high in omega 3 fatty acids, and known to contain anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Brain: A delicacy in many cultures, and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Sweetbreads: Neither sweet, nor a bread, this organ meat comes from the thymus gland and pancreas. And is loaded with healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats that improve blood cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease, and help regulate blood sugar. 
  • Tripe: The lining of an animal’s stomach, tripe packs an impressive amount of nutrients, including selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

People have been eating organ meats for as long as we’ve been on this planet. Many traditional societies still make organ meats central to their diets.  And even in Western societies you still find sweetbreads made from thymus glands and pancreas, Menudo soup with tripe, and foie gras pate, a delicacy made from duck and goose liver. 

The most nutrient-dense foods in existence, organ meats are packed with highly-bioavailable nutrients, including both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. 

Organs are also a great source of heme iron and protein. Last, but definitely not least, organ meats are uniquely rich in several different forms of vitamin K2, a nutrient that was previously known as “Activator X” for its ability to activate bone development.

A common symptom of K2 sufficiency? Perfect teeth! Image from the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. 

The many types of organ meats

There are many different kinds of organ meats. If an animal has an organ, you can be pretty confident that some culture, somewhere, has discovered a way to eat it. 

In this article we’ll be focusing on 10 of the most popular organ meats: 

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Gizzards
  • Sweetbreads
  • Tripe
  • Tongue
  • Spleen
  • Bones


Known as “nature’s multivitamin,” there’s a reason liver comes first on this list. Both chicken liver and beef liver are nutritional powerhouses.

Just 3.5 ounces of beef liver meets many of your RDI’s (recommended daily intakes) with ease:

Beef Liver: Raw
Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs3.9g
VITAMINS%Daily Value
Vitamin A  

Vitamin A IU  

Vitamin B6  

Vitamin B12  






Vitamin C  

Vitamin D  

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D3  

Vitamin E  

Vitamin K  




















































Liver may offer special benefits to athletes, too. Its popularity among this group took off in the 1950s, when researchers found that rats given liver supplements swam farther than rats who went without. 

Physique icon Tony Sansone stressed the importance of eating liver, kidney, heart, and cod liver oil, as did many other natural bodybuilders from that era. It appears that liver has anti-stress and anti-anemia properties of all sorts.

Successful hunters of centuries past often celebrated their successes by passing fresh liver around. In a perfect example of nature knowing best, these hunters were able to partake of the slain animal’s liver glycogen (stored carbohydrates) after depleting much of their own. 

Though liver is one of the easiest organ meats to find at your local butcher, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to incorporate into your culinary routine. If you’re looking to get the benefits of liver without having to retrain your tastebuds, beef liver supplements might be right for you.


Just like liver, beef kidney is a true superfood. It’s rich in Vitamin B12, selenium, and heme iron, and it contains a nice balance of copper and zinc. Kidney also contains a rare amino acid, L-ergothioneine, which promotes the kidney health of those who ingest it!  In addition, kidney contains the hard to find amino-acid Ergothioneine, which promotes fertility.

Kidneys were a favorite food of the traditional Inuit culture. “The kidneys are usually given to children,” noted Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson in his book The Fat of the Land, “somewhat as if they were candy.”

Even the fat surrounding the kidneys is special. Known as suet, kidney fat is impressively saturated — 60-70% saturated, by some estimates.  It’s also impressively high in a special fatty acid, stearic acid, that’s been correlated with lower body fat and improved mitochondrial function.

Beef Kidney: Raw
Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs0.3g
VITAMINS%Daily Value
Vitamin AVitamin A IU





Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Vitamin C

Vitamin D

Vitamin D IU

Vitamin D3

Vitamin E

















































Technically, the heart is an organ meat and a muscle meat. Lean yet flavorful, heart was a favorite food of many native American cultures — and it’s still easy to make a part of the optimal diet today.

What makes beef heart so special? For starters, it’s twice as rich in riboflavin (B2) as conventional muscle meat. Heart is also a great source of coenzyme Q10 (COQ10), an anti-fatigue, anti-aging nutrient. 

Many studies have found that the COQ10 family is protective against cardiovascular diseases, infertility, and even mitochondrial dysfunction.  Dr. Kiltz actually recommends coenzyme Q10 to women struggling with their fertility. 

Beef Heart: Raw
Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs0.1g
VITAMINS%Daily Value




Vitamin B6 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin C

Vitamin E 








































Brain is considered a delicacy in many cultures. Composed of roughly 60% fat, the brain is the fattiest organ in the entire body. 

It’s no surprise then that brain is an incredible source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA. Studies have shown that DHA may prevent inflammation, hyperactivity, neurodegeneration, and more.  

The amount of DHA a pregnant mother consumes goes a long way towards ensuring the brain health of her baby. Research has even found a link between a mother’s DHA intake and her offspring’s problem-solving ability — it’s that important

Beef Brain: Raw
Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs1.1g
VITAMINS%Daily Value
Vitamin A 

Vitamin A IU 

Vitamin B6 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin C 

Vitamin E 













































It’s relatively hard to find fresh brain at the butcher, and even rare in most organ meat supplements. However, Doctor Kiltz’s beef organ supplement offers beef brain from grass-fed New Zealand cattle. 


For those of you who aren’t from the south, gizzards are a type of stomach. The most commonly eaten gizzards come to us courtesy of the chicken. (For an especially healthy meal, fry your chicken gizzards in some grass-fed suet.) 

Gizzards are rich in iron, B-vitamins, and selenium. Their combination of vitamin C and zinc means they’re good for your complexion, too. 

Chicken Gizzards 
Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs0
VITAMINS%Daily Value
Vitamin A      

Vitamin B6    

Vitamin B12   





Vitamin C      

Vitamin E       














































Sweetbreads probably aren’t what you think they are. They’re not especially sweet or bready. The term sweetbread actually refers to an animal’s thymus and pancreas. The parotid gland is also sometimes included in this category. 

Sweetbreads are one of the animal kingdom’s best sources of vitamin C. Though they may not be as rich in B-vitamins as liver or heart, sweetbreads round out the antioxidant picture with plenty of selenium.

Thymus is also rich in several immune-signaling peptides, including thymosin fraction 5, thymosin alpha-1, and thymic humoral factor.  If you’re looking for a stronger immune system, consider nourishing your own thymus gland with this special organ meat.

Beef Sweetbreads
Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs1.1g
VITAMINS%Daily Value
Vitamin A 

Vitamin B6 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin C 










































Tripe is the lining of an animal’s stomach (most frequently a cow’s). Like virtually every other organ meat, tripe possesses impressive nutrient density. It’s rich in vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. It’s also rich in cholesterol, which plays a vital role in hormone synthesis.

Tripe and other innards were prized among native Americans — so much so that certain tribes would hold competitions to see who could eat a length of buffalo intestines the fastest.

Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs0
VITAMINS%Daily Value


Folic acid



Vitamin B12

Vitamin B6

203.3 mg

4 mcg

0 mcg

0.828 mg

0.067 mg

1.09 mcg

0.008 mg

5 %

5 %

45 %











72 mg

0.073 mg

0.62 mg

14 mg

67 mg

70 mg

13 mcg

441 mg

1.48 mg

6 %

8 %

3 %

4 %

10 %

1 %

24 %

19 %

13 %


Like the heart, the tongue is both an organ meat and a muscle meat. The tongue is rich in healthy fats and collagen. Over 10% of its protein comes from collagen, in fact. The tongue is also a great source of vitamin B9, commonly known as folate.

And if you’re not a huge fan of eating, well, a giant tongue…fear not. Take some inspiration from traditional Mexican cuisine, which found a way to incorporate beef tongue into tacos. 

Based on 100 grams
Net Carbs0
VITAMINS%Daily Value


    Folic acid




Vitamin B12   

Vitamin B6

Vitamin C

Vitamin D

Vitamin E 

Vitamin K

357 mg

11 mcg

0 mcg

4.289 mg

0.359 mg

0.022 mg

4.19 mcg

0.162 mg

1.3 mg

0.4 mcg

0.39 mg

1.2 mcg

27 %

28 %

2 %

175 %

12 %

1 %

2 %

2 %

1 %










77 mg

0.22 mg

3.21 mg

29 mg

211 mg

253 mg

26.1 mcg

828 mg

5.54 mg

6 %

24 %

18 %

7 %

30 %

5 %

47 %

36 %

50 %


The spleen is an incredibly good source of iron. It’s also rich in vitamin C and vitamin B5. 

The spleen is such a potent immunity-booster that it’s commonly used, in the form of spleen extract by people with low white blood cell counts or cancer. The nutrients in the spleen may also benefit one’s appearance by helping to oxygenate the skin. 


Okay, we’ll admit it, bones aren’t technically organ meats. 

But they are organs  — and the soup bones one gets from the butcher usually still have a lot of meat on them. 

Bones also contain a whole lot of nutrients. 

Let’s start with the obvious one: calcium. Bones are rich in a unique form of calcium called microcrystalline hydroxyapatite, or MCHA. Bovine-derived MCHA may strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

And don’t forget about the bone marrow. Clocking in at 97% fat, bone marrow contains all sorts of biochemical goodies. Recent research has discovered that it’s rich in alkylglycerol, an immune-boosting fat also found in breast milk.  Strengthening your connective tissue is as easy as drinking a cup of bone broth!

When it comes to human evolution scavenging bones and bashing them open to get the fat was what allowed us to grow the brains we needed to be smart enough to hunt much larger and faster animals.

The many health benefits of organ meats 

Let’s shift perspectives and take a look at eight central health benefits practically all organ meats have in common. 

Organs meats are an excellent source of iron

Even a single serving of most organ meats is enough to hit your daily iron RDA.  What’s more, organ meats contain highly-bioavailable heme iron, which is far better absorbed than the non-heme iron found in plant foods.

Organs meats may help retain muscle mass

The human body requires nine essential amino acids to function — and organ meats contain all of them.  Their high-quality protein can benefit anyone who wants to build muscle mass. Muscle mass, in turn, promotes increased weight loss by increasing your metabolic rate — the calories you expend while resting.  

Organs meats are a great source of choline

Organ meats are one of nature’s best sources of choline, an essential nutrient that benefits the brain, muscles, and liver. Many people eating the standard American diet (SAD) are deficient in choline — eat your organs so that doesn’t happen to you!

Organs meats are rich in peptides

Peptides are small amino acid-based molecules our bodies use to send important messages. 

The peptides found in bovine organs include BPC-157, Thymosin alpha-1, LEAP-2, tuftsin, and more. Science is just beginning to appreciate how these peptides might be contributing to the health benefits of different organ meats.

Organs meats are rich in fat-soluble vitamins

“An essential characteristic of the successful dietary programs of primitive races,” wrote pioneering doctor Weston A. Price, “has been found to relate to a liberal source of fat-soluble vitamins.”

Translation? Of all the vitamins out there, fat-soluble vitamins are probably the most important. Organ meats are very rich in these vitamins — and the ancients knew it. In times of plenty, native Americans would sometimes select the fattiest parts of an animal and throw the rest away. 

All this fat, of course, contained plenty of fat-soluble A, D, E, and K. 

Modern research has discovered that fat-soluble vitamins work together to promote bone health: vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, vitamin A prepares the body to use calcium, and vitamin K2 helps shuttle the calcium to the right places. The same Dr. Price that documented dental health among ‘primitive’ cultures also documented cases of reversing cavities with vitamin K2 among his own patients.

Fat-soluble vitamins aren’t just important for dental health, either. They’re important for nearly everything

Organ meats keep you fuller for longer

The protein and fatty-acid content of organ meats may also help you stick with your ideal diet.  

Studies have shown that eating a high-fat, moderate protein diet can increase one’s feelings of fullness and decrease one appetite.  At the same time, protein also ‘costs’ more energy than other macronutrients to be absorbed. If the keto diet has you experiencing out-of-control cravings, try incorporating more protein. We bet it’ll help. 

Organs meats make optimal health simple

Eating beef liver provides us with liver-specific health benefits. Likewise, eating kidneys provide kidney-specific nutrients. The same goes for eating heart, which provides us with all sorts of heart-healthy compounds.

Noticing a trend? Animal organs contain nutrients that benefit the same organs of those who eat them. It’s almost like nature wanted to make things simple for us!

Organs meats are very affordable

The term “superfood” may conjure images of fancy natural food stores and empty wallets. 

When it comes to buying organ meats, however, that’s simply not the case. Most organ meats are still very affordable. It’s not uncommon to find high-quality grass-fed and organic organs for just a few dollars a pound. 

Eating organ meats — how it’s done 

After being neglected for decades, the popularity of organ meats might finally be coming full circle. Organ-based dishes are now being featured in fine-dining restaurants across the world. Chefs love their novelty factor and unique flavors. 

It’s true — the most fun way to expose yourself to new organ meats is by venturing into the wide world of international cuisine. Try Mexico’s Menudo soup with tripe or France’s foie gras or Eastern Europe’s liverwurst. Traditional soul food from the deep South also features all sorts of offal. 

If you’re new to organ meats, however, you may want to start off with something a little more down-to-earth. Liver and heart are two of the best organ meats to get started with; both have a pretty mild flavor. 

You can also incorporate ground liver into regular ground beef and make it into burgers. Chances are, your local butcher shop wouldn’t mind doing this for you.

How to find organ meats

Speaking of your local butcher, they’re one of the best places for sourcing quality organ meats. 

Butchers are usually happy to see someone valuing the lesser-known cuts. They might even give you a cooking tip or two. You may also want to check your area for authentic Asian, Mexican, or Polish food stores. These stores are likely to carry organ meats without the hype and higher prices of wellness-orientated butcher shops. Opt for grass-fed, pasture-raised beef organs whenever you can. 

If all else fails, you can always find organ meats online, but this is a much more expensive option. Besides, it’s always nice to support your local farmers. 

The bottom line

For all our biomedical progress, optimal nutrition has been perfected by nature. 

Organ meats are a powerhouse source of numerous bioavailable vitamins and minerals that are hard to get from most other foods.

Incorporating organ meats will boost your nutrition while reducing food waste. It could also lead you to new cultural experiences. 

The way we see it, returning to humankind’s original way of eating is a journey that’s meant to be cherished and enjoyed. So have fun optimizing your nutrition as you experiment with nature’s superfoods! 


What Are Carbs? And What Do They Do To Us?

If you’re paying attention to your diet, you’ve probably heard of “good carbs,” “bad carbs,” “fast carbs,” “slow carbs”, and “no carbs.” But have you ever stopped to ask, what are carbs anyway? And is there really such a thing as a good carb?

In this article, we’re going to go back to the junior high biology basics to remind you that every carbohydrate is really just sugar and why all carbohydrates should be limited or avoided altogether.

Fast Facts

  • Carbs or Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients found in food.
  • All carbs are made up of sugars molecules
  • Carbohydrates are generally classified by how many sugar molecules make up the final structure 
  • Most carbohydrates (from table sugar to carrots, potatoes, and broccoli) are broken down into simple sugars when digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. 
  • Because all carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, they all have a toxic effect on our bodies.

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are sugar molecules.

Along with fat and protein, carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in food.

Carbohydrates have many types and many names and may be referred to as glucose, sugar, carbs, carbohydrates, starches, and more.

Carbohydrates are the basis of foods as different as lollipops, bread, potatoes, grains, and lettuce. The carbohydrates in each of these foods is made from the same basic building blocks; single sugar molecules. These molecules form a ring-like structure that can link together to form more “complex” carbs. 

The shared molecular structure of carbohydrates is why every carb you digest from table sugar to so-called “good” carbs like whole grains and veggies, all break down into glucose or other sugars when digested. These sugars are sent into your blood, raising your blood sugar levels and have the same toxic effect on your body as candy, cola, or other sugary products.

Consistently high blood sugar caused by carb-dominant diets leads to numerous diseases and disorders including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancers, Alzhiemers, and infertility among many others. We’ll dive into the “how” and “why” of carbs and disease later on. 

Types of Carbohydrates

There are many types of carbohydrates, and they’re classified by their size (how many single sugar molecules make up the final carbohydrate structure). All carbohydrates are made up of at least one sugar molecule.  Simple carbs are one or two sugars. Complex carbs are made from many sugar molecules linked together. 

carbohydrate chart

Simple Sugars

Simple sugars When most see the word sugar, they think of the white stuff they put in their coffee, commonly known as table sugar. That kind of sugar is called sucrose and is a disacchar. And it’s only one of many different sugar types. Simple sugars are made up of one or two sugar molecules. If the sugar has only one molecule it is called a monosaccharide, if it has two, it is called a disaccharide.

Monosaccharides – Single Unit Simple Sugars

Monosaccharides are made up of a single (mono) sugar molecule. There are three main monosaccharides and each can combine to form many of the different types of sugars found in foods. 


You get glucose from many foods including bread, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. glucose is transported via the bloodstream to your tissues where the hormone insulin allows it to enter cells where it’s used as an energy source. 


Fructose, along with glucose makeup table sugar. It’s also part of various sweeteners including high-fructose corn syrup and agave syrup, and many products that list added sugars on the nutrition label. Before industrialization people rarely consumed much fructose. Now, most people’s dietary intake of fructose comes from industrial sources. In whole foods like fruits and vegetables, fructose exists in relatively low amounts. 


A simple sugar found in many dairy products. When you eat galactose, it is primarily converted into glucose and stored as glycogen–a storage unit of sugar. 



When two simple sugars are joined together they’re called disaccharides. Table sugar is the most common example of a disaccharide. It’s a combination of glucose and fructose molecules. When you eat disaccharides they are broken down through the process of digestion into monosaccharides (simple sugars) and absorbed into our bloodstream.


Formed following photosynthesis in green plants. 


Milk sugar, found in the milk of all mammals. 


A product of the breakdown of starches during digestion and fermentation. 


Complex Carbs

Complex carbs are chains of sugar molecules made up of 3 to hundreds of monosaccharides linked together, and they fall under two main categorization:

  • Oligosaccharides: 3-10 monosaccharides linked together
  • Polysaccharides: More than 10 monosaccharides linked together

Famously, at least dietarily speaking, complex carbs make up the majority of sugar molecules in some of our favorites like pasta, bread, potatoes, corn, spinach, carrots, and broccoli.


These carbs are made of  3 to 10 simple sugars. 

Since humans lack the enzymes to break down Oligosaccharides we do not absorb them into our blood. Instead, they pass into our large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria. This is why when you eat foods that contain high amounts of oligosaccharides, you can get very flatulent. 


Are made from many simple sugars joined together. Foods that contain polysaccharides include: 

  • Starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, corn, rice, and wheat flour.  
  • Foods that contain fiber like lentil, beans, and peas. 
  • Foods that contain cellulose including fruits like apples (the skin) and vegetables like kale and lettuce. 


These polysaccharides include starchy grains like:

  • Wheat 
  • Oats 
  • Rye 
  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Cornmeal

Foods made from starches include: 

  • Bread
  • Cereal 
  • Pasta 
  • Tortillas
  • Chips 
  • Crackers 

Though starchy foods don’t taste sweet unless processed with added sugars, they are still just long chains of sugar (glucose) molecules.  When you digest starches your body breaks the bonds between these molecules. The resulting simple sugar molecules are absorbed into your blood, raising your blood sugar levels


Is a form of polysaccharide that does not get broken down during digestion. These indigestible carbs pass through the stomach, small intestine, colon, and then out of the body. Fiber comes primarily from the outer covering of seeds (cellulose) and the stalks and leaves of vegetables. 


Glycogen is a storage molecule of sugar in your body and it’s made of many short branches of linked glucose.  When your blood sugar drops your body can break down glycogen into glucose that’s released into the bloodstream. But the liver can only store around 250 and 400 calories worth of glycogen. When your body runs out of glycogen, your liver creates glucose out of the protein in your muscles, or in your diet. 

Glycogen is also stored in the muscles, but it’s used only by the muscles during exercise and cannot be broken down to balance blood sugar levels. The body stores enough glycogen in the liver, muscles and brain to last for 24 hours.

What are net carbs?

Net carbohydrates or “net carbs” is a popular term among low-carb and keto dieters. Net carbs are the sum of carbs in food after subtracting the fiber. In whole foods fiber is not fully digested and absorbed. This is why fiber is often referred to as “insoluble”. 

Here’s an example of how net carbs are calculated: An average avocado has 12g total carbs and 9g fiber. When you subtract the fiber from the total carbs you get net carbs of 3g. 

The 3g of carbs are composed of both simple sugars along with complex carbohydrates which will be broken down into simple sugars when digested. 

When it comes to whole foods like avocados this calculation is accurate, but when considering processed foods like energy bars, it can be misleading. Often with processed foods, the net carbs subtracted are sugar alcohols, which can still increase blood sugar. 

Another way net carbs can be misleading is that it ignores the fact that fiber has no positive health benefits, and is likely harmful. 

Fiber may harm more than help

Fiber from plants ferments in our bodies as it breaks down. When you chew fiber, you simplify it and expose it to bacteria and yeasts that feed on it during the process of digestion.  Fermentation of plant materials produces heat, gas, aldehyde, alcohol, and methane. This exothermic reaction heats and damages local organs and tissues.

A truly eye-opening study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology looked at all the studies over the previous 35 years investigating the link between fiber and colon health:

“A strong case cannot be made for a protective effect of dietary fiber against colorectal polyp or cancer. Neither has fiber been found to be useful in chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. It is also not useful in the treatment of perianal conditions. The fiber deficit-diverticulosis theory should also be challenged…we often choose to believe a lie, as a lie repeated often enough by enough people becomes accepted as the truth. We urge clinicians to keep an open mind. Myths about fiber must be debunked and truth installed.”

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohol is a sweet low-calorie carbohydrate popular in many low-carb and “keto-friendly” snacks. Sugar alcohol is neither alcohol nor true sugar. As the name suggests, the chemical structure partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol. However, since sugar alcohols do not contain ethanol, the compound in alcohol that gets you drunk, they are safe for people recovering from addiction. 

Sugar alcohols are incompletely absorbed and metabolized by the body. This means that they contribute fewer calories than sugars, but they still raise blood sugar. 

Common sugar alcohols include: 

  • Xylitol
  • Erythritol
  • Sorbitol
  • Maltitol

A note of caution on low-carb sweeteners

Eating artificial sweeteners interferes with the body’s natural reward centers. People eat and crave sweet things because sweet foods in the natural environment usually mean loads of quick calories. 

Alternative sweeteners give us incomplete satisfaction by sending mixed signals through the metabolic system. The first signal is that we have eaten something sweet. The second is that we haven’t actually consumed the calories associated with the sweetness. Our bodies respond by seeking more calories. This cycle defeats the original purpose of alternative sweeteners to reduce cravings and calories.

Carbs in the Human Diet

Though most humans across the world and throughout time have at least some carbohydrates in their diets, the quantities, types, and ratios of these carbohydrates to other macronutrients vary dramatically. These variations lead to a wide range of health and disease outcomes. 

Carbs in Western Diets

In a typical Western diet, carbs account for 33 to 70% of caloric intake. A 2016 study looking at the American diet found that Americans get 42% of their daily calories from refined grains and processed sugars.   This works out to over 100 lbs per year or 34 teaspoons of added sugars every day.

Carbs in Western Diet

You’re probably thinking, not me! But most of this added sugar is hidden in processed foods. Many “healthy,” low-fat food options that we don’t consider to be sweet, like tomato sauce and yogurt, are packed with sugar. It’s common for food manufacturers to bump up the sugar to maintain flavor and texture when they produce “low-fat” and “non-fat” products. That fancy drink from your coffee shop or “lite” dressing on that “healthy” salad you had for lunch has way more sugar than you’d expect, not to mention the carbs in all those veggies. 

US Sugar consumption

Added sugars in Western Diets: 

  • Refined white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, beet sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, etc. 
  • Dextrose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Agave nectar

Hidden sugar in everyday food

Carbs in Hunter Gatherer Diets

Hunter gatherers generally ate less of a variety and less total carbohydrates than modern humans. When our ancestors did eat carbs, they usually came in the form of low-nutrient tubers and seasonal fruits.

Recent research looking at the diets of the 229 remaining hunter gatherer tribes shows that a low carbohydrate and high-fat diet is the most common macronutrient ratio. A 2011 study by Ströhle and Hahn, found that 9 out of 10 hunter gatherer groups got less than a third of calories from carbohydrates.  

Effects of latitude on carbohydrate intake

The low-carb diets of hunter gatherers are likely a significant health factor. These traditional peoples have very low to virtually no incidences of the so-called diseases of civilization, including coronary heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, epithelial cell cancers, inflammatory autoimmune disease, and osteoporosis.

How many carbohydrates do people need? 

The short answer is none. After being weaned from your mother’s milk, you can live without eating another carb for the rest of your life. 

When carbs are absent from your diet, your body converts fat into fatty-acid molecules called ketones that become the main energy source for most of your cells. 

Red blood cells, along with a small selection of cells in your brain and kidneys require glucose. However, your body can make all the glucose it needs from protein and fat (amino acids and fatty acids) in a process called gluconeogenesis.

There are nine essential amino acids from protein and the two essential fatty acids, from dietary fat, but there are zero “essential” carbohydrates.

Zero Carbs Goes Mainstream

The fact that we don’t need to eat any carbohydrates is not a fringe belief. It’s affirmed in the 2005 textbook “Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids,” by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. 

“The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.

There are traditional populations that ingested a high fat, high protein diet containing only a minimal amount of carbohydrate for extended periods of time (Masai), and in some cases for a lifetime after infancy (Alaska and Greenland Natives, Inuits, and Pampas indigenous people). There was no apparent effect on health or longevity. 

Caucasians eating an essentially carbohydrate-free diet, resembling that of Greenland natives, for a year tolerated the diet quite well. However, a detailed modern comparison with populations ingesting the majority of food energy as carbohydrate has never been done.”

How your body processes carbohydrates


In order for carbs to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used as energy, they first have to be broken down into monosaccharides–mainly glucose. For example, when you eat a cookie, your body sends the simple sucrose sugars directly into your bloodstream. At the same time, the complex starches from the wheat flour are broken down by enzymes into glucose.


Once broken down into monosaccharides, the individual sugar molecules (glucose, fructose, or galactose) are absorbed in the intestines and sent into the bloodstream. Carbohydrates like oligosaccharides and fiber that cannot be broken down into monosaccharides, bypass absorption and get sent to the gut where a portion is fermented (fed on) by gut bacteria, and the rest are excreted in the stool.

Processing and Metabolism 

Glucose and Galactose  

The common theory behind glucose and galactose is that every cell in your body is capable of using them for energy. 

The carbohydrates you eat, except for insoluble fiber and fructose, are either absorbed directly into your blood or broken down by enzymes into single sugars called glucose. Glucose is what is referred to as “blood sugar. The more glucose that enters your bloodstream the more your blood sugar rises. 

To make glucose useful as a fuel for your cells, your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin tells cells to accept the sugar in your bloodstream. The level of your blood sugar, and how long it stays elevated depends on the number of carbs you eat, the insulin you produce, and how sensitive your cells are to insulin. 


The fructose that you get from fruit is absorbed differently than glucose but is still a factor in sugar toxicity. Fructose bypasses the pancreas and goes straight to the liver where it gets converted to glycogen, a long-chain carbohydrate that your body stores in your muscles and liver for later use. 

Fructose doesn’t directly spike your blood sugar like other simple sugars and starches. However, your glycogen storage areas in your liver and muscles are limited. With nowhere to go, the glucose from the other carbohydrates you eat is converted into fat in your liver and on your body. This process of storing extra glucose as fat (lipogenesis) is the cause of obesity and fatty liver disease. 

Astonishingly, it’s estimated that 100 million Americans or 25% of the population has fatty liver disease.  While a staggering 42% of Americans are obese.

A key point here is that eating carbs makes you fat and sick. 

It’s important to acknowledge that all carbs other than fiber can contribute to elevated blood sugar–whether they come from added sugars and processed grains, or from whole fruits, and vegetables. 

Excess Carbohydrates

When glycogen reserves are filled by our steady stream of glucose, fructose, and other carbs, the liver converts the excess into fat, which leads to fatty liver disease, obesity, diabetes, a litany of inflammatory and metabolic diseases that we’ll get into later.

Why there’s no such thing as “good” carbs

You’ve probably heard the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs”. Though it’s true that processed sugars can cause faster and higher increases in blood sugar, nearly all the carbs you eat, from kale to candy, are broken down into glucose or other simple sugars and sent into your blood, raising blood sugar. 

To keep your blood sugar levels in check, your liver produces a constant stream of insulin that turns sugar into fat that’s stored on your body. But just as soon as the initial flood of excess sugar is turned into fat, your body begins to run out of the limited sugar in your blood, so your cells scream out for more sugar. You get tired, hungry, irritable, distracted. The cycle goes on and on. 

This constant stream of blood sugar can wreak havoc on your hormones while causing inflammation that leads to numerous diseases and disorders. 

Carbs cause Inflammation

Carbs cause inflammation through two direct processes: Glycation and oxidative damage. Indirectly, eating carbs causes inflammation, because fruits and veggies are often loaded with plant toxins and antinutrients. Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these issues. 

Chronic inflammation


Glycation is a process where sugars bind permanently to proteins, fats, RNA, and DNA, turning them into compounds called “Advanced Glycation End Products” or AGE’s. At healthy levels, glycation is a necessary metabolic process. But dumping excessive carbs into your system can cause chronic cell and tissue damage leading to kidney failure, heart disease, infertility, and Alzheimer’s disease among many others. 

Oxidative damage

You’ve probably heard of antioxidants, and that they’re good for you. This is because they do battle with another type of molecule called pro-oxidants. Pro-oxidants can cause damage by stealing electrons from cells and DNA.

However, in healthy people, both pro-oxidants and antioxidants are in balance. Each plays its essential role in our bodies.  Getting extra antioxidants through diet or supplements is only important when you have an overabundance of pro-oxidants. 

Refined carbohydrates are pro-oxidants. So in Western diets high in refined carbohydrates, pro-oxidant overabundance is common.  Not surprisingly, there are a host of studies demonstrating that consuming refined carbohydrates is a leading cause of inflammation and related diseases.

Plant toxins

When you eat fruits and veggies, you’re dumping more than carbs into your body. Plants are loaded with toxins and antinutrients. Plants use these chemicals to defend themselves from fungi, insects, and animal predators, including humans.

Plant toxins and antinutrients are frequently the culprits behind headaches, asthma, joint pain, and other allergic responses associated with food sensitivities, digestive complaints, and various inflammatory autoimmune diseases.

Metabolic disorders

Eating carbohydrates is responsible for a number of related metabolic disorders including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These metabolic disorders increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

Metabolic disorders

Insulin resistance

When there’s too much glucose in your bloodstream your cells stop responding to insulin, essentially shutting the door on sugar. This is called “insulin resistance” or “pre-diabetes.” 


When cells stop responding to insulin your body reacts by secreting even more insulin, bullying your cells to open their doors to let in more sugar. Over time the insulin producing cells in your pancreas will burn out. Without the ability to make insulin your body gets toxically overwhelmed by glucose. This process of glucose toxicity leads to diabetes. 


Carbohydrates from processed foods, grains, rice, flour, and starchy vegetables are quickly converted by your digestive system into simple sugar. Spikes in sugar triggers your body to produce insulin. Insulin converts sugar into fat that we store in our bodies. What this means is that carbs cause obesity, not the fat we eat. Obesity is not the cause of our diseases. It’s a symptom of the real cause: hyperglycemia (i.e., high blood sugar).

Rise of obesity in America

Carbs and Infertility

Lowering carb intake reduces insulin leading to a positive cascading effect that helps the body rebalance sex hormones. Healthy hormonal cycles allow women to resume regular ovulation and it increases sperm counts in men.   

The science supporting the link between insulin and infertility has a lot to tell us. A 2012 study demonstrated that as carb intake increased in men, sperm counts declined.  A large-scale 2009 study by the Harvard School of Public Health followed 18,555 women with no history of infertility over eight years and discovered that among the 438 women who reported infertility, there was a correlation between high sugar and carb intake and difficulty getting pregnant. 

Another wide ranging analysis looking at PCOS and infertility showed that reducing insulin resistance was the key factor in treating PCOS and increasing fertility. 

What are the benefits of restricting carbs?

A low-carb diet provides many health benefits. Restricting carbs can: 

  • Reduce inflammation and related mental and physical health disorders
  • Reduce insulin resistance
  • Eliminate sugar cravings
  • Reduce excess body fat

The bottom line on carbs

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients–along with fats and proteins–that our body uses for energy. However, carbs are not necessary in the human diet. 

All carbohydrates from added sweeteners to grains and vegetables are broken down in the body into simple sugars that raise blood sugar. 

High carbohydrate consumption like we see in the Standard American and Western diets, leads to numerous health problems. Insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity are all caused by excess carbohydrate intake leading to chronically elevated blood sugar levels. 

A diet high in carbohydrates can also cause glycation and oxidative stress leading to chronic inflammatory diseases including cancer, heart disease, dementia, and infertility among others. 

We recommend substantially reducing dietary carbohydrates and replacing them with healthy nutrient-rich animal fats and proteins. 

Low Carb vs. Keto

Low Carb vs. Keto: 10 Things You Should Know 

Low carb and keto are two popular ways of eating that both revolve around limiting one’s carb intake. But when it comes to low carb vs. keto, which diet is better? 

Even with their similarities, low carb and keto have significant real-world differences: 

  • Low carb diets usually range from 20-100 grams per day.
  • Keto usually ranges from 0-25 grams of daily carb intake.
  • On low carb diets, protein and fats are fair game.
  • A keto diet requires that you get 75-85% of your calories from fat, and only 15-25% from protein. 

Because of this emphasis on fat, keto works differently, feels different, and tends to make people look different than low carb diets.

In this article, we’ll be looking into the ins and outs of both low carb and keto. We’ll begin with some similarities before diving deep into the differences. Enjoy!

What’s a Low Carb Diet?

As you might expect, a low carb diet is a way of eating that restricts dietary carbs to between 20 and 50 grams per day. Grains, sweets, and sugary beverages are obvious foods targeted for reduction.  

Most low carb diets contain only 10-30% of their calories as carbs, which is a significantly lower percentage than the standard American diet. Low carb diets tend to sub out the missing carbs with more fats and proteins. And because high-calorie junk foods are eliminated, low carb diets are often at least a little lower in overall calories, which promotes weight loss.

Low carb diets have been linked to all sorts of health benefits. Studies show that they’re especially useful for people with diabetes and weight problems . The Atkin’s diet, which keeps carbohydrate intake fairly low, is a popular type of low carb diet. 

Other upsides of a low carb diets include:

  • Flexibility
  • Sustainability
  • Fewer restrictions than keto
  • Easier to adapt to (no keto flu)

What about going even lower in net carbs, you might ask? Diets that contain less than 10% of their total calories from carbohydrates are known as very low carb (VLC) diets. Restricting one’s carbs to such a degree leads to a powerful metabolic state called ketosis.

What’s a Keto Diet?

The keto diet is a very low carb (VLC), very high-fat diet that’s gained mainstream popularity in recent years. 

Short for the ketogenic diet, keto places the body into pure fat-burning mode by triggering the production of ketones. 

Ketosis has uniquely therapeutic properties that go beyond mere carb reduction. It can treat epilepsy, promote fast weight loss, and even slow the growth of certain types of cancer. ,

One of the more basic goals of a ketogenic diet is to reach nutritional ketosis. This special state begins to kick in when you’re consuming less than 50 grams of carbs per day. Sensing that it’s running low on carbs, your liver will begin to produce ketone bodies from the fats that you eat. These ketones, in turn, provide a steady source of diesel fuel for both body and mind. 

To meet the macronutrient ratios of a keto diet, most fruits and vegetables are restricted. This is because all plants are made of carbohydrates and broken down into glucose (sugar) when digested. Your body can’t tell the difference between lettuce and a lollipop. Additionally, keto is often practiced for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Plant foods are loaded with plant toxins and antinutrients that can be harmful to your health. 

Some people find the keto diet restrictive. No fruits and veggies? No starches? 

If you’re one of those people who believes that discipline = freedom, then keto is probably just what you’re looking for. Other benefits of keto include:

  • Epilepsy management  
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced appetite
  • Improved blood lipid levels

Why Fat is the Perfect Fuel

Dietary fats are found throughout both the animal and plant kingdoms — including in many of the foods that we eat. Fat provides your body with plenty of energy, sure, but that’s just the start. Dietary fats:

  • Make your meals more filling
  • Regulate hormones and immunity
  • Help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins (K, D, E, etc)
  • Maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails

And don’t let medical dogma scare you aware from fat’s nutritional importance. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats do not increase the risk of heart disease or cardiovascular disease.  

Take it from these doctors: 

“People have been recommending low-fat diets for 30 years, and then it turns out to be completely wrong! There is no proven correlation between saturated fats and CVD”.

– Fredrik Nyström, Professor of Internal Medicine, Linköping

“It’s time to face the facts. There is no connection between saturated fats and CVD”. 

– Peter Nilsson, Professor of Cardiovascular Research, Lund

We’ll get into all the nitty-gritty details a little later, but for now, just know this: 

fat is a nourishing, healthy, safe source of calories that humans have been enjoying for thousands of years. 

Okay, it’s time to put low carb and keto head to head! We’ll start with two important similarities before getting into eight equally-important differences…

1. Low carb vs. keto: A shared history

First things first: 

Humans have been eating low carb/keto since practically the beginning of time. 

Food wasn’t always as abundant as it is now, and our ancestors couldn’t just drive over to the grocery store to get their next meal. Alternating between periods of scarcity and periods of plenty was the norm. And when plenty of food was available — like after a successful hunt — it usually took the form of energy-dense animals. Carbohydrate sources were hard to find, often only accessible after lots of (carb-burning) effort.  

In other words, our ancestors spent a lot of time eating low carb…and a lot of time eating nothing at all. The original paleo diet? It was also ketogenic. 

Even our body composition provides some clues about just how natural keto is. We humans are 73 percent fat, 25 percent protein, and two percent carbohydrates. Our brains are 60% fat, too. Why not eat according to these ratios? Fat is the medium through which all types of good things happen — it cushions our nerves, protects our vital organs, and helps regulate hormones. 

Western medical research began catching on to these concepts in the 1920s. That’s when researchers from Johns Hopkins University started using fasting to treat patients with seizure disorders and diabetes. These researchers didn’t know why fasting would be able to have this effect, especially given that these conditions were completely unrelated. 

But they began searching for a sustainable diet that could mimic the effects of fasting anyway. After plenty of trial and error, they found such a diet in the form of keto! Patients who’d previously been forced into fasting could start eating again and still stay seizure/diabetes-free. 

Fast forward to the present time, and many people are having the same sort of success with a modified ketogenic diet. This diet features slightly higher levels of carbs (it’s still low carb) and balances them out with MCT oil. 

2. Low carb vs. keto: both are well-researched 

Another similarity between low carb and ket? They’re both well-researched. 

And much of this research has produced similar findings. Both low carb and ketogenic diets have been found to foster weight loss, optimize insulin levels, and increase satiety. In other words, limiting carbs to any degree seems to coax the body into processing energy better.

Both diets have clear advantages over going the low-fat route, too. “Low-carbohydrate diet effective for adults,” says the title of a 2003 study.

A more recent meta-analysis described something similar : “VLCKD [very low carb ketogenic] dieters achieve a greater weight loss than those assigned to a LFD [low-fat diet] in the longterm.” Study after study after study has shown that low-carb diets promote faster, easier weight loss than low-fat diets, even if calorie intake remains the same! 

Older studies affirm the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat approach, too — especially if said fat takes the form of saturated animal fat. A 40-year-old report recently found in the dusty basement of a Minnesota university (yes, really) found that saturated fat was far better than polyunsaturated fat for longevity, even though it raised cholesterol levels more.

3. The keto diet is simpler than low-carb

One of the most practical benefits of keto is its simplicity. 

All you have to do to stay in compliance is avoid carbs and sugars, and eat fat. The same can’t be said of low-carb diets, which usually require careful macronutrient tracking in order to stay at the right carb intake. Can you have one apple for dessert, or do you need to cut back and stick with blackberries? That depends on what you had for breakfast. We don’t know about you, but for us, this type of inner dialogue seems pretty taxing. 

With keto, however, it’s simple: just eat fatty animal products whenever you’re hungry! If you tolerate them, full-fat dairy products are great too. 

We’ll get into how to really maximize your keto nutrition soon, but the basics of keto are simple. 20% of the effort might just give you 80% of the results. Most people don’t have to count daily calories or protein intake to experience positive changes. 

4. The keto diet really reduces cravings

When it comes to comparing low carb vs. keto, it’s important to consider the stressful nature of low-carb diets and how they can lead to unpredictable cravings. 

Let’s say you eat those blackberries for dessert…and are still hungry. Far from being satiated, that tiny bit of carbs triggered your hunger hormones and just made you crave carbs even! Many people don’t have the willpower to say no in this type of situation. What was supposed to be a 100-gram-of-carbs day soon spirals out of control.

These types of cravings are unfortunately common — on most diets, that is.  

But keto is different. The ketogenic diet can powerfully reduce cravings since it places your body entirely into fat-burning mode. If you have any body fat to lose, keto can help your body access it. Studies have also shown that keto blunts the rise of hunger hormones, like grehlin, that normally swell to uncontrollable levels during periods of dieting. Even if you’re already at your goal body weight, keto promotes stable blood sugar levels that tend to keep sugar cravings to a minimum. Interested in intermittent fasting? Many people find IF significantly easier when their meals are keto. 

5. The keto diet is higher in nutrients than low-carb…

Here’s another reason keto rules: 

It’s the best way of eating out there when it comes to getting in those healthy fats. 

Many keto diets contain up to 80% of their carbohydrates from fat. Some people experiment with going even higher! 

Why is such a high fat intake preferable? We’ll get into the sciencey details a little later, but for now, let’s talk nutrients. If you get your fat from whole foods sources, you’ll also be getting all the fat-soluble vitamins your body needs to function at its best, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K2, vitamin D, and more. 

Entire books could be written about each of these compounds — actually, they have. Let’s just say that vitamin K2 alone is so important that it’s called “activator X” because of its ability to ‘activate’ bone and joint health. 

Healthy fats are also rich in anti-inflammatory, mood-regulating molecules. Some fats even activate cellular receptors and help your body send important messages! The fatty compounds in dark chocolate, for example, can boost your mood by regulating your body’s endocannabinoid system. And the fatty acids in coconut oil are so antibacterial that researchers have tested them against staph infections.

6. …and lower in antinutrients

Just as important as the nutrients a ketogenic diet contains are the antinutrients it removes.

What are antinutrients? They’re food substances that prevent one’s body from absorbing nutrients properly. 

Many fruits and vegetables are full of antinutrients, and these substances actually cause a net nutrient loss when absorption rates are considered. Leafy greens like spinach, for example, is often praised for its vitamin K content…but in reality spinach’s vitamin K1 comes bound by problematic compounds. And it’s not even in a form that’s easily absorbed! Grains and legumes are also high in antinutrients, including phytic acid, which can reduce the absorption of everything from iron to calcium.

The idea that plants aren’t an ideal food source might seem surprising at first, but consider things from the plant’s perspective. Just like humans and other living creatures, plants are evolved to accomplish one goal, and that’s to reproduce.  Being a healthy food for humans is rarely in a plant’s best interest. Just as many animals evolve camouflage and poisons for protection and perpetuation, plants are equipped with an arsenal of chemicals that protect them from pests and environmental factors like fungus and mold. These toxins include naturally-occurring lectins, pesticides, mineral chelators, and antibiotics.

The type of ketogenic diet we recommend keeps these compounds minimized by staying animal-centric. Instead of eating a salad topped with oil and cheese for lunch, we’d eat a steak with a small side of mushrooms. Vegetables become even less necessary if have access to organ meats — they’re surprisingly nutrient dense. 

An animal-based keto diet also minimizes plant fiber. Wait a minute, you might be thinking…isn’t fiber important too?

Not exactly. Fiber from plants ferments in our bodies as it breaks down. When you chew fiber, you simplify it and expose it to bacteria and yeasts that feed on it during the process of digestion.  Fermentation of plant materials produces heat, gas, aldehyde, alcohol, and methane. This exothermic reaction heats and damages local organs and tissues.

Have you ever looked outside at a compost pile in the winter? It’s steaming! Many of the processes taking place in compost are heating the fiber in your gut — the part of you that sits directly on top of your reproductive organs. 

As a fertility specialist, Dr. Kiltz has observed that the constant sugar and fiber fermenting in our bowels spreads heat and inflammation to tissue and organs throughout the entire lower abdominal region…including our tubes, ovaries, uterus, prostate, seminal vesicles, and testicles. 

Given that our reproductive organs are designed to function at a very specific body temperature, this is not good. When excessive fermentation is taking place right beside a women’s ovaries, the temperature can rise substantially above optimal conditions for egg development.

What about the widespread belief that fiber is good for colon health and that it protects against cancer? It’s a total myth. 

A truly eye-opening study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology looked at all the studies over the previous 35 years investigating the link between fiber and colon health:

“A strong case cannot be made for a protective effect of dietary fiber against colorectal polyp or cancer. Neither has fiber been found to be useful in chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. It is also not useful in the treatment of perianal conditions. The fiber deficit-diverticulosis theory should also be challenged…we often choose to believe a lie, as a lie repeated often enough by enough people becomes accepted as the truth. We urge clinicians to keep an open mind. Myths about fiber must be debunked and truth installed.”

7. The keto diet may provide more energy

For more proof that fat is the ideal human fuel, look no further than how easily our bodies process it into usable energy. One calorie of fat provides far more ATP (energy) to our cells than one calorie of any other macronutrient. Fat-derived ATP is also the preferred energy source for the heart.

In addition to providing more energy to the body than other macros, fat also provides more energy to the brain. 

Glucose (Carb) Energy 3-Hydroxybutyrate Ketone (Fat) 
8.7 kg of ATP per 100g10.5 kg ATP per 100g

Why’s this so important? Because the human brain is an energy hog. While some researchers look to other species, like monkeys, for proof of why humans should be on a low-fat, fruit-based diet, the reality is that our bioenergetic demands are totally different than theirs. 

So different, in fact, that many experts believe that high-fat eating was what allowed us to evolve into the brain-boosted species we are today. Eating nutrient-dense animal foods is the most efficient way to keep the brain fueled to this day. 

Diving a little deeper, our mitochondria also seem to love running off of fat. Stearic acid (found in dairy products, cocoa butter, and beef) is especially pro-mitochondria. While it was once thought that the Mediterranean diet and its focus on olive oil were ideal, new research is showing something very different.

Studies have shown that stearic acid can boost the function of these little energy-producing factories enough to reduce Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, regulate blood sugar levels, promote lean muscle mass, and decrease abdominal fat . Mice that are overfed stearic-acid-rich diets don’t even gain weight!

What makes all these benefits possible? Zooming in on mitochondrial activity shows us. 

A 2018 study found that mitochondria self-organize into highly efficient circular structures when fueled by stearic acid. This phenomenon is known as mitochondrial fusion. It’s likely that ingesting other saturated fats has a similar effect, so be sure to get your grass-fed beef in.

8. The keto diet may be better for anti-aging

Chances are good you’re familiar with antioxidants and have a general idea of why they’re so good for us. Eating your fruits and vegetables, you’ve probably been told, to make sure you’re getting adequate antioxidant intake!

But the full story, as is often the case when it comes to nutrition, is a little more contextual. 

Here’s an example: one’s vitamin C demands actually drop way down when carbs are taken out of the picture. That’s because vitamin C and glucose are similar enough, on the molecular level, that they sort of compete for the same biochemical pathways.

Need proof of this? In 1928 arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson was kept on a fully carnivorous diet for a year without developing vitamin C deficiency or other side effects. Researchers from New York’s Bellevue hospital attested that Stefansson stayed in great health throughout the experiment.  “[I] did not get scurvy on the fish diet, nor learn that any of my fish-eating friends ever had it,” he commented later.

Chronically high carb diets can also deplete the body’s reserves of its own inner antioxidant, glutathione, while ketogenic diets seem to boost glutathione levels.

To put these concepts in simple terms, would you rather eat a high-sugar, highly oxidative diet, and attempt to counter all the damage with extra antioxidants — or a high-fat, much less oxidative diet that still contained some antioxidants? To us it’s clear that the high fat route is the way to go. 

And the keto diet’s lower oxidative burden isn’t just good for slowing down the aging of your heart, brain, or other internal organs. It can have tangible effects on your outward appearance, too.

In other words, keto may be great for your hair, nails, and skin. Its rich blend of fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals contains everything you need to have healthy skin. 

Just as significant is the thing keto doesn’t have: sugar. Sugar intake can actually cause your connective tissues to harden and break down through a process called glycation. Sugar may also promote the formation of lipofuscin, or age pigment, which builds up over time as a person ages and eventually contributes to neurodegeneration and death.  

Not to be morbid or anything — keto may provide a way out. For a perfect example of keto’s anti-aging effects, look no further than keto bodybuilder Luis Villasenor. Now 44, Luis has been on a high-protein keto diet for just over 20 years. One look at him and it’s obvious that something about the way he’s eating has made time almost stand still. 

While N=1 examples aren’t exactly the pinnacle of nutritional science, they’re far from meaningless! We’d challenge you to find a 40+-year-old proponent of non-ketogenic diets that looks quite as young, healthy, and unoxidized as Luis does. 

9. The keto diet may be better for our hormones

We’ve all heard of hormones, but for most people, what they do in our bodies remains a mystery. Let’s take a moment to demystify these important molecules. What are they?

Hormones are chemical messengers that orchestrate many of the body’s biological processes including reproduction. 

Along with providing essential fats, a high fat diet based around animal products provides another key component to fertility: cholesterol. Several of the most important reproductive hormones (including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) all derive from cholesterol.  

Cholesterol also helps our bodies create vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D, in turn, is an essential micronutrient that plays an important role in female fertility and IVF. Thanks in large part to its cholesterol content, the keto diet can optimize the hormonal state of males and females alike.  

10. The keto diet may promote more weight loss

While it’s very possible to lose weight on both low-carb and ketogenic diets,

many people report leaning out when they cut out carbs completely.

Most people lose a significant amount of weight on a keto diet — and do so quickly. A 2020 review study published in the Journal of Nutrition put it this way : “ketogenic diets appear to be more effective than low-fat diets for the treatment of obesity and [type-2 diabetes].” Colleagues of Dr. Kiltz who prescribe keto to their patients also report that it works better for weight loss than anything else. 

And for those of you who really want to get shredded, the same effect is often seen when going from keto to carnivore. Some people even report simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain. What causes this? It all goes back to our hormones.

The Bottom Line on Low Carb vs. Keto

When pitting low carb vs. keto we see how eating a low-carb, high-fat, animal-based diet remains the best way to make the most of your genetics and truly maximize your health.

Intermittent fasting strategies for women

The Best Intermittent Fasting Strategies for Women

Intermittent fasting offers many proven health benefits for both men and women, but women’s bodies are different and may benefit from different IF strategies. 

This article will look at what intermittent fasting is, why women respond to IF differently than men, and how women can safely practice IF.  

What is Intermittent fasting? 

Intermittent fasting (IF) means cycling between daily periods of not eating and windows for eating. 

There are lots of ways to practice IF, which we’ll get into later. 

When done properly IF has been shown to:

  • regulate blood glucose
  • control blood lipids including cholesterol and triglycerides
  • reduce the risk of coronary disease
  • manage body weight
  • help you gain (or maintain) lean mass
  • stimulate human growth hormones
  • activate stemcell production
  • reduce the risk of cancer, and more

Why Fast?

For many people, fasting might sound like a new diet trend. But the truth is humans have been practicing fasting for as long as we’ve been on this planet. 

During the vast era when humans were hunter gatherers, what we popularly call cavemen (and women), our ancestors fasted out of necessity. Food simply wasn’t available all the time. After a hunt, we feasted, then fasted until the next successful hunt. 

However, fasting isn’t always out of necessity. The health benefits of fasting have been known for thousands of years. The Greek philosopher Plato believed that fasting helped him achieve better physical and mental energy. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, recommended fasting for many different health issues. 

Clearly, fasting is not new. And thanks to our evolution, our bodies have been trained not only to handle fasting, but to thrive on it. 

Intermittent fasting is a safe and easy way for women to receive the benefits of fasting regularly.   

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Women


Supports Fat-Burning and Weight Loss

When in a fasted state, your body is not getting energy from food so it has to look for alternative sources. After burning up stored glycogen (carbohydrates), your body starts to break down stored fat–that spare tire or big bottom–into molecules called ketones. Ketones replace glycogen as fuel for your cells. As your body becomes fat-adapted, it develops better metabolic flexibility and increases fat burning. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help fat and weight loss, and may reduce obesity.

Supports Cellular Renewal and Repair

Research has shown that fasting supports the process of autophagy. During autophagy, your body breaks down and destroys old, damaged, and abnormal cells and recycles them for energy. This cellular “spring cleaning” leaves room for your body to create new and healthy cells. It also supports cellular repair and regeneration, reduces the development of abnormal cell growth, and keeps your cells and tissues healthy.

Increases Stem cell Production

When you fast, you are essentially resetting your immune system by allowing your body to switch into repair mode. Stem cells increase because they are the primary repair system in your body. These cells work by morphing into many different types of cells, depending on which parts of your body need repair. Fasting has been shown to increase stem cells in the intestines, muscles, and brain while preserving the long-term ability for stem cells to regenerate independently. The way this works is pretty amazing. When fasting, our bodies greatly reduce our energy expenditure by rapidly shrinking tissues, organs, and populations of different cells in your blood including a whopping 28% decrease in white blood cells.

Reduces Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the root cause of most chronic disorders and diseases. Fasting can lower the production of inflammatory pathways, reduce inflammatory activities, and reduce chronic inflammation. As a result, it may improve your physical and mental health and reduce your risk of disease.

Improves Energy

Becoming fat-adapted and experiencing ketosis through fasting can improve your energy. This improvement is due to an increase in mitophagy–a process of breaking down old, damaged, or dysfunctional mitochondria and replacing them with new and healthy mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy factories in all our cells. Improving mitochondrial health can increase cellular energy and support energy efficiency.

Supports the Gut

Taking a break from eating offers a break for your gut as well. Digestion takes a lot of energy. When fasting, your body can spend this energy on tissue repair. Fasting supports intestinal stem cell production that supports your recovery from leaky gut syndrome and improves homeostasis.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your system. Frequently consuming carbohydrates (sugars) increases insulin resistance and inflammation. Insulin is a hormone that helps deliver glucose (the end product of carbohydrates) to your cells. When there’s too much sugar in your bloodstream your cells stop responding to insulin, essentially shutting the door on sugar. We call this “insulin resistance” or “pre-diabetes.”

When your cells stop responding to insulin, your body secretes even more insulin, bullying your cells to open their doors to let in more sugar. If you continue eating sugar the insulin producing cells in your pancreas will burn out. Without the ability to make insulin your body gets toxically overwhelmed by glucose, and you have diabetes—a debilitating and deadly disease. IF can increase the ability of your body to properly use the glucose in your blood.

Lowers the Risk of Chronic Disease

Fasting reduces chronic inflammation in your body. As a result, it may also reduce the risk of chronic disorders and disease, including diabetes, heart disease, metabolic problems, obesity, hormonal issues, infertility, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

Improves your relationship with food

Mindless snacking, emotional eating, binge eating, overeating, and craving unhealthy, sugary junk food is a common problem in our modern world. When you begin intermittent fasting, you may notice that you stop relying on food as a crutch when you’re bored, stressed, or otherwise emotional. Fasting may help to repair food addictions and reset your neurochemistry. While practicing IF you will notice that you become more mindful when it comes to food.

Boosts Human Growth Hormone

A recent study of 200 participants showed that fasting for a single twenty-four-hour period increased HGH by 2000% for men, and 1300% in women  HGH is essential for building, maintaining, and repairing healthy tissue in the brain, bones, and other organs, while speeding up healing after injury and repairing muscle tissue after exercise. HGH builds muscle mass, boosts metabolism, and burns fat. Because HGH naturally drops as you age, it becomes even more important to take dietary steps to maintain and increase your HGH levels.

HGH has been shown to slow down the aging process of the skin, reducing sagging and wrinkles.

Increases BDNF, “Miracle-Gro for your brain”

BDNF is short for Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, a naturally occurring growth hormone responsible for neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons.  That’s why Harvard Neuropsychiatrist, John J. Ratey deemed it, “Miracle-Gro for the brain.” Increased levels of BDNF through intermittent fasting are associated with better moods, higher cognitive ability, more productivity, and better memory while decreasing risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

Exactly why BDNF gets a boost from fasting isn’t totally understood, but researchers believe it has to do with the way BDNF helps to rapidly form new neural networks. A network is formed when nerve cells in the brain fire together, forming a new thought, memory or skill. We form these networks very quickly in emergencies when we’re kicked into fight of flight mode. When we’re fasting, we are in a controlled state of threat. This same healthy dose of stress that stimulates stem cell production, HGG, and autophagy is also likely the trigger for boosting BDNF.

Intermittent Fasting May Affect Men and Women Differently

While intermittent fasting can benefit both sexes, it may affect men and women differently. The discrepancies may be the result of hormonal differences. Besides influencing insulin, norepinephrine, and HGH levels, intermittent fasting may affect female sex and hunger-hormones in specific ways.

Intermittent Fasting and Reproductive Hormones in Women

Women are more sensitive to calorie restriction and restrictive, low-calorie diets than men. Calorie restriction affects the hypothalamus and the gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH). GnRH is in charge of releasing two important reproductive hormones, the luteinizing hormone (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Disrupting these hormones can lead to a variety of hormonal issues, including irregular periods, amenorrhea, infertility, reduction in ovary size, and decreased bone density.

Intermittent Fasting and Disordered Eating in Women

Intermittent fasting may disrupt the balance of ghrelin, the hormone that tells you you’re hungry, and leptin, the hormone that makes you feel satiated after eating. Disruptions in these hormones may lead to more cravings, increased hunger, and a lack of satiety. While this may become a problem in both men and women, disordered eating, emotional eating, and eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating tend to affect women more.

If you have recovered from an eating disorder it is important that you talk with your healthcare provider before starting an intermittent fasting protocol. If you are currently dealing with an eating disorder, we recommend against intermittent fasting.

Intermittent Fasting and Insulin Sensitivity in Women

While increased insulin sensitivity is a common benefit of intermittent fasting, it may not be the case for all women. 

According to a randomized control trial published in the International Journal of Obesity, intermittent fasting resulted in 29% lower insulin levels and 19% decreased insulin resistance in obese and overweight female participants. A 2014 review published in Translational Research has also found that intermittent fasting may lower insulin levels by 20 to 30% and blood sugar by 3 to 6% in those with prediabetes.

However, a 2005 study published in Obesity Research found that alternate-day fasting for 22 days resulted in worsened blood sugar in non-obese women. But in men, it did not. It seems that women with insulin resistance, prediabetes, and diabetes may experience increased insulin sensitivity from intermittent fasting. However, women without insulin resistance may experience hypoglycemic stress. 

These differences between men and women do not mean that intermittent fasting is not right for women. Women can still experience the benefits of intermittent fasting. However, it’s likely that women will benefit from different IF strategies than men.

Intermittent Fasting and Keto for Women

One way for women to reduce the potential for hypoglycemic stress and related reproductive hormone imbalances is by combining IF with a ketogenic, or high-fat low-carb (HFLC) diet variation. 

If you’re fasting on a carb-based diet, you’ll struggle with cravings, lack of focus, low energy, and irritability. When you break the fast, you’ll likely want to binge on a ton of carb-heavy foods, spiking your blood sugar, feeling fatigued, and lacking focus. You’ll be stuck on the low to high blood sugar seesaw. It’s this blood sugar seesaw, and not the IF, that is likely responsible for hormonal imbalances. 

Ketones over carbs

When your body is using fat as its primary fuel source, most of your cells get their energy from ketones rather than glucose. Fat digests much more slowly than carbohydrates, and ketones pack more energy per unit than glucose. On an HFLC diet, you provide your body with a sustained and superior fuel source. 

Your few cell types that can’t use ketones are fed by glucose created on-demand in your liver. This means that when you combine IF with a HFLC diet, your blood sugar never drops to a point where you get hunger cravings, and never spikes to a point where you lose focus. Ketones are also effective at suppressing ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry.

The ketogenic diet and fasting offer similar benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved fat burning, better cellular repair, improved insulin sensitivity, and lower risk of disease. Intermittent fasting and keto can go hand in hand to support each other and increase their complementary benefits.

Keto and stem cells when fasting

When you enjoy a keto feast at the end of a fasted period, you are fertilizing the vast crop of new cells with fat–the healthiest, most potent fuel available. 

When you combine IF with keto, you’re getting rid of tons of damaged cells—especially those damaged from the bonding of sugar molecules in the destructive process called glycation. At the same time, your body is erupting with fresh, fat-fueled cells!  

Lab tests on mice show fasting to result in major reductions in the incidence of lymphomas and tumors. The mechanism at work here is the decrease in glucose and insulin—if you’re not eating sugar, your body isn’t producing insulin. 

Fasting along with keto starves cancer cells that rely on sugar while promoting short-term atrophy and cell death in a wide range of tissues and organs including the liver and kidneys. 

This controlled atrophy and cell that occurs during IF  triggers a period of cellular growth and proliferation. Replenishing these growing cells is crucial. But, and this is a big BUT, if you eat high carb, and other cancer-causing molecules when feasting at the end of a period of fasting, studies show that you actually increase cancerous activities and pre-cancerous lesions especially in the liver and intestines. 

A high-fat low-carb diet is not only the best way to get the greatest health benefits out of IF, it’s also the best way to protect yourself against the possibility of doing your body harm.

Intermittent fasting strategies for women 

Simple Fast

Starting with a Simple Fast is the best strategy for anyone who is new to intermittent fasting. It is also a great choice if you have hypoglycemic issues. It’s a fantastic approach to reduce late-night eating, emotional eating, and food addictions. The Simple Fast involves a relatively short–12-hour–fasting window. This window includes your overnight sleep. You simply stop eating after dinner and don’t eat until the next day at breakfast 12 hours later. 

Brunch Fast

If you are doing well with the Simple Fast, you may want to extend your fasting window to a Brunch Fast. This fast includes 14 hours of fasting window where breakfast becomes more of a late breakfast or brunch.

Crescendo Fasting

As you get used to intermittent fasting, try stepping up your game to Crescendo Fasting. It is less demanding on female bodies, yet still helps to lower inflammation, burn fat, and increase energy.

Crescendo fasting is an alternate-day strategy. You only IF on 2 to 3 non-consecutive days of the week. During non IF days, you eat normally. 

For example IF on Tuesday and Friday, or Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. On your fasting days, aim to fast for 16 hours and eat your meals within an 8-hour window following the 16:8 rule. 

Intermittent Feasting

When most people talk about intermittent fasting, there’s a lot of emphasis on not eating.  However, our eating window is just as important. While the periods of not eating create the potential for many of the health benefits we get from IF, calorie restriction is not the goal of IF. And it can lead to hormone imbalances for women, especially if you IF on a normal carb-based diet. 

Feasting (the eating window) is the time to nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods. Healthy animal fats and proteins will balance your hormones, reduce inflammation, improve your immune system, support cellular growth, aid lean tissue development, and support emotional health. 

I recommend that you nourish your body with anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods including healthy fats, grass-fed butter and ghee, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised and eggs, wild-caught fish, and wild game.

For women, it’s also important to pay attention to your menstrual cycle. It may be best for you that when you’re ovulating (days 12 to 16), and during the week before your period (days 22 to 28),  you put the fasting aside and only feast. Feasting during these times helps to support the increase in estrogen and progesterone taking place in your body. 

However, on a HFLC diet, you may not need to stop fasting. This is because the healthy fats and cholesterol you get from nutrient-dense animal foods provide the building blocks for your reproductive hormones. 

The Bottom Line About Intermittent Fasting and Women

Aside from combining IF with an HFLC diet, modified versions of intermittent fasting are usually the safest and most beneficial for women. It’s important to consider that fasting is only a tool. It’s best to approach IF in the context of your overall health goals, and while paying close attention to the needs of your body.  

If you have an eating disorder, are pregnant, or breastfeeding, it’s best not to practice intermittent fasting. If you experience changes in your menstrual cycle, lose your period, experience a lack of energy, or mood swings, we strongly recommend either stopping or combining IF with a high-fat low-carb diet. 

Intermittent fasting affects men and women differently. Practicing a modified version of intermittent fasting, such as Crescendo Fasting may be safer and more beneficial for women. 

Combining IF with a keto (high-fat low-carb) diet can increase the health benefits of IF while protecting women against possible negative side effects including hypoglycemic stress and imbalances in reproductive hormones. 

Make sure to eat a nutrient-dense diet during your feasting period to support your hormonal and overall health.

Healthy serene girl sleeping

Sleep and Health: Everything you Need to Know

Sleep and health go hand in hand. But we often take sleep for granted.

For many of us, sleep is less important than our career, housework, social life, and entertainment.

But good sleep is just as important to your mental and physical health as exercise, hydration, and a healthy diet. 

The value of sleep for health is a fairly new field of research. Recent science is recognizing that sleep is needed to:

  • refresh energy 
  • maintain critical body functions such as metabolism and fertility 
  • add muscle
  • allow the brain to process information into memories

It’s true that sleep is a time for the mind and body to relax. But while you’re sleeping you are still undergoing vital activities. Your body removes toxins in the brain that collect while awake, repairs muscles that were broken down throughout the day, and consolidates memories.

Sleep is also crucial for emotional regulation. Studies show that prolonged sleep deprivation increases anxiety and depression.

Regular, adequate sleep is also necessary for appetite control, a healthy immune system, normal metabolism, weight management, and fertility.

Circadian Rhythm

Proper sleep habits are important for maintaining your circadian rhythm. This rhythm regulates your daily schedule of sleeping and waking. Your circadian rhythm is your inner biological clock that cycles for 24 hours. This cycle is linked to the function of many critical physiological processes including metabolism, inflammation response, physical exertion, and mental health.

Your circadian rhythm is influenced by the natural cycle of day and night, but also by artificial light and dark. Parts of your brain involved in sleep receive signals from your environment that activate your sleep and wake hormones. These hormones alter your body temperature and metabolism to keep you alert or calm you down in rhythm with the day. 

Disrupting your circadian rhythm with artificial light–from phones, tablets, and screens– sleeping at strange times of the day, not sleeping enough, and eating poorly can alter your internal clock and negatively affect the various processes it regulates.

Your circadian rhythm gets out of synch when you: 

  • pull all-nighters, or work overnight shifts. 
  • travel across different time zones.
  • stay up late as part of a lifestyle routine.
  • take medications that alter sleep hormones.
  • get stressed out. 
  • have a head injury or brain damage. 
  • practice poor sleep hygiene, including an erratic schedule, watching screens within 2 hours of bedtime, drinking too close to bedtime, or have an uncomfortable sleep environment. 

To reset your circadian rhythm: 

  • spend more time outdoors in natural daylight. 
  • practice low impact aerobic movement techniques like yoga or pilates for at least 20 minutes each day. 
  • make sure your sleep environment is dark; blackout shades are fantastic. 
  • Turn off your screens at least 2 hours before bed. 
  • Choose analog media like a book or magazine. 
  • Avoid evening use of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
  • Cut-out afternoon and evening naps. 

Sleep and health for fertility 

Sleep and health are inextricably linked to your fertility.  The quality of your sleep is a significant factor affecting hormone production. Not sleeping enough can cause your body to produce too much of certain fertility hormones, and too little of others.  

These imbalances occur because the part of your brain that’s responsible for regulating reproductive hormones like estrogen and testosterone is the same part that regulates sleep-wake hormones like cortisol and melatonin.  

These same sleep-wake hormones are also connected to the hormones that regulate ovulation in women. When your cycle is off it can be difficult to predict ovulation and time intercourse accordingly. 

For men, inadequate sleep induces sleep-wake hormone imbalances that can interfere with the sperm maturation process. Irregular sperm are less likely to fertilize eggs and may lead to faulty embryos. 

Hormonal imbalances can also greatly decrease your libido while increasing irritability. Both mood issues can make sexual intimacy more difficult, creating a huge barrier to conception. 

Many issues causing infertility are related to underlying disorders like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, all of which are exacerbated by poor sleep. 

Sleep and Health: Disordered sleep, sleep deprivation, and risk of disease

The relationship between sleep and health is affected by different stages of sleep. Not all sleep is created equal. While many of us spend at least 8 hours in bed, we’re often not sleeping well. 

Seemingly minor factors, such as how long it takes you to get to sleep, the frequency you awaken at night, and time spent in each stage of sleep, add up to the difference between healthy and unhealthy sleep patterns.

Common sleep and health irregularities


A disorder where a person either cannot fall or remain asleep. It may be due to stress and anxiety, hormonal disturbances (such as menopause), digestive issues, or jet lag. It could also be a symptom of other mental or physiological issues. 

If insomnia persists, it can impact your quality of life and raise the risk of:

  • depression
  • poor concentration
  • mood swings
  • weight gain
  • impaired school or work performance

Up to half of US adults have dealt with insomnia at some point in their lives. Insomnia is most commonly seen in older adults and women. This is because women experience unique hormonal changes, especially during menstrual cycles. Many women on their period report problems going to sleep and staying asleep. 

Insomnia is typically classified as one of these three types:

  • chronic, insomnia that occurs on a regular basis for at least 1 month
  • intermittent, periodically occurring insomnia
  • transient, insomnia that lasts for just a few nights at a time.

Treatment for insomnia

Treatment typically begins with a non-medicated, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT-i) approach.  

CBT-i focuses on pinpointing anxieties about sleep and changing beliefs, practices, and attitudes associated with these anxieties.  Some of the components common to CBT-i include: 

  • Identifying and increasing behavior that improves sleep, while eliminating problematic behaviors. For example, many specialists recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time. Other strategies include eliminating alcohol and caffeine in the hours before going to bed. 
  • Creating boundaries between sleep and other activities associated with anxiety. Specialists recommend only using your bed for sleep and sex. 
  • Getting up after 10 minutes of laying in bed without falling asleep and returning to bed only when you feel tired. 
  • Keeping your sleep area cool, dark, and quiet
  • Avoiding screens 2-3 hours before bed because the blue light can throw-off your circadian rhythms.
  • Discouraging daytime napping. 
  • Adopting relaxation techniques including breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and meditation. 

If these approaches don’t succeed, there are a number of sleep aids that can be effective. However, many come with health and lifestyle side effects. 

Melatonin, a supplement of naturally occurring sleep hormone, can be an effective substitute for pharmaceutical sleep aids.

Sleep apnea 

Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep. The body will take in less oxygen causing it to wake up. 

There are two types of sleep apnea. The first type, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway space is obstructed or too narrow and air flow stops. The second type is called central sleep apnea. With this disorder, your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you sleep. This occurs because your brain sends improper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.

Common treatments include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking. If you have nasal allergies or histamine intolerance, your doctor may recommend medications and dietary changes. For more persistent cases devices and even surgery can be used to open up blocked airways.

Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is an overwhelming urge to move your legs when sleeping or trying to sleep. The urge may be coupled by a tingling feeling. Though symptoms usually occur at night, they can also happen in the day.

Certain health conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and Parkinson’s disease may be associated with RLS, but the exact reason isn’t always known. Researchers suspect the condition may be caused by an imbalance of the neurochemical dopamine, which sends messages to control muscle movement.

Pregnancy and RLS

Pregnancy or hormonal changes may temporarily worsen RLS signs and symptoms. Some women get RLS for the first time during pregnancy, especially during their last trimester. However, symptoms usually disappear after delivery.

Treatments for restless leg syndrome include many of the healthy sleep habits recommended for general insomnia. 

Other treatments that have shown to be effective include: 

  • Exercise
  • Yoga 
  • Iron and supplementation of vitamine D, C, E  
  • Dopaminergic drugs
  • Foot wraps
  • Pneumatic compression
  • Massage
  • Vibration Pad (relaxis)
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)

How much time should you sleep for good health?

The amount of time you sleep and the health benefits you get from your sleep, depend on a variety of genetic, lifestyle, and age factors. It also changes throughout your lifetime. Though every one of us has our own needs, there are age based-recommendations. 

Here are the general sleep guidelines according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Older adults (65+): 7–8 hours
  • Adults (18–64 years): 7–9 hours
  • Teenagers (14–17 years): 8–10 hours
  • School children (6–13 years): 9–11 hours
  • Preschoolers (3–5 years): 10–13 hours (including naps)
  • Toddlers (1–2 years): 11–14 hours (including naps)
  • Infants (4–12 months): 12–15 hours (including naps)
  • Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours.

Interestingly, adults who don’t get enough sleep often feel drowsy and sluggish the next day. On the other hand, when children don’t sleep well, they’re often hyperactive the next day. 

Sleep and health tips for parents

A handy tip for parents with children is to put your child to bed earlier. Studies show that children fall asleep faster and stay in bed longer when they go to before 9 in the evening. 

A study looking at toddlers who went to bed before 9 p.m. found that they slept 78 minutes more than kids with a later bedtime. When researchers asked parents of 7-11-year-olds to put their kids to be an hour earlier than usual for only five nights in a row, the kids slept an average of 27 minutes longer each night.

“The earlier the better” is a good rule of thumb for adolescents too. One study revealed that adolescents with a bedtime of 10 p.m. or earlier slept an average of 40 minutes more each night than kids who went to bed by midnight.

Factors that determine your sleep and health needs


Genetic mutations may impact how long you need to sleep, the time of day you prefer to sleep, and how you react to sleep deprivation. 

Some people with a specific genetic mutation may only need six hours of sleep, while others may need an average of eight hours. Others with specific genetic mutations may be more negatively impacted by sleep deprivation or experience deeper sleep.

Quality of sleep

How well you sleep can also affect how much you need. If your sleep quality is poor, you may still feel tired despite getting what seemed to be enough sleep. On the other hand, if you’re sleeping well, you may get by with fewer hours. 

9 tips for getting enough ZZs

Having trouble catching enough zzz’s? Not to worry, here are 8 proven techniques for when it’s time to hit the sack:

  1. Stick to a schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  2. Turn off your screens (including the TV, your phone, tablet, and other electronics) 2-3 hours before bed. Studies show that blue light stimulates your brain and will keep you awake.  
  3. Get regular exercise. At least 30 minutes, 5 days per week is suggested.
  4. Avoid late night eating or alcohol prior to bed. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster but tends to interrupt sleep.
  5. Avoid caffeine or nicotine after 2 PM.
  6. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature and limit light exposure. Buy blackout curtains if you need them.
  7. Get up instead of lying in bed awake. Read or listen to music in another room, then return to bed when you feel sleepy. 
  8. Avoid the news of social media prior to sleep. Getting excited or aggravated right before bed is a recipe for poor sleep.
  9. Practice boxed breathing–inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat 4 times. This will calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety that may be keeping you awake

Anatomy of Sleep

Sleep is a vital and complex process that impacts how you function in ways scientists are just beginning to understand. What we do know is that there are several key structures within the brain involved in sleep, each with its own effects on our bodies. 

The hypothalamus is a peanut-sized structure far beneath the brain’s surface.  It contains a collection of nerve cells that function as control centers to affect sleep and arousal. Even deeper in the hypothalamus is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – groups of thousands of cells that take in information about light exposure straight from your eyes and control your behavioral rhythm. 

When there is damage to the SCN, a person will sleep erratically throughout the day. They are not able to connect their circadian rhythms with the light-dark cycle. 

The brain stem, at the base of the brain is the pons, medulla, and midbrain. These structures are involved in REM sleep and communicate to the body to relax muscles during the dream cycle. Together with the hypothalamus they create GABA, a brain chemical that acts to reduce the arousal centers in the hypothalamus and brainstem.

The thalamus is a part of the brain that passes information from the senses to the cerebral cortex. It also converts information from short- to long-term memory. Throughout most stages of sleep, the thalamus is dormant, allowing you to tune out the outside world. But during REM sleep the thalamus is active in relaying images, sights, sounds and other sensations to the cortex as we dream. 

The pineal gland, a small pea-shaped gland in the brain, takes signals from the SCN and creates melatonin, a hormone that aids in sleep regulation. Individuals who are blind can take small doses of melatonin at the same time every day to regulate their sleep patterns. Peaks and drops in melatonin follow the circadian rhythm as it synchs with daylight and darkness. 

The basal forebrain, near the bottom and front of the brain helps promote sleep and wakefulness. Adenosine (an end product of cellular energy use) gets released in the basal forebrain and promotes the sleep drive. Caffeine blocks adenosine, which increases arousal and may reduce sleep. Part of the midbrain also contributes to arousal. 

The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure involved with processing emotions. It is very active during REM sleep. 

Sleep Stages

The two basic types of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep has three stages. Each stage is associated with specific brain waves and neuronal activity. In a typical night, you go through all stages of REM and non-REM sleep. Towards morning, you experience longer, deeper REM periods of sleep.

Stage 1 non-REM sleep is short, light sleep and involves the transition from wakefulness to sleep. Heartbeat, breathing and eye movements lag and muscles relax. Daytime wakefulness patterns of brain waves slow down. 

Stage 2 non-REM sleep occurs prior to starting deeper sleep and heartbeat and breathing will slow down and muscle will become more relaxed. Eye movements stop and body temperature decreases. Brief bouts of brain wave activity occur although overall brain wave activity decreases.Most of your repeated sleep cycles are spent in this stage. 

Stage 3 non-REM sleep is deep sleep that’s vital to feeling rejuvenated by morning. It happens during the first half of the night in longer bouts. In this sleep, your heartbeat and breathing decrease to their lowest levels. Muscles are very relaxed and it may be hard to arouse you. Brain waves are very slow at this time.

REM sleep initially happens about an hour and half into your sleep cycle. Behind closed eyelids, your eyes are quickly moving from side to side. During REM sleep is when most dreaming happens, though some may be experienced during non-REM sleep. Breathing is fast and irregular and heart rate and blood pressure rise near waking levels. Mixed frequency brain activity is more like that observed in wakefulness. You’re unable to act out in dreams because leg and arm muscles become paralyzed for a short time. Aging reduces the amount of time spent in REM sleep. Non-REM and REM sleep are likely needed to integrate memories.


The bottom line on bedtime

Sleep and health are affected by many factors. Good sleep is as important for your well being as good, oxygen, and water. 

When sleep is disrupted due to stress, pain, or other causes, our physical and mental health can suffer in the short and long term.

The best way to ensure you get enough sleep is to modify your bedtime habits and pay attention to your body. Recognize when you’re tired and allow yourself to go to bed. 

Turn off the TV, laptop, tablet, phone and other forms of light exposure. Whatever you think you have to finish at bedtime can wait until the next day. 

Like a delicious ribeye steak, sleep is good nourishing food for both your body and mind. 

Histamine chemical formula

Histamine Intolerance: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that the allergy symptoms you experience may not be due to allergies at all? They may be a common condition called histamine intolerance. 

Histamine intolerance occurs when your body lacks the ability to process excess histamine and reacts negatively to the buildup that occurs.

In this article we will discuss what histamine is, the causes of histamine intolerance, and also provide helpful tips for how to eliminate the effects of histamine intolerance by introducing a low histamine diet along with other helpful tips.

Histamine Fast Facts

  1. Histamine is an essential part of a healthy immune system.
  2. Histamine is released after injury or when an invader is detected.
  3. When your body releases histamine it recruits other important immune cells to the site to deal with the injury or invader.
  4. Excess histamine that causes histamine intolerance is often absorbed through our gut from the food we eat or microorganisms living symbiotically in our intestines.
  5. Our body normally has enzymes in the gut that break down histamine.
  6. The production of these enzymes cab be affected by genetics, and medications that prevent our body from breaking down histamine in the gut.
  7. When these enzymes are inhibited, high levels of histamine can build up in the bloodstream, and you are susceptible to histamine sensitivity.
  8. Common symptoms of histamine intolerance include, bloating, headaches, and rashes, among many others.
  9. There are several ways to reduce histamine intolerance including diet, supplements, and medications.

Histamine Basics

Histamine is produced and stored by cells in your immune system. White blood cells called mast cells and basophils are the primary producers of histamine. But many other immune cells are also involved.

When the immune system identifies foreign invaders, your immune cells release histamine. Histamine then triggers an immediate inflammatory response. This sends immune cells to the source of infection, which allows them to destroy the pathogens and fight infection. 

Sometimes, your immune system mistakenly identifies harmless substances like certain foods or pollen as foreign invaders. This process of mistaken identity results in an allergic reaction. 

In addition to playing an important role in the immune response, histamines regulate many other physiological functions in the body by:

  • Secreting gastric acid 
  • Dilating blood vessels 
  • Contracting and relaxing the airways and other smooth muscles
  • Transmitting messages between your body and brain 
  • Increasing vascular permeability 
  • Lowering blood pressure 
  • Producing airway mucus 
  • Regulating energy levels
  • Enhancing cognition

Histamine Metabolism 

Histamine metabolism occurs when histamine is released in the body and is eventually captured by receptors and broken down. This process is an essential part of a healthy immune system.

When invasive compounds like pollen enter your body,  histamine leaves your mast cells and flows to the affected area. This causes inflammation, which allows other immune cells to go to work fighting infection. Histamines then connect with receptors in your body where it’s eventually broken down and expelled as waste.  This prevents chronic inflammation and allows your body to return to a normal, healthy state. 

Your body metabolizes histamine through two pathways using the enzymes DAO, and HNMT.

Diamine oxidase (DAO)

When you ingest histamine with food DOA acts like a scavenger, finding and breaking down histamine. It also scavenges histamine that your intestinal microorganisms produce. This prevents histamine from being absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract.

The DAO enzyme accumulates in the following tissues:

  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Placenta
  • Kidneys

Histamine-N-methyltransferase (HNMT)

HNMT also prevents the absorption of dietary histamine, and breaks down histamine that has made its way into the blood. 

HNMT is present in many areas of the body including:

  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Spleen
  • Large intestine
  • Prostate
  • Ovaries
  • Spinal cord
  • Trachea
  • Respiratory tract

What is histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance is a disorder that occurs as a result of an inability to metabolize dietary histamine. This is due to reduced DAO enzyme activity, which leads to an accumulation of histamine in the bloodstream. Histamine intolerance is not an allergy. Rather, it’s an intolerance to the chemical histamine.

Histamine intolerance is also known as:

  • Enteral histaminosis
  • Sensitivity to dietary histamine

Symptoms of histamine intolerance

HIstamine intolerance

Histamine intolerance often causes a combination of symptoms that range from mild to severe. In some cases, histamine intolerance can even result in death.

Histamine intolerance can present as symptoms that affect your entire body including, your gastrointestinal, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and integumentary systems.  

Symptoms of histamine intolerance may include:

  • Abdominal distension
  • Bloating
  • Postprandial fullness
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Hay fever
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Pruritus 
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Erythema
  • Edema
  • Asthma
  • Hypoxia
  • Anaphylaxis 

Generally, the greater the buildup of histamine in the body the more severe the symptoms. 

What causes histamine intolerance?

Many factors may lead to the development of histamine intolerance. We’ll explore these factors below.


Your genetics can influence your ability to break down histamine.

More than 50 DNA sequence variations exist that may inhibit histamine metabolism. Additionally, some genes can cause mutations in the DAO enzyme that reduce its ability to metabolize histamine.


Inflammatory bowel conditions may impair DAO activity by damaging intestinal mucosal integrity. These conditions include:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal surgery

People with nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) may also have an increased risk of reduced DAO enzyme activity.


Certain medications may reduce the activity of the enzyme DAO. 

The following medications may block DAO:

  • Chloroquine (antimalarial)
  • Clavulanic acid (antibiotic)
  • Verapamil (antihypertensive)
  • Cimetidine (antihistamine)
  • Colistimethate (antibiotic)
  • Cefuroxime (antibiotic)
  • Clonidine (antihypertensive)
  • Dihydralazine (antihypertensive)
  • Pentamidine (antiprotozoal)
  • Isoniazid (antituberculosis)
  • Metamizole (analgesic)
  • Diclofenac (analgesic and anti-inflammatory)
  • Acetylcysteine (mucoactive)
  • Amitriptyline (antidepressant)
  • Metoclopramide (antiemetic)
  • Suxamethonium (muscle relaxant)
  • Prometazina (antihistamine)
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)

How to diagnose histamine intolerance

Histamine intolerance can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms are nonspecific and are similar to many allergic reactions. Moreover, there are few validated diagnostic tools to confirm a histamine intolerance diagnosis.

Unfortunately, many people with histamine intolerance end up visiting several doctors before receiving an accurate diagnosis. And many people may go undiagnosed.

The diagnostic criteria for histamine intolerance include:

  • Typical symptoms associated with histamine intolerance
  • Exclusion of other disorders

The following methods can rule out other potential causes of elevated histamine levels:

  • Skin allergy test 
  • Tryptase blood test
  • Review of medications 

If the above methods rule out other conditions such as a food allergy or mastocytosis, a diagnosis of histamine intolerance is confirmed if you have two or more typical symptoms that improve after a low histamine diet.

Histamine intoxication vs. histamine intolerance

Histamine intoxication is a form of food poisoning that occurs with excessive histamine ingestion. This condition is entirely separate from histamine intolerance. Histamine intoxication can occur in healthy people after consuming high histamine foods such as:

  • Spoiled fish or meat
  • Fermented foods

High levels of histamine can form in spoiled or fermented foods when live bacteria produce histamine. Excessive levels of histamine can overpower the DAO enzyme, which results in histamine intoxication. 

Histamine intoxication is also known as:

  • Scombroid fish poisoning
  • Mahi-mahi flush
  • Scombrotoxicosis
  • Histamine poisoning
  • Histamine toxicity

Symptoms of histamine intoxication

Histamine intoxication can cause symptoms that are similar to those of histamine intolerance. These usually occur within one hour of ingesting food and are usually mild to moderate in severity. After a few hours, the symptoms generally resolve on their own.

Symptoms of histamine intoxication may include:

  • Skin redness
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Edema
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Palpitations
  • Numbness and tingling

How to reduce histamine in the body

Understanding how to reduce histamine in the body is essential for individuals with histamine intolerance. Treatment for histamine intolerance focuses on decreasing the buildup of histamine levels. Below, we’ll discuss the best strategies to reduce histamine in the body.

Low histamine diet

Many foods naturally contain histamine. Consuming a low histamine diet can improve symptoms of histamine intolerance in 4 to 8 weeks by reducing histamine levels in the body.

A low histamine diet is a temporary plan that involves consuming foods that contain histamine levels below detection limits. 

An important note: Though low histamine foods include certain fruits and plants, it is possible to confuse histamine intolerance with chronic low-grade food allergies. Plants are packed with numerous naturally occurring plant toxins. That’s why we strongly recommend animal and dairy based diet to reduce diet-related disorders and inflammation. 

Low histamine foods that are safe to eat on a low histamine diet include:

  • Fresh meat
  • Fresh fish
  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
    • Green pepper
    • Peas
    • Asparagus
    • Cauliflower
    • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Non-dairy milk
    • Coconut milk
  • Whole grains
    • Oats
    • Rice
    • Barley

Some foods that are low in histamine can be high in other biogenic amines that result in histamine intolerance. These reactions occur because the enzyme DAO also metabolizes biogenic amines including:

  • Putrescine
  • Cadaverine
  • Tyramine

Foods that contain high levels of biogenic amines may occupy DAO and reduce the metabolism of histamine.

The following low-histamine foods are high in biogenic amines:

  • Soybeans
  • Mushrooms
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts
  • Pears
  • Citrus fruits
  • Bananas

Many people with histamine intolerance may need to eliminate foods high in both histamines and biogenic amines. But others may not experience any symptoms when eating these foods. 

While following a low histamine diet, eliminate high histamine foods.

Foods high in histamine include:

  • Spoiled fish or meat
  • Fermented foods
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Kombucha
    • Sauerkraut
  • Vegetables
    • Spinach
    • Avocados
    • Tomatoes
    • Eggplant
  • Dried fruit or fruit juices
  • Alcohol
    • Beer
    • Wine
    • Champagne

Your symptoms should resolve within 3 weeks of starting a low histamine diet. After this, you can then begin adding higher histamine foods back into your diet one by one. 

If any of these foods trigger symptoms of histamine intolerance, you should continue to avoid them. But it is possible to safely consume high histamine foods that don’t bother you.

Low histamine diet tips

Maintaining a low histamine diet can improve your health and prevent complications related to histamine intolerance. But this diet plan is only a temporary treatment and can result in malnutrition. 

To reduce histamines while providing your body the macro and micronutrients it needs to thrive, we recommend high fat low carb eating. Diets like paleo, keto, and carnivore all great options. 

Some tips to successfully follow a low histamine diet include:

    • Always eat fresh foods. Histamine and other biogenic amines may form during refrigerated storage. Spoiled foods can grow bacteria that produce histamine. 
    • Boil vegetables in water before eating. This can reduce the levels of histamine and other biogenic amines in food.
    • Keep a food journal to identify trigger foods. A food journal can help you determine what foods cause your symptoms. Keep track of the foods you eat, what time you eat them, and any uncomfortable symptoms that you experience.
    • Work with a dietician or nutritionist. A low histamine diet is restrictive. You should not follow this diet plan for more than 4 to 8 weeks. Working with a dietician or nutritionist during a low histamine diet can ensure you receive the proper nutrients you need. We recommend finding a professional well-versed in low-carb high-fat eating. 
    • Avoid processed foods. Processed foods typically contain long lists of complex ingredients. Stay away from anything with trans-fats. 
    • Cook your own meals. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating.
    • Avoid DAO blocking medications. Certain medications can slow down the healing process by impairing your ability to metabolize histamine. 
    • Take a DAO supplement. Increasing the enzyme DAO can reduce histamine in the body. 
    • Slowly reintroduce histamine-rich foods. A low histamine diet is only temporary. After you eliminate histamine-rich foods for 3 weeks, you can begin adding some foods back into your diet. Begin with full-fat dairy since it contains essential fat soluble vitamins A and D. 
    • If certain foods reproduce your symptoms, cut them out. But enjoy histamine-rich foods that don’t cause any problems.

Other ways to reduce histamine intolerance

Diamine oxidase supplement

Histamine intolerance occurs with elevated histamine levels, which is likely due to an impaired ability of diamine oxidase to metabolize histamine.

Fortunately, research shows that oral diamine oxidase supplements before meals can improve over 22 symptoms of histamine intolerance. Diamine oxidase oral supplements may improve symptoms of histamine intolerance by increasing diamine oxidase levels, which facilitates the breakdown of histamine.

However, diamine oxidase supplements are not a cure for histamine intolerance. Without diamine oxidase supplementation, symptom intensity increases.


Antihistamines like Zyrtec, Allegra, and Benadryl are popular choices for the treatment of allergies. But can these medications also help with histamine intolerance?

The answer is yes. But only to a certain degree. Taking antihistamines will not reduce histamine in the body. Antihistamines only treat symptoms that you experience after ingesting foods high in histamine. 

Avoid the following antihistamines that reduce the efficacy of DAO:

  • Cimetidine
  • Prometazina

Many antihistamines can cause side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache

Histamine intolerance is treatable

Histamine regulates many important physiological functions in the body, but it can also cause negative consequences like histamine intolerance. 

The best way to combat histamine intolerance is to follow a low histamine diet. High fat, low carb animal-based diets will allow you to cut out histamine rich foods while still providing your macro and micro nutrient needs. 

Proper food preparation is also key to prevent increasing levels of histamine. 

If you regularly experience symptoms of histamine intolerance even after practicing a low histamine diet, we recommend going a step further and cutting out most plant foods. This will reduce your exposure to plant toxins

Histamine intolerance often occurs in combination with underlying intestinal disorders, and symptoms may not resolve unless you treat both. With a dedicated treatment plan, you can find long-term relief from histamine intolerance. 

Plant toxins and Antinutrients

Plant Toxins and Antinutrients

A Brief Guide to Plant Toxins and Antinutrients

Like humans, plants are evolved to survive and reproduce. In order to protect and perpetuate themselves, plants are armed with an arsenal of plant toxins and antinutrients. 

Since most of our leafy friends lack fangs and claws, and they don’t have legs to flee on, they evolved protective plant toxins and antinutrients including naturally-occurring pesticides, mineral chelators, and antibiotics.  

The presence of these plant toxins and antinutrients calls on people to reconsider what we might think of as healthy foods: That colorful smoothie you blended this morning with strawberries, blueberries, and kale, or that mixed greens salad topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and carrots you ate for lunch. Are these the perfect meals or the perfect weapons? 

What are Plant Toxins and Antinutrients?

Plant toxins and antinutrients are the chemicals plants use to defend themselves from fungi, insects, and animal predators. Humans are predators and many of the chemicals plants produce are harmful to us. 

Though plant toxins and antinutrients are often used interchangeably, plant toxins exhibit their negative effects through purely toxic means. While antinutrients are plant made chemicals that bind to and prevent the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, exhibiting their negative effect by causing nutritional deficiencies.

Plants have no interest in being a food source for humans or any other predator for that matter.  To stay alive they’ve become masters of biological warfare.

Every plant produces its own blend of toxins. These compounds make up a whopping  99.99% of all pesticides people consume as part of a regular diet. These are natural chemicals produced by plants themselves. 

Abstract from study on plant toxins

Researchers estimate that humans consume 5,000 to 10,000 different natural pesticides every day, many of which cause cancer when tested in lab animals. Whatsmore, carcinogen levels in many of these plants are commonly thousands of times higher than the levels of synthetic pesticides.

While nutrients provide nourishment, antinutrients block the absorption of specific proteins, vitamins, and minerals. They can lead to mineral deficiencies while damaging our digestive systems by poking holes in our intestinal walls resulting in “leaky gut,” but more on that later.  

Plant toxins and antinutrients are frequently the culprits behind headaches, asthma, joint pain, and other allergic responses associated with food sensitivities, digestive complaints, and various autoimmune diseases.

Different Plant Parts

Different parts of plants can produce numerous toxins at various levels of intensity. Yet we eat just about every part of plants. Carrots and turnips are the roots; spinach and kale are the leaves; celery and asparagus are the stems; broccoli and cauliflower are the flowers; oranges, apples, and grapes are the fruit; lima beans, coffee beans, and coconuts are all seeds.  

Of all the parts of plants, seeds are the most likely to impact our health.


Seeds are critical to the continuation of every plant species. Every seed is like a potential plant baby. To ensure their survival, Mother Nature takes extra care to make sure seeds are protected. This protection takes the form of harmful toxins. The presence of these toxins is the reason why seeds are responsible for many of the most prevalent and dangerous food allergies –allergies to peanuts (technically legumes) and other tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts). Celiac Disease is a common allergy to wheat–the seed portion of wheatgrass. 

There are different types of seeds too. Some are protected by an outer shell; others are not, and they use different toxins to protect themselves. 

Naked Seeds 

Nake seeds are fully exposed and have no outer covering for protection from the elements or predators. They might at first appear more vulnerable, but they’re far from helpless.  

For example, naked seeds contain bitter-tasting tannins, and phytates that interfere with nutrient absorption. From the plant’s perspective, if their seeds are going to be eaten and the continuation of their species threatened, at least they can cause negative responses in their predators to discourage their consumption in the future.

Cashews are an example of a naked seed that should never be eaten raw. Cashews are covered with anacardic acid, which is closely related to the acid that makes poison ivy so irritating. 

Kidney beans teach another cautionary tale. If consumed while not fully cooked, the phytohaemagglutinin in the beans can cause diarrhea and vomiting. 

Protected Seeds

Protected seeds are even more devious in their survival strategies. Unlike naked seeds, protected seeds have an outer shell that allows the seed to survive consumption by animals. 

They move through the digestive system of a predator completely intact until they’re eliminated as part of a bowel movement, surrounded by natural fertilizer to help them grow. This allows protected seeds to travel and sprout great distances from where they were consumed. They don’t have to compete with the parent plant for sunlight or water. 


Fruit generally means the fleshy structures of a plant that carry seeds. They often taste sweet or sour and are considered edible in the raw state. From a botanical standpoint, “fruit” includes many plant structures such as bean pods, corn kernels, tomatoes, and wheat grains. With this overlap between seeds and fruits, it’s no surprise that fruits also contain various plant toxins. 

For example, the citrus fruits lemon, lime, grapefruit, and bergamot contain furocoumarins. Plants release these toxins in response to stress, such as when the plant is physically damaged. Furocaoumarins can cause gastrointestinal problems in susceptible people. They’re also phototoxic, which means that they can induce severe skin reactions under sunlight.

Phytate (Phytic Acid) 

Phytic acid is a natural, protective substance found in many plants, usually in the seeds (nuts, grains, and legumes). Its main job is to hold on to the essential minerals that the baby plant needs to grow. 

Found in abundance in whole grains, legumes and nuts, phytates are used by plants to store phosphorous. Yet they don’t make it available to our bodies. Instead, phytates bind to our own minerals and nutrients, especially calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and some proteins.  Phytates also inhibit our own digestive enzymes, which you can see in the graph below :

graph showing phytate inhibition of digestive enzymes

Once bound by phytates, these minerals are no longer available to our bodies to use. Nutrient deficiencies caused by phytates are most common in unvaried diets high in cereal grains. The presence of phytates in grains is one of the main factors in the decline in vitality markers including height and bone density, and the rise in disease that occurred during the agricultural revolution when most of the human population switched from a majority meat diet to an almost exclusively grain diet. Interestingly, phytic acid is never found in animal products, only plants. 

Plants with Phytic Acid


FoodPhytic Acid
Brazil nuts03-6.3%
Maize, corn0.7-2.2%
Rice bran2.6-8.7%
Sesame seeds1.4-5.4%
Wheat bran2.1-7.3%
Wheat germ1.1-3.9%

Almonds contain high levels of phytic acid.

What Do Phytates Do to Humans and What are Potential Symptoms?

Health Effects

By preventing the absorption of various essential minerals, high intake of phytic acid can cause a long list of health issues and symptoms, including:

Health issues and symptoms
Muscle crampsIrregular heartbeat & shortness of breath
Brittle hair & nailsHigh blood pressure
Weak bonesHair loss
Tingling in the hands and feetDiarrhea
Memory lossSkin lesions
ConfusionImpaired immune function
Muscle twitchesPale skin
LightheadednessChest pain

In addition to seeds, phytic acid is also found in many roots, leaves, and fruits. Removing seeds from your diet doesn’t entirely solve the phytic acid problem. However, several preparation methods can help reduce the phytic acid content in the foods you eat.

effects of phytic acid on mineral absorption

How to Minimize the Effect of Phytates


Soaking cereals and legumes overnight and draining the water can reduce their levels of phytic acid. By soaking in lemon juice, vinegar, or other acidic liquid, you can reduce the concentration of phytic acid.


Germinating seeds, grains, and legumes can degrade the potency of the phytate.


Fermentation is the best way to reduce phytic acid levels. We can see this process at work in  cows and sheep who eat phytic acid with no ill effects because they have bacteria in their guts that naturally break down phytates. Their guts are designed for plant-based diets. Fermentation is the method used in making sourdough by fermenting the wheat.

Lectins (including gluten)

bags with cereal grains (oat, barley, wheat, corn, beans, peas, soy, sunflower)

Lectins are a group of proteins found in most plant foods. As part of the plant’s immune system they protect against an array of predators and microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites). When stressed, damaged, or under attack, for example by an insect munching on its leaves, plant lectins can be toxic and act as a deterrent.

Scientists have genetically modified staple plants to express higher concentrations of lectins to protect against pests and improve crop yields. But plants are the only ones for whom this is good news. 

Once inside our bodies, lectins bind directly to the lining of the small intestine, inhibiting the absorption of nutrients and causing lesions on the intestine leading to leaky gut syndrome.

abstract on study of antinutritional properties of plant lectins

They also facilitate the growth of bacteria strains which contribute to endotoxemia, a type of low-grade inflammation that affects approximately 33% of the Western population. If unchecked endotoxemia can result in inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. 

All foods contain some lectins, even meat because lectins that animals eat in foods like corn accumulate in their tissue. However, only about 30% of the foods we eat have potentially troublesome amounts. Legumes (including beans, soybeans, and peanuts) and grains (wheat is commonly singled out) have the most significant content, followed by dairy, seafood, and plants in the nightshade family (such as potatoes).

The lectin in wheat products, more commonly referred to as gluten, is especially problematic. Yet, gluten is just one of the toxic proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Today’s wheat contains almost 90% more lectins than the wheat that was grown just a couple of generations ago.  Now, gluten allergies may affect 13% of the population.

abstract from study on gluten intolerance

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Lectins bind to glycolipids and glycoproteins on the membranes of our cells, causing our bodies to ramp up immune responses that attack healthy cells. Leaky gut is a symptom of this immune response. 

abstract from study examining role of lectins in leaky gut syndrome

excerpt from abstract


The term “leaky gut” refers to a breakdown in the intestinal walls. This breakdown occurs when malfunctioning microvilli lining our intestinal walls breakdown and allow dangerous food particles and toxins into the bloodstream.

leaky gut. cells on gut lining held tightly together. in intestine with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity these tight junctions come apart. autoimmune disorder. Vector diagram for educational, medical, biological and science use

Symptoms of leaky gut include gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. You may also feel swollen, itchy, have difficulty breathing, feel down or fatigued, experience “brain fog” or decreased mental performance, headaches, mucus buildup, joint stiffness or inflammation. 

Endocrine Disruption

Lectins are also known to disrupt intercellular communication. This is particularly concerning when it comes to fertility and hormone disruption. Our bodies rely on hormones to tell the various cells and tissues what to do. When lectins get in the way, they can silence, change, or disrupt these messages, wreaking havoc on fertility. 

Brain Fog

Brain fog presents as various symptoms including an inability to focus, forgetfulness, fatigue, confusion, or a lack of mental clarity. Though not a clinical term, most people know what it’s like to feel “off” in their ability to process things and pay attention. Brain fog is generally believed to be caused by inflammation in the brain, and lectins may be the culprit. 

How to reduce lectins

Given their presence in nearly all foods, there’s no avoiding them. So reducing lectins is the best we can do. 

Peel your fruits & vegetables

Lectins are more highly concentrated in the peels, leaves, and seeds of plants. By peeling or de-seeding fruits and veggies you will reduce their lectin content.

Eat only in-season fruits & veggies

Lectin levels are lower in fruits when they are ripe. Eating fruits and berries when they’re at their peak of ripeness can lower your lectin consumption.

Choose white rice over brown rice & white bread over wheat

Whole grains and seeds contain more lectins and are more difficult to digest. White rice is a better choice than brown, which still has its hard outer coating.  All white rice starts as brown rice, but the milling process removes the husk, bran, and germ. Removing these protective layers reduces lectins and antinutrients. 

Cook or process your foods

Since many lectins are temperature sensitive, processing foods with high levels of lectins can reduce their presence. Using a pressure cooker, boiling, soaking, fermenting, and sprouting help decrease lectin concentration.


Saponins are found primarily in legumes and grains. They’re the chemicals that create the foamy substance on the surface of water when you soak beans. Saponins can cause harm by binding to various nutrients, inhibiting our ability to use them.  They also inhibit digestive enzymes causing a decrease in protein digestibility and absorption. Some saponins even have the ability to break down red blood cells. Like lectins, saponins can bind to the gut and increase intestinal permeability or leaky gut.

Foods Highest In Saponins

Foods high in saponin content include:

  • Licorice root (22.2-32.3 grams per 100g) 
  • Legumes, especially peanuts, soybeans (3.9-5.6 grams per 100g), and chickpeas (3.6-5 grams per 100g)
  • Quinoa (up to 0.73g per 100g)
  • Spinach (0.5g per 100g)
  • Oats (0.1-0.3g per 100g)


Most people have heard of tannins as they relate to red wine and tea, but they’re also found in coffee and chocolate. Tannins are what give these foods their bitter, dry taste.

Tannins are naturally-occurring polyphenols that easily bind with other compounds like proteins and minerals. You can find them in various plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins. Tannins are antinutrients because they inhibit the absorption of iron.

Some tannins are believed to have health benefits including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While others have negative consequences, and overconsumption of tannins can affect digestion.  Tannins can also cause nausea in people with sensitive digestive systems, particularly when consumed on an empty stomach.

Organic seed potato with sprouts on wooden background. (aka “never eat green potatoes”)


Glycoalkaloids are neurotoxins and enzyme inhibitors. Potatoes are high in glycoalkaloids, with the highest glycoalkaloid levels concentrated in the sprouts, peel, and area around the “eyes.”

High levels of glycoalkaloid are toxic to humans. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Severe cases of glycoalkaloid poisoning can include neurological effects as well (i.e., drowsiness, restlessness, shaking, confusion, weakness, and disturbed vision).

Storing potatoes in ways that expose them to prolonged light, like on a shelf, can cause a “greening” effect. This is due to the formation of chlorophyll. Since chlorophyll and glycoalkaloids form in conjunction, “greening” indicates an increase in glycoalkaloids. Damage to tubers also increases glycoalkaloids, so avoid damaged potatoes. 

Glycoalkaloids are another plant toxin that has been shown to cause intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut”.

abstract from study looking at link between glykoalkoloids and leaky gut

glycoalkaloid study conclusion

Unfortunately, cooking does not significantly reduce glycoalkaloids. So low-light potato storage is important. Any damage, sprouts, or green areas should be removed. Peeling the potato is best. And don’t eat any potato that tastes bitter.


The most famous of the glycoalkaloids, solanine is found in nightshades like eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes (white, not sweet), paprika. It’s also present in a few non-nightshade plants like apples, cherries, okra, and beets.

Solanin is the compound in nightshades that causes inflammation. It can irritate the digestive tract and even cause a breakdown in red blood cells. The presence of solanine causes nightshades to worsen arthritis in many people, and exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, acid reflux, and other GI issues. Solanin can even affect brain neurotransmitters like acetylcholine. 

Though primarily found in potatoes, there is a tomato version of solanine called “tomatine.”

For this reason, tomatoes are best avoided altogether or eaten in season with limited frequency. This is particularly important if you have arthritis, a digestive disorder, or other autoimmune disorders. 

Many health professionals are concerned about solanine by-products that accumulate in the body. During times of stress, these compounds can become mobilized and cause further harm.


Glucosinolates are chemicals found in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and many more. They tend to produce a telltale sulfur-like smell as part of their defense system. 

Glucosinolates prevent the body from absorbing iodine, flavonoids, and minerals such as iron and zinc. Studies show that a higher intake of glucosinolates is associated with a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes.


Cruciferous vegetables also contain the chemical sulforaphane. Most of the sulforaphane you eat gets absorbed into your bloodstream where it can damage intracellular structures like mitochondria and enzymes. Our bodies respond with powerful antioxidants to minimize the damage. But this response depletes our antioxidants leaving other cells vulnerable to damage. Sulforaphane is another antioxidant that contributes to leaky gut.


High Oxalate Food Spinach

The leaves of plants are some of the most highly touted “superfoods.” Thanks to Popeye, spinach usually tops the list of “healthy greens.” But spinach contains high levels of oxalates. 

Oxalates are antinutrients that deplete calcium and iron, stealing essential vitamins and minerals from our bodies. The presence of oxalic acid in cooked spinach is responsible for the fact that our bodies absorb virtually none of the iron and very little of the calcium in spinach.  

Accumulating oxalates in the body can lead to renal damage, kidney stones, and can be toxic to just about every other system in our bodies.

Oxalic acid is also what gives you “spinach teeth” – that gritty feeling after you eat spinach. They’re also the compound responsible for the fact that almost none of the iron in spinach is absorbed by your body.


Oxalate foods chart


Phenolic compounds are responsible for the color and flavor of many fruits. While they’re harmless for most of us, for people sensitive to phenols they can cause reactions that include an extreme emotional high followed by a very low, low. 

Physical reactions can include dark under-eye circles, red face/ears, diarrhea, headache, difficulty falling asleep at night or staying asleep and feeling excessively tired and lethargic. Behavioral symptoms of a reaction include hyperactivity, aggression, headbanging or other self-injury, and even inappropriate laughter. Hyperactivity is more common in children. Adults generally experience chronic fatigue symptoms.

title of study linking phenols with autism

highlighted section of study on autism and phenols

Children on the autism spectrum seem to be particularly susceptible to phenols.   Researchers have found that children on the autism spectrum have low levels of the enzyme needed to break down phenols, causing behavior issues and physical reactions when they eat foods high in phenolic compounds.

Fruits and veggies rich in phenols include most berries (strawberries, raspberries, chokeberries, blueberries, and black currents) along with grapes, apples, spinach, red lettuce, and broccoli. Citrus fruits also have high levels of phenols.


Salicylates are a type of phenol. Scientists believe salicylates are produced by plants as natural protection from diseases, insects, fungi, and harmful bacteria. Salicylates share a similar to the man-made chemical acetylsalicylic acid, which we’re familiar with as aspirin. 

Many people are sensitive to salicylates and experience an allergic reaction that can include difficulty breathing, hives, swelling, and GI symptoms. Salicylates are also correlated with other physical and mental responses, like headaches, vision problems, acne, bad breath, restless leg syndrome, and anxiety.

Though salicylates are found in most fruits and vegetables, they are highest in tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, radishes, spinach, zucchini, and vegetables in the nightshade family (eggplant, peppers).

While most people can tolerate salicylates, there is some risk of salicylates bioaccumulating over time and causing problems.

Cyanogenic Glycosides

Cyanogenic glycosides are phytotoxins that can be found in at least 2,000 species of plants. Cassava, sorghum, stone fruits (peaches, cherries, etc.), bamboo roots, and almonds all contain high levels. 

Eating foods high in CGs can be potentially toxic and even deadly. When you take a bite of a cherry, the glycosides in the cherry mix with an activating enzyme to create hydrogen cyanide–that’s right, it’s poison. Our bodies can detox low levels of cyanide, but higher doses can block cellular respiration, suffocate mitochondria, and even be fatal.

In humans, symptoms of acute cyanide intoxication can include: rapid respiration, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, headache, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, mental confusion, twitching, and convulsions followed by terminal coma.

Cassava, a root vegetable, and bamboo are staple foods in many tropical countries. Both must be adequately processed prior to consumption. If either is eaten raw or after inadequate processing, they can be toxic.  

Not surprisingly, in poorer countries where cassava is less likely to be processed correctly or fully, and where diets are protein deficient, poisonings and neurologic diseases such as konzo and certain paralysis conditions are widespread. 

Trypsin Inhibitors (TI)

When you eat food, enzymes break down the larger molecules of protein, carbohydrates, and fats into absorbable forms. A trypsin inhibitor, or TI, is a protein that blocks the ability of the enzyme trypsin to do its job breaking down proteins. TIs can be classified under the broader category of “Protease Inhibitors,” which disrupt protein digestion.

TIs are found in high levels in raw soybeans, which is why humans should never eat them. The good news is that cooking soybeans renders most of the TI inactive, but it also can damage essential amino acids in the soy, making it difficult to digest. Food manufacturers have the delicate balancing act of cooking soybeans enough to reduce the antinutrients like TIs, but not so much as to damage the amino acids. 

Isoflavones and Phytoestrogens 

Isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens that mimic the structure of the female hormone, estrogen. 

Soybeans and soy products are the richest sources of isoflavones in the human diet. Legumes and herbs like red clover and alfalfa also contain high levels. 

Because isoflavones are chemically very similar to estradiol, they can confuse our endocrine system leading to reduced testosterone and increased estrogen. Evidence from animal studies suggests that isoflavones can interfere with fertility by reducing sperm quality.

Clover Disease

The discovery of “clover disease” illustrates the dramatic effects of phytomimcry. In the 1940s animal scientists found that sheep grazing in fields of subterranean red clover developed infertility that caused lambing rates to drop by 60%–80%. 

The clover species the sheep were eating contained hormonally active phytochemicals (HAPs), particularly phytoestrogens. Researchers found that ewes affected by clover disease developed mammary gland hypertrophy, infertility, and cervical deformities preventing conception including prolapsed uterus.

In human studies, babies who are fed soy formulas have up to 500 times more isoflavones in their system. Researchers found that infant girls who were fed soy formula versus cow-milk formula displayed larger wombs and vaginal cell changes. Other research shows that infant girls fed soy formula are more likely to develop severe menstrual pain as young adults.

In light of these studies, women planning to get pregnant, or who are formula-feeding infants should consider the effects of phytoestrogens in soy. 


Animals who eat plant parts high in certain photosensitizing chemicals can develop painful sensitivity to light. In humans, the effects of eating photosensitizers show up as photodermatitis, where people’s skin reacts to UV light. Symptoms include red itchy rashes, swelling, difficulty breathing,  burning sensations, and peeling skin.  

Some of the most likely culprits in the fruit and vegetable kingdom include celery, citrus (especially limes), parsley, and parsnips. In fact, some people even refer to photodermatitis as “Lime Disease” not to be confused with unrelated Lyme Disease.

Carbohydrate (AKA Sugar of any type)

Most people think of plant-based food sources as “healthy” carbs. But our body can’t tell the difference between a candy bar, kale, or an apple. Sure kale may have a few extra nutrients in it, but a majority of it gets broken down into, you guessed it, sugar. 

Every carb we eat, from lettuce to a lollipop, is eventually broken down into basic sugar. The body processes them all the same way by delivering a portion of these sugars to our bloodstream while sending the excess to the liver where it’s converted into fat.

Your liver can make all the glucose it needs from just about anything—protein, fat, or carbs. Contrary to what many people think, sugar/carbohydrates are a nonessential part of our diet. 

If you’re eating the standard American diet, you’re consuming 70% carbs, around 20% protein, and 10% fat. Those carbs, whether from grains, vegetables, or fruits, are aiming a steady stream of glucose through your whole body, damaging your cells and producing inflammation.


One of the ways glucose damages cells is by a process called glycation–the binding of glucose to every nook and cranny in our bodies. This binding leads to fermentation in the cytoplasm of certain cell lines that can cause tumors and other cancerous cell growth.

Eating lots of glucose is like carpet bombing your cells with sugar. The sugar molecules glom onto your fats and proteins. This creates  “advanced glycation end products,” shortened appropriately to AGEs.  It’s important to note that not all glycation is bad. At healthy levels, it’s a necessary metabolic process. But dumping excessive carbs into your system creates damage and inflammation.  

We’ve learned most of what we know about glycation by studying diabetics. High blood sugar in diabetics damages connective-tissue and creates chronic inflammation. In healthy people, glycation causes the same types of cell and tissue damage, only at a more insidious pace. 

Not surprisingly, there are a host of studies that demonstrate that sugar is a leading cause of inflammation.

While other studies show that glycation is implicit in many inflammation related health problems including diabetes, hypertension, vascular damage, and dementia.

An eye-opening long-term study in JAMA Internal Medicine found an association between high-sugar diets and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

You’ve probably heard of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and thought, what’s the difference? While they’re both fatty acids and essential to our health, they play opposite roles in our immune system.  

Both omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids produce hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids that tell the body to increase or decrease inflammation. Omega 3s produce hormonal messages that decrease inflammation, while Omega 6s send messages that increase inflammation.  Though both responses are critical to our health, it’s critical for them to be balanced. 

We need inflammation to protect to heal cuts and scrapes, fight infection, and repair tissue. But when the ratio of Omega 6s to Omega 3s gets out of balance, inflammation persists at a chronic systemic level leading to autoimmune disease and disorders including IBS, joint pain, and infertility.

Humans evolved on a diet that contained balanced amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. However, due to the affordability and widespread presence of corn, soybean, and vegetable oils, our consumption of pro-inflammatory omega 6s is now 10-20 times greater than our consumption of Omega 3s.

Research has shown that the much higher omega 6 to 3 ratio is implicit in heart disease , cancer, and neurologic problems like depression, aggression, violent behavior, and anxiety. When considering that our brains are mainly composed of fat, these neurological consequences aren’t too surprising.

Human Exposure to Plant Toxins and Antinutrients Over time

Prior to the Agricultural Revolution, humans only ate small amounts of plants and subsisted mainly on a carnivorous diet.  There was no such thing as corn, wheat, and rice. 

Scavenging and hunting meat–particularly nutrient-dense bone marrow, fat, and organ meats–fueled the evolution of our brains. 90,000 years ago at the height of the paleolithic period, our brains were the largest they have ever been. Then, after remaining consistent in size for about 60,000 years, the human brain gradually shrank for over a period of 20,000 years.  Over the last 10,000 years, our brains have undergone a rapid shrinking. 

This rapid shrinkage coincided with the dawn of agriculture and our dramatic shift in diet. For the first time humans began subsisting on a limited variety of high-carb plants. Crops like wheat and corn are less dense in energy, and deficient in vitamins and minerals compared to meat. By eating seeds and stalks, humanity has been exposed itself to loads of natural plant toxins. Human health has been on the decline ever since.

Many studies link the standard American diet to acne, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer’s. The consumption of processed, plant-based foods has been a major driver of chronic disease. 

Dr. Kiltz’s Bottom Line on Plant Toxins and Antinutrients

Though the mainstream nutritional establishment insists that fruits and vegetables are the ultimate health food, in reality, plants are filled with harmful, naturally occurring toxins and antinutrients. Furthermore, when it comes to nutrition, animal sources like liver, and red meat, far outpace even the most nutritious plants. And animal-based foods contain virtually zero toxins.

Like humans and other living creatures, plants are evolved to accomplish one goal, and that’s to survive and reproduce. Plants developed toxins and antinutrients to protective themselves from various threats, including fungus, bacterias, and human beings.

When people consume these sophisticated chemical defenses they can lead to various diseases and disorders including hormonal imbalances, chronic inflammation, and cognitive impairment. Though everyone is vulnerable to plant toxins, many people have acute sensitivities. 

The good news is that minimizing your exposure to these harmful chemicals is incredibly easy. Simply limit your consumption of certain plants, and shift your diet to include more whole, animal-based foods as much as possible.