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The Classic Fat that Will Elevate All Your Favorite Recipes

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetDuck Fat

When you hear the term “duck fat”, you might think of gourmet French cuisine or the duck fat fries that are now common in high-end restaurants and bistros.

But duck fat doesn’t have to be reserved for special occasions or fancy food with elaborate preparations.

Not only does duck fat provide unparalleled flavor to just about any dish – from the original “French fry” to green vegetables and grass-fed steaks – it also provides a variety of health benefits.

Duck Fat: A Traditional Culinary Fat with Health Benefits

Duck fat is nearly 51% monounsaturated fat, with 36% saturated fat and 14% polyunsaturated fat.

Because of its high proportion of monounsaturated and saturated fats, duck fat remains stable during cooking. Not only does this preserve the delicious flavor of the fat, it also reduces the risk of creating lipid oxidation products (LOPs). These harmful compounds can form when certain fats are exposed to high heat. They have been associated with cellular damage and heart disease.

Perhaps equally important to your health is the lack of processing that duck fat undergoes. While most cooking fats and oils are treated with chemicals, as well as bleached, deodorized and refined, duck fat is simply rendered, or gently “melted” away from the flesh. This creates a healthy cooking fat in its purest form.

Whether it is the healthy balance of fats, its stability under heat or the lack of chemical processing, researchers have found that populations which traditionally rely on duck fat enjoy better heart health.

In the United States, 315 of every 100,000 middle-aged men die of heart attacks each year. In France the rate is less than half that (145 per 100,000). But in the Gascony region, where goose and duck fat, organs and meats are a staple of the diet, the rate is only 80 per 100,000. That is a mere 25% of the heart attack deaths seen in the U.S. where vegetable oil is the predominant cooking fat!

Using Duck Fat to Elevate Everyday Cooking

Duck confit – where duck legs are slow-cooked in duck fat – is the most popular dish using this rich and complex ingredient. But there are many, many ways it can be used and enjoyed. Here are a few of my favorites:

Make “Golden Brown Delicious” Duck Fat Potatoes: Duck fat was used to make the original French fry, and many popular chefs (including Jamie Oliver) argue that if you’ve never tried potatoes cooked in duck fat, then you’ve never really eaten a great potato. While delicious with organic Russets or Yukon Gold potatoes, you can also go the more Paleo route and choose cooked and cooled sweet potatoes, yams, or taro and gently pan fry in duck fat until golden brown.

Whip Up a Batch of Gascony Butter: Gascony butter is named for the region of France that enjoys exceptionally rich cuisine and low rates of heart disease. You can easily make this delectable spread by mixing rendered duck fat with quickly blanched, finely chopped or minced garlic cloves. Add a scoop to soups, melt over grass-fed steak or lamb chops or spread onto your favorite grain-free toast points for a satisfying dish.

Make Rich, Meaty Roasted Mushrooms: Choose your favorite mushroom, or opt for a medley including chanterelles, oysters,  and sliced baby bellas. Toss with melted duck fat and organic Worcestershire sauce or coconut aminos and roast at 375 F for 20 minutes. Toss occasionally to ensure that they cook evenly. You can also sauté in a ceramic or enameled cast-iron pan on the stove for better control.

Enhance Your Favorite Veggies: Whether roasting Brussels sprouts in a cast-iron pan… browning cubed winter squash in a casserole… or simply sautéing onions, shallots and garlic, duck fat will bring out the richest flavors of each food. British food critic, Nigel Slater, says that duck fat has the ability to, “enrich whatever is cooking in it… it gets to the soul of the food it is browning.”  

Sear Meats & Seafood: For rich flavor and a delectable golden brown color, sear all of your favorite meats – from rich grass-fed filet mignon and hanger steaks… to pork chops and shrimp – in a dollop of duck fat. It is also the perfect fat for searing duck liver to gently brown and infuse it with more wonderful flavor.

Selecting & Rendering Duck Fat

When looking for duck fat, make sure to choose the highest quality from animals raised right. Remember – this doesn’t just make for a more flavorful ingredient. It also helps to ensure the healthiest fatty acid profile.

Want to render duck fat yourself (while also enjoying delicious meals of meaty duck)?

Start with lightly salted duck breasts placed skin-side-down in a cold enameled cast iron pan. Bring the heat up very slowly. You will see the duck fat begin to render and fill the bottom of the pan. Continue raising the heat gently to begin cooking the meat. Pour off and strain the fat into a glass container. With two duck breasts you can get as much as a cup of rendered duck fat. You can also use duck skin from a whole duck. Simply dice the skin and add it to a shallow pan with ½ cup of water. Simmer over medium heat for roughly one hour. The water should evaporate during this time, leaving just the fat. Strain through a sieve.

Whichever method you choose for obtaining this highly prized fat, you’ll find that this classic ingredient will elevate even your simplest everyday recipes to extraordinary!


ED NOTE – Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Better Breads – which includes information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Better Breads…


1.    Can Fois Gras Aid The heart? A French Scientist Says Yes. NY Times. November 17, 1991
2.    L S Piers, K Z Walker, R M Stoney, M J Soares4 and K O'Dea. The influence of the type of dietary fat on postprandial fat oxidation rates: monounsaturated (olive oil) vs saturated fat (cream). International Journal of Obesity. June 2002, Volue 26, Number 6, p 814-821
3.    Richard JL. Coronary risk factors. The French paradox. Arch Mal Coeur Vaiss. 1987 Apr;80 Spec No:17-21.
4.    Kresser, Chris. 5 Fats You Should Be Cooking With But May Not Be.

Are Your Telomeres In Trouble?

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDGreens

Living in the 21st century affords you many luxuries. High-speed computers… cell phones… air conditioning and LCD TVs. But the chemicals and industrial solvents that make them possible are poisonous. We’re now floating in a sea of space-age, lab-created, synthetic molecules. And they’re flowing through your blood as you read this letter.

They’re a part of life today, and we now have a new way of measuring their effect.

One of the things that happened is the environment is causing your telomeres to shorten.

Let me give you the example of the number-one risk factor for heart disease – high homocysteine levels.(1)

High homocysteine is a way to measure the inflammation that’s going on inside your body that’s being caused by all these foreign substances. High homocysteine then does more damage by blocking blood flow across your body and damaging the lining of your arteries.

And most doctors know nothing about another damaging effect of high homocysteine. It shortens your telomeres.

High homocysteine in your blood can triple the speed at which your telomeres shorten.(2)

One of the reasons homocysteine has such a damaging effect on these tiny tips to your DNA is that homocysteine cuts off telomerase.

Telomerase is the enzyme your body uses to rebuild the telomere. So the environment is giving you a double whammy. First homocysteine shortens telomeres, then it cuts off the enzyme your body uses to repair the damage.

Short telomeres are so prevalent in people with heart disease that having critically short telomeres is now an independent risk factor for heart disease.(3)

In a study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet, researchers found an association between short telomeres and atherosclerosis.(4) The people with short telomeres had accelerated aging of their blood vessels and had a buildup of plaque that correlated to arteries that acted 8.6 years older.

This increased risk extends into the very fiber of your heart muscle. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers discovered that people with heart failure had telomeres that were 40% shorter than normal.(5)

High homocysteine can cause strokes and heart attacks as well.(6)

One way to know if you’re at risk is by getting your homocysteine checked with a simple blood test from your doctor. I personally like to keep my patients’ levels at 7 or below.

The natural way to help keep your homocysteine in check and protect yourself from heart disease is to ramp up your levels of vitamin B.

Vitamins B6, B9 (also known as folic acid or folate) and B12 all help to convert homocysteine into methionine, the good guy. B9 also restores the action of telomerase, counteracting the worst effect of homocysteine.(7)

Methionine is one of the building blocks of protein. And without enough levels of B vitamins in your system, your body can’t convert homocysteine to methionine efficiently. This can lead to an overload of homocysteine racing through your blood.

To boost your B vitamins, here’s what I recommend:

Vitamin Food Source Supplement
B6 Chicken, fish, kidney, liver, eggs, bananas, lima beans, walnuts 25 mg
B9 (folic acid) Beef, lamb, pork, chicken liver, eggs, green leafy vegetables, salmon 800 mcg
B12 Lamb, beef, herring, mackerel, liver, oysters, poultry, clams, eggs 500 mcg
B2 (riboflavin) Liver, nuts, dairy, eggs, seafood, dark leafy greens 25 mg

Another way to turn homocysteine into methionine is with choline.

You may remember I’ve written to you about choline as a brain booster. But choline is also essential in the process that breaks down homocysteine into helpful amino acids like methionine.

Studies show that the more choline you have, the lower your homocysteine will be.(8) In one study, people who took in the most choline had almost 10% lower homocysteine.(9)

The best way to get more choline is to eat one of the “taboo” foods modern nutritionists tell you to stay away from – animal meat and eggs. You can also find smaller amounts of choline in cod, cauliflower, avocados, and bananas.

To supplement, look for choline citrate. In my view, it’s the best way to get high levels of choline, and there are no side effects. You need at least 425 mg of choline a day as a woman; 550 mg if you’re a man.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD

1. Levy D, Hwang S, et. al. “Associations of plasma natriuretic peptide, adrenomedullin, and homocysteine levels with alterations in arterial stiffness: the Framingham Heart Study,” Circulation 2007; 115(24):3079-85
2. Richards J, et. al. “Homocysteine levels and leukocyte telomere length.” Atherosclerosis. 2008;200(2):271-7.
3. Zhang W, Hui R, Yang S. “Telomeres, cardiovascular aging, and potential intervention for cellular senescence.” Sci China Life Sci. 2014;57(8):858-62.
4. Samani NJ, et al. “Telomere shortening in atherosclerosis.” Lancet. 2001;358(9280):472-3.
5. van der Harst P, et al. “Telomere length of circulating leukocytes is decreased in patients with chronic heart failure.” J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007; 49(13):1459-64.
6. McCarty M, Thomas C. “The Vascular Toxicity of Homocysteine and How to Control It.” Linus Pauling Inst. Retrieved Nov 6, 2014.
7. Zhang D, Wen X, Wu W, Xu E, Zhang Y, Cui W. “Homocysteine-related hTERT DNA demethylation contributes to shortened leukocyte telomere length in atherosclerosis.” Atherosclerosis. 2013;231(1):1739.
8. Imbard A, et. al. “Plasma choline and betaine correlate with serum folate, plasma S-adenosyl-methionine and S-adenosyl-homocysteine in healthy volunteers.” Clin Chem Lab Med. 2013;51(3):683-92.
9.Lee J, Jacques P, Dougherty L, Selhub J, Giovannucci E, Zeisel S, Cho E. “Are dietary choline and betaine intakes determinants of total homocysteine concentration?” Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1303-10.

Quick & Easy Beef Loin Roast

If you think that making a beef roast is a long, difficult undertaking, think again. And if you think that a beef roast has to be large, think again.

U.S .Wellness Meats has introduced a wonderful new cut, the boneless loin roast. This roast, cut from the tender strip loin, is not only delicious, but very quick and easy to prepare. Its two-pound size is ideal for smaller families, or a couple. This version is inspired by traditional Northern European ways of flavoring roast meat, and the marinade is very simple.

But the results of this quick, easy recipe are utterly tender and delicious. Using mustard in a marinade may seem unusual, but it is common in Germany, Austria, France, and other European nations, and it really brings out the flavor of superior grassfed meat. The combination of mustard with U.S. Wellness Meats All Purpose Seasoning, which is a blend of traditional herbs and spices, makes for a very special roast. And it takes about 30 minutes in the oven.

1  Boneless Loin Roast


1 U.S. Wellness Meats Boneless Loin Roast - 2 lb.

1 medium organic onion, peeled and cut into three roughly equal circles

For the Marinade

3 tablespoons unfiltered organic extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon U.S. Wellness Meats All Purpose Seasoning

1 tablespoon natural coarse-grained (with the brown seeds) mustard, preferably Dijon or German


  1. At least 1 hour before you plan to cook the roast, make the marinade. Combine the oil, seasoning, and mustard, and mix well. Place the roast in a glass bowl, and cover all surfaces with the marinade. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can marinate the roast in the refrigerator overnight, taking the bowl out of the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to cook it, so the meat can reach a cool room temperature.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Place the onion slices in a row on a small roasting pan. Place the marinated roast on the onion slices, fat side up.
  4. Place the roast in the oven and cook for 30 minutes for a medium rare roast. Remove the roast from the oven, and let rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
  5. Slice thinly, and enjoy the wonderful flavors of this easy delicious roast.
describe the imageStanley Fishman is a cookbook author and blogger who is an expert on cooking grassfed meat. Stanley uses traditional flavor combinations and cooking methods to make the cooking of grassfed meat easy, delicious, and tender. Stanley has written two cookbooks that make it easy to cook grassfed meat —Tender Grassfed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo. Stanley blogs about real food and the cooking of grassfed meat at his blog

The 4 Food Keys To Ultimate Health

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetBroth

In our modern world, prescriptions, procedures and doctor visits are the norm. In fact, according to the CDC:

•    1.2 billion annual visits to physician’s offices, outpatient and hospitals are made each year
•    Almost 49% of Americans are using at least one prescription drug
•    75% of doctor visits involve drug therapy

But it wasn’t always this way.

Looking back less than 100 years ago chronic disease and prescription drug use were rare.

And while our society has advanced in many ways, some “advancements” have come at a high cost – namely, our collective health.

Ancestral Genetics Versus Modern Food  

Ask many people the reason for an increase in chronic disease and they will tell you it’s our genes. They’re partly right. Our genes have changed. But most of the negative consequences we face are the repercussions of a modern diet on ancestral genes.

And while we may be genetically predisposed to chronic diseases – like diabetes, heart disease and cancer – it’s our environment and our dietary choices that turn latent risk into reality.

In her book, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, Dr. Catherine Shanahan, MD states that two modern ingredients are wreaking the most havoc on our genes – vegetable oil and sugar.

In looking at traditional cultures versus modern ones, Deep Nutrition makes the connection between the common consumption of these foods - coupled with an absence of traditional foods in the diet - and a wide number of disorders including:

•    Birth Defects
•    Heart Disease
•    Cancer
•    Infertility and Sexual Dysfunction
•    Hormone Imbalance
•    Joint Problems
•    Cellulite and many more.

While avoiding sugar and vegetable oil are imperative for optimal health, it is equally important that we return to the ancestral foods that promote optimal genetic expression.

Reprogram Your Health With These 4 Pillars

This begins with consuming the native fats our ancestors enjoyed.

Tallow, lard, duck fat, grass-fed cheese and butter, and of course, naturally-raised meats are all excellent sources of saturated fats and cholesterol that provide a variety of health benefits including: increasing the absorption of lipid-soluble vitamins, reducing inflammation and free radicals, promoting healthy blood sugar balance and keeping the brain nourished and growing – from conception to old age.

In addition to returning to these health-giving fats, Deep Nutrition points to the “Four Pillars of World Cuisine.” These are the foods that promote bulletproof health in traditional and primitive cultures like the Hunzas and the Maasai.  Despite the culinary and geographical differences in the various cultures studied, these groups of people shared superior health and a pattern of dietary consumption that included the following four foods:

#1 - Meat on the Bone

Not only does cooking meat on the bone make for a deliciously-flavored meal, it also provides more nutrients, thanks to the inclusion of fat, bone, marrow, skin and other connective tissue.
As meat on the bone cooks, it releases a special family of nutrients called glycosaminoglycans which promote joint and cellular health and restoration.

When choosing meat on the bone – from bone-in chicken breasts and drumsticks, to French ribeye, T-bone and bone-in roasts of all varieties - be sure to keep it moist and do not overcook or char your meats. This can creates harmful heat by-products and reduces the nutrient value too.  

And don’t forget the fat! That means enjoying all of the marrow, making bone broth and letting your meat bathe in the nutrient-rich fat that accompanies it.

#2 - Organ Meats

The “off fall” – or all of the pieces of the animal excluding muscle meats – was highly prized in traditional cultures. But unfortunately in today’s fare, these bits are typically discarded.
By avoiding these parts of the animal, we not only miss out on their rich flavors, but also some of the most nutrient dense superfoods on the planet!

For optimal health, be sure to include organ meats – including liver, heart, kidney, tripe, tongue, thymus and others - in your diet.

#3 – Fermented & Sprouted Foods

Fermenting and sprouting liberates nutrients and neutralizes compounds that can be harmful or problematic. It also increases the bioavailability of vitamins and provides important probiotics that are needed for digestive and immune health and which are sorely lacking in our diets.
Include a serving of fermented or sprouted foods in your diet daily. Try lacto-fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and raw cultured dairy.

#4 – Fresh & Raw Foods

Eating greens, herbs and spices, picked at the peak of freshness, as well as raw milk made from grass-fed cows, is the final pillar of health. These foods provide a wealth of antioxidant nutrients that work in synergy with each other to produce a wide range of health benefits.
No matter where you are today with your health, no matter what genetic predispositions or “risk factors” you may have, following these four pillars of nutrition will help to imbue your body with the “genetic wealth” that confers powerful protection from chronic illness and age-related decline.

If you haven’t already started following the principles of ancestral health – now is the time. In addition to regular exercise and restorative sleep, these four pillars won’t just make you feel better, but they’ll keep you looking young to boot!


ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Better Breads – which includes information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Better Breads…


1.    Shanahan, Catherine MD., Shanahan, Luke.  Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Big Box Books. 2009
2.    CDC, Ambulatory Care Use and Physician office visits
3.    CDC, Therapeutic Drug Use   

Soda’s Secret Cell Sabotage

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDLemons

Drink just 12 ounces of soda a day and it will shorten your telomeres.

20 ounces a day is even worse…it shortens your telomeres as fast as smoking.

Those who drink 20 ounces a day – the “normal” size bottle you can get at any convenience store – have cells that aged 4.6 years faster.(1)

I discovered these incredible facts researching telomeres and nutrition for my upcoming presentations at two American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) conferences. It comes from a new study done by Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the Nobel Prize for her work on telomeres in 2009.

Blackburn and her colleagues looked at 5309 Americans, ages 20 to 65, to see how drinking soda would affect their telomere length.

Soda is just one example of how eating, or in this case drinking, can affect your genetic control mechanism. The good news is, now that we’re finding out that we can change our DNA and our epigenome (the chemicals and compounds that change our DNA) through the telomere, we can help you choose how your DNA programming plays out.

We can now use the shortening of the telomere – our aging control mechanism – to affect the physiology in the cell with nutrition. This gives us a more sophisticated and progressive way of advising you on foods and nutritional supplementation.

I call this telo-nutritioneering. It’s bio-engineering for telomeres, and we’re doing it right here at my wellness center.

It’s an entirely new level – and new concept – of how to use nutrients, and how to think about what we put in our bodies.

You get to choose how your genetic program plays out, and you can choose not to drink soda.

Soda is bad for your body in another important way. It’s highly acidic, so it leaches nutrients from your body. When you drink soda it makes your body use its alkaline minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium to neutralize the acid and return your pH to normal. Then you don’t have them to maintain and repair your cells and run your body.

There’s so much soda everywhere, and it’s so readily available, that it can be hard to come up with an alternative.

One alternative is to drink tea. Green tea does the opposite of soda. It helps you maintain telomere length through its main component, EGCG. Use lime for flavoring, and if you want a bit of sweetness, use honey.

Plain water is another way to go, and you could flavor your water with some cucumber.

My favorite flavored water is lemon water.  I like lemons best because they help me stay hydrated in the hot Florida sun. Lemons also balance other foods and help your body extract energy from them. Lemons can replace the alkalizing minerals like potassium that processed foods such as sodas leech out of you.

Here are four ways to “lemonize” your drinks:

1. The first thing to do is strain out the lemon juice. I use any old strainer lined with a cheesecloth to keep out the seeds, but you can use a fine strainer, too.

Just let the juice drip out into a container and stick it in the fridge. The next day, mix the juice you get with a pitcher of ice water. The thing I like about this method is you can decide how much lemon juice to add, depending on how strong a flavor you want.

2. You could also cut some lemons in half, cover them in the amount of water you want to drink and let it soak in the fridge overnight. In the morning, strain it into a glass or pitcher and throw away the lemons.

3. Lemons are one of the only fruits I’ll use my juicer for. I like to take about six lemons, juice them, and drink the straight juice without water.

4. The fourth way is to add a bunch of slices of lemon to some ice water, let it sit for a couple of hours, and you’ll have a tasty drink in no time…and one that won’t shorten your telomeres.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD


1. Leung C, Laraia B, Needham B, Rehkopf D, Adler N, Lin J, Blackburn E, Epel E. “Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.” Am J Public Health. 2014;e1-e7.


Some Shrooms for Your Brain

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDSun

I like to study in the morning after I do my PACE workout. It’s quiet, and the sun I get on my back patio here in South Florida is warm and pleasant early in the morning.

It feels like my own personal bottle of vitamin D shining down on my skin. I thought about that yesterday in particular as I was reading up on the newest research on Alzheimer’s disease and how I can help my patients and their spouses.

I get a lot of patients who come to me saying their mother or husband has the disease, and what can I do to help them? As I was browsing one database, I came across a new study in the prestigious journal Neurology.

Researchers from Exeter University in England and the University of Michigan followed 1658 people who were healthy when the study started, with no dementia or Alzheimer’s. Of the 141 people who developed dementia or Alzheimer’s, they found a shocking 225% greater risk for people who got the least vitamin D.(1)

If you’ve been receiving my letters to you for a while now, you’ve read a lot about vitamin D for its role in health. It prevents 17 different kinds of cancers, and helps you build strong bones so you can avoid osteoporosis.

Vitamin D also lowers inflammation, improves mood, boosts your immune system, lowers your risk of heart disease, and helps prevent diabetes.

And here we have another piece of evidence that staying out of the sun – our main source of vitamin D – is contributing to many of the diseases that are the most prevalent today. People with Crohn’s disease, osteoporosis, prostate cancer, breast cancer and those who have heart attacks are also overwhelmingly short on vitamin D.

Problem is, if you don’t live in South Florida or another very sunny place, it’s going to be tough to get all the vitamin D you need for optimal health just from sunlight.

A study done in the city of Calgary – one of the sunniest places in Canada – almost every person measured had a vitamin D deficiency … 97 percent of them! It prompted Canadian authorities to encourage more vitamin D intake.(2)

In the study I mentioned earlier, the group of people that had the least occurrence of Alzheimer’s had a blood level much higher than what mainstream medicine recommends. The current national guideline that says minimum blood serum should be 20 ng/ml, which would mean getting 600 IU a day. The people who avoided Alzheimer’s got much more vitamin D.

So how do you get enough vitamin D to help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s?

I still recommend you go outside for 20 minutes in full sunlight every day if you can. Take a walk for 20 minutes or do some exercise. Sit on a bench and read the morning paper. Or sit outside and read or study for a bit, like I do.

I also recommend you stay away from commercial sunblocks. They can have toxic ingredients that may increase your risk of cancer … plus they stop you from making vitamin D from sunlight.

If you can’t get outside, or if you live someplace that doesn’t have enough sun, you can do something to boost your vitamin D that I learned years ago but I haven’t talked about a whole lot.

You already know that your skin makes vitamin D in response to sunlight shining on it. But what you may not know is that mushrooms, even after they’re picked, can do the same trick.

In fact, a few years ago I enjoyed reading the book Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by mycologist Paul Stamets. He knows so much about mushrooms and health that he’s now an advisor at the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School.

I already knew mushrooms are the only vegetable with vitamin D. But Stamets did a study where he picked shiitake mushrooms that had been grown indoors and placed them gills-up in the sunlight for six hours. Their vitamin D content shot up from around 110 IU of vitamin D per 100 grams to a pretty remarkable 46,000 IU.(3)

That means all you have to do is eat around 10 grams of sun-dried mushrooms to get at least the 5,000 IU a day I recommend. For cancer and Alzheimer’s prevention and brain health, try to get at least 10,000 IU (1 IU is equal to 40 micrograms).

Drying and storing the mushrooms is pretty easy to do.

  1. First, I get some fresh organic shiitake mushrooms (you can also try maitake, shimeji, or oyster mushrooms if you like) from my local produce stand.
  2. If you live up north you’ll have to do this in the summer, but I do it all year ‘round. Just spread the mushrooms out in the sun on some parchment paper or flat pieces of wood (I don’t recommend aluminum trays) during the sunniest part of the day.
  3. Before it gets dark, cover the mushrooms to stop them from getting dew on them the next morning
  4. Repeat the drying the next day.
  5. When they’re kind of crispy (and you can put them in a food dehydrator if you have one to make sure they’re dried) and thoroughly dry, store them in a large glass container.
  6. Add a spoonful of rice to keep the mushrooms dry, and seal it up.

The mushrooms should be good for at least a year. Then you can do like I do and eat a few mushrooms to get a good start on the vitamin D you’ll need for the day.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD


1. Littlejohns T, Henley W, Lang I, et al. “Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease.” Neurology August 6, 2014. Epub ahead of print.
2. Berger C, et. al. “Temporal trends and determinants of longitudinal change in 25-hydroxyvitamin D and parathyroid hormone levels.” J Bone Miner Res. 2012;27(6):1381-9.
3. Stamets, P. “6 ways mushrooms can save the world.” Ted Talk on Myceluim Fungus. Retrieved Aug 29, 2014.


10 Ways to Boost Testosterone Naturally

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetMan

If you’ve watched television or flipped through a magazine lately, you may have seen one of the many ads targeting men that sound something like this:

“Do you experience fatigue, moodiness and loss of libido? If so, you may have low testosterone…”

By defining low testosterone as a “disease”, drug companies have turned this hormonal issue into a $2.4 billion industry and growing. The number of testosterone prescriptions (like AndroGel, Fortesta and Axiron) has quadrupled since 2000.

And while low testosterone is a common issue for many men as they age, it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, testosterone is very responsive to simple diet and lifestyle changes that don’t require a prescription and have only pleasant “side effects.”

Here are 10 simple and effective things that men can do to boost testosterone naturally:


Cholesterol is a steroid-like compound that acts as precursor to testosterone. Without enough of this vital starting material, your body cannot produce adequate levels of testosterone. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods and is richest in wild shrimp, bacon, liver, sausage, butter and whole eggs.

Like cholesterol, fat is also necessary to produce testosterone. In fact, research published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry found that eating a diet comprised of less than 40% fat can reduce testosterone levels. Saturated fat is especially important to boost this male hormone and is found in grass-fed beef, pastured pork, tallow, lard, duck fat, and coconut products.


Zinc is best known for its beneficial effects on the immune system. But it is also crucial for your body’s production and release of testosterone. Zinc also inhibits the action of aromatase – an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.

Sufficient zinc levels also help to prevent insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and weight gain – two more contributing factors to “low T” (as we’ll discuss in the next section).
Oysters are the superior food source of zinc. But grass-fed beef and lamb are also very high in this T-boosting mineral and are preferable to vegetable sources which contain phytic acid – a nutrient that inhibits the absorption of zinc and other minerals.


Visceral fat is the unsightly fat that surrounds our belly and internal organs. It is also quite dangerous because visceral fat is metabolically active. It promotes inflammation, insulin resistance, and increases your risk for a wide range of diseases. It also produces the enzyme called aromatase, which helps to convert testosterone to estrogen.

If you’re serious about your health (and your manhood) reducing visceral fat is essential.
The best way to accomplish this:  Enjoy a low-sugar, low-glycemic, grain-free diet that models that of our ancestors. Engage in high intensity interval training (HIIT) several times per week. And fast intermittently.


Cruciferous veggies – like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale – contain powerful compounds like indole-3-carbinol and diindolymethane (DIM) which facilitate the removal of estrogen hormones from the body.

These veggies also help boost glutathione – your body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier – which helps carry waste products and excess estrogen out of the body.


Magnesium is best known as the relaxation mineral. But it also helps to boost athletic performance by reducing inflammation and promoting optimal testosterone release following exercise.

A recent study published in Biological Trace Element Research found that supplementing with 750 mg of magnesium daily for four weeks increased free testosterone by 26 percent. Another study found men with low levels of magnesium also had lower levels of testosterone compared with men who had the highest levels.

While magnesium is found in many foods, most Americans are deficient. Boost your levels of this important mineral with dark leafy greens, Brazil nuts and mackerel.


Cortisol, the stress hormone, blocks the positive and beneficial effects of testosterone. This is just another reason to get your stress levels in check. Exercise, meditation, yoga, a hot bath with Epsom salts and long walks can all help to bring your levels of cortisol down.


Our world is awash in chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen. Known as xenoestrogens, these chemicals are most often found in plastic products (water bottles, food containers, etc), canned products which contain BPA-lined interiors, personal care products that contain phthalates and parabens, microwave cooking bags and roasting bags, and nonstick pans. These estrogenic chemicals have a potent ability to hamper testosterone.

And while they are impossible to avoid entirely, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself from them. Choose organic foods in their least processed state and cook in cast-iron enamel, cast-iron, stainless steel or glass. Also, be sure to opt for personal care and household products with natural (rather than synthetic chemical) ingredients.


Testosterone is produced during sleep.

One study found that men getting five hours of sleep per night had testosterone levels that were 10 to 15 percent lower than when they got eight hours.

Promote a good night’s rest by going to bed at the same time each night, unplugging from devices and bright lights at dusk, and creating sleep ritual that helps you drift off early and sleep soundly through the night.


Vitamin D (actually a pro-hormone) plays many roles in boosting testosterone.
The first way is by reducing aromatase – the enzyme that diminishes testosterone by converting it to estrogen. Vitamin D also helps make the testosterone receptors on cells more sensitive. In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology found that men with low T who received 3,332 IU of vitamin D daily experienced a 20% increase in testosterone after a year.


Most forms of alcohol increase aromatase and are therefore considered estrogenic.
However, according to recent research published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, red wine can helping to reduce aromatase. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation and opt for organic red wine.

When it comes to boosting testosterone, opt for these simple lifestyle changes before resorting to a potentially harmful testosterone prescription.  Not only will you avoid the many negative side effects (and potentially unknown long term effects) that can accompany drugs, you’ll optimize your health in the process.

ED NOTE:  Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Better Breads – which includes information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Better Breads…


1.    Jacques Baillargeon, Randall J. Urban, Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, Karen S. Pierson, James S. Goodwin, Trends in Androgen Prescribing in the United States, 2001 to 2011. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(15):1465-1466. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6895.
2.    Anahad O'Connor. Men’s Use of Testosterone on the Rise. The NY Times. June 3, 2013
3.    Vedat Cinar, Yahya Polat, Abdulkerim Kasim Baltaci, Rasim Mogulkoc Nagendra, R., et al. Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at Rest and after Exhaustion April 2011, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 18-23 Biological Trace Element Research
4.    Angwafor F, Anderson ML. An open label, dose response study to determine the effect of a dietary supplement on dihydrotestosterone, testosterone and estradiol levels in healthy males.J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Aug 12;5:12. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-12.
5.    Kilic M.Effect of fatiguing bicycle exercise on thyroid hormone and testosterone levels in sedentary males supplemented with oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2007 Oct;28(5):681-5
6.    Mehta PH, Josephs RA.Testosterone and cortisol jointly regulate dominance: evidence for a dual-hormone hypothesis. Horm Behav. 2010 Nov;58(5):898-906. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.08.020. Epub 2010 Sep 15.
7.    Mehta PH1, Josephs RA.Testosterone and cortisol jointly regulate dominance: evidence for a dual-hormone hypothesis. Horm Behav. 2010 Nov;58(5):898-906.
8.    Mediation and Its Regulatory Role on Sleep. Frontiers in Neurology. 2012. 3(54).
9.    Trasande, L., et al. Association Between Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration and Obesity Prevalence in Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012. 308(11), 1113-1120.
10.    Pilz, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A.Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men.Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5.
11.    Lerchbaum, E., et al. Combination of Low Free Testosterone and Low Vitamin D Predicts Mortality in Older Men Referred for Coronary Angiography. Clinical Endocrinology. 2012. 77, 475-483.
12.    Lee, D, Tajar, A., et al. Association of Hypogonadism with Vitamin D Status: The European Male Ageing Study. European Journal of Endocrinology. January 2012. 166, 75-85.
13.    Pilz, S., Frisch, S., et al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men. Hormone and Metabolic Research. 2011. 43, 223-225.
14.    De Castro Toledo Guimaraes, L., et al. Physically active elderly women sleep more and better than sedentary women. Sleep Medicine. 2008. 9(5), 488-493.
15.    Cleveland Clinic: Testosterone Replacement Therapy
16.    University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
17.    National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
18.    Nutrition: Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults
19.    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Serum Testosterone and Urinary Excretion of Steroid Hormone Metabolites after Administration of a High-dose Zinc Supplement
20.    Neek, L., Gaeini, A., Choobineh, S. Effect of Zinc and Selenium Supplementation on Serum Testosterone and Plasma Lactate in Cyclist After an Exhaustive Exercise Bout. Biological Trace Element Research. 9 July 2011.
21.    Chang, C., Choi, J., Kim, H., Park, S. Correlation Between Serum Testosterone Level and Concentrations of Copper and Zinc in Hair Tissue. Biological Trace Element Research. 14 June 2011.
22.    Banudevi, S., Elumalai, P., et al. Chemopreventive Effects of Zinc on Prostate Carcinogenesis Induced by N-Methyl-N-Nitrosourea and Testosterone in Adult Male Sprague-Dawley Rats. Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology. 201. 137(4), 677-86.
23.    Gumulec, J., Masarik, M., et al. Molecular Mechanisms of Zinc in Prostate Cancer. Klinical Onkology. 2011. 24(4), 249-255.
24.    Eng ET, Williams D, Mandava U, Kirma N, Tekmal RR, Chen S Anti-aromatase chemicals in red wine. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;963:239-46.


Should You Stop Using Your Computer?

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDComputer

When I went to Malaysia, I really started to notice this…

In Malaysia, which most people think is a backwater, developing, jungle-covered, rural country… they all have iPhones.

The first iPhone wasn’t around until 2007. And now smartphones dominate places as far away as Malaysia. When I went there, I saw them all use their iPhones to take pictures then post them on Facebook. The name is a verb now. They say, “Facebook me” instead of “call me” or “e-mail me.”

It’s a great thing that technology is spreading worldwide, and it’s spreading so fast and it has so much improved efficiency. It’s helping improve lives and economic opportunity.

But along with this incredible technology comes some of the problems I’ve been writing to you about. Issues with heart health and brain health and premature aging and the inappropriate use and abuse of technology.

For example, our favorite tech toys like smartphones and tablets give off ultraviolet light that goes directly into our eyes. Those lights are also in LED screens like your TV and computer.

Why is that important? Because UVB light from these devices, which is in the “blue light” spectrum, can damage your eyes when you get too much of it.

That’s why I’m writing to you today. I’m going to show you ways you can protect your eyes from getting too much UVB radiation blue light, so you don’t have to worry about using this incredible new technology.

Here’s what you need to know…

UVA is the radiation that tans your skin. But UVB radiation is stronger. It’s the blue light that gives you sunburn when you’ve been overexposed to sunlight.

At the beach you keep your eyes shut tight to soak up the sun. But you are staring directly into UVB radiation when you watch HD TV or work or play on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

And, the effects of blue light on the retina grow as we age. The reason is that the number of blue light absorbers in the retina increases.

These “blue light absorbers” form as we get older and are called lipofuscin. It’s is a mixture of “metabolic waste” that cannot be cleaned out from the retina. It gathers in retinal pigment epithelium, a layer of cells that maintain the eye’s light receptors.

The two main light receptor cells are rods and cones, and they enable us to see. Lipofuscin generates free radicals as it absorbs more and more blue light, which damage the rods and cones.

When you get too much lipofuscin it can lead to Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

The younger you are, the more protection you have against blue light. We’re flushed with antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes that protect your eyes. After the age of 40, the production of these decreases, opening your eyes to possible damage.

Here’s what I tell patients at my wellness center who come to me with strained or impaired vision:

1) First, I recommend that you get as much astaxanthin as possible. It’s a powerful antioxidant that protects your eyes when you are watching HD TV or working at a computer for many hours.

A little-known study proved this. Animals that were given astaxanthin had no damage to their eyes(1) even when exposed to a harsh light source equal to that of blue light from a computer.

When you get astaxanthin it acts as an antioxidant and absorbs radiated blue light that can damage the retina. It protects the retina against photo oxidation and loss of photoreceptor cells.

You can get astaxanthin from food. Sockeye salmon has the most astaxanthin of any food: 3.6 mg in six ounces. Coho salmon, red trout, red sea bream, lobster, shrimp, crawfish, crabs, and salmon roe also have astaxanthin.

You want to eat wild-caught – not farm-raised – salmon. They get their astaxanthin by feeding on microalgae, the natural source from the open ocean.

But if you don’t like seafood, I recommend supplementing with 2 mg per day. However you can increase the dose to 8-10 mg if you want to use it for great anti-inflammatory eye benefits.

2) Second, did you know that your eyes are hungry for as much CoQ10 that they can get? Usually when I talk to you about CoQ10, it’s about the great benefit to your heart and how it gives you a boost of energy. But it’s also the main source of energy for you most energy-hungry organs, like your eyes.

And, CoQ10 protects the cells in your retina from all kinds of radiation damage, including overexposure to the sun’s rays.(2) A Columbia University study showed that lower levels of CoQ10 meant your retinas may not produce enough energy to protect themselves from damage like the kind you get from blue light.(3)

The best way to get plenty of CoQ10 is to hunt for wild animals. Slice them open while they are still warm and cut out their liver, kidney, heart, and other internal organs. Then throw them on the grill and enjoy.

However if you don’t like eating internal organs, the closest thing to eating a wild animal is grass-fed meat. I grew up eating grass-fed beef, and still enjoy it today. Grass-fed beef has the most CoQ10 that you can get in the universe. It’s in your supermarket. Look for grass-fed beef, bison, and other meat.

But it’s difficult the get all the CoQ10 you need for eye health from food alone. So I recommend that you take supplements. Many of the powder and tablet forms of it are worthless. Stay away from them because they won’t get absorbed into your cells.

To supplement take at least 50 mg of the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 daily. Don’t take the ubiquinone version; it is weaker and does not absorb as well as the ubiquinol CoQ10.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD


1. Li Z, Dong X, Liu H, Chen X, Shi H, Fan Y, Hou D, Zhang X. “Astaxanthin protects ARPE-19 cells from oxidative stress via upregulation of Nrf2-regulated phase II enzymes through activation of PI3K/Akt.” Mol Vis. 2013;19:1656-66.
2. Lulli M, Witort E, Papucci L, Torre E, Schiavone N, Dal Monte M, Capaccioli S. “Coenzyme Q10 protects retinal cells from apoptosis induced by radiation in vitro and in vivo.” J Radiat Res. 2012;53(5):695-703. 3. Qu J, Kaufman Y, Washington I. “Coenzyme Q10 in the human retina.” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009;50(4):1814-8.

Could the Fruits and Veggies You Love be Destroying Your Health?

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetFood

Onions, garlic, apples, asparagus, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts…

These colorful fruits and vegetables would appear to be the foundation of a healthy diet. But is it possible that they could also cause digestive distress and other disorders for some people?

The answer may surprise you.

According to recent research, the foods listed above (among others) may contribute to painful and embarrassing “functional gut disorders” including bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.

The reason is FODMAPS, an acronym for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols.

What are FODMAPS?

This group of compounds is found in a wide variety of foods, ranging from berries to buttermilk. Each one can have a distinct effect on the digestive system.
Let’s take a look:

Fermentable:  Carbohydrates that are fermentable are those that rely on gut bacteria (rather than digestive enzymes) to break down. As these carbohydrates ferment in the digestive tract, they produce a food source for the bacteria that reside in our digestive system. For many people, fermentable carbs are a good thing. They can boost digestive health and increase the number of beneficial bacteria. But for some people, the results are gas and bloating and an overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria.

Oligosaccharides: These short-chain carbs include fructans (chains of fructose with a glucose molecule) and galactans (chains of galactose with a fructose molecule). For many who suffer from digestive distress, these compounds are poorly absorbed. This can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine (called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO).

Disaccharides: Two sugar molecules bound together, with the most common being lactose (milk sugar). Many people have low levels of lactase – the enzyme that breaks down lactose – causing malabsorption when lactose-containing foods are consumed.  

Monosaccharides: A single sugar molecule. Fructose (or fruit sugar) is the often most problematic monosaccharide and contributes to gas and bloating for those with FODMAPS issues.  

Polyols: Also called sugar alcohols, polyols occur naturally in a wide variety of foods – from mushrooms and snow peas to cherries and apples. Polyols are also found in low-calorie sweeteners including sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt. In excess, these substances can have a laxative affect as they are poorly absorbed in the intestine.

Can a Low FODMAPS Diet Reduce Gut Issues?

For many people, reducing foods that contain FODMAPS can provide significant digestive relief or cessation of symptoms.

In fact, according to the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, reducing FODMAPS reduced symptoms in approximately 75% of patients with functional gut disorders.

But all FODMAPS are not created equal when it comes to their impact on your health.  

For example, you may react poorly to fructose, but have no problems with fermentable carbohydrates.

Another important factor is the amount of FODMAPS consumed. Because the compounds are ubiquitous in our food supply it is almost impossible to avoid them entirely. But reducing the FODMAPS that you personally react to is the best way to reduce digestive distress from these compounds while still enjoying a diverse, nutrient-rich diet.

Take a look at the classes of FODMAPS and the foods in which they are found:

Lactose Fructose Fructans Galactans Polyols
Milk Products Apples, Pears, Peaches, Mangoes, Watermelon Artichokes, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Cabbage, Chicory, Garlic, Leeks, Okra Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, Soy Apples, Apricots, Blackberries, Cherries, Nectarines, Pears, Peaches, Plums, Prunes, Watermelon
  Coconut Milk, Coconut Cream Grains (including wheat & rye) Vegetables (such as broccoli) Vegetables (such as cauliflower, button mushrooms, snow peas)
  Dried Fruits, Fruit Juices     Sweeteners (including sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, malitol, isomalt)
  Sweeteners (such as agave, honey & high fructose corn syrup Insulin & Fructo-oligosacharides (FOS)    
  Sweet Alcohols (including sherry & port) Fruits (such as watermelon)    

If you suffer from digestive issues, choosing a Paleo diet, rich in healthy fats and protein is a good first step. Not only are grains, legumes and most dairy products problematic for the GI tract, but for overall health, as well.   

From there, a food journal can be beneficial in rooting out the offending FODMAPS. Pay close attention to how you feel after consuming FODMAP-rich foods to create your personalized healthy-gut diet.

Finally, eating a low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Here are a few quick and healthy meal ideas to get you started:  

•    Grass-Fed Beef and Bok Choy Stir-Fry With Red Bell Peppers
•    Oven-Roasted Pastured Chicken with Organic Tomatoes and Wilted Spinach
•    Almond Flour Paleo Pancakes with Blueberries and Sugar-Free Pork Bacon or Breakfast Sausage
•    Grilled Heirloom Pork Chops with Sautéed Carrots and Butter Lettuce Salad
•    Bison-Stuffed Bell Peppers


ED NOTE:  Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Better Breads – which includes information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Better Breads


1.    de Roest RH, Dobbs BR, Chapman BA, Batman B, O'Brien LA, Leeper JA, Hebblethwaite CR, Gearry RB. The low FODMAP diet improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective study. Int J Clin Pract. 2013 Sep;67(9):895-903.
2.    Gibson PR, Shepherd SJ. Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms:  The FODMAP approach.  J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;25(2):252-258.
3.    Ringel Y, Williams RE, Kalilani L, Cook SF. Prevalence, characteristics, and impact of bloating symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009;7(1) 68-72.
4.    Shepherd SJ, Parker FC, Muir JG, Gibson PR. Dietary triggers of abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: Randomized placebo-controlled evidence. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008;6(7):765-771.
5.    Rumessen JJ, Gudmand-Høyer E. Absorption capacity of fructose in healthy adults. Comparison with sucrose and its constituent monosaccharides. Gut. 1986;27(6):1161-1168.
6.    Muir JG, Rose R, Rosella O, et al. Measurement of short-chain carbohydrates in common Australian vegetables and fruits by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(2):554-565.
7.    Moshfegh AJ, Friday JE, Goldman JP, Ahuja JK. Presence of inulin and oligofructose in the diets of Americans. J Nutr. 1999;129(7 Suppl):1407S-1411S.


Lost Secret to Better Vision

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDSalmon

Ancient cultures knew the value of the whole, fresh foods they ate, and what to do with them. Like eating fish for better eyesight. Unfortunately, this way of looking at things with an eye on nature has been discarded and forgotten.

Today, we have all of these individualized categories of study being looked at by very smart people. But we’re not as smart as we think. The people who interpret the information often don’t apply wisdom.

And their attempts to outsmart nature run into predictable problems.

Vitamin A was the first vitamin isolated and studied by modern science. And until a few years ago, it was mainstream advice to only take vitamin A for your eyes.

Then we discovered a natural vitamin A precursor called beta-carotene. Pick up any multi-vitamin formula today and you’ll see beta-carotene. But that turned out not to be a complete solution either. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, and can protect your own photosystem – your eyes – by turning to vitamin A. The problem is that if your body has enough vitamin A, it won’t convert beta-carotene.

Today, we are finding other carotenoids that are not only better than Vitamin A but better than beta-carotene. In fact, they’re up to 100 times more powerful.

So it’s a good thing we’re so smart now, and we don’t just recommend pure vitamin A or pure beta-carotene as the total solution. Because what you really need are these other carotenoids… right?

Not so fast…

My instinct is that we’re still only catching a very thin slice of that pie. The truth is they’re going to find a whole bunch more things next year or in ten years.

What we should learn from this is, the first thing you should do is get the right nutrients in as close to their native form as possible, rather than get them in a refined or processed form.

You’re always better off eating whole foods like wild-caught fish to get a baseline of nutrients for your eyes. Because your eyes depend on good, balanced nutrition, just like the rest of your body does.

If you give your eyes the building blocks and maintenance materials they need most, you can reverse many of the common symptoms of vision loss. And you may also prevent the major causes of blindness – glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, or macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye problem related to age. It’s a disruption of nerves in the retina. This disruption causes loss of sight. AMD is one the leading causes of blindness in older people.

Researchers from the National Eye Institute found that it’s not just carotenoids or vitamin A that helps fish protect your eyes. DHA, one of the omega-3 fats found in fish, supports the nerves in the retina. Their study looked at over 4,500 people ages 60-80 and found that people who ate two servings of high-DHA fish a week were 50% less likely to develop AMD that those who ate no fish.(1)

Another study performed by Harvard’s Schepens Eye Institute found that the DHA in fish protects you from dry eye syndrome. When a person’s eyes do not make enough moisture, the dryness can damage the cornea.

The study followed over 32,000 people. Those who ate more fish had up to 66% less chance of developing dry eye syndrome.

Wild cold-water fish like pollock, salmon, and sardines, as well as calamari, give you the most DHA. And if you eat those, or a good quality fish like wild-caught salmon a couple times a week, it should keep your eyes in top condition.

Our primal ancestors knew this through thousands of years of practice. Native Americans would eat the eyes out of the fish for better eyesight. Today we know that it’s not just vitamin A but that DHA collects in the vital organs of the fish.

However, in today’s world, we’ve lost that knowledge, and have gone very far from nature. We started to “grow” fish in man-made ponds, feeding them foods that are not native to their diet.

This has produced fish that are too high in omega-6, with little omega-3 and almost no DHA.

So while I recommend food as the most natural way to get your nutrients, and a supplement should never replace whole fresh foods … it’s very hard to get enough DHA from fresh fish alone.

I used to recommend cod liver oil as a supplemental source of DHA. But a much more bioavailable and concentrated source is krill oil. Krill’s DHA is in the phospholipid form instead of cod liver’s triglyceride form. So the DHA can cross cell membranes better and get deep into the tiny blood vessels of your eyes.

Try to get at least 500mg of DHA per day, and if you can, get it from a pure source of krill oil.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD



1. SanGiovanni J, Chew E, et. al. “The relationship of dietary omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid intake with incident age-related macular degeneration: AREDS report no. 23.” Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(9):1274-9.

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