By Dr. Mercola
In this video, originally aired on public television earlier this year, I highlight some of the foundational basics of effortless healing. Effortless Healing is also the name of my latest book, in which I compiled the best of the expert information I’ve learned and shared on this website over the past two decades.
For those of you who missed the book, this article will provide some basic guidance on simple and inexpensive ways to improve your health.
Contrary to the impression you get when listening to the drug advertisements on TV, your body is by nature designed to move toward health, and away from disease.
But to do so you need to provide it with the right lifestyle ingredients it needs to heal and thrive. And drugs are not on that list. The simple truth is, most disease is rooted in poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.
Unfortunately, most physicians are taught very little about the use of food for healing when they're in medical school, and many never take the time to learn even the most basic nutritional principles.
This is why most conventional doctors cannot guide you in nutritional healing, and why many are outright suspicious about claims that food can heal.
Exercise is another critical component of health, and studies have shown exercise to be as effective a treatment as many drugs, including antidepressants and medications for prediabetes and heart disease.
Statistically, Sickness Is More Prevalent Than Wellness
Statistically speaking, you’re far more likely to be some level of sick than you are being healthy. For starters, nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug for a chronic or other medical condition, with antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioids topping the list.
Other signs indicating that sickness has become is the prevailing norm include the following statistics:
- Obesity rates are on the rise, and one in five deaths is now linked to obesity.
- We are in the midst of a worldwide diabetes epidemic. In the US, more than 86 million adults age 20 and over have prediabetes.1
Of that number, nearly 30 million already have type 2 diabetes — a statistic researchers predicted in 2001 wouldn’t be reached until 2050.2
Diabetes has increased over 300 percent in just 15 years,3 and all told, nearly ONE-THIRD of the 320 million people living in America today have either prediabetes or some form of diabetes.4
- One in eight Americans aged 65 and over currently have Alzheimer's, and that number is expected to rise to one in four within the next 20 years.
At present, more than half a million Americans die from Alzheimer's disease each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.
- Cancer rates are projected to rise 57 percent in the next 20 years, with 13 million people dying from cancer each year.
- Over half of the US population has at least one clinically diagnosable allergy, and allergies and diseases of the immune system have possibly quadrupled in the last few decades.
What’s Really Making You Sick?
Once you become familiar with the ins and outs of nutrition, you begin to realize that virtually every health problem you can think of can be traced back to the diet.
One of the reasons why so many diseases are skyrocketing in prevalence is because of the foods we eat. Most Americans eat a predominantly processed food diet, which virtually guarantees you’ll suffer health problems at some point.
In short, one of the simplest health directives you could ever come across is to just EAT REAL FOOD (whole, unadulterated/unprocessed, and ideally organic), as this automatically eliminates a number of health-harming ingredients from your diet.
Public enemy number one is sugar (all kinds, but in particular refined sugar and processed fructose such as high fructose corn syrup), followed closely by refined grains, as these ingredients cause your insulin level to spike.
Insulin allows your cells to use sugar, but when you eat too much sugar your cells eventually become resistant to the insulin. Insulin resistance, in turn, leads to diabetes and a long list of related health problems and disease.
When you’re insulin resistant, your body will also store rather than burn fat.
As a result, it becomes exceedingly difficult for your body to use stored body fat for energy, and hence weight gain is typically associated with insulin resistance. This is why sugars and grain carbohydrates need to be avoided, as they not only can make you fat, they can make you stay fat. If your fasting insulin level is over 3 or 4, you’re insulin resistant. Other signs and symptoms indicating you fall squarely into this category include:
Carrying excess weight High blood pressure Fasting blood sugar greater than 100 (You may be diagnosed with prediabetes if your glucose is between 100 and 125. Having prediabetes is a risk factor that you may get type 2 diabetes in the future) Less-than-ideal cholesterol ratios Type 2 diabetes Heart disease or cancer
How to Reverse Insulin Resistance
The good news is you can turn insulin resistance around fairly quickly and easily, by following these simple steps:
- Eliminate added sugars and sweeteners from your diet. Keep in mind that most processed foods (anything that comes in a jar, can, bottle, bag, or box) contain added sugars, typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
Fruit juices are also loaded with sugar, so replace them with whole fruit instead. And don’t make the mistake of switching to artificially sweetened “diet” foods and beverages. Research has clearly shown that artificial sweeteners promote insulin resistance and related health problems just like regular sugar does — despite their lack of calories.
The artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame decrease function in pathways associated with the transport of sugar in your body, and can induce both gut dysbiosis and glucose intolerance. Research also shows that artificial sweeteners promote diabetes and weight gain is by disrupting your gut microbiome. Sucralose (Splenda) was found to reduce beneficial gut bacteria by as much as 50 percent!
- Eliminate grains, especially wheat, barley, oats, and rye, as these not only raise your insulin and contribute to insulin resistance, they also contain gluten, which triggers inflammation and can damage your intestines.
Better alternatives include almond meal, buckwheat groats, coconut flour, and sweet potatoes, as they do not have the same impact on your blood sugar as grains, but if you’re truly insulin resistant, or already diabetic, even these alternatives will hamper your body’s ability to heal. Once the clinical signs of insulin resistance have resolved, you can relax your carb restriction
- Replace eliminated carbs with healthy fats like avocado, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, cheese, raw dairy, organic pastured egg yolks, raw nuts, grass-fed meats, and coconut oil.
Sitting Takes a Profound Toll on Your Health
More than 10,000 studies now show that prolonged sitting is devastating to your health. It actively and independently promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, even if you exercise several times a week and are very fit. The sad truth is, you cannot offset 8 to 10 hours of stillness with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, even if you exercise every single day.
The reason for this is because, at the molecular level, the human body was designed to be active all day long. When you stop moving and sit still for extended periods of time, it’s like telling your body to shut down and prepare for death. As soon as you stand up, a number of molecular cascades occur that promote and support healthy biological functioning.
For example, within 90 seconds of standing up, the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol — which are mediated by insulin — are activated. Surprising as it may sound, all of these molecular effects are activated simply by carrying your bodyweight upon your legs. These cellular mechanisms are also responsible for pushing fuels into your cells and, if done regularly, will radically decrease your risk of diabetes and obesity.
So, the remedy is simple: Avoid sitting and get more movement into your life. Ideally, aim to sit less than three hours a day. Also consider walking more, in addition to your exercise regimen. In short, rest is supposed to break up activity — not the other way around. This kind of non-exercise physical movement appears to be really foundational for optimal health, and if you’re currently inactive, this is the place to start, even before you get going on a workout routine.
Effortless Healing Is Possible
In my new NY Times bestselling book, Effortless Healing, I’ve distilled my decades of experience and knowledge of nutritional healing down to nine simple principles that will help you optimize your weight and health by making small, gradual shifts in what you eat and how you live your life. Health is actually not as complicated to obtain and maintain as you might think. It’s really all about distilling it down to the basics, which is what I’ve done in this new book.
It’s a source of timeless advice that can help you take control of your health. One thing’s for sure; your body is remarkably efficient when it comes to healing and regenerating itself, provided you feed it and care for it properly. Besides food, which can rightfully be viewed as medicine, you also need physical activity — both non-exercise movement and more regimented, higher-intensity exercise.
Other healthy lifestyle components include getting sensible sun exposure, and grounding to the Earth. These are lifestyle habits with potent health-promoting potential that cost little to nothing. The same can surely not be said for prescription drugs and conventional medical treatments, so it seems foolish to forgo them.