Pursuit of Truth requires being and listening, rather than doing and assuming; and slowing down rather than speeding up. You must cultivate Truth. The great Eclectic School of Medicine of the early 1900’s had a Motto, which I stand by today. It read: “To Love the Truth, To Prove the Truth, To Apply the Truth, and To Promote the Truth.”

In today’s times, the term “evidence based medicine” is often used and in the past decade has been readily adopted largely by the naturopathic field when speaking in the context of plant-based medicines (the primary “toolbox” of wholistic practitioners) in an effort to gain more acceptance through applying equally high standards of “safety and validity” to those of conventional medicine. However, this is often far from what can be called “truth” since the motive behind clinical research is not to prove “truth” but to have a drug or device approved by the FDA. The problem with using “evidence based medicine” exclusively, rather than “evidence informed medicine”, which I prefer, is that the term originated from the randomized controlled trial research paradigm used to study drugs. Such clinical studies are set up specifically in a reductionist method, removing all variables, which is essential for a drug.

Unfortunately, this method is not applicable to a whole-systems approach where we are constantly personalizing and adapting treatment protocols to the individual, altering that protocol as the circumstances change, as well as using plants, which are pleotropic in their effects. Therefore, while there is a tremendous scientific basis for the therapeutic benefits of plants and nutrients in healing, they tend to not be studied in the most widely-accepted, gold standard, rigorous method designed for drugs, yet that does not make them any less valid or “evidence based” in my opinion. In other words, “evidence based medicine” doesn’t always mean it is the right medicine or the best medicine and we need to look beyond and apply a multitude of lenses to discover this (ie; truth).

Over the past two decades I have spent an average of two hours a day compiling research data on botanical and nutritional medicines. I combine this valuable, credible data with my vast knowledge of historical uses and indications, coupled with three decades of clinical experience, to develop safe, effective, and therapeutic protocols that produce results.

Second, much of what is approved as “truth” in the medical arena—including pharmaceutical drugs and various treatments—actually has little validity and can be more detrimental than doing nothing. The attempt to gain approval of a drug, device, or treatment method is not a pursuit of truth, but unfortunately, is often driven by self -interest, and lacks the necessary ingredient of wisdom.

When it comes to postulating truths about herbal and dietary medicine, the medical establishment is not only frequently incorrect and dogmatic, but often maintains a position that is opposite to the truth, especially when it comes to herbs. Examples of this include “Don’t take herbs prior to surgery, because they are blood thinners and will inhibit clotting,” or “Don’t take echinacea if you have a blood cancer, such as leukemia, because it could stimulate the growth of leukemia cells.” Misinformation is rampant, and the internet has exacerbated the problem. For this reason, I recommend against searching for information on the internet about herbs and cancer or diet and cancer. There is an abundance of bad information and a lack of wisdom and integrity to guide you towards the truth.

What is Wisdom?
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge” – Daniel Boorstein

Wisdom involves an understanding of the nature, source, and limits of knowledge, together with the degree to which we are able to “teotl” (to understand with the Divine Spirit, taken from the Aztec religion).

1 “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” said Albert Einstein. For Einstein, insight did not come from logic or mathematics. It came, as it does for artists, from intuition and inspiration. Einstein also said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

Truth involves a willingness to accept that the natural and the supernatural coexist. But this is not the way of modern conventional medicine. As a result, the medical profession is painfully shortsighted and makes egregious errors, including making proclamations about health that prove to be incorrect.

The Dangerous Assumptions of Modern Medicine
“It seemed to me that a careful examination of the room and the lawn might possibly reveal some traces of this mysterious individual. You know my methods, Watson. There was not one of them, which I did not apply to the inquiry. And it ended by my discovering traces, but very different ones from those which I had expected.” – The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)

When I was five years old, my mother was told, if they removed my tonsils, it would improve my health and reduce the incidence of sore throats and infections. It wasn’t too many years later that the standard-of-care regarding prophylactic removal of the tonsils was stopped, and the tonsils were recognized as an important part of the immune system. But it was too late for me, and for millions of other children who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.

Other examples of non-truths we have been led to believe are, “Eggs and butter contain cholesterol, so to avoid heart disease don’t eat them, but instead eat vegetable margarine.” “Foods that contain natural vitamin K such as fruits and vegetables should be avoided when taking Coumadin (warfarin).” “Nonfat milk products, such as yogurt, milk and cheese, are healthier for you than whole dairy products.” “Avoid all soy foods including traditional soy foods if you have or have had breast cancer.” The list goes on and on.

I am continually appalled by how much of modern medicine is not based in truth, and worse, is accepted without any evidence. For example, not so long ago, if you had a small hormonal positive breast cancer, the standard-of-care was a mastectomy with lymph node dissection, with a full course of high dose chemotherapy that included three agents, followed by tamoxifen therapy, regardless of your age. No one questioned this practice, or asked for evidence demonstrating that the protocol significantly enhanced life or improved quality-of-life. The sad truth is that the accepted protocol did not benefit the vast majority of women. A small percentage of women were helped, but many others were irreparably damaged by the treatment, and would have been better off with no treatment except for hormone inhibition.

Yet herbal medicine, used for thousands of years and documented in countless historical medical textbooks, folklore, and in many cases re-validated by modern medicine, is falsely accused of not being “evidence based.”

An Alternative View: Logical Positivism
One of my dissatisfactions with conventional medicine and traditional alternative medicine is the closed-mindedness of both. In the pursuit of truth, we must seek open-mindedness. Conventional medicine encompasses an inherently restricted set of categories and paradigms for understanding patients and diseases. But given that no single method is suitable for all patients, problems, and situations, this approach is far from optimal.

I propose logical positivism as an alternative to the current dogmatic, narrow view of modern conventional medicine. Logical positivism is spiritual-rationality in the most pristine form. It is considered culturally universal in traditional healing systems, and incorporates traditional wisdom, scientific knowledge, logic, intuition, and prayer, making it applicable to all modalities and situations.

Logical positivism is something I fully embrace and have incorporated into the foundation of my approach. Mederi Care, more formally known as the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System (ETMS), is not a combination of “bits and pieces” from different systems trying to find synergy or integration, but rather a unified approach driven by extensive research and clinical application.

Embracing the Eclectic: The ETMS
The word eclectic implies a philosophical integration of several distinct styles or approaches to form the most favorable perspective. A central characteristic of the ETMS is the commitment to examining whatever techniques work in therapy, regardless of the different theories that spawned them. Eclecticism, the root word of ETMS, is the opposite of closed-mindedness, because it pulls together a number of theories and systems, old and new, into a harmonious model of health and healing. The ETMS offers a much more comprehensive approach than any single theory alone.

The ETMS is unique in that it applies medical scientific rigor, creativity, intuition, and prayer to the practice of medicine and individual patient care. In developing the paradigm of the ETMS, I have been greatly influenced by Albert Einstein as well as the great jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane (who was also fascinated by Einstein).


Coltrane and Einstein both honed their gifts of intuition; the first, to create unequalled jazz; the second, to transform our understanding of the universe by transcending mathematical limitations with intuition. Einstein improvised using what he called gedankenexperiments (German for thought experiments), which provided him with a mental picture of the outcome of experiments no one could perform. On the one hand, Einstein used mathematical rigor; on the other, creativity and intuition. Similarly, Coltrane merged his brilliant musicianship with creativity and intuition to take jazz in an entirely new direction.

Mederi Care: Strategies and Challenges
A cornerstone of the ETMS is the focus of gentle health-promoting herbal and dietary medicine that assists the innate healing capacity of the body and enhances all auto-regulatory systems. The ETMS proposes that a healthy system is one that self-regulates in the face of network perturbations. This type of humble medicine is as important as the highly selective targeted molecular therapies that are widely promoted as the pinnacle of modern medicine. In fact, the ETMS approach integrates well with targeted molecular therapies. Unfortunately, many conventional medical practitioners fail to recognize the value of supporting the body’s intrinsic healing ability.

For example, confronting cancer requires combining multiple influences and interrelationship dynamics into a comprehensive strategy. Instead of focusing on a single root cause, the ETMS addresses the spectrum of root causes to create a unified, multi-focused protocol that combines ‘gentle-macro’ medicine with appropriate ‘strong-micro’ medicine, all tailored to the individual. Success is measured by outcome, quality of life, and health care costs, which are the most important parameters.

The Unique Intelligence of the Plant Kingdom
One of the cornerstones of the ETMS is botanical medicine. In contrast, modern conventional medicine often overlooks the plant world. We take plants for granted, and yet, they nourish us, purify our air, and offer remedies for our ills.

According to the criteria of Aristotle, plants actually might have a soul.

3 Plants eat, drink, sleep, communicate, sense, heal, respond, move (albeit slowly), adapt, protect, and not only survive, but thrive even in the harshest of environments.
Plants have a Life Force, just as we do. Traditional herbal medicine and the ETMS are directed towards gentle enhancement of the Life Force, and plants are our companions in this journey.

The Eclectic Physicians referred to the Life Force as the “Vis conservatrix” which was described as vitality, vital powers, and conservative power. They believed the most effective therapeutic change is one that accesses and supports the individual’s innate capacity to heal, and practiced according to their motto, “Sustain the Life Force.”

The foundation of the ETMS is to support and enhance the Life Force. Through various toolboxes, the ETMS not only addresses the molecular complexity of a particular disease, leading to the identification of disease characteristics and pathways, but also the molecular relationships among apparently distinct (patho) phenotypes, the microenvironment, and of utmost importance, the host.

Purity of Heart and the Pursuit of Truth
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – John Wooden

John Wooden is perhaps the greatest basketball coach ever. He was also a great wise teacher and guru to many of us. He exuded intelligence and class, and he is an inspiration for many of us who try hard to instill the concept of teamwork, honesty and fairness in our work and in our life.

In seeking Truth, we must have Purity of Heart, which enables Clear Thinking (Wisdom), Capacity to Reason (Intelligence), the Insight of Truth (Understanding), and the Harvest of Good. The greater our purity of heart, the greater is our ability to find truth.

To understand means to find harmony between the idea (arising from above, in communion with the Divine), and the reflection below, the manifestation of the idea. In other words “as above, so below.” There must be a connecting link between the object and the subject, the knowing (what can be explained and understood) and the unknowing (what cannot be entirely explained or understood). We must be not only willing to be open to this concept, but see it as essential to understanding truth and the ultimate pursuit of healing.

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I rarely question any food that much of the world has been using for thousands of years. Eventually, science confirms the health benefits of foods and medicines of traditional cultures, and I believe that holds true for coconut. However, a food that is used liberally in one culture does not necessarily mean that the health benefits transfer to other cultures—we must take into consideration climate, other dietary factors, genetics, and lifestyle.

Coconut halves with shell on a dark background. Top view with copyspace

Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) grows near the equator, and is a staple for people who live in areas that are hot and sunny all year round. All parts of the coconut tree are used in the daily life of people in traditional coconut growing areas, and the coconut itself (which is actually a fruit, nut, and seed) is especially valued for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. Coconuts offer coconut water, coconut flesh, coconut milk, and coconut oil produced from the kernel. The shell, husk, and leaves are also used for creating a variety of household and decorative items.

As beneficial as coconuts and coconut oil appear to be for people living in a hot, tropical climate, coconut is not appropriate as a dietary staple for someone living in a cold climate. Coconut oil is 92 percent saturated, and is liquid in the tropics but a solid fat in northern climes. (There’s a botanical reason—the increased saturation of the oil helps to maintain stiffness in the plant leaves. Foods in different climate zones have different fatty acid profiles to help them adapt and thrive.) Because coconut oil is so highly saturated, it is very stable in hot weather and when used for cooking at higher temperatures, unlike polyunsaturated fats, which oxidize at high temperatures.

I do not recommend heavy use of coconut oil or other coconut foods for daily use or as a “health supplement”, unless you live in the tropics and adopt the traditional lifestyle of the cultures that live there. Nature is our best teacher, and the healthiest approach is to eat foods that grow in our climate because those best meet our needs. At the same time, I believe that it is beneficial to vary our diets according to the season, as well as eating in accordance with our genetic heritage, locale, and climate. For example, I recommend coconut in the summer, and walnuts in the fall—but always, I advise moderation.

Why is Coconut Controversial?

Much of the confusion and negative press about coconut relates to its saturated fat content. It’s true that coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fats—almost 90 percent of its fatty acids are saturated. But as I have stated on many occasions, it is refined oxidative polyunsaturated trans-fats that are problematic, not saturated fats.

In the 1950’s, coconut oil was frequently used in America for frying and baking. It was excellent for both purposes (and highly stable), but the popularity of coconut oil came to a sudden halt when studies reported that saturated fats cause high triglyceride levels. The conclusion was that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels, and the U.S. Government adopted new dietary guidelines stating that all saturated fats, including coconut oil, contribute to heart disease and strongly recommended that these fats be avoided.

Unfortunately, partially hydrogenated vegetable shortenings took the place of coconut oil, with disastrous health effects that have come to light in recent years. The trans fats contained in partially hydrogenated fats have been clearly linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases, and the government now recommends that we avoid trans fats—a recommendation that I wholeheartedly agree with.

It’s important to note that the type of saturated fat contained in coconut oil is different from that found in meat or dairy products. Whereas most saturated fats are comprised of long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil is unusually rich in short and medium chain fatty acids. Shorter chain length allows fatty acids to be metabolized without use of the carnitine transport system. This means the fatty acids in coconut go directly to the liver, where they are used as an immediate source of energy, or are transformed into ketones, which may be beneficial in brain and nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional Health Benefits of Coconut

The coconut kernel and young coconut water have numerous medicinal properties, including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antidermatophytic, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective, and immunostimulant. Coconut water and coconut kernel also contain numerous health supportive microminerals and nutrients. For these reasons, in Indian classics, the coconut palm is referred to as ‘Kalpavriksha’ (the all giving tree).1

Studies show that coconut has antioxidant properties; reduces inflammation; protects liver function during chemotherapy; and in certain forms, even improves lipid profiles (despite its high saturated fat content).

Lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut fat, has significant antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal properties, while caprilic acid is widely known as an antifungal agent.

Drinking fresh coconut milk, particularly from the young green coconut, is an excellent way to prevent both dysentery and dehydration when traveling in tropical countries.

The health benefits of coconut are substantial. However, as with most things, I believe in practicing moderation when consuming coconut milk, coconut oil, and other coconut products.

I use (and recommend) extra virgin olive oil for low to medium heat cooking and for salad dressing. For high heat cooking, and often for baking, I use coconut oil. In my morning smoothies, I add 1-2 ounces of coconut milk or coconut milk powder, and coconut water. I occasionally use high-oleic sunflower oil in cooking if a light, neutral flavor is most appropriate.

Recent Published Scientific Studies Supporting the Health Benefits of Coconut

  • Antioxidant and Stress Protective Properties of Coconut Oil

Medium-chain fatty acids have been shown to have antidepressant effects. However, this effect had not been studied in virgin coconut oil (VCO), which is rich in polyphenols and medium-chain fatty acids. In a 2015 study, researchers found that laboratory mice treated with VCO exhibited higher levels of brain antioxidants and reduced physiological stress (measured by serum cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and corticosterone levels) when subjected to a forced swim test and cold temperatures. The results suggest the potential value of VCO as an antistress functional oil.2

  • VirginCoconut OilProtects Against Chemotherapy (Methotrexate)-Induced Liver Damage

Methotrexate (MTX) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat cancer of the breast, skin, head and neck, or lung. It is also used to treat severe psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. The drug can cause life-threatening side effects, including liver damage. In a laboratory study, researchers found that supplementing with virgin coconut oil (VCO) prior to methotrexate administration lessened liver injury and oxidative stress, evidenced by significant improvements in serum liver markers, hepatic antioxidant enzymes and malondialdehyde, a lipid peroxidation marker. The researchers suggest that the findings may have beneficial application in the management of hepatotoxicity associated with MTX cancer therapy.3

  • Coconut Oil: Body Composition, Lipids, and Inflammatory Markers in Postmenopausal Women

A number of studies indicate that including coconut oil in the diet can alter body composition in a beneficial way, helping people lose weight and particularly, aiding in reducing abdominal fat.

Researchers studied postmenopausal women who consumed either 30 mL of virgin coconut oil (VCO) or safflower oil (SO) to determine the effects on blood lipids. They found that although VCO raised total cholesterol, it also increased protective high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL). The researchers concluded that women who wish to use coconut oil in their diets can do so safely.4

  • Coconut Oil and Cardiovascular Health

Coconut oil has been heavily promoted in the popular press as being beneficial for cardiovascular health. The results of this scientific review support my assertion that the most healthful way to use coconut is in moderation.

Twenty-one research papers were identified for inclusion in the review: 8 clinical trials and 13 observational studies. The majority examined the effect of coconut oil or coconut products on serum lipid profiles. Coconut oil generally raised total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to a greater extent than cis unsaturated plant oils, but to a lesser extent than butter. The effect of coconut consumption on the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was often not examined.

Observational evidence suggests that consumption of coconut flesh or squeezed coconut in the context of traditional dietary patterns does not lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. However, due to large differences in dietary and lifestyle patterns, these findings cannot be applied to a typical Western diet. Overall, the weight of the evidence from intervention studies to date suggests that replacing coconut oil with unsaturated fats would alter blood lipid profiles in a manner consistent with a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.5

  • Coconut Flakes Improve Lipid Profiles

In contrast to coconut oil, coconut flakes have been shown to improve serum cholesterol levels. In a clinical study, researchers investigated the effects of coconut flakes on 21 subjects with moderately raised serum cholesterol (ranging from 259 to 283 mg/dL).

Researchers tested corn flakes as the control food, oat bran flakes as the reference food, and corn flakes containing 15% and 25% dietary fiber made from coconut flakes. Results showed a significant reduction in serum total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol for all test foods, with the exception of corn flakes.

Serum triglycerides were significantly reduced for all test foods.

Coconut flour is a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and both types of fiber may have an important role in the reduction of serum cholesterol.6

  • Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease

Medium chain triglycerides are a direct source of cellular energy, and some studies indicate that coconut oil can be a nonpharmacological alternative to the neuronal death that occurs in Alzheimer patients.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of coconut oil in the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. Participants were given 40/ml day of extra virgin coconut oil, and results were evaluated using cognitive testing and compared to a control group. The findings indicated that subjects taking the coconut oil showed an improvement in cognitive status. Those benefiting the most were women, those without type-2 diabetes, and those with more severe disease.7

~Two of My Favorite Recipes Using Coconut~

Coconut-Lime Broiled Tempeh

unnamedI created this recipe several years ago, and our family enjoys it at least a couple of times a month. Toasted sesame oil adds a rich, nutty flavor, while   coconut oil, lime, and cilantro add and Indonesian flair to the dish. This is delicious served over steamed brown basmati or black rice. Serves 4.









  • Juice from 2 limes, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated lime peel
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. tamari
  • 2-3 minced cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp. fresh sliced ginger
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Dash of ground pepper (black and/or crushed red pepper)
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp. Za’atar, 1 tsp. dried cumin powder
  • 1 12-ounce package tempeh


  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Additional Seasoning Added at End of Baking Time:

  • 2-4 oz coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp. red curry paste


  1. Combine all ingredients (through tempeh) in a glass baking dish, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Transfer tempeh, vegetables, and sauce to heavy broiling pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. At end of baking time, add coconut milk and curry paste and finish by broiling for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over black or brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Easy Coconut Whipped Cream

An easy, dairy-free alternative to traditional whipped cream! Author:









  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled (cream only)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Chill a pint glass canning jar for at least 10 minutes in the freezer. Remove the chilled can of coconut milk from the refrigerator.
  3. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the thickened cream into the chilled canning jar. Reserve the remaining coconut liquid for a smoothie.
  4. Add the pure maple syrup and vanilla extract to the heavy coconut cream, then screw the lid onto the canning jar. Shake vigorously for 3-5 minutes, until the cream is thickened and fluffy in texture.
  5. Serve immediately over your favorite fruit or dessert.


  1. DebMandal M1Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in healthpromotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Mar;4(3):241-7. doi: 10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60078-3. Epub 2011 Apr 12.
  2. Swee Keong Yeap, Boon Kee Beh, Norlaily Mohd Ali, etc. Antistress and antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil in vivo, Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 2015 9: 39-42.
  3. Famurewa AC, Ufebe OG, Egedigwe CA, et al. Virgin coconut oilsupplementation attenuates acute chemotherapy hepatotoxicity induced by anticancer drug methotrexate via inhibition of oxidative stress in rats. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Mar;87:437-442. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2016.12.123. Epub 2017 Jan 6.
  4. Harris M, Hutchins A, Fryda L. The Impact of Virgin Coconut Oiland High-Oleic Safflower Oil on Body Composition, Lipids, and Inflammatory Markers in Postmenopausal Women. J Med Food. 2017 Apr;20(4):345-351. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2016.0114. Epub 2017 Mar 9.
  5. Eyres L, Eyres M, Chisholm A, Brown R. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans, Nutr Rev. 2016 Apr;74(4):267-80, doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuw002
  6. Trinidad TP, Loyola AS, Mallillin AC, et al. The cholesterol-lowering effect of coconut flakes in humans with moderately raised serum cholesterol. J Med Food.  2004 Summer;7(2):136-40.
  7. Hu Yang I, De la Rubia Ortí JE, Selvi Sabater P, et al. Coconut Oil: Non-Alternative Drug Treatment Against Alheimer’s Disease. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Dec 1;32(6):2822-7. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.6.9707.

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We hear so much about the negative effects of sugar—from obesity to tooth decay to cancer—it might surprise you to learn that sugar has some unique beneficial properties. It’s important to understand that not all sugars are created equal. If you want to reap the health benefits of sugar, it must be truly unrefined raw sugar.

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I’m often asked what I consider to be the healthiest diet. Through decades of nutritional research and experimentation, I’m convinced that a diet of primarily organic, plant-based Mediterranean foods—including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy products (cow, goat and sheep milk derived) and healthy fats (mostly olive oil), with fish and seafood playing a key role as a main protein source—is by far the best diet for long term health. The term “pesca-flexa-vegetarian” comes closest to describing the diet that my family and I eat.

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In my last post, I broadly discussed the exciting field of epigenetics, which is radically changing the landscape of what we’ve long believed about genetics and biological destiny. Emerging research shows that food and herbs may be the most important factors in our genetic well-being, directly affecting our health, disease risk, and longevity.

As a clinical herbalist, I find the relationship between herbs and epigenetics particularly compelling. A large body of research shows that a wide array of botanical compounds work in a variety of ways to maintain health at the cellular level, and offer great promise in improving our molecular expression, protecting against cellular stressors and aging by normalizing gene behavior. We cannot change the genes we have, but we can positively alter the fate and behavior of our genes by supplying them with beneficial herbal and dietary compounds.

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The science of epigenetics is turning what we’ve long held true about biological destiny upside down. Although it remains true that our DNA—our genetic code—provides the blueprint for our physiological makeup, researchers have discovered that there’s something extra controlling our genes—and food and herbs may in fact be the most important factors in our genetic well-being.

That extra “something” controlling our genes is the epigenome, the cellular material that sits on top of the genome (the complete set of genetic material present in a cell or organism). While epigenomes do not alter the genetic code, they direct genes to switch on (becoming active) or off (becoming dormant) through a variety of biological mechanisms. This intriguing finding means that your genetic heritage is not the primary determinant of your health, disease risk, or longevity.

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