A high-micronutrient diet does not just improve health for your body, but it also decreases food cravings and sensations leading to overeating behavior. Individuals adopting a diet style rich in micronutrients report a change in the perception of hunger signals. The sensations commonly considered hunger, and even reported in medical textbooks as such, appear to dissipate for the majority of people, and a new sensation that I label true or throat hunger arises instead.
A diet too low in micronutrients leads to heightened oxidative stress. Oxidative stress means inflammation in the cells due to excessive free radical activity. It is accompanied by a buildup of toxic metabolites that can create physical symptoms of withdrawal when digestion ceases in between meals. Besides the toxins we consume from food, cells produce their own metabolic wastes that need to be removed from cells and tissues.
When our diets are low in phytochemicals and other micronutrients, we build up intracellular waste products. It is well accepted in scientific literature that toxins such as free radicals, AGEs, lipofuscin, and lipid A2E build up in tissues when people’s diets are low in micronutrients and phytochemicals, and that these substances contribute to disease.
It has already been noted that overweight individuals build up more inflammatory markers and oxidative stress when fed a low-nutrient meal compared to normal-weight individuals. Because of this, people prone to obesity experience more withdrawal symptoms that direct them to the overconsumption of calories. These are the sources of the toxic hunger cravings that often lead to binging and other gut-busting behavior. It is a vicious cycle promoting the problem and preventing its resolution. Those with healthier diets do not build up such high levels of inflammatory markers and as a result do not experience intense withdrawal hunger symptoms.
Phytonutrients are required for the body to properly detoxify metabolic waste products—they enable cellular detoxification. When we don’t eat sufficient phytochemical-rich-vegetation and instead consume low-nutrient food and excess animal proteins (creating excess nitrogenous wastes) we often exacerbate the buildup of metabolic waste products in our bodies. These wastes are just like drug toxins.
The withdrawal symptoms, conventionally called hunger, develop from inadequate or poor nutrition. I call these withdrawal symptoms toxic hunger. It is important for us to understand and differentiate toxic hunger from true hunger. Toxic hunger appears at the lower plateau of the blood sugar curve, drives overeating behavior, and strongly increases the desire to consume more calories than the body requires, leading to weight gain and diabetes. True hunger, however, appears when the body has used up most of the calories from the previous meal as well as the stored glucose (stored as glycogen) and is ready to be refueled. With a change of diet, toxic hunger gradually lessens and resolves, allowing individuals to be satisfied eating less.
When you adopt this nutritarian diet, becoming healthy is the first step. You soon find that the symptoms of toxic hunger are gone. Instead, you will eventually experience the feeling of true hunger, which encourages the precise amount of calories required for good health and the maintenance of ideal weight. True hunger serves as an important guide to promote enjoyment of food. It gives us precise signals from our bodies so we know the amount of calories needed to sustain our lean body mass. When we eat when we are hungry, food tastes much better and we are physiologically primed for proper digestion. Hunger, in the true sense of the word, indicates that it is time to eat again.
TYPICAL SYMPTOMS OF TOXIC HUNGER
Feeling of emptiness in stomach
Gurgling, rumbling in stomach
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Irritability or agitation
Lack of concentration
Weakness or fatigue
Impairment in psychomotor, vigilance, and cognitive performances
TYPICAL SYMPTOMS OF TRUE HUNGER
Throat and upper chest sensation
Enhanced taste sensation
The critical message is that the wrong food choices lead to withdrawal symptoms that are mistaken for hunger. You can always tell that these are toxic hunger symptoms because you experience shakiness, headaches, weakness, and abdominal cramps or spasms. Initially, these symptoms are relieved after eating, but the cycle simply starts over again with the symptoms returning in a matter of hours. Eating when you experience toxic hunger is not the answer. Changing what you eat to stop toxic hunger is.
When our bodies become acclimated to noxious or toxic agents, it is called addiction. If we try to stop taking nicotine or caffeine, we feel ill. This is called withdrawal. When we stop doing something harmful to ourselves, we feel ill because the body attempts to mobilize cellular wastes and attempts to repair the damage caused by the exposure. If we drink three cups of coffee a day, we would get a withdrawal headache when our caffeine level dipped too low. When we consume more caffeine again, we feel a little better because it retards detoxification, or withdrawal. In other words, the caffeine withdrawal symptoms can contribute to our drinking more caffeine products.
Similarly, toxic hunger is heightened by the consumption of caffeinated beverages, soft drinks, and processed foods. Toxic hunger appears after a meal is digested and the digestive track is empty, and it can feel extremely uncomfortable, which can make us think we need to eat or drink a caloric load for relief.
The confusion about food-addictive behavior is compounded because when we eat the same heavy or unhealthful foods that are causing the problem to begin with, we initially feel better. This makes becoming overweight inevitable, because if we stop digesting food, even for a short time, our bodies will begin to experience symptoms of detoxification or withdrawal from our unhealthful diet. To counter this, we eat heavy meals, eat too often, and keep our digestive track overfed to lessen the discomfort from our stressful diet style. In other words, we keep eating too often and too much to postpone or mitigate the physical discomfort caused by our bad diet.
The glucose absorbed right after a meal is called postprandial glucose. After the carbohydrates from the meal are broken down to simple sugars and eventually utilized or stored in the body, most of the glucose not burned is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissues. Glucose is continually utilized to fuel our cells and especially our brain. Our brain use makes up 80 percent of our caloric needs in the resting state. After the meal’s contribution is utilized and digestion ceases, we start to gradually burn down our candle of stored glycogen in the liver as our glucose source. This catabolic or breakdown phase, when stored glycogen is our main source of glucose, is called glycolysis. When glycogen stores are being burned for glucose, toxins are better mobilized for removal and repair activities are heightened. Spending time in glycolysis, while resting the digestive apparatus in this non-feeding stage, is important for health and a long life.
But Americans, and especially diabetics, become uncomfortable when beginning glycolysis. They don’t feel right if they delay eating too long. This is an important reason why they became diabetic to begin with. They must overeat to feel okay. Just like a person addicted to tobacco must smoke cigarettes just to feel okay, they have become addicted to their dangerous and toxic diet habits and they can’t tolerate the symptomatic detoxification events that occur during glycolysis.
Most often these uncomfortable symptoms occur simultaneous to our blood sugar decreasing and glycolysis beginning, but they are not caused by hypoglycemia. While we feed off glycogen stores, rather than actively digest and assimilate glucose, our bodies cycle into heightened detoxification activity—so these sick feelings that accompany glycolysis are a result of tissue sensitivity to mobilization of waste products, which occurs when most active digestion is finished. They occur when the blood sugar is at its lower plateau. These symptoms are obviously not merely caused by low blood sugar, though the symptoms occur in parallel with lower blood sugar.
Gluconeogenesis is the breakdown of muscle tissue to fabricate glucose after glycogen stores have been depleted. As the liver’s glycogen stores are utilized and diminish, true hunger signals the need for calories before muscle breakdown begins, thus preventing the onset of gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis becomes activated after the glycogen stores have been depleted, so if fasting is continued too long, the body would utilize muscle tissue as a glucose source. Does the body want to waste muscle to maintain our glucose levels? Of course not. We get a clear signal to eat before that begins. I call this clear signal true hunger. True hunger is protective of our muscle mass and gives a clear signal to eat before the beginning of gluconeogenesis, as the glycogen stores are running low and glycolysis is winding down.
Phytonutrients are required for the body to properly detoxify metabolic waste products as they enable cellular detoxification. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen and a biological system’s ability to readily detoxify the reactive intermediates or easily repair the resulting damage. This oxidative stress from the buildup of toxins leads to diseases, including most of the conditions commonly considered the complications of diabetes.
All forms of life maintain a reducing environment within their cells. That means they are continually removing wastes and removing free radicals. Disturbances in this normal redox state occur from micronutrient deficiencies and can cause toxic effects through the production of peroxides and free radicals, which damage all components of the cell. When oxidative stress occurs, certain byproducts are left behind and are excreted by the body, mostly in the urine. These by-products are oxidized DNA bases, lipid peroxides, and malondialdehyde from damaged lipids and proteins. The higher the levels of these various markers (which can be measured in the urine), the greater the damage to the cells—marking the advancement of an oxidative stress-induced disease.
The mammalian circadian system is organized in the brain’s hypothalamus. This section of the brain synchronizes cellular oscillators in most peripheral body cells. The liver glucose sensor activates these parts of the brain involved in cellular cycles. Fasting-feeding cycles accompanying rest-activity rhythms are the major timing cues in the synchronization of most peripheral clocks, especially metabolic activity and cellular detoxification. Detoxification efforts of the body vary cyclically and correspond with the rhythm and repetitive timing of sleeping and eating. The deactivation of noxious food components by hepatic, intestinal, and renal detoxification systems is among the metabolic processes regulated in a cyclic manner. The detoxification output of by-products is enhanced during cyclic periods corresponding with glycolysis. This means that when we are not digesting food, the body is in an enhanced repair and detoxification cycle.
Not only does eating low-nutrient food build up more toxins, creating inflammation and disease in our cells and organs, but the buildup of these toxins also leads us to feel ill the minute our digestive tract is no longer busy digesting. So we are almost forced to overeat to prevent withdrawal symptoms. As soon as the digestion of food is complete, changes in all body systems begin to occur. Some patients report symptoms even within a few hours of not eating a food. Coffee drinkers, for example, are usually on an obligatory ingestion cycle and may get withdrawal headaches and cravings within hours of missing regular coffee doses.
It has already been noted that overweight individuals build up more toxic waste products and express heightened inflammatory markers and oxidative stress when on a low-nutrient meal compared to normal-weight people. Because of this, men and women prone to obesity experience more withdrawal symptoms, causing overconsumption of calories. It is a vicious cycle promoting the problem and preventing its resolution.
People who eat healthier diets do not build up inflammatory markers nearly as much as people who don’t. The point here is that many people are overweight because their body is forcing them to require more calories just to feel normal. They don’t feel well when they attempt to eat the amount of calories better aligned with their metabolic needs. A critical feature that makes a person overweight or diabetic is the environment of excessive and toxic food in the modern world. This in turn leads to the chronic oxidative and inflammatory stress created by modern food choices. This cellular “disease” then creates symptoms that support its continuation, just like a cocaine addict seeks cocaine. This is why diets always fail. The secret to beating this vicious cycle is to focus on micronutrient quality. Only then will the desire for excessive calories cease.
Every cell is like a little factory—it makes products; produces waste; and then must compact, detoxify, and remove the waste. If we let waste metabolites build up through the consumption of processed grains, oils, and animal products and insufficient consumption of vegetation, the body will attempt to mobilize these wastes (creating discomfort) when it can. But it only can do that effectively if it’s not actively digesting food. Eating alleviates the discomfort because it halts or delays the detoxification process.
What I have observed and quantified with not merely hundreds but with thousands of individuals is that the drive to overconsume calories is blunted by high-micronutrient, high-antioxidant food consumption. The symptoms that people thought were hypoglycemia or even hunger simply disappear after eating healthfully for a few months. After a two- to four-month window, when micronutrients in the body’s tissues are enhanced, people not only lose symptoms of fatigue, headaches, irritability, and stomach cramping, but they also get back in touch with true hunger felt in the throat. This sensation, they report, makes eating more pleasurable and better directs them to an appropriate amount of calories for their body’s biological needs.
My discovery documenting the changing perception of hunger, resulting in a lower caloric drive in more than seven hundred people eating a high-nutrient diet, was published in Nutrition Journal in November 2010. Of interest was that hunger became a sensation in the upper chest and throat for 90 percent of those compliant with the dietary recommendations and also that it took three to six months for most of the participants to experience this change in hunger and the lessening of hunger symptoms. Three to six months corresponds with the time frame it takes to achieve adequate tissue levels of phytochemicals after dietary excellence is begun. The study’s conclusion was:
Our findings suggest that it is not simply the caloric content, but more importantly, the micronutrient density of a diet that influences the experience of hunger. It appears that a high nutrient-density diet, after an initial phase of adjustment during which a person experiences “toxic hunger” due to withdrawal from pro-inflammatory foods, can result in a sustainable eating pattern that leads to weight loss and improved health. A high nutrient-density diet provides benefits for long-term health as well as weight loss.
True hunger signals when our bodies need calories to maintain our lean body mass. When we eat food demanded by true hunger and true hunger only, we do not become overweight to begin with. However, in our present toxic food environment, we have lost the ability to connect with the body signals that tell us how much food we actually need. We have become slaves to withdrawal symptoms and eat all day long, even when there is no biological need for calories. The body has a compounded sensation of hunger and cravings that, for most, is simply overwhelming. As a result, people are either unable to lose weight or are unable to keep it off.
In an environment of healthy food choices, we would not feel any symptoms after a meal until our bodies actually require more nourishment. Our bodies have the beautifully orchestrated ability to give us the precise signals that tell us exactly how much to eat to maintain an ideal weight for long-term health and well-being. Thousands of people have learned this and have demonstrated that this phenomenon is real. After learning and applying this information, many have lost over a hundred pounds, some more than three hundred pounds, without surgical intervention and have kept the weight off.
In a portion-controlled (calorie-counting) diet, it is likely that the body will not consume adequate fiber or nutrients. The body will have a compounded sensation of hunger and craving that, for most, is impossible to control. Invariably, it results in failure to lose weight or the cycle of losing weight and eventually gaining it back. Calorie counting simply doesn’t work in the long run. Diets based on portion control and calorie counting generally permit the eating of highly toxic, low-nutrient foods and then require us to fight our addictive drives and attempt to eat less. This combination undernourishes the body, resulting in uncontrollable and frequent food cravings. Without an adequate education in nutrition and solid principles to stick to, people on these diets are forced to flounder and fail, bouncing from one diet to another, always losing a little and regaining it. They frequently regain more than they lost.
Life is prolonged by eating less while maintaining a high-nutrient cellular environment. However, trying to eat fewer calories is ineffective and almost futile. The secret is to desire fewer calories. The high consumption of low-calorie, high-nutrient foods such as raw vegetables, cooked greens, beans, and seeds prepared in delicious combinations makes you feel physically full from all the fiber and satisfied from all the chewing. You lose the addictive cravings, and then you simply and naturally desire less food. It makes it quite simple to lose lots of weight. The core elements to this revolutionary diet are:
- Micronutrient-per-calorie density is important in devising and recommending menu plans and dietary suggestions for the most effective approach for both weight loss and for preventing and reversing diabetes and heart disease.
- Low-nutrient eating (and toxic eating) leads to increasing cellular toxicity with undesirable levels of free radicals and AGEs. This toxicity causes addictive withdrawal symptoms (toxic hunger), which result in more frequent eating and overeating.
- Dietary micronutrient quality (H=N/C) must be increased accordingly to utilize dietary recommendations therapeutically for disease reversal or to protect high-risk individuals.
This is not a diet in the sense of something you do to lose weight. This is a new diet style for life— a diet style that every American has the right to know about, so we all have the choice to protect our precious health. It is healthful eating. It is effective for long-term weight control because it modifies and diminishes the sensations of so-called hunger, enabling overweight individuals to be more comfortable eating fewer calories. Make the change for life.