We are drowning in what I call ?nutritional minutiae. There is an endless stream of breaking news about such and such phytonutrient’s cancer-preventing properties, the latest antioxidant ?discovery? and on and on and on. On top of all that, there is a relentless fuss over pesticides, GMO’s, soy estrogens, and more. And then mainstream nutritionists focus on vitamins and minerals as if that’s the only thing that matters when it comes to health. Oh and then there are enzymes in raw food. Gotta worry about getting my enzymes now. And what type of exercise and how much? And am I spending enough hours in the sun, or too much? And how much mercury is in my fish? And did that cow eat grass or grain, and was that grain GMO or organic and did it get hormone injections, and is my cookware leaching carcinogens into my food or not and?
You can be as neurotic as you like about this spewing information-diarrhea, but if you want results in improving your health from most illnesses, you need, first and foremost above any other philosophies, to become religious about the fundamentals. Then the rest just becomes ?extra credit. And Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., a Santa Barbara, CA based Endocrinologist, lays those fundamentals out in the most clear, concise, and comprehensive format of any author on the topic of human health, period. She is a Jedi of dietary and lifestyle sanity. Pay attention fool.
Schwarzbein’s greatest quote, and one of the greatest and simplest quotes I’ve come across after two solid years of fully immersing myself in the pursuit of health, is, ?food is your friend, so ?gag it down.? One of the greatest hindrances to the achievement of great health and vitality is the widespread notion that we should exercise as much as possible and eat as little as possible, a theme I’ve taken to the absolute extreme and discovered to be abysmally debilitating. Furthermore, as Schwarzbein adds, ?This is especially true when you are hormonally unbalanced or have a damaged metabolism; you need to heal, so you should be eating more often than someone with a healthy metabolism ? even if your unhealthy metabolism has led to a weight problem. Again, this is another theme acknowledged and emphasized on my site ? eat more, and more often, in order to balance your hormones, heal your metabolism and immune system, and reconfigure your body composition to include more lean body tissue and less fat.
Schwarzbein’s understanding of the carbohydrate is also flawless. She never takes the amount too low, even for type II diabetics. She is one of the few that has a balanced, rational perspective on carbohydrates and insulin. Carbohydrates and insulin levels shouldn’t be kept too high or too low, but just right. She points out that someone with a healthy metabolism who is exercising a lot needs to eat more carbohydrates than someone who is overweight and sedentary. This is basic stuff I know, but don’t underestimate the importance of her recommendations. When it comes to other dietary/lifestyle recommendations: ketogenic no carb diets, low-fat diets, month-long fasts, vegan diets, no pain no gain exercise, food combining, alkalinizing diets and more ? I find a saying of my friend Jazzel’s to be well-suited for all of the above, ?Stick a d#@k in your ear and f!%# what you heard!
Many health recommendations that differ with that of Schwarzbein have noticeable benefits for certain people with specific conditions, but in the long run have consequences because they are just plain wrong from a sustainable perspective. You can either embrace her wisdom and take advantage of it for your own benefit, or argue against it due to lack of understanding and suffer consequences down the line. I know of no simpler or more truthful way to state this to you, the reader, who has stumbled upon a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to seize and pursue the recommendations that will afford you the best health and longest life that you can achieve from where you’re at now. You’d be better off eating microwaved Safeway meat and abiding by her ?principles? than eating 100% organic food for every meal for the rest of your life without ever taking the time to heal your metabolism as she recommends. Of this, I am sure. I ruined my health trying to avoid ‘toxins. After a year of following Schwarzbein’s advice I’ve experienced every single benefit that she claims on the front and back covers of her first book, The Schwarzbein Principle and more. This includes:
Disappearance of aches and pains. I’ve been ridden with muscle, joint, and back pain since my late teens. ?A lot of kinks? would be a good way to describe it. Yet they are all gone. I performed rigorous physical labor over the summer and have received no form of alternative health care, bodywork, massage, etc. I suffered a minor back injury, but it healed quickly and completely and is better than ever.
Avoidance of infectious illness, and inability to get sick when following the tenets for keeping the body in balance. I purposefully made it a point to surround myself with as many germs as possible to test this, including eating raw supermarket pork and whole raw chickens, sharing food with people who are sick, intentionally using poor hygiene in the kitchen, and drinking hundreds of gallons of untreated river water. None of these practices made me even slightly ill.
Overcoming asthma and allergies. My asthma and allergies have plagued me for many years. They are now almost completely unnoticeable. I slept in a house with cats and dogs without wheezing or nasal congestion for the first time in 7 years after only 2 months of abiding by Schwarzbein’s principles.
Spontaneous muscle growth and strength increase. Schwarzbein boldly states that you can add muscle without spending hours at the gym on the back cover of her first book. This is absolutely accurate, a result of never eating meals without adequate protein and keeping insulin levels at the perfect levels by combining the protein with the appropriate complementary amount of carbs. This keeps the body in positive nitrogen balance and caused all of the muscle that I lost doing fasts, overexercising, and being a semi-vegetarian to return very quickly. I’ve taken this to an even greater degree by never going more than 3 hours without a complete, balanced protein and complex starch meal during waking hours. My strength and muscle size is at an all time high despite spending 70 minutes at the gym per week (I was a collegiate athlete and would sometimes lift weights for 12 hours per week without obtaining the results I get now with beyond minimal effort, and no more joint pain at all to boot, zilch).
Relentless energy. I wake up at sunrise spontaneously every day when following the principles, and do not feel tired all day long in the slightest. I’ve never even considered myself a morning person, and I used to be exhausted after long days of physical activity (I worked as a Wilderness Ranger over the summer, hiking with a heavy pack, a steel saw, and an axe for up to 10 hours a day). I’m always a few bites of protein and starch and a dollop of added fat away from being fully energized.
Loss of interest in sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. I’ve been a sugar addict my whole life. After only two weeks of religious food combining and meal spacing, amazing things occurred that I never in a million years would have thought possible. Chocolate bars, which I used to eat daily because I was a hardcore sugar addict and thought that organic, dark chocolate was better than refined sugar ? went bad in my cupboard. I forgot they were even there. My tastes and desire for food became completely altered in a way that gave me better health than I’ve ever before experienced. Schwarzbein’s recommendations are the absolute ultimate for overcoming addiction to any substance, especially rapidly-absorbed simple sugars. I hardly remember what it feels like to have cravings, and I can’t tell you how many times I failed trying to use willpower to quit sugar.
Flawless mood. I go weeks and even months without having a legitimate ?bad day. Shite happens of course, but my emotions are always rational in response to the circumstances. This has to be experienced to be believed. I’ve been burdened by erratic and unpredictable moods since I can remember. I am stable, strong, determined, focused, and even keel to a degree I never would have thought possible.
Loss of body fat. I’m leaner than I’ve ever been. I’m also warmer, a sign of increased metabolic rate. I was never very overweight, as I’ve been hiking over 1,000 miles per year for the past decade, going on bike rides up to 13 hours in duration, and playing competitive sports since my teens. But I’m leaner without exercise than I was when fanatical about exercise, achieved by never letting myself get hungry and exercising less than I have in two decades.
All of these are a result of getting the body’s biochemical systems back into a synchronous, synergistic balance. The body’s hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. are one functioning whole, and when one is out of sync, the entire human experience from sleep to appetite to mood to metabolism to body fat storage to immune defense to digestion is altered (leptin, melatonin, serotonin, dopamine, insulin, adrenaline, cortisol, prolactin, glucagon, sex hormones, and more). Undergoing this process is truly that powerful, a must for anyone with obvious signs of disturbed carbohydrate metabolism and Gerald Reaven’s ?Syndrome X.
And Schwarzbein has evolved beautifully since her first book. She now recommends more frequent meal-eating and slightly higher levels of carbohydrates, both adjustments that I made to take her principles to an even higher level of success, and adjustments that are even more appropriate for someone like myself with good digestion, who doesn’t suffer from metabolic syndrome, and is young with a speedy metabolism. Her work is just so spot on that the rest of the noise out there about how to achieve great vitality sort of fades into the background. When a woman who used to wake up and shave her beard and lug her doughy butt around town finds a way to be as stunningly radiant as she is now (her body is flawless, her skin perfect, and her hair could be the healthiest hair of any living human being) ? then you need to pay attention when she’s teaching class.
Be sure to watch Schwarzbein’s Wellness Hour interview posted on her website.
Good post. I noticed you mentioned intense cardiovascular exercise, rather than just identifying “exercise” in general. Does this imply that weight training is less problematic from a hormonal standpoint?
A few times a week I do strength training with heavy weights, lower reps, in a few basic compound exercises. The sessions are short in duration. Does this kind of exercise pose the same problems as intense cardio? My understanding is that this kind of exercise actually benefits hormonal profiles, specifically the sex hormones and growth hormone.
It’s more the duration of the intense cardiovascular activity that’s of concern. Getting your heart rate up from time to time, in any form, is fine. I chose to stress this because most people are under the impression that the more cardio the better. This is usually false, particularly with those who have signs of weak or burned out adrenal glands — such as fatigue, depression, asthma, allergies, etc.
This is also important information for those who are doing other activities that are using adrenal hormones faster than they can be replenished, such as a stressful lifestyle, frequent use of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and refined sugar, little sleep, or as Schwarzbein states, a diet too low in carbohydrates.
Continue your exercise program as you wish, but give ample time to rest, relaxation, and proper diet to counter the usage of adrenal hormones when exercising vigorously. The hormones, in fact, are what makes vigorous exercise feel so good.