Eat To THRIVE
Is There One “Diet” That Fits All?

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

May 22, 2022

 

For many, a terminal cancer diagnosis is the end of the road. When I was given 6 months to live, I had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. My methods were, and still are, unconventional by today’s standards. But they worked! One of the biggest components to my success is my diet.

The Standard American Diet[1] isn’t good for any of us. It causes inflammation and many health problems. In contrast, my diet on paper looked great before my diagnosis with multiple myeloma. Since then, I’ve learned to make subtle adjustments that made all the difference.

To be healthy, exceptional, and empowered, we must eat not only to survive, but to THRIVE. Don’t fall for the gurus claiming to have created the “best diet” or categorically demanding you to “eat this to cure…” That’s not how it works.

Instead, let’s look at which nutritional factors really matter, backed by both science and evolution.

Our species has evolved over the last hundreds of thousands of years to dominate the animal kingdom. One main reason for this success has been the consumption of specific foods. And our DNA has evolved to be the blueprint which guides us.

So, to answer the question, “Is there one diet that fits all”, I respond with a resounding, “YES!”

A “diet that fits all” follows the guidelines of our DNA. But this lifestyle way of eating is not strict in many aspects. It allows for significant variation within its basic requirements.

Let’s take a journey – a journey of our species over hundreds of thousands of years. And let’s investigate our most basic human blueprint – our DNA.

 

Human Journey

Humans have evolved for approximately 2.5 million years. For the first 2 million years or so, our ancestors primarily ate elephants and other very large animals – predominately the fatty tissues as well as muscle meat, organs, and collagen parts. In addition, they perfected ways to crack bones to savor the bone marrow and brain tissues.[2],[3] Then, as large mammals began to diminish around 300,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens turned to medium-sized animals. But all along, our human ancestors were predominately carnivores who relished fat.

And now this fact has been proven by a group of researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel and at the University of Minho in Portugal. They published their cutting-edge research in March 2021 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The researchers stated, “It is hard to convince a devout vegetarian that his/her ancestors were not vegetarians, and people tend to confuse personal beliefs with scientific reality. Our study is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.”

The investigators used genetics, metabolism, physiology, morphology, and archaeology of tool development to settle the question: “Were Stone Age humans specialized carnivores or generalist omnivores?

The scientific team came to this conclusion: Stone Age humans were specialized carnivores until about 20,000 years ago. Then, some plants were brought into their diet.

The scientists based this statement on facts:

  • Human stomach acidity is extremely acidic, indicating a meat diet in which the acid not only would kill harmful bacteria that was decaying meat but also would break down animal protein.
  • Human fat is stored in large numbers of small fat cells like other carnivore predators, whereas omnivores have few but large fat cells. Humans can make use of these high fat reserves by rapidly turning them into fatty acids and ketones for energy when needed.
  • Areas of the human genome are closed off to enable a fat-rich diet, but the areas of the omnivore genome are open to enable a sugar-rich diet.
  • Archaeological evidence supports a meat-based diet.
  • Stable nitrogen isotopes in the bones and teeth of prehistoric humans point to consumption of meat with a high fat content.
  • Specialized tools for obtaining and processing vegetable foods only appeared more recently along the evolutionary continuum.

 

Our DNA Blueprint

99.9% of each of us is the same![4],[5]

But for the most part, what makes you the person you are and what makes me the person I am is the remaining 0.1% of our DNA. Modern man (homo sapiens) has gone through a lot over the course of evolution. Life was harrowing.

About 100,000 years ago, the average lifespan was between 30-35 years.[6] Early deaths were caused by infant mortality for various sanitary and medical reasons. Then there were uncontrollable virulent infections, accidents, tribal warfare, being eaten by wild animals, and a host of environmental factors that we aren’t exposed to today. Over the course of many millennia, our DNA has been slowly mutating and is continuing to evolve and perfect itself.[7],[8]

As the basic blueprint for our existence, our DNA knows what it needs, and it certainly knows what it does not need. So, don’t fool with this genetic motherboard.[9]

At one extreme in our Blueprint, our DNA is very clear about what it requires to stay alive. At the other extreme, it is just as forceful in telling us what it can’t tolerate.

Basically, she says, “Give me what I need, and you will thrive. But force me to deal with toxic elements which I cannot destroy, and which accumulate in my body, then you will die.”

It’s that simple. In that regard, all humans are the same.

 

One Extreme

At one extreme, our basic needs are clear. We must breathe clean air; eat nutritious food; and drink untainted water. Neglect any of these three requirements, then surely we will be doomed.

 

The Other Extreme

At the other extreme, our blueprint is just as clear. If we put toxic substances into our body on a continuous basis, we will suffer. Make no mistake about it. If we insist on challenging our DNA by putting stuff into our body repeatedly that we never evolved to detox, digest, or rid itself of, then our human machine will suffer, deteriorate, and die.

 

Everything In Between

Our DNA Blueprint is the written story. But how the story can be told and will unfold is controlled by our environment and lifestyle. We have many options between the extremes of our blueprint.

Our food and the way we live can “turn on” or “turn off” our genes. If we have a genetic predisposition to a disease, we can manipulate our environment and diet to “turn off” those bad genes. Although our genes are our blueprint, we can do things to improve our future health or sickness.[10] The way each of us lives our life will determine to what degree we survive and to what degree we thrive. All of us can flourish by making choices that will improve our overall health. And Health is Empowering!

 

A Diet for All

Starting about 12,000 years ago, farming slowly ushered in what would become a dramatic change in the human diet and in human development. Over time, farming forced humans to eat more and more processed foods and less and less nutrient-dense, animal-based foods. These abrupt changes along with various agricultural and food processing chemicals have been major factors in the development of chronic diseases. And these changes are contrary to “Mother Nature” and go against our DNA Blueprint.

An animal-based diet consists of eating muscle meat, organs, cartilage, bone marrow, and animal fat from animals which have been grazed on organic grasses and humanely treated and butchered. An animal-base diet also includes some fruits and a few vegetables that are low in antinutrients.

Antinutrients are chemicals created by plants that our body does not digest completely and can accumulate to become toxic to our gut and our overall wellness. The majority of these antinutrients fall into the categories of phytates, oxalates, and lectins.

I’ve detailed my thoughts on this type of diet in my mini eBook titled, Better Belly Blueprint. Generally, 70% or more of the volume of a plate of food should consist of animal products, and less than 30% could be some plants that are low in anti-nutrients (i.e., phytates, oxalates, lectins).

This way of eating is not a “diet” that comes and goes. It is a lifestyle. It is the one diet that is right for almost everyone. It provides all the nutrients our body requires in a bioavailable form. It is the one diet that our DNA requires for survival and overall wellness. However, in rare circumstances, some individuals cannot eat this way because of unique medical dysfunctions.

This way of eating offers many options, but it adheres to the concept that humans have evolved as omnivores leaning toward carnivores. All foods that conform to this way of eating are totally acceptable.

 

Your Choice

If you are doing well, feeling healthy, and you have no medical issues that you want to improve, then continue doing what you are doing. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Now, I say that with a caveat. What if you could feel even better? Maybe you don’t have cancer, but you do experience an afternoon slump post lunch on a regular basis. Or you’ve been noticing that you feel more stressed than usual. More fatigued. Occasional stomachaches or headaches. Listen to those small cues. Your body will nudge you when something is off. If you ignore those nudges, they can escalate into bigger issues.

Just because you don’t have any health problems now, that doesn’t mean you can neglect your diet or go on autopilot. Take it from someone who has been in hospice ready to die but has come back from the edge. Don’t wait until your body is screaming at you.

If you want to improve your overall wellness, your energy levels, and your physical and mental being, consider an animal-based diet along the lines I have described – approximately 70% animal foods and 30% fruits and a few select vegetables. Be mindful of where your food comes from. You don’t have to change your ways overnight. Start incorporating small changes and take notice of how you feel.

As a matter of fact, the 2020-2025 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) includes guidance for feeding infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months old. These evidence-based guidelines emphasize the vital role of foods rich in iron and zinc (including meat). Iron-rich red meat, such as beef and lamb, are ideal first foods to help meet an infant’s nutrient needs starting at approximately 6 months old. And this 2022 article explains the importance of introducing animal meat immediately following breastfeeding.

At the end of the day, it’s all about feeling your best and becoming your best.

I’m available if you need me. I offer one-on-one coaching, and I share the wealth of information I’ve learned on my cancer journey on my website through blog posts.

 

[1] https://drdanenberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Standard-American-Diet.pdf

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S104061821500097X?via%3Dihub

[3] https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/5/10/eaav9822.full.pdf

[4] https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/Genetics-vs-Genomics

[5] https://www.amacad.org/publication/unequal-nature-geneticists-perspective-human-differences

[6] https://medium.com/@frederic_38110/gerontology-how-long-will-you-live-4c9fd2704377

[7] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/human-evolution-dna-natural-selection-dna-genetic-mutation-why-a8641536.html

[8] https://humanorigins.si.edu/education/introduction-human-evolution

[9] https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-dna

[10]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6275017/

 

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The Case for Meat
– 6 Compelling Reasons –
 

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

August 29, 2021

On 1/1/20, I began incorporating an animal-based diet (i.e., Carnivore Diet) into my Unconventional Cancer Protocols. It was a major change for my Protocols, which I began after my incurable bone marrow cancer diagnosis in 2018. And this significant tweak made a measurable transformation in my overall health and healing.

While almost all other cancer patients were trying to fight their malignancy and heal their body by eating a plant-based diet, I went in a totally opposite direction.

The case for consuming the entire animal from nose-to-tail was explicit in the treatment of cancer patients at the Paleomedicina Clinic in Budapest, Hungary. After researching the Clinic’s case reports and educating myself about the benefits of animal-based foods, I fine-tuned the Clinic’s diet with the Carnivore Diet to form my Better Belly Blueprint way of eating, which I follow today.

Recently, I came across Brian Sanders and his work on nose-to-tail eating. He is embarking on a journey to produce a movie about animal-based diets involving many aspects of animal husbandry, nutrition, and the environment. He breaks down the case for meat into 6 identifiable fundamentals:

  1. Evolution
  2. Bad science
  3. Nutrition
  4. New science
  5. Environment
  6. The Alternative

 

A Gift to the World

Brian’s contribution is a gift to the world population! He’s a filmmaker who is creating a Movie titled, Food Lies.

Brian builds on the concept that humans, plants, animals, soil, and microbes have been intimately interconnected for the last 2.5 million years. His 6 areas of concern are brilliantly described and proven.

 

#1 Evolution

Brian describes the evolution of our human species. Scientists have proven that our species has been mainly animal eaters from nose-to-tail with the inclusion of a few plants.

  • Radioisotope nitrogen testing has shown that our primal ancestors mainly ate animal protein.
  • Along with human skeletal remains in the archeological digs, tools were discovered which were used to kill animals and break open their bones to gain access to the organs, marrow, and fat.
  • In addition, the human digestive system evolved a long, small intestine to digest animal-based foods, and the colon became shortened since our species began eating and digesting less plant matter.
  • Importantly, human stomachs developed an extremely high acid content. As primitive man scavenged carcasses, the intense stomach acid was able to destroy the bacteria which were rotting the meat our ancestors ate. If our ancestors consumed a bunch of unhealthy microbes which entered their gut alive, the human species could not survive!

In essence, animals were our ancestors’ mainstay and plants were their “fall back” food when animals were not readily available.

And today’s hunter/gatherers mainly eat animals.

 

#2 Bad Science

Food Lies explains how bad science evolved in the 1950s. In the 50s, scientists published medical papers and accepted misleading research data, which incorrectly and possibly purposely blamed red meat and animal fats for poor health. And this bad science led to a change in the health of the food we consumed. Processed foods with high carbohydrates, added sugars, and seed and vegetable oils became the staples of our diet. The research was promoted by the government and the food industry. With the decline in animal-based foods and their replacement with these innutritious foods, obesity and chronic diseases began to explode among the population.

 

#3 Nutrition

While plants appeared to provide a slew of vitamins, minerals, and many other healthy nutrients, they also consisted of anti-nutrients which could attach to these important nutrients and prevent them from being absorbed by the body. In addition, these anti-nutrients damaged the important garden of bacteria in the gut, the mucous lining of the gut, and the epithelial barrier that separates the gut from the rest of the body. In contrast, eating animals from nose-to-tail provided practically all the nutrients which humans required in a bioavailable form with zero anti-nutrients.

 

#4 New Science

Finally, new science is now beginning to emerge. Researchers began to prove that low carbohydrate foods and nose-to-tail animal foods, which were raised in a humane and non-chemical manner, are healthy. These foods allow people to lose weight, live longer, control their glucose levels, increase HDL, and decrease triglycerides. We’re witnessing a rebirth of our evolutionary blueprint.

 

#5 Environment

Brian continues to explain that animal farming is good for the soil, produces fertile areas to raise more crops, and improves the CO2 footprint. The methane gas produced by cattle recycles from the cattle, into the air, then into the grass, and again back to the cattle. Methane gas recycles and only stays in the air for about 9 years. On the other hand, burning fossil fuels produces 80% of the emissions that damage the environment and affect climate change. Their CO2 gases stay in the air for 300 to 1,000 years and don’t recycle like methane gas. Fossil fuels are the “800-pound gorilla in the room”. Fossil fuels and the industry that supports and benefits from fossil fuels are what needs to be curtailed. Curtailing animals from grazing on land is counterproductive and reduces the abundant nutrient source, which consuming animals from nose-to-tail provides!

 

#6 The Alternative

What’s the alternative to meat? There really isn’t a good one.

Monocropping is not healthy for the soil.

If plants are assumed to be the answer, then chemicals must be added to the soil. Fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases that linger in the atmosphere for up to a thousand years, must be used to produce these chemicals. And once the plants are harvested, their nutrients are not completely available for humans to absorb. Many of the plants’ nutrients are bound up by “anti-nutrients” within the plants that make these nutrients significantly less bioavailable.

Also, preparing the land for monocropping kills animals and destroys ecosystems. Monocropping of corn, wheat, and soy could ruin our soil and be the population’s downfall.

On the other hand, animals give back to the soil. Animals raised for consumption can be grazed in rotation allowing other plants to be grown in the fertile soil created from the animals defecating and urinating.

And animals can be raised lovingly and can be provided a happy life until humanely killed. If these animals were in the wild, they would eventually starve to death or be eaten live by their predators.

Interestingly, over 400 commercial products purchased and used by our society are derived from cattle and hogs. Here’s a short list to consider:

  • Anti-aging creams
  • Dyes and inks
  • Shampoo
  • Musical instrument strings
  • Cosmetics
  • Textiles
  • Adhesives
  • Fertilizers
  • Paint

 

Moving Forward

Food Lies is still in production. In my opinion, it is destined to be a well-made, informative, and a must-watch documentary for the times in which we live. Contrary to popular beliefs, animal farming can help feed the world and provide fertile soil to grow crops.

We have enough land to feed the masses. We only have a mismanagement system.

To see what the movie is all about before it is released, watch the 15-minute video summary below. Brian Sanders discusses all the pertinent facts.

 

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I Eat Meat!

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist
March 4, 2019

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I Eat Meat

I eat meat. I never excluded meat from my diet. However, the only meat I eat is from pastured or wild-caught animals who consume their natural diets with no chemicals added. In addition to meat, I eat their organs and consume their bone broth – nose to tail. (As an aside, the farmer I visit at my Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning provides grass-fed, grass-finished ground beef mixed with ground kidney, liver, and heart in one-pound packages: 70% ground beef; 30% ground organ meats.)

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However, now that I am on a journey to fight my incurable aggressive bone marrow cancer, I have been asked by many, “Why do you eat meat or animal protein? Don’t you know they cause cancer?”

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Well, healthy animal protein as part of a diet containing plant-based foods does not cause cancer. And healthy meat and organs are critical for humans to eat.[1] Healthy humans are omnivores![2]

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Let’s get into it.

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Essential Amino Acids

Humans require 20 amino acids to create all the proteins that life requires. This includes 9 essential amino acids (which cannot be made by the body) and another 11 non-essential amino acids (which can be made by the body). The 9 essential amino acids are easily supplied by animal protein.

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Animal protein provides the best and most biologically complete source for these building blocks. Amino acids are critical for proper immune function, muscle integrity, DNA manufacturing of the body’s necessary proteins, and gene expression.

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Vegans can mix various plants to get all the essential amino acids, but the quantity of legumes required to get the right mix also provides too many grams of carbohydrate to the diet. Too many carbohydrates in the diet creates excess glucose, which feeds cancer cell growth.

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Acid Environment

Some critics of animal products state that animal protein is acidic, which they claim encourages cancer growth. However, that is not entirely correct. Cancer cells actually create their own acidic environment by way of their production of energy.

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Healthy mitochondria are responsible for efficient energy production. However, the mitochondria in cancer cells are dysfunctional. Therefore, cancer cells must use fermentation to create the energy they require. Cancer cells use a tremendous amount of glucose and some glutamine to produce energy by this inefficient method. A by-product of the fermentation process is the production of a large quantity of lactic acid. In turn, lactic acid bathes the cancer cells making the environment acidic around tumors.

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Observational Studies

Other critics of eating meat cite studies showing the consumers of meat have a higher risk of cancer. However, these studies are mostly flawed.

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These studies are basically observational. They only look at the consumption of meat and the incidence of cancer. This can demonstrate a “correlation” but not a “causation”. The problem is that observational studies cannot eliminate the many other factors (some known and some unknown), which could significantly affect the outcome of the study.

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Another problem is that most studies do not control the quality of meat. There is a difference between pastured animals and conventionally raised animals. There is a difference between animals grazing on organic grasses and animals fed chemically produced grains. There is a difference between processed meats and unprocessed meats.

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Also, other studies show many people who eat large quantities of red meat have unhealthy habits and unhealthy lifestyles. Examples are smoking; consuming excess alcohol; eating large quantities of processed foods made from grain flours, sugars, and unhealthy fats; ingesting very few fruits and vegetables; and living relatively sedentary lives. These confounding factors significantly increase the risk of cancer in their own ways.

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Gut Microbiome

Different research shows that an unhealthy gut microbiome might increase the risk of cancer when large quantities of meat make up the diet. Refined-carbohydrate and low-fat diets can cause gut dysbiosis, which in turn could create metabolites from meat that might be carcinogenic. However, a healthy gut microbiome may prevent the production of unhealthy metabolites from meat. And, a diet including a large percentage of organic plant foods along with healthy meats will improve the health of the gut microbiome and may thereby decrease the risk of cancer.

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Necessary Nutrients

And then there are the biologically active nutrients that are abundantly supplied by animal proteins. These nutrients are necessary for healthy bodily function but are not readily available in a vegan diet. Some of these missing nutrients of a vegan diet include vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, heme iron, retinol (preformed vitamin A), and DHA.

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My Thoughts

Basically, a limited amount of unprocessed and pastured meat is healthy and doesn’t promote cancer.[3] A proportioned diet (less than 25% naturally-sourced animal proteins including all their healthy fats AND more than 75% non-starchy vegetables, berries, and seeds) may be the ideal diet for cancer patients. That is the diet I incorporate in my extensive Protocol to treat my IgA Kappa Light Chain Multiple Myeloma.

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For more information, I recommend two excellent books. The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Dr. Nasha Winters and Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Dr. Thomas Seyfried.

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[1] https://academic.oup.com/af/article/8/3/5/5048762

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/12/23/how-humans-evolved-to-be-natural-omnivores/#671a630b7af5

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549221/

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