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The book of Matthew in the Bible reads: “Therefore do not worry saying, What shall we eat? What shall we drink?” So you can see, the question of what to eat has been with us for a long time. I have tried to discern which diet will be the best to optimize health for each one of the nearly 10,000 patients I’ve seen. At first, I put patients on my diet, which at that time was a vegetarian macrobiotic diet, and to my amazement some people felt worse and gained unwanted weight. So I started doing a type of pulse testing to see which of the many nutritional regimens were best for that individual.

No one diet works well for everyone, because all bodies are different. But there are foods that are healthy for most people and others that are almost universally stressful on the system.

In general it is best to use the majority of foods found in the perimeter of the store and the bulk section, avoiding most of the processed foods found in the center of the store. Fresh vegetables and fruits can be almost half the diet for many people.

Without being tested, you can experiment on yourself to find out which proteins are best for you. Some people need animal proteins such as wild fish, naturally raised poultry, eggs and red meat eaten more occasionally, such as grass-fed beef or buffalo. From my experience, pork appears to be a problem for almost everyone. Others thrive on beans, seeds and nuts for protein, and an even smaller percentage can digest soy. You have to see how your digestion and clarity of mind feels after eating different foods. In general, people with type A blood can consume a more vegetarian diet, while people with type O blood do better with animal protein.

It seems that people cannot handle as much grain as they could in the past. Some people, especially if they are overweight, should avoid grains altogether, while others can have a smaller amount of grains, especially quinoa, buckwheat and millet. Twenty years ago, people could handle 40 percent of their diet as grains; now it is more like 20 percent. Many are now sensitive to gluten in general, like wheat, spelt, rye, oats and barley, while for others their sensitivity is to wheat or corn exclusively. Unfortunately, much of the rice is contaminated with arsenic and cannot be eaten too often. Rice grown in the Southern U.S. has some of the highest levels of arsenic, while basmati from California, India and Pakistan has the lowest.

Sweeteners also are not well tolerated by most people. Some can handle a small amount of honey, maple or rice syrup, but sugar or “cane juice” should be avoided. Stevia has no calories and is well tolerated by most people if used in minute doses. But don’t over do it, for you don’t want your tastebuds to expect that everything has to taste so sweet.

The best oils are usually coconut and olive oil. The most harmful oils are canola, corn and soy. If you just totally avoid canola oil and cane sugar and wheat, then the majority of packaged foods in the middle of the store will be eliminated. Although most vegetables are good for you, the commonly used nightshade vegetables — tomato, potato and peppers — should be minimized and not eaten more than 2 times a week for many people. If you have joint inflammation or arthritis, try cutting out the nightshade vegetables completely.

Fermented foods are very important for intestinal health and can often replace the need for an expensive probiotic pill. The best source is fermented vegetable or sauerkrauts that need refrigeration, as well as miso, kombucha and kimchi. Many people will feel better off dairy products, and the best tolerated dairy products are kefir, especially goat kefir and sometimes yogurt. Goat cheese is more digestible than cow cheese for many people.

Although fruit is often considered healthy, it does have naturally occurring sugars and should not be a large part of the diet. The healthiest for people living in the Northern hemisphere are berries, pears, apples, cherries and plums, and it’s best to minimize tropical fruits that can’t grow in the region, such as banana, mango and pineapple. However, a half lemon in water in the morning is a good way to cleanse the liver, even though it is tropical in origin.

There are few foods that seem to be beneficial for most people: 2-3 teaspoons of ground flax seeds a day, 2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil a day, and kale, which can also be enjoyed as kale chips, miso soup, and sauerkraut. Fish oil is helpful for most people, but you can get this through eating sardines or herring, as well. Coffee and chocolate can be problematic for many people and if you can’t live without, it does not mean that it is good for you.

If you don’t have an alternative practitioner who can test you for a custom diet, try to eat simply for a few days. Eat mostly vegetables, northern fruits, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, fish, poultry, sauerkraut, lemon water, flax seeds, and drink spring or reverse osmosis filtered water. Avoid soy, tomato, potato, sweeteners, wheat and gluten, corn, dairy, peanuts, and tap water. After two weeks or so, try adding back the foods you were avoiding one at a time and just notice how you feel a few hours after eating them. Are you tired, bloated, foggy headed, gassy, achy or are you focused, energized, clear headed and have no digestive symptoms or cravings.

Dietary changes can be difficult, but if you are suffering it is one of the most important and less expensive ways to make a major shift in your health and functioning. After a short time you will see how these homemade natural foods taste delicious and can help you to thrive in your life.

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Warren King
Warren King has been practicing Natural and Oriental Medicine for 24 years and has treated over 9,000 patients. He tries to always work on the root causes of health issues and has recently been focusing on brain and nervous system issues such as depression and anxiety. His new book, Love Your Organs, Love Yourself, is a beautiful way to learn to take care of your organs from an Oriental Medicine perspective. He has a practice in Minnetonka and can be reached at 952.930.3575 or at warrenking.com.

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